The Minister in Austria ( Earle ) to the Secretary of State
[Received 6:30 p.m.]
62. Referring to my telegram 60, October 28, 1 p.m. My tour of the nine Austrian provinces and calls upon provincial officials was most informative. These officials fully appreciated my visit, particularly as it was the first time any foreign diplomat had called. It was generally interpreted by them as a gesture of sympathy of America for the struggle Austria is making for its independence and encouraged them tremendously. I may summarize my impressions as follows:
- Pro-German Hitlerism is at present on the decline; whether it will flare up again is another question. It embraces now probably less than 25 percent of the population in comparison with 40 percent 6 months ago. Where it has not declined it has changed its character to an Austrian national Fascist movement. Organized Nazism is generally broken up; remaining Nazi outbursts are largely efforts of individuals, [Page 2] principally of students. Dollfuss3 enjoys a large popularity throughout the country.
- There is at present no fear of a Nazi putsch, even one from the Austrian Nazi Legionnaires in Germany. The extra military forces ordered to the German frontier earlier in the summer have been withdrawn. Some of the military commanders ventured the opinion that the actual danger never was as great as represented.
- Austrian nationalism was awakened by the Government’s anti-Nazi campaign and is gradually replacing the pro-German sentiment. The union-with-Germany movement which formerly embraced 90 percent of the population declined tremendously even in the military circles and is now supported only by the Nazis. This change was largely brought about as much by fear of the Prussianization of Austria as by coordination with the Nazis.
- The military commanders talked freely and openly. They now have all the reenlistment and security forces under their command and seem to be supporting the Government loyally and effectively. They were unanimous in their opinion that the Nazi movement has decreased measurably. Individual cases of disloyalty existed but were isolated and unimportant.
- While there is a noticeable economic improvement and the tourist trade was not as bad as originally feared, the economic situation remains the greatest danger to the present Government. Unless there is a decided improvement next year the Chancellor may face insurmountable difficulties. The crying need is to find a market for Austrian timber. The potential customers are Italy, France, and England. Tourist trade is the second urgent need.
- Apparently little anti-Semitic sentiment outside of Vienna. In Vienna influx of German and Galician Jews has laid foundation for possible future [difficulties] although present Government assures me no trouble [is anticipated?] unless Nazis come to power.
- Engelbert Dollfuss, Chancellor of Austria.↩