CFM Files: Lot M–88: Box 75: Austria 1947

The United States High Commissioner for Austria (Keyes) to the European Command, United States Army

top secret

P–8045. From ComGenUSFA Vienna Austria sgd Keyes to EuCom Info JCS; CinCEur.

This answers your SX–3754 dated 6 November.47 Reference is made also to your SX–3741 dated 6 November.47 Presence of occupation forces in Austria is without question a drain on resources of a liberated country. From an economic viewpoint early and complete [Page 1201]withdrawal of all occupation forces highly desirable. However, psychological, political, and military considerations demand occupation be continued until such time as treaty satisfactory to national interests of Austria and western powers is completed. Cannot agree that what is done in Germany is determining factor.
It is believed that psychological effect on Austrian people of complete withdrawal of occupation forces prior to satisfactory treaty settlement without safeguards against Soviet domination would be damaging to our national interests in Europe. Unqualified United States agreement to early complete withdrawal would be interpreted in Austria by majority which now leans toward western powers as a weakening of our expressed determination to establish Austria as a free, independent, and democratic state.
Politically a withdrawal might well result in early fall of existing Austrian Government which to date with support of western powers has resisted internal as well as external Communistic pressure. Internationally a Soviet offer of complete withdrawal with United States demanding reservations would put onus of continued occupation on us.
The strategic importance of Austria cannot be overemphasized. Abandonment of country to possible Communistic infiltration or penetration would expose south flank of Germany as well as east flank of Switzerland to similar veiled aggression. It is doubtful that Communists would respect for long traditional neutrality and democratic government of Swiss if allowed to extend to their borders. From military viewpoint, if occupied Germany is considered bridgehead in Europe pending peaceful settlement of oar current political conflict with USSR, it appears unwise to withdraw occupation forces from Austria until treaty is concluded which will give reasonable assurance that south flank of our occupation forces in Germany is not being exposed by creation of another potential Soviet satellite. In addition, by withdrawing from Austria and particularly from Vienna we would lose prematurely valuable facilities for gaining intelligence relative to USSR and Balkan States.
Occupation forces can be and should be reduced in Austria to extent four powers can agree. Ceilings recommended in our P–802147 include requirements for internal security and are considered minimum essential for each of the powers to continue current mission. If authority now vested in Allied Commission were returned to Austrian Government as powers reach agreement on various articles of the eventual treaty, occupation forces could be reduced progressively. Minimum essential for each occupying power pending final agreement [Page 1202]on treaty would become its residual element of the Allied Commission for Austria plus small complement of troops necessary for logistical support and, for United States, those necessary to administer relief program under Public Law 84.
If Soviet proposal to withdraw all occupation forces is considered a strong possibility, attention is invited to recommendations submitted in Section H, Strategic Survey of Austria (economic) prepared by this Headquarters which is being forwarded to JCS and information your Headquarters. Such a proposal submitted by United States without delay after opening of treaty negotiations would place Soviets on defensive and avoid undesirable situation wherein United States became advocate of continued occupation. In such event Soviets would be forced to agree if the anticipated Soviet proposal were honest. If anticipated Soviet proposal were not honest onus of continued occupation in force would be on them.
Attention is invited further to conclusion drawn by this Headquarters and expressed in cable P–7869, 2 Oct47 to Dir of Intelligence, United States Army that present Soviet influence on Austrian economy is such that Austria would succumb to Soviet domination within six months after withdrawal United States occupation forces unless treaty effectively relieved present Soviet control.
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