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740.00119 Control (Austria)/7–2048: Telegram

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

confidential

923. Mention of Vienna in Soviet note on Berlin1 may be veiled threat to commence similar restrictive measures against western Allies in Vienna. Your 618 July 14.2 However, in Austria Soviets confronted with two separate and distinct problems: 1) partitioning country and assuming full administrative control of their zone, and 2) driving western Allies from Vienna. Second objective could only be accomplished after achievement of first, but first need not necessarily involve second. Soviets in order to increase pressure on western powers could thus for instance undertake only gradual measures of partition of Austria.

If Soviets actually commence blockade of western Allies in Vienna, we believe such measures can only be effective if Soviets simultaneously deprive Austrian Government of means to import supplies for Vienna and Soviet Zone. It difficult to see therefore how Soviets in event of blockade could avoid also assuming eventual administrative control in their zone, either directly or through puppet regime. Complete partition of Austria would thus also involve graver breach of international agreements, notably of control agreement which considerably postdates Potsdam.

We incline toward belief that in view obvious primary Soviet interest in German problem, Soviets may hesitate to partition Austria outright at this time, since by doing so they would in effect be resorting to overt action of very kind for which they blame western Allies in Germany. Moreover if Soviets are attempting to force new conversations on overall settlement of German problem, blockade of Vienna at this time could hardly advance them toward such objective while obviously also making Austrian agreement virtually impossible. For this reason we also believe blockade of Vienna would constitute final proof Soviets do not desire German unity but are concerned only with [Page 1429]partition of Europe and full integration eastern half into Soviet bloc.

While fully aware possibility blockade of Vienna exists, we consider significant the almost total absence of local indications so far that Soviets intend resort to such measures. Soviet and Communist newspapers here are not drawing parallels between Berlin and Vienna. With exception of one newspaper article alleging that ERP attempts to link Austria to western Germany (Legtel 885, July 103) there has been no propaganda recently which could be interpreted as preparing partition. Moreover the most recent occasion that might have afforded pretext for partition, signing of ERP agreement July 2 has passed without Soviets loosing expected full fury of their propaganda against it. (Although agreement was not discussed in AC July 16 it still likely Soviets will raise issue next session.)

Soviet strategy here, however, apparently not yet fixed. High Commissioner General Kurasov and Acting Political Adviser Koptelov were absent from AC meeting July 16 and reportedly are in Moscow. Definite indication of Soviet policy may only appear after Kiselev returns to Vienna. Meanwhile fact that Austrian treaty negotiations are still pending may also be major factors in Soviet deliberations about Austrian policy. Consequently question might profitably be considered whether feelers can be stretched out to determine possibility of reconvening deputies in London. In our opinion such opportunity might be afforded either at forthcoming Danube conference or through Austrian proposals similar to those recently submitted for Department’s consideration, although direct approach with face-saving formula on Yugoslav demands might be preferable.

Erhardt
  1. See footnote 1, p. 960.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed.