740.00119 Control (Austria)/11–1647: Telegram

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

confidential

P–8071. From ComGenUSFA Vienna, sgd Keyes, cite pasgs to JCS, pass to State. Subject is Allied Council meeting of 14th November.

The Federal Chancellor addressed a letter to the Allied Council on 14 October in which he pointed out the desirability of increasing Austrian food rations at an early date, preferably before the winter set in. The general undernourishment of the population was described, with its consequent reduction in human efficiency which, in turn, exerted an adverse influence on the general reconstruction of Austria. The Chancellor also stated his belief that a liveable ration scale would permit the people and the government work successfully to combat the black market, since the people would not be required to supplement their rations from that source to such an extent. This would have the effect of diverting additional quantities of food to the legitimate market. In conclusion the Chancellor asked that the ration scale be based on 1800 calories daily for the normal consumer and that the [Page 1203]Allied Council procure the food supplies required to make possible the increase effective 10 November.

The reply of the Executive Committee was drawn up at the 5 November meeting. The Allied Powers acknowledged the desirability of a ration increase but felt it necessary to point out the danger of increasing the national food requirements at a time when the world food situation was critical. Furthermore, the Executive Committee letter drew the Chancellor’s attention to the undesirable situation which would result if the ration scales were raised at this time, but subsequent food shortages necessitated a later cut in the rations. Finally, the Executive Committee asked the Austrian Government to draw up and submit a food balance until the next harvest basing their requirements on a proposed 1800 scale and stating all sources of supply including the fullest utilization of indigenous resources.

At the Allied Council meeting today the United States High Commissioner made the following statement:

“For some time I have been gravely concerned with the inadequacy of the Austrian food ration, in view of the approaching cold weather. My food experts have been working in close association with the component [competent?] Austrian officials in exploring every possible means of increasing the basic food ration. I am satisfied that every effort will be made by Austrian authorities to achieve the agreed estimated goals in indigenous production despite the adverse conditions created by the drought and unfavorable weather of the past summer. I am also convinced that an increase in the basic ration at this time will diminish the diversion of food into illegal channels and facilitate the collection of the indigenous harvest. In consideration of the Austrians’ efforts to help themselves the United States element feels that every effort should be made by the Allies to come to their assistance. It is my firm conviction that the present basic ration is inadequate to embark upon a winter in which clothing and fuel for domestic heating will be in short supply.

“I have carefully examined the resources which my government can place at the disposal of the Austrians to alleviate this situation, but find that the world commitments of the United States are so strained that it is difficult to find additional supplies for Austria. Nevertheless I will support to the full limit of the availabilities placed at my disposal by the United States Government any efforts on the part of Austrian Government to raise the basic ration. In view of the fact that the United States is now supplying approximately 60 percent of the Austrian basic ration, I would ask my colleagues on the Allied Council for a statement as to whether they are in a position to contribute toward raising the basic ration. I believe it is essential to the accomplishment of our joint basic mission of creating a democratic and economically sound Austria to take steps to increase the present inadequate ration.”

The Allied Council studied the Austrian Government’s food plan for the 34th ration period (10 November to 7 December). The United [Page 1204]States element agreed to cover the deficits shown in a 1600 calorie plan, after certain adjustments in the needs of self-suppliers had been made. In addition, the United States representative was prepared to partially cover the deficit in pulses by the use of food products of different calorific value. The Executive Committee had previously reached agreement that consideration should be given only to a 1,600 caloric plan. Likewise, all elements were in agreement with the government’s proposal to use additional sugar stocks in order that the basic ration scale should be raised from 1550 to 1600 calories. Other substitutions for pulses and whole milk were accepted. It was the unanimous opinion of the Executive Committee that the studies of the food authorities in the Allied Commission could be facilitated if the quantities of food imports were known.

Disagreement arose, however, when the United States, British and French elements proposed to calculate indigenous bread grain availabilities as one thirteenth of the total 240,000 tons estimated by the Allied Council as obtainable from the 1947 harvest in Austria. Disregarding the official Allied Council figure of 240,000 tons, the Soviet representative insisted on taking the same proportionate fraction of a total 190,000 tons, the amount claimed by the Austrian food and agriculture authorities to be available from this year’s harvest. The Soviet element also insisted that the supply of meat from any zone be proportionate to the amount consumed in that zone. But, it was insisted that any quantity in excess of 37 percent of the total of 10,364 tons of meat collected in the Soviet zone should be stored for later consumption only in the Soviet zone of Vienna and the Soviet zone of Austria. The United States High Commissioner rejected any such plan which calculated Austrian food supplies on a zonal basis. He pointed out that the Allied Council food agreement of 13 December 1946 specified both indigenous food and that imported by any of the four occupying powers for civilian use would be pooled and placed at the disposal of the Austrian Government for distribution throughout Austria in accordance with the monthly food plan. The same agreement states that food reserves may be freely transferred in accordance with the monthly food plan.

It was decided to defer consideration of the question of grain yield until an inquiry to the Federal Chancellor had been answered. No agreement was reached on the question of meat collection.

During consideration of the November solid fuel plan, the Soviet High Commissioner raised charges that the Austrian Government was discriminating against the Soviet zone of Austria in the allocation of coal. He demanded that Allied Council instruct the Austrian Government to increase the distribution of coal to the Soviet zone by 6,000 [Page 1205]tons during November. Figures were presented which allegedly indicated that the United States zone was receiving two and one half times the amount of coal that it received as compared with ten years ago; whereas, the Soviet zone was getting but 46 percent of the 1937 figure. These statistics were viewed as meaningless by the other elements, since the intervening 10 years had seen large industrial developments in western Austria such as the Linz steel plant and other industries which were entitled to a portion of coal availabilities. The United States element pointed out that a matter of coal allocations was strictly the responsibility of Austrian authorities, and furthermore, it was impossible to divorce the coal problem from that of liquid fuel. The United States, British and Austrian efforts to obtain vital coal supplies were compared to the illegal export by the Soviet element of large quantities of liquid fuel to destinations outside of Austria. No action was taken.

[The remaining portion of this message reported upon other questions taken up by the Allied Council for Austria and by the Executive Committee of the Allied Council.]