No. 481

863.501/3–2351: Telegram

The United States High Commissioner for Austria ( Donnelly) to the Secretary of State


2113. I had a long conversation yesterday with Helmer about the police situation and received assurances from him that the govt wld take immed steps to begin removing Commie activists from police force. He promised to transfer Communist chief of criminal section of police station near Leg Building. He said initial step in general shake up of affected sections of police wld be the discharge of 400 members of Vienna administrative police, 60 per cent of whom are Communists. He indicated govt wld proceed with other plans for minimizing Communist influence in police, said they wld have to go slowly because of Sov opposition and absence of legislation enabling govt to discharge police officers on grounds pro-Communist sentiments. As regards Graz, which is second to Vienna in Communist infiltration Helmer said he has sent a police officer in whom he has the highest confidence with instructions to eliminate those responsible for Communist success there.

Helmer told me Sov Army officers had requested appointment with him on Mar 23 and I arranged with him for one of our officers to see Helmer following the meeting. Eight Sov officers, headed by General Boreyko, Sov rep on VIAC, called on Helmer this morning. According to Helmer’s account of the meeting the Sovs demanded in a dictatorial manner that the three persons arrested for distribution of anti-Sov leaflets and who are now held in the Amer sector be tried in first district and that reports of investigation be made available to all four elements. Helmer replied that Americans insisted on keeping them under their jurisdiction and pointed out to Sovs that Americans in this respect were taking same action [Page 1028] as Sovs had in similar cases. We shall take steps to remove them from Vienna as soon as feasible and meantime they will he held in custody in American sector. This decision was reached today at meeting with General Fitts and others.

The second point raised by Sovs according to Helmer was the demand for the immed evacuation of the gendarmérie school at Moedling in the Sov Zone located in the vicinity of Sov Army barracks. An ordinary school in the same vicinity was also ordered to be evacuated. The Sovs authorized transfer of the gendarmérie school from Moedling to Horn in the northern lower Aust. Min Helmer did not know what was behind this Sov demand but seemed considerably disturbed by it. He indicated that he wld comply with their orders.

Helmer remarked to me yesterday that he is disturbed about the possibility of Sovs organizing an East Aust police force. I asked him if he had any evidence of this and he said that there were several minor indications. The Sovs, for instance, had demanded that the motor pool for police in the Sov sector be kept there rather than in the central pool. Further indication was insistence of Sovs on removal of loyal police officers in their sectors and replacements by Commie sympathizers. Lastly, Helmer thought Sovs might try to remove police in their sectors who voted coalition ticket.

It is to be expected that Sovs will offer strong resistance to any measure taken by the Aust Govt to reduce the number of Commies on police force and this may shortly result in a tightening of the general situation here.