Advisers of U.S. Diplomacy in Central Europe, 1934-41
Tibor Frank, professor of American History
at Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest
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 It is based on the heretofore unpublished notes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.
"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."
"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." - The International History Review
"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."
- Austrian History Yearbook
"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." - Hungarian Studies Review
Acknowledgments; Foreword; A Vermont Yankee
in Regent Horthy's Court: the Hungarian World of a U.S.
Diplomat; List of the Confidental Conversations of U.S.
Minister John F. Montgomery, 1934-41; Conversations;
Appendix: Chronology of Events, 1933-1941; Biographical
Notes; Diplomatic Representatives in Budapest, 1933-1941;
Bibliography, List of Illustrations, Index
ISBN 978-963-9241-56-5 cloth $59.95 / €49.95 /