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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 either.

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 bucks.

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 informal.

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 memories.

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 cordiality.

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 became docile.

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 nations".

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 shoulder-blade.

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 two rabbits.

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 20th, 1944(29).

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 Vértesy.

7. Victor Emanuel III (1869-1947), Queen Elena (1873- ?) Princess of Montenegro.

8. Prince Ascanio Colonna (1883- ?), diplomat, ambassador to Hungary.

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 1946.

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 Italy.

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 burial place.

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 Trials.

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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