363.11/2984: Telegram

The Ambassador in Germany (Wilson) to the Secretary of State

136. Yesterday afternoon Wiley85 called from Vienna by telephone and stated that he was finding it difficult to get into touch with people of authority in the matter of protection-of-interest cases. It could be assumed from what Wiley said that this pertained to normal cases which might occur under any circumstances and also to cases which had arisen due to the abnormal conditions in the country.

Yesterday afternoon I called upon Weizsäcker86 who had returned from a brief visit to Vienna in the company of Ribbentrop87 and told him of Wiley’s difficulties. He said that he appreciated that such difficulties existed in view of the rapid transition which was taking place in the management of affairs at Vienna but said that Baron von Stein, the former German Chargé d’Affaires at Vienna, was remaining there to “administer the Ballplatz”. He said that he felt that Von Stein would be in a position to take care of such questions and said that he would telephone him at once and apprise him of what I had said.

Later in the evening I called Wiley by telephone and gave him the results of my interview.

Previous to the telephone call from Wiley as outlined above I had already made an appointment to see Von Mackensen88 this morning. In view of its importance I still felt it desirable to take up with Mackensen also this question of the protection of American interests in Austria. I therefore recited to him what I had said to Weizsäcker and said I had wanted to bring the matter to his attention both because there might be difficulties during the period of transition and because it would be regrettable if any event occurred which would give the impression to the American public that adequate protection was not being accorded our nationals. Mackensen replied that doubtless authorities in Austria did not yet know just where their competence began and ended and were thus reluctant to assume responsibility. He was sure, however, that Von Stein could work out this matter and [Page 507]added that Von Stein had been given explicit instructions by Von Ribbentrop to accord members of the Diplomatic Corps all necessary facilities.

Mackensen then took occasion to state that of course I was already in a position in virtue of the union of the two countries to make representations here in respect of American interests in Vienna but as to the local attention to those interests he felt sure that Wiley would encounter no difficulties. He then added that the Italian Ambassador here had already undertaken the protection of Italian interests in Austria and was represented in Vienna by consular officials.

I stated to Von Mackensen that my Government had taken no position in respect of the developments in Austria and that I was thus in no way dealing with matters of policy but only with the purely practical question of the protection of our nationals. Mackensen said that this he thoroughly understood.

Repeated to Vienna.

  1. John C. Wiley, Chargé in Austria until closing of the Legation on April 30, 1938. Mr. Wiley remained at Vienna as Consul General.
  2. Baron von Weizsäcker, Head of the Political Department of the German Foreign Ministry until April 1, 1938, when he became State Secretary.
  3. Joachim von Ribbentrop, Reich Minister for Foreign Affairs since February 4, 1938.
  4. Hans George von Mackensen, State Secretary in the German Foreign Office.