740.0011 EW Peace/8–847: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the United States Representative to the Austrian Treaty Commission (Dodge) at Vienna


615. For Dodge. Soviet seizure industrial plants for settlement alleged claims on Creditanstalt (Legtel 697 Aug 229) and Lobau refinery is regarded by Dept as unilateral action in disregard of CFM agreement Apr 24 concerning Austrian treaty by making impossible completion of work of ATC. Seizures of property falling within categories agreed for ATC discussion and involving UN interests when entire question is under consideration in ATC makes necessary a clarification both of Soviet objectives in Austria and intentions regarding future work and purpose of ATC.

You are therefore requested to return to Washington at once for consultation. You may announce at next meeting ATC that in view of Soviet unilateral action in seizure of properties and Soviet attitude [Page 609] of indifference towards factual material presented by other delegations, US Govt has considered it necessary to consult you on the future work of the ATC. Your return should not disrupt further meetings of ATC at which Ginsburg may act as your deputy. Following announcement in ATC it would not be advisable for you to attend meetings prior to your departure from Vienna.

Following is text of note we propose to send to Soviets:30

“I am instructed by my Government to bring to your attention its views concerning the seizure by the Soviet authorities in Austria of the Oesterreichische Mineraloel Werke at Lobau. It is understood that the seizure was based upon the view of the Soviet Government that it is entitled to this property as a German external asset. This action was taken while the Austrian Treaty Commission, in accordance with the agreement of the Council of Foreign Ministers at Moscow on April 24, 1947, was considering the basic types of German assets in Austria in accordance with an agreed agenda which at Soviet insistence included the oil industry as the first topic of discussion. Moreover, during the initial discussion of the oil industry the United States Delegation pointed out that the refinery at Lobau is entirely owned by American and British interests.

“The United States Government regards the action of the Soviet authorities in Austria as inconsistent with the four power agreement of April 24, 1947, setting up in good faith the Austrian Treaty Commission to discuss these matters. The unilateral action of the Soviet authorities raises serious doubts whether the Austrian Treaty Commission will be able to achieve the objective set for it by the Foreign Ministers. These doubts are increased by the attitude of indifference of the Soviet representative towards facts regarding the ownership of properties in Austria presented in the Treaty Commission where-ever these facts are in conflict with Soviet claims.

“The United States Government believes that it is entitled to an explanation of the Soviet action with respect to the seizure of the refinery properties at Lobau and requests that the Soviet Government not permit further steps of this character to be taken in connection with properties the ownership of which is currently under discussion by the Austrian Treaty Commission in accordance with its agreed agenda. The United States Government also desires a clarification of the intention of the Soviet Government in regard to collaboration for the early completion of an Austrian Treaty and the functions of the Austrian Treaty Commission in the fulfillment of this Allied objective.

“The United States Government would welcome an early reply by the Soviet Government in order that the United States Representative to the Austrian Treaty Commission may be given appropriate instructions. Pending the receipt of a reply, the United States Representative has been instructed to return to the United States for purposes of consultation.

[Page 610]

“The United States Government reserves its rights with regard to the effect of this unilateral action of the Soviet authorities on the property interests in Austria of the United States nationals.”

Your comments are requested most urgently before note is sent to Moscow. British and French will be consulted through diplomatic channels in Washington concerning next steps in connection with Austrian treaty after delivery of note to Soviets.

  1. Not printed; in telegram 733, August 12, from Vienna, Dodge reported that the seizure of Creditanstalt assets indicated as planned in Legation telegram 697 could not yet be confirmed. Dodge urged that American action regarding Creditanstalt not be related to any action that might be taken in connection with the seizure by Soviet troops of an Austrian oil refinery at Lobau on August 2. (740.0011 EW (Peace)/8–1247)
  2. In telegram 733, August 12, from Vienna, Dodge suggested that the proposed note to the Soviets be delayed until the Soviet position could be further clarified or additional seizures of properties occurred.