863.00/863: Telegram

The Ambassador in France (Straus) to the Secretary of State

128. Department’s circular February 14, 5 p.m.14 The Doumergue15 government has formally signified to the Austrian Minister in Paris its approval of Dollfuss’ proposal to submit its dispute with Germany to the Council of the League of Nations. Concomitantly it made plain to the Austrian Government informally that the French Government hoped that Dollfuss would defer taking the proposed action until the situation had become somewhat clarified.

The Embassy understands on reliable authority confirmed by the Austrian Legation that the Doumergue government unlike its predecessors is attracted by the plan for prior consultation between Great [Page 16] Britain, Italy, and France. The view is widely held here that nothing substantial can be accomplished at Geneva in behalf of Austria unless France and Italy agree on a course of action in advance. But evidently Rome will be cautious about committing itself without British participation. Accordingly a three-power talk is indicated and at once.

The press is devoting columns to the development in Vienna and the Austrian provinces all the more since the Doumergue government is exceedingly anxious to divert France’s attention from internal affairs. Editorial comment with the exception of the extreme Left papers is favorable to Dollfuss but here and there there is a trace of skepticism as to the durability of his regime. The fear is occasionally expressed that his downfall is inevitable and that nothing in reality can prevent the ultimate Nazification of the Austrian Republic. As a consequence there is a tendency in certain sections of the press to insist that France should join with Great Britain and Italy in sounding the warning that no interference from the outside in the internal affairs of Austria will be tolerated.

A suggestion by Senator Henry Berenger, the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate, that France, Great Britain and Italy should assign military forces for the maintenance of Austrian independence has not been taken up by other sections of the press and official circles are silent in respect to it. There is some reason to believe, however, that this proposal was put out as a high flyer particularly to sound out the attitude of Italy which clearly holds the key to the situation.

  1. See footnote 11, p. 13.
  2. Gaston Doumergue, Prime Minister of France.