123 Earle, George H./50

The Minister in Austria (Earle) to the Chief of the Division of Western European Affairs (Moffat)

Dear Pierrepont: The situation here is extremely hard to analyze.

From our tour of Austria, calling on Governors, Generals, and Chambers of Commerce in the nine provincial capitals, Kliefoth, Shallenberger, and myself all felt the Nazi movement had decidedly lost force.

We returned to Vienna to find the opinion almost unanimously expressed by foreign diplomats and newspaper men alike that the Nazis are gaining in strength steadily and that a putsch is imminent.

The insolent attitude of Rieth, the German Minister, that he will attend no receptions of the President or Chancellor and will simply [Page 4]wait a few days or weeks for the Nazi putsch to occur, is typical of the faith of the entire German nation that under the surface in Austria a great Nazi development is going on similar to that in Germany just before Hitler was swept into office.

Rieth assured me in no uncertain words that with the Nazi putsch would come a program such as Europe had never had and that 500,000 Jews would lose their property and be lucky to escape from Austria with their lives.

Since we have several hundred American Jews here, and since Austrians are like Freshmen at college who prefer popularity to anything else, I thought an ounce of prevention might save a hell of a lot of trouble later, so in my statement to the press after my trip through Austria I said that since 90% of all Americans were themselves, or were descended from, people who came to America to escape racial or religious persecution, the sympathy of the American people would not be with any country that indulged in such persecution. In absolute confidence the Dollfuss Government told me my statement had strengthened their hands in dealing with this issue.

Now, Pierrepont, I believe the following absolutely: first, that the peace of Europe depends on Austria’s independence. Second, that Austria’s independence depends entirely on an improvement in economic conditions here. Dollfuss also firmly believes this.

Before I left America I talked to ten of the biggest bankers, publicists, and merchants. They were all eager to help Austria by buying her goods, wines, etc. Austria, in turn, learning of my desire to improve trade conditions, showed her willingness to reciprocate by taking off all restrictions on our apples. Austria has fine wines, liqueurs, leather goods, etc., at a much lower figure than any other country that I know of.

Dollfuss, realizing his only hope of remaining in power lies in improving Austria’s trade, is very anxious for me to go back to America and start things rolling, with or without, as you think best, an Austrian business committee of two or three men in January or February.

Words of sympathy are all right, but only improvement in trade is going to save Austria.

For these reasons I would like very much for you to order me back for a conference, leaving it to me whether it would be in January or February.…4 In any case, order me back because I have had enough business experience to know I can get results in America for Austria.

Your friend,

George H. Earle, 3d
  1. Mr. Earle was granted 60 days’ leave, beginning January 16, 1934, to visit the United States.