740.00119 EW/3–2647

Archduke Otto of Hapsburg-Lorraine to the Acting Secretary of State 98

Dear Mr. Secretary: I acknowledge the receipt of your letter of March 13th,99 replying to my letters of February 20th.1

I note from your letter, that the decision taken by the Deputy Foreign Ministers in London is from the American point of view not a matter of principle or general policy, but based on an estimate of momentary political expediency.

Nevertheless, I take the liberty to draw your attention to the following considerations: [Page 515]

You state in your letter: “Since this action was based on existing Austrian statutes, I cannot agree with your statement, that the clause provisionally agreed upon … constitutes an unwarranted interference in Austrian domestic affairs.” The fact is, that according to the Austrian constitution, any existing domestic statute may be revised by the Austrian people. Thus the laws of Austria, including the so-called Habsburg law, are Austrian domestic affairs. By this decision of the Deputy Foreign Ministers, however, a domestic affair of Austria, which is and will remain among the inalienable rights of the Austrian people is now treated, without warrant of law, as an international question to be decided without consulting the people of Austria.
You state, that one of the reasons for the decision is fear of interference into Austrian domestic affairs. May I remark, that as above noted, the action taken in London constitutes the gravest interference in the domestic affairs of Austria and that the annullment of this action alone will remove an unwarranted interference in Austrian domestic affairs.

There is a basic distinction between feasance and nonfeasance. The distinction between asking that no action should be taken in the matter and demanding that the occupying powers should remove from the statute books certain Austrian statutes is absolute. I refer to paragraph three of your letter. In this connection I wish to state clearly and emphatically that I do not wish one single Austrian law to be altered by the occupying powers. I would not think of requesting from the occupying powers the abrogation of any Austrian law. I do however consider that to decree by international action that one law among thousands shall be inalterable is a violation of the inalienable rights of the Austrian people.

It is obvious, Mr. Secretary, that at the present time no one would aspire to a leading position in Austria from personal ambition. Thus my energetic protest against the action which was drafted in London is on behalf of those thousands of Austrian Monarchists, who have suffered and died in the German prisons and concentration camps or in the resistance movement for the principles in which they believe. It is also because of the rights of my people which I have the duty to defend.

Do you not agree with me, Mr. Secretary, in one cardinal point: Just now, when all parties standing against Communism have to be rallied in Central and Eastern Europe, is it not necessary to strengthen, instead of weakening, the one political movement standing like a rock against Naziism and Communism, and having a consistent record of most sincere pro-American feelings and action.

Believe me [etc.]

Otto of Austria
  1. On April 16, 1947, Acting Secretary Acheson acknowledged receipt of this letter and assured the Archduke that his comments were receiving “attentive consideration of appropriate officers of the Department of State.” (740.0011 EW Peace/3–2647) A copy of this letter was sent to the American Delegation at the Council of Foreign Ministers at Moscow by Acting Secretary Acheson on April 17, 1947.
  2. Ante, p. 502.
  3. Ante, p. 175.