Discussing Hitler

Advisers of U.S. Diplomacy in Central Europe, 1934-41
Author: 
ISBN: 
978-963-9241-56-5
cloth
$59.95 / €49.95 / £40.00
Publication date: 
2003
376 pages

This book promises to illuminate the foreign policy of the Roosevelt administration during the rise of Hitler's Germany. It is based on the heretofore unpublished notes of J. F. Montgomery (1878-1954), U.S. ambassador ("Minister") to Hungary before World War II. In Budapest, Montgomery quickly made friends with nearly everyone who mattered in the critical years of Hitler's takeover and preparation for World War II. His circle included Admiral Horthy, the Regent of Hungary, subsequent prime ministers, foreign ministers, members of both houses of parliament, as well as fellow diplomats from all over Europe. In addition, as an avid player of golf and bridge, he had an active social life that was interconnected with a large circle of influential friends in the United States.

Minister Montgomery dictated the full content of each and every important political discussion to his secretary shortly after returning to his chancery in Budapest. He assiduously collected, recorded, and organized the information that he gained through these key relationships. His "Conversations" as he called them, represent an unusual depth of politically valuable information in this complex and important period of time.

It is also valuable to understand how the U.S. minister representing Franklin Delano Roosevelt at the Budapest outpost came to appreciate and to some degree even share the value system of interwar Hungary.

Publishing the confidential "Conversations" of Minister Montgomery, along with a selection of his correspondence, will also shed some unusual light on the perception of Hitler's ascent by the United States, and how this perception was shaped and channeled by one key U.S. diplomat. 

Acknowledgments
Foreword
AVermont Yankee in Regent Horthy’s Court:
the Hungarian World of a U.S. Diplomat
List of the Confidential Conversations
of U.S. Minister John F. Montgomery,
Budapest 1934–1941
Conversations
Appendix
Chronology of Events, 1933–1941

Biographical Notes
Diplomatic Representatives in Budapest,
1933–1941
Bibliography
List of Illustrations 
Index

"Students of interwar diplomatic history have an ever dimishing area of unplotted turf to borrow into. Therefore, as most historians still agree with the late grandee of Cambridge dons, Geoffrey R. Elton, that the understanding and evaluation of historical source material 'remains the only proper ambition', the publication of a hitherto entirely unknown collection of prime documents from the period is very good news. Tibor Frank has carefully arranged and annotated an impressive volume of notes by John Flournoy Montgomery, United States minister (Head of Mission) in Budapest from 1933 to 1941. Professor Frank discovered the papers in the United States and obtained them from Montgomery's daughter in 1993."
"In his extensive research and publications on the relationship between Hungary and the Anglo-Saxon world, Tibor Frank has, over the past two decades, published a valuable series of articles and monographs. This edited volume consists of 182 documents (that) provide interesting insights into the attitudes and policies of a group of conservative, pro-western Hungarians who feared, and hoped to resist, Nazi German expansionism."
"In this book Professor Frank includes the recorded summary of 182 converstions Montgormery had with various Hungarian establishment figures and diplomats of foreign legations in Budapest, masterfully annotated by the editor."
"There is a vivid, at times chilling, immediacy to Montgomery's eminently readable record of the times as observed from the cockpit of Budapest. Its utility to the historian as well as to the general reader is enhanced by Frank's informative and balanced introduction, by his copious explanatory footnotes, and by helpful appendices. Frank has made a valuable contribution to Hungarian history, and to the diplomatic history of the 1930s."