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troops of occupation had withdrawn from the occupied territory and after this territory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
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,
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
6. Count Apponyi has been and is today  the leader of the
Legitimist Royalists who desire to see the old line of Hapsburgs on the Hungarian throne.
<< 7: January, 1920 || Appendices