14: Travels and Visitors
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Travels and Visitors
The Chancellor of the German Reich, Adolf Hitler, had repeatedly asked me to visit him.
However, while the tension between our neighbour Austria and the German Reich continued, I
did not feel that such a visit would be expedient. With the German-Austrian agreement of
July 11th, 1936, this objection ceased to exist. I could then visit both Hitler and the
Austrian President Miklas(1) without giving offence to
There can hardly have been a single person in the length and breadth of Europe who took
no interest in the rise of the man whose origins and upbringing had been assiduously
shrouded in mystery, who had just managed to rise to NCO in the First World War and was
now achieving the most remarkable successes in every field. This interest, and it must be
admitted a certain curiosity, were in conflict with my misgivings. The Budapest newspapers
had incurred the displeasure of the German Ministry of Propaganda by having openly
expressed their doubts of the story that the Communists had set fire to the Reichstag. In
spite of the bloody June 30th(2), 1934, which had been
sanctioned by the venerable President of the German Reich, von Hindenburg. This justice of
vengeance with neither judge nor tribunal had profoundly shocked me. Though times had
changed considerably since I had been aide-de-camp to His Majesty Emperor Francis Joseph,
my concepts of honour, law and justice, fashioned after his noble example, had not
altered. Yet, after all, it was not my task to stand in judgment upon the man who, since
he had come to power, had shown nothing but goodwill towards Hungary and who had sent me
an extremely friendly telegram on the fifteenth anniversary of my entry into Budapest. I
decided, therefore, to avail myself of an Austrian invitation to a chamois shoot in August
1936 to seize the opportunity of paying a personal visit to Herr Hitler. The Austrian
Chancellor Schuschnigg(3) had offered me the choice between
three hunting preserves; I chose Hinterriss, which is famous for its chamois and to which
Bavaria affords the only access.
At Berchtesgaden, I was met by one of Hitler's aides-de-camp who conducted me to the
Obersalzberg. Hitler received me at the top of the stairs. We went first to his study,
where he proceeded to expound his programme in sweeping terms. He began, of course, with
Versailles, and as the Treaty of Trianon had committed the same injustices against Hungary
as Versailles had against Germany. I had no grounds for contradicting him. I was struck by
his remarkable memory, by means of which he, an uneducated man, had succeeded in amassing
considerable knowledge. Hitler proved a delightful host. Contrary to his later habits, he
asked a great many questions, displaying considerable interest in relations outside the
German borders. Suddenly he asked, "What would you do, Your Highness, if you had to
set Germany's course?"
"That question comes as a surprise to me, Your Excellency," I replied.
"But if you really wish to know my views, I should do all I could to achieve a close
friendship between Germany and England."
To a former naval officer like myself, such an alliance did not appear impossible of
achievement, so long as Germany avoided making the mistake of a von Tirpitz(4)
or of an Emperor Wilhelm II by entering into naval competition with Great Britain. For the
new Germany, I added, that would not be difficult, as she could not possibly raise a
mighty army and at the same time build a fleet equal to the British fleet. "Were you
to conclude an offensive and defensive alliance with England, Germany would be in no need
of a fleet."
Upon my saying that England, owing to her great experience, was the one power able to
maintain order in the world, and that with relatively small armed forces, Hitler responded
with the question why Germany should not, in my opinion, be in a position to do the same.
"It is quite simple," I rejoined. "The British have always known the art
of gaining the confidence of the people they rule. They bring prosperity, put an end to
internecine strife and introduce an incorruptible rule without burdening the people with
police regulations and other vexations after an alien model."
This theme was pursued no further, but I had an impression that Hitler agreed with my
arguments. Even today, I believe that he was sincere in his admiration of the British
Commonwealth of Nations, an admiration which he voiced not only in his Mein Kampf
but also on several occasions during the war. Unfortunately, he never understood that the
British insist that their partner in an alliance should at least be true to his given
word. And this meant that any offensive-defensive alliance such as he did propose to Great
Britain later would have been doomed to failure from the outset.
Tea was served by an S.S. orderly in the room that has so often been described, one
wall of which consisted of a huge pane of glass which gave a view of the Alps that
resembled a vast painting. My visit lasted about three hours altogether. We parted on
friendly terms and I was left with the impression that in Hitler I had met a moderate and
wise statesman. I was not the only one to make that mistake.
Towards nightfall, I arrived, after a delightful drive, at the hunting lodge of
Hinterriss. As His Majesty had never made use of this particular hunting ground since it
could not be reached by rail, it had always been let by the state, so that this was my
first visit to it. In the morning, accompanied by a gamekeeper, I shot two fine chamois
On the journey home through the Tirol and Carinthia, I visited Miklas, the President of
the Austrian Republic, at Velden on Lake Wörther. Politics were not discussed, and we had
tea in the family circle.
The visit to the Obersalzberg was unofficial. The invitation transmitted to me in the
same year, 1936, in the course of his visit to Budapest, by Count Ciano(5),
the Italian Foreign Minister, on behalf of his sovereign, was for a state visit.
Accompanied by Darányi, the Hungarian Premier, Kánya, the Foreign Minister, the Chief of
the General Staff and the Chief of the Military and Cabinet Chancelleries(6),
my wife and I travelled to Rome in November. We were met most cordially at the railway
station by the Italian King(7) and Queen and Mussolini. In
open horse-drawn carriages, with an escort of cuirassiers, we drove through the
flag-decorated streets, lined with welcoming crowds. The Governor of Rome, Prince Piero
Colonna(8), an eminent and impressive personality, with the
mien of an ancient Roman, received us in the Piazza Esedra in the name of the City. It
gave me a feeling of elation to set foot for the first time in the Eternal City. We stayed
at the Quirinal and Mussolini came there to take tea with us. In the evening, we were the
guests of the King and Queen at dinner in the limited family circle at the Villa Savoia, a
pleasant prelude to the memorable days that were to follow.
The following morning, I returned Mussolini's visit at the Palazzo Venezia, which,
until 1915, had been the Austro-Hungarian Embassy. A new era had now set in. The former
members of the Triple Alliance, after a period of hostility, were together again.
Moreover, Benito Mussolini was particularly popular in Hungary as he had been the first
responsible statesman openly to demand that the injustice done to Hungary should be
amended. Of the posing of which he has been so generally accused, I saw no trace. I did
notice that Count Ciano, his son-in-law and Foreign Minister, remained standing during our
conversation, though I twice signed to him to sit down. Not even on this occasion did the
Duce depart from his custom of keeping his Ministers standing by the side of his desk in
the huge Sala del Mappamondo.
Mussolini impressed me considerably during that first visit. He plunged straight into a
discussion of the problems that were of moment to both our countries after giving a shrewd
and exact survey of the contemporary political world. We both knew that our discussion was
regarded with the utmost suspicion by the Chancelleries of the Little Entente. I had,
however, no intention of entering into negotiations for an alliance while I was in Rome.
However, the conclusion that such was my intention had been drawn from the fact that I was
accompanied by my Chiefs of Staff. The only matter of that kind discussed was a delivery
of aeroplanes and arms, to which Mussolini agreed.
Throughout our visit, in the course of which I met His Majesty and Mussolini both
separately and together, and heard the views of their entourages, discreetly expressed, I
received the impression that the relations between the Crown and the Duce were excellent.
I certainly could not tell whether His Majesty considered the new Imperial Crown an added
prestige or a burden. However, in public at any rate, he displayed gratitude to Mussolini
for the order he had established in the land. On his part, Mussolini seemed to appreciate
the fact that the King gave him an entirely free hand in the running of the state.
From the Palazzo Venezia, I went to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, on which I laid a
wreath. In the impressive military parade that was held, I rode with the King as he
inspected the many branches of the armed forces which lined the Via dell' Impero.
Afterwards, from a tribune we watched the march past, including the Bersaglieri(9), the fast-moving light troops.
In the afternoon, we visited the Capitol at the invitation of the City of Rome. We
admired not only the brilliant social gathering but also the glorious view over the
Eternal City with its buildings and monuments, among them the magnificent equestrian
statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius.
During the banquet at the Quirinal, the King said in giving his toast, "The memory
of the courteous way in which our two countries waged war on the Adriatic has lived in our
hearts and has rendered possible this new bond of deep friendship uniting Italy with the
noble Hungarian nation." As an earnest of his words, the King bestowed on me the
highest Italian decoration, the Order of the Santa Annunziata.
As a special mark of honour, a naval review was held, a hundred and fifty warships
having assembled in the Bay of Naples for a grand parade. We were met by Crown Prince
Umberto(10) and Crown Princess Maria José at Naples
station. Their handsome, dignified presence deeply impressed us. Their small daughter,
Princess Maria Pia, added a gay note to the reception, since she refused to part with the
bouquet given her for presentation to my wife. With the Crown Princess and the other
ladies, my wife went on board a yacht, while I was taken, with His Majesty and the Crown
Prince, to the flagship, where I was welcomed on deck by Mussolini, as Minister of Marine,
and Admiral Bucci.
I find it difficult to describe the emotions which welled up in my heart as I gazed
once more upon the sea, upon the ships and the ensigns fluttering in the breeze. When,
obeying the supreme command of Emperor Charles, I surrendered our magnificent fleet in
October of the year of misfortune, 1918, to the Yugoslav representatives, and our
glorious, undefeated ensign had to be struck for ever, I decided in my despair to take my
final leave of the sea. Now I found myself standing once more on the bridge of a proud
battleship, my standard at her peak. But the battleship was named after the Dalmatian
capital, Zara, which was now under another sway. The maneuvres of the first and second
squadrons, steaming at full speed in line ahead from Gaeta, fascinated me. Ships, officers
and men made an excellent impression. During luncheon, which was served in the Admiral's
cabin, I made a short speech in Italian:
"Your Royal and Imperial Majesty, Your Royal Highness, Comrades of the sea!
With these words, I enter once more the unique and glorious community which links the
seamen of th world. Simple fishermen and mighty admirals all belong to one the same
family; instinctively they understand one another, whatever race they be.
Our struggle with the elements unites us. When the storm the World War broke over
our heads and we were forced by politics to face each other as foes, our actions were
never dictated by hatred. The accuracy and range of our guns, the strength and speed of
our vessels alone decided our judgment of chances and our actions. Our warfare was free
from bitterness. We fought in the spirit of fair play. And now, eighteen years later, I
once again behold the sea, breathe the sea air, feel a deck under my feet. You will
understand what this means to me."
After the luncheon, we left the battleship and returned to Rome in a special train
through a landscape that resembled a well-tended garden. For that evening, His Majesty had
invited the Diplomatic Corps to a second gala dinner.
Among Mussolini's undeniable achievements must be reckoned the Lateran Treaties with
which he put an end to the conflict which had raged since 1870 between the Italian State
and the Papacy. Hungary looks back with pride to Abbot Astrik, who was sent to Rome in the
year 1000, and who received from the hands of Pope Sylvester II the Holy Crown and the
Apostolic Cross. By this act, our country was spared from homage to either the German or
the Byzantine Emperor as their feudal lord. With the crown which graced the brow of the
first King of Hungary, later to be canonized as Saint Stephen, Hungary became the
easternmost of the Western community of nations. These thoughts moved me as we greeted the
"gentiluomini di cappa e spada". It was, as it happened, the first time that
representatives of His Holiness had entered the Quirinal. Until September 20th, 1870, It
has been the residence of the Popes. The Swiss Guard, in its mediaeval garb, was drawn up
in the inner courtyard of the Vatican. After a ceremonial, every detail of which was
exactly prescribed, we were conducted up a gigantic flight of stairs, through many halls
in which were hanging paintings famous throughout the world, to the Chamberlain on duty.
He announced our presence to Pope Pius XI. His Holiness received my wife and I seated on a
throne. He displayed a lively interest in the general political situation and in Hungary's
foreign relations. The audience lasted over half an hour. The only concern in our
appreciation of what, even to a non-Catholic like myself was a great and noble episode,
was the realization that we saw before us a gravely ill man. As the Vatican protocol
demanded, we went on to visit the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli,
the future Pope Pius XII. He joined us at the luncheon which was given by Barcza(11), the Hungarian Ambassador to the Vatican.
Many Maltese Knights were among the guests of Prince Chigi(12),
the Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of the Knights of Malta, whom we had met when he
had visited Budapest. I was the only Protestant other than Emperor Wilhelm II to possess
the Grand Cross of that Order.
After a dinner given at the residence of Baron Villani(13),
our Ambassador to the Quirinal, we attended a gala performance at the Opera in the company
of Their Majesties, during which the King, who was apparently not enamoured of that
particular opera, made several witty criticisms. The conversational tone became agreeably
The happiness of our visit made us reluctant to depart. We left Rome with an abundance
of happy memories and with gratitude in our hearts. Wherever we had been, to whomsoever we
had talked, we had invariably encountered sympathy with our homeland. We had learned to
know a wise monarch and a queen who was a kind mother to her country. Rome itself, that
unique city, the very stones of which speak to the beholder of the unbroken sequence of
three thousand years of history, had afforded us a spectacle that was engraved on our
We went from Rome to Vienna. President Miklas had given us a charming invitation to pay
him a state visit. I had no desire to have to visit the Hofburg or the Palace at
Schönbrunn, places that rouse in me so many sad memories. My reluctance had been
understood though it proved impossible to respect my wish with regard to Schönbrunn. We
were taken straight to the Imperial Hotel, and my first with the President and with the
Chancellor, Schuschnigg, came after the luncheon at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs on
the Ballhausplatz. We were in full agreement that the independence of Austria must be
safeguarded in spite of what Schuschnigg called the 'economic Anschluss' that had recently
been concluded. Mussolini, who had not touched upon this topic in his discussions with me,
had promised Austria his full support in this matter, so the Austrian Chancellor informed
me. This I was prepared to believe, but I doubted whether this promise or the firm will of
the Austrian Government would be sufficient to withstand the pressure of
National-Socialist propaganda or the pressure due to the great difference in size between
the two German countries.
After some pleasant hours spent in the circle of my old comrades at the Naval League
that afternoon, we drove in the evening along the Mariahilfer Strasse to Schönbrunn, the
very road that I had covered many hundreds of times in the company of the old Emperor. The
floodlit Palace and Pavilion made an overpowering impression. We were taken up the
familiar blue staircase to the pink drawing-room before going into the great gallery
where, as in the past, dinner was served, with all the same china and plates. Only, in His
Majesty's now sat the President of the Austrian Republic. Throughout the evening, the
ghosts of the past thronged at my elbow.
On the following day, after the military parade outside the gates, I went, as my heart
dictated, to the Habsburg crypt under the Capuchin Church, to lay a wreath at the foot of
the sepulchre of the old Emperor; the ribbon binding the wreath bore the inscription:
"In reverent and grateful memory". I knelt before the tomb and offered up a
prayer. His Majesty had been my great teacher, to whom I knew that I owed much. How often
had I not, in performing my task as Regent, asked myself, "What would His Majesty
Francis Joseph have done in a case like this?" Even after his death, I continued to
trust in his wisdom. I have never regretted that I retained so many of his arrangements,
tested by centuries of use, in dealing with Hungarian problems.
The Austrian President paid a return visit to Budapest on May 3rd, 1937, where he was
received, as had been his Chancellor, Kurt Schuschnigg, a few weeks earlier, with great
In diplomatic etiquette, special significance is attached to the shorter or longer time
that is allowed to elapse before a visit is returned. The suggestion had been made that
King Victor Emmanuel should be spared the fatigue of a long journey, but the King had
scuttled it with the reply, "No, no, I am going myself." We were, therefore,
extremely gratified when the date for his return visit was fixed as early as May, 1937,
the season of the year during which Budapest is most beautiful. We did our utmost to
render the visit of the King, who was accompanied by Her Majesty and the Princess Maria,
as pleasant as possible. The centre block of the Royal Palace, which had been built in the
reign of Maria Theresa(14) and which Emperor Francis
Joseph had occupied, was prepared for the royal visit, some modernizations having to be
made. The Arab horses requisite for the King's entry were brought from the state ranch of
Bábolna; they were familiarized not only with the route but also with the music and the
noise of cheering; they proved apt pupils. Only one item was overlooked, the gun salute.
We had greeted Their Majesties and were about to enter the carriages when the batteries
fired the salute, and up reared the three foremost horses, wildly pawing the air.
Fortunately, no mishap occurred. In the experienced hands of our coachmen, they quickly
In three five-in-hands, ahead of which rode the Commander of the Guards, Colonel
Lázár, with drawn sword, and six four-in-hands, we met our guests. The weather was kind
and these perfectly matched carriages, all drawn by snow-white Arabs in gala harness, so
alike that they were indistinguishable, and driven by coachmen in gold-green liveries,
were a magnificent sight. His Majesty spoke from the heart when, entranced by the
spectacle, he remarked that it was a pity that these noble animals were being driven from
the roads by cars. Many people in the crowd must have had the same thought as, amazed,
they watched the unusual spectacle. Only the older people among the spectators could ever
have seen a cortege like this before.
On the evening of May 20th, 1937, more than a hundred guests, members of the
government, officers and civil servants, were present at the state banquet held in the
Marble Hall of the Palace. In the toast, which I gave in Italian, I described Their
Majesties' Visit as "a feast to Hungarian hearts" and referred to the aid Italy
had given us, aid "which had, to a considerable extent, made it possible for Hungary
to become once more a factor in international politics". In his reply, it should be
noted that toasts of this kind are always carefully prepared beforehand, and their
sentiments brought into accord, His Majesty took up my reference to Germany and spoke of
the "policy which through cordial collaboration with Germany grows increasingly
successful day by day, as, free from all exclusive tendencies, it offers opportunities for
further developments in the interests of European stability and a friendly concourse of
These speeches were intended for the ears of those who rejoiced at the newly won
position of Hungary and also of those who still believed that by refusing amicable
revision of treaties, they could halt the progress of history. The official political
discussions were left to Darányi, our Premier, Count Ciano, the Italian Foreign Minister,
and Kánya, our Foreign Minister. I had given instructions that the entertainments for the
five days of Their Majesties' visit should be arranged in such a way that Their Majesties
would have time to rest. One expedition made by the King was to the excavations of the
Roman remains at Aquincum, the only site in Europe on which a Roman water-organ has been
found. Together we also went to the races. The racecourse had been built on the outskirts
of the town and is considered by many to be the finest of its kind in Europe. I mention
this race-meeting to introduce another incident of the royal visit. It so happened that a
horse belonging to my brother had been entered in the main race; its name happened to be
Duce. This horse had already won a number of races, but on this occasion I had no idea
what its chances were, as I had not had an opportunity of consulting my brother.
Nevertheless, the Queen and her retinue all placed bets on Duce, and were naturally eager
to see the horse come in first. Just as it looked as if Duce were certain of victory, two
other horses drew dangerously near. Suddenly the crowd began to shout as the Italians had
shouted in the Piazza Venezia: "Du-ce! Du-ce!" Fortunately, the jockey had the
horse well under control and it passed the winning post first. The excitement and
jubilation in our enclosure was delightful to watch, and His Majesty presented the jockey
with a handsome reward.
At the gala luncheon to which the Diplomatic Corps had also been invited, the gay
Hungarian costumes were in colourful contrast to the uniforms and morning coats, which our
royal guests appreciated fully. The garden party on the terraces of the towering Palace,
attended by three thousand people, made the same impression on them. The view across the
Danube and the beauty of Budapest are magnificent from that vantage-point, or should I say
were, since death and destruction have now passed over the ancient city(15).
As in Rome, a dinner was held at the Embassy. The Italian Ambassador at this time was
Vinci(16), a polished and entertaining raconteur, whose
table-talk and speeches were invariably a delight.
The departure of the royal guests was as ceremonious as their arrival. The visit had
been so enjoyable to our guests that parting was sad. Her Majesty turned to my wife and
said: "Je suis si triste. J'ai envie de pleurer." (I am very sad. I could cry.)
These accounts of state visits will have indicated that in spite of the attendant
gaieties, they are actually part and parcel of the professional duties of heads of states.
They invariably have an underlying political purpose, and need considerable preparation,
much tact and a modicum of luck to make them productive of political friendship either by
creating it or confirming it, and to avoid endangering what progress has already been made
in that line. History affords enough examples of consequences of either kind.
The friendship between Poland and Hungary, as I have already mentioned, is centuries
old. Stephen Báthory(17), Prince of Transylvania, ruled
over Poland, and, before the Habsburgs became Kings of Hungary, members of the Jagiello
dynasty(18) ruled over us. Polish volunteers hastened to
the aid of Kossuth(19) in his fight(20)
against the Habsburgs. Hungary and Poland have never been at war with each other. Though,
at this time, we were not neighbours of Russia, the Carpathian Ukraine had been
adjudicated to Czechoslovakia by the Treaty of Trianon and was by her 'voluntarily'
relinquished to the Soviet Union in 1944, yet the situations of Poland and Hungary had
much in common. I had therefore nursed for years the plan of paying a visit to Marshal
Pilsudski(21), but his ill-health and death brought the
project to naught. An occasion to visit Poland did not present itself until February,
1938, when I and my eldest son Stephen received a welcome invitation from President
Moscicki(22) to join a hunting party. At Cracow, we were
received by the President, and the Mayor of the City presented us with the traditional
gift of bread and salt as the guilds paraded in a colourful procession in the castle. In
the splendid rooms of the efficiently modernized castle, a banquet was held that same
evening and we were given a cordial welcome in a toast by the President. The hunt over
Europe's greatest hunting preserves, the Forest of Bialowieza, with its abundance of noble
game-stags, wild boars, lynxes and wolves, lasted for three days. My bag of a few fine
wild boars and a lynx was not as large as I had expected, but this was due to the fact
that there had been scarcely any snowfall that winter, a phenomenon that had never
occurred before in living memory. During the days of the hunt and later, while we were in
Warsaw, I had opportunities of private discussions not only with the President but also
with the leading personalities of the country, among whom were Marshal Rydz-Smigly(23), the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, Colonel Beck(24), the Foreign Minister, and General Sosnkowski(25). They all knew that I was in sympathy with the Polish
position not only through tradition and upbringing, but also through my realization of our
mutual interests. I was therefore able to broach various topics, among them the delicate
one of the Corridor. I pointed out that in spite of the fact that the creation of the
Corridor and the separation of Danzig from the German Empire in 1919 had set up a
permanent cause of friction between Poland and Germany. Yet Poland, with the increasingly
powerful Communist Soviet Union on her borders, should more than ever try to come to an
agreement with Germany. They listened to me attentively, but declared that Poland could
not relinquish her claims to access to the sea and to the mouth of the Vistula, since that
river was Poland's main artery.
"Is not the Danube Hungary's main artery?" I countered, "yet we do not
control its mouth." And I went on to stress the need for a closer relation between
Lithuania and Poland, which would be happier solution, since these countries had been
linked for centuries. But this plea did not meet with approval, nor my contention that the
military might of Germany was growing rapidly. It may have been that the Poles, as I was
given to understand, anticipated victory should they be involved in a war with Germany. My
visit ended with expressions of our traditional, sincere friendship, and I returned home
with many delightful memories of a week of varied activities. I had, however, uneasy
forebodings, for my sojourn in Poland had shown me clearly the dangers that were looming
on the horizon.
An invitation to a hunting party such as I had received from President Moscicki often
plays a greater part in politics than an official state visit. When the guest is a keen
huntsman, the atmosphere is bound to be relaxed, so that even political topics can be
discussed in a lighter and freer mood than in a conference chamber. Whether such meetings
bear fruit or not, the pretence of the non-political character of the visit be upheld to
the outside world, which is often an advantage. Hence, all states maintain domains which
can be used for this purpose by the Premier or other political leaders. Hungary was
particularly fortunate in her possession of hunting grounds, though the Treaty of Trianon
had reft from her some excellent preserves, Görgény in Transylvania, for instance.
The Castle of Gödöllô and the hunting rights of sixty thousand acres of fields and
forest-land had been given to His Majesty Emperor Francis Joseph at his coronation as King
of Hungary in 1867; the domain itself had remained state property. It was famed for its
profusion of deer, wild boars, pheasants, woodcock and snipe. Considerable damage had been
done during the revolution years of 1918 and 1919. The noble red deer had been mown down
with machine-guns. The remaining herds had fled northward to the Carpathians, which later
proved to be a gain, as the stock improved out of recognition. Stags so fine as those that
returned later to Gödöllô had never been seen there before. I remember a trophy of my
own that weighed twenty-four pounds twelve ounces. Huntsmen will know what that signifies.
I could fill a book with accounts of the hunting and shooting at Gödöllô, in which
foreign visitors frequently took part. The Duke of Windsor(26),
while still Prince of Wales, shot woodcock there. The King of Italy brought down a wild
boar. The Italian Foreign Minister, Count Ciano, invited to hunt wild boar, shot a young
stag; it was the close season for deer but he was satisfied, which was all we wanted. A
master shot was the Maharaja of Patiala. During a wild boar hunt in winter, he was ahead
of me along a narrow road. Two fine boars suddenly came bounding through the dense
undergrowth in his vicinity, and the Maharaja threw off his fur cape and fired twice. I
expected that the wild boars would be none the worse for this, but at the end of the day,
when we left our coverts, there were the two boars, laid low by accurate hits over the
To another Indian Prince, the Maharaja of Kapurthala, we owed the reintroduction of
falconry. He sent two of his men to teach our huntsmen to train falcons. When, in turn, I
introduced this sport to the King of Italy, one of the falcons caught two pheasants and
There was scarcely one accredited head of a mission to Hungary who did not avail
himself of an invitation to Gödöllô. Even those who did not hunt liked to come as
spectators to this huntsman's paradise. The German Minister, Count Welczek, liked hunting
in Hungary so well that he rented a hunting ground. When he was Ambassador in Spain he
used to come from Madrid every year for the rutting season of the stags. Similarly, Franz
von Papen(27), who in his younger days had often raced
with my younger brother Eugen and had remained friends with him, was frequently my guest
when he was Ambassador in Vienna and later in Ankara. When Admiral Canaris(28)
came on an official journey to Budapest, he never failed to call on me. On one occasion he
came when I was at Gödöllô for the rutting season. I asked him whether he was keen on
shooting. "Most decidedly," he replied, whereupon I suggested that we go to the
hunting preserves towards nightfall. I promised him a fine fourteen-tiner I had observed,
and he was cheered at the thought. First we went to an observation covert from which we
watched the mating battle of two stags in the centre of two herds of deer. The whole
vicinity was vibrating to the bellowing of the two animals. From a second covert, we saw
no fewer than three additional herds, but the fourteen-tiner which was normally to be
found there was not to be seen. It was getting late and rapidly becoming darker. At last,
he appeared, a magnificent creature. I quickly handed my gun to Canaris. He took aim,
lowered the gun, took aim again. Then he put down the gun, saying: "It's too dark. To
injure so fine a creature or to miss it altogether would turn this wonderful afternoon
into a painful memory." That was the classic decision of a true sportsman, and to me
this incident is typical of the man who was executed by Hitler after the fateful July
I must end this chapter with a word of thanks to His Holiness Pope Pius XII. He, while
still Cardinal Secretary of State, attended the Eucharistic Congress in Budapest as Papal
Legate in the summer of 1938. His presence was a high honour which we appreciated to the
full. The Cardinal Secretary of State even went to the trouble of learning our language,
adding yet another to the many languages in which he could so fluently express himself.
All who were present at the Pontifical Mass before the Millenium Monument on the Heroes'
Square, and who saw the Blessed Sacrament pass slowly up and down the Danube or a floodlit
steamer, will never forget the honour which was bestowed on Hungary. The American
Minister, Mr. Montgomery, wrote in his journal at the time that he had made the
acquaintance of a truly great man. There was certainly no one in Budapest, Catholic,
non-Catholic, who would not have held the same opinion after having met Cardinal Pacelli.
1. Wilhelm Miklas (1872-1956).
2. The Nazi "night of the long knives" blood purges. It
was executed under the direction of Joseph Dietrich (1892-1966) a close friend of Hitler,
who has risen to be one of the top SS generals by the end of the war, without the benefit
of formal military education.
3. Kurt von Schuschnigg (1897-1977).
4. German Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz (1849-1930) builder of the
Imperial German fleet, advocate of the unlimited submarine warfare during WW1.
5. Galeazzo Ciano (1903-1944) Count of Cortelazzo, son-in-law of
Mussolini. In 1943, in the Grand Council of the Fascists he voted against Mussolini, for
which he was executed.
6. Maj. Gen. Jenô Rátz, Gen. Lajos Keresztes-Fischer, and Sándor
7. Victor Emanuel III (1869-1947), Queen Elena (1873- ?) Princess of
8. Prince Ascanio Colonna (1883- ?), diplomat, ambassador to
9. Elite units of the Italian army, established in 1836, with a
characteristic floppy felt hat with feathers.
10. Prince Umberto (1904-1983), King of Italy in May and June of
11. György Barcza (1888-1961) former Austro-Hungarian diplomat, he
was ambassador to London between 1938 and 1941. His last assignment was to seek contact in
Switzerland with western powers concerning an armistice. His approach was rejected.
12. Prince Ludovico Chigi della Rovera Albani (1866-1951).
13. Baron Frigyes Villani (1882-1964), Hungarian ambassador to
14. Maria Theresa of Habsburg (1717-1780), German-Roman Empress and
Queen of Hungary. Mother of the French Queen Marie-Antoinette.
15. It has since largely recovered. The destruction allowed
extensive archeological excavations revealing the medieval royal palace.
16. Count Luigi Orazio Vinci-Gigliucci.
17. Transylvanian Prince István Báthory (1533-1586)
18. Rulers of Poland and Lithuania from 1386 to 1572; Hungary from
1440 to 1444, and from 1490 until the Battle of Mohács in 1526.
19. Louis Kossuth (1802-1894) Hungarian statesman. Although Czech
and Rumanian propaganda painted him as a rabid nationalist and propagator of
"Magyarization", his voluminous writings confirm him as an early promoter of the
Danubian Federation. His international stature as a champion for freedom is characterized
by the fact that he was the second foreigner, after the Marquis de Lafayette to address
the Joint Meeting of the U.S. Congress on January 7, 1852.
20. The Hungarian War of Liberation 1848-49, led by Kossuth, which
was put down by Russian Imperial forces at the request of the faltering Austrian side.
21. Marshal Jozef Pilsudski (1867-1935), autocratic leader of
Poland after a 1927 military coup.
22. Ignacy Moscicki (1867-1946). After the German invasion that
began on September 1, 1939, Moscicki, marshal Edward Rydz-Smigly, and foreign minister
Jozef Beck entered Romania on September 17, where they were promptly interned, inspite an
earlier accord guaranteeing free passage to the Polish Government through Romania in case
of war. Moscicki then resigned and, conforming to the Polish Constitution, passed the
presidency to general Sosnkowski. However, since he did not known if Sosnkowski was still
alive, he appointed General Wieniawe-Dlugoszowski, Poland's ambassador to Italy, as
temporary president until Sosnkovski was found. Moscicki was allowed later to move to
Switzerland, where he died.
23. Marshal Edward Rydz-Smigly (1886-1941). He escaped from Romania
in 1941 and returned to occupied Poland under the fictitous name: Adam Zawisza. Soon he
died of pneunomia and bured under his assumed name. In 1992 his real name was put on his
24. Col. Jozef Beck (1894-1944).
25. Gen. Kazimierz Sosnkowski (1885-1969). In 1939 he managed to
slip through Romania and reached France. He joined the struggle to organize the Polish
Army and government in the free world. Meanwhile the French government ignored his lawful
appointment to the exiled Polish Presidency and supported General Sikorski instead. Soon
after Sikorski blamed the Katyn massacre on the Soviets, he died in a mysterious accident
in a British plane over Gibraltar on July 4, 1943. After that, Sosnkowski became president
and supreme commander of the Free Polish Army. He died in Great Britain.
26. King Edward VIII, Abdicated on December 10, 1936.
27. Franz von Papen (1879-1969) German diplomat. He was prime
minister of Germany between June 1 and November 17, 1932. Acquitted at the Nuremberg
28. Admiral Wilhelm Canaris (1887-1945), head of German naval
intelligence, executed by the Nazis.
29. Date of the attempt by German officers to kill Hitler.
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