File No. 863.00/94

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


5395. Austro-Hungarian political:

The effect of the Emperor’s proclamation of federalization and of the President’s reply to Austria-Hungary1 has been to complete the demoralization of the country. The Czechs, Jugo-Slavs, Poles, Ruthenians and Germans are engaged in organizing as quickly as possible local administrative parliaments. The Vienna Government appeals in vain to the people to maintain the present governmental organs until new can be created to replace them. No one pays any heed, with the result that the railway service and consequently the provisioning of the country is disrupted. There is outlined below the political action taken by the various nationalities of Austria:

Austro-Germans: At a meeting of all German delegates of Austrian Reichsrath resolution adopted calling for:

Establishment independent German-Austrian state with determination of relations which join it to other states;
German-Austrian state must include territory occupied by Germans, including German Bohemia;
New state must endeavor to assure access to Adriatic;
German Reichsrath deputies will form peace assembly for state with power to treat with other nationalities and represent German Austrians at peace convention;
An executive committee of 20 members should be appointed with power to raise loans.

The attitude of majority of German deputies is expressed by statement of Adler, Socialist leader: “German Austrians willing to form coalition of free nations with neighboring states if satisfactory conditions could be established, otherwise German-Austrian state would be forced to accept annexation to Germany.”

It is most significant that German Social Democrats have joined forces with other German deputies although they had formerly been in opposition, and thereby the united action of all Germans of Austria is assured. The problem as to how far it is the desire of America and Entente to prevent realization of union of Austro-Germans with Germany is definitely presented and merits careful consideration.

Czecho-Slovaks: Shortly after receipt of President’s answer to Austria-Hungary, Czech leader Stransky stated that all negotiations with the Czecho-Slovak Government must be carried on with [Page 393] the National Council of Paris as the 150 Czech delegates in Austrian Parliament no longer felt themselves authorized treat on behalf of the nation. This action was taken to avoid possible confusion which would result if there were two Czecho-Slovak Governments, one at Paris and the other at Prague. Czech leaders and Czech parliamentary delegates held recent conference at Prague under presidency of Kramárz. Resolutions have been adopted containing following principles: One aim of Czecho-Slovak nation formation of independent state closely allied with Polish and other Slav states. Foundation of Czecho-Slovak state shall be democratic and insure justice to all peoples of the state without distinction of race. There can be no negotiations with Vienna regarding the future of this state which is an international problem to be solved together with other world problems.

Yugo-Slavs: October 17 to 20 [there] was held at Agram reunion of a central committee elected by the national council of the Slovenes, Croatians and Serbs of Austria. This committee elected Doctor Korošeć as president and announced that as duly authorized representatives of these three peoples they took over the direction of national policy. The following Yugo-Slav claims were formulated:

Reunion of all Slovene, Croat and Servian peoples;
Special representation of Yugo-Slav people at future peace conference;
Rejection of solution of Yugo-Slav problem proposed in Kaiser’s manifesto of October 16.

Please see my press telegram 5391, October 25,1 for recent events in Croatia which indicate beginning of Yugo-Slav revolution.

Poles: Since introduction into Austrian Parliament of resolution of October 2 declaring all Austro-Polish parties unified in demanding restoration of Polish state composed of all Polish territories, the Poles of Austria have taken little part in political life of Austria. In session of Austrian Delegation of October 15 the Polish delegates adopted a resolution confirming that of October 2, reiterating that henceforth they considered themselves “as members of the free and independent Polish state, including all the Polish territories, basing this action upon the declarations of the President of the United States and their acceptance by the Central Powers.”

Ruthenians: The Austrian Ukrainians appear to be the only racial [unit] satisfied with Emperor’s manifesto, as it contains first clear recognition of their nationalistic ambitions. As there are a great many Polish land-owners in eastern Galicia, and some cities, as Lemberg for example, are almost entirely Polish, though rural population [Page 394] overwhelmingly Ukrainian, the problem of Ruthenian state very difficult of solution and will inevitably meet strong Polish opposition.

Austro-Hungarian Government bitterly disappointed at President’s answer as they had hoped that they would be leniently treated in order to attempt to separate them from Germany. Notwithstanding declarations in favor Yugo-Slavs and Czechs, Austro-Hungarian Government had not previously been convinced that America had abandoned its conciliatory policy of a year ago. It is reported that President’s note will be shortly answered pointing out that while Austrian Government unable to treat with Czech National Council at Paris, Government will adopt conciliatory policy towards nationalities and endeavor to carry out the President’s principles. An urgent request for terms of armistice for Austria-Hungary will presumably be made.

Austrian military power is at point from which decline will be rapid. Press reports from Vienna state that plans are being drawn up for the demobilization and that evacuation of Servia and Montenegro is being rapidly carried out.

Hungary: The project of liquidating agreement of 1867 with Austria introduced by Károlyi is being considered. Parliamentary discussions have caused heated debates over German alliance, the possibilities of separate peace and the origin of the war. Recent events in Croatia contribute to make Wekerle’s position untenable and he has again offered resignation to King, which has been accepted.

Austro-Hungarian economic report:

German parts of Austria are threatened with famine. Czechs have placed every possible impediment upon export of food from Bohemia. Hungarians have entirely stopped food exports to Austria allegedly because latter refuses Hungary petroleum and coal. Austrians are appealing to Germany and to Czechs for food, as well as promising Poles of Russian Poland withdrawal of Austro-Hungarian military administration in return for food. There is little prospect that any of these measures will alleviate threatening situation of German Austria.

  1. See telegram No. 5274, Oct. 18, from the Minister in Switzerland, ante, p. 367, and note, Oct. 19, to the Swedish Minister, ante, p. 368.
  2. Post, p. 856.