Few historical events over the past 70 years have rivaled the 1956 Hungarian revolution in its domestic and international impact. The research presented in the first part of this article (published in the Fall 2017 issue of the journal), which was based largely on recently declassified archival documents, focused on a specific aspect of the international response to the revolution—namely, the efforts of the United Nations (UN) to deal with urgent events during and immediately after the revolution. This second part focuses on the tragic consequences of the revolution, including trials, imprisonments, and executions, in the years that followed. The limitations of the UN in this instance have rarely been discussed, particularly by the organization's supporters. The silence surrounding these issues has affected dissidents and others throughout the world confronting dictatorial regimes. An understanding of what went wrong is crucial if the UN is to be more effective in the future.
Few historical events over the past 70 years have rivaled the 1956 Hungarian revolution in its impact both at home and abroad. The research presented in the first part of this article (published in the Fall 2017 issue of the journal) was largely based on recently declassified archival documents and focused on a specific aspect of the international response to the revolution: the efforts of the United Nations (UN) to deal with urgent events during the revolution and in the year after. The second part of the article, published here, focuses on the tragic consequences that followed the revolution, including trials, imprisonments, and executions. The UN's limitations in this instance have rarely been discussed, particularly by the organization's supporters, and that silence has affected dissidents and others throughout the world who confront dictatorial regimes. An understanding of what went wrong is crucial if the UN is to be more effective in the future.
The Special Committee Report
Despite numerous controversies that arose during the creation of the UN Special Committee on the Problem of Hungary (SpecCom), the publication of the SpecCom Report was a great achievement.1 Regarded as a comprehensive chronicle of the 1956 revolution, the report was translated into several languages, prefaced by important politicians, and distributed in hundreds of thousands of copies. It continues to serve as a unique historical document.
Some of the most attentive readers and analysts of the report were the Hungarian Communist authorities—particularly those in the Foreign Ministry and intelligence services.2 Once the report was published, the full text was immediately translated into Hungarian and printed for exclusive distribution among senior members of the party elite. Individual chapters were assigned to specific ministries or other relevant authorities.3 The intelligence services condemned what they deemed the “espionage executed by the UN Committee” and sought to unmask and denounce the “criminals and traitors” who by their “false testimonies were misguiding the international community.”4 At the same time, a team of international law experts headed by the Communist scholar Gyula Eörsi began to assemble legal justifications for rejecting the report and its “propagandistic character.”5
The magnitude and complexity of the efforts to discredit the report were enormous. The endeavor shows—if only indirectly—that János Kádár's government attached great importance to the UN. Kádár's regime had continually disputed the UN's authority and prevented its representatives from entering Hungary, a refusal that breached the UN Charter. Yet once an official document like the SpecCom Report had been published, it was taken extremely seriously. Kádár himself oversaw the response—a process that became the subject of extensive debate within the Hungarian Politburo.6 Deadlines for ministry assessments were set so that a coordinated response could be prepared well ahead of the UN General Assembly session at which the report was to be considered. From the Ministry of Defense to the Ministry of Interior, counterarguments were submitted by all relevant authorities. The Foreign Ministry's Department of International Organizations submitted a 146-page analysis to prove the “fictional” character of the text (the phrase “Andersen's Tale” figures as one of the milder expressions of dissent).7 As for the legal basis on which the UN investigation was challenged, Hungarian experts on international law referred to UN precedents and interpreted the UN Charter to suit their own purposes. Their arguments also focused on the laws of the relevant member countries that had prepared the report and attacked the controversial legal practices of Western democracies that held colonies.
Hungary's right to its autonomy—a right that, in the Kádár regime's depiction, was preserved by the Soviet invasion but was now threatened by the UN report—was defended with severe wording. In addition to denouncing the UN for “interfering in Hungary's internal matters,” Kádár's government questioned each aspect of the UN investigation. The main objection was that the SpecCom had employed unusual methods in questioning “criminals” about their “crimes.”8 According to the Hungarian propaganda, all SpecCom witnesses had engaged in high treason by offering testimony, participating in the revolution, or illegally crossing borders. In the eyes of the Communist authorities, the three “open” witnesses (Anna Kéthly, minister of the revolutionary government; József Kővágó, mayor of Budapest; and Béla Király, commander-in-chief of the National Guard) were also “convicted criminals,” each having been condemned and imprisoned by Mátyás Rákosi's Stalinist regime in the early 1950s.9 Even if the accusations against them had been fabricated and the sentences later declared unlawful, subsequent rehabilitation was impossible because such privileges were not extended to those who had left Hungary. Witnesses who had revealed their names or were later identified by the Hungarian authorities were accused of other crimes, such as looting, murder, war atrocities, and undermining constitutional order.10 The SpecCom members themselves were also targeted as partisan and prejudiced enemies of the Hungarian People's Republic.11 Once the responses from the bureaus were received, summarized, carefully edited, and stylistically reviewed, they were approved at the highest levels of both the party and the government.12 However, the Hungarian government's reply was made public only after the Soviet Union had issued its own harsh rejection of the report.13
The SpecCom Report contained several factual errors that Communist propagandists eagerly exploited. For example, the report mistook the Államvédelmi Hatóság (State Defense Authority, ÁVH) for the Állami Ellenőrzési Hivatal (State Control Bureau, ÁEH) and confused the tenure of the earlier Prime Minister Ferenc Nagy with that of Imre Nagy. The Western embassies in Budapest highlighted some of these errors, but they were only partially corrected.14 Povl Bang-Jensen also alerted the UN rapporteur to several inaccuracies, including the alleged legality of the revolutionary government and the legal basis of the invitation extended to Soviet troops. Bang-Jensen also wanted to be sure that the report correctly indicated that Defense Minister Pál Maléter had been arrested not by Soviet military commanders but by Soviet State Security (KGB) personnel—an event that surprised the Soviet military officers who had been negotiating with Maléter under a supposed white flag. Bang-Jensen supplied a list of corrections numerous times, as he—having been involved from the interview and initial selection of potential witnesses to the review of the report's final drafts—possessed a broad knowledge of the testimonies. But his reservations and suggestions went unanswered and often unnoticed. This may not have been purely accidental.15 As inaccuracies went uncorrected, the Communist authorities highlighted them in order to undermine the report's credibility.
Having reestablished control over the country with the support of the Soviet Army, the Communist authorities feared that the report might undermine what they had achieved. They tried to avoid this scenario through several maneuvers. First, the Hungarian Foreign Ministry launched an extensive campaign to convince other countries—mainly in the Third World—that the Hungarian turmoil had been orchestrated by the “imperialists,” specifically the former European colonial powers from which the Third World states had broken free.16 Furthermore, despite Hungary's own relative economic poverty, the Foreign Ministry suggested that developing countries could receive economic assistance from the Soviet bloc, conditional on their future votes at the UN about the matter at hand.17 Hungarian diplomats also offered to trade votes on issues of specific interest to various countries (e.g., the question of Kashmir for India or fishing rights for Iceland) in order to strengthen their proposals. Hungary's embassies in the Western democracies were also ordered to condemn the report. Those efforts were then reinforced by local Communist parties that, with Soviet financing, staged their own propaganda campaigns on behalf of the Hungarian government.18
In addition to the diplomatic efforts and legal objections launched against the report, the Hungarian government also initiated a full-scale, meticulously organized campaign against the UN inside Hungary.19 Few were able to abstain from this “spontaneous” initiative. Bishops and rabbis, peasants and workers (tens of thousands from Csepel Island—once a revolutionary hotspot), intellectuals, teachers, and writers (once the instigators of the revolution), scientists, athletes, and women's federation representatives were pressured to mount a “broad” demonstration against the report.20 Thousands of protest cables were sent to the UN Secretary General from Hungary, and protest leaders were filmed handing over folders filled with signatures for the foreign minister to transmit to the UN. The campaign peaked as the UN General Assembly commenced its discussion of the report. Nonetheless, cynicism prevailed. As Kádár himself mentioned, the Hungarian public did not have access to the text of the report. Thus, the protesters had little idea what they were protesting against.21
Following the publication of the report, senior UN officials were strangely indifferent to Hungary's affairs. In the hot summer of 1957, when UN efforts concerning Hungary seemed to bear little fruit, the decision was made at the organization's highest level to let the Hungarian affair “peter out.”22 Preparations had initially been made to discuss the report at the UN General Assembly and to vote for resolutions that would be even harsher as a result of the systematic investigation—especially because international interest in the situation in Hungary had surged after the report's publication. UN leaders, however, decided that the issue should be closed. When Dag Hammarskjöld met Péter Mód in August 1957, the Secretary General stated that on two issues he did not want to be involved because agreement was impossible. One was the Hungarian question.23 Hammarskjöld's attitude might be explained by the fact that a new Secretary General was to be elected at the September 1957 UN General Assembly meeting. Although Hammarskjöld was the leading candidate, anyone vying for the job could potentially be vetoed by a major power. He may have believed he needed to deemphasize Hungary in order to maintain Soviet support.
Archival evidence reveals that the majority of SpecCom members wanted to continue their work in accordance with the original conditions of the General Assembly resolution (“from time to time to prepare additional reports”).24 As details of the revolution and Kádár's “Reprisal” surfaced, members of the SpecCom believed the UN was capable of extending help to the Hungarian people—particularly those who were being arrested, tried, imprisoned, or executed. Nonetheless, confidential correspondence and unpublicized instructions from the UN Secretariat precluded further meetings and the preparation of additional reports. UN Under Secretary General of Political and Security Council Affairs Dragoslav Protitch—notified by Under Secretary General Andrew Cordier of the Secretariat's decision—informed SpecCom Secretary William Jordan of the Secretariat's views. In a letter to Jordan, Protitch claimed “it would be difficult to find an appropriate focus for a third report, since it would have mainly to center around the reports of trials and executions,” and therefore “it would be inadvisable” to try to produce one. Whether Cordier had obtained the consent of the Secretary General to discourage SpecCom members from producing additional reports remains unclear. Regardless, the decision was obeyed and executed by Jordan and the committee's rapporteur, Keith Charles Owen Shann. SpecCom's reporting responsibility was effectively replaced by a Special Representative, whose updates did not possess the same strength as the main SpecCom Report—nor were they anywhere near as influential.25
As information about the domestic situation in Hungary continued to arrive in New York, those reading the original documents could picture the elaborate preparations being made in Budapest for the General Assembly session on 10 September 1957. The number of court cases began to grow as the intensity of the “Reprisal” accelerated. Before the UN General Assembly commenced its session, the police in Hungary were ordered to be on full alert.26 Intelligence officers were responsible for conducting surveillance and suppress any “unlawful activity” they witnessed. Phone lines were bugged, security at military bases elevated, and networks of agents ordered to forward secret information to the political police about possible preparations. The Foreign Ministry in Budapest, fearing that the building could became a target for protesters, installed two machine-gun units and removed all classified documents from the premises.27 The regime deployed its Workers’ Militia to guard strategic posts with advanced weapons, which had been gifts from Czechoslovakia.28
Despite all these preparations, rumors spread throughout Hungary that the Soviet troops were already “packing up.”29 Unable to disregard the UN resolutions any longer, Soviet forces supposedly would leave Hungary after 10 September. Despite recent events, some optimism—even hope—was burgeoning. The UN would finally help.
The report served as a renewed occasion for the General Assembly to adopt a resolution censuring the USSR and Hungary based on the report's description of the events.30 However, the condemned countries disregarded this resolution as they had the previous ones. Instead, they proceeded to attack both the UN and the SpecCom in even harsher terms than before. The General Assembly requested that Prince Wan Waithayakon, president of the Eleventh Session of the UN General Assembly and Thailand's chief envoy to the UN, serve as Special Representative for the Hungarian Problem. Considering the events of the previous eleven months, his mandate to ensure the observance of UN resolutions would not be easy to carry out. Aristocrats were easy targets for the class-warfare rhetoric of Marxist-Leninist ideology. This reality was illustrated by the case of the Hungarian aristocrats who, upon returning to Hungary during the 1956 revolution, were accused of attempting to reconstruct the pre-1939 “feudal-capitalistic” system.31 Even though Prince Wan was a prominent politician representing a nonaligned country, the Hungarian government could easily deride the absurdity of an aristocrat bearing responsibility for a UN resolution concerning the affairs of a Communist country. Within weeks, the prince realized he would not achieve any progress with the Hungarian authorities. However, he promised to do his best despite the circumstances.32
Wan managed to keep the Hungarian “problem” on the agenda at the UN and also in Hungary. An official UN document listed all the broken promises and unlawful measures that had transpired, including the false Soviet pullout from Budapest during the revolution, Moscow's promise on 30 October 1956 to rethink relations with “fraternal” countries, the Yugoslav embassy's abduction of Nagy government officials (in spite of Kádár's guarantee that they would be able to return home), and the arrest of Maléter and his companions. Furthermore, the General Assembly resolved that supplemental reports were to focus not only on the history of the revolution but on the latest status of thousands of people facing trials (despite Kádár's promise of amnesty for participants in the revolution).33 Western rhetoric that Hungary would not be abandoned after the bitter experiences of October fostered the expectation that the UN would, at the very least, not overlook or forget Hungarians’ fate. The magnitude of these hopes resulted in the large number of communications received by SpecCom, which were collected and internally circulated as before. Claire de Héderváry also safeguarded these documents, preserving papers even after she ascended to a more senior position at the UN that conflicted with her earlier work on Hungary.34
The vast amount of preserved documentation paints a comprehensive picture of the frequency and nature of the information the UN acquired. Secretariat staff continued to collect Hungarian and Soviet press articles and media reviews (such as radio broadcasts and television programs), gathering information on the economic, political, and cultural implications of the “Consolidation.” Special emphasis was given to the consequences of the revolution—particularly the arrests, trials, sentences, imprisonments, and executions, which were carefully listed. Because official sources were not always available or reliable, estimates and exaggerations were not unusual. For example, a report of 21 June 1957 referred to 2,000 persons killed and 35,000 deported. These numbers are a vast overstatement.35 However, no action was considered, much less taken, on the basis of these reports, which were simply filed away. Because news could not be obtained on such topics from official Hungarian sources, Western diplomats regularly visited the Budapest court buildings where trial announcements were posted on the courtroom doors. These notices included dates and times, the names of the accused, the charges against them, and, often, their sentences. The embassies in Budapest forwarded the information to their governments, which in turn submitted the information to the UN.36
The hope renewed by the inclusion of the Hungarian issue on the General Assembly agenda encouraged those inside Hungary to forward information to the UN. Participants’ relatives, friends, fellow ex-inmates, and sympathetic observers submitted data in any way they could. Many shared their experiences with the regime's methods of suppression and described how the authorities were attempting to consolidate their power. Collecting and smuggling information out of the country was extremely risky.37 Nonetheless, informants attempted to subvert government repression by sending information with those who could travel outside Hungary (a few scientists and artists were allowed to travel abroad, albeit exclusively on official business) by mailing letters with false or no return addresses, or by corresponding with refugee community intermediaries who could then contact the UN.38 Larger, more comprehensive works were also submitted to the UN, including a masterful description of the Hungarian press in the aftermath of the revolution and a reliable assessment of the military's “purification.”39 Other submissions covered aspects of refugees’ fates as they faced unemployment, prejudice, and the difficulties of finding a country willing to accept them.
Upon receipt by the SpecCom, these items, too, were simply catalogued and filed away. The lack of notice paid to the items named on the “List of Communications Received by the Committee” would prove tragic. What is more, the UN seemed to ignore the fact that, in the early Kádár period, the international body met the Hungarian legal definition of an “enemy power.” Those who submitted information to the UN were “spying,” the legal charge for which remained high treason. The intelligence officers in Hungary thus focused their energies on trying to stop information from escaping the country, whereas those at the UN sought to obtain as much of that information as they could. More often than not, the efforts to block the information prevailed.
The 1958 Report
As time passed, the “List of Communications Received” documented a worrisome growth in the number of death sentences. Some executions were for minor charges, and all too often the appeal of a life sentence resulted in a new sentence of execution by hanging. The last half of 1957 and the first half of 1958 witnessed increasing concern that the lives of the leaders of the revolution, too, would not be spared. Imre Nagy and Maléter symbolized the revolutionary government. As long as they were alive, the hopes and ideals of the revolution could survive. The Secretary General had accepted some responsibility for Nagy and for Maléter after Nagy sent him a personal appeal during the critical days of the revolution.40 When Hammarskjöld met Maléter's former wife—the mother of their children—in New York, he promised to do everything he could for the former defense minister.41 However, the Hungarian authorities continued to reject all requests for information, depicting the inquiries as interference in the internal affairs of the country. Furthermore, they persisted in denying that trials would be staged against the revolutionary leaders. In addition, the Romanian government forbade UN observers from entering Romania to meet the arrested prime minister and his associates, who had been taken to Romania after leaving the Yugoslav embassy in November 1956. The Romanians did, however, forward Nagy's expression of gratitude for allowing him to stay in friendly Romania.42
The news concerning Maléter was even more unnerving. In August 1957—the month before the scheduled reelection of the Secretary General—the UN received a cable from Brussels sent by György Heltai, who was one of the most important refugee politicians and arguably the most important SpecCom witness, having testified before the committee four months earlier. He reported that Maléter's driver and bodyguard—who had been shipped by train to the USSR before returning to Hungary and then escaping to Belgium—was willing to testify.43 Heltai's reliance on a cable rather than a letter suggested the importance of the message and the possibility that information about Maléter's fate might come to light. This should have been enough to induce the SpecCom to reconvene and prepare a supplemental report. However, Heltai's crucial message became nothing more than another item on the “List of Communications” that indicated the presence of yet another nameless source who, in addition to the other thousands of willing refugees, was available to testify. Bang-Jensen, who recalled the significance of the comprehensive testimony Heltai had delivered before the SpecCom, repeatedly emphasized the risks of ignoring such a potential witness.44 Yet both Maléter's fate and Heltai's cable were practically disregarded.
At the September 1957 General Assembly meeting, Hammarskjöld was reelected as Secretary General. The meeting made clear that Hungary would not face serious consequences for disregarding UN General Assembly resolutions. The Hungarian authorities thus had no reason to halt their “Consolidation” and “Reprisal.” Major trials were secretly initiated as Imre Nagy and Maléter were accused of high treason for attacking Hungary's constitutional order. Nagy's appeal to the UN—interpreted as a request for military aid against his own country that risked the outbreak of a general war—became a major item in the indictment.45
Rumors from Budapest about pending trials for Nagy and the other leaders of the revolution were extremely worrisome. (Unfortunately, they also proved accurate. The leaders were executed less than a month later).46 On 14 May 1958, Béla Varga—a senior member of the Hungarian refugee community—joined other exiled personalities in requesting an urgent UN meeting to discuss the latest developments in Hungary.47 The U.S. mission to the UN submitted to the UN Secretariat and the Hungarian mission a detailed list of pending trials that contained the names and biographies of the revolutionary leaders. Yet, for months nothing other than the ritual of epistolary communication between the secretariat and the Hungarian UN mission took place. UN officials continued to express their concerns, and the Hungarian regime continued to reject external interference in what it deemed Hungary's internal affairs. Ultimately, UN inaction may have encouraged the Hungarian authorities to proceed with their plan. The meeting between Mód and Hammarskjöld accorded with the Hungarian Foreign Ministry's instructions to “obtain information very carefully about the intentions of the SpecCom” prior to the conclusion of Nagy's and Maléter's trials.48 In some cases, UN attention and expressions of concern from the international community did help to avert death sentences.49 But the profound silence from the UN during this new phase of the “Reprisal” encouraged the Kádár regime to continue its “Consolidation.”
News of the death sentences and executions of the former prime minister, and defense minister and their associates was successively announced in Moscow and Budapest on 16 June 1958. As the documents of the Héderváry Collection show, the UN seemed unprepared to respond to these developments.50 Several members of the SpecCom were away from New York at the time of the announcement, and those present were uninformed about the situation in Hungary and perplexed about what to do.51 After the SpecCom was reconvened, a communiqué condemning the executions was finally released on 21 June 1958, and a cable from Prince Wan also condemned the executions.52 The minutes of the SpecCom meetings suggest those present were concerned about how to proceed without undermining Prince Wan's authority as the General Assembly's special representative.53 However, no one knew whether the prince had been informed of the news and, if so, whether he was planning to take action. Efforts to contact him and then to compose and issue a report about the trials and the sentences took nearly a month.54 A significant part of the 1958 UN report focuses on why the organization had remained inactive throughout the previous year. The document quotes from the many returned letters that had been sent to the Hungarian authorities and describes the failed attempts to obtain information from the governments involved (Hungary, the USSR, Yugoslavia, and Romania).55 However, the 1958 report was not discussed at a General Assembly session until 22 September 1958—more than three months after the executions. Ultimately, the UN did not adopt any emergency measures in response.
The 1958 report had neither the depth nor the influence of the 1957 report. In the interim, Hungarian politicians had established a detailed plan to avoid UN sanctions or “attacks.” Preparations in the Foreign Ministry began well before the death sentences were announced.56 In spite of the uproar from the international community, Hungarian diplomats soon acknowledged that the judicial murders did not have any lasting repercussion.57 On 12 December 1958, the work of the SpecCom was effectively terminated by the silent consent of the representatives from the committee's five constituent countries.58 After Prince Wan's term of inaction, another special representative, Sir Leslie Knox Munro from New Zealand, took over the job. However, his authority was more limited than that of his predecessor.59 Interpersonal strife tainted Munro's relationship with Hammarskjöld and Cordier, and both the Secretary General and his deputy advised the Hungarian UN representative that the Hungarian government should not consider Munro's role significant.60 He had no permanent office, and his “secretary” was occupied with other duties 95 percent of the time.61 That secretary was de Héderváry, who certainly had enough time to continue to safeguard all the documents. The collection she assembled, one of the largest on the history of the immediate postrevolutionary period, details how the UN's silence greatly assisted the completion of Kádár's “Consolidation,” bringing enormous suffering to the people of Hungary.
The complexity of postrevolutionary history is difficult to convey in chronological order, as its narratives do not necessarily take linear forms. Thus, the following case studies are meant as examples of significant issues and concerns, illustrating different directions the research has taken or may take in the future.
The “Disappointed” Bourgeois Politician
The most dramatic press campaign launched against the report by the Kádár regime involved a fabricated story about a prominent refugee politician. According to the 1957 UN report, Miklós Szabó had returned to Hungary because of his alleged “disappointment in the anti-Hungarian defamation campaign.”62 Szabó had in fact become an agent for the Hungarian intelligence services during his imprisonment—and possibly broke after torture—in the early 1950s. Prior to the revolution, his new bosses helped him “escape” to Austria with a fictional story (or, as the intelligence services referred to it, “legenda”) of how he had escaped to free soil.63 Once Szabó reached the Austrian capital, his prestige as an ex-political prisoner with rightwing convictions won him much public respect. He became a key player in the expatriate community. Furthermore, when the revolution broke out, Szabó traveled to Hungary for a few days before returning to Vienna, where he was instrumental in receiving tens of thousands of refugees. He engaged in numerous financial and political aspects of postrevolutionary exile activity, even occupying a position in the “refugee parliament” in Strasbourg.64 Corrupt and intolerant, he occasionally stirred controversy inside the refugee movement.65
In Vienna, Szabó aided UN SpecCom activities, collecting and forwarding documents to assist in the investigation. When he later “disappeared” from Austria, many thought he had been kidnapped or killed.66 But upon reappearing in Hungary, Szabó presented himself as a disillusioned refugee, voluntarily serving the government's anti-UN propaganda. He shared his purported knowledge of the SpecCom's “anti-Hungarian activity” with an interested public. He also claimed to have all of the names of the SpecCom's witnesses in his possession, having brought back many documents from Vienna.67 Several years later, Szabó admitted he had merely been playing the role assigned to him by the intelligence services upon his release from prison.
The Recycled Nazi
The talented painter György Szennik (codename “Szeles”) also offered his services to the secret police soon after the outbreak of the revolution. A celebrated artist in pre-1939 Hungary, Szennik had achieved great success with the propaganda posters he created on commission for the leaders of Nazi Germany. His work employed simple and harsh messages of anti-Semitic, anti-Bolshevik, or anti-American content.68 In the early 1950s, Szennik had been condemned to death. However, when his sentence was commuted to a life term, he was recruited as a prison informer.69 After reporting about his fellow inmates, Szennik went on to report about friends and colleagues with similar extreme-right convictions after his release. Under ÁVH instructions, he soon joined the revolution, founding several associations and reporting about their members and activities.70 After the Soviet invasion, Szennik volunteered to bring in Red Cross supplies from Vienna. He established contacts with resistance groups, transporting food and medication to them.71 He also enabled military action to be taken against these groups by simultaneously reporting their locations. Because Szennik claimed to have “extremely valuable documents for the UN,” resistance members trusted him to make submissions to and request urgent help from the international body.72 The intelligence services later trained him to be an agent in the refugee community and sent him to Austria.73 Once Szennik left Hungary, however, he ceased to be diligent. Greedy and confused, he failed to carry out the instructions he received from the intelligence services in Budapest and was finally recalled to Hungary, where he was threatened with a prison sentence if he revealed anything about his former activities.
The Seducer of the UN Commission
For many Hungarian refugees, Tamás Pásztor's presence in the SpecCom's Vienna office was disturbing. In the early 1950s, he had been a prison informer, supplying reports to the regime that destroyed many inmates’ lives.74 Attractive, cultivated, and fluent in several languages, Pásztor participated in the revolution before leaving for Vienna prior to the second Soviet invasion. In Austria, he was instrumental in establishing the refugee political network. He also assisted in collecting information for the SpecCom investigation, thanks to his knowledge of languages. In response to being approached and threatened multiple times by the Hungarian secret services in their attempts to recruit him as an agent, he warned the Austrian police that Hungarian undercover agents were active on Austrian soil. The news generated numerous dramatic reports published by the Viennese press.75 Pásztor's involvement in the SpecCom also led to a romantic relationship with Ita Glance, William Jordan's secretary, whom Pasztor later married. However, because of his dubious past, his applications for a U.S. visa were denied for years.76 (As the Hungarian intelligence services noted, the married man was also engaged in several love affairs.)
Pásztor continued to submit reports to SpecCom for several more years, basing them on “first-hand accounts” from Hungary.77 All the while, Hungarian intelligence services continued to place serious pressure on him to work for them, even using his aging mother's fate in Hungary as blackmail.78 However, the archival evidence does not indicate that any of these efforts were successful.
The French Connection
From 1 January to 15 September 1957, SpecCom wrapped up its investigation and prepared to submit its report to the UN General Assembly. During those crucial days, the Hungarian intelligence services either cracked the code used for French diplomatic cables or obtained another means of obtaining the messages sent between the Foreign Ministry in Paris and the French embassy in Budapest.79 The messages sent by the embassy contained the information that was to be provided to the UN, including clarifications of data and work instructions. Important names, locations, and events were disclosed and discussed. Today, copies of the messages received by the embassy in Paris are preserved in the archives of the Communist political police.
Two years later, in 1959, Péter Földes—a Hungarian journalist claiming to represent the “opposition” to Kádár's regime—gave lengthy testimony at the French legation in Budapest. His statement was to be sent to the UN and forwarded through diplomatic channels to Paris and then to the French UN mission in New York.80 When Földes was arrested in 1960, he initially denied any involvement in “unconstitutional activity.” However, upon being confronted with a copy of his testimony, he broke down. Subsequently imprisoned, he was freed six years after the 1963 general amnesty.
The Codebook of Ceylon (Sri Lanka)
The activities carried out by the Soviet intelligence services at the UN and elsewhere have been documented by many writers, including some Soviet defectors.81 The Soviet diplomat and secret service officer Vladimir Grusha formed a friendship with a junior member of the Ceylonese UN mission, Dhanapala Samarasekara, who provided the agent a copy of the Ceylonese codebook.82 In April 1957, after Grusha was caught by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and declared persona non grata, he was recalled from New York to Moscow. Meanwhile, the Ceylonese employee was suspended (with pay), and after a long and seemingly gentle process he left the UN.83 If the plot had not been uncovered, the Soviet Union would have been able to intercept the coded messages pertaining to the SpecCom's Hungarian investigation that were being sent to and from Colombo by SpecCom member Gunewardene (the Ceylonese UN ambassador).
The Lukács “Conspiracy” 84
One of the most tragic cases was that of László Lukács and his companions Alajos Czermann and Ákos Tumbász. After the revolution, Lukács was approached by a messenger who had been dispatched by Alfonz Lengyel. Lengyel, who was then a refugee outside Hungary, was Lukács's former prison mate.85 The messenger requested that Lukács forward information about Hungary to the UN. Lukács, Czermann, and Tumbász decided to obtain as much information as possible and offer it to the UN in the hopes of painting for the world a vivid portrait of what was happening in Hungary. Their contacts included not only intelligence agents but those entrapped by the secret police. One such agent was Csaba F. Nagy, a messenger between Hungary and the West.86 Two other members of the group had been recruited by Hungary's secret police.87
Whether their “intelligence” assignments in Hungary were responses to genuine requests from members of the refugee community in Austria or whether these unsophisticated agents had been hopelessly entrapped by Hungarian intelligence services from the start remains difficult to determine. Inexperienced in clandestine work, Lukács and his friends were unaware that the requests sought information outside the scope of the UN investigation.88 Obtaining information about Soviet troop movements was one of the group's primary tasks and of particular importance for the UN. However, this information would have been considered military intelligence by the authorities. After Lukács recruited his young brother-in-law, who was living close to both a Soviet Army base and the uranium mines in Pécs, the rookie “spy” approached an undercover counterintelligence officer who was a plant for the Soviet military.89 The police subsequently followed him and uncovered the entire network of informants.
Young Tumbász and the wife he had secretly married were attempting to escape to Yugoslavia when they were arrested and forced back to Hungary by Yugoslav border guards. The informants’ plot was easy for the intelligence services to document, as they had cooperated with co-conspirators throughout the course of their work. Archival documents suggest that this detail was not shared with the legal authorities in order to avoid any questions of possible entrapment.90 The Budapest military court sentenced Lukács to death, and Tumbász and Czermann received life terms. Those less involved were sentenced to a few years in prison. When the condemned appealed their sentences, the Supreme Court's Military Collegium Special Council changed the life sentences to death by hanging. The three men were executed in January and March 1959. The information they provided to the UN was filed away, as was the information about their executions.91
During the Cold War, many people who did not take part in the daily business of international politics assumed that the UN would abide by its own charter when dealing with international crises. But when crises arose, the contradiction between principles and practice proved formidable, especially when the two superpowers were on opposite sides of an issue. Such was the case for the Hungarian revolution. The revolutionaries who took to the streets placed their ultimate hope in the UN. Unfortunately, neither the UN's leaders nor the pragmatic diplomats assigned to the international body shared this naiveté.
More than 60 years after the event, many questions regarding the UN response to the Hungarian revolution remain unanswered. Until additional relevant documents become available to researchers and scholars, we cannot determine with confidence which UN failures were inevitable and which could have been avoided by an alternative approach to the “Problem of Hungary.” Providing answers to these questions might help the UN to respond more effectively to future crises.
United Nations (UN), Report of the Special Committee on the Problem of Hungary, General Assembly Official Records: Eleventh Session, Supplement No. 18 (A/3952) (New York: UN, September 1957).
Péter Mód, Hungarian ambassador to the UN, submitted five copies of the report to Budapest on 26 June 1957 with the comment: “Such a dirty document has never been produced in the history of the UN.” See “Mód Péter jelentése,” 26 June 1957, in Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár (MNL), XIX-J-24-a, Box 2, “A New York-i főkonzulátus iaratai” Folder. The same day—having obviously obtained prior access to the document—Magyar Távirati Iroda published the entire report as a special issue in its confidential series Bizalmas. Stenographic copies of the report were also made available to those permitted to read them. See “Az ENSZ Ötös Bizottságának jelentése,” 26 June 1957, in MNL, XIX-J-1-k, Box 94. The secret services’ analysis of the report is included in the third volume of “Counterrevolution in the Mirror of the State Security's Work.” See “Ellenforradalom az állambiztonsági munka tükrében,” n.d., in Állambiztonsági Szolgálatok Történeti Levéltára (ÁBTL), 3.1.9. V-150352/2.
The Hungarian Ministry of Justice provided a lengthy analysis attacking the legal basis of the UN investigation. Once the revolution had been defeated, the ministry also rejected the SpecCom Report's statements about the trials in Hungary. The author (or principal organizer of the text) was Gyula Eörsi, a Communist scholar and international law expert. See “Vázlat 1957,” 5 August 1957, in MNL, IM 00/4/1959. The Hungarian Ministry of Defense also contributed a detailed analysis of the military aspects of the report; it is preserved in Hadtörténeti Levéltár (Military History Archives), Budapest 1956, 8. Gyűjtemény, Folio 202–221.
János Kádár, head of the Soviet-installed government as of 4 November 1956, wanted the official Hungarian response to the SpecCom Report to be “offensive” instead of “defensive.” Members of the committee were accused of siding with the “fascists” who were “terrorizing the population in Budapest” in October–November 1956 and preparing to massacre Communists: “There are serious accusations against the members of the SpecCom who omitted these facts and attempted to mislead the General Assembly and lie to the international public.” See “Az Ötös Bizottság jelentésével kapcsolatos beszéd gondolatmenete,” 13 September 1957, in MNL, XIX-J-36. Western countries’ embassies in Budapest, which had forwarded reports about the revolution to the UN, were described as “countries that had antagonistic feelings toward Hungary and were instrumental in preparations for the counterrevolution.” See “Jelentés az ENSZ Ötösbizottságának tevékenységéről,” 7 July 1958, in MNL, XIX-J-1-k, Box 55.
Gyula Eörsi (1922–1992), legal expert and jurist, was instrumental in shaping the legal framework of both Stalinism and the Kádárian “Consolidation.” As a Hungarian consul in the United States and an expert on international law, Eörsi supported the efforts of the Hungarian UN mission by defending its position and rejecting the arguments of the UN report.
The debates were attended by Hungarian political leaders such as György Marosán, Ferenc Münnich, and Kádár. The discussions revealed critical differences between the more “pragmatic” politicians and those who rejected all foreign interference as “imperialistic manipulations.” The Hungarian Politburo meeting of 27 August 1957 determined the final guidelines for the response to the report. The minutes of the meeting state that “peace was threatened by the events in Hungary,” and “the USSR restored it in the spirit of the UN.” The text further accused the UN of violating its own charter by “whitewashing” fascists. The document is preserved in the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party (HSWP) Papers, in MNL, M-KS 288f. 41. ö.e. On 3 March 1957, the Deputy Foreign Minister (FM) István Sebes suggested that the UN, instead of criticizing the USSR, thank Soviet leaders for preventing the outbreak of World War III. See “MSZMP Politikai Bizottságának ülése,” 30 July 1957, in MNL, XIX-J-1-o. See also Kádár's handwritten comments and corrections to the statements in “Magyar kormánynyilatkozat-tervezet,” n.d., in MNL, XIX-J-1-j, Box 56.
See the analysis and comments in “A Külügyminisztérium feljegyzése a z ENSZ Ötös Bizottságának jelentéséről,” 9 August 1957, in MNL, XIX-J-1-j, Box 56.
In compliance with FM directions, the word “refugee” was translated by Hungarian officials as “absconders.” See “Kormánynyilatkozat tervezete az ENSZ Ötös Bizottság jelentéséről,” August 1957, in MNL, XIX-J-1-k, Box 94.
Kéthly had been arrested by the Stalinist political police on fabricated charges. As a “betrayer of the working class,” she spent years in prison. József Kővágó was also arrested and sentenced unjustly in the 1950s. Although the 1950 convictions were forgiven on 21 August 1957, Kővágó did not benefit from this clemency because he had left the country. See the documents in MNL, XX-10-k 52465/1957, “Kővágó József és társai szervezkedés bűntette” Folder. Kővágó was denied rehabilitation even after two years had passed because he had been “a leader of a counterrevolutionary group that had escaped to the West.” See the letter of Minister of Justice Ferenc Nezvál, 23 May 1958, in MNL, XIX-E-1-v IM, Box 2. In the early 1950s, Király had been a leading figure in the newly organized Communist army in Hungary. He was subsequently arrested, tortured, and sentenced. The process of his rehabilitation began after 1953. By 29 October 1956, he had been officially rehabilitated (confirmed by the Presidential Council on 31 October). However, on 18 April 1957 Ferenc Ledényi, chief judge at the Supreme Military Court, objected to Király's rehabilitation, and his initial sentence was reinstated. See “A Legfelsőbb Katonai Bíróság Határozata,” 18 April 1957, in MNL, Kb.T. 014/1952/53. The secret services planned a complex defamation campaign against Király that concerned both his role during World War II and his work with the Hungarian Communist army. Because Király had been involved in the “purification” of the army and assisted military intelligence, relevant documents mentioning his Stalinist activities and publications (as well as his “confession” to being a British spy) were made available by the Hungarian secret services to relevant associates. Accusations of looting, corruption, and homosexuality were lodged against him. His ex-wife and assistant in Hungary were even recruited as secret agents (under the codenames “Pécsiné” and “Virág” respectively). See ÁBTL, Király Béla 1525/1, “Javaslat Király Béla csoportjának bomlasztására és felszámolására” Folder; and ÁBTL, Király Béla 1525/1; “Kampány ‘Radet’ kompromittálására” Folder. The plan with the codename “Radet” is described in ÁBTL, Király Béla 1525/2.
The Ministry of the Interior provided information to the Foreign Ministry, specifying charges against several witnesses. For instance, they reported that Sándor Kiss had been accused of saving Nazis after WWII, Tamás Pásztor had admitted helping U.S. intelligence services, and László Bereczki had murdered and dismembered a Soviet soldier in 1945. See “Összefoglalás,” 31 July 1957, in MNL, XX-10-k.
The Foreign Ministry's strategy included orders to “attack the members of the SpecCom personally.” Chairman Alsing Andersen had served as minister of defense for the Danish government that collaborated with the Nazis during World War II and was an easy target. It was more difficult to undermine the credibility of Mongi Slim, hero of the Tunisian independence movement, and Gunewardene, representing Ceylon. See “Előterjesztés az MSZMP Politikai Bizottságához ‘Az ENSZ Közgyűléssel kapcsolatban folytatandó propagandamunka’ tárgyában,” 24 August 1957, HSWP Papers, in MNL, M-KS 288f. 41. ö.e. In 1970, the “Hungarian Question” became the basis of a propaganda play (A magyar kérdés, or The Hungarian Question) by Károly Kazimir and György Pálffy performed at Thália Theater in Budapest. The play incorporates sensitive intelligence obtained by the government, insulting and incriminating the members of the SpecCom and the Secretariat staff such as Povl Bang-Jensen, the second secretary of the commission, and Claire de Héderváry, a translator and technical assistant.
The extraordinary government meeting dedicated to discussing the report and preparing a response to be delivered at the UN was held on 31 August 1957.
Soviet control was exerted over the whole process. As Minister of Foreign Affairs Imre Horváth mentioned at the 21 August 1957 Politburo meeting, “I have spoken to comrade Gromov [military commander of Budapest] about the UN session … and he called Comrade Kuznetsov, Minister of Foreign Affairs in Moscow.” See “Az MSZMP PB 1957. augusztus 21-i ülésének jegyzőkönyve,” 21 August 1957, HSWP Papers, in MNL, M-KS 288f. 5/37 ő.e. Aside from preparing the Hungarian government's official statement, the speech to be delivered by Hungary's UN envoy was the crucial issue. On 17 July 1957, a 25-page draft speech was sent from Budapest to Péter Mód. The document was continually corrected and modified after consultations with “friendly delegations” (chiefly those from the USSR). The draft is preserved in MNL, XIX-J-24-a, Box 1, “A New York-i főkonzulátus iaratai” Folder. See also the documents in MNL, XIX-J-1-n, Box 63, “Sebes István külügyminiszter-helyettes” Folder. As the largest archive of SpecCom documents, the Héderváry Collection, shows, responses to the report were carefully monitored and documented by the SpecCom Secretariat. Even radio broadcasts from Moscow and Budapest were translated and filed. See the documents of the Héderváry Collection, in Open Society Archive (OSA), National Széchenyi Library (NSL), Manuscript Collection (MC), Fond (F.) 523. 1 Tk / 12.
See “French Observations,” 10 April 1957, in Héderváry Collection, OSA, 1-3-1-2; and “Comments by H. M. Legation,” 15 February 1957, in Héderváry Collection, OSA, 1-3-1-2. The Hungarian secret services were aware of these documents, as they were of many other French diplomatic messages. Bang-Jensen regularly provided detailed descriptions of the inaccuracies. Although some of the errors were corrected, many were not. They are preserved in Bang-Jensen Archive (BJA), NSL, MC F. 413, Box 11. These are also kept in the Héderváry Collection, OSA, NSL, MC F. 523. 2. Tk / 20.
Bang-Jensen's suggestions were kept in the SpecCom Secretariat's files. His list of 23 May 1957 discusses the crucial paragraphs of chapter 8 (concerning the meeting of Yurii Andropov, Kádár, and Imre Nagy). See Héderváry Collection, OSA, NSL, MC F. 523. 2. Tk / 28. Bang-Jensen regularly contacted the UN special rapporteur and the chairman of SpecCom with his recommendations, but his suggestions were rejected, and his participation in the work was later suspended. See the “List of Corrections,” 23 May 1957, in NSL, MC (BJA) F. 413, Box 16. The conflicts between Bang-Jensen and the organization significantly accelerated in subsequent months, culminating in Bang-Jensen's dismissal from the UN in 1958 after three highly dubious disciplinary procedures. His role and activities in SpecCom's work were the subject of research I conducted from 1992 to 2004. For more on Bang-Jensen, his convictions, and his later clashes with the UN, see DeWitt Copp and Marshall Peck, Betrayal at the UN (New York: Devin-Adair, 1961); The Bang-Jensen Case (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1961); Bo Lidegaard, Den højeste pris, Povl Bang-Jensen og FM 1955–1959 (Copenhagen: Lindhardt og Ringhof, 1998); and András Nagy, A Bang-Jensen ügy, ’56 nyugati ellENSZélben (Budapest: Magvető, 2005).
The campaign included a three-member delegation (Károly Szarka, János Péter, and Pál Rácz) responsible for visiting and persuading countries to vote against the report.
From the UN, Péter Mód reported that “comrade Arkadiev spoke with the Ceylonese representative” and that the signing would badly interfere with their “well developing political relations.” See report of Péter Mód, 7 July 1957, in MNL, XIX-J-24-a, Box 1, “A New York-i főkonzulátus iaratai” Folder. The Hungarian diplomatic efforts were supported by Moscow, which sent threatening cables about economic assistance to the countries that had been visited. During the Szarka group's visit, the delegation stated that both the USSR and the People's Republic of China had provided helpful assistance: “The work of the delegation was greatly facilitated by the fact that the USSR handed over a Memorandum to representatives of the African and Asian UN members.” Although the delegation was not received by Tunisia, it managed to meet with the leaders of Egypt, Ceylon, and India (Gamal Abdel Nasser, Sirimavo Bandaranaike, and Jawaharlal Nehru). See “Szarka Károly jelentése,” 10 September 1957, in MNL, XIX-J-1-j, Box 116. For a general overview of Szarka's work on 20 September 1957, see his documents in MNL, XIX-J-1-j-o.
The Hungarian chargé d'affairs in Washington, Tibor Zádor, systematically visited representatives of Third World countries (Tunisia, Egypt, Ghana, Indonesia, Sudan, Libya, etc.) beginning on 12 September 1957. See “A washingtoni magyar követség iratanyaga,” 16 November 1957, in MNL, XIX-J-29. The London embassy contacted Denis Nowell Pritt (1887–1972), a British lawyer who prepared a systematic study for rejecting the report. His objections included the dubious nature of its sources and the lack of cross-examination. See the report of the Hungarian embassy from London, 3 December 1957, in MNL, XIX-J-41-a. Pritt later attempted to justify the trial of Imre Nagy in 1958. See M. A. Rahman, Magyarország 1956–1959 (Budapest: Hamvas Intézet, 2006), pp. 218–219. Several Communist parties broke apart after the Soviet invasion of Hungary, although some followed Moscow's hard line. In Austria, Denmark, and France, the Hungarian government was able to achieve some success. In Britain and Belgium, however, it could not. The Communist Party suffered the greatest decline in membership in the United States, where numbers fell from 20,000–25,000 to 6,000–7,000 in 1957. See “Documents from the Hungarian Embassy in Washington,” in MNL, XIX-J-29.
The plan was adopted at the highest party levels and carefully executed by the relevant institutions. See “Tervezet az ENSZ Ötös Bizottság jelentésével kapcsolatos tiltakozó kampány szervezésére,” 9 August 1957, in MNL, XIX-J-1-j, Box 56. The exact “choreography” can be traced from the vast documentation from various agencies, organizations, and federations. Even the press coverage was carefully coordinated. See the documents of Külügyminisztériumi vezetők iratai,” in MNL, XIX-J-1-n, Box 26.
The Peace Committee of the Csepel Metal Works collected 22,000 protest signatures within 48 hours. See “Külügyminisztériumi vezetők iratai,” 28 August 1957, in MNL, XIX-J-1-n, Box 26. Lord Hartley Shawcross (1902–2003), one of the chief prosecutors at the Nuremberg Trials, delivered a detailed statement to the SpecCom on 21 June 1957 about the ongoing events in Hungary. He emphasized that a “system of legal repression is continuing and increasing … more than twice as many persons have been tried in the past months than during the first four months after the revolution.” He referred also to new laws, harsher sentences, and the growing number of executions. Shawcross's report was kept in the files of the SpecCom Secretariat. See the Héderváry Collection, OSA, NSL, MC F. 523. 3. Tk / 38. The issue was also reported by the Hungarian Embassy in London. See “Report of the International Commission of Jurists,” 27 June 1957, in MNL, XIX-J-41-a.
The Ministry of the Interior listed the sources from which the report could be known in Hungary—primarily the Radio Free Europe (RFE), the British Broadcasting Corporation (where the UN witness Pál Ignotus headed the Hungarian desk), and the Voice of America. Printed copies “bound in the cover of Communist leaders’ books” were also to be smuggled into Hungary. See “Belügyminiszter-helyettesi értekezlet jegyzőkönyve,” 2 September 1957, in MNL, XIX-B-1-y, Box 2.
On 21 June 1957, the Danish newspaper Berlingske tidende compared the inaction of the League of Nations before World War II to that of the UN in 1957. See the documents of the Héderváry Collection, OSA, 768–819. Concrete evidence can be found in the correspondence between the UN Secretariat and the relevant SpecCom members preserved in BJA, NSL, MC F. 413, Box 66.
See the reports of Péter Mód, 19 September 1957, in MNL, XIX-J-1-j, Box 55.
General Assembly Resolution 1132 (XI) of 10 January 1957 and “Future Work of the Committee,” dated 9 April 1957, referred to the method of “gathering data on the development of the situation in Hungary” and the “possibility of future reports to the General Assembly and to member states.” See the Héderváry Collection, OSA, NSL, MC F. 523. 1. Tk / 1. Gunewardene, the Ceylonese representative, was heavily criticized at home for his participation in the work of the SpecCom. Nonetheless, he declared that the work had to be continued. See the report of 25 July 1957 at Butler Library, Columbia University (BLCU) Cordier Papers, UN Archive (UNA), DAG 18.104.22.168. Andersen and Slim also agreed to continue the work.
BLCU Cordier Papers, UNA, DAG 22.214.171.124. An interim report was published in February 1957, the main report appeared in June 1957, and another report was issued in June 1958 after the execution of Imre Nagy and his associates.
On 5 September 1957, “a total alert [was] ordered for the time of the UN General Assembly's discussion of the Hungarian question.” Detailed instructions were issued to all police forces and paramilitary units, including secret agents and informers. Preventive arrests were carried out, traffic was restricted, and every police station was given ammunition, weapons, gas, and food. Each unit had to report to the central authorities every two hours. See “43.sz. BM-parancs. Teljes készültség elrendelése az ENSZ Közgyűlésen a ‘Magyar kérdés’ tárgyalásának idejére,” 5 September 1957, in MNL, XIX-B-1, Box 31.
See “Intézkedések a Külügyminisztérium biztosítására,” 19 October 1957, in MNL, XIX-J-1-n, Box 72, “Külügyminisztrérumi vezetők iratai” Folder. The 1956 revolution had begun at the statue of Józef Bem next to the Foreign Ministry building, a location chosen to express solidarity with Poland against Soviet pressure. (Bem, a Polish general, had fought for Hungarian independence in 1849.)
Financial support in the amount of three million Czechoslovak koruna was given to Hungary for the establishment of a Workers’ Militia. The volunteer paramilitary organization had the sole task of “fighting counterrevolutionaries.” See “Feljegyzés,” 30 March 1957, in MNL, XIX-J-1-n, Box 26, “Külügyminisztrérumi vezetők iratai. Horváth Imre” Folder.
This development was anxiously observed by Communist functionaries. Reports submitted to the Budapest HSWP committee about the public “mood” were published and analyzed by Edit Poór and Gergő Bendegúz Cseh, “Az ENSZ és Magyarország 1957,” Társadalmi szemle, Vol. 5 (1995), p. 88.
The report was approved by the UN General Assembly on 14 September 1957. The resolution condemned the Soviet interference and requested that those involved observe the UN Charter 1133 (XI). The SpecCom was permitted to continue its activity. See the report of Péter Mód, 13 September 1957, in MNL, XIX-J-1-j, Box 55.
Accusations targeted Count Miklós Festetics, Count János Esterházy, Prince Löwenstein, and even the aristocrat Antal Pallavicini-Pálinkás, who was instrumental in the liberation of József Cardinal Mindszenty. Investigations proved that Festetics and Prince Löwenstein entered Hungary during the revolution. See “Nyomozati jelentés,” 26 February 1957, in MNL, XX-10-k 52465/1957, “Az 1956-os ellenforradalom eseményeinek dokumentáció-gyűjteménye” Folder.
On 9 December 1957, Prince Wan informed the UN General Assembly that he could not make any headway with the Hungarian authorities. Archival evidence suggests that he had not been particularly diligent in attempting to do so. See the documents in MNL-MOL, XIX-J-1-j, Box 56, “A magyar ENSZ-misszió jelentése” Folder. The British ambassador to the UN had observed earlier in the year that the Secretary General “remains indifferent to the Hungarian issue and is unsympathetic toward the Special Committee.” See the report to London of 28 May 1957, in The National Archives of the United Kingdom (TNAUK), FO 371/128679.
The amnesty was applicable “only to the fact of escaping.” See the letter to the Foreign Ministry, 11 December 1956, in MNL (MOL), XIX-J-20-a. The “Reprisal” was unprecedented, even in Hungary's turbulent history. After the 1956 revolution more people were sentenced and executed than for all earlier failed revolutions combined. See András B. Hegedűs, ed., 1956 Kézikönyve, Vol. 3, Megtorlás és emlékezés (Budapest: 1956-os Intézet, 1996). The issuance of supplemental reports was also mentioned by Jelentés Duckworth-Barker, the press officer of the SpecCom at his press conference. See “Jelentés Duckworth-Barker sajtókonferenciájáról a Nemzetek Palotájából, 1957 április 10-én,” 10 April 1957, in MNL, XIX-J-24-a, Box 2, “A New York-i főkonzulátus iaratai” Folder.
The documents of the Héderváry Collection illustrate how well informed the UN was about events in Hungary. One of the most substantial components of the collection is the “List[s] of Communications Received by the Committee.” These were published frequently and often included several dozen—even hundreds—of items. The lists are preserved in the Héderváry Collection, OSA, NSL, MC, F. 523.
See the report of 21 June 1957 in Héderváry Collection, OSA, NSL, MC, F. 523. 1. Tk / 12.
The U.S. embassy had the best sources and most accurate references, which were sent to Washington, as seen from the cables sent on 17, 21, and 25 June 1957. See U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), 764.00/7-1757, -2157, -2557. The cables were submitted to the SpecCom. Handwritten notes in the archive show that even changes in prison sentences were registered by the Secretariat, as in Héderváry Collection, OSA, NSL, MC F. 523. 12 tk. /192. Cables about additional death sentences were stored, and the International Commission of Jurists continued to report regularly about the legal “reprisal.” The Hungarian Foreign Ministry obtained a copy on 27 May 1957, and a later 72-page report gave exact details regarding name, case, age, profession, time, court, term, appeal, and so on, as well as a summary of the sentences handed down from 9 September 1957 to 31 January 1958. See MNL, XIX-J-1-j, Box 82. The Hungarian authorities’ own summary of 31 July 1957 regarding the period from 4 November 1956 to 30 June 1957 included 21,987 court cases, 56 death sentences, 16,427 prison terms, 4,098 fines, and 820 “other instructions” (internment or recruitment as agent in return for amnesty). The military courts during the same period convicted 21,987 persons and sentenced 62 to death, 1,183 to prison, and 350 to “other.” See “A Belügyminisztérium dokumentációja, 1957. július 31,” 31 July 1957, in MNL, XIX-J-1-j, Box 82.
Pál Pális, working for the radio in Győr (Transdanubia), was accused of having his radio reports quoted in the SpecCom Report. His initial death sentence was commuted to a prison term after he was judged to be a “good Communist” who had resisted the “extremists.” See “Feljegyzés az Igazságügyminisztérium Ellenőrzési Főosztályához, 1957. október 24,” 24 October 1957, in MNL, 1957, XIX-E-1-v IM, Box 2.
Hungarian émigré groups that had already established contacts with foreign governments were instrumental in forwarding information from Hungary. Prominent in the United States were Béla Varga, Pál Fábián, Sándor Eckhart, and the Hungarian Committee they formed.
Written by a source in Vienna, “Situation and Developments of the Hungarian Press after the Revolution,” dated 13 March 1957, offers a “confidential summary up to 4 February 1957.” Although it is marked “Confidential” and “Read and destroy,” these instructions were obviously ignored. The quality of the document's analysis is excellent, written by someone who clearly possessed an intimate knowledge of all facets of the situation. For instance, it mentions that of 600,000 copies of the party organ, only 20,000–30,000 were sold. It also describes the burning of these newspapers in Budapest and names those who were fired, arrested, and so on. See Héderváry Collection, OSA, NSL, MC, F. 523. 3. Tk / 7. On the “purification” of the military, see “Written testimony of Julius v[on] Mathe, major, about the army, based on his experiences in Hungary until 15 December 1956,” 25 November 1957, in NSL, MC, F. 523. 4. Tk / 62.
Those contacting the UN or the Secretary General emphasized that Hammarskjöld had a special responsibility in the case of Imre Nagy. Hammarskjöld finally sent a cable on 23 December 1957 to the Hungarian Foreign Ministry, where senior officials construed it to mean that he would “personally be involved in the process with the Hungarian government concerning the annulment of the proceedings against those actively involved in the Hungarian counterrevolution.” See the cable of Dag Hammarskjöld, 23 December 1957, in MNL, XIX-J-1-k, Box 55.
See K. McLaughlin, “Divorced Wife Asks U.N. to Intercede for Arrested Chief of Hungarian Rebels,” The New York Times, 10 September 1957, p. 15. The inaction of the Secretary General in this case is all the more surprising. Hammarskjöld was willing to travel to Hungary if success could be guaranteed. As the U.S. mission reported on 17 December 1957, “[Hammarskjöld] will not go unless he has absolutely firm assurances that he can save Maléter.” The report is preserved in NARA, 315/12-1757.
On 17 December 1957, Mód and Imre Hollai met with SpecCom members E.R. Fabregat and Montere de Vargast. When the SpecCom members appealed “for mercy for Maléter,” the Hungarian diplomats responded that “there is no such trial in Hungary,” although they did not deny that a trial could occur at a later date. See “A Magyar ENSZ-misszió jelentése, 1957,” 17 December 1957, in MNL, XIX-J-1-j, Box 209. On 20 December 1957, the SpecCom sent a letter to the Hungarian Foreign Ministry about the trials and executions, stating that the committee “would be appreciative of precise information on these matters and requested an assurance that the highest humanitarian standards were being applied.” Mód returned the letter, believing it violated the UN Charter. See “Mód Péter levele,” 22 December 1957, in Héderváry Collection, OSA, NSL, MC, F. 523. 3. Tk / 37.
See item 34 of the cable from George Heltai, 6 August 1957, in BLCU Cordier Papers, UNA, DAG 126.96.36.199., Trevelyan files. See also the Héderváry Collection, OSA, NSL, MC, F. 523. Heltai had reason to be hopeful, as the original UN resolution referred to the continuation of the work of the SpecCom. But concerns were raised by István Dobi's press conference on 10 May 1957, when he stressed that the Hungarian regime “planned propaganda trials.” Dobi also accused Maléter of spying for the British and “plotting to make himself dictator of Hungary.” See “Dobi István sajntókonferenciája,” 10 May 1957, in Héderváry Collection, OSA, NSL, MC, F. 523. 8. Tk / 110.
Following this episode, Bang-Jensen wrote a letter to Under Secretary General Ralph Bunche on 20 September 1957, asserting that Bunche should investigate the matter of Maléter's bodyguard, “since I should think that most would feel that it was your duty to do so.” The letter is preserved in NSL, MC, BJA, Box 35.
Soon after the executions, Péter Kós traveled to Moscow to consult with Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister Nikolai Patolichev on 22–25 July 1958, followed by a Politburo meeting in Budapest on 26 July 1958 and a Foreign Ministry “tactical plan” on 28 July 1958. The arguments against Imre Nagy and his “companions” included the “reestablishment of fascism in the heart of Europe.” At that time, Soviet officials already knew there would be no emergency General Assembly session on Hungary. See the report of Péter Kós, 24 July 1958, in MNL, XIX-J-1-j, Box 55.
During their meeting on 20 April 1958, Mód invited Hammarskjöld to visit Hungary in the coming summer. The Secretary General avoided accepting the invitation, referring to the many meetings he already had scheduled. See the report of Péter Mód, 22 April 1958, in MNL, XIX-J-1-j, Box 209.
Included in the “List of Communications” of 14 May 1958 is a message from Béla Varga requesting a meeting “to discuss the latest developments In Hungary.” Varga also submitted “details of recent measures.” The list is preserved in the Héderváry Collection, OSA, NSL, MC, F. 523. 3. Tk / 36. After receiving many concerned letters and cables, Jordan sent a message to László Hámori on 15 May 1958, suggesting that two types of draft letters acknowledge the receipt of messages: one for letters that would be included in the “List of Communications” and a second for letters that would not. See “Draft Letter by Jordan,” 15 May 1958, in Héderváry Collection, OSA, NSL, MC, F. 523. 13. Tk / 204.
See MNL, XIX-J-24-a, Box 5, “A New York-I főkonzulátus iaratai” Folder.
József Gáli and Gyula Obersovszky, both young writers, were at first sentenced to death. The subsequent international uproar caused the Hungarian authorities to change their sentences to life terms.
On 1 July 1958, Jordan stated that the monthly summaries about Hungary should be based on press reports and broadcasts, “but not on the secret trials and executions.” See “Provisional Summary Report of the 74th Meeting,” 1 July 1958, in Hédeváry Collection, OSA, NSL, MC, F. 523. 12. Tk / 19. The Hédeváry Collection proves that Jordan's orders were not faithfully obeyed. The “List of Communications” from 18 January 1958 contains a telegram about secret trials (including those of Maléter; Géza Losonczi, minister of state for Imre Nagy's government who had died in prison; journalist József Szilágyi; and journalist and politician Miklós Gimes). The following day, Andersen even extended congratulations to the “principal secretary and his staff on the excellent monthly summaries.” See “Provisional Summary Report of the 75th Meeting,” 2 July 1958, in Hédeváry Collection, OSA, NSL, MC, F. 523. 3. Tk / 37.
On 22 May 1958, Slim informed the Hungarian chargé d'affairs, Tibor Zádor, that “the activity of the SpecCom seems to be untimely.” On 28 May 1958, Gunewardene informed Zádor that after the publication of the report he had managed to learn about ongoing events in Hungary only through the press. Andersen occasionally telephoned the diplomat, but he seemed to be “tired of the whole case.” See the report of Tibor Zádor, 1 June 1958, in MNL, XIX-J-29-a (Washington), Box 15. These meetings reinforced the Hungarian government's expectations concerning the response to the executions.
On 21 June 1958, the SpecCom issued a communiqué by E. Ronald Walker, the Australian representative who was substituting for Shann. (Ernest Meinstrop of Denmark substituted for Andersen, Sir Claude Corea of Ceylon for Gunewardene, and Lamia Kedadi of Tunisia for Slim). Walker condemned the oppression and reign of terror, calling the executed leaders “symbols of hope.” The communiqué is preserved in the Héderváry Collection, OSA, NSL, MC, F. 523. 3. Tk / 37.
Both Fabregat and Slim were anxious because the special representative “had not communicated with the Committee and had taken no further action on behalf of the accused.” They recommended including this detail in the 1958 report. Andersen responded that it would be “very unfortunate to give the impression that there were conflicts between the Special Representative and the Committee.” See the “Provisional Summary Records of 78th and 79th Meetings of the SpecCom,” 16–17 July 1958, in Héderváry Collection, OSA, NSL, MC, F. 523. 3. Tk / 36.
Schreiber was finally able to read Prince Wan's cable on 17 July 1958. See “Provisional Summary Record of the 80th Meeting,” 17 July 1958, in Héderváry Collection, OSA, NSL, MC, F. 523. 3. Tk / 37.
The Hungarian Foreign Ministry noted with relief that two of the four chapters documented the activity of the SpecCom. See “A Külügyminisztérium jelentése az ENSZ tevékenységéről,” 6 August 1958, in MNL, XIX-J-1-j, Box 55.
The Hungarian Foreign Ministry began preparing for “expected attacks”—or potential public backlash to the impending executions—on 24 April 1958. See “Kollégiumi előterjesztés az úgynevezett Magyar kérdés kiküszöbölésére,” 24 April 1958, in MNL (MOL) XIX-J-1-o, Box 6. On 7 July 1958, a summary of the efforts of Hungarian diplomats prior to the executions was produced. The document set forth guidelines for action in the case of an eventual emergency General Assembly session. See “Intézkedési terv,” 20 June 1958, in MNL, XIX-J-1-j, Box 55. Tentative arrangements were also made to launch a campaign focusing on individual countries. The planning documents mentioned individuals (including Nasser, Sukarno, and Nehru) to be contacted by Hungarian politicians. See “Feljegyzés az elkövetkező Közgyűlés előkészületeivel kapcsolatosan,” n.d., in MNL, XIX-J-1-j, Box 53. When India requested special information about the trials, Hungarian politicians were prepared for the possibility that the “Hungarian mandate would be an issue raised sharply.” See “Feljegyzés 1958. július 30,” 30 July 1958, in MNL, XIX-J-1-j, Box 55.
The only Western lawyer who had access to the Imre Nagy trial (after the fact) was Pritt, who had been contacted by the Hungarian embassy in London as early as 2 January 1958. Although he was a Western lawyer, he had been awarded the International Stalin Peace Prize in 1954. On 1 July 1958, barely two weeks after the executions, he was invited to Hungary. The New World Review published his article “The Trial of Imre Nagy” that was based on his meeting with prosecutors and lawyers in Hungary and his examination of the documents. For him, it was “a regular trial … under regular procedures … with reasons to be a closed trial.” The hearings started in February 1958 and resumed for a week in June. Pritt concluded that Imre Nagy's “prosecution and execution was a necessity,” as “almost every country would have sentenced him to death.” See “The Trial of Imre Nagy,” 1959, in MNL, XIX-J-41-a (London).
The SpecCom explained its position in a special report on 14 July 1958: “Since the Committee cannot submit this report to the General Assembly in view of resolution 1132 (XI),” it did not command the same authority as the former one. See the report in the Héderváry Collection, OSA, NSL, MC, F. 523. 11. Tk / B. The report produced by the Hungarian UN Representative concerning the 13th General Assembly also mentions that, “even if the tone is quite sharp, the SpecCom's activity is over by the silent consent of members.” See “Mód Péter jelentése,” 26 January 1959, in MNL, XIX-J-1-o, Box 6. Walker, who headed the SpecCom at the time, revealed to U.S. Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge that the “Committee has outlived its usefulness.” See the cable of the U.S. UN Mission, 12 December 1958, in NARA, 320.11/12-458.
See the UN Resolution 1312 (XIII) of 12 December 1958.
Munro had been a rival of Hammarskjöld for the position of Secretary General but later became unpopular among delegates. The U.S. mission reported that Munro was “thoroughly disliked by virtually all members.” See the report of the U.S. mission, 26 November 1959, in NARA, 764.00/11-2659. Even the Hungarian intelligence services knew about his “problems with alcohol.” See “Jelentés,” 30 March 1960, in ÁBTL, 3.2.5. 0-8-079.
See the report of Péter Mód, 3 March 1959, in MNL (MOL) XIX-J-1-j, Box 231. Even the Secretary General communicated to Mód during his visit on 17 April 1959 that “the Secretariat does not attach significance to Munro's assignment, conclusively does not provide him with particular assistance.” See the report of Péter Mód, 20 May 1959, in MNL, XIX-J-1-j, Box 231. A later report went further, noting that Hammarskjöld “does not support Munro's actions.” See the report of 4 June 1960, in “Külügyminisztériumi vezetők iratai, Péter János” Folder. Munro's secretary belonged to the department previously headed by Protitch. During Munro's tenure, the department was run by Under Secretary General of Political and Security Council Affairs Anatolii Dobrynin, who reported his activities to Mód. On 20 May 1959, Dobrynin requested that “the only person dealing with the Hungarian issue be assigned to another area to work.” See the report of Péter Mód, 20 May 1959, in MNL, XIX-J-24-a, Box 6, “A New York-i főkonzulátus iaratai” Folder.
The campaigns were timed to overlap with the General Assembly debate on the report. They also coincided with the first anniversary of the revolution. Party leaders planned protests for 7 October 1957 against RFE and refugee groups consisting of those “proven to be fascists,” choosing the date with great care. In addition, they declared the two prominent Western diplomats most concerned about the current Hungarian political situation—British Ambassador Leslie Fry and the French cultural attaché Guy Turbet-Delof—“persona[e] non grata[e].” See “Javaslatok az ötösbizottság jelentésével kapcsolatosan,”
Szabó (codename “Mihály Kerekes”) arrived in Austria on 10 December 1955, having been recruited as an agent while imprisoned in 1953. Szabó had close connections with leaders of the Hungarian refugee movement and chose to stay in Vienna instead of proceeding to the United States, as the intelligence services had instructed. Although he was an extremely active participant during and after the Hungarian Revolution, he had clearly reestablished his ties with the Hungarian secret services by February 1957. See the documents in ÁBTL, 3.2.1. Bt-255/4, Miklós Szabó Folders. See Éva Sz. Kovács, “A magyar hirszerzés tevékenysége Ausztriában 1945–1965,” Betekintő (Budapest), No. 2 (February 2013), pp. 17–29.
See his letter to Kiss (one of the leaders of the refugee movement) of 31 May 1957, in Archives of the Danubian District of the Reformed (Calvinist) Church of Hungary (Ráday Archives), C/243.
Hidfő, the extremist Hungarian newspaper published in the West, claimed in an article on 10 October 1959 that Szabó had been a secret agent the entire time—as were many other members of the revolutionary parliament and RFE. The accusation is mentioned in the press review submitted by the Hungarian legation in London, in MNL, XIX-J-41-a.
Ambassador Frigyes Puja reported at length about the “disappearance” of Szabó, recounting the “shock” in the refugee community and at the U.S. embassy. Pásztor later responded to a request from the U.S. consul concerning Szabó and the UN investigation. See the report of Frigyes Puja, 28 October 1957, in MNL, XIX-J-36, Box 16, “A bécsi magyar nagykövetség iratanyaga” Folder. Two other leaders of the revolutionary parliament accompanied Szabó to Hungary, bringing a carefully selected set of documents. Even the British Foreign Office was concerned that he was being interrogated in Budapest. See the cable of 13 September 1957, in TNAUK, FO/371/128685.
At a press conference, Szabó claimed he had obtained the whole list. See “Transcript of the Press Conference,” 3 October 1957, in MNL, XIX-J-1-k, Box 127. Although Szabó would have known the names of some of the witnesses in Vienna, learning the names of witnesses testifying in New York, Geneva, Rome, and London would have been difficult. The UN Secretary General received the English translation of the press conference on 23 October 1957 and instructed Protitch to “provide me urgently with all the information.” See “Miklós Szabó’s Press Conference,” 22 October 1957, in BLCU Cordier Papers, UNA, DAG 188.8.131.52., Protitch Files. When Protitch contacted Bang-Jensen for the document, Bang-Jensen answered, “This seems unlikely to me, concerning the safeguards I have taken from the beginning to protect the list.” See the letter from Bang-Jensen, 24 October 1957, in BLCU Cordier Papers, UNA, DAG 184.108.40.206., Protitch Files. Bang-Jensen was subsequently ordered by Protitch to turn over the list of the witnesses’ names but refused to do so. See the letter of Protitch, 19 November 1957, in BLCU Cordier Papers, UNA, S/0466-0139. To Bang-Jensen's great bewilderment, the Secretary General was adamant that the list be turned over. As Bang-Jensen wrote to Hammarskjöld, “I am surprised that you should make an issue of what is of no practical significance, and feel so important, that you, without explanation, disregard the feelings and fears of the witnesses, and the specific conditions made by them.” See the letter of Bang-Jensen, 22 November 1957, in NSL, MC, BJ Archive, Box 33. The list was later burned, and the conflict greatly exacerbated the disputes between Bang-Jensen and some of his colleagues.
A member of several extremist organizations during World War II, Szennik reported from the front line. He later joined the SS, creating propaganda posters for the Nazis and engaging in anti-Semitic atrocities. See ÁBTL, 3.1.1. “Szeles” Bt-602/1, Agent “Szeles” Folders.
On 21 February 1957, Szennik recalled that he had been “given assignments” by Vác prison officers in 1950 to report on inmates. The report is preserved in ibid.
The summary of Szennik's activity from March 1957 states that he had offered his services to “the newly founded political police already on 7–8 November 1956 to continue his work. Based on his activity many leading “counterrevolutionaries” were arrested and many groups were detained for planning to leave the country.” See “Összefoglaló jelentés,” 2 March 1957, in ÁBTL, 3.1.1. “Szeles” Bt-602/2. On 19 December 1956, the agent referred to Pásztor as his contact in Vienna for relief activities. The documents are preserved in ÁBTL, 3.1.1. “Szeles” Bt-602/1, Agent “Szeles” Folders.
On 4 November 1956, Szennik characterized the resistance groups as “unorganized yet devoted, as they hope the UN will help them.” In descriptions and in drawings, Szennik “documented his experiences about the hiding places of counterrevolutionary groups; thus, the Soviets could annihilate them.” See the summary of Szennik's activity, 2 March 1957, in ÁBTL, 3.1.1. “Szeles” Bt-602/1. In a later report, he disclosed information about the revolutionary radio station's transmitter and the road to which members of the Széna tér group had withdrawn. See the report of “Szeles,” 13 November 1957, in ÁBTL, 3.1.1. “Szeles” Bt-602/1.
In January 1957, “Szeles” reported that the well-known athlete Géza Bánkúti would soon leave for Vienna. He also reported that Miklós Komján claimed to have documentary footage about the revolution in his possession and had offered to forward the film to the UN. See the report of “Szeles,” 15 January 1957, in ÁBTL, 3.1.1. “Szeles” Bt-602/1, Agent “Szeles” Folders.
In 1957, a report noted that the II/3. B. sub-department had “installed” an agent jointly with the Intelligence Department in order to assist the agent's tasks in the West. See the report of 26 April 1957, in ÁBTL, 3.1.1. “Szeles” Bt-602/1, Agent “Szeles” Folders. The files also detail the agent's training process.
Pásztor later made a statement in the West that his activities as a prison informer had not harmed any individuals. Conversely, he claimed that he had actually been of help. Nonetheless, archival documents contradict his claim. The Hungarian secret police later sent his prison reports to the West in order to undermine his credibility. See ÁBTL, 3.2.3. Mt 499/1, “Tamás Pásztor” Folder. “Szeles” informed the Hungarian intelligence services that Pásztor had “Organized for the UNO [UN] Hungarian Question the collection of witnesses and the verbatim records.” The report is preserved in ÁBTL, 3.1.1. “Szeles” Bt-493/1, Agent “Szeles” Folders.
See “Aktenvermerk,” 2 May 1958, in Austrian State Archive, Zl.I-3083/58 res; and “Erklarung,” 8 May 1958, in Austrian State Archive, Zl.I-3083/58 res. A press clipping attached to the documents demonstrates that the newspaper Schilling Express also covered Pásztor's story on 5 July 1958.
The U.S. embassy in Vienna contacted Szennik for his “sincere opinion” about Pásztor and whether the United States should issue him a visa. See “Jelentés,” 6 May 1958, in ÁBTL, 3.1.1. “Szeles” Bt-602/1. A cable from the Interagency Defector Committee in November 1957 refers to the military attaché and recommends that, “based on CIA information furnished by this office,” Pásztor's visa should be denied. See the cable of 18 November 1957, in NARA, 764.00/11-1857.
See, for example, the report titled “Hungarian Situation,” 17 June 1957, in NSL, MC BJA F. 413, Box 34.
See the report of Agent “Roger,” 22 May 1957, in ÁBTL, 3.2.3. Mt 499/1. See also the transcribed phone calls and documents of the approach to his mother that were the basis of the instructions for the Hungarian intelligence agents in Vienna, sored in ÁBTL, 3.2.1.-910/2.3, “Pásztor Tamás ügye, Tárgy: ‘Taverna’” Folder.
See “Tájékoztató jelentés Hammarskjöld magyarországi utazása és az ENSZ Ötös Bizottságával kapcsolatban a budapesti francia követség 1957. Január 1 és szeptember 15 közötti levelezése alapján,” 4 January 1958, in ÁBTL, BM II/2. The document was later forwarded to the Hungarian Foreign Ministry via the cables of the French embassy. See “A Belügyminisztérium által átadott iratok jegyzéke,” 6 September 1957, in MNL, XIX-J-1-j, Box 80. Whether the security breach occurred during the process of cable transmission or whether a Hungarian agent was working at the French embassy in Budapest or the Foreign Ministry in Paris is unclear.
Péter Földes, interviews by András B. Hegedűs and András Kovács, 1983 and 1988, p. 150, in NSL, 1956 Institute and Oral History Archive.
See, for example, Arkady Shevchenko, Breaking with Moscow (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1985); and Oleg Kalugin, The First Directorate: My Thirty-Two Years in Intelligence and Espionage against the West (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1994).
The FBI had already been watching Grusha, who had violated the regulations imposed on UN diplomats. See the FBI report of 1 May 1956, in NSL, MC, BJ Archive, Box 55.
The Soviet UN mission rejected all accusations that Grusha's departure was connected with any kind of illicit activity. See the cable of the U.S. mission to the UN, 5 April 1957, in NARA, 611.64/4–857. The mission interpreted Grusha's actions as a “Soviet effort to prevent the publication of the UNO Report on Hungary.” Samarasekara's awareness of the illegality of his actions was made clear by the fact that he had entered the office of the Ceylonese UN mission after hours, smuggling the book back with him. The code system was based on the one used by the British Commonwealth. Samarasekara, whose wife worked for the UN Secretariat, left the UN without dishonor or disadvantage for his future work.
Several folders in the ÁBTL concern the “conspiracy”: “Laci és társai,” “Lengyel Alfonz,” and “Lukács László és társai ügye” document the so-called plot. The investigation folder, “Vizsgálati dosszié, Lukács László és társai,” refers to “intelligence activity by the assignment of Western powers against the People's Republic of Hungary.” See the interrogation minutes, 10 April 1958, in ÁBTL,V-146.247. Lengyel was characterized as “encouraging spying” in order to obtain “such data that can be used by the UN General Assembly when dealing with the Hungarian Case.” For his actions, he was accused of “high treason.” See ibid.
In 1949, Lengyel and the others were arrested on fabricated charges concerning the “Grősz-trial.”
Csaba Füzeséry-Nagy is referred to in the correspondence as Csaba F. Nagy (codename “Szilvási”). His brother György F. Nagy (codename “Regős”), too, was involved in the conspiracy, also serving as a police agent. See “Körözés elrendelése 1957,” 30 September 1957, in ÁBTL, 3.1.5. 0-1311, “Lengyel Alfonz körözési” Folder.
Béla György László offered to obtain false identification cards. See the minutes of interrogation, 20 May 1958, in ÁBTL, V-146.247. (László was also an agent.) The other agent was Dezső Horváth. See the report of 18 March 1958, in ÁBTL,V-146.247-2, “Vizsgálati dosszié, Lukács László és társa” Folder. Csaba F. Nagy worked for Department II/2, Horváth and László worked for Department II/5. Both had been arrested, then threatened with execution. When Horváth (“Péter Kovács”) was arrested on 12 November 1957, “in the first minutes he offered his services.” See the report in ÁBTL, 3.1.5. 0-12132, “Laci és társai” Folder.
When writing to Csaba F. Nagy, Lengyel requested information on behalf of the UN concerning deportations, industry, agriculture, cultural life, and other aspects of the “Consolidation.” He also claimed that the UN had requested information about Cardinal Mindszenty's negotiations with the Hungarian regime. Additionally, Lengyel asked for information about army bases and troop movements as a possible reference for future armed resistance strategies (which was obviously not a UN-related issue). See Alfonz Lengyel to Csaba F. Nagy, n.d., in ÁBTL, 3.1.5. 0-1311, “Lengyel Alfonz körözési” Folder.
Lukács recruited his brother-in-law, Ferenc Bajzik—a senior student of agriculture undertaking fieldwork close to Pécs—to obtain information about the uranium mines and the Soviet Army base close to the city. See “Kihallgatási jegyzőkönyv,” 16 April 1958, in ÁBTL, V-146.247. Lukács even visited Bajzik with Csaba F. Nagy. Bajzik worked as an interpreter for Soviet military personnel. He had approached an officer named “Alekseev,” who turned out to be an agent. See “Megfigyelési terv,” 8 March 1958, in ÁBTL,V-146.247/2. Agent “Regős” offered Bajzik $3,000 to obtain a Soviet gun. See the document titled “Operatív terv,” 25 January 1958, in ÁBTL,V-146.247.
The joint meeting of the Political Police Departments II/8 and II/2, headed by József Szalma and Jenő Hazai, concluded that “[t]he documents are not to be used in the investigation and cannot be transferred either to the prosecutors or to the courts.” See “Feljegyzés,” 5 June 1958, in ÁBTL,V-146.247. 1.
“Information Received by the Committee,” May 1959, in Héderváry Collection, OSA, NSL, MC F. 523. 12. Tk / 38.