WHATEVER MY DIFFICULTIES WOULD BE, I HAD ONE GREAT initial advantage. I did not have to start absolutely from scratch, since I had a predecessor already in Budapest who had an established and functioning network. As his cover was considerably different from my own, I saw him only rarely, and then always clandestinely. When we met in public we were, as two Americans in a foreign land, friendly and polite, but gave no visible sign that we saw each other apart from such chance encounters. Furthermore, his departure, which was a result of the need for arranging well in advance of future changes the possibility of a more permanent cover for either myself or my successor, was postponed for some four months after my arrival in order that no one should be able to draw any correlation between the two.
In this interval I settled in, so to speak, concentrated on establishing my cover, and began to move in as many different circles as possible. This is, of course, classical procedure. No agent - and least of all one with as broad an assignment as mine - is really of use until he is securely oriented in his surroundings. This involves a thorough absorption in the local habits, customs, traditions and personal traits. Until this is achieved, any agent is ill-advised to operate in any but the most limited or routine way. The alternative is to risk early exposure through simple faults of detail - such as, for example, a clandestine meeting-place badly-chosen for want of knowledge of local police habits, or a successful opposition penetration for want of sufficient familiarity with local personalities.
I was early able to find a small flat on the Var. This was probably the most destroyed area of the city, but that in itself gave certain advantages. The Var is a kind of bluff, with very steep sides, rising some 200 or more feet, and running north-west from the Danube's right bank. It was in ancient times a fortified citadel, dominates the old city of Buda, spread out around it, and overlooks the city of Pest across the river. The Royal Palace was on the Var, and most of the old city of Buda and its modern suburbs were residential areas, running up the flanks of the great wooded hills which here mark the west bank of the river. On the east bank stood the Houses of Parliament, somewhat similar in location and conception to those in London, although unique in style, and behind spread the city of Pest, on a great, flat area signalling the start of the Great Hungarian Plain. In Pest was concentrated most of the city's business life, theatres and, after the war, the Government.
My flat, on the northern edge of the Var, looked up the river to the far mountains of Slovakia, and east on to the Houses of Parliament. It also commanded a view of the single Danube bridge available to automobile traffic when I first arrived, as well as of one of the only two approaches up the Var itself. Nearby were the crenellated battlements and the winding terraces of the Coronation Church. The streets of the Var were obstacle courses of rubble piles, built up from the ruins of palaces and houses behind. To enter my own miraculously intact two rooms, it was necessary to traverse three tunnels dug through rubble, a series of confusing passageways, and then a small staircase leading only to my apartment. All of this added up to an area favourable to clandestine meetings, and reducing to a minimum the danger that one could be followed without it being known, for which I was later to be grateful.
In gradual stages my predecessor handed over to me the network which was already operating. It consisted at that time of eight persons.
"Leo" was a member of a noble family who had had an outstanding record in the Resistance. He had successfully avoided arrest by the Germans during the occupation, and, following the liberation, had entered into political life. He was a Smallholder Member of Parliament, and, in numerous articles which he wrote for various papers, he established himself as one of the younger spokesmen of a liberal group within the party who stood for various needed reforms, but who also sought to avoid Hungary's disappearance into the Soviet orbit. He provided steady and valuable information on the intrigues within the Smallholder Party itself, and on the real policies of various party leaders as they reacted to the various Communist encroachments on the party's dominant position.
"Eugene" was likewise of a noble family, but without personal political ambitions. A man of conservative views, and of eminently decent instincts, he had become mixed up during the war in a series of anti-German actions, including the saving of Jews, the operations of the Polish Underground through Hungary, and the abortive effort to surrender to the Western Allies in Italy. He had been arrested and deported to the Mauthausen concentration camp, which he managed to survive only through the intercession with the Germans of certain very highly-placed neutrals. He had long represented a number of foreign firms, including American, in Hungary, and had resumed these connections after the war. He was able to provide valuable information due to his Resistance connections, with many of whom he did not share domestic political views, but with whom he had shared the experience of a concentration camp, and he was also in a position to furnish useful information on developments in the business world.
"Paul" was a very high member of the Government, a Smallholder. A lawyer by profession, he also had an excellent wartime record of resistance. Besides his inside information on the high councils of the Hungarian Government, he also provided a transcript of all Cabinet meetings. (Since this was a coalition Government, and a growingly uneasy coalition, Cabinet meetings were inclined to be either a kind of formal battleground or a place for the final enactment of compromises already agreed upon outside in more informal, acrimonious inter-party meetings. Even so, this material was obviously of very high value.)
"Simon" was a brilliant young economist. A non-party man, he was employed in the National Bank. As a Jew, he had been lucky to escape with his life during the German occupation, and he was also vigorously anti-Communist. A gentle, scholarly man, he provided reams of detailed data on the Soviet plunder of the entire Hungarian economy, and valuable analyses of the means by which the Communists were gradually bringing the nation's financial institutions under their control.
"Jane" was a cousin of "Simon," and a close friend of "Paul." Although she worked in a Government housing office, she was herself a scholar. Her connections were due to her personal friendships in intellectual circles, and not to her work. She functioned as a cut-out to both "Simon" and "Paul," whom I rarely saw, which arrangement was facilitated by the fact that she lived not far from me. (Her role of cut-out was dictated by prudence concerning "Simon" and "Paul," of course, and not by any need to protect identities.) It was also her function to provide likely recruits for the network.
"George" was a Hungarian career diplomat. While he had successfully undergone the "denazification" procedures for Government officials and employees, his position in the Foreign Office was not a senior one. Nevertheless, he retained the confidence and friendship of many of the higher career diplomatic officials, and was thus initially able to provide useful information about Hungarian foreign relations, including notably those with the Soviet Legation in Budapest, and advance information on the planned assignments of Hungarian diplomats abroad. As time went on, however, he found himself more and more cut off from information, and eventually himself took a minor assignment abroad, from which he went into exile.
"Henry" was another aristocrat, a man of ebullient nature and many accomplishments. He had been a leading member of the Hungarian Upper House, and active in Hungarian society, and his information, while never dramatic, reflected a wide range of interests and sources. In addition, he had had a bizarre experience at the end of the war, In hiding from the Germans, he had emerged when the Russians arrived, only to be arrested immediately by them, and put in a Soviet concentration camp near the Austrian border, which was maintained by the Russians for Hungarians against whom they had no charges, but whose leadership potential was such that it was desired to keep them out of circulation until the post-war political structure had taken on the desired forms. He was there for many months, and then, on his release, was required to walk the streets of Budapest, followed at a distance by Soviet agents, greeting anyone he knew and thus in effect providing the Russians with a quick file on all his numerous friends and acquaintances in all walks of Hungarian life. It was our hope that the Russians might at some point try to use him again in more serious work, which would, of course, have provided us with a line into Soviet operations. In this we were disappointed - but "Henry," understandably, was not.
"Louis" was a distinguished scholar. Although his field of study enabled him to provide useful works which bore to some extent on the general Hungarian economic situation, it was in fact neither that, nor his status as an aristocrat, which were of primary interest. "Louis" was the scion of a family which had for centuries occupied a decisive position in Hungarian history, and because of the role his family had played as recently as the past thirty years he was a figure of great prestige in the nation. He had been instrumental in bringing about the surrender to the Russians, and had himself played a part in the formation of the Provisional Government. He was not old enough to be an "elder statesman," but his prestige, his somewhat aloof, non-partisan attitude and his unquestioned patriotism put him in an analagous position. Furthermore, the Russians were not only cognizant of his prestige, but were also appreciative of his part in the surrender. They accordingly deferred to him to a certain degree - at least for a while - and even held what might be considered for the Russians as confidential conversations with him occasionally. These were clearly of interest.
Of these eight persons, none knew of my connection to a specific intelligence organization. However, Eugene, Paul, Simon, Jane and Louis knew that they were connected through me to "American intelligence" in general. Leo, George and Henry, although they must certainly have surmised the facts, were willing to look at the situation simply as being in touch with "the Americans." Of the eight, only Jane knew the identity of any other agent, and she knew, of course, in her role as cut-out, of only Simon and Paul. This arrangement meant that I had to hold most of the meetings with agents myself; this added risk was offset, however, by the greater security of confining knowledge of agents' identities to an absolute minimum-worthwhile in a city rife with personal intrigues and political gossip.
Not one of these agents received any kind of salary, and only Jane had need for expense money. I occasionally did personal favours for some - my predecessor was able to save a valuable library for Louis, and I would transmit gifts between some of the agents and their friends in the West, as my cover enabled me to do without risk - but these favours were never asked nor performed as a form of compensation. Jane and Simon both had personal ties in America which gave them particular reason to assist the United States; the rest acted purely as Hungarian patriots in the framework of what each had personally concluded would best help to avoid the catastrophe of Soviet domination, if at all possible. In brief, political support was the motive of all of the agents in the network.
This network had certain obvious limitations - which was no reflection whatsoever on my predecessor, who had organized the group in a very limited time with what was readily available. It was outstandingly useful with respect to the Cabinet, the majority Smallholders' Party and Soviet seizures of property. It was satisfactory with respect to the Foreign Office, the economy in general, and informed opinion among centre and conservative leaders. It had potentialities with respect to some Soviet activities, but not enough. On the debit side it was much too heavily weighted in favour of the former ruling upper class. It was either weak or non-existent so far as very important areas of Hungarian life were concerned: the other political parties, especially the Communists; organized labour; the Communist-controlled Interior Ministry, and in particular the Political Police, destined to become the organ of Communist terror; the military; and the Roman Catholic Church. (There is a sizeable Protestant minority in Hungary, and a tragically reduced but still important Jewish population; but the Roman Church was bound to be of capital importance. Hungary had been granted by Rome the title of Apostolic Kingdom and its senior Catholic Bishop, the Archbishop of Eszrergom, who in 1946 was already Cardinal Mindszenty, was also by law the Prince Primate, the chief personage in the country after the Head of State. The Church's importance had in fact been recognized by the Allied Control Commission in its grant in 1945 of authority for the formation of a Catholic political party.) These limitations meant not only that the range of the network's intelligence was too narrow, but also that the intelligence was susceptible to a too uniform slant.
Notwithstanding the limitations of this network in terms of specific targets - and of partisan prejudice - the problem in Budapest was never, during this period, a lack of information. On the contrary, by the simple process of allowing others to do the talking, one lived in a veritable deluge of rumours. The daily crop of these rumours invariably contained some interesting kernels of truth, and the winnowing of the wheat from the chaff was a full-time process, involving innumerable conversations, checking, confirming, far into the night - a process made somewhat easier by the nocturnal habits of politicians in general, and Russians and Hungarians in particular. In addition, there was always the stray nugget of information that one stumbled upon by accident. (Later towards the end of 1947, I found myself having a coffee one day with an American Government architect, who was in town to discuss technical details with Hungarian architects about certain buildings purchased by the American Government. An excellent, and thoroughly apolitical, technician, he was discussing with me his impressions of Hungarian baroque architecture. Off-handedly I remarked that the Government seemed to have plentiful resources for the atrocious Stalin Monument, but was averse to restoring the Royal Palace, even as a museum. "Oh, no," he said. "They're going to restore it. In fact, soon. The architect I saw in the Government Building Office today showed me the plans." I perked up and asked what it was going to be. "It's to be the headquarters of the Danube Federation," he answered. "Tito has already given the plans his approval." This chance remark led eventually, in conjunction with other items from elsewhere in the Balkans, to advance information on the Tito-Cominform dispute, which featured as one of its early phases an argument between Tito and George Dimitrov of Bulgaria, supported by Stalin, over whether a Danubian Federation should be based on the four states of Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Hungary and Rumania, or - as Tito obviously desired-it should be composed of nine states: Hungary, Rumania and Bulgaria, and the six member states of the Yugoslav Federation.) Nevertheless, one could not rely on the stray nugget, or on a spate of rumours. What was needed was reliable, steady information, keyed to all of the vital centres of power where the Hungarian fate was being worked out. To expand the network thus became one of my principal tasks.
During the autumn of 1946 I moved slowly, becoming thoroughly familiar with the city and the surrounding countryside, establishing contacts with foreign and Hungarian newspapermen, diplomats, politicians, always aiming, without notable success, at the targets I had set for penetration. My headquarters continued to be satisfied with the flow of intelligence, and counselled caution in my efforts to expand the network.
But events were moving rapidly. In the city one could sense the steady pressure of the Communists, supported by their Russian backers. In October the peace treaty negotiations in Paris began. (These negotiations, in which the United States was obliged to assume a role, not entirely successfully, of protecting Hungary from the maximum demands of its Czechoslovak, Rumanian and Yugoslav neighbours, all egged on and supported by the Soviets, had at least one light moment. It seems the Hungarian Delegation, led by the Prime Minister, were holding highly secret discussions one evening in their hotel, when the door giving on to the balcony of the room they were using opened softly, and a strange man entered. Without a word, he crossed the room, and opened the door leading to the hallway. As the Hungarians sat thunderstruck, wondering what nationality of agent this eavesdropper was, the man paused in the doorway before disappearing. "Excuse me, gentlemen," he said, "but Monsieur returned unexpectedly.")
Meanwhile, in Budapest, there were enough light moments, but they were set to a counterpoint of people who simply disappeared one day or night, arrested by the Russians or the Hungarian Political Police, never to reappear; of trigger-happy and acquisitive Red Army patrols at night-shooting incidents between Russian and the few American soldiers in Budapest were not uncommon; of growing unease among even the smallest property-owners; and of a general realization that the Soviet objective was to install the Hungarian Communists in full power. In September the Political Police were changed from being simply a branch of the National Police, which was directed by General Balassa, a Socialist, to an autonomous agency called the A.V.O. - the Hungarian initials for State Security Agency - the head of which, Gabor Peter, reported directly to the Communist Minister of the Interior, Laszlo Rajk. The realization spread that a race was on: if the Communists could be prevented from seizing power in the period before the Peace Treaty took effect - that is, during the time when they would still have maximum support from the Red Army - then Hungary might be saved. This meant, for all practical purposes, that the coming year of 1947 would be decisive.
In these days I made the acquaintance of "Guy," the holder of an important post in the National - not Political - Police. As all responsible official positions required membership in one of the Coalition political parties, Guy, on being offered his post in the Police as a reward for his Resistance record, had joined the Peasant Party. A city man, a prewar owner of houses and real estate in Budapest, his status as a "peasant," even a purely political one, was a perfect example of the fortuitous meeting of a wholly artificial system and an utterly cynical man. I liked Guy for his wit and intelligence, and he seemed to me at first glance to offer some professional interest. However, his work was exclusively preoccupied with criminal matters, and he spoke very little of it. By listening I gathered that he had spent much time in England, and I also noted that he seemed somehow apart from the people making up the circles in which he moved socially - circles which seemed more the natural result of the associations of his extraordinarily beautiful, aristocratic mistress than of his own. I realized eventually, however, that Guy was trying harder to learn what he could from and about me than I was about or from him. It did not seem plausible to me that he was a Communist agent; what struck me as more likely was a pressing need for money, to gain which I had the impression he was not likely to be too scrupulous. Despite my enjoyment of Guy's company, caution seemed indicated; it did not appear at all likely that this man would eventually be my most valuable agent in Hungary.
At this same time, I was still hoping for some more productive link to the Russians themselves. On my arrival, the Russians had indicated that a Colonel Tyushin was the appropriate officer for me to see if I had business to transact. Apart from an initial courtesy call shortly after my arrival, I had barely seen Tyushin, who certainly seemed to have no business to transact with me. On our rare encounters, however, he was exceedingly affable; a stocky, barrel-chested man, he had an ease of manner and equanimity with foreigners unusual for a Russian official, suggesting either that he held high authority or had been much abroad. Whether the former was true or not was inascertainable, although he was popularly rumoured really to be a Lieutenant-General in the N.K.V.D. - the equivalent. for sheer power in Stalin's and Beria's Russia, of a field-marshal in anybody's army. As for his travels, he had been, he said, on numerous "trade missions" all over the world. It was Tyushin himself who suggested I see more of him.
In the late autumn of 1946, the Hungarian Government resurrected the annual Tokay Wine Festival, and at the invitation of the Prime Minister practically everyone, Hungarian or foreign, with even the remotest connection to the Government, journeyed to the village of Tokay for a day of wine-tasting, sightseeing and speeches, to be followed by an official dinner at the College in the nearby town of Sarospatak. To kay itself is an extraordinary sight; a lone, conical mountain, in shape something like a very large, man-made pile of dirt, rises from the plain. At its foot is the village of Tokay; on its slopes is grown alt of this magnificent wine, a little sweet for my taste, but so long famous in Eastern Europe that for centuries no King of neighbouring Poland could be crowned without three bottles of Tokay at the ceremony.
Inside the mountain are long tunnels and caves where the wine is aged and stored, This year, however, they were empty; with Russians about, the villagers would describe how the Germans had looted the caves; when the Russians strolled on the villagers would curse and say that the German looting was nothing compared to the thorough-going Russian job which followed it. There was, of course, the current harvest. This had not yet matured to wine, but was in the stage which the Hungarians call "must" (pronounced "mooshe"), when the taste is somewhat sour, but an expert - and any viIlager - can already tell the quality of the vintage. ("Put this on your 'must' list," wrote one American on a postcard to a friend who had for years irritated him with cards from faraway places.) Once drunk, it continues to ferment, now more rapidly, in the stomach, and then packs a neat wallop - as a highly confused assemblage for the dinner at Sarospatak testified. It was in this melee that Tyushin sought me out to say that I should call him when we returned to Budapest; he would like to talk with me.
My headquarters viewed this invitation as a logical outcome of my cover arrangements, and instructed me to pursue it, As it happened, the "must" at Tokay had so inspired one American Army officer that he had lost his way en route to Sarospatak. In this north-eastern part of Hungary, as a result of the war, and the generosity of the Benes Government in giving up the entire eastemmost province of Czechoslovakia to the Soviet Union, the Soviet border was now across the Carpathian Mountains and on to the edge of the Hungarian Plain. The American officer was last seen heading in that direction. Accordingly. I persuaded the Military Mission not to take the matter up officially, and I went to see Tyushin. He deplored the officer's carelessness, and regaled me with long stories of the ferocity, and what he characterized as the bureaucratic stupidity, of the Soviet border guards. Five days later, however, the officer reappeared in Budapest, no worse off for a week in a Soviet jail. This was an auspicious start.
I next saw Tyushin at a large American reception for the Hungarian Prime Minister. Any social function in Budapest, no matter how labelled, which started after six o'clock in the evening, went on until the last guest had departed, which was invariably some time well after midnight. In the far reaches of this particular evening. when the guests had dwindled to perhaps a dozen, I saw a remarkable tableau. In one corner of a large room. Tyushin was reclining on the floor, his head in the lap of an American girl, remarking to no one in particular on how excellent a solution this was to international problems, while in the opposite corner, an American colonel, shortly to become a general, was being restrained by several others as he shouted, "Let me at him! We'll atom-bomb the bastards off the face of the earth!" I interposed myself between Tyushin and his view of the American colonel - Tyushin only looked bemused and asked, "What is he shouting about?" - and suggested we leave together. He accepted the suggestion, but, as we were about to get into my car, his driver came over, and in effect ordered Tyushin into his own car. Tyushin reluctantly went with him, but turned as he got into his car, and, pointing to his driver, said in heavily accented English, but with the lordly manner of an ancient boyar, "I shall have him horsewhipped." Not a very auspicious second round.
The third round was totally unproductive and went to Tyushin, as these things will. I encountered him at the November 7 Soviet celebration of the twenty-ninth anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. The Russian generals, in their rich green tunics, gold belts, gold epaulettes, barrel chests covered with medals, and scarlet-striped trousers were a reminder, if none other was needed, that those who ruled in Russia were determined to profit to the maximum from their victory in war. Tyushin, surrounded by his colleagues, was still affable, but more formal, and in effect I found myself in a drinking bout with a coterie of Russian officers whose intent was unmistakable. I regret to say that I went down in just under an hour; I was then escorted, almost tenderly, to a waiting Red Army staff car outside, and the driver ordered to take me home.
At the foot of the steep, narrow road up to the Var, we were stopped by a Soviet patrol. They had been celebrating too, and demanded that the driver surrender the car to them. He refused, saying he had an American general with him. I accepted my promotion without protest. The patrol insisted, and suddenly my driver cursed, slammed the car into gear, and we shot up the hill. He wasn't even in second gear before the patrol opened fire, the submachine gun among them sounding as though I were standing right next to the muzzle. The car was struck a number of times, but miraculously we reached the top of the hill and I was deposited at my door intact, and stone-cold sober.
I returned to the fray by calling Tyushin in a few days and accusing him of plotting my murder. He thought it a great joke. We agreed to lunch several days later-at the Russian hour of five o'clock. To my surprise, Tyushin suggested a popular, crowded political café right in the centre of town. When we met, he started things off right away by ordering a bottle of cognac. I had learned long before, notwithstanding my lamentable November 7 performance, that a strong determination not to succumb plays a large role in this matter of liquor in such encounters; and I was fully determined on this occasion.
We talked for almost seven hours. My recollection is that we went through three full bottles of cognac in this time, and that we at some point lunched. But it was the talk which dominated. It was all political, and it ranged over the entire spectrum of the Soviet occupation of Hungary, and the personalities, Russian, Hungarian and Western, who were involved. Tyushin did not speak by any means as a disaffected Soviet citizen. When, for example, I raised the question of the Soviet plunder of Hungarian industry, he forthrightly proclaimed their right to restore the utter devastation of Soviet industry and territory occupied by the Germans and their then Hungarian allies. When I observed that this surely did not include stripping the peasants' homes of furniture right down to mattresses and pillows, he said quite simply, 'If the Russian peasant had only half of what the Hungarian peasant has I would be satisfied."
From the range and forcefulness of Tyushin's remarks it became clear to me that he played a much more important role than was indicated by his ostensible rank of Red Army colonel. Remembering the rumours which placed him as a high N.K.V.D. officer, I probed this by steering the subject around to arrests, concentration camps and forced labour. He inquired as to my estimate of how many Soviet citizens were in concentration or forced labour camps. When I answered, "Ten million," he smiled, paused for a moment, and then said, "Look, I know something about this subject. I have seen most of the camps. I can assure you, their population is not more than a million. One half of I per cent. of our total population." While I had the impression that he wished this were so more than he really believed it to be so, the important point was that he freely admitted special knowledge of the subject. Even more importantly, however, he admitted knowledge of a more immediately Hungarian aspect of the subject. It was common knowledge that, quite apart from the depredations of the Hungarian A.V.O., the Russians themselves were still occasionally arresting Hungarians. They repeatedly denied this, and declared themselves innocent of all interference in Hungarian domestic affairs.
Only a few months before this, a notable case had occurred in which Count Geza Palffy, a very well known Hungarian aristocrat himself not active in politics, had been abducted by Soviet officers before numerous witnesses in broad daylight on a crowded city street. I mentioned to Tyushin what was - in those pre Khrushchev days - the unofficial loyal Communist explanation of the excesses of the Soviet purges of the late, thirties, namely, that Yagoda and Yezhov, Beria's predecessors as head of the N.K.V.D. had misled and betrayed Stalin, and suggested that perhaps the disappearance of Count Palffy was an indication that Yagoda's and Yezhov's methods were being exported to Hungary. Tyushin did not deny Soviet involvement in the affair; instead, he reflected quite long and seriously, and then said, "That is a very serious case." I had the impression here of a distinct ambiguity in his answer-that is, that the seriousness of the case might be due to factors other than some act of Palffy's. Tyushin's manner and phraseology seemed to suggest that Palffy was not himself guilty of anything in particular, but that this was not the point nor significance of the case.
Most importantly, the sense of Tyushin's comments and observations over several hours began to add up to a strong inference of disagreement among the Soviets themselves as to how to proceed in Hungary. Of all the personalities discussed in that long conversation, the names of Georgi Pushkin, then Soviet Minister to Hungary, later Ambassador to East Germany, then Deputy Foreign Minister, and most recently Soviet co-Chairman of the Geneva Conference on Laos, or of General Sviridov, then Soviet Chairman of the Allied Control Commission in succession to Marshal Voroshilov, later Soviet Representative on the Allied Control Commission for Austria, were never mentioned by Tyushin. He was courteous and complimentary in his remarks about the American personalities in Hungary. He spoke very highly of the Yugoslavs, he having arrived in Hungary with the armies which came from the south. He exhibited marked impatience with Matyas Rakosi, the Hungarian Communist leader: "If you think he's 100 per cent, our man, you're mistaken," he said. (History proved him Stalin's man; the question was who was meant by Tyushin's "our.") Instead, he spoke more warmly of Rajk, Kadar and Losonczy, Hungarian Communists who each had his own following in the Party, but whose common characteristic was that none of them was a "Muscovite"-that is, a Moscow-trained Communist who returned to Hungary with the Red Army, as did Rakosi, Gero, Revai, lmre Nagy and most of the Party leadership. (Ten years is a long time in a man's life: in 1956 it would be Imre Nagy, the loyal "Muscovite," who would lead the revolt against Moscow, and Kadar, the "Titoist," who, having suffered imprisonment and torture, would betray that revolt back into the hands of Moscow.)
I left Tyushin that night aware, not from any single remark, but from the total impression of hours of talk, that there was disagreement among the Soviets. I did not think then, nor do I now, that this disagreement was over objectives. I believed then, and do now, that it was over tactics and methods: how far to go and how fast, it being recognized that the tactics of maximum speed would be bound to provoke opposition from the West. It was also clear to me that Tyushin, whatever his importance, was not a decisive element in resolving this dispute. But there were bound to be those behind him, in more decisive positions, whose views he shared or reflected. The difficulty was that I had no way of knowing, even with the frankness of much of Tyushin's talk, and even by the most correct deductions from his comments, what exactly were the alternative courses being weighed by the Soviets. Tyushin had given me some vague ideas of who the clashing personalities might be, but this, in the dark labyrinth of Kremlin politics, was far from enough to deduce the issues. In short, I felt I had recognized the hidden dissent, but I was at a loss how to exploit it.
The following day-fortified with aspirin - I despatched a long report to my headquarters, recounting the conversation in factual detail. I added my personal impressions - labelled as such - and then decided to check with Louis. Without giving him the entire substance of my conversation with Tyushin, I explored with him the possibilities of strong policy divergencies among the Soviets about the Hungarian situation. My impressions turned out to be similar to his. For one thing, he recounted his experiences with the Soviets in the matter of the Armistice, when he said it was apparent to him that every Red Army commander had a patron in the Politburo, that every political commissar at army or corps level also had a patron in the Politburo - usually a different one from the army commander - that the same was certainly true of the diplomatic representatives, and that all this rivalry and dissension was deliberately encouraged by Stalin, who thus played all his subordinates and any possible rivals off against each other. For another, he had had similar indications in a series of conversations with various Soviet officials prior to the Paris Peace Conference, when it was his impression that they were undecided how far to go in supporting neighbouring states' claims against Hungary. Louis took the Soviet stalling on an Austrian Treaty as a very serious sign, possibly negating any benefits from the Hungarian Peace Treaty, and pointed out that the strategic advantages to the Soviets of their continued occupation of Austria gave them time to resolve any differences over how to handle the Hungarian situation. He had no more concrete ideas than I had of exactly what alternative courses the Soviets might be weighing, nor of the personal roles being played. "Anyway," he commented dourly, "by the time you figure all that out, and before you can exploit your information, they will have resolved their differences, most probably by force, and will run over us all with a steamroller."
Within three weeks, Louis was proved right in this prediction. The first thing that happened was that Tyushin disappeared. On calling his office, I was repeatedly told that he was out; the last time I called a brusque voice said that he had returned suddenly to Moscow. At a reception some days later, I was standing with General Sviridov, Pushkin, the Soviet Minister and others, when someone in the circle mentioned that he had not seen Tyushin for some time. Pushkin said quickly, "He returned suddenly to Moscow," and then added with what I thought was singular casualness, "A death in the family, I think." As Tyushin has never since shown up on the international scene, so far as I know, one can only assume whose death it was. (The then Prime Minister, Ferenc Nagy, has remarked in his memoirs that he noted a distinct shift in the relative importance of the principal Soviet officials in Hungary at just this time.)
The second thing was that during December rumours began to spread around Budapest of important arrests made by the Hungarian Military Political Section, a Communist-controlled unit within the Army established at the same time as the civilian Political Police, and still theoretically separate from the A.V.O. Between Christmas and New Year's Day, Leo gave me a partial list of those arrested, and next day Jane brought from Paul a complete list, which included the name of a Hungarian correspondent for a Western newspaper who had attempted to file the story. According to both Leo and Paul, those arrested were being subjected to torture, and the charges were of a "conspiracy" to restore the Horthy Government - about as hare-brained a thought as could be mustered in Hungary at the time. Henry, who knew a number of those arrested, said the charges were pure fabrications.
The Press, including the Communists, was still silent on the matter, and I thus at first took the "conspiracy" as just more terrorism by the Communist police. I was wrong. The Soviets had indeed reached a decision - with Tyushin most probably on the losing side - and the steamroller was getting under way.