István Pál, Associate Professor, Department of Modern and Contemporary History, Institute of Historical Studies, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, teaches contemporary British and American history and political, military, and intelligence history in general. His research interests include twentieth-century British and American history as well as American-Hungarian and British-Hungarian relations in the twentieth century with special focus on the history of the British and the American Desk of the Hungarian intelligence service of the communist party state era between 1949 and 1989. He has published extensively on the latter subject both in Hungarian and English. His articles appeared, among others, in Múltunk [Our Past], Múlt és jövő [Past and Future], and Nemzet és biztonság: Biztonságpolitikai Szemle [Nation and Security: Studies on National Security]. Currently he is working on a monograph A Hungarian Undercover Operative in the BBC to be published in 2020.
After the fall of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and War of Independence, communist Hungary had struggled to break out of diplomatic isolation. The government formed by Secretary General of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party János Kádár had not been recognized by the Western powers, including the United States of America. American- Hungarian bilateral relations, therefore, were rather strained, and before the restitution of Hungary’s full status in the United Nations Organization, the US minimized the communication between the two countries. To change this, the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Intelligence Service working under the aegis of the Ministry of Internal Affairs endeavored to engage expatriates—more or less famous or well-known professionals who still had some family connection to Hungary—as amateur gobetweens and semi-assets in order to find channels of communication with the American political elite and thus, via personal diplomacy, foster better relations between the two countries. The essay discusses the case of Eugene Havas (1899-1967), American economic expert and journalist of Hungarian decent. The representatives of the Kádár regime had great expectations towards him as an intermediary, this notwithstanding, as the essay will conclusively demonstrate the effect of Havas’s activities remained rather limited. (IP)