Vienna Legation Files

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

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W–98794. From War Joint Chiefs of Staff to Keyes, pass to Erhardt. The following, received from the State Department, is in reply to your P–7189:13

[Page 1177]

General Clark’s statements cited in your P–7189 May 12 indicate desirability close cooperation between U.S. Military authorities and political advisor or State Department in public statements which may be construed as policy declarations or commitments of this government. Clark’s speech was not cleared with State Department. Department is seriously concerned about critical situation in Austria after inability to conclude treaty at Moscow Conference and slowness in making available further economic assistance to Austria under present United States plans. We appreciate, as reflected in your P–7189 and legtel 368 May 7,14 impact of these developments on public temper in Austria and growing anxiety among Austrian political leaders as to wisdom of their previous policy. We are convinced that under these circumstances utmost care should be taken to match our public declarations with concrete performances [lest] disappointed expectations ultimately diminish our influence in this area of central Europe. In general no misunderstanding has been conveyed with regard to the long-range objectives and continuity of our policy, but the scope and force of this policy depend upon the means available for its implementation.

This government continues to regard Austria as of the greatest political and strategic interest. We cannot afford to let this key area fall under exclusive influence of Soviet Union, for if this should happen it would not only consolidate Soviet domination of Danubian and Balkan areas but would also weaken our position in Italy, Germany, and Czechoslovakia. This government will therefore continue to support in every feasible way, any government in Austria that preserves an independent or neutral orientation.

There is accordingly no intention to withdraw our interest in Austria and let that country shift for itself. We shall also endeavor by every means to facilitate Austria’s participation in international affairs as sovereign State, which will be greatly furthered by early conclusion of treaty and withdrawal of troops.

It is unquestioned that realization these aims depends especially upon provision of economic assistance required to maintain Austrian ration and to permit reconstruction of Austrian economy. It is neither desirable nor feasible for entire amount of the substantial assistance required to be furnished by this country exclusively. Hence our efforts have been directed toward eliciting some contribution from other occupying powers to add to substantial contributions we have made, and will continue to make, to secure reestablishment of an independent Austria.

The 3 major items of concrete assistance which U.S. might supply are Congressional relief grant, Export-Import Bank loan, and Army [Page 1178]surplus stocks. Without reference to question of surplus stocks, discussed in paragraphs 6 to 9 of your P–7149 May 415 which involves technical considerations that may more appropriately be discussed separately, following information may be furnished regarding relief grant and Export-Import loan:

The bill authorizing 350,000,000 dollars for relief has now passed both Houses of Congress and is awaiting President’s signature. Bill provides that 75,000,000 of the total will be made immediately available from RFC funds pending passage of appropriation legislation. Provisional allocation for Austria is approximately 85,000,000 for balance of calendar year 1947 and 30,000,000 for first 6 months of calendar year 1948. As you have been informed these figures are for present planning purposes on assumption that full 350,000,000 will be appropriated, and should not be made public, since whole program for the several countries is subject to adjustments in light of developments. In all planning for Austria due allowance, however, will continue to be made for our special responsibilities there as occupying power, and if present funds should not suffice to meet essential Austrian relief needs, it is intended at the next session of Congress to make further requests for funds and supplies to avoid disease and unrest conditions endangering your position.

Regarding Export-Import Bank loan, it has not yet been possible to satisfy requirements of Bank, which has an independent responsibility in matter. It is hoped after visit of officials of Bank to Germany, Austria, and Italy within the near future, it will be possible to arrive at favorable conclusion of negotiations, which will in meanwhile continue to receive State Department’s support.

It is regretted any misapprehension may have arisen over “termination of military responsibility” discussed in paragraphs 2 to 5 of your P–7149. The undertakings of War Department with regard to civilian supplies for 6-month period ending June 30 have been most efficiently discharged. It was agreed financial responsibility for purchases of civilian supplies after that date would be transferred to State Department to be exercised through relief funds received from Congress. State Department thus assumes a responsibility, which will be discharged in field by its representatives subject to your authority as High Commissioner, as you will have been informed by separate cable. As long as Austria is under military occupation High Commissioner and Commanding General of United States Forces will retain all the general authority and responsibility required by situation to discharge his duties and implement this government’s policies in Austria. Included in this authority is that of deciding, as the representative of [Page 1179]this government, when to release or withhold release of any relief supplies sent to Austria. This authority is considered desirable in order to support High Commissioner’s bargaining position in efforts to elicit comparable contributions from other occupying powers. In addition, for immediate future, until other agencies are provided that can logistically take over procurement and transportation of supplies, this government will continue to utilize Army facilities for these purposes.

This is intended to answer major questions raised by your 7149 and 7189. Special efforts are being made by War and State Departments to expedite shipments of food in immediate future. Within means at our disposal, we are making every possible attempt to secure credits and shipments of food for Austria in time and amount substantially to continue existing program of this government.

  1. Ante, p. 1172.
  2. Ante, p. 1171.
  3. Not printed.