File No. 763.72119/2420

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


5480. Prince Alfred of Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst, Secretary of Austrian Legation, formerly attached Austro-Hungarian Embassy, Washington, telephoned to Dulles requesting interview. In view Department’s instruction regarding proposed visit of Tarnowski, I hesitated to have member of Legation receive Hohenlohe. Hohenlohe thereupon met Doctor H. H. Field of Zurich who reports interview as follows:

  • Firstly, Hohenlohe stated that the Austrian Government desires to emphasize officially that her note is intended to mean that she sues for a separate peace independent of Germany’s decisions. This fact was implied in the note but was somewhat veiled in order not to provoke needless irritation with her former ally and also to [prevent] internal disturbances on the part of the newly constituted Austro-German national state.
  • Secondly, that the Austrian Government begs for immediate action in her own interest as well as in the interest of the cause for which the President stands. This for three reasons:
    Bolshevikism is raising its head to an alarming degree and the movement may lead to chaos and anarchy against which no continental country is today immune.
    Starvation in its direst form is threatening Austria.
    The military offensive now in progress is causing needless loss of life without its being possible for it to secure greater concessions since the capitulation of Austria-Hungary is already intended to be complete.
  • Thirdly, the Austrian Government declares that its note is absolutely sincere; that it has no occasion for endeavoring to leave loop holes for any subsequent equivocation. He states that the present Government regarded its sole duty to be one of liberators. Its relations with the separate nationalities are therefore very complex and diversified, extending from absolute [representation] as spokesman for the German national element, to a condition in which the Government could scarcely be called a spokesman at all, as was the case for the Czecho-Slovak state. Any question of modality “as to [Page 420] whether or not the present Government can speak for the subject nationalities” can be immediately arranged in accordance with any suggestions that may be made by President Wilson. The situation of the Government rendered it difficult to find a wording for its last note to the President which would correctly express the resolution taken by the Austrian Government, namely, to meet the President’s wishes in every possible way.

Hohenlohe stated that the foregoing was spoken under direction from his Government.

Prince Hohenlohe then continued with personal impressions concerning the extremities under which the Austrians were at present living and endeavoring to make his appeal as distressed as could be. He gave a very vocal picture of the danger which is staring in the face two million people of Vienna and declared that the people had reached [worse] extremities than any pictured. When asked whether he wanted this or that political solution, would be sure to reply that he wanted peace and food and cared for nothing else. The particular kind of peace which might be offered seemed unimportant compared with the clamor for immediate peace. He referred especially to the danger that would arise when the troops returned [from] the front, as they were the only elements capable of creating a [revolution]. Their resentment would be increased by any delay in securing peace.

He bitterly criticized the consequences of Austria having placed herself in dependence upon the German Empire. He knew that the unrestricted submarine warfare was accepted by his countrymen with extreme reluctance but when they were told on expert testimony that it would lead to complete victory within three months, it was as impossible to protest against it as it would be for a patient to object to the positive prescriptions of his [physician]. He referred to the letter of Prince Max1 as revealing a change of view since the beginning of the year and pointed out that this was the lot of all Germans. Indeed the Chancellor had less far to go than the bulk of his countrymen with whom, however, peace must be eventually signed. He stated that he himself had gone through an evolution.

In conclusion Prince Hohenlohe expressed the hope that everything would be done to save time in reaching a cessation of hostilities and a provisioning of the country and that until official relations could be established communications might be continued through the same channels upon points which required immediate action.

[Page 421]

Doctor Field informs me that his impression of Prince Hohenlohe was that of complete openness. He invited questions and said that it was no time for standing [on ceremony].

  1. Ante, p. 338.