VERITAS Research Institute and Archives

The first day of August von Mackensen's visit to Hungary was set for May 15th. Over the course of several German‒Hungarian diplomatic meetings, a decision was made that the visit must not have a political character, so the following programs and stipulations were included:

  • A private visit with the Regent of Hungary
  • A salute by Mackensen’s Hussars in honor of the twentieth anniversary of their existence
  • Foreign diplomats, politicians and their press representatives would be barred from taking part in any of the programs

Two days before the trip to Hungary, Hitler received the field marshal in the Reich Chancellery in Berlin, entrusting him with the task of handing Horthy a letter. Although the visit was framed as a strictly personal meeting, Mackensen nonetheless undertook a diplomatic mission. In the history of diplomacy, not much attention has been paid to this document, so I believe it is appropriate to quote the more relevant passages:

Your Excellency,

On the occasion of the visit of General Field Marshal von Mackensen, I would like to express my deep joy for your having received the last great German field marshal of the Great War. I would also like to give my thanks for the letter that your Excellency has addressed to me. I have therefore asked the General Field Marshal to give this letter to your Excellency as a token of my joy and gratitude.

The issues that you have touched upon in your letter lie within the framework of the struggle between the two nations for their equality and the redress for the injustices that they have suffered. I have chosen a path that may at first seem incomprehensible to many, but I believe that it is the only way that can lead to success. I fully understand that Hungary, based on her needs, will also make use of all options available to her. I regard the restoration of the sovereignty of the Reich as the most important of Germany’s efforts. I see in it a better guarantee for peace in Central Europe than in all the treaties currently being drafted or concluded. The build-up of the new German Wehrmacht, which is proceeding rapidly, has already filled the German people with the pride of internal and external security, and is an action that may appear brusque at first, but is in actuality the only way to achieve success. The major and minor European powers gathered at the League of Nations would never have voluntarily allowed Germany to arm herself. A fait accompli had to be arranged. But I also understand that other circumstances and/or situations require other means. The leaderships of both countries are united in their struggle to restore their respective honor and independence, if at all possible without war, so as to avoid the disaster of a European war in the future. […] Once again thank you for receiving General Field Marshal von Mackensen. I also extend my most sincere wishes for the personal well-being of your Excellency.

Hitler's letter clearly shows how cautious German diplomacy was only a few weeks after the reintroduction of conscription in the German Reich.

by Dávid Ligeti

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