740.00119 Control (Austria)/7–245

No. 761
The Acting Secretary of State to the Secretary of State1
top secret

Memorandum for the Secretary of State

Charles of Hapsburg requested the Ambassador in Paris2 to accept the enclosed sealed letter for transmission to the President. When the Ambassador raised a question as to whether the President was prepared to receive such communications Charles stated that a similar message had been sent from Brussels and that a reply had been delivered to his brother the Archduke Felix.

In accordance with the instructions of President Roosevelt the State Department had authorized certain missions to transmit sealed material to President Roosevelt. Does the President wish this practice continued?

Joseph C. Grew
The Archduke Otto of Austria to President Truman3

Dear Mr. President, In view of the impending international decisions I take the liberty to write to you on the Austrian situation. I believe that I can do so as I am in daily contact not only with the former Austrian Resistance Movement, but also with the majority political parties and local administrations.

The situation after two months of liberation is certainly not as it should be. Divided into four zones of occupation, the living body [Page 660] of the Austrian State is cut to pieces. There is no overall economic and no overall political planning. The economic situation is almost desperate. The Allied troops of occupation, despite orders, are living on the country. The Provincial Administrations are receiving no authority—with the exception of the one in the French occupational zone—and have thus no means to fight the spreading doom. Owing to the inactivity of the Allied military authorities there is no harvesting, the factories do no longer run. There is general unemployment. Inflation is spreading. All this will lead to an unprecedented catastrophe in a few weeks. In the Russian zone the Russian troops of occupation have carried away the complete industrial equipment and are looting systematically the private dwellings.

To top the economic difficulties the Americans and British have issued a policy of non-fraternisation, in contrast to the French. This policy of non-fraternisation, which creates a feeling that the Allies are treating the Austrians as if they were Germans, is considered by the Austrians as a grave injustice. To this are added general interdictions to travel or to ship goods, suppression of the mails, the telephone and the telegraph, general abuses in the requisition and a curfew for the population, all things justified in conquered aggressor countries, but not for liberated friends. We were the first country to fight the Germans, and if we collapsed in 1938 it was because we were hopelessly outnumbered and abandoned by the Western Powers. Our Resistance Movement was as strong, considering the situation, as in other countries.

The political freedom has not been re-established. We have no free press and no means of creating a healthy democratic public life.

The Russians have been sponsoring a communist-dominated regime of their own in Vienna. There have been rumours that the Allies will eventually recognize this communist regime, the so-called “provisional Government”. I can assure you that the overwhelming majority of the Austrians would refuse to accept such a Government, because they do not want the elections controlled by the Austrian Communists, who avowedly strive for dictatorship and would do anything to impair the honesty of the elections. They furthermore will not accept to be ruled by the communist party.

This is the situation. May I take the liberty to suggest a few measures that ought to be taken in order to bring Austria again to a life of freedom and to do justice to the Austrian people.

Authorization of the establishment of strong Governments in each of the Provinces, who can act under their own responsibility. (These Provinces are: Tyrol, Vorarlberg, Salzburg, Kaernten, Oberoesterreich and Steiermark. This does not include Niederoesterreich, Burgenland and Vienna, who are under Russian occupation).
Liberty for the Austrian Governments of the Provinces to communicate with each other and to come to understandings on common matters.
Assurance that the self-styled provisional Government of Vienna, presided by Dr. Renner, will not be recognized by the Allies.
Abolishment of the policy of non-fraternisation by the American and British forces.
Authorization of the establishment of a free press.
Stoppage of the present inflation through a united plan for the whole Austrian area.
Inclusion of Austria in the general Allied relief program.
Liberty for the Governments of the Austrian Provinces to deport German citizens who are at this time a major scourge for the country.

I am certain, Mr. President, that these measures would permit a rapid consolidation inside Austria. They would give Austria the start it needs to rise from its ruins. On the other hand, a continuation of the present policy will lead the country to anarchy.

Knowing your generous sympathies for my country, I am bringing these problems before you because I am convinced that in pursuance of the great policy of America with regards to Austria you will order that my country be started as soon as possible on the way to consolidation and freedom.

Wishing you the blessings of the Almighty in these days when one of the greatest responsibilities in human history will lie on your shoulders, I am [etc.]

Otto of Austria
  1. The original bears the following manuscript notation by Truman: “Officially referred to Sec of State HST”.
  2. Jefferson Caffery.
  3. The original bears the following manuscript notation by Truman: “Referred to Mr. Byrnes Sec. State 7/28/45 Harry S Truman”. An acknowledgment was made by Byrnes on August 20 (file No/740.00119 Control (Austria)/7–245).