740.0011 EW (Peace)/8–2749

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Acting Director of the Office of German and Austrian Affairs (Murphy)

Participants: Sir Derick Hoyer Millar, British Embassy
Ambassador Robert Murphy, GA

Sir Derick Hoyer Millar of the British Embassy called at his request and left with me the enclosed extract from a telegram from Mr. Bevin, dated August 26, regarding the Austrian Treaty. We discussed Mr. Bevin’s conversation with Ambassador Douglas, reported in London’s [Page 1125] 3410 of 26 August.1 Hoyer Millar said that he would make it quite clear that there was every disposition here to achieve an early agreement on the Austrian Treaty, if possible, in London. He well appreciated the danger attached to that agreement which would risk formidable opposition to ratification in the Senate, as well as creating an economic and possibly strategic situation in Austria which would prove unbearable. Hoyer Millar said that he would try to dissipate any notion that might prevail in London that the Secretary was eager for a CFM meeting to discuss the Treaty.

I suggested to my visitor that it might be well at this stage to propose a prolongation of the London discussions by Deputies for an additional period of possibly two weeks. He said that he thought such a proposal would be well received in London and that it might be well to allow an additional period of time. He would telegraph London making such a suggestion. I have sent a telegram to Reber asking for his opinion.2

It is noted that in Mr. Bevin’s message suggestion is made that it was quite possible that if the Russians are satisfied we are really trying to get a treaty they may make some further concessions. It seems on the basis of the record, the Russians can have little doubt that we have manifested an excessive eagerness to obtain a treaty. Certainly on the basis of the record, the Russians can have little doubt that we really wish a treaty since the bulk of the initiative to get a treaty has been American.

I mentioned also to Hoyer Millar if the Deputies were given additional time for the London discussions that would not prevent steps to be taken in Moscow by the three Ambassadors, if necessary, in connection with Article 35 should it be found advisable to press for an on-the-spot examination of the oil exploration fields, refinery equipment, etc. Hoyer Millar said that he thought this was a good idea which he would mention to London and on balance felt that an additional four week period for the Deputies would be generally advisable.


Extract From Telegram From Mr. Bevin Dated 26th August

The United States Deputy has told the United Kingdom Deputy that after considering my views, which were explained to him on the [Page 1126] 19th. August, the State Department feel unable to modify their attitude that an Austrian Treaty on the Russian terms or anything closely approaching them would be unacceptable. They consider, I understand, that the substance of the agreement and its long-term effect are more important than the immediate effect which would be caused by the early conclusion of a treaty. They attach great importance to the effect which acceptance of the Russian terms would have on Austria’s need for aid from the United States, and to the difficulties which would lie in the way of ratification of a treaty on the Russian terms. They also fear that a treaty incorporating Russian requirements would enable the Soviet Government to exercise effective control over Austria even after the troops had been withdrawn.

2. I appreciate the attitude of the State Department as explained by Mr. Reber. I have, however, been giving the matter my personal consideration and would like you to convey my views to Mr. Acheson.

3. After conversation with Dr. Gruber I cannot convince myself that the effect of acceptance of Russian terms will so seriously affect the Austrian economic position as absolutely to rule out a treaty. Dr. Gruber has officially informed me that his Government want a treaty now on the best terms that can be got. I fully recognise the imperfections in the Russian draft of Article 35, but my feeling is that the general political advantages of the early conclusion of a treaty outweigh any objections that may be made to the text of the treaty. It is not in my view the terms of the treaty which matter so much as the physical ability of the Russians to put pressure on Austria. If the conditions are such that Russia can put pressure on Austria, no treaty, however well phrased, will protect her: conversely once the Russian forces are out of Austria she will be in an infinitely better position to protect her own interests. It is surely worth paying the price and even taking some risk in order to push the Russians eastward out of Austria. If we do not get agreement on the treaty now while the Soviet Union is embarrassed with Tito we might find conditions much less favourable in some weeks’ time. The effect of the conclusion of a treaty which was the first step towards the Russian evacuation of Austria could not fail, in my opinion, to have a heartening effect in Yugoslavia. I strongly feel that this is a psychological moment for the conclusion of the treaty which we cannot afford to miss.

4. There is a further argument which weighs with me and that is that if we do not reach agreement now we may have to postpone the conclusion of the Austrian Treaty indefinitely and refer the treaty to Ministers. The Russians may very well make a meeting on Austria conditional on discussion of German questions, and I wish to avoid this if I possibly can. A further postponement of the conclusion of an [Page 1127] Austrian treaty cannot fail to have a depressing effect in Austria in particular and in the European field in general.

5. I recognise the possibility that even if we were to accept most if not all of the Russian terms there is no guarantee that the Russians will not hold up the treaty, but I think it could and should be made the condition of our acceptance of Article 35 that the Russians should meet us on the other outstanding Articles.

6. I would therefore ask Mr. Acheson to weigh these considerations and let me know whether, in the light of them, he does not feel that we ought to try to get agreement on Article 35 on the best terms we can. We should try to get concessions from the Russians on oil exploration but should be ready to give up the refineries and pipelines, accept the best wording we can get for the text of Article 35 and if necessary leave the question of transportation equipment for settlement between the Soviet Union and Austria. It is quite possible that if the Russians are satisfied that we are really trying to get a treaty they may make some further concessions. In this connexion it is noteworthy that the Soviet Ambassador asked the Minister of State to lunch yesterday and spent most of the time complaining that we did not appear to want a treaty. The Minister of State got the impression that the Soviet Government were genuinely anxious to reach agreement now but that the Ambassador was afraid to go beyond the Soviet interpretation of the Paris directives to the Deputies.

7. I spoke to the United States Ambassador on these general lines this morning, but I should be grateful if you would also convey a personal message from me to Mr. Acheson in the above sense. As the Deputies have to terminate their discussion by the 1st September there is very little time.

  1. Not printed; in the conversation Bevin had reiterated his feeling that the treaty should be concluded as soon as possible, while Douglas had stressed that too generous concessions to the Soviet Union and the additional burden which would fall on the United States would make Senate ratification of the treaty unlikely. (711.41/8–2649)
  2. Under reference here is telegram 3088 (Audel 164), August 27, to London, not printed (740.00119 Council/8–2749).