AuthorMcKinnon, Malcolm


Denis Lenihan's article on Paddy Costello, 'Time for the revisionists' (vol 44, no 4), refers to Peter Fraser rejecting in 'horrified terms' a communist-bloc resolution at the 1946 Paris Peace Conference calling for the forced transfer of 200,000 ethnic Hungarians from Czechoslovakia to Hungary. At first glance, Fraser's emotional rejection seems entirely apt, but the context suggests otherwise.

Hungary had been party, with Germany, to the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia in 1938. When Germany occupied and annexed the majority ethnic-German parts of Czechoslovakia known as 'Sudetenland', Hungary annexed the majority ethnic-Hungarian areas along the Czechoslovakia-Hungary border.

At the end of the Second World War, throughout which Czechoslovakia had been an Allied state, with a recognised government-in-exile in London, the victor powers--the United States, the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom--endorsed the expulsion of ethnic Germans from within Czechoslovakia's 1937 borders, an expulsion that ultimately amounted to some three million people. (The victor powers also approved the expulsion of an even greater number of Germans--up to eight million--from the parts of eastern Germany de facto annexed to Poland and the Soviet Union.)

Throughout the war Hungary had been aligned with the Axis powers. In asking for 200,000 ethnic Hungarians to be expelled, Czechoslovakia was applying the same principle which had been accepted by the Allies in respect of its ethnic German population. The only difference was the much more modest scale of the projected expulsion of ethnic Hungarians (very few of whom in the end were expelled, because of Western opposition) and the fact that relations between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union (the dominant power in both Czechoslovakia and Hungary) had deteriorated since the expulsion of ethnic Germans had been authorised in mid-1945.

Fraser may have been horrified at the proposal, but, if so, he had a selective or very imperfect memory for much more extensive expulsions, in which New Zealand had concurred.




MI5 files on Paddy and Bil Costello, released in May 2017, were 'inconclusive', concluded Richard Dunley of the UK National Archives. MI5, by its own admission, had not found any definitive proof that either Paddy or Bil were spies. Since recourse to Russian intelligence service (RIS) files is still out of the question and Mitrokhin's handwritten notes, which annotated...

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