File No. 763.72/11656

The Minister in Switzerland ( Stovall ) to the Secretary of State

[Telegram—Extract]

5041.

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Austrian press political. Only by reading between the lines of worried German comment can one gain picture of effect of Bulgaria’s action upon Austria. The Frankfurter Zeitung admits that besides the Austrians who maintain alliance there are many who hope that as result Bulgaria’s defection they will secure speedy peace. Mannheimer Generalanzeiger believes recent Vienna Crown Council was for purpose of agreeing upon peace campaign and that while Austria-Hungary does not desire conclude separate peace, attempt will be made to secure special peace terms which Monarchy hopes she can force Germany to accept. The vehemence of all Vienna papers in denying that separate peace is being considered is evidence of extent to which rumor of such action has spread.

Austria may now be expected to endeavor to obtain confidentially a general outline of the Allies’ terms in order that she may present [Page 339] same to Germany and force latter to accept by threatening separate peace in case Germany refuses.

A Crown Council was held Vienna, September 27. Results of discussion so far kept secret, but it is rumored that question of immediate constitutional reform was taken up and also that of coalition cabinet. Burián makes statement that external political situation made necessary certain changes in the Empire in direction of federalism to create the necessary conditions for peace, just as in Germany it is the task to reach a parliamentary form of government.

Austrian Parliament reassembled October 2. In opening speech Hussarek emphasized necessity carrying through autonomy for nationalities, which was answered by tumult of objections from Czechs. Parliament will debate upon peace problems and Burián’s note,1 financial measures, reform of food administration and the constitutional changes with which Government hopes to quiet nationalities by eleventh-hour concessions. See press telegram for summary of first debates.2 Government’s apparent attempt to form coalition cabinet in this crisis has failed like other attempts to rally all parties to federalism scheme.

The Czech press is unanimous in opposition to either of these schemes. The Venkov writes that time irrevocably past when Czechs could consider entering [Vienna] Government. Failure of official conferences Austrian party leaders to reconcile German and Slav differences has given rise to suggestions that informal conference be held in which Germans and Slavs will meet to examine means of saving principle of the Austrian state in new Austria. This situation seems to make it more than ever imperative to turn a deaf ear to any proposition which may come from Austrian Government. I believe that we can confidently trust the Czechs and Jugoslavs to hold out against Austrian Government. Austrian Poles are doubtful as they still hope for Austro-Polish solution which both Burián and Hussarek in recent declarations have dangled before them as more than ever probable. Recent pardon to members Polish Legion of Austria who had revolted and were being tried in Hungary will tend to further conciliate Austrian Poles.

After first expression of bitter disappointment and apprehension at Bulgaria’s action Austrian press endeavors explain that all necessary measures have now been taken to meet new situation, maintain the Balkan front, keep open communication with Constantinople. The Neue Freie Presse states that the elimination of Bulgaria is less grave from military viewpoint than from a moral viewpoint, that whereas previously no one could consider that in the east Germans fought against Slavs as Slav Bulgars were fighting with Central Powers, now the situation is changed and one can reproach Central [Page 340] Powers [with] trying to carry through German racial policy in the Balkans. It is significant that no bitterness toward Bulgaria is expressed. The hope to maintain that country is not definitely lost and the act may prove to be that of one political party and Malinoff. Emphasis is placed on alleged telegram of Ferdinand to Austrian Emperor expressing fidelity to [his] allies.

Unconfirmed report states that Czernin likely to come to Switzerland incognito to endeavour to get in touch with America to ascertain our peace terms for Austria. Learn confidentially that Valyi, Hungarian editor of Revue Politique Internationale of Lausanne, considers that Austria is in a very bad way and will soon go to pieces. The peasants in the Tyrol are now eager to be incorporated in Germany as the only way of escaping from the present intolerable disorganization. Valyi expects that the break-up will come in the next month or two, and when it happens he thinks that the Germans will occupy Vienna and will agree to the independence of Bohemia as they consider that the strong German element there will enable them to exercise necessary influence over the new state. He states that Tisza is now in favor of creating a Jugoslav state provided that Hungary retains the Banat and that Fiume is made free port, but is irreconcilable as regards Slovak independence.

Telegram from Vienna gives following summary of opening session Austrian Reichstag [Reichsrat], Polish deputies in name of Polish people demand independent Polish state composed of all districts inhabited in majority by Poles, including Silesia. Polish representative should also be allowed place in congress which will settle Polish question. Ofner, deputy from Vienna, demands careful parliamentary discussion peace conditions, especially Wilson’s fourteen points. Czech deputy Stanek emphasizes solidarity between Jugoslavs, Czechs, and Poles, and declares way to peace acceptance Wilson’s fourteen points. Jugoslav, Korošeć, states Minister President too late with his program of national autonomy. No possibility to separate Croatians and Serbians from Slovenes. Debates frequently interrupted by noisy scenes.

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Stovall
  1. Ante, pp. 306309.
  2. Not printed.