Chapter Six

The Trial of Cardinal Mindszenty

There had never been a trial in world history like that of Cardinal Mindszenty and Prince Paul Eszterhazy. The last Cardinal to face a court was Cardinal Wolseley in England in 1530. But that was a trial with all the pomp and ceremony that sixteenth century England could command. Powdered wigs and scarlet ruffles and maces, courtiers and dandies. And in the end a Cardinal sentenced to death.

Here in the People's Court in Marko Street in Budapest there was a minimum of ceremony and no trappings at all. Except for the uniformed guards only four people were not in civil dress and they were the Cardinal, his secretary, Dr. Zakar; Dr. Baranyai, Dr. Bela Ispanky. They all wore priestly dress and the Cardinal his ruby cardinal's ring. The courtroom itself was small and rather gloomy. The prisoners sat on a long bench opposite the panel of five judges, separated from each other by grey uniformed prison guards with purple bands round their caps.

First the Cardinal, morose, ill at ease, and glowering, but in a slightly obsequious way. Next to him, Dr. Baranyai, ruddy faced with twinkling eyes behind his glasses, looking like an irritable university professor. Prince Paul, tall, languid, fair moustache, and the long hooked nose and blue eyes which are the distinguishing marks of the Eszterhazy family. Completely self-possessed and in a way dignified. Zakar, well satisfied with himself, smiling and seemingly on good terms with the prison guards. The others were relatively unimportant except perhaps the sleek Bela Ispanky. Their roles were incidental to those of the chief accused. Toth, of the Catholic Action Society, had to listen to all the proceedings with a hearing aid.

Mindszenty and Eszterhazy represented the most powerful forces in Central Europe for centuries. After the Church, Eszterhazy was the greatest landowner in Hungary. The Church and the aristocracy were brought to bay before a People's Court. Sitting alongside the one professional judge, Vilmos Olti, were representatives of the political parties and trade unions, all in ordinary civilian clothes. Between the accused and their judges on the right sat the counsels for the defence. On the left was State Prosecutor Gyula Alapi, swarthy with close-cropped black hair and a sonorous accusing voice. Judge Olti, who directed the proceedings, is a youngish, pleasant-looking man, whose friendly manner inspires the accused with confidence, but who is liable at any moment to whip in a sharp question which will trip up the unwary if he has not been telling the truth.

The accused were all brought in together to be sworn in, then they left the room except the one to be interrogated. The Cardinal looked physically just as he did when I interviewed him four months previously, but there was a change. Some of the arrogance was missing. Correspondents were seated ten to twelve feet behind the accused, and it was particularly interesting for me to sum up in those first few minutes my impressions of the Cardinal compared to those of .my visit – and I was the last correspondent to see him before he was arrested.

I was reminded of the bully who used to tease me at school, and the expression on his face when he was faced with his superior in weight and punch power in the school playground. An expression which reflected shame, defiance, fear and appeal for mercy all at the same time. And that was the expression on the Cardinal's face, as he stood and waited for the questions to start, his hands folded in front of him, leaning slightly forward as though obsequiously eager to catch every word the Judge spoke.

To understand Cardinal Mindszenty’s behaviour in the Court, one must delve a little into his personal background and into the functions of a Cardinal in Hungary. For a thousand years a Cardinal held the next highest rank to a King. The Kings of Hungary, from the year 1000 when Stephen was crowned by Pope Sylvester, were always crowned by the Cardinal with the Holy Crown of St. Stephen. The Rev. Nicholas Boer, a great admirer and apologist of Cardinal Mindszenty, explained the position of a Hungarian cardinal in his book, "Cardinal Mindszenty."

"The Primate is the Premier Prince of Hungary. He ranks immediately after the King as head of state. His office is the highest under the constitution. His rights were laid down in legislation dating back to St. Stephen and the eleventh century. He is the sole person entitled to crown a king and thereby is in immediate relationship with the Holy Crown of Hungary and the whole constitutional principle connected with it. The constitutional idea of the Holy Crown is a unique creation of Hungarian law, whose roots go back to the fourteenth century. It was fully developed by Stephen Verboczy in his famous Tripartium, written in the sixteenth century. In its essence the Principle of the Holy Crown of Hungary declares that in Hungary the source of all rights is the Holy Crown, which unites the whole country, people and soil in a mystical body. The Holy Crown consists of two parts, the head, i.e., the king, and the members. Up to 1848 only the nobility was included in the latter; since 1848 it is the whole nation." (The liberal revolution of 1848 under Louis Kossuth, which dealt the first heavy blow to feudalism in Hungary – and at the Hapsburg domination – was always severely condemned by Cardinal Mindszenty. – Author.)

The significance which Boer attaches to the Holy Crown is interesting in view of revelations during the trial. Neither Boer nor Mindszenty accepted the necessity for any changes in the role of a Hungarian Cardinal from the eleventh century onwards.

Mindszenty or Joseph Pehm, which is his real name, was a Swabian of German origin. Until 1944, he was an ordinary priest and his parish was part of Prince Paul Eszterhazy's estates. Ten days after the setting up of the Szalasi fascist government, on March 25, 1944, Pehm was made Bishop of Veszprem, a quick promotion for a parish priest with no particular talents. He was nominated by the Papal Nuncio to Hungary, Msgr. Angelo Rotta.

After the end of the war Mindszenty posed as a hero of the resistance movement, because he was arrested by the Szalasi Fascists and interned for four months. When Mindszenty began to emerge as a leader of opposition to the government; he was immediately built up in the Western Press, as a martyr who had suffered for his faith under the Nazis. In fact, as Mindszenty later told the Court and as is proven by documents in the hands of the Hungarian government, Mindszenty was not arrested for political or religious reasons, but over a dispute concerning requisition of property.

"My arrest on October 21, 1944, was not for political reasons," Mindszenty told the Court, "but because Ferenc Schiberna, Lord Lieutenant for the County of Veszprem had found 1,800 pairs of shirts and pants, close on 100,000 pengo's worth, hoarded in my palace, and because I had a disagreement with him over the requisitioning of accommodation. For this reason he interned me."

Before the Russian troops liberated Mindszenty he wrote several letters proving his right-wing sympathies in order to try and secure his release, and pointing out that the Vatican had been the first to recognise the Szalasi regime.

On October, 1945, Mindszenty was appointed by the Pope, Archbishop of Esztergom which carried with it the automatic title of Cardinal, Prince Primate of Hungary. For 25 years he had worked as a parish priest at Zalaegerszeg – and then within the space of eighteen months he rocketed from priest to Bishop, from Bishop to Cardinal. A meteoric rise to such heights was enough to make even a stronger character than Mindszenty dizzy with success. But the Cardinal saw even greater fame ahead. A Cardinal has the right to crown a King, Mindszenty was an ardent admirer of the Hapsburgs all his life – a pronounced Monarchist or Legitimist as supporters of the Hapsburgs are called in Hungary. From priest to bishop, bishop to Cardinal, with American help crowner of kings and emperors... and perhaps the next step to be called to Rome as Pope. Such dreams went like new wine to his head; his new-found American friends supported and encouraged his dreams. The Holy Crown of St. Stephen was in American hands, the Pretender to .the Hapsburg throne, Otto, was living in America. The Americans would make war on Russia, .Mindszenty's friend inside the country would open wide the gates to greet the "liberating" American troops, Otto would come back, the Cardinal would set the Crown of St. Stephen on his head. Church and Crown would be united again, estates turned back to the Eszterhazys, Batthyanyis, Czirakys. Life would go back to the seventeenth, sixteenth, fourteenth centuries.

These dreams were rudely interrupted when officers of the Hungarian State Security Service called at the Primate's Palace one night and took the Cardinal away for investigation on charges of conspiracy against the Republic. This harsh reality was very difficult for the Cardinal to accept at first. He was aghast that the Hungarians would dare to arrest him, but certain that his American friends would soon rescue him. When that failed, he hoped that by admitting his guilt and expressing regret for those acts, clearly proven in the preliminary investigation by documents in the state prosecutor's hands, he could prevent the trial taking place.

Up to the last moment before the trial started it seems Mindszenty thought he would be released or rescued. It was only after he had completed his testimony that the prosecutor produced a letter which Mindszenty thought had been smuggled out of his room at the Marko Street Prison, to the U.S. Minister, Selden Chapin. It was obviously a great shock to Mindszenty when the letter was produced in Court. It had been written ten days before the trial started.

"Mr. Minister, you must take action by Thursday," wrote the Cardinal, "and I request you to do so, for a death sentence is likely and the trial will be pointed against America. They want to prove that I was paid by America for secret information. Please send a car and a plane, there is no other way out. With warmest regards. Mindszenty, January 23.

"P.S. – Please instruct Koczak immediately to meet the bearer of this letter to-day to discuss every detail. Mindszenty.

"P.S. – Please promise the pilot 4,000 dollars in the interest of the cause. I shall refund it. Mindszenty."

The first to be heard in the trial was Dr. Baranyai and the Cardinal's secretary, Dr. Andras Zakar. Although Baranyai pleaded not guilty, expert cross-examination by Judge Olti brought out a mass of damaging material which incriminated both Baranyai and the Cardinal. Baranyai was a lively personality who tried to deny every charge made against him, but he could not satisfactorily explain the documentary evidence. Some sections of the Western press, and especially the Catholic press, tried to present the trial as a fake, with the accused brought into court drugged and tortured, mumbling carefully rehearsed admission of guilt, expressions of repentance and pleas for mercy. Baranyai and Mindszenty on the contrary made use of their priestly training to try and wriggle out of every charge against them. They did not know what documents were in the possession of the prosecutor and Mindszenty, of course, had no idea what Baranyai and Zakar had already revealed when he stood at the witness stand. Baranyai and Mindszenty were both rather indignant that the information they had given in the preliminary investigation would be repeated in the public court. They seemed to have regarded the investigator as a Father Confessor who would respect their confessions as confidential, as a good priest should. Baranyai was being questioned about a meeting with other Legitimists when they selected the new Royalist cabinet which should govern the country after the Americans had overthrown the Republic.

Judge Olti: Now let us speak of the first meeting at the Csekonics' apartment. What was the object of that meeting? What was discussed there? Was it mentioned that youwere to make reports on Legitimists working in the different Ministries and pass them on to Sandor Cserto, who would hand them on to Jozsef Mindszenty?

Baranyai: This was not mentioned here.

Olti: But youyourself said so in your statement to the police during the investigation – here it is.

Baranyai: Are those the minutes of the investigation?

Olti: Yes. Is this your signature?

Baranyai: Yes.

Olti: Please look at the text also.

Baranyai: Well, if youplease, this was not drafted by me.

Olti: But it is your statement which was taken down. The minutes which are kept by the clerks of the Court now are not drafted by youeither.

Baranyai: I made this statement in the belief that only the minutes kept at the trial would be of importance.

Olti: Then youdo not confirm what is written here?

Baranyai: No. I was late at the meeting because of official duties.

Dr. Baranyai then went on to discuss details of what happened at the meeting after he arrived, how responsibility for propaganda work was divided up among the various members of the Legitimist circle; of how each was allotted a certain number of counties in which to recruit new adherents, of how a shadow cabinet was drawn up with himself as Minister President.

Olti: Now in the spring of 1945 youprepared a plan in case the democratic State were overthrown here and a vacuum would have to be filled. Your plan named the persons who were to take over power and how they were to do it. Is that correct?

Baranyai: Please permit me to go back a little in time. The possibilities of solving the present world conditions; as everybody knows and sees that these conditions cannot last....

Olti: Now what exactly do youmean by this? That different forms of state are evolving?

Baranyai: I speak of world politics. I feel that the tension existing between East and West...

Olti: The international political tension will evidently be solved sooner or later.

Baranyai: Sooner or later. But it may well occur that the tension is solved by means of war. Well if this should happen through a war-this was our first supposition. Secondly if at the end of the hostilities the Western powers should come out victorious. The third, supposition was that the Americans might take over here as military occupation authorities. The whole plan which figured in my confession and the documents were based on these suppositions only. The proclamation, the list of cabinet members, and the plan to found a party.

Olti: And do you think it right that high ranking clerical personalities should speculate on war?

Baranyai: I beg your pardon...

Olti: And not only speculate but prepare for it?

Baranyai: No, I don't think it right at all.

Baranyai strenuously denied throughout however that he had actually helped to bring war about. He maintained he only made plans should the war start. He read to the Court a memorandum he had sent to Mindszenty!

"When the great vacuum has come about (sic, the overthrow of the Hungarian Republic) the first most important and difficult problem will be the institution of a regime resting on an ethical basis. It would be a political impossibility to base ourselves on the ruins of defeated Bolshevism. Only one point of departure would carry in itself the possibility of evolution – the Prime Primate. The dignity of the Prince Primate is consecrated in this country by the traditions of almost a thousand years. According to ancient national laws the Prince Primate is the repository of the King's power in his absence. He seems to be the only acceptable and competent authority to appoint a new government, like the Metropolitan of Athens, two years ago. He would have to appoint the new government at the beginning of the American occupation. The government appointed by him must naturally accept this decision without reservations, without manoeuvres, unconditionally and honestly. Here there are names...” (and follows the list of the proposed cabinet).

This document, like so many others produced in Court, was contained in a tin cylinder buried by Dr. Zakar, on instructions from the Cardinal, in a cellar in the Cardinal's Palace at Esztergom. Zakar disclosed the hiding place to the police a few days after he was arrested.

Zakar filled in the details of Mindszenty's intrigues with Otto and Spellman in New York. He was taken to the United States and Canada as secretary and interpreter to the Cardinal. He was not present at the hour-long interview between Otto and Mindszenty, but was present at the interview with Cardinal Spellman where Mindszenty gave a detailed account of his meeting with Otto. With Zakar's statement on the court record, it was difficult for Mindszenty to deny his meeting with Otto or the details of his conversation with him, when he was later questioned on these points. Zakar gave also details about meetings between the Cardinal and the U.S. Minister to Hungary, Mr. Chapin, about reports prepared for the U.S. Legation, and collected, usually late at night, by the First Secretary, Mr. Koczak. Zakar himself prepared the reports which were compiled from data selected by himself and material handed him directly by the Cardinal.

An amusing sidelight was presented by Zakar when he described Cardinal Mindszenty bartering a car with the Vatican Radio Station for space on the air for Hungarian language broadcasts. The car was one of three bought by Mindszenty during his trip to the United States.

Olti: Tell me please, why did Jozsef Mindszenty give a car to the Vatican Radio Station? After all, there were the dollars. There were many dollars; why did you leave this car there?

Zakar: Well, partly in order to... to bring home the dollars.

Olti: But you did not bring them home and the car was left behind also.

Zakar: On the other hand, and this was the main point, because the director of the Vatican Radio named this concretely as something they needed.

Olti: Yes. And what did the Vatican Radio give in return.

Zakar: This was not, so to speak, a formal deal. But the Prince Primate declared that there are news broadcasts in every tongue and why not in Hungarian. The director said there is not enough coal in Rome and not enough money either, and not enough cars to bring over the individual speakers on schedule for the programme.

Olti: And this is what it was needed for?

Zakar: So the Prince Primate thought it best that he donate a car.

Olti: So he left it there. And what happened after this?

Zakar: Then they started Hungarian news broadcasts. Zakar concluded his evidence by relating the numerous blackmarketing activities of the Cardinal in bringing dollars into the country without declaring them, and selling them at high rates on the black market.

As noted earlier the Cardinal thought he could avoid being brought to trial by a repentant statement addressed to the Minister of Justice a few days before the trial was due to start.

"Dear Sir," he wrote, "I beg the Minister of Justice to consider this announcement, or request. For some time publicly and repeatedly, there had been raised against me the complaint that I stand in the way of an agreement between State and Church, and that my attitude is hostile to the present order of the state. As for the former, it is a fact that I always emphasised the prerequisites. Now I want to contribute to an improvement in the general situation. Before the trial which is soon to open, I voluntarily admit that I have committed the acts I am charged with according to the penal code of the State. In the future I shall always judge the external and internal affairs of the State on the basis of the full sovereignty of the Hungarian Republic.

"After this admission and declaration the trial regarding my person does not seem to be absolutely necessary, therefore, not because of my person, but considering my position, I ask that my case be exempted from the trial on February 3. Such a decision more than anything else would facilitate a solution, even more than the wisest judgement of the Court.

"After 35 days of constant meditation, I also declare that apart from other reasons, it may have been due to my attitude as described above, that reconciliation has been delayed; and also that I consider the establishment of true peace between the State and the Church necessary, as long as it has not been made. I too, would take part in the realisation of the reconciliation, according to the teachings of laws of the Church, were there not complaints against me just in this respect. But in order that I should not be an obstacle to reconciliation and that all efforts should be concentrated on avoiding the usual material obstacles, I declare hereby, of my own accord, without any compulsion, that I am ready to withdraw for a time from exercising my office.

"If the wisdom of the Bench of Bishops considers it best to make peace, I do not wish to stand in the way at all. Even at the Apostolic Holy See, which has the last word in the matter, I would not oppose the materialisation of the cause of peace. I make this statement in the knowledge that a true state of peace can be only to the good of both the State and the Church and without it the life of the country is threatened by discord and decay.

"Please accept my sincere respect.



The Court decided, however, after a short recess, that the Cardinal would stand trial with the rest of the accused. Mindszenty had played his last card and failed! He tried to make the best of a bad job, however, in Court by evasions and half replies, by an amazingly poor memory when it served his purpose. Asked whether he pleaded guilty or not guilty, he answered, in low, measured tones:

"To the extent that I did commit a considerable part of the activities charged to me in the indictment, or as I indicated in my letter to the Minister of Justice, which you kindly read out this morning, substantially, to that extent I feel guilty. What I have done, I do not wish to try and place in a favourable light. Of course this does not mean that I accept the conclusion of the Indictment. For example with regard to the offences mentioned in Section A, I do not deny one or another part of it, but I do not subscribe to the conclusion that I might have been involved in the planning of the overthrow of the democratic State and the Republic, even less as the Indictment states, that I might have played the leading role."

He admitted to having had an anti-Jewish attitude even as a young priest after Judge Olti read some newspaper articles he had published in 1919; and admitted also that he was a supporter of the Hapsburgs and that he had strongly protested to Prime Minister Tildy in December, 1945, at the proposed abolition of the Monarchy. He could not remember what he had written to Tildy but Judge Olti refreshed his memory by reading the original letter in which the Cardinal wrote:

"I understand the National Assembly will soon place constitutional reforms on the agenda, among them the question of the Republic, the plan to put an end to the thousand-year-old Monarchy. If this is true... I protest against such plans on the basis of legal rights exercised by Hungarian Primates for more than 900 years."

Mindszenty was determined from first to last to give nothing away that the State prosecutor did not know. He always waited with his replies for the Judge to put his cards on the table. There was at no time anything like the blind confession as suggested by Cardinal Spellman and sections of the Western press. When he made admissions, they were only when he was confronted by overwhelming evidence. Otherwise he "couldn't remember"!

For example:

Olti: Did you know of a memorandum prepared by Baranyai for the American government to be signed by four persons, in which the restoration of the Hapsburgs was advocated?

Mindszenty: I know of a memorandum, but I don't know who signed it:

Olti: And yet you sent a special message to Baranyai insisting that Baron Ullman should sign it as a fourth signatory?

Mindszenty: Yes, that is so.

Olti: In fact such a memorandum was drawn up. Did you discuss it with Baranyai, and what did it contain?

Mindszenty (after a short pause): I don't remember its contents any more.

He tried to hedge also on the question of the Holy Crown, which was taken to Germany by the retreating fascist forces of Szalasi. Mindszenty was counting on placing the Crown on the head of Otto Hapsburg and he wanted to keep it in a safe place till the time arrived. Judge Olti produced a letter, however, from Mindszenty to the U.S. Minister, Selden Chapin, and the latter's original reply, asking that the crown should not be returned to Hungary but to Rome. "Since the cause is a very important one for our nation and since demands for its return and military advances might be fatal for the Crown, only Rome could reassure us."

Mindszenty's naive belief in the imminent advance of the U.S. military forces into Hungary, was reflected again in that letter. In any case he had no business to go over the head of the Hungarian government in the matter of this very valuable and historic relic of the Hungarian people, but in the court, Mindszenty would not admit he had committed an illegal act.

Olti: It shows that this was an illegal method and illegal activity against the State. Wasn't it?

Mindszenty: I'm sorry that I did not think at that time to turn to the government for help.

On the question of having prepared regular reports for the U.S. Legation and even requests for U.S. intervention in Hungarian affairs, Mindszenty asked to be permitted to make a statement.

"As announced before," he said, "I accept the evidence before the Court and regret having despatched these documents. The documents themselves should be divided into three parts. A smaller portion of the first group was completed and addressed, but was never sent off; they are   included amongst the documents here.

Olti: Will you please state if any of them were not sent.

Mindszenty: Well then, the major part was actually sent. The primary aim of these letters was not to expose faults or to do harm or to blacken people. My intention was to help but I chose the wrong way to do the right thing. At any rate it would have been better not to have despatched those letters. I regret having sent them and in the future I shall never depart from my basic principle – pointed out in my letter to the Minister of Justice – to observe the external and internal policy of the Hungarian state in the light of its complete sovereignty. Please accept this statement.

Olti: We shall put it on the record and shall consider its value.

The judge then read extracts from a number of the letters one of which urged American intervention in the case of public officials dismissed because of their Fascist past. In another letter the Cardinal wrote: "I request the help of America to put an end to the tremendous oppression and decay here, so that the unfortunate Hungarian people can be preserved for Western civilisation. A solution is possible with outside help. I could indicate the ways and means of this evidence supporting my contention is at my disposal..." Mindszenty confirmed having sent an appeal to British and Americans to send military forces into Hungary in 1946. In all these cases, the documentary evidence was overwhelming, the Cardinal seemed to have inherited the German thoroughness for filing away copies of all letters and reports.

After Mindszenty had given some meagre details of his conversations with Cardinal Spellman and Otto Hapsburg in New York (Otto denied that he met Mindszenty in theUnited States), to prepare the way for Otto's return as soon as America had won the next war, the Judge tried to pin Mindszenty down on the question of his activities towards fomenting a war.

Olti: Did you inform Otto of the situation, the activities and strength of the Hungarian Legitimists?

Mindszenty: I spoke of that. At this meeting I spoke of that.

Olti: Was he interested in the prospects of the Legitimist movement?

Mindszenty: I told him I did not think the moment was ripe at that time.

Olti: But that is not reflected in this drawing up of a list of Cabinet members, in preparing for a Regency, yourself becoming provisional head of the State, in planning the whole set-up in an hour-long conference with Otto. In a matter which one thinks premature, one does notnegotiate, one does not plan.

Mindszenty: In the spring of that year, at that time it was still strongly rumoured in public opinion that a historic change might come about.

Olti: A third world war?

Mindszenty: A third world war. That is what they were discussing.

Olti: You were thinking of a third world war so you could establish a system of government here which would suit you instead of concentrating all your strength here and abroad to prevent the outbreak of such a third world war.

Mindszenty: I beg your pardon, Mr. President, I was not working for a third world war.

Olti: The premise, this desire was the condition sine qua non.

Mindszenty: In any case, I as a Hungarian, dread a third world war.

Olti: But the whole plan is based on this. You thought of a new sea of blood. The war would break out and the Anglo-Saxon powers would win.

Mindszenty: These ideas gained ground among the people.

Olti: But, if you please, was there any step taken, was there even one stroke of the pen made against the outbreak of war, for the lessening of international tension?

Mindszenty: We did so, for we always prayed for peace.

Olti: But at the same time you drafted a whole series of petitions aimed at making the international situation worse, is that not so?

Mindszenty: Yes, that is so.

On two other points Judge Olti drove Mindszenty into a corner and had him begging for mercy. His incisive questioning prodded the Cardinal out of every fresh position he took refuge in, until he finally begged Olti not to question him further or took refuge in his oft-repeated phrase, "I've already said I'm sorry for that." One such point was the question of Mindszenty leaving the country.

Olti: In November, 1948, Chapin came to see you at Esztergom at your request in the company of Koszak. What did you talk about then? You conferred for about three-quarters of an hour. You discussed...?

Mindszenty: I mentioned how strong a campaign there is against me in the press and in other ways. And then we discussed...

Olti: And what sort of statement did Chapin make? That he too had noticed this?

Mindszenty: ...He had noticed, had seen it and... he brought up the proposal that... (and the Cardinal paused a moment)... that I should go abroad.

Olti: And he would help you in this...?

Mindszenty: It seemed that he would not refuse to–

Olti: Do not give such diplomatic answers, but answer straightforwardly. Did he offer that in case you decided to take this step he would help you, or did he say that he would not help you?

Mindszenty: Is it absolutely necessary that I give an answer?

Olti: No, you don't have to answer a single question. Court procedure permits you not answering but perhaps you are taking away from yourself a point of defence, something that it is my duty to call to your attention. You are not obliged to answer. If there is any question you do not wish to answer simply say, "I do not wish to answer this." But at the enquiry before the Prosecutor you did answer this question.

Mindszenty: Yes.

Olti: Do you wish to answer this?

Mindszenty: Yes.

Olti: Then please go ahead. Did he offer help to you to get out of the country?

Mindszenty: He did offer, not that he would get me out, but that he would help me.

Olti: That he would help in getting you abroad?

Mindszenty: Yes.

Olti: And what did you answer to this?

Mindszenty: I said to this....

Olti: Please speak louder....

Mindszenty: ...That I would remain at home.

Olti: After this did you not consider flight at all?

Mindszenty: Please, your Honour, permit me not to answer.

Olti: As you wish. You are not obliged to answer. The answer, of course, was the letter Mindszenty tried to smuggle out to the U.S. Minister. He did not know at this stage that the letter had been intercepted.

The question of black-market dealings in currency was an embarrassing one for the Cardinal. He moistened his lips and looked around the courtroom when Judge Olti first touched on the currency offences. The small courtroom was packed, with relatives of the accused, correspondents and the ordinary public, workers, peasants, petty government officials, a cross section of the Hungarian population. Most of them were Catholics who a few weeks previously had regarded the Cardinal as their supreme spiritual leader. His moral stature was gradually destroyed before their eyes, as he disclosed himself to be a clumsy intriguer who would not hesitate to plunge Hungary into a war and destroy everything that had been accomplished since 1945. Stripped of his scarlet and privileges, standing before the People's Court he appeared as a common criminal, a shifty parish priest caught out in anti-social crimes, trying to deny proven facts, shifting the blame on to others where he could. He was put to shame in his conduct in court by the more dignified Prince Eszterhazy and the fiery Dr. Baranyai who at least admitted openly much that they had done, and spoke up in support of their own reactionary convictions. Mindszenty showed himself to be an enemy of the people in every one of his dealings, but in an oily speech at the end of the trial claimed he was never an enemy of the Hungarian workers or peasants. At the time when Hungary was struggling against an unprecedented inflation, when the State needed every ounce of foreign currency it could lay hands on, Cardinal Mindszenty was trading with dollars on the black market.

Small wonder that he looked distressed and unhappy in some of the pictures taken of him during the trial, as details of his currency dealings were revealed.

Again he volunteered no information, everything had to be dragged out by Olti's questions.

Olti: Let us consider the foreign currency offences. On your first trip to Rome in 1945, how many dollars did you get from Under Secretary of State Montini?

Mindszenty: 30,000...

Olti: 30,000 dollars?

Mindszenty: If I remember correctly.

Olti: Would you rather have a rest or would you rather we continued the hearings? Can you follow?

Mindszenty: I can. I shall answer as much as I can remember.

Olti: Then let us proceed. Your second trip to Rome in 1946. On that occasion you received 10,000 dollars in one sum from the Holy See.

Mindszenty: I did.

Olti: There is an item of 3,000 dollars from Spellman, another 1,000 dollars from Gigan, one of 5,000 dollars from donations, according to Zakar.

Mindszenty: That would be about right as far as I can judge.

Olti: Then you purchased three motor cars for three or four thousand dollars.

Mindszenty: Yes.

Olti: You brought home with you 12,000 dollars. Is that correct? Did you report this to the National Bank?

Mindszenty: I don't know.

Olti: You don't know?

Mindszenty: I don't know. I didn't handle the money at home.

Olti: You gave it to Boka (manager of the Cardinal's estates).

Mindszenty: Yes.

Olti: I see. What did Boka do with the money? Obviously he changed it into forints. Is that so?

Mindszenty: That is so.

Olti: You were aware of the regulations concerning the traffic in dollars as a foreign currency. I don't mean recent regulations but those in force for ten years.

Mindszenty: I was.

Olti: Please tell us, whenever you needed some cash and you had dollars, did you give instructions to sell so-and-so many?

Mindszenty: Sometimes I did.

Olti: Can you imagine that they would have sold part of the currency without your permission? Could Boka have done so for instance? Was he authorised to do so? Would he have dared to do so?

Mindszenty: I don't know what he dared to do, but, if you please, I realise the mistakes and feel that...

Olti: Please first answer the question then I shall listen to where you see the mistakes. Please answer me this: Was Boka authorised to trade or sell foreign currency without your knowledge?

Mindszenty: From time to time I gave instructions to sell.

Olti: You knew that he did not deliver and sell the dollars to the National Bank, that these dollars were not even registered at the Bank?

Mindszenty (driven into a; corner again), replied:

Please; in my case, I take the blame for what happened. I have written to the People's Court concerning the paying back. Kindly separate the dollars that I personally handled from the currency charges against the others and the damage caused to the state...

Olti: Whatever you did not handle, shall not, of course be charged against you.

Mindszenty: ...I shall repay it as far as I am able.

Olti: Over a period of two or three years you carried out a series of foreign currency deals. In my experience, the special court handling financial crimes has passed sentences of one or two years imprisonment for amounts ranging from five to a hundred dollars. We never dreamed that there were dollar deals of this size going on. And that these should be carried out by the Archbishop of Esztergom! It is unprecedented in Hungarian jurisdiction that such enormous dollar amounts should be involved in speculation. Is this permissible according to Catholic ethics?

Mindszenty swallowed before answering: In any case I regret...

Olti: Yes, you have said so before.

Altogether about 97,000dollars were handled in the Cardinal's black market deals. Much of it had been subscribed by Hungarians in America for helping Hungarians at home who had suffered through the war. Part of the money was used to finance Mindszenty's agent in Rome, Mihailovics, who was in contact with American intelligence and to whom regular espionage reports were sent by the Catholic Action Society in Budapest. Some of the money, including a cheque of 5,000dollars from Cardinal Spellman and endorsed by Mindszenty, was bought by Prince Eszterhazy and was smuggled through to Austria. The Cardinal got on the average four times the official rate for the dollar. To avoid suspicion he declared small amounts to the National Bank. On one occasion he registered 800 out of 15,000, on another occasion he declared 4,000 of 19,000,so there was no doubt that he knew the regulations regarding the declaration of foreign currencies.

Mindszenty was questioned for five hours by Judge Olti. He was repeatedly asked if he was tired, if he would like a break, but always answered that he felt fit. There were, however, two half-hour intervals during the session.

During those five hours, Judge Olti established for the court record from Mindszenty's own lips that the Cardinal conspired for the overthrow of the Hungarian Republic with American help; that he openly demanded armed intervention; that he tried to ensure Hungary's defeat in the event of war by sending out espionage reports on questions of military, political and economic importance; that he plotted for the restoration of all estates up to 2;000 acres to their former owners; to re-establish Fascist officials in office and drive out all Jews of public life; that on Cardinal Spellman's initiative, and without the knowledge or approval of the Hungarian government or Hungarian Catholics, he gave a written declaration appointing Otto Hapsburg the leader of all Hungarian Catholics in the event of Mindszenty himself being removed from office; that by secret correspondence with the U.S. Minister and U.S. Army authorities, he prevented the return of the historic Holy Crown to Hungary; that he had dealt extensively on the black market with currency speculation.

Many of these conclusions the Cardinal denied, but the facts and documents produced, the Cardinal's own testimony and that of his fellow-accused made it apparent to every observer in the Court that these conclusions were established.

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