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740.00119 Control (Austria)/1–1748: Telegram

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

secret

61. In order that Department may have promptly comprehensive picture of steps taken by High Commission and Legation to adjust US policy in Austria to situation created by breakdown of CFM conference most important of these steps are listed below in spite of fact that majority are being reported separately:

1.
Presentation to AC December 16 of proposal for turning over to Austrian Government authority over wide series of functions in which its competence has hitherto been restricted.
2.
Insistence by High Commissioner in interview with Chancellor that Austrian Government consult US Government before acquiescing in Soviet unilateral action which affects sovereignty or general economic position of Austria.
3.
Commencement of implementation of economic plan foreshadowed in Legation’s despatch No. 3412 of September 181 and USFA’s strategic survey of October 1947.1
4.
Establishment of integrated USFA-Legation organization to lay groundwork for ERP in Austria and to insure that implementation of ERP here is correlated with other US objectives, such as that referred to under three above.
5.
Initiation, with assistance of Beattie and Oeschner, of intensified campaign for presentation of US views in press and other media of publicity in Austria.

Legation is convinced all these steps will further attainment of US objectives in Austria. As to their possible effect on Soviets, following considerations are submitted.

Basic decision of US to maintain troops in Austria until treaty is concluded and to oppose treaty terms dangerous to Austrian sovereignty has necessarily conditioned Soviet policy here and prevented absorption of Austria into Soviet sphere. On other hand Legation is [Page 1413]not of the opinion that less basic US attitudes in Austria have hitherto modified direction of Soviet policy here. We hope, however, that cumulative effect of steps listed above may be to convince Soviets that prolongation of present situation will bring them neither economic nor political profit. While it is conceivable that such conviction might induce Soviets to proceed to more drastic action such as partition, we are inclined to view it may persuade them that agreement on treaty would be more likely than present impasse to produce slackening of US interest in Austria which Soviets must desire.

Leading Austrian officials hope that Soviet attitude toward early conclusion of treaty will be made clear when Soviet proposal on German assets is presented to GEM deputies. Communist Party spokesmen are stressing Soviet interest in early treaty (Legtel 39 of January 132) and unverified rumors are circulating here that draft of reasonable and acceptable Soviet proposals has already been submitted to Austrian Communist Party. While it is conceivable that Soviets may already desire early Austrian settlement, Legation believes vigorous implementation steps listed above is best means of stimulating this desire.

Legation’s despatch No. 11 of January 83 sent by air pouch January 14 sets forth in detail Legation’s estimate of Soviet attitude toward partition of Austria (Deptel 24, January 142) and our conviction that US should continue to support Austrian unity. Recurrent Communist propaganda here accusing US of intending to partition can be interpreted either as (1) expression of genuine apprehension or (2) laying blame on US for action Soviets propose to take. Soviets are so clearly committed to “sovereign and independent Austria” to which they constantly refer in quadripartite discussions here, that they would presumably feel obliged to shift to US onus for any action which would destroy that sovereignty and independence. Our present judgment on basis of evidence available here, however, is that Soviets do not desire to partition Austria at this time and that their future policy in regard to this question will be determined more by their overall international relations than by developments in Austria itself.

Erhardt
  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Not printed; it indicated that local reports tended to refute possibility of partition, but Legation Vienna could not answer for the wider aspects of Soviet policy (740.00119 Control (Austria)/1–848).
  5. Not printed.