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country was somewhat broader than the far more conser- ately and without reservations expressed his agreement vative conceptions of the Kremlin rulers, it could approve with this plan, since, in his opinion, the Hungarian events of liberalization in Hungary only to the degree that it did had gone in the direction of “counter-revolution."15 True, not threaten the existence of communist power there. Steps later, when the suppression of the Hungarian revolution by taken by Belgrade at the very beginning of November the Soviet troops elicited widespread disappointment and were a reflection of this ambiguous position.
condemnation from throughout the world, the Yugoslav Judging by its actions, the Soviet leadership consid- leadership, in a secret memorandum to Moscow, mainered the Yugoslav position to some extent ambiguous. tained that at the Brioni meeting it had accepted the Soviet Having decided on October 31 to militarily intercede again plan with reservations, as a “lesser evil,” since Khrushchev
" and to replace Nagy's government with a new government and Malenkov had declared that no other means existed for subservient to Moscow, the CC CPSU Presidium believed preventing the restoration of capitalism in Hungary. it necessary to hold talks regarding the impending military However, from the very same memorandum, it followed strike with Tito, the leaders of Bulgaria, Romania, and that Yugoslav reservations did not at all call into question Czechoslovakia (the agreement of which was never in the undertaking of military actions, but instead stressed the doubt) and with the new leadership in Poland. The goal importance of taking care to insure that the costs of pursued by the Kremlin was obvious: afraid that Tito and "preserving socialism" to be incurred by the punitive Wladyslaw Gomulka might condemn the impending measures employed by the Soviet forces should be held to military action, Soviet leader Nikita S. Khrushchev tried to a minimum. In essence, Tito stated in his correspondence incline them through direct negotiation toward some sort that the Soviet leadership should "normalize" the situation of agreement with it, using the argument that a counter- in Hungary not solely by military force but by accompanyrevolution had taken the upper hand in Hungary, threaten- ing simultaneous political measures to create a suitable ing the complete liquidation of socialist development and Hungarian government with Kadar at its head, which the establishment of Western control there. As is made would consist of people who had not been compromised clear in Khrushchev's memoirs, this very argument was set under Rakosi and were capable of uniting the forces out at the secret meeting of Khrushchev and CC CPSU supporting the "continuing progress of socialism."16 This Presidium members Viacheslav Molotov and Georgii accorded with the intentions of Moscow, which had Malenkov with Gomulka and the premier of the Polish already been planning such a step and of which government, Juzef Tsirankevich in Brest on November 1. Khrushchev and Malenkov immediately informed their However, they could not convince Gomulka of the
Yugoslav counterparts. necessity of implementing the Soviet plan.10 With even
From the memoirs of Khrushchev and Micunovic as greater disquiet, Khrushchev and Malenkov went on to the well as the subsequent secret correspondence betwe meeting with Yugoslav leader Josip Tito, 11 expecting, in Moscow and Belgrade, it is clear that there were certain Khrushchev's words, that it would be still more compli- differences in the positions of Soviet and Yugoslav cated. 12 But despite this expectation, quite the opposite participants at the meeting. The Yugoslav side especially occurred.
stressed that the government had to condemn the regime of The secret meeting in Tito's residence on Brioni island Rakosi-Gerö, and put forth a program for surmounting the which took place on the night of November 2-3 and at “Stalinist inheritance” and “reforming socialism,” using which Tito, together with his assistants Edvard Kardelj and the support of recently-emerged worker councils in Aleksandr Rankovich and in the presence of ambassador Hungary.18 Although the Soviet notions of acceptable Micunovic, conducted negotiations with Khrushchev and parameters for “reform” were significantly narrower than Malenkov, was until recently known about partly from the Yugoslav, judging by the documents, they did not Khrushchev's memoirs, but for the most part from
object to these proposals. As for the selection of people for Micunovic's memoirs. According to the latter's testimony, the government in question, Khrushchev expressed his there were no records made during the meeting, but support for the candidacy of Ferenc Munnich as prime afterwards he set down the contents from memory.
13 In minister, while the Yugoslav side leaned more toward one of the documents of the former CC LCY archive, the Kadar. In addition, the Yugoslavs favored including in the existence of this record was mentioned, but I was not able government certain persons close to Nagy. According to to locate it.14 Clearly it was the basis for the account of Micunovic, Geza Losonczy and Pal Maleter were menthe Brioni meeting in Micunovic's memoirs. But from tioned. Khrushchev also noted the Yugoslav selection of other archival materials it becomes clear that the memoirs candidates in his memoirs, but, without remembering their do not include much that was discussed. Both Khrushchev names, maintained that both were rejected as unacceptand Micunovic relate the following basic results of the meeting: when the high ranking Soviet visitors informed From the subsequent secret Soviet-Yugoslav correthe Yugoslav side of the Kremlin's decision to employ spondence it becomes clear that the Yugoslav agreement military force in Hungary again in order to replace the with the proposed Soviet military intervention was Nagy government and to defend socialism," Tito, to the
accompanied at the Brioni meeting with an agreement to "pleasant surprise" of Khrushchev and Malenkov, immedi- give political assistance to the Soviet troops and in the
replacement of Nagy with a “revolutionary worker-peasant government." Until recently, such an agreement was essentially unknown. It is not mentioned in Khrushchev's memoirs, while Micunovic's memoirs contain only an unclear suggestion that the meeting included a discussion of the question of Yugoslav efforts to try to see whether something can be done with Nagy.” Micunovic did not explain what was meant by this, noting only that they had in mind "using influence on Nagy in order to minimize casualties and unnecessary bloodshed" and that the Soviet participants expressed a special interest in this.20 It becomes clear from the correspondence that the Yugoslavs, before the start of Soviet actions, were to try to convince Nagy as well as his closest supporters from in the government to resign.21
In my earlier published work, I noted that Nagy's resignation from the post of prime minister would, under these circumstances, signal his government's liquidation; and this, in turn, would have created such a political and legal vacuum that in such conditions the self-declaration of a new government, created under Soviet aegis, would not have seemed like a direct overthrow of the previous government and the Soviet intervention itself would not have been formally directed against a recognized Hungarian government. That is why the Soviet participants at the meeting expressed such an interest in agreeing with Yugoslavia to combine their actions with Nagy's resignation.22 In contrast to Micunovic's memoirs, from which it may be concluded that his question was discussed at Soviet initiative, it follows from the aforementioned Soviet-Yugoslav correspondence that such was the proposal of the Yugoslavs themselves.23 Of course, there is room for the possibility that the two may have overlapped. In any case, the Yugoslav promise would have been in practice, had it been realized, an aid in camouflaging the Soviet intervention and armed suppression of the Hungarian revolution. This character of the SovietYugoslav understanding was acknowledged, obviously, by the Yugoslav participants in the negotiations at Brioni, insofar as they, as it follows from the archival documents, did not show a particular desire to enlighten their colleagues in the Yugoslav leadership about it. Judging by the minutes of the meeting of the executive committee of the CC LCY on November 6, at which Tito informed the rest of the members of this higher party organ about the Brioni meeting, the Yugoslav leader preferred to remain silent about the said understanding.
24 The Yugoslav side, however, did not fulfill its promise. The documents on which I was able to conduct research do not clarify the reasons for this. In the subsequent correspondence with Soviet leadership, Tito in general tried to assure Moscow that the Yugoslav side started to act immediately according to the agreement and undertook corresponding efforts in Budapest in the second half of November, but were unable to achieve concrete results. Kardelj informed the Soviet ambassador in Belgrade, Nikolai Firiubin, that on November 4, as was
agreed upon with Khrushchev, they contacted Nagy. But neither Tito nor Kardelj explained what exactly had been undertaken. In correspondence, Tito only tied the Yugoslav actions to the talks which had been conducted since November 2 between the Yugoslav diplomatic mission in Budapest and Nagy's close collaborator Zoltan Santo, who came with the request that, in the event of the threat of an anti-communist pogrom, he and a few other
a communists from the government and party leadership, created to replace the collapsed HWP, be allowed to take refuge at the embassy. 25 From documents it is clear that the envoy Soldatic inquired from Belgrade with regard to Santo's request and received an answer on November 3 that refuge would be given.26 However, apart from this exchange, references to Nagy or, more importantly, his resignation, were not found. Nor did Tito say anything concrete in his later correspondence with Moscow.
Whatever the case may be, when at dawn on November 4 Soviet troops began actions to suppress the revolution and overthrow the Nagy government, the latter not only did not resign, but, to the contrary, broadcast an announcement on the radio condemning the Soviet intervention as illegal and then, with a large group of supporters, including Santo, took refuge at the Yugoslav mission. With this, the events took a turn directly contrary to what had been anticipated at the time of the Brioni meeting. Belgrade, having been informed of what had happened by Soldatic, found itself in a ticklish situation.27
Intent on escaping from this extremely uncomfortable position, the Yugoslav leadership on November 4 informed the Soviets of what had transpired and affirmed that Yugoslavia would attempt to influence Nagy to retract his recent statement and, to the contrary, make a statement of his support for the Kadar government.28 At the same time, Soldatic received instructions to try to convince Nagy of this and to prevent him and members of his group from carrying out any kind of activity and establishing any kind of contact outside the diplomatic mission.29 However, the Soviet leadership immediately replied on November 4 that in light of the new situation (i.e., in which Nagy's government was already overthrown by military force and the creation of the Kadar government already announced), it considered an address by Nagy to be unnecessary and proposed that Belgrade hand Nagy and his group over to Soviet troops. They, in turn, would hand them over to Kadar’s government. 30 Evidently in order to achieve a quicker extradition of Nagy and the rest, on November 5, Khrushchev and Malenkov sent a telegram to Tito, Rankovic, and Kardelj which spoke of the successful suppression of the "counter-revolution” in Hungary and emphasized that this action had been undertaken in accord with what had been agreed to at Brioni and that the results of this conference had made the most positive impression on the CC CPSU Presidium.31
The Soviet demands put Belgrade in a dead-end situation: on the one hand, the Yugoslav leadership by no means wanted to argue with Moscow, while on the other
hand it could not agree to surrender Nagy and his comrades to the Soviet military authorities or to the Kadar government for fear of serious discredit in the eyes of its own people as well as the outside world. Thus, on November 5, Tito, Kardelj, and Rankovic replied to Khrushchev with a proposal to send Nagy and the rest to Yugoslavia. 32 On November 7, however, Khrushchev categorically rejected this offer in the name of the Soviet leadership and added a blunt threat: Citing the Brioni agreement, he warned that the proposal to send Nagy to Yugoslavia could be seen by Moscow as an example of Belgrade's secret solidarity with Nagy's policies and could cause “irrevocable damage” to Soviet-Yugoslav rela
The Kremlin rejected Kadar's hesitant proposal, which was made to Andropov on November 8, regarding the possibility—in order to avoid heightening the tensions in relations with Yugoslavia—to allow Nagy and his group to go to Yugoslavia under the condition that a written document was received from Nagy stating his resignation from the post of prime minister of the overthrown government and written promises from him and the others not to harm Kadar's government. In response to the communication received from Andropov, Moscow instructed him to tell Kadar on behalf of the CC CPSU that it was not advisable under any circumstances to let Nagy and the others go to Yugoslavia, and that the Yugoslavs would be forced to agree to the demands for his surrender. As for Kadar's apprehension about aggravating relations with Belgrade, the CC CPSU Presidium confirmed the position set out in Khrushchev's communication of November 7 to Tito, Kardelj, and Rankovic. 34
Insofar as this position did not leave the Yugoslav leadership any possibility of slipping between the Scylla of confrontation with the USSR in case Nagy was not surrendered and the Charybdis of its public exposure as an accomplice to Soviet intervention in case he was handed over, on November 8, in a new message to Khrushchev on behalf of the CC LCY, Tito tried to explain to the Kremlin that Yugoslavia was simply not in a condition to permit the surrender of Nagy and the others to the Soviet or Hungarian authorities for fear of being discredited. At the same time, Tito tried in various ways to justify why the Yugoslavs had not achieved Nagy's resignation, after he with his entourage had shown up in the Yugoslav mission. In the message Yugoslavia's support for the Kadar government was forcefully emphasized, and it was proposed that a joint compromise resolution be found, including through an amnesty for Nagy and the others hiding in the Yugoslav mission in Budapest. 35 In the hopes that it would help soften Moscow's position and obtain the assent of the Kadar government, Belgrade gave a directive to Soldatic on November 9 to try to obtain from Nagy at least a formal announcement of his resignation from the post of primeminister of the fallen government.36 However, Nagy refused. 37
Meanwhile, the Soviet leadership replied to Tito's
appeal of November 8 with a proposal on November 10 that Nagy and Losonczy (who had entered his government) be sent to Romania. The rest, on condition of a statement of loyalty to the Kadar government, could receive their freedom and remain in Hungary.38 The departure to Romania was, in essence, tantamount to Nagy's surrender, but formally it was the compromise asked for by Tito. The Yugoslav government found it impossible to accept such a proposal, which Soldatic had already expressed to Kadar on November 11, noting that Nagy's departure to Romania could, in Belgrade's opinion, damage Yugoslav prestige and that Romania is not a suitable country for such a purpose.3
.39 It was clear that the Romanian scenario, involving a country of the “socialist camp" under Soviet control, was virtually tantamount to handing Nagy over to the Soviet military or to Kadar's government. In addition, such a scenario had no chance of Nagy's acceptance.40 Belgrade, for its part, proposed two scenarios: either a declaration by Kadar's government guaranteeing Nagy and the rest freedom if they leave the Yugoslav diplomatic mission, or their unhindered departure to Yugoslavia.
Like Belgrade, Moscow and its subordinate Kadar sought to find a solution to this situation, though each in their own interest. In contrast to Yugoslavia, which was in a hurry to resolve this question in order to rid itself of the source of difficulty with the USSR, the Soviets at first showed a tendency to outwait the Yugoslav leadership. But the continued formal existence of the Nagy government, which still had not resigned, seriously aggravated an already difficult domestic and international political situation for the Kadar government. This provoked great concern at the meetings of Kadar's temporary Central Committee of the Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party (CC HSWP) on November 11 and 16, at which the situation of the “two governments” was seen as one of the most important tasks. 42 Diplomatic maneuvers ensued, when Kadar first assured Soldatic on November 16 that Nagy and his group could leave the Yugoslav mission without fear of being followed, and, if they wanted, leave Hungary. On the instructions of the Soviet side, he demanded on the following day in the form of a preliminary condition, a statement from Nagy and Losonczy that they no longer considered themselves members of the government, and, together with the others, would agree to support Kadar's government. The Yugoslavs for their part began to work towards the Kadar government's granting them a written promise that Nagy and the others could freely live at home without repression against them.43
The arguments surrounding these positions, which continued until November 21, shifted entirely to the sphere of negotiations between Belgrade and the Kadar government;44 the Soviet side, able to manipulate Kadar from behind the scenes, outwardly removed itself from the discussion regarding the Nagy question. Immediately, polemics arose between Hungarians and Yugoslavs (previously avoided by both sides) regarding general
principles of the Hungarian crisis and the evaluation of Soviet and Yugoslav policy in Hungary. The ground was laid by the publication in the 16 November issue of Borba of Tito's speech to party activists in Pula on 11 November. In his speech, the Yugoslav leader had justified the Soviet military intervention undertaken on 4 November as the lesser evil in the face of the threat of “counterrevolution" and expressed support for Kadar's government, but at the same time characterized the crisis as a consequence of the Soviet support given until the last moment for the RakosiGero regime, including the first Soviet military intervention on October 24, which naturally provoked outrage in Hungary. Tito connected a similar orientation of Soviet policy in relation not only to Hungary, but also to other Eastern European countries of the “socialist camp" with the fact that among a portion of the Soviet leadership, the Stalinist legacy, which he characterized as a product of the system that had formed in the USSR, was still strong. Tito's speech itself and its publication in particular constituted a clear attempt to distance himself from Soviet policy in Hungary in light of disappointment with Moscow's actions both in Yugoslavia and the outside world, while at the same time defending Yugoslavia's agreement to intervention on 4 November and the support for the Kadar government. The Yugoslav action elicited a sharp reaction from the Soviet leadership, which, however, was expressed primarily in private, in Micunovic's meetings with Khrushchev and other members of the CC CPSU Presidium. Moreover, the Soviets emphasized that they did not want to see difficulties arise with Yugoslavia and charged Belgrade with breaking mutual agreements. The public response to Tito's speech, made in the form of material published in Pravda on November 19 and 23, rejected Yugoslavia's evaluations, although, in Micunovic's opinion, in relatively measured terms, as was the Moscow leadership’s general position toward relations with Yugoslavia during these days.45
This was also said in connection with Nagy's detention by Soviet troops and his group after they had left the Yugoslav mission on November 22. The proposal for his arrest had been sent back on November 17 to the CC CPSU Presidium by Malenkov, Suslov, and the secretary of the CC CPSU, Averkii Aristov, who were present in Hungary. And Kadar, who was negotiating with Yugoslavia and on November 21 made a written statement guaranteeing safety for Nagy and the others, had been aware of this plan, endorsed by the Soviet leadership, from the beginning. 46 When Nagy and the others, upon leaving the Belgrade mission were detained and forcibly sent to Romania, the Yugoslav leadership limited itself to a protest to the Kadar government, while to the Soviets on November 24 it expressed only “surprise" regarding this inci
Communist parties, especially the French, as well as the Soviet manner of acting without regard to Yugoslav interests or prestige, as in the case of Nagy's arrest. The expression of such disaffection was a long letter from Tito
Khrushchev dated 3 December 1956 which, among other things, repeated and intensified criticism of Soviet policy in Hungary and argued the wrongful nature of Soviet accusations against Yugoslavia with regard to the Brioni agreement and the Nagy question.48
In essence, each of the sides occupied a simultaneously defensive and offensive position, trying to stick the other side with public and non-public demarches and to halt criticism made in its direction. The Yugoslav leadership used its public demarches for personal justification and for raising its prestige inside Yugoslavia and in the international arena (in this respect Kardelj's speech in the Skupshchina played the same role as Tito's speech in Pula). 49 For the Soviet leadership the campaign of criticism against Belgrade functioned as one of the means for reinforcing its control over Eastern European countries of the “Socialist camp” and over the world Communist movement. 50 Such friction continued towards further escalation of mutual accusations and counter-accusations for the rest of 1956 and into the first months of 1957, both in public statements and in a continued exchange of secret letters between Moscow and Belgrade. In particular, the response to the Yugoslav letter of 3 December 1956 became the Soviet letter from 10 January 1957, after which there followed the Yugoslav answer on 1 February 1957.51 But despite the sharpness of the polemic in this correspondence, both sides came to the same basic conclusion: they negatively evaluated the revolutionary attempt to liquidate the Communist monopoly over the government in Hungary and considered the military suppression of the revolution to be lawful.
Cable, N. Firiubin to Soviet Foreign Ministry
4 November 1956
Copying is forbidden Coded Telegram
Kardelj informed me that on the night of November 4, they got in touch with Imre Nagy, as had been agreed upon with comrade Khrushchev.
Imre Nagy, Santo Zoltan and 11 more Hungarian communists are located in the Yugoslav embassy in Budapest. It is not yet known, Kardelj said, whether Nagy Imre made his last statement in the name of the government in Budapest. If he made this statement, they, the Yugoslavs, will try to get him to announce that he did so
In its private contacts with Moscow, however, Belgrade showed increasing unhappiness with Soviet encouragement of the anti-Yugoslav campaign carried out in East European countries and by certain Western
under reactionary pressure (nazhim reaktsiia]. They also intend to come to an agreement with Imre Nagy so that he will make a statement supporting the government headed by Kadar in Sol'nok.
In Kardelj's words, such an announcement would facilitate the discussion of the Hungarian issue in the Security Council and the recognition of Kadar's government as the legal government. Kardelj, on Tito's instructions, requested the advice of the CPSU and the Soviet government as to whether to continue further talks with Imre Nagy. Tito also asked the Soviet government to convey to Kadar's government the request that they not repress those communists who did not immediately take the correct line during the recent events in Hungary.
Tito, in Kardelj's words, also asked the Soviet government to take measures to protect the Yugoslav embassy from possible attacks on it, especially if reactionaries find out that Nagy, who is located in the embassy, is supporting Kadar's government.
4/XI-56 N. FIRIUBIN
In this regard I told Micunovic that on November 5 of this year, the Yugoslav ambassador in Hungary, Soldatic, made a request to the USSR ambassador in Hungary, com. Andropov, for the removal of the Soviet military unit which was located in the proximity of the mission building since at present the presence of this military unit near the Yugoslav mission was not necessary.
I told Micunovic that the Soviet military commander in Budapest for his part considers it possible to comply with the Yugoslav mission's request and to remove the Soviet military unit located near the mission.
I also told Micunovic that we cannot but be astonished by Koca Popovic's statement that “public opinion in Yugoslavia is quite strongly indignant.” If we are talking about feelings, then our population, as well as every Hungarian patriot, is indignant to a far greater degree because of the fact that bankrupt degenerates and accomplices of counter-revolution such as Nagy and company, with whose knowledge worker-revolutionaries and communists were hanged on the streets of Budapest, took refuge in the Yugoslav embassy after their defeat.
Micunovic said that he had just acquainted himself with com. Khrushchev's letter of November 6 to coms. Tito, Kardelj and Rankovic. He cannot speak officially about the letter as a whole, but personally considers that its contents and conclusions contradict the understanding reached between com. Tito and coms. Khrushchev and Malenkov during their recent visit to Brioni.
Micunovic also stated that he does not differ with me in the judgment that Imre Nagy and his government cleared the way for counter-revolution. But there is an entire group of people with Nagy among whom there are honest communists. During the conversations at Brioni, it was stipulated that Imre Nagy and the others could improve the position of the new revolutionary workerpeasant government if in one way or another they announced their intention to assist this government or, at the least, not to speak out against it. The presence of Imre Nagy and others presently in the Yugoslav embassy does not contradict the understanding which took place between coms. Khrushchev and Malenkov and com. Tito and other Yugoslav figures during coms. Khrushchev and Malenkov's visit to Brioni.
I answered that insofar as I was informed of the contents of the conversation which took place at Brioni between coms. Khrushchev and Malenkov, on the one hand, and the leaders of Yugoslavia on the other, the Yugoslav government's provision of asylum to Nagy and his entourage in the Yugoslav embassy starkly contradicts the said conversation and understanding. Coms. Khrushchev and Malenkov informed the leadership of the party and the USSR government that com. Tito and the other Yugoslav leaders fully agreed with their Soviet comrades' conclusions that Imre Nagy and his confederates are not only political bankrupts, but are people who cleared the way for counter-revolution and who themselves became the accomplices of reactionaries and
At 14:10, I received the ambassador of Yugoslavia to the USSR, Micunovic. I told him that I had received his report on the conversation between Minister for Foreign Affairs Koca Popovic and the Soviet ambassador Firiubin in which Koca Popovic stated that a Soviet tank located alongside the building of the Yugoslav mission in Budapest opened fire on November 6 at 12:45 (Budapest time). The direction of the shot has not been established, but all of the windows in the Yugoslav mission were blown out and the window frames were damaged, and the event led to panic amongst the people located inside the mission.
I told Micunovic that I had just spoken with the commander of the Soviet military unit in Budapest and had instructed him to conduct a careful inquiry into the veracity of this fact. That will be done and the results of the inquiry will be conveyed to the ambassador. However, as a preliminary matter the commander of the Soviet military unit in Budapest categorically states that that sort of incident could not have taken place, since everything is completely calm in the region where the Yugoslav mission is located and since the tanks located near the mission were unlikely to have needed to open fire. However, I once again confirmed that the results of the inquiry as to the veracity or fictitiousness of the episode of which Koca Popovic had informed our ambassador would be conveyed to him as well.