863.48/7–1947: Telegram

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

top secret

P–7547. From ComGenUSFA Vienna Austria sgd Keyes cite pasgs. To War for JCS pass to State. Tension between Russians and Austrian Government has been heightened as result of Russian protest over Austro-US relief agreement and Chancellor Figl’s courageous and forthright reply.29 There is also feeling that Soviets may want to “punish” Austria for accepting the invitation to Paris and thus identifying itself with western bloc. The Vienna Communist newspaper is sharply attacking Chancellor Figl for allegedly “provoking” the Soviet Union by his reply to Kourasov. The statement by a congressional representative in Washington that the United States may cancel all Austrian relief if the Russians deny US control and supervision in their zone, has also been eagerly taken up by the Soviet press as evidence that the United States is “more interested in control than relief”. It is our opinion that a firm line is indicated, confirming our intention of going through with our plan for relief and rehabilitation of Austria, and backing the Figl Government in the dispute over “control” in which all the facts are on our side. Actually, the Russians may yet agree to the supervision and inspection in their zone which was permitted UNRRA in its relief program, and we should not permit the Soviets to make an issue of the word control.

General Bethouart, the French High Commissioner, called on me July 17 to discuss this entire subject on its larger implications. He thought that Kourasov’s letter to Figl protesting the relief agreement was of threatening character. He seemed anxious to avoid prolonging the official controversy by inflammatory statements, and I had the impression he would be delighted if I made no answer whatever to Kourasov’s protest. He was assured, however, that a reply would be made and that while we do not intend to provoke trouble, we must back up Figl whose own reply had been outspoken and forthright. Bethouart appeared to think that we might make some modifications in the terms [Page 1188]of the agreement, but he was informed that we do not contemplate doing so.

We also discussed Vice Chancellor Schaerf’s prediction of disorders in August when the Soviets are in the charge of the Allied Council. We agreed that inasmuch as we will probably be unable to get quadripartite action against disturbances, the three western commissioners should take the necessary steps to insure order in their respective zones. Beyond that, Bethouart was informed that we are prepared also to take necessary measures in the international zone of Vienna in an emergency. We also agreed that under all circumstances we must resist any effort to make US withdraw from Vienna. The French High Commissioner felt that to keep the Allied Council alive, and to avoid having nothing but disagreements, it might be well to make some minor concessions to the Soviets. He was told that while we are prepared to make some concessions in very minor regards, it is our position that appeasement will not get us anywhere. Bethouart felt that continuous disagreement would lead to proposals to abolish the Allied Council, which would play right into the hands of the Russians. We agreed that we should be on the alert to oppose any tendency on the part of our own press or representatives from home, to suggest the withdrawal of our occupation forces, and that this would also apply to the Austrian press and officials.

  1. On July 10, 1947, General Kurasov addressed a letter to Chancellor Figl protesting against the terms of American-Austrian Relief Agreement of June 25. Figl’s reply to Kurasov, dated July 15, 1947, denied that the Relief Agreement infringed on Austrian independence or violated the Moscow Declaration on Austria or the Austrian Control Agreement of June 1946. The substance of General Kurasov’s letter and the text of the Chancellor’s reply were carried in the Vienna press. Translations of the texts of both letters were transmitted to the Department as enclosures to despatch 3276, July 18, 1947, from Vienna, not printed (863.48/7–1847).