Archduke Otto of Austria to the Secretary of State

Dear Mr. Hull, Enclosed I am sending to you two short aide-mémoires on questions which I believe are of a great importance for the cause of the United Nations in Central Europe.

I most sincerely hope that it will be possible for you to consider these questions at the present conference and to bring to them an adequate solution.

I am [etc.]

of Austria
[Enclosure 1]


The Austrian Question

The military and political events of the near past have put Austria into the forefront of the interest of the United Nations. As approximatively 84,8% of the German implements of war for Italy are shipped [Page 1112] over the Austrian railroads, much will depend on the attitude and action of the Austrian people.

The trend of the United Nations has been to recognize the heroic fight of Austria against the Germans by considering that country as an occupied country, which shall be liberated. But as this point has not yet been made sufficiently clear, certain agencies have used this to spread false impressions.

News from Russia indicate that the Soviet Government is about to launch an Austrian Government or National Council under the presidency of Wilhelm Koplenig (36 Gorkova ulica, Moscow), former leader of the Austrian Communist Party. Such a move would very much strengthen the Austrian Communist Party—which hitherto was negligible—and would disturb the Catholic, agrarian and patriotic opposition. The fear of Communist dictatorship would gravely weaken the Austrian resistance against the Axis.

Under these circumstances and with due regard to the ever increasing strategic importance of Austria, the following program with regard to Austria is submitted:

A clear declaration at the Quebec Conference, that Austria is an occupied country and will therefore be liberated, like the other occupied countries.
A settlement of the question of Southern Tyrol, along the lines suggested in the annexed memorandum on that question.
The recognition by the United Nations of a provisional Austrian authority. This authority should be non-partisan and represent Austria only as long as its people is silenced. It should not have authority to commit Austria on constitutional questions. In order to achieve this aim, a Committee of all former Austrian diplomats and consuls, who have kept their nationality and resisted the Nazis, could be formed, linking thus the legality of the past with the condition of non-partisan character.

Such a program would avoid the harm which might be clone by a Russian unilateral step, without too much antagonizing Russia. It would strengthen Austria’s resistance against the Axis and thus help the progress of the war. It is finally in line with the lofty principles announced by the leaders of the United Nations.

[Enclosure 2]


The Question of Southern Tyrol (Alto Adige)

In the coming discussions of the United Nations, the question of establishing just and reasonable borders for Italy and her neighbours will be of great importance for the foundation of a lasting peace.

In this connection the question of Southern Tyrol, called by the [Page 1113] Italians Alto Adige, will be of paramount importance. This land was conceded to Italy in the last peace treaty over the protest of its Austrian population and of several Allied leaders. Under Italian occupation the Southern Tyrolese population was severely persecuted, dispossessed and partly replaced by Italians. Under an agreement between Mussolini and Hitler1 a notable part of the population was forcibly moved to Germany between 1939 and 1942, where they still live under very hard and inhuman conditions. Southern Tyrol has therefore suffered more than many other parts of Europe from Axis cruelty.

Southern Tyrol can be divided roughly into two parts:

South of the present Austrian border and North of a line Adamello Mountains–Salurn–Cortina d’Ampezzo, is a country with 85% Austrian population, deeply attached to Austria.
South of the above mentioned line and North of the Italian border of 1914 is a country which, contrary to Italian propaganda, has still 54% Austrian population.

It is therefore a matter of justice, well in line with the principles of the United Nations, that this territory should be returned to Austria. It would be also a matter of political wisdom. Neither the Southern Tyrolese, nor the Austrians have ever accepted the present border. If good relations ought to be established between Austria and Italy, this can only be done by solving the Southern Tyrolese question in an Austrian sense. This would furthermore strengthen Austria materially and morally against Germany.

If the necessity of a plebiscite in the Southern zone of Southern Tyrol would be felt, care should be taken that only real Southern Tyrolese could vote. The right to vote restricted to residents as of 1918 and to their descendants would be the guarantee that the voters really represent the Southern Tyrolese people.

  1. The reference is to an Italo-German agreement reached at Berlin on June 23, 1939. See Documents on German Foreign Policy, 1918–1945, series D, vol. vi, pp. 778–779.