The Chargé in Austria (Dowling) to the Secretary of State
1001. Personal for Williamson—not for distribution outside Department. General Keyes raised fourth party issue privately with Joint Chiefs of Staff during Vienna visit and I understand they have [Page 1226]requested discussion with Secretary upon their return to Washington tomorrow and before Department takes final decision this matter.
At general USFA briefing of Joint Chiefs this morning, I endeavored present Department’s position as best I could without giving offense General Keyes and without flatly contradicting arguments which I assumed he had stressed in private session. Subsequently I talked privately with Gruenther, and I believe he at least appreciates our attitude.
Frankly, I am increasingly concerned about this issue. General Keyes has long since ceased to discuss it with any of his staff, except me, and of late I too have not been fully informed, although I apparently retain his confidence and our relations are most friendly. From his conversations and indirectly I know, however, that he has discussed privately with Figl possibility of unilateral action in US Zone against Kraus group on grounds of pro-Nazi activities. He is also considering possibility of restricting political activities of groups not yet approved by AC on basis of old AC decision that social-political societies, which must include among their aims maintenance of fight against Nazi ideology, must be reported to AC. This decision has never been enforced, although it remains on AC books.
While I am not informed as to General Keyes’ immediate plans, I am inclined to believe that he has not yet definitely decided upon any specific action. I am sure, however, that he has not wavered in his basic aim of maintaining AC 1945 decision in effect and of using it to prevent formation of any new political parties whatsoever. To this aim, I might now add that of preventing participation in elections of any 100-voter groups (Legtel 997, August 81).
General Keyes has been guided in this matter by his sincere conviction that if new, small parties are permitted they will somehow become Soviet tools and thereby undermine Austrian political stability. He also feels that if Western powers once propose recision AC 1945 decision and this proposal is then rejected by Soviets, former would forever after be disbarred from disapproving any political party which might apply for AC sanction, whereas Soviet representative would remain free to approve or disapprove at will. He is also sincerely concerned at possible revival Nazi activities.
I have thus far endeavored to work with General Keyes on this matter and to find some solution which, while meeting the Department’s views, would at the same time be acceptable to him. I also had some illusory hope that with passage of 1949 election law issue would be dropped until such time as AC restrictions could be quietly removed. [Page 1227]It is now evident, however, that Soviets intend to press every possible aspect of problem in attempt embarrass West powers and then to dramatize issue before Austrian people. To me, at least, it is increasingly clear that only way out of this dilemma is advocacy of complete political freedom for Austrians through repeal of AC 1945 decision. If Soviets reject this proposal, we shall then have freed ourselves from any charge of suppressing Austrian political freedoms, without in any way impairing our right to take whatever steps under 1945 decision we feel would contribute to Austrian stability. If, on other hand, Soviets should surprise us by agreeing to recision, then I for one am prepared for us to take our chances on blocking Soviet maneuvers and preventing resurgence of Nazi ideology through various means still left to us here.
- Not printed; in it Dowling reported that Keyes interpreted telegram 861, August 4 supra, to mean that 100-voter groups would have to have Allied Council approval in order to participate in the national elections. (863.00/8–849)↩