800.48 FRP/7–1747: Telegram

The Minister in Austria (Erhardt) to the Secretary of State

secret

624. So far as indicated by Kourasov’s statements27 and by recent events in Austria, possible Soviet objective in protesting against US-Austrian [Page 1186]relief agreement (your 512, July 16)28 could be either (1) to counteract extremely favorable reaction gained by US from agreement and to cast doubt on US motives; (2) [to] show US and Austria that Soviets possess power to block US relief program in Austria or at least in Soviet Zone, as means of exerting pressure for other purposes and perhaps as means of minimizing US observation and reporting in Soviet zone; or (3) to provide advance legal or propagandistic justification for future steps to exclude Soviet zone from US relief program entirely and thereby to bring about effective partition of Austria.

There is serious danger possibility (3) will materialize, but this is suggested by Soviet reaction to Marshall Plan, especially coercion of Czechoslovakia and other Eastern states, rather than by events in Austria.

Partition of Austria, with the more important eastern part including Vienna passing over to Soviet sphere, would be major defeat for US aims in central Europe at this time. Consequently, feel every effort should be made to prevent or at least postpone such a result, and to limit Soviet accomplishments to possibilities (1) and (2) mentioned above.

All reports agree reaction of Austrian public opinion to Kourasov’s statements has been almost unanimously hostile to Soviets and friendly to US. Even Austrian Communists are reported surprised and dismayed by Kourasov’s attitude. Hence, belligerent counter propaganda not required. In hope of avoiding partition of Austria and of achieving purposes of relief act, recommend keeping US supervision and observation in Soviet zone to minimum compatible with terms of act. Specifically recommend consideration be given to eventual arrangement whereby US observation teams and reporters would be accompanied in Soviet zone by Soviet liaison officers.

Sent Department 624; repeated Rome for Allen as 20; Moscow 61, Paris 100, London 55, Berlin as 48.

Erhardt
  1. At the meeting of the Allied Council for Austria on July 10, 1947, General Kurasov stated that “the agreement signed on the 25th June of this year between the United States of America and Austria aims at a clear, unilateral infringement of the international agreement regarding Allied control in Austria and attempts to create for the U.S. Element alone a regime of exclusive control and interference in the economic affairs of Austria.” General Kurasov also alleged that the United States-Austrian relief agreement was a clear violation of the June 1946 Control Agreement for Austria. The complete text of Kurasov’s statement, which was given intensive coverage in the Vienna press, was transmitted to Washington in telegram P–7508, July 11, 1947, from General Keyes to the War Department and in despatch 3270, July 14, 1947, from Vienna, neither printed (800.48 FRP/7–1447).
  2. Not printed; it asked for an appraisal of the likely consequences to the U.S.-Austrian relief agreement of the Soviet position set forth by Kurasov (800.48 FRP/7–1647).