740.00119 Council/2–547: Telegram

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


792. Delsec 1186 from Clark. The Austrian deputies met at 10:30 February 4th and continued their discussion of the clauses on war criminals.18 I said that I was willing to admit that there were war criminals in Austria whose trials should be expedited and that my Government was as anxious as anyone to accomplish this but that the process must be carried out in such a way as to protect the rights of accused individuals. I said that “satisfactory evidence” must be given to show that a man is a war criminal and that there must be no arbitrary [Page 125] decisions in the matter. Article 17 of the United States draft19 was designed to provide for this. Gousev maintained his position for the inclusion of an article similar to the corresponding articles of the Italian and satellite treaties. Hood said that he agreed in principle to the inclusion of an article on war criminals provided it was aimed at an early settlement. However, he maintained that the problem in Austria was different from that of the satellite states. He said that he was ready to accept an article similar to the United States proposal. Hood added that the Allied Council might be encouraged to settle the war criminal question before the coming into force of the treaty, if they were asked to do so.

I said that there had always been a fundamental difference of opinion between the Soviets and ourselves in Austria with regard to the handling of war criminal cases, and that this difference could not be overcome by any amount of pressure on the Allied Council. I cited cases where the Soviets had requested the handing over of alleged Soviet nationals who had proven not to be either Soviet nationals or war criminals. I said that the Soviets are working under the principle that if they say a man is a Soviet citizen and a war criminal that this fact alone should constitute “satisfactory evidence”; whereas, the position of my Government is that there should be sufficient evidence to show that the individual to be surrendered is in fact the alleged suspect, that he is a citizen of the requesting state and that there are some grounds for the suspicion as to his guilt. I stated that I saw no reason for changing the US position after the treaty comes into force.

Gousev then launched into a long argument attempting to prove that there was no necessity for satisfactory evidence. He insisted that the Moscow declaration, point A of Article 8 of the agreement on control machinery, dated July 4, 1945,20 and point A of Article 11 of the German surrender declaration21 all indicated that a request by an allied state for the surrender of a suspected war criminal is sufficient justification for the surrender. He called on the deputies to fulfill the obligations devolving from the above mentioned agreement and declaration. I replied that the United States would carry out its obligations implicitly as it had in the past.

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It was agreed to defer further discussion of this subject.

Gousev proposed that a letter be addressed to the Allied Council in Austria urging more energetic measures to apprehend war criminals and bring them to trial. Hood replied that he had proposed that only as a complement to his acceptance of the United States draft. I said that I could not agree to it since it implied a lack of previous effort on the part of the Allied Council and would provide a beautiful opportunity for propaganda and ballyhoo. I said that I was willing to ask only for a report on the progress of bringing war criminals to trial.

It was agreed that the chairman submit a draft telegram covering my proposal at the next meeting of deputies.22 New Zealand’s views are to be heard tomorrow, and on Gousev’s suggestion, Austrians are to be invited for further questioning following New Zealand’s hearing.

Re the US position reference the proposed war criminal clause in Austrian treaty, I am firmly convinced that we should stand by our present draft, as opposed to the clause as it is written into the satellite treaties even if a disagreement in the matter must be reported to CFM. The presence in Austria of thousands of displaced persons, among whom are a substantial number of persons who do not desire to be repatriated because of the changed political situation in their countries of origin, poses a problem of an especial nature that was not existent in the satellite states. These displaced persons are, and have been for many months, the target of Soviet charges and propaganda to the effect that great numbers of them are war criminals, traitors to their countries or collaborators with the enemy against United Nations. Such a charge we know to be unfounded. In addition, we know that the Soviets and Yugoslavs have submitted lists of persons alleged to be in these categories, where such lists include large numbers of persons who are neither in Austria nor citizens of the requesting nation, as alleged, and who are merely designated as war criminals, traitors or collaborators with not the slightest reason being given for this designation.

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In view of these considerations, there is more than ample justification for our insistence on the “satisfactory evidence” phrase against which Gousev is violently opposed.23

Dept pass to War Department for information.

  1. This was the 14th Meeting of the Deputies for Austria.
  2. The article under reference here was included in the proposals of the United States Delegation for the political clauses of a draft Austrian peace treaty, circulated to the Deputies as document C.F.M.(D) (47) (A) 6, January 18, 1947, not printed. The article was subsequently included as a joint U.S.–U.K. proposal for article 11 to the Draft Treaty for the Re-Establishment of an Independent and Democratic Austria, March 29, 1947, p. 516.
  3. For text, see Foreign Relations, The Conference of Berlin (The Potsdam Conference), 1945, vol. i, p. 351. For documentation see ibid, vol. i, pp. 347356, and vol. ii, pp. 668685.
  4. The reference here is to the Declaration Regarding the Defeat of Germany and the Assumption of Supreme Authority by the Allied Powers, June 5, 1945, Department of State Bulletin, June 10, 1945, p. 1051.
  5. At their 15th Meeting, February 5, 1947, the Deputies for Austria agreed on the text of a telegram to be sent to the Chairman and to each of the High Commissioners on the Allied Council for Austria, requesting a report on the decisions already adopted and the measures currently being taken to bring to trial those war criminals present in Austria. The text of the telegram was included as an annex to the Record of Decisions of the Deputies’ meeting. The Report requested by the Deputies, dated February 14, 1947, was subsequently circulated to the Deputies as document C.F.M.(D) (47) (A) 80, February 18, 1947, not printed. At their 25th Meeting, February 19, 1947, the Deputies for Austria agreed to consider the substance of the Report as and when matters relating to it came up for discussion.
  6. Telegram 641, Secdel 1288, February 7, to London, not printed, stated that the Department of State strongly supported all aspects of the stand taken by Gen. Clark on the war criminals matter (740.00119 Council/2–547).