The Chargé in Austria (Rankin) to the Secretary of State
476. Thursday night Ernst Fischer told Figl he had definite word from Moscow USSR will never agree to treaty with present Austrian Government.21
This occurred at private meeting to which Figl invited by Kristovics-Binder, Peoples Party businessman, Chamber of Commerce official, and reputed blackmarketeer, criticized within Peoples Party as well as by Socialists for corruption and profiteering. Figl took Kraus, Minister of Agriculture, in order have witness.
Fischer and Binder indicated Gruber and Helmer are intolerable to Soviets. (At end of conference indicated Figl Schaerf Krauland also unacceptable.) For new government they did not propose complete slate, but suggested in addition to themselves Gleissner, liberal Peoples Party Governor Upper Austria, and Machold, Socialist Governor Styria. Binder said “Government of strong men” was needed. Fischer reportedly said no new elections should be held, new government continuing perhaps five years. Figl flatly rejected proposals.
Foregoing information furnished by Gruber. He will give story to AP today and Austrian press later, hoping elicit Soviet repudiation of Fischer-Binder proposals or else rally U.S. and Austrian support for firm resistance to Soviet demands. Partly motivated by personal ambition but determined resist Soviet interference here, he appears inclined capitalize on publicity value this story in conjunction Hungarian news.22
Fischer has been making overtures regarding changes in Government for several weeks and trying make contact with Figl. Not clear [Page 1183]whether he is acting on firm instructions from Moscow or free lancing in order rehabilitate himself within party.
Sent Department 476, repeated Moscow 54.
Telegram 503, June 13, from Vienna, not printed, reported further on the Fischer-Figl meeting in part as follows:
“Appears Fischer did not inform Figl explicitly he had definite word from Moscow that “USSR will never sign treaty with present government.” Impossible ascertain exact words, but seems clear he plainly intimated threat of continued Soviet obduracy unless more satisfactory government composition and policies adopted, which quite consistent with Soviet and Communist line recent months.”
The same telegram reported that the flurry of excitement in Austria over the meeting had subsided following an airing of the incident in the Austrian Nationalrat on June 11 (863.00/6–1347). Despatch 3217, June 27, 1947, from Vienna, not printed, transmitted the formal statements made by Figl, Fischer, and their respective political parties together with the comments by the Legation regarding the incident and its political implications (863.00/6–2747).↩
- At the end of May 1947, Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Nagy, while visiting in Switzerland, was obliged to resign his position and go into exile rather than return to Hungary to face conspiracy charges originating with the Soviet occupation authorities and those Hungarian political factions willing to cooperate with the Soviets. For documentation regarding Nagy’s forced resignation and the establishment of a Hungarian Government more cooperative with Soviet authorities, see volume iv .↩