A FATAL CASE OF EMPATHY

Hungary and the UN, 1956–1963
Excerpt

Hungary’s membership of the United Nations in December 1955 and the tangible change this brought to the country’s room for manoeuvre in foreign policy must have contributed to Hungary’s hopes and ever increasing political ferment in the summer of 1956. Henceforth it was not only possible to refer to the UN Charter but, once it was ratified, it became part of the Hungarian legal system. Part of this brightening of the historical horizon was due to the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Austria, in line with the State Treaty of 15 May 1955, allowing the country, formerly partially occupied by Moscow, to announce its ‘permanent’ neutrality.

The political changes in Hungary prompted considerable worry in the Kremlin, whose leading functionaries paid a visit to Hungary in the first half of 1956, followed by a military exercise that may have been a dress rehearsal for Soviet military intervention in the country.11 During their visit, Mikhail Suslov and Anastas Mikoyan recommended that the party leadership
be made younger, that the percentage of leaders of Jewish extraction be reduced, and that attacks
be made on ‘anti-party groups’.

The Hungarian UN delegation, appointed at this same time, reflected the beginnings of political change in Hungary: Imre Nagy’s circle made plans to send reformers to the UN, yet the US Embassy was to receive visa applications not from reformers Géza Losonczy and Miklós Vásárhelyi but rather from Stalinists Imre Horváth and Endre Sík.

On 23 October 1956, the day the Revolution broke out in Hungary, the routine inside the glass tower of UN headquarters in Manhattan was the usual one. Hammarskjöld first met with his deputies. The next item in his diary was ‘plenary atom’, which refers to the task of reducing the nuclear threat. This was followed by a cocktail, and then a reception, while in the evening the New School of Social Research arranged a celebration of ‘United Nations Day’ on the eleventh anniversary of its foundation. A FATAL CASE OF EMPATHY Hungary and the UN, 1956–1963 Excerpt András Nagy

* This excerpt is from Halálos együttérzés (Budapest: Kossuth, 2020), the English translation of which is expected to come out at Indiana University Press in the near future.

Many have already reconstructed in detail what happened, and what did not happen, at the UN from this evening on: both the news from Hungary, received with delight, and the events there that were hard to get clear information on. The outbreak of the Revolution was unexpected; the representatives of the international press had not yet reached Budapest, while diplomatic missions did not always see things clearly. The picture soon became clearer, however, and after the first Soviet invasion of Hungary (on the night of 23 October) news of the armed intervention had reached UN headquarters, although its legal justification and its scope could not yet be fully known.22 Prime Minister András Hegedűs only signed the request for Soviet assistance some days later. Péter Kós tried to get more information, and waited for further instructions, while Moscow hurriedly sent envoys to Budapest to negotiate. Imre Nagy and Ernő Gerő were receiving Mikoyan and Suslov, and some kind of deal did not appear entirely unlikely.

For Moscow, the pre-requisite for any agreement with Nagy and Gerő was that the United Nations would not intervene, giving Hungarians the hope of acquiring independence and reviving democracy. This did not seem an impossible request. So a telegram was composed, first in Moscow, then, with limited amendments, in Hungary, which stated that everything that had happened in Hungary, beginning on 22 October, was a domestic matter for the People’s Republic of Hungary, and was not within the UN’s competence. We now know that Péter Kós, who read out the telegram, was carrying out an order, as in Budapest the leaders of the Revolution hoped they would come to an agreement with the Soviets, an opportunity that would soon vanish because of the dogmatists in Moscow and the Suez adventure of France and the United Kingdom.

Péter Kós’s statement provoked enormous outrage in the ranks of revolutionaries in Hungary;33 ‘The treasonous UN delegation should be replaced at once!’, Igazság (30 October 1956). ‘Kós Péter
= Lev Konduktorov’, Magyar Nemzet (31 October 1956).
similarly, it was hard to convince international opinion that a military attack from abroad could be considered a domestic matter. Yet Péter Kós’s orders had been unambiguous, and he had executed them in a professional manner. The outrage soon became ‘character assassination’, as it was claimed that the Hungarian envoy to the UN was also referred to by the name Konduktorov (the name he had before changing it to Kós) and that he was a Soviet citizen (which was not true). In this heated atmosphere, both claims were capable of discrediting the envoy, which was easier than having to admit that the government’s policy had changed.

During these dramatic hours, the Security Council was led by the Frenchman Bernard Cornut-Gentille; here, Péter Kós, as a guest, read out the statement of the Hungarian government, inevitably causing disarray in UN member states as to how the events that had taken place in Hungary should be interpreted. In Hungary, outrage only grew: many claimed it was a betrayal, and Kós was immediately recalled from his posting in New York, even though there had been no official documentation concerning his accreditation being revoked. Kós set off home to Hungary, but got only as far as Prague, where a number of Stalinists were waiting in the political ‘transit zone’, and he then returned with them to the United States after the Revolution had been defeated.

The disarray in Budapest was in part caused by Prime Minister Imre Nagy wanting to weed out Stalinists from the Foreign Ministry. Nagy himself took charge of directing foreign policy, and decisions were hereafter made in the Parliament building. He soon dismissed Imre Horváth, and invited György Heltai to work alongside him; as such, the telegrams sent to the UN secretary-general were sent directly from the Hungarian Parliament in Budapest, sidelining even the Hungarian UN delegation in New York. Of course, Nagy could not dispense with it altogether, so, after Kós was recalled, Imre Nagy mandated the deputy head of mission, Dr János Szabó, to represent Hungary. By doing so, however, he sealed the fate of the 1956 Revolution at the United Nations. Unbeknownst to Prime Minister Nagy, Szabó, under code name ‘Bertalan Székely’, was working for the Hungarian secret service.

When the Soviet intervention against the Hungarian Revolution was placed on the agenda of the UN Security Council, the Soviets immediately vetoed it: their argument was that it was no more than a ‘reactionary uprising’ supported by the US. The French, meanwhile, were of the view that not only the UN Charter had been contravened in Hungary, but also the Paris Peace Treaties, and even the Warsaw Pact that served the legal foundation for the invasion.44 NAA A 1209 1957/5279. On the other hand, the United Kingdom questioned whether the use of Soviet military forces stationed in Hungary under a valid treaty and at the behest of the Hungarian government could even be called an intervention at all.

In the light of the Soviet veto at the Security Council, and at the instigation of the so-called ‘united for peace’ initiative, the issue of the Hungarian Revolution found its way to the Assembly, where no country had a right of veto. Yet it was not easy to see the situation clearly from New York: there was no US ambassador to Budapest, the telegraph machine at the French delegation was out of order, so the UK mission, with its excellent local reporting and operating telegraph machine, was almost the only source of news. Yet it was precisely these last great powers that began their bloody Suez ‘adventure’, forcing the UN, as well as Moscow and Washington, to make drastic decisions.

At this time Mikoyan and Suslov, the Soviet envoys returning home from Budapest, did not rule out a consolidation of the Revolution, provided the Soviets would be partners rather than subjugators. As debates in the Kremlin intensified, Mikoyan threatened to commit suicide if they used force, but the compromise they achieved was promising and implementable, offering ‘fraternal countries’ sovereignty and greater room for manoeuvre.

It is not easy to judge today whether it was the Suez debacle, the photographs of lynchings arriving from Budapest, or perhaps just the struggle for power inside the Kremlin taking another turn, that forced Moscow to take the next, tragic step. But what was still a ‘domestic matter’ on 31 October would from the following morning become an international issue for Budapest, too; it was not the internal progress of the Revolution but rather the external circumstances that forced Imre Nagy to change his position. By the time that the Moscow decision provoking optimism had been announced, it was clear that what would follow would involve blood and weapons, rather than equality and sovereignty. This was obvious from the movements of Soviet troops: instead of retreating, they were beginning, or at least preparing for, an invasion.

The response from Yuri Andropov, the Soviet ambassador ordered to the Hungarian Parliament to explain himself, displayed Byzantine levels of equivocation and outright untruth. The situation was ever more worryingly clear, and so Imre Nagy played his foreign policy card, declaring the country’s neutrality and its withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact—both measures responding to the demands of the revolutionaries. By that time, this was more like a desperate attempt to strengthen Hungary’s negotiating position with mass support—though the forces preparing to crush the Revolution were more massive still.

At the debate on the proposals for the government session held on 1 November, only György Lukács and Zoltán Szántó raised objections to the plan to leave the Warsaw Pact, and they objected more to the form this would take than to the idea itself. The others—including later Premier János Kádár—agreed with the decision, and Péter Mód was given the task of formulating the statement which, as representative to the UN, he would later spend years criticizing. Andropov, called back to the government session, misled the government and prevaricated; at this stage, Kádár was still in agreement with the others, voicing his support and voting for the motion, but that very afternoon he turned turncoat and disappeared. The decision of the Hungarian government was telegraphed to New York not once, but twice: first they asked for a guarantee of neutrality from the great powers, they then asked merely for recognition. There was little chance of either: a guarantee was not on the table even in the case of Austria, while even recognition would necessitate lengthy negotiations, and could not be granted simply in response to a government announcement. Neither did the telegram refer to the Security Council, where the question was on the agenda, but only to the Assembly, which would only be convened on 12 November, and even then, it only recommended a normal rather than an urgent debate on the issue. Whether this should all be put down to incompetence, sabotage, or simply haste, is impossible to say.55 On the two telegrams, see: Csaba Békés and Gusztáv Kecskés D., eds, A forradalom és a magyar
kérdés az ENSZ-ben, 1956–1963. Tanulmányok, dokumentumok és kronológia (The Revolution and the
Hungarian Question at the UN, 1956–1963. Studies, Documents, and Chronology) (Budapest:
Magyar ENSZ Társaság, 2007).

Officials and revolutionaries at the Hungarian Foreign Ministry summoned the leaders of the diplomatic missions to Hungary in order to announce Hungary’s ‘permanent neutrality’, and its withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact, in the hope of eliminating the legal basis for Soviet intervention. In light of the government statement, Stalinists Imre Horváth and Endre Sík, who were heading to the UN Assembly, were recalled; they awaited the historic changes at the centre created in Prague for the Hungarian pro-Soviets, from where Imre Horváth would later fly in secret to Moscow to participate in the ‘persuasion’ of János Kádár, who had been transported there in the meantime. The revolutionaries working in the Foreign Ministry put together a list of diplomats to be recalled, including the ÁVH (State Protection Authority) officers positioned at foreign missions; their exposure would later cause serious problems for the Kádár leadership.66 ‘The comrades sent from the Ministry of the Interior find themselves in a difficult position
in the embassies. They have been almost completely exposed.’ MNL 288f., storage unit
32/1957/7 (documents of the Foreign Affairs Division of the MSZMP Central Committee). On 1
November, they ordered the diplomatic missions to send the intelligence operatives home at once. See: Magdolna Baráth and Lajos Gecsényi, eds, Főkonzulok, követek és nagykövetek, 1945–1990
(Consul Generals, Envoys, Ambassadors, 1945–1990) (Budapest: MTA Bölcsészettudományi
Kutatóközpont, 2015), 40–41.
As the insurgents were aware that the Foreign Ministry did not follow the revolutionary changes, they occupied the building, and had to be forced out from there by the National Guard commanded by Béla Király. Pamphlets appeared, claiming that the UN was already debating ‘the Soviet intervention in our country’s domestic affairs’; not for a minute did they imagine that the greatest obstacle was in New York.

In a manner almost unprecedented in the history of the UN, János Szabó was nominated by telegram to replace Kós—a very unusual method of nomination. The UN Deputy Secretary-General Dragoslav Protitch,77 The FBI pointed out that, following the communist takeover in Yugoslavia (during the period
of Tito–Stalin friendship), Protitch remained in the Yugoslav foreign service. See the documents
published by the FBI (on the basis of the Freedom of Information Act) in the Bang-Jensen Archive
(hereinafter: BJI, National Széchényi Library, Manuscript Archive, Fond. 413), box 33.
a Yugoslav who would play a key role in subsequent events, accepted Szabó’s accreditation, thus at the 752nd session of the Security Council, at 5 p.m. on 2 November, the telegram was read out in its entirety.88 The documents have survived among the so-called Cordier Papers, placed in the archive of
Columbia University by the outgoing Deputy Secretary-General Andrew W. Cordier (Columbia
University, Butler Library, Rare Books and Manuscript Collection; hereinafter: Andrew Cordier
Papers, ACP).
Hammarskjöld acknowledged to Imre Nagy that his message had been received, and circulated Nagy’s statement among the representatives of the member states as an official record of the assembly.99 UNARM S-0442-0138-06. Despite all this, Szabó complained in his messages sent to Budapest that without accreditation, he was unable to take part in the Security Council’s work, and that he awaited further instructions. ‘Stop needlessly repeating what has already been said’, came the response, according to which he had to confirm that all Imre Nagy’s previous statements represented the official position of the Hungarian government, and he was ordered to request that the Security Council recognize Hungary’s neutrality. They added that discussions were under way with representatives of the Soviet Union. When Szabó was given the floor at the decisive session of the Security Council, this was the only thing he mentioned.1010 MNL XIX-J-1-j 81, box 4/j. Also see: Éva Gál, ed., A „Jelcin –dosszié”. Szovjet dokumentumok 1956-
ról (The “Yeltsin Dossier”. Soviet Documents Related to 1956) (Budapest: Századvég – 1956-os
Intézet, 1993), 127.

By this stage, Marshall Konev had already given instructions to the officers in the corps. They filled the fuel tanks, distributed munitions, and drafted the daily dispatches, which spoke of the ‘revival of fascism’ in the heart of Europe. Of the officers, many had participated in the victory over fascism; the fact that they would now be attacking anti-fascists and communists was blurred by the official propaganda, according to which the Paris Treaties also obliged their signatories to obstruct the re-emergence of fascism.1111 Similar instructions were sent to Sobolev, Soviet envoy to the UN, by the Central Committee of
the Soviet Communist Party. See: Gál, ed., A „Jelcin –dosszié”, 59.

Events were not yet seen clearly in Washington. Any information received from the US Embassy in Budapest, which had no ambassador, was intermittent and confused, while the diplomat is charge at the Hungarian Embassy in Washington showed ‘surprise and disarray’. Tibor Zádor was uninformed, with no updates on events or instructions arriving from Budapest.1212 János Radványi, Hungary and the Superpowers. The 1956 Revolution and Realpolitik (Stanford:
Stanford University Press, 1972), 3–7.
Officials of the State Department attempted to glean knowledge from the leaders of the Hungarian émigré community in the US, who, it was claimed, ‘are in constant contact with the leaders of the Hungarian uprising’, though Béla Varga claimed that Imre Nagy was ‘the most insidious traitor in Hungarian history’, and so the most the US should do was to send coal to help with the winter.1313 See the statement of Béla Varga at his press conference held on 28 October. MNL XIX-J-1-j,
box 55.
US propaganda—via Radio Free Europe, which operated throughout, uninterrupted and without being jammed, becoming one of the most important sources of news in Hungary— sided with Cardinal Mindszenty, who had been liberated during the Revolution. The broadcasts undermined Imre Nagy’s authority and aroused anti-communist feelings, thereby shattering Hungarian national unity. According to the otherwise well-informed British authorities, Imre Nagy’s ‘puppet government’ did not enjoy the support of the Hungarian people. All this was enough for Dulles to announce at the session of the Council of National Security that it was ‘not possible to do business with the present Hungarian government’.1414 The British position is cited in Éva Haraszti-Taylor, The Hungarian Revolution of 1956. A Collection
of Documents from the British Foreign Office (Nottingham: Astra Press, 1995), 112–117. At the same
time, US Chargé d’Affaires Barnes asked from Budapest that in what followed the media should
avoid making statements regarding Imre Nagy. Cited in James C. McCargar, ‘A Szabad Európa
Bizottság és a magyar emigránsok 1956-ban’ (The Free Europe Committee and the Hungarian
Émigrés in 1956), in Az 1956-os Intézet Évkönyve, 1996–97 (Annals of the 1956 Institute, 1996–97)
(Budapest, 1997), 275.
The US-run radio called the Hungarian prime minister a ‘traitor and a murderer of the nation’, urged that the agreed ceasefire be rejected, and considered the results of Imre Nagy’s efforts to be no more than ‘bullets, persecution, Soviet troops, and terror’, with only the state security thugs on the side of a ‘government with blood on its hands’. When Imre Nagy extended his cabinet to include popular politicians, Radio Free Europe claimed they ‘were better suited to the convicts’ bench than to any ministerial post’. Yet on 31 October, they would report on ‘Hungary’s rebirth’ and the country’s ‘leader sent by God’. In addition to all this, the commentators of the US-led Radio Free Europe in Munich made the revolutionaries believe that there would be armed support for the Hungarians in their fight for freedom—an idea no one subscribed to in Washington, and which had been categorically rejected from the start.1515 There could be no question of US forces, or even of UN peacekeepers. See the telegram from the
State Department on 4 November 1956: NARA 764.00/11-456.

If the information getting through to Washington was confused, that arriving in New York was even paltrier: though the Hungarian Revolution was put on the agenda, no proposal for any kind of resolution was submitted to the United Nations. In the light of Imre Nagy’s telegrams, they even shied away from recognizing, let alone guaranteeing, Hungarian neutrality. Indeed, over the ocean, the very idea of neutrality was anathema: how could anyone be neutral in the fight between good and evil?1616 For Lodge’s statement on neutrality, see: Seymour M. Finger, Your Man at the UN (New York
University Press, 1980), 79.
And while UN envoy Cabot Lodge emphasized the ‘psychological’ and propaganda opportunities afforded by the Hungarian Revolution, and talked of troop withdrawal, sovereignty, negotiations, he tabled no motion for a vote, and the session was—at Yugoslav instigation—postponed to 5 November.1717 NARA 764.00/10-2556. According to the UK representative to the UN, on 3 November 1956
Lodge had no authorization to submit a resolution proposal, given that the situation in Hungary was
‘too obscure’. See: Haraszti-Taylor, The Hungarian Revolution of 1956, 164.
Most importantly, Suez had become the focus of attention, with the Israeli–British–French attack dramatically cooling relations between the Western allies, and with Washington voting with Moscow against its European friends in the very hours that the Soviet invasion of Hungary was being prepared.

It was of concern to the Western allies that any proposal for a joint resolution could have been used against the two Security Council members intervening in Egypt, so they hesitated to submit even one. Yet as early as 26 October—before the Suez ‘adventure’ began—their confidential correspondence suggested that a broader implementation of the principles declared in connection with Hungary was a cause for concern. Secretary of State Dulles instructed them not to deal with the Hungarian issue until 1 November, and they were told to await the arrival of the official envoy. When he gave his UN speech on 1 November, however, he made no mention of the Hungarian Revolution. When news of Soviet troop movements reached New York, however, there was talk of establishing an observation group,1818 NARA 764.00/29-1056. Presumably, this was what caused news to spread in Budapest that a
UN committee was arriving in Hungary.
and at this stage, the British ambassador in Budapest was urging that the United Nations take action.1919 See: Haraszti-Taylor, The Hungarian Revolution of 1956, 451. During these five crucial days, however, the UN would remain inactive.

Efforts to create disarray were part of the Soviet strategy: in the Security Council Soviet UN representative Sobolev questioned the authenticity of the messages being received from Budapest. As János Szabó did not seem very effective in denying these allegations, Imre Nagy had to send a message to confirm that all his previous telegrams were authentic and lawful.2020 3 November 1956. Imre Nagy’s telegram to Hammarskjöld. UNARM S-0442-0138-06. See:
documents archive of János Péter, MNL XIX-J-1-j, box 81.
While the UN secretary general was waiting for ‘clarification’,2121 See the US Department of State telegram of 1 November 1956. NARA 764.00/11-156. Szabó was in no hurry to publish the messages received; then, when he was urged on by Budapest, he had problems with his own mandate. On 4 November—that is, on the very day of the second Soviet invasion—he handed over an informal note to Hammarskjöld, stating that he had no mandate to participate in the special session, and that he had received no information or instructions from Budapest.2222 DHS L 179:83. All he said was that negotiations were taking place between the Hungarian and Soviet sides, and that they were approaching agreement in the spirit of the UN resolution, while the truth was that the Hungarian delegation, led by Defence Minister Pál Maléter, was being arrested in Tököl, outside Budapest, by the general of the Soviet state security.

Previously, even the US delegation had considered asking for someone to come from Budapest.2323 See the 29 October 1956 telegram from the US mission to the UN. NARA 764.00/10-2956. It was later recalled that János Szabó asked the Foreign Ministry to send a ‘fascist’ to read out the statement of neutrality.2424 ÁBTL K-1360/I. (At this time, only the Soviets considered the Hungarian freedom struggle to be a fascist putsch.)

Imre Nagy did not know that by appointing Szabó as UN representative he had put a secret service agent in a strategic position. Szabó was a member of the UN delegation from August 1956; his secret service work was not rated highly at Budapest headquarters, and he had no achievements to his name—as is attested by a secret service document drawn up some time later. But they were wrong: the sabotage and disruption brought by ‘Bertalan Székely’ at the United Nations (for, during these crucial days, his ignominious efforts were indeed a ‘success’) were much more damaging to the cause of the Revolution than Kós’s, reading out the official telegram, could ever be. Furthermore, there were no doubts about Szabó’s mandate, something that would later be of significance.

According to the documents, Pál Rácz was Szabó’s ‘handler’; during the decisive days, Rácz established official contact with him, and this is why he refused to read out Imre Nagy’s declaration. He received his instructions not from his superiors in Budapest, but rather from Pál Rácz and Imre Hollai, and, as they later described it, ‘although “Székely” did not have sure knowledge of Comrade Hollai’s position in the intelligence service, he took his advice and executed the instructions, even at the most difficult times’.2525 ÁBTL K-1360/I. For at the time of the Revolution, ‘Comrades Hollai and Rácz were forced to retreat into the shadows. […] Székely was left on his own, with no directions from the headquarters’,2626 See the 1961 report entitled ‘On the discharged secret operative with code name Bertalan
Székely’, in which they cite Hollai’s report given in the Hungarian Foreign Ministry on 11 March 1957. ÁBTL K-1360/I.
as a later report reconstructs the events of those crucial days. In spite of the fact that during the Revolution the Hungarian State Protection Authority (ÁVH) became disoriented and many undercover operatives had their covers blown, it remained the real centre of power and operated as such. For ‘in this period Comrade Hollai repeatedly visited the Soviet permanent UN mission, where the Soviet comrades gave him information on events back in Hungary and on expected developments’.2727 ÁBTL K-1360/I. The Soviet envoys to the UN in New York knew more than Kádár and his ministers did; the former was then being given history lessons in Moscow, while the latter were in hiding from revolutionaries, many of them at the Soviet base in Tököl. As Hollai remembers it, ‘we were always talking to [Szabó], and, as regards the Hungarian position, he carried out the instructions that we established together. […] All he asked was that we did not leave him in the lurch, if something were to happen …28’28 ÁBTL K-1360/I. The ‘Hungarian’ position, then, was elaborated and became of historical importance through the agreement of the two ÁVH officers and the modest Szabó, and in harmony with the orders of the Soviet comrades.

Just half a year later, the two participants in this story reconstructed it for the UN Department of the Hungarian Foreign Ministry in Budapest as follows: ‘constant and quickly changing instructions’ arrived from Budapest, while the ‘broken and limited contact’2929 As early as 23 November 1956, Hollai made a note, entitled ‘Some questions relating to the
Hungarian question’, MNL XIX-1-24a, box 3 (New York).
with headquarters only heightened the confusion. ‘Alongside the declaration’ of Imre Nagy, remembered Péter Mód and Imre Hollai, ‘they sent an anti-Soviet speech. […] The Hungarian delegation was not willing to read out this speech, because it was entirely clear that, should it do so, this could easily lead to UN troops being sent to Hungary to fight against the Soviet Union.30’30 Mód and Hollai reported to the members of the UN Department of the Hungarian Foreign
Ministry on 6 March 1957. MNL XIX-J-24-a, box 1 (documents from the Hungarian High
Consulate in New York). Szabó should have delivered the speech on neutrality at the special session
of the UN Assembly (which was convened to discuss the Suez Crisis). MNL XIX-J-1-j 81, box 4/j.
The memories of those involved also suggest that it was only after this that the Kádár government was created; that is, the delegation did not execute the instructions received from the legitimate prime minister, just as Hollai did not obey the summons he received from the Foreign Ministry.3131 Hollai was involved in the work of the Assembly when it voted on the Austrian proposal for aid.
MNL XIX-J-24-a, box 1.
When they learned of the formation of the Kádár government, they also knew that the secretary-general of the UN had been informed that Kádár had invalidated Imre Nagy’s earlier messages. Szabó informed the UN of the formation of the new government, showing that he possessed the unique ability to represent in one person first the Revolution and then the counter-revolution.

This aroused attention in the assembly hall: Eskelund, the Danish delegate, requested information on the ‘gentleman’s’ accreditation, while Lodge, given the transfer of power from one Hungarian government to another, raised the question of legitimacy.3232 On 2 November 1956, the Department of State in Washington asked the same of its ambassador
in Budapest. In response to this US interest, Károly Szarka gave a dilatory response on 3 November.
NARA 764.00/11.356.
At this point, Ferenc Nagy and Pál Auer asked to speak,3333 Pál Auer was one of the key figures in the Hungarian émigré community. Together with Ferenc
Nagy, on 3 November he drew the attention of the United Nations to the impending Soviet
invasion. UNARM S-0442-0138-06.
wishing to represent Hungary on the basis of their former authorization. They did not receive a reply to their letter, but from then on the building of the Hungarian UN mission was put under police protection, to guarantee that the diplomats be unharmed and able to move freely. Of course, this measure was considered by Kádár’s propagandists as provocation and as house arrest,3434 MNL XIX-J-1-j, box 209. Also see: Endre Sík, Bem rakparti évek (Years on Bem Quay) (Budapest:
Kossuth Kiadó, 1970).
though in fact it represented the will of the guardians of freedom to vouch for the personal and legal security of those who were extinguishing freedom.

Translated by David Evans

  • 1
    1 During their visit, Mikhail Suslov and Anastas Mikoyan recommended that the party leadership
    be made younger, that the percentage of leaders of Jewish extraction be reduced, and that attacks
    be made on ‘anti-party groups’.
  • 2
    2 Prime Minister András Hegedűs only signed the request for Soviet assistance some days later.
  • 3
    3 ‘The treasonous UN delegation should be replaced at once!’, Igazság (30 October 1956). ‘Kós Péter
    = Lev Konduktorov’, Magyar Nemzet (31 October 1956).
  • 4
    4 NAA A 1209 1957/5279.
  • 5
    5 On the two telegrams, see: Csaba Békés and Gusztáv Kecskés D., eds, A forradalom és a magyar
    kérdés az ENSZ-ben, 1956–1963. Tanulmányok, dokumentumok és kronológia (The Revolution and the
    Hungarian Question at the UN, 1956–1963. Studies, Documents, and Chronology) (Budapest:
    Magyar ENSZ Társaság, 2007).
  • 6
    6 ‘The comrades sent from the Ministry of the Interior find themselves in a difficult position
    in the embassies. They have been almost completely exposed.’ MNL 288f., storage unit
    32/1957/7 (documents of the Foreign Affairs Division of the MSZMP Central Committee). On 1
    November, they ordered the diplomatic missions to send the intelligence operatives home at once. See: Magdolna Baráth and Lajos Gecsényi, eds, Főkonzulok, követek és nagykövetek, 1945–1990
    (Consul Generals, Envoys, Ambassadors, 1945–1990) (Budapest: MTA Bölcsészettudományi
    Kutatóközpont, 2015), 40–41.
  • 7
    7 The FBI pointed out that, following the communist takeover in Yugoslavia (during the period
    of Tito–Stalin friendship), Protitch remained in the Yugoslav foreign service. See the documents
    published by the FBI (on the basis of the Freedom of Information Act) in the Bang-Jensen Archive
    (hereinafter: BJI, National Széchényi Library, Manuscript Archive, Fond. 413), box 33.
  • 8
    8 The documents have survived among the so-called Cordier Papers, placed in the archive of
    Columbia University by the outgoing Deputy Secretary-General Andrew W. Cordier (Columbia
    University, Butler Library, Rare Books and Manuscript Collection; hereinafter: Andrew Cordier
    Papers, ACP).
  • 9
    9 UNARM S-0442-0138-06.
  • 10
    10 MNL XIX-J-1-j 81, box 4/j. Also see: Éva Gál, ed., A „Jelcin –dosszié”. Szovjet dokumentumok 1956-
    ról (The “Yeltsin Dossier”. Soviet Documents Related to 1956) (Budapest: Századvég – 1956-os
    Intézet, 1993), 127.
  • 11
    11 Similar instructions were sent to Sobolev, Soviet envoy to the UN, by the Central Committee of
    the Soviet Communist Party. See: Gál, ed., A „Jelcin –dosszié”, 59.
  • 12
    12 János Radványi, Hungary and the Superpowers. The 1956 Revolution and Realpolitik (Stanford:
    Stanford University Press, 1972), 3–7.
  • 13
    13 See the statement of Béla Varga at his press conference held on 28 October. MNL XIX-J-1-j,
    box 55.
  • 14
    14 The British position is cited in Éva Haraszti-Taylor, The Hungarian Revolution of 1956. A Collection
    of Documents from the British Foreign Office (Nottingham: Astra Press, 1995), 112–117. At the same
    time, US Chargé d’Affaires Barnes asked from Budapest that in what followed the media should
    avoid making statements regarding Imre Nagy. Cited in James C. McCargar, ‘A Szabad Európa
    Bizottság és a magyar emigránsok 1956-ban’ (The Free Europe Committee and the Hungarian
    Émigrés in 1956), in Az 1956-os Intézet Évkönyve, 1996–97 (Annals of the 1956 Institute, 1996–97)
    (Budapest, 1997), 275.
  • 15
    15 There could be no question of US forces, or even of UN peacekeepers. See the telegram from the
    State Department on 4 November 1956: NARA 764.00/11-456.
  • 16
    16 For Lodge’s statement on neutrality, see: Seymour M. Finger, Your Man at the UN (New York
    University Press, 1980), 79.
  • 17
    17 NARA 764.00/10-2556. According to the UK representative to the UN, on 3 November 1956
    Lodge had no authorization to submit a resolution proposal, given that the situation in Hungary was
    ‘too obscure’. See: Haraszti-Taylor, The Hungarian Revolution of 1956, 164.
  • 18
    18 NARA 764.00/29-1056. Presumably, this was what caused news to spread in Budapest that a
    UN committee was arriving in Hungary.
  • 19
    19 See: Haraszti-Taylor, The Hungarian Revolution of 1956, 451.
  • 20
    20 3 November 1956. Imre Nagy’s telegram to Hammarskjöld. UNARM S-0442-0138-06. See:
    documents archive of János Péter, MNL XIX-J-1-j, box 81.
  • 21
    21 See the US Department of State telegram of 1 November 1956. NARA 764.00/11-156.
  • 22
    22 DHS L 179:83.
  • 23
    23 See the 29 October 1956 telegram from the US mission to the UN. NARA 764.00/10-2956.
  • 24
    24 ÁBTL K-1360/I.
  • 25
    25 ÁBTL K-1360/I.
  • 26
    26 See the 1961 report entitled ‘On the discharged secret operative with code name Bertalan
    Székely’, in which they cite Hollai’s report given in the Hungarian Foreign Ministry on 11 March 1957. ÁBTL K-1360/I.
  • 27
    27 ÁBTL K-1360/I.
  • 28
    ’28 ÁBTL K-1360/I.
  • 29
    29 As early as 23 November 1956, Hollai made a note, entitled ‘Some questions relating to the
    Hungarian question’, MNL XIX-1-24a, box 3 (New York).
  • 30
    ’30 Mód and Hollai reported to the members of the UN Department of the Hungarian Foreign
    Ministry on 6 March 1957. MNL XIX-J-24-a, box 1 (documents from the Hungarian High
    Consulate in New York). Szabó should have delivered the speech on neutrality at the special session
    of the UN Assembly (which was convened to discuss the Suez Crisis). MNL XIX-J-1-j 81, box 4/j.
  • 31
    31 Hollai was involved in the work of the Assembly when it voted on the Austrian proposal for aid.
    MNL XIX-J-24-a, box 1.
  • 32
    32 On 2 November 1956, the Department of State in Washington asked the same of its ambassador
    in Budapest. In response to this US interest, Károly Szarka gave a dilatory response on 3 November.
    NARA 764.00/11.356.
  • 33
    33 Pál Auer was one of the key figures in the Hungarian émigré community. Together with Ferenc
    Nagy, on 3 November he drew the attention of the United Nations to the impending Soviet
    invasion. UNARM S-0442-0138-06.
  • 34
    34 MNL XIX-J-1-j, box 209. Also see: Endre Sík, Bem rakparti évek (Years on Bem Quay) (Budapest:
    Kossuth Kiadó, 1970).

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