The Historical Text Archive: Electronic History Resources, online since 1990 Bringing you digitized history, primary and secondary sources
HTA Home Page | E-books | Europe | February, 1920

8: February, 1920

<< 7: January, 1920 || Appendices

February 1, 1920. This being Sunday, it afforded us an opportunity to go over to the office and clear up on back work. February 2, 1920. Last night I went to the Royal Opera House to see a light opera, called "The Bat."(1) It was supposed to have received its title from a gentleman in masquerade costume, dressed up to represent a bat. He had to spend all night outdoors, returning in broad daylight in his costume. As a matter of fact, it deserved the title, because every actor and actress was certainly on one Hell of a bat. Such a mélange of intoxication would be difficult to beat. Ladies and gentlemen were indiscriminately soused, which, however, did not interfere with their lung power. There is this much to be said for it, there is no stabbing or kicking the bucket as is usual at the Grand Opera House.

This morning Count Albert Apponyi called upon me, and we spent about an hour talking over the situation and what the Hungarian Peace Delegation proposed to do. The Count said that there were four distinct points which they wished to insist upon:

(1) That no territory be separated from old Hungary until after a plebiscite; that this plebiscite should be held only three months after the present Roumanian, Serb and Czech troops of occupation had withdrawn from the occupied territory and after this territory had been occupied by neutral troops. In this connection, he stated that he had no objection to American or British troops occupying territory supposed to be given to the Czechs, but that he did not want them [the Czechs] in territory, on account of Latin brotherhood. As to the French, he did not want them in any territory(2)

. He stated that only by such procedure would a plebiscite express the free will of the people, and that, with such a plebiscite, the Hungarians would pledge themselves to abide by its decision, whether favorable or unfavorable.

(2) That there be geographical continuity of new Hungary to include the two million Magyars who had been torn from Hungary and thrust under other domination, although the country they inhabited was contiguous to and continuous with Hungary.

(3) That whenever any territory was annexed to the other small nations created by the Peace Conference, there be absolute minority protection, because he well knew that neither the Roumanians, the Serbs, nor the Czechs were paying the slightest attention to the minority clauses in the present treaties of peace.

(4) That in order to insure a gradual adjustment of conditions, there be economic unity for two years of the various sections, affected by the Peace Treaty, which had formerly been under one government. He explained that the sudden rupture of all economic and other relations could not result otherwise than in confusion.

The Count then repeated his invitation for us to accompany him on his train and stated that the train would leave Budapest at 8.40 on Monday morning February 9, arriving in Paris at the same hour on February 11, exactly six months to a day from the time of our arrival in Budapest.

Owing to our departure, we have all our dates filled from now until next Saturday, the seventh. Tomorrow I shall give a luncheon to all of my former colleagues of the Inter-Allied Military Mission. On the fourth we shall be the guests at luncheon of General Graziani of the French Mission. On the fifth we shall be guests at luncheon of General Mombelli, on the sixth we shall lunch with Mr. Hohler and on the seventh with General Gorton.

February 3, 1920. This morning I spent until 10 o'clock at ordinary office work and then, accompanied by Mr. Grant-Smith, I called upon Admiral Horthy at his Headquarters at the Hotel Gellért. Admiral Horthy in his talk practically covered the same points that he had covered with me on my last interview with him, calling particular attention to the inadvisability of allowing the Hapsburgs back on the throne of Hungary(3) and to the charlatan methods of Friedrich.

Before leaving, I told him that I wanted a report of the investigation of the alleged mistreatment of the American citizen, Mr. George G. Black, on a steamer in Budapest, December 31. I called particular attention to the fact that if something were not done about this promptly there would undoubtedly be distorted versions of it in the papers of the United States, and that serious harm would be done the Hungarian cause.

February 4, 1920. This morning, accompanied by Mr. Grant-Smith, I returned Count Apponyi's call. As the papers had contained the statement that the Archduke Joseph had renounced his candidacy to the Hungarian throne and that Admiral Horthy would become the head of the state(4), this question was naturally brought up and was confirmed by the Count. He said that the result would be an indefinite continuation of the status quo(5), that very few people understood the Hungarian mentality, and that it would be impossible for them to have any king in Hungary as long as Karl was alive, owing to the fact that he had been crowned. The Hungarians, he said, held in reverence and placed a halo about the head of any anointed king, and that, whether Karl reigned or not, he would always be considered by hem as their king(6)


He explained that although there were many reasons why it would have been advantageous for him to have remained in Budapest and presided at the first session of the National Assembly, nevertheless he felt it to be his duty as head of the Peace Commission to be present in Paris and conclude the labors of that body. The Count in his previous conference with me had stated hat he was afraid that Mr. Grant-Smith was anti-Hungarian and I had assured him at that time that I was sure he was mistaken.

Colonel Sheldon, Mr. Grant-Smith and myself had Lunch this noon with General Graziani at the Széchényi Palace.

The afternoon was spent at the office winding up my affairs, including the drafting of letters to the Prime Minister and Admiral Horthy, announcing that the American Military Mission as such would terminate its labors and leave Budapest on February 9, giving up my offices in the Royal Palace, and the Royal Box at the Opera House.

February 5, 1920. Our departure is scheduled to take place at 8.40 A.M. on the ninth. We shall be about three hours in Vienna that evening and should arrive in Paris about 8.30 on the morning of the eleventh. A suite has already been engaged for me on the SS. "Adriatic," which is to sail from Cherbourg on March 3. What we shall do in Paris for three weeks is a question which is mainly a financial one. It will probably cost me less to take a trip to Spain and return than to pay Paris hotel bills. I might also take a run back to Coblenz and stay a few days with my old friend, General Allen, who was my predecessor as Chief of the Philippine Constabulary and who now commands the American Forces in Germany.

While we shall all be glad to be homeward bound, yet we cannot but feel some regrets at leaving Hungary. Personally I came here rather inclined to condone or extenuate much of the Roumanian procedure, but their outrageous conduct in violation of all international law, decency, and humane considerations, has made me become an advocate of the Hungarian cause. Turning over portions of Hungary with its civilized and refined population will be like turning over Texas and California to the Mexicans. The great Powers of the Allies should hang their heads in shame for what they allowed to take place in this country after an armistice. It would be just as sensible to insist also that Switzerland, on account of her mixed French, German, and Italian population, be subdivided into three states, as to insist upon the illogical ethnographic subdivision and distribution of the territory and people of old Hungary. It is simply another case of the application of long-range theory as against actual conditions.

The Hungarians certainly have many defects, at least from an American point of view, but they are so far superior to any of their neighbors that it is a crime against civilization to continue with the proposed dismemberment of this country.

February 6, 1920. Yesterday afternoon I was urgently requested to come some evening to the Otthon Club, which is the gathering place of all the Budapest journalists, and corresponds here to the Lamb's Club in New York City. I told them that the only evening I could show up would be tonight, and I agreed to go between 10 o'clock and midnight. Early in the evening Colonel Sheldon and myself, with a party, saw "Madame Butterfly" at the Opera House. Then we went home for dinner and afterwards to the Clubhouse, where we found a big gathering. They were most vociferous in their applause and planted us immediately at large banquet table despite the fact that we had just risen from our own dinner. During the afternoon, hey had telephoned around to the best-known actors and actresses and musicians in town and the whole bunch was there. It was one A.M. before we could get way. We had all sorts of dances, songs, vaudeville performances, speeches, etc. I was obliged to respond, with Mr. Zerkowitz as interpreter, but warned them that nothing that was said could be allowed to be published.

February 7, 1920. All my officers and myself were entertained at dinner by Prime Minister Huszár. All of the prominent Cabinet Ministers and many of their wives were present, as were also Count and Countess Apponyi, and Admiral and Madame Horthy. During the dinner, Count Apponyi made a most eloquent address in beautiful English. The main point was thanking me for what I had done for Hungary and requesting my continued assistance. I was obliged to respond in like strain, concluding with the hope that I might sometime return to Hungary under such conditions that I could say all that I felt. The Count prefaced his remarks by referring to the fact that I was among technical enemies, but that that made no difference. To this I responded that the Bible had instructed us to love our enemies, and that I was endeavoring to carry out the Biblical injunction.

Today will be spent in closing and vacating our offices at the Royal Palace, tomorrow we shall close up and vacate the house, and at 8.40 o'clock Monday morning we are due to leave on the train of the Hungarian Peace Delegation.

1. "Die Fledermaus," by Joseph Strauss.

2. It was, of course, well known to the Hungarians that the French were extremely sympathetic to all the enemies of Hungary and that no fairness could be expected from them. The attempt of the French brothers Tharaud to whitewash their government in its actions against the Hungarians is futile and will not deceive anyone familiar with the facts, no matter how cleverly and how charmingly the book is written. (Jerome and Jean Tharaud, When Israel is King. English translation, New York, 1924.)

Compare the reference in Ray Stannard Baker's book. Baker shows that the affairs of Eastern Europe were in the hands of the French militarists and that they should he mainly held responsible for conditions in Hungary. He says that "every evidence in these secret documents [i.e., contained in his book] goes to prove clearly that the French military and diplomatic authorities not only welcomed but stimulated this outcome with the idea of forcing military action and military settlements" (Vol. II, p.30). General Bliss recommended that it should he made clear to the French that the United States did not approve of it (Vol. III, p.244). Herbert Hoover was in favor of establishing the hunger blockade, for the purpose of overthrowing Bolshevism in Hungary and encouraging a counterrevolution (Vol. II, pp.351, 352).

When the brothers Tharaud write that "it was to be foreseen that the Roumanians would not comport themselves with the forebearance of the soldiers from Touraine or Burgundy" (p.217), it sounds like a bitter joke to the people who had to suffer from the French troops of occupation.

Count Apponyi knew very well why he did not want the French in any Hungarian territory.

3. On February 2 the Allies had issued a formal declaration against the return of the Hapsburgs. Huszár had openly declared for a restoration of the monarchy on January 29, the Archduke on January 30.

4. Admiral Horthy was elected Regent on March 1, 1920, with 131 out of 138 votes cast. Huszár resigned as Prime Minister.

5. Marginal comment by General Bandholtz: "And there has been!"

6. Count Apponyi has been and is today [1932] the leader of the Legitimist Royalists who desire to see the old line of Hapsburgs on the Hungarian throne.

<< 7: January, 1920 || Appendices