The Chargé in Austria (Kliefoth) to the Secretary of State

No. 64

Sir: In continuation of my telegram No. 8, of January 24, 1934, 1 p.m.,8 I have the honor to report that on January 18, 1934, the Austrian Minister in Berlin was instructed to notify the German Government that unless a complete stop was put to the Nazi activities in Austria, insofar as they were directed and financed from German soil, the Austrian Government would consider making an appeal to the League of Nations.

This action was indicated publicly for the first time on January 22, when the Chancellor, Dr. Dollfuss, in speaking to the Patriotic Front, said:

“We cannot formulate our complaint here as to what is being sent (into Austria) from across the frontier (Germany), inasmuch as this is a matter we will discuss before other authorities and in a different form. Terror in Austria is only possible because the terrorists are building their hopes on certain circles across the frontier.”

The announcement of the Austrian protest once more projected the Austrian problem into the arena of world affairs, a thing which has happened regularly ever since the end of the war. The efforts which the Chancellor has made to preserve Austrian independence have won for him tremendous sympathy throughout the world. There seems to be no doubt in the minds of the foreign legations in Vienna as to the complicity of the German National Socialist Party, and as [Page 9] a matter of fact of German official authorities, in the illegal activities of the Austrian Nazis against the constituted Government of Austria. Nevertheless, there appears to exist a tremendous divergence of opinion as to the methods which Austria should employ in appealing to the world. The Austrians themselves are more or less indifferent as to the method so long as they secure an effective audience. The local French Minister, for instance, probably reflecting the wishes of his Government, seems to advocate the League of Nations, whereas the British and Italian Ministers are inclined to favor a démarche by the Italian, French and British Ambassadors in Berlin.

The Austrian démarche naturally aroused the indignation of the Germans. The official German News Agency, according to the Austrian press, stated:

“The German report regarding the conference of the Austrian Minister in the Berlin Foreign Office shows that the complaints of the Dollfuss Government are absolutely unfounded. Consequently there will not be any possibility for the (Austrian) Government to address itself to the League. Political developments within a country do not fall under the competence of Geneva.”

The Austrian official Political Correspondence, on January 26, replied to this charge as follows:

“These views of the German press regarding the interference in Austrian internal political conditions are of a nature to cause astonishment even among legal laymen. There is no doubt, and no German press propaganda will be able to alter the fact, that any attempt from the outside to stir up the people against their own Government is contrary to all principles of even the most primitive international law. No state has the right to influence the political development of another state in such a way that it encourages by every means a certain movement in that state, in order to bring about a change of the system of government of the state. Any such attempt from the outside to influence the people of a state over the head of the international recognized government has been most firmly rejected since time immemorial in all cases where foreign states have made themselves guilty of such interferences.

The German Government itself did not fail on repeated occasions to protest energetically against Communist attempts to influence the political developments in Germany. On the other hand, it may be said in the present case that the National Socialist Party in Germany has the character of a State Party, which is not only proved by numerous declarations of its competent leaders, but among other things also by the fact that on the occasion of the elections on November 12, no other candidates than National Socialists were permitted. Since this Party, as may be seen from numerous announcements of its competent leaders, is to be treated as the state, the state assumes the responsibility for all measures of the Party and its functionaries.”

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The Austrian press also regarded the charity concert in Berlin on January 28, sponsored by government officials, to be held under the auspices of the “Kampfring der Deutsch-Oesterreichischer im Reich”, as another sign of German interference in Austrian affairs, inasmuch as the proceeds of the concert will be used for the support of the Austrian National Socialists.

At the time of writing this despatch, no reply to the Austrian démarche of January 18 has been received by the Austrian Foreign Office.

Respectfully yours,

A. W. Kliefoth
  1. Not printed.