20. The Nagy Abduction

The Nagy Abduction

Imre Nagy, together with some ex-ministers, high-ranking military personnel, and others (including Julia Rajk), had taken refuge in the Yugoslav Embassy. Correspondence between Kadar and the Yugoslav Ambassador, Soldatich, resulted in Kadar guaranteeing the personal safety of Nagy, and both his own safe conduct and that of his group. Then, suddenly, Kadar put forward four conditions:

(1) Nagy's formal resignation as Premier.

(2) A statement from Nagy supporting the Government in its 'fight against counter-revolutionaries'.

(3) Nagy to make a public self-criticism.

(4) Nagy and the rest of the Group to agree to go to one of the 'Peoples' Democracies' until normality was restored in Hungary.

These conditions were all refused.

Kadar clearly had orders to get Nagy out of the Embassy. He then gave, in writing, an unconditional promise of safe conduct for the group whenever they should decide to leave the Embassy. Some sent messages home, telling relations they were returning. None mentioned the possibility of going to Rumania or any other 'Peoples' Democracy'. A bus was laid on to take them home. At 6.30 on November 23, they all left the Embassy. Soldatich had insisted that two of his Embassy official should accompany the party. A few hundred yards from the Embassy, the bus was stopped and surrounded by patrol cars. Russian security officers poured out of the cars and into the bus. The Yugoslav officials were ordered to leave, but they refused and were thrown out. The bus was then driven to the Russian Kommandatura.

The Yugoslavs sent strongly-worded notes of protest to Kadar. At first Kadar denied all knowledge of the abduction. He later admitted he knew about it by saying that if Nagy had been allowed to return home, counter-revolutionary elements might have murdered him. He also claimed that Nagy and the others had gone to Rumania at their own request. A likely story. In Rumania the press and radio had for some time shown a more violent hostility to Nagy than in any of the other 'Peoples' Democracies'. An attitude more hostile even than that of the Russians! How free Nagy's choice had been became evident later, with the news that he and others, including Pál Maléter, had been executed in Rumania.