Foreign Relations of the United States: Diplomatic Papers, 1944, General, Volume I
Memorandum by the Secretary of State to President Roosevelt
I append a report entitled “The Treatment of Austria” together with a summary thereof, including policy recommendations, which was prepared for and approved by the Committee on Post-War Programs of the Department of State. Without objection on your part, I should like to transmit this document to London for the guidance of Ambassador Winant in the discussions of the European Advisory Commission respecting the eventual occupation of Germany and Austria.
Paragraph 15 of the summary statement and the more detailed discussion of the occupation of Austria on page 6 of the basic memorandum will have to be modified in the light of information which has just been received from Ambassador Winant in London to the effect that he has agreed to a tripartite control of Austria on the understanding that he would in no way commit this Government to the size of the contingent that we might be willing to contribute for the occupation.
Ambassador Winant reported that he agreed to this tripartite control of Austria after having received your permission to do so on the last day he was in Washington before returning to London.[Page 438]
The enclosed report is also being submitted to the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff for their approval with respect to the military aspects of this question.52
Memorandum by the Committee on Post-War Programs 53
The Treatment of Austria
The following discussion of the treatment of Austria makes a distinction between (1) the long-range interests and objectives of the United States and (2) the problems of the occupation period. The former involve the establishment and maintenance of Austria on a sound political and economic basis so that that country may not again become either a focus of Pan-German activity or a temptation to powerful neighbors. The second category includes the tasks of instituting military government in Austria, separation from Germany, immediate security dispositions, and the establishment of a permanent government.
This program is premised on the view that Austria is a victim of Nazi aggression rather than an integral part of Germany and should be dealt with on a different basis.
ii. Long-range interests and objectives of the united states
A. International Status
1. Political Aspects.—Austria’s strategic position in Europe makes its future political status in relation to its neighbors a matter of concern to the international community and therefore to the United States. Austria has been the occasion of threat to general security chiefly for two reasons; first, the lack of internal economic and political stability, and second, the disposition of interested powers to seek to influence Austrian affairs to their own advantage.
The Moscow Declaration on Austria (November 1, 1943)54 poses the [Page 439]problem of Austria without specifying an ultimate solution. The initial independence of Austria is predicated as a corollary of liberation from Nazi tyranny. The Declaration refers to Austria as the first victim of “Hitlerite domination” and indicates that Austria’s treatment will depend upon its own contribution to her liberation. Thus there exist clear grounds for according Austria a different treatment from that applied to Germany and for permitting the Austrian people a voice in the determination of their future status. Moreover, the Declaration asserts the desirability of collaboration between Austria and her neighboring states in a solution of their common problems. Thus independence is not a prescription against future economic and political relationships with Austria’s neighbors which, presumably, might assume the character of special economic arrangements, political federation, or even a merger of sovereignties, provided any such arrangement was approved by the parties concerned and was acceptable to the international organization.
The United States, never having accorded de jure recognition to the union of Austria with the Reich,55 should favor the prompt restoration of Austria as an independent state.
Independence alone, however, would not be an adequate basis for Austria’s future. The continuance of the revived state will depend on a solution of its internal problems and an adjustment of its political and economic relations with its neighbors.
To achieve Austrian revival, it is recommended that this government support all appropriate means of fostering the growth of a more pronounced Austrian national feeling along democratic lines, assuring a viable economy within the framework of European reconstruction, and providing effective protection through international organization or otherwise against external encroachments.
Since future developments in Austria and Central Europe are so uncertain, it is further recommended that there be no definitive prohibition at the end of the war against a future decision of the Austrian people to effect close economic or political relationships with neighboring states.
If Austria is to remain independent, its peculiar strategic and economic position would underscore the responsibility of the international community to make adequate provisions for the security and internal viability of small states.
2. Economic Aspects:—It is to the interest of the United States that Austria be enabled to develop that type of internal economy and those international economic relations that will not place Austria in the position of a special ward of the international community or of any power.[Page 440]
To this end it is recommended that Austria be included in those international organizations and arrangements which are established to lessen economic discrimination and to promote stable financial relations and the expansion of trade on a multilateral basis.
To guard against economic crisis in Austria, the United States should cooperate, through such international economic machinery as may be set up, in extending long-term credits for sound economic projects and in extending financial assistance in case of threatened financial breakdown. Any aid to reconstruction or to conversion of Austrian production should be such as to facilitate the elimination of uneconomic industry.
Since the question of economic union between Germany and Austria is largely contingent on the political desirability of such a union, this possibility need not be examined here. This Government should be prepared, however, to examine any specific proposals for Austria’s participation in a central European or Danubian economic federation.
1. The Czechoslovak-Austrian Frontier:—The United States should favor the restoration of the 1937 Austro-Czechoslovak frontier.
The American Delegation at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 favored the establishment of this frontier, which, in the main, followed the old administrative boundaries between Moravia and Bohemia, on the one hand, and Austria, on the other. Some Austrian groups have asked for a cession of about seventy square miles of territory in the regions of Gmünd (Třeboň) and Feldsberg (Mikulov), The population of these regions, according to the 1930 census, was about 61,000, approximately 85 percent of whom were Austrian Germans. Restoration of Gmünd to Austria would threaten the communications of České Velenice to Pilsen and Prague, while restoration of Feldsberg to Austria would cut the railway from Breclav to Znojmo, endanger the Prague-Brno-Vienna route via Breclav, and cut river communications on the Thaya River.
2. The Austrian-Yugoslav Frontier:—The United States should favor the restoration of the 1940 frontier between Austria and Yugoslavia.
The Yugoslav Government-in-Exile is demanding the inclusion of all territory inhabited by the Slovenes, 27,000 of whom were left in Austrian Carinthia and less than 4,000 in Austrian Styria. Cession of the Klagenfurt Basin to Yugoslavia would probably run counter to the wishes of the Carinthian population consulted at the time of the Klagenfurt Plebiscite of 1920. It would, furthermore, disturb the economic stability of the region and would create economic difficulties for Austria without bringing any corresponding economic benefits to Yugoslavia. Modification of the frontier between Austrian [Page 441]Styria and Yugoslavia would not be justified, since the frontier of 1940 followed closely the ethnic line of division and the several thousand Slovenes north of the line are widely scattered.
3. The Austrian-Hungarian Frontier:—The United States should favor preservation of the existing frontier between Austria and Hungary, leaving the Burgenland within Austria.
In 1922, after a plebiscite, Austria acquired the Burgenland, previously a part of Hungary. The Burgenland covers an area of about 1,532 square miles with a population (1934) of about 292,247, of whom approximately 80 percent (241,300) are German Austrians, 14 percent (40,500) are Croats and 4 percent (10,400) are Magyars. Hungary has not asserted its claim to the Burgenland vigorously, and there is no compelling reason why this territorial question should be reopened.
4. The Austro-Italian Frontier:—It is recommended that the frontier between Austria and Italy be rectified by cession to Austria of the Italian province of Bolzano with the provision that minor adjustments of this line may be made in accordance with the distribution of the linguistic groups.
The Committee has proposed this solution because:
- It recognizes this area as Austrian in its history, culture and tradition, and as an area which will probably be predominantly Austrian in population at the end of the war;
- The retrocession of this region to Austria would aid both in the political and economic reconstruction of an Austrian state;
- The loss to Italy through this cession would be slight in comparison with the gain to Austria.
5. The Austro-German Frontier.—It is recommended that the Austro-German frontier as of January 1, 1938 be recognized, except for the two small mountain communities in the Sonthofen area which were combined with Germany in 1938 for administrative reasons.
C. Internal Political Conditions
The long-range interest of the United States in the tranquillity of the Danubian region would be best served, in so far as the internal political order in Austria is concerned, by the development of sound democratic self-government.
The essential predicate of such a development will be the elimination of the fascist vestiges of the Dollfuss–Schuschnigg56 regime and the destruction of Nazi authoritarianism.
It is further believed that the success of democracy in Austria will depend on an adjustment of the political differences between the two sections of the population formerly organized in the Christian Socialist and Social Democratic Parties. Such an adjustment will be [Page 442]fostered by the creation of tolerable economic conditions, by instituting a political structure that would allow a considerable degree of local autonomy, and by restraining, in so far as possible, the exercise of disturbing external influences.
In the further interests of tranquillity, it is recommended that this Government oppose the restoration of the House of Hapsburg in Austria. Because of the imperialist tradition of the dynasty, a restoration of the monarchy would be interpreted by the neighboring states as a threat to their security.
iii. transitional procedures and arrangements
A. Character and Duration of Occupation
1. Responsibility for Occupation:—Divergent proposals have been set forth regarding the method of occupation and the allocation of responsibility for Austria. This Government has advocated that Austria, along with the south German zone, should be under occupation of United Kingdom forces. A British proposal assigning the south German zone to the United States includes Austria under American occupation and suggests the advisability of stationing a British division in Austria in order to establish the fact of United Nations occupation in the minds of the Austrians. The Soviet Government has proposed that Austria be occupied jointly by the armed forces of the three powers.
Joint tripartite occupation of Austria would have the decided advantage of effecting at once a clear administrative separation of Austria from Germany. However, for a small country joint occupation would probably be cumbersome and inefficient, and would necessitate a more complicated administrative set-up than required for the accomplishment of United Nations aims in Austria. Such an arrangement might, too, add a further potential source of direct friction between the three powers.
To reconcile the opposing views, it is recommended that Austria be declared under joint occupation, that actual administration and occupancy be left primarily to the power controlling also the South German zone, while the two other powers furnish civil affairs representatives and liaison officers.
2. Occupation Administration:—Although the administration of occupation in Austria will be legally based on the surrender instrument as in Germany, it is recommended that the administration and treatment of Austria under occupation be from the beginning differentiated from that accorded Germany.
If it is accepted that occupancy be left primarily to the power controlling south Germany, provision should be made for a civil affairs administration in Austria, which would be entirely separate from the German zonal administration. On account of the subordination and [Page 443]elimination of many central Austrian administrative agencies under German annexation and the coordination of Austrian provincial administration through Berlin, the occupation authorities should at once reconstruct a machinery of central administration in Vienna. The presumably considerable number of retired or inactive former Austrian officials who did not collaborate with the Nazis should be enlisted to aid in the de-Nazification and reconstruction of Austrian administrative agencies. In general, immediate efforts should be made to obtain the cooperation of Austrians and to return central and local administrative functions to non-Nazi Austrians.
Unless a provisional Austrian government emerges at the time of surrender, with which the three powers might agree to deal, direct military government should be installed in Austria supplanting the German political authorities. As soon as central Austrian administrative agencies have been reestablished, it is recommended that there be formed a provisional Austrian central regime to coordinate administration and participate in the steps necessary for the reconstitution of the Austrian state. At this stage the military government might administer Austria by means of directives to this central Austrian political organ.
Since problems of disarmament, demobilization, and popular resistance will be in no wise as acute as in Germany, it should be possible at an early date to transfer the control of Austria from military authorities to an inter-allied civilian agency, which would be supported by military garrisons as needed. Such an agency would direct the occupation until a duly elected representative government was ready to reassume control for the Austrian people.
3. Length of Occupation:—To promote the divergence of Austria from Germany, the occupation of Austria should be as brief as is consonant with the accomplishment of essential United Nations security aims.
B. Security Functions under Occupation
- Demobilization of Austrian Members of the Wehrmacht: 57—It is recommended that in demobilizing and disbanding the armed forces of the Reich, Austrian nationals be separated as speedily as possible tfrom their units and permitted to return home as expeditiously as considerations of internal security and transport arrangements will allow.
- Disarmament and Disposition of Surrendered Arms and Equipment:—It is recommended that surrendered arms, ammunition and implements of war be scrapped in so far as they are not needed for use by the victors or adaptable to peaceful purposes. In general the [Page 444]principles with respect to disarmament as applied to Germany should be applied to Austria.
- Dissolution of Military and Para-Military Agencies:—The policies applied to the dissolution of military and para-military agencies in Germany should, wherever applicable, apply also to Austria. A civil police force, composed exclusively of Austrian nationals and adequate to maintain internal order, should be permitted.
- Immediate Measures for the Control of Austrian War Potential:—The steps deemed essential for the immediate reduction of war potential in Germany should likewise be taken in Austria. These measures will be especially necessary in view of the heavy concentration of war industries in Austria.
C. Immediate Political Dispositions
1. Disannexation:—In disjoining Austria from Germany, it is deemed advisable for reasons of administrative convenience to annul Nazi legislation by successive proclamations abrogating stated laws or types of laws rather than to promulgate one blanket decree sweeping away all laws issued in Austria after March 11, 1938. The following legislation, in particular, should be promptly annulled: decrees joining Austria to the Reich, introducing Reich law in Austria, establishing the Nazi Party and the Nazi system of government in Austria; laws regulating citizenship matters; laws introducing racial discrimination and Nazi eugenic practices; laws changing judicial procedures and the Austrian court system.
The task of military government in Austria will be complicated by the fact that direct return to the entire body of pre-1938 Austrian law is precluded because of the Fascist character of much legislation under the Dollfuss–Schuschnigg regime. Pre-1938 laws which are unobjectionable from a political standpoint, however, should be continued or revived at the discretion of the occupation authorities. It is considered likewise undesirable to return to the authoritarian Constitution of 1934. Pending the promulgation of a new Constitution by a constituent assembly elected by the Austrian people, it is deemed preferable that the occupation authorities refer, as occasion may warrant, to provisions of the Austrian Constitution of 1920, as later amended.
2. Treatment of the National Socialist Party and of Party Members:—It is recommended that the procedures envisaged for the elimination of the National Socialist Party and its affiliated and supervised organizations from Germany be followed in Austria. To the degree that it is found necessary to maintain social services performed by these organizations, those services should be transferred promptly to appropriate Austrian administrative agencies. The property and [Page 445]records in Austria of National Socialist organizations should be impounded.
It is recommended that Party leaders and other active Nazis be excluded from office and made subject to limitation of other political rights in the restoration of government in Austria.
3. Treatment of German Nationals in Austria:—It is recommended that those Germans whose residence in Austria is directly connected with the Nazi exploitation of that state be deported to Germany. Because of the important political considerations involved, the deportation of this category of persons should be arranged at an early date.
4. The Transfer of Other Persons:—The million foreign workers and prisoners of war now in Austria would constitute a particularly heavy and disproportionate burden on the resources of that country; it is recommended, therefore, that attention be given to the possibility of an early transfer of that alien population. The prompt return of Austrian citizens outside Austria would likewise facilitate the beginning of reconstruction.
5. Political Activity and Association:—While it is recognized that the uncertainties of the early days of military occupation may require a complete ban on political activity, it is recommended that, as soon as military conditions permit, the occupation authorities allow the formation of parties and political discussion on the part of those groups demonstrably seeking to establish democratic political life. It is further recommended that the privilege of organization and activity be denied those groups attempting to form para-military units, to advocate National Socialist and related doctrines, to revive the authoritarian Fatherland Front of the Dollfuss–Schuschnigg regime or to restore the monarchy.
D. Economic Dispositions
The decision to restore Austrian independence will imply prompt action on a number of economic matters, notably the restoration of the schilling and the reestablishment of the banking systems. Since the banking and monetary questions are being discussed actively elsewhere, no recommendations on these problems are here offered.
Decision on restitution and reparation will also be of importance, but in view of the fact that the Reparation Committee has not taken up the question of a settlement for Austria, recommendations on this subject are likewise postponed.
It is recommended that the following steps be taken by the occupation authorities:
- The main economic controls applied to Germany should be imposed immediately by the occupation authorities, subject to progressive relaxation in accordance with the aim of prompt conversion and reconstruction as detachment from the Reich proceeds.
- All deposits should be frozen immediately and released selectively as soon as a suitable plan can safely be put into operation. These should be a general moratorium on all debts—to be relaxed as soon as conditions permit.
- The customs union with Germany should be terminated and provision made by the occupation authorities for border control over trade between Austria and Germany. The suspension of German bilateral trade agreements, in which Austria is included as part of the Reich, will call for the establishment of new trade arrangements between Austria and other countries, including Germany. In the absence of established commercial relations with other countries and governmental machinery for carrying on foreign trade, the occupation authorities should attempt to stimulate foreign trade making use as far as practicable of reliable Austrian personnel. This Government should recognize the need for initiating measures to help finance Austrian trade in the immediate occupation period.
- All foreign owned property in Austria should be held in custody by the occupation authorities, who should establish an administrative agency to perform the functions which may be necessary in this respect. The occupying authorities, acting as custodian, may at their discretion in special types of instances appoint former owners as agents for the management and operation of their properties under their supervision. In general such action should not be taken if the owners are nationals or residents of other ex-enemy countries; and careful precaution should be exercised in the case of citizens and residents of neutral countries who may appear as claimants to property situated in Austria.
- Should reparation and restitution by Austria be considered, special commitments on the part of the United Nations with respect to Austria would place Austria in a special category and require different treatment from that accorded Germany.
E. Establishment of Independent Austrian Government
1. When Steps Should be Taken:—It is recommended that as soon as political conditions have become reasonably stable and there is clear evidence of a desire by the Austrian people to act, steps be taken toward the reestablishment of Austrian political life on an enduring constitutional basis.
It may be anticipated that opportunities for the revival of national self-government will appear at an earlier period in Austria than in Germany. A national opposition has persisted under Nazi rule and it should prove easy to collaborate with anti-Nazi elements in the task of political reconstruction at an early stage of the occupation.
2. What Steps Should be Taken:—It is recommended that the determination of Austria’s future governmental structure be made by a democratically elected constituent assembly, in view of the fact that there exists no Austrian government-in-exile or other organ recognized as custodian of Austrian sovereignty.
At the earliest opportunity efforts should be made to assist the restoration of local organs of self-government, either de facto or on a juridical basis.[Page 447]
It is suggested that at an early stage of the occupation, and if clearly in accord with the wishes of the Austrian people, a provisional Austrian national assembly might be chosen by general suffrage. This assembly should plan systematically the necessary steps to be taken in the transition from provisional to permanent government and formulate proposals for consideration by the constituent assembly.
At an appropriate time, the provisional government, acting upon the authorization of the inter-allied authorities, should arrange for the free election by universal suffrage of a national constituent assembly to undertake the formation of a national constitution. Intervention by the occupation authorities should be confined to the insuring of fair and orderly elections and the exclusion of active Nazis from suffrage and eligibility to seats in the assembly. The Austrian people should be free to determine their own form of government with the proviso that the new regime be essentially democratic in character and that it accept such international responsibilities and obligations as the tripartite powers, acting in the interest of the United Nations, may see fit to impose. There should be no prescription as to the structure, whether federal or unitary, of the new Austrian state; decision in this matter should be left to the Austrian people.
Memorandum by the Committee on Post-War Programs 58
Summary: The Treatment of Austria: Policy Recommendations
i. long-term interests and objectives of the united states
A. International Status
- Austria should be dealt with as a victim of Nazi aggression rather than as a willing and integral part of Germany.
- This Government should favor the prompt restoration of Austria as an independent state.
- This Government should support and use appropriate means to foster among Austrians a more pronounced loyalty to an independent and democratic Austria under effective protection against external encroachments.
- This Government should favor a provision, whereby the Austrian people eventually could, with the approval of the international [Page 448]organization, arrange such economic and political relationships with neighboring states as are consistent with the maintenance of peace and with general economic welfare.
- It is to the interest of the United States that Austria be enabled to develop that type of internal economy and those international economic relations that will not place Austria in the position of a special ward of the international community or of any power.
- Austria should in the future be included without discrimination in international economic organizations and arrangements.
- This Government should favor extending long-term credits and other financial assistance to Austria through such international machinery as may be set up.
- The Austrian-Czechoslovak frontier of 1937 should be restored.
- The Austrian-Yugoslav frontier of 1940 should be restored.
- The present Austrian-Hungarian frontier should be maintained.
- The Austrian-German frontier of January 1, 1938 should be maintained except for inclusion within Germany of the small Sonthofen area.
- The Austrian-Italian frontier should be rectified by the cession of the Italian province of Bolzano subject to minor adjustments.
C. Internal Political Conditions
- The Government should seek to foster in Austria the development of sound democratic self-government. As a part of this process all vestiges of the Fascist and Nazi regime should be eliminated.
- This Government should oppose the restoration of the House of Hapsburg in Austria.
ii. transitional procedures and arrangements
A. Character and Duration of Occupation
- This Government should favor a joint Anglo-American-Soviet occupation of Austria which would, however leave the administration of the country primarily in the hands of the power controlling the projected zone of South Germany. The other two powers should have only token participation in the occupation and administration.
- The occupation and control of Austria should be separate from the military government of Germany.
- Unless a trustworthy provisional Austrian Government has emerged at the time of surrender or conquest, direct military government should be established, but should be supplanted by inter-allied civilian control as soon as conditions permit.
- If not established at the time of surrender or conquest, a provisional Austrian government should be established as soon as security [Page 449]considerations and the prospect of a regime representative of the major non-Nazi and non-Fascist political groups make it feasible.
- At the earliest opportunity the occupation authorities should encourage and assist the formation of local organs of self-government.
- Troops of the United Nations should be withdrawn from Austria as quickly as considerations of security and internal order permit.
B. Security Functions Under Occupation
- Austrian members of the Wehrmacht should be sent home without unnecessary delay.
- Regulations similar to those with respect to the disarmament of Germany and to the disposition of surrendered German arms, ammunition and implements of war should be applied to Austria.
- Austria’s armed forces should be limited to a civilian police composed exclusively of bona fide Austrian nationals.
C. Immediate Political Dispositions
- Nazi and pre-Nazi fascist legislation should be abrogated progressively rather than by means of one comprehensive decree.
- Measures and procedures similar to those for the elimination of the National Socialist Party and subordinate organizations in Germany should be instituted in Austria. The principles for the exclusion of Nazi leaders and other active Nazis from political life should likewise be applied to Austria.
- Germans whose residence in Austria is connected with the Nazi exploitation should be promptly deported to Germany.
- As soon as military conditions permit, political activity should be permitted to those groups demonstrably seeking to establish democratic political life.
D. Economic Dispositions
- In the interest of preventing economic collapse, economic controls comparable to those applied in Germany should be continued until their progressive relaxation appears feasible.
- The customs union with Germany should be terminated and a systematic program should be instituted immediately to put the Austrian economy on a viable basis through the revival of foreign trade.
- All foreign-owned property in Austria should be held in custody until plans for its ultimate disposition are made.
E. Establishment of Independent Austrian Government
- There should be as speedy a transition as possible from a provisional regime to government on a regularized constitutional basis.
- A freely elected constituent assembly should determine the character of Austria’s future government and internal structure, without interference by the allied powers.
- Working Security Committee document WS–173, Annex A, dated July 3, 1944, reproduces this memorandum together with the following note: “Mr. Gray [Cecil W. Gray, Executive Assistant to the Secretary] in the Secretary’s Office telephoned Mr. Dunn on June 27, and stated that he had been informed by the White House that this memorandum and the two papers on the treatment of Austria attached thereto had been approved by the President. H[enry] P. L[everich]” (Lot 55 D 375).↩
- Filed separately under Lot 55 D 375, WS Book V. Original draft (CAC–210) prepared and reviewed by the Inter-Divisional Committee on Germany. Reviewed at the 50th meeting of the Committee on Post-War Programs, June 13, 1944.↩
- Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. i, p. 761.↩
- For correspondence regarding the annexation of Austria by Germany, see Foreign Relations, 1938, vol. i, pp. 384 ff., and ibid., vol. ii, pp. 483 ff.↩
- Engelbert Dollfuss, Chancellor of Austria from May 1932 to July 1934; Kurt von Schuschnigg, Chancellor of Austria from July 1934 to March 1938.↩
- German Armed Forces.↩
- Filed separately under Lot 55 D 375, WS Book V. Original draft prepared and reviewed by the Inter-Divisional Committee on Germany. Reviewed and revised at the 50th meeting of the Committee on Post-War Programs, June 13, 1944.↩