Highland Lakes, N.J.: Atlantic Research and Publication; Boulder CO.: Social Science Monographs, 1992;
distributed by Columbia University Press. Pp. Xvii, 328. Cloth.

Soon after America’s involvement in World War II, the Advisory committee on Post-War Foreign Policy was established in Washington. By offering selections from the records of this committee and its successors, Romsics makes an important contribution to the understanding of wartime American attitudes regarding Hungary. Three problems received attention in the Committee’s deliberations as far as Hungary was concerned: the issue of Hungary’s role in the post-war international organization of Eastern Europe, the question of her post-war boundaries, and the problem of her future system of government.

American decision-makers favored the creation of some kind of a supra-national state in Eastern Europe, the primary purpose of which would have been to keep German and Russian influence at bay. Two plans for the federal reorganization of Eastern Europe were brought before the Committee. One of these envisaged a federation made up of the main constituents of the former Habsburg realm, while the other called for the creation of three federations in Eastern Europe: the Polish-Baltic, the Balkan, and a Central or "Danubian." The experts made short-shrift of these plans: they favored the creation of a single, large East European federal state.

Concerning territorial questions, the experts concluded that on ethnic grounds, Hungary’s post-Trianon borders warranted adjustments. In particular, they called for the adjustment of Trianon Hungary’s borders in places where the majority of the population was Hungarian:  along Slovakia’s southwestern border, in southern Ruthenia, and in the northernmost areas of Serbia. As for Transylvania, the Committee recommended ceding to Hungary a strip of territory along her eastern border, and granting autonomy for the Szekely districts in southeastern Transylvania.

On the matter of Hungary’s future system of government no one of influence in Washington contemplated the survival of Hungary’s wartime elite in power. What Washington hoped for, was the establishment of a democratic, pluralistic, republican Hungary.

American plans for post-war Hungary disintegrated during the last year of the conflict and in the immediate post-war era. The prime cause was the attitude and predominant strategic position of the Soviets in Eastern Europe, but there were other factors as well. In the question of Hungary’s boundaries, for example, the proposed adjustments in Hungary’s favor in the north and the south were abandoned because the governments of Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia were opposed to them. Still Another reason for jettisoning the earlier American stand on this issue was the British government’s support for restoring Hungary’s pre-1938 borders. In 1947, even the hopes for a democratic government in Budapest faded, as the Soviets embarked on the liquidation of anti-communist parties in Hungary.

N.F. Dreisziger

From the American Hungarian Foundation's HUNGARIAN STUDIES NEWSLETTER no.58-61 winter/spring/summer/autumn 2000

(italic-and-bold accent by yours truly)