No. 483

863.501/3–2251: Airgram

The Secretary of State to the Legation in Austria 1


A–492. The Dept has considered your despatch No. 953 of March 162 and your recent telegrams including Legtel 2090 of March 22,3 and agrees that reorganization of the Federal police in Vienna is a [Page 1030] problem of urgent importance. In light of delicate Soviet relationships involved, however, Dept inquires whether assignment to USCOA of police officers from U.S. is the most feasible solution. Your reports indicate that the problem centers on factors such as Soviet recalcitrance, the weakness of the coalition, civil service regulations, intrusion of trade union politics and unattractiveness of a career in the police rather than on technical equipment and methods where American experience would apply. An overly conscientious officer might easily provoke undesirable Soviet reaction and irk Austrians. Also there would be delay in assigning such an officer.

Dept suggests that German and Italian experiences may provide information of considerable value. Italy was faced with a somewhat similar problem and, according to reports from the Embassy at Rome, has been quite successful in eliminating Communist influence in the police. You may wish to consider sending an informal request to the Embassy at Rome requesting comprehensive information concerning the Italian program. It is further suggested that an approach to HICOG with a view to obtaining the benefit of their experience may be of value. It is understood that Mr. Theodore Hall, Deputy Director of Administration, and Mr. James McCraw, Chief of the Public Safety Division, both of HICOG, are thoroughly familiar with the German phases of the problem, and it is possible that arrangements could be made with HICOG for the temporary detail to Vienna of one of the persons named.

Dept has informally requested FBI to comment on immediate availability of appropriate officer. Dept would appreciate receiving, in meantime, your comments as to advisability assigning FBI agent to accomplish work you have in mind. More precise information concerning the nature of work you anticipate the officer will perform would be helpful in this connection. Detailed information concerning British activities in this respect as well as recent figures on numbers, rank and assignment of Communist police officers known to Helmer and Krechler are requested. Brotman might report on civil service and trade union factors impeding police reorganization.

The Dept agrees on the advisability of maintaining pressure on Figl and Helmer re action against four police chiefs and eight Criminal Police officers. The Legation is requested to explore further ways and means of enhancing police morale, including possible need for additional funds in police budget.

Please keep Dept currently informed of developments including actions taken by the Austrian Government to remove Communist influence and personnel from the security forces.

  1. Drafted by Peter Rutter of the Office of Western European Affairs and cleared with Williamson and with SY and GPA. Repeated to Rome.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Telegram 2090 contained a recommendation by Donnelly that two skilled police officials from some German-speaking city in the United States be temporarily assigned to his staff to provide advice regarding the reorganization of the Austrian police. (863.501/3–2251)