Vienna Legation Files


The United States Acting High Commissioner for Austria (Keyes) to the Joint Chiefs of Staff

top secret

P–7189. War for JCS pass to State Department from Keyes. Result of Moscow Conference has raised grave questions in minds of both people and Govt of Austria about the future of the Austrian State. Latter has been constantly subjected to strong pressures ever since liberation. Last year Austrians seriously feared the country would be split apart along demarcation line of Soviet zone. With the country [Page 1173] still an integral unit Austrians continue to be faced with dilemma of choosing between eastern and western orientation. So far they have maintained western orientation on basis of strong US and British support and expectation that it will continue.

Recently, however, Soviet and Communist pressure to make Austria turn towards USSR has been increasing again, and Austrians have therefore been again preoccupied by question whether they should maintain resistance to Soviet Union or endeavor to get along with it by collaborating. They remember that for many of them previous efforts to maintain independence ended in concentration camps first under 1934 regime and again under Nazis. With Austrians now occasionally being sent to Siberia and members of Parliament being arrested, the people must think twice of the possibility of future concentration camps under possible Soviet domination. They wish to maintain resistance against latter but not at risk of being forced into it by being abandoned by western powers again as they feel they were at time of forcible Anschluss by Germany.

Major factor in their decision whether to maintain resistance to east and orientation to west will be their estimate whether concrete US support for Austria by American people, Congress, and Govt will continue. They therefore received Gen Clark’s statements upon his departure with great acclaim as they considered them a commitment of the US Govt to continue concrete material support to Austria.

Gen Clark’s various public statements being despatched textually to State Dept.9 Excerpts from various public statements are as follows:

“… two years ago … I was able to inform you of my Govts firm intention to live up to its commitment in the Moscow Declaration to see a free and independent Austria reestablished. Since then I have on many occasions repeated this pledge and it was our adherence to our solemn international obligations which made it morally impossible for the US delegation in Moscow to accept Soviet proposals which violated this promise and quite obviously mortgaged the political sovereignty and the very economic life and independence of your country. The United States Govt will continue to give you its utmost support to obtain and to maintain freedom and independence as long as you continue your untiring efforts to achieve these high aims.”

“I can state categorically that this continues to be the desire of my Govt and that its policy will be ably and vigorously carried out by my successor.”

“I wish to make clear that in carrying out these projects I was merely implementing the wishes of my Govt in fulfillment of its pledges to restore to Austria that which is rightfully its heritage. [Page 1174] This will continue to be the policy of my Govt and will be carried out as gladly and with the same sense of personal satisfaction by my successors.”

“You have further referred to my efforts to aid your economy and there also I can only reiterate that I have gladly served as an instrument of my Govt in helping you back on your feet. But I am keenly aware of the inadequacy of any relief program which does not provide you with the means of re-establishing your own economy on a completely independent basis.”

“Now, as to US policy in Austria. There will be no change. The US Govt, I told you, has pledged itself to re-establish your country and will stick to that objective, and will help you in every way.”

“We will live up to our solemn pledges to restore your independence. The US desires to withdraw its troops but it will leave them as long as necessary to achieve these objectives. In our Secretary of State, Gen. Marshall, you have a real understanding friend who has a deep appreciation of Austria’s problems and an abiding interest in her welfare.”

The US is thus formally committed to continue its policy of reestablishing an Austrian State independent of foreign, particularly Soviet, domination, and Chancellor Figl on behalf of his Govt appears to have accepted Gen. Clark’s assurances at their face value. This is also true in the case of the Peoples and the Socialist Parties. Evidently the continuation of this policy implies not only political support, especially in connection with treaty negotiations, but also the provision of appropriate economic assistance until Austrian economy can again be self-supporting. The vital problem is the early and adequate provision of sufficient credits from the relief bill now before Congress10 to fill the remaining gap in Austria’s balance of payments for 1947. This gap, variously estimated at $85 million (Washington figure) to $135 million (Vienna). The most important and urgent problem is the early procurement and shipment of foodstuffs under the credit to be later established. These are prerequisite to implementing the policy outlined above.

Following are examples of recent and current articles in US press.

UP, 8 May—“Undersecretary of State Dean Acheson, has announced that because of the failure of the Moscow Conference the [Page 1175] US will push ahead alone in the reconstruction of Germany and Japan without waiting for Big Four agreement.”

No mention of Austria.

INS, 8 May—“A group of leading American industrialists returned here today with a warning that America must quickly provide Germany with food and raw materials or communism will sooner or later establish itself in Germany and the rest of Europe.”

Austria omitted.

UP, 8 May—“A high administration official said this week that the US general foreign relief plan was calculated to provide sufficient funds for Austria’s basic needs and that the curtailed sum of 200 million dollars would not do this.”

In the absence of some tangible evidence it is difficult to reconcile such statements with policy above enunciated.

I request confirmation of the policy just described and the earliest possible indication as to whether, credits and shipments of food will materialize in time and amount to permit a continuation of this policy. Political Advisor concurs.

  1. Vienna Legation Top Secret Files, Lot 54 F 57, “Army Cables—1947”. A copy of this message was sent via the Legation in Vienna and is filed under 863.00/5–1247.
  2. Despatch 3054, May 9, 1947, from Vienna, not printed.
  3. President Truman submitted to Congress on February 21, 1947, a recommendation for an appropriation of $350 million for a program of free relief assistance in the form of basic items such as food, medicine and agricultural items for Italy, Greece, Austria, Hungary, Poland, Trieste, and China. For the text of the President’s recommendation, see Department of State Bulletin, March 2, 1947, p. 395. The Joint Congressional Resolution for the program, H.J. Resolution 153, entitled “Joint Resolution Providing Relief Assistance to Peoples of Countries Devastated by War”, was enacted into law [Public Law 84] on May 31, 1947; for text, see 61 Stat. pt. i, 125.