740.00119 Council/1–3147: Telegram

The United States Deputy for Austria at the Council of Foreign Ministers (Clark) to the Secretary of State


703. Delsec 1170 from Clark. The Austrian deputies heard Chancellor Figl and Foreign Minister Gruber present the Austrian views on January 30.9 A summary of Figl’s remarks follows: Austria was the [Page 120] first victim of Hitler’s aggression; Austria as a state could not have been forced into the war as she had been totally occupied and deprived of her government.10 Austria has a moral right to be treated as a nation which was oppressed by Hitler and has now been liberated. Rehabilitation of Austria must find expression in the actual provisions of the treaty. Two important tasks of treaty are to separate Austria from Germany and that Austria not be forced to carry a burden hindering reconstruction.

Austria has a long history of democracy and the administration has been purged of Nazi elements. De-Nazification law with amendments agreed by Allied Council on December 13 will be presented to Parliament on February 5. Treaty should provide for reestablishment of 1937 frontiers. Carinthia population remains loyal to Austria and territorial claims concerning southern Styria by other nations are without ethnic justification. Croatian population of Burgenland does not desire any change. Treaty should also contain human rights clause and provision for support of Austrian Candidature for United Nations; termination of occupation and fixed period for withdrawals of troops; no reparations from Austria; armed forces for frontier control and internal security; provisions for the return of all prisoners of war; settlement of displaced persons problem by international agreement.

Austria does not ask for general indemnities from Germany but asks for restitution of capital taken from Austria to Germany and liquidation of German economic property in Austria which will not be used to meet reparation claims of Allied and associated powers. Germany should be obliged to furnish raw materials and industrial products necessary for the Austrian economy in return for adequate payments. The transfer of economic assets from Austrian owners to German ones should be invalidated. Austria agrees to restitution to citizens of Allied and associated powers for property taken from them on Austrian territory [in the] state in which this property is at present, but Germany should be made liable for damages which cannot be made good by restitution. Austrian property abroad should be released on the day of conclusion of the treaty. Sequestration of Austrian property as German property should be repealed and indemnities paid if property has been liquidated.

[Page 121]

Austria is prepared to resume service of Austria’s foreign debts. Economic relations with third states must be made possible on the basis of reciprocity without discriminatory limitations.

Austria needs free transit across the Berchtesgaden salient. Austria desires continuation of the validity of collective treaties and the right to negotiate bilaterally.

Austria requests balancing of relief deliveries by the Allies to Austria against cost to Austria of occupation.

Gruber elaborated somewhat the above-mentioned points and refuted Yugoslav statistics on Carinthian population. He claimed Austria and Denmark only countries whose minorities made no complaint against them before League of Nations between the wars.

After Austrians left room, a sharp discussion was precipitated between Gousev and Hood and myself, by my introduction of Yugoslav letter11 received during course of meeting which requested Hans Piesch, Governor of Carinthia, be denied right to be present at meetings of deputies with Austrian delegation on ground that he had close Nazi connections. I took a position, supported by Hood, that no action could be taken because information on Piesch would have to come from Allied Control Council in Vienna or from British High Commissioner in Austria and that there was insufficient time to secure the information and take a decision before next meeting of deputies. Hood also maintained, with my support, that no state not represented on Council of Deputies could dictate who should be received by Deputies. Gousev pressed the matter and declared that decision to take or not to take action could not be made until after question had been examined. Matter was left with possibility of preliminary meeting at 10 a.m. Friday to discuss Piesch case before questioning of Austrians at 10:30. I said a unanimous vote would be required to debar Piesch because he had already been admitted as member of Austrian delegation. Meeting then adjourned.

Pass to War Department for information.

  1. This was the 11th Meeting of the Deputies for Austria. The texts of the statements by the Austrian representatives were circulated to the Deputies in document C.F.M.(D) (47) (A) 23, January 30, 1947, not printed.
  2. The text of Chancellor Figl’s statement at this point reads as follows:

    “The forcible annexation of Austria took place in a period in which the Fascist regimes had reached their apex. The fact that there was no military reaction whatsoever on the part of the Great Powers and that diplomatic reactions were very weak was bound to discourage the Austrians even further. It would, therefore, be unfair to hold those Austrians who were forced into the service of Hitler’s war machine fully responsible for their now tragic fate. Austria herself could not be forced into Hitler’s war, as she had been totally occupied by the invaders and deprived of her Government, but ‘Austrians’ were finally forced to serve individually Hitler’s war machine.”

  3. The Yugoslav communication, dated January 30, 1947, was circulated to the Deputies as document C.F.M.(D) (47) (A) 22, January 30, 1947, not printed.