Briefing Book Paper
Austrian Economic Questions Which the United States Government Should Raise
It is assumed that it will not be necessary for this government to insist that Austria be treated as an economic unit. None of the occupying powers have any interest in the partitioning of Austria and all of them will probably agree eventually to recognize an Austrian government which will, itself, insist upon the administration of the Austrian economy as a unit. We should, however, attempt to reach an agreement on the following questions:
1. Financing of Austrian Imports.
This question is the same in essence as that which arises in the case of Germany; and the proposed solution for Germany1 is equally applicable to Austria.
2. Payment for Austrian Exports.
The establishment of a sound Austrian economy is essential to the maintenance of Austria’s independence on which the three powers [Page 344] agreed in the Moscow Declaration. The task of creating such an economy is extremely difficult in view of the paucity of Austrian resources and the limited foreign trade possibilities. It is essential, therefore, that the powers concerned agree that goods and equipment should not in general be taken from Austria except against payment, the proceeds to be applied against Austrian imports. Only two exceptions should be made to this general principle; first, there should be restitution of identifiable looted property found in Austria; and second, Austria might be required, as part of the German reparation settlement, to make available on reparation account at least a portion of the plant and equipment which was erected in Austria after the Anschluss as part of the German program for the preparation and prosecution of the war. We should resist any claim on the part of the Soviet Union that all German property in Austria should be made available as reparation, because much of this property was part and parcel of Austria’s economic resources prior to Anschluss and cannot be considered as redundant to the productive resources which Austria needs for the development of a sound economy. Austrian authorities should, of course, be permitted or even required to seize German assets in Austria generally with such settlement as may be determined later by the governing body in Austria and the Control Council in Germany.
3. Economic and Financial Assistance to Austria.
The Moscow Declaration on the restoration of an independent Austria implied that Austria would be assimilated as promptly as possible to the status of a liberated country. We should, therefore, urge that the powers concerned consider plans for the extension of financial and economic assistance to Austria on a scale at least equal to that which has been extended to other liberated countries. In addition to possible loans to Austria, assimilation to liberated country status means that at the appropriate time the dollar (and sterling and ruble) equivalent of net troop pay expended in Austria should be made available to the Austrian authorities. It also implies that efforts will be made to keep to a minimum any occupation costs for which Austria is determined to be liable. The precise determination of occupation costs chargeable to the occupying countries and those chargeable to Austria will presumably be made later, possibly not until peace arrangements are concluded. It is, however, not unreasonable at this time to ask the United Kingdom and USSR Governments for a commitment on troop pay. There should also be a general understanding that genuine efforts will be made to cope effectively with the threat of uncontrolled inflation.
The economic and financial assistance accorded to Austria should be directed toward giving Austria a standard of living higher than that in [Page 345] Germany. Otherwise, public sentiment in favor of a new Anschluss with Germany will undoubtedly grow rapidly. A positive program of financial and trade assistance is required so that those industries which are, from an economic point of view, most efficient can be developed and so that opportunities for an active exchange of Austrian goods and services with those of other countries will be promoted.