Memorandum by the Second Secretary of the Legation in Austria (Kimpel)
U.S. Action in Case of Failure of Treaty Negotiations
If the treaty negotiations are again broken off, Austria will be in the same position it has been in for four years. But it cannot be assumed that this position will continue. The Soviets have, and have had all along, the power of splitting Austria in two and taking over complete control of eastern Austria, except possibly for the western sectors of Vienna. The U.S. would be unable to prevent a repetition of the Berlin situation in Austria by any means short of war or at least threat of war. It would be unjustifiable to assume that because we have successfully resisted Soviet aggression in Austria up to now we could continue to do so. The Soviets have not yet adopted a concerted policy of splitting the country; they may do so at any time. Their methods might be to restrict or cut off shipments of goods from the Soviet zone; to order local officials in their zone to disobey the central government; to terrorize Austrian officials by arrests; to support a Communist putsch; and to cut off allied ground communication with the western zones.
The first, second and fifth of these possibilities depend completely on Soviet control of a separate zone in eastern Austria. The other two, which are the least dangerous and least sure, as well as the easiest to resist by effective measures of the Western powers, are greatly aided by Soviet control of their zone. If the Soviets did not have a separate zone in which they have complete control, or the possibility of complete control, the danger of a splitting of Austria would be slight. Therefore in order to prevent a situation which would be a serious blow to U.S. policy and prestige it is necessary to end the division of Austria into zones of occupation. If this could be accomplished no sacrifices on [Page 1270] our part which did not endanger the security of Austria as a whole would be too great.
The following suggestions of proposals to be made by the government of the U.S. to the governments of the other three occupying powers in case of a failure of the present treaty negotiations are made with the above remarks in mind. The suggested proposals would, even if not accepted in any part by the Soviets, materially serve U.S. propaganda purposes. They would be very popular with the Austrian population, since they involve a lessening of allied control and of the burden of occupation costs. They would demonstrate to the world the sincerity of our effort to restore Austria to full sovereignty and the falsity of the Communist claim that we are interested in maintaining our occupation troops in Austria. Thus we have nothing to lose and everything to gain if the proposals are rejected. If the chief proposal, to abolish zones of occupation, is accepted we have lessened if not removed the ever-present danger of a split in the country between East and West. If any part of the proposals are accepted, we will have aided Austria’s economy by lessening the heavy burden of occupation costs, and thus promoted the ends of the ERP, and will have furthered our policy of decreasing the controls exercised by the Soviets over the Austrian government.
The only argument likely to be urged against the suggestions is that they involve a decrease in our occupation forces and thus a danger to security in Austria. However our forces in Vienna are not and can never be a serious defense against direct Soviet action; the advantage of having troops in Vienna is not that such troops could resist Soviet force, but that as long as such troops are present—even in small numbers—Soviet force against Vienna is directed against the U.S., and involves a threat of war. It is not believed advisable to withdraw all Western troops as long as the Soviets are in control of the USIA industries and thus have extraterritoriality in Austria. But the number of troops needed is comparatively small, merely enough to assure that a direct attack on the U.S. would be necessary in order to take Vienna, not enough to successfully resist such an attack, which we cannot do in any case. As for our troops in our zone, the danger of a Communist putsch in the western provinces is minute; the need to maintain order there is slight and could be left to the Austrian police; as long as any troops at all are in Austria direct attack on western Austria means direct attack on the U.S.; the troops presently stationed in western Austria are entirely inadequate for resistance in case of war; our troops will remain in Bavaria, that is all along the frontier, and capable in case of war of moving quickly into the Tyrol and Salzburg to guard the passes to Italy, which is all of Austria we could hope to guard anyway.[Page 1271]
As to the timing of the proposals, it would be desirable to have the Secretary of State make them as soon as possible after the end of treaty negotiations, within a few weeks at most. If any chance of success appeared it would be desirable to negotiate and to compromise, trying to obtain a part even if the whole is impossible. Real concessions would be justifiable if the chief point, an abolition of the zones, were possible. If this is rejected the other proposals are not of sufficient importance to justify important concessions, but should still be attempted, since they would materially aid the Austrian population and a Soviet refusal to accept any of them, after we had demonstrated a willingness to compromise, would end any pretence that the Soviets are interested in Austrian welfare.
Suggested Proposals by the U.S. to the Governments of the Other Occupying Powers:
1. That the zones of occupation in Austria be abolished. This would mean that the allies maintain only quadripartite control over the central government, and no special unilateral control in any part of the country. The U.S. would have the same rights in Burgenland as in Upper Austria, the Soviets the same rights in Salzburg as in Lower Austria. There would be no restrictions of any kind on travel and shipment of goods from one part of Austria to another. There would be no military government, even advisory, at provincial pr local levels. This is the most important proposal suggested, and would decrease the danger of direct Soviet action to a minimum. A compromise which would still be very desirable would be the setting up of quadripartite control or observation bodies in the various provinces, even, if necessary, in the bezirks. This would eliminate any Soviet claim that Austria is not ready yet for complete removal of local supervision, but should not be suggested by us until the Soviets have rejected the original proposal.
2. Limitation of occupation forces to a definite number. It would follow from the first proposal that troop concentrations in the provinces are no longer possible. Our proposal should originally be to withdraw all troops except a specified number (say 1,000 for each power) to be stationed in Vienna. Vienna is the danger spot, and the only place where U.S. troops serve a useful purpose. The troops left in Austria could be called Allied Commission and supporting units. Compromise on this point is possible. Provisions might be necessary for small units in the provinces to safeguard supply lines; size of such units should be specified. If point one is accepted it would be justifiable to concede to the Soviets the right to keep a limited number of guards at certain well-defined points to guard USIA installations. Complete implementation of this suggestion depends on Soviet acceptance of [Page 1272] point one, since without an abolition of the zones we could never be sure that the Soviets were carrying out their part of the bargain. However, even in case of rejection of point one a limitation of occupation troops and costs should be proposed again (we have already proposed this in the AC, but the Soviets have rejected it).
3. At the same time that all unilateral control is removed we should propose material reductions in quadripartite control. Such reduction can be insisted on even if points one and two are rejected. Our original proposal could be to abolish all of the directorates of the Allied Commission as well as their direct control over specific Austrian functions, and to limit the Allied Council’s role to general supervision of the Austrian government, quadripartite agreement being necessary for any instructions contrary to the wishes of the Austrian government. The Austrians would no longer have to submit all laws for AC consideration; detailed control of communications facilities would be abolished; we should even propose repeal of all restrictions imposed since 1945 on the activities permitted the Austrian government. It is unlikely we could obtain as much as this, but there are innumerable compromise positions, the least of which would be an instruction from the foreign ministers to the High Commissioners to restudy all restrictions imposed on Austria with a view to eliminating those no longer necessary. Even this last step would be desirable.
4. That all German assets in Austria be made subject to Austrian law. Soviet control of the USIA industries is a constant threat to Austrian independence and an interference with Austrian sovereignty. It is doubtful that the Soviets would agree to this proposal, but in any case it would be a popular suggestion in Austria and concessions on this point might provide a bargaining point in negotiating the other proposals. An alternative to this suggestion, which if possible of realization would be preferable, would be to implement the clauses of the draft treaty dealing with German assets even if the treaty itself is not approved. This depends of course on agreements being reached on the German assets clauses. If this could be done and the Soviet managed industries returned to Austrian control, the interests of the U.S. would be materially furthered, since next to the actual presence of Soviet troops in eastern Austria the USIA industries constitute the main potential hold of the Soviets over the Austrian government, a point for concentration of Communist guards and a threat to Austrian independence.
Conclusion: In case of a failure of treaty negotiations, the government of the U.S. should propose to the governments of the other occupying powers the abolition of zones of occupation in Austria, the limitation of occupying forces to a specified number of Allied Commission [Page 1273] personnel and supporting units to be stationed in Vienna, a radical decrease of the amount of quadripartite control exercised by the Allied Council over the Austrian government, and subjection of all German assets in Austria to Austrian law.