No. 525

CFM files, lot M–88, box 157, RPTS series

Policy Review Paper Prepared in the Department of State2

top secret
RPTS D–3/le

Austrian Treaty

1. statement of the issue

Position to be taken by the United States on the Austrian Treaty in possible talks with the USSR.

2. background

The four Powers have been negotiating on a State Treaty for Austria since January, 1947. On November 1, 1943, the United States, Great Britain and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics issued the so-called “Moscow Declaration”, stating that they desired to see reestablished a “free and independent” Austria, in order to “reopen the way for the Austrian people … to find that political and economic security which is the only basis for lasting peace”.3 Since the end of the war the United States has tried to implement this declaration. Its implementation has been prevented by the Soviet Union, which in 1946 delayed the beginning of treaty negotiations, in 1947 and 1948 prevented agreement by excessive demands which would have threatened Austria’s independence, and since December, 1949, has avoided discussion of concrete issues by a series of stalling devices.

In June, 1949, the CFM reached agreement on the most difficult and important Treaty issues, disposal of German assets in eastern Austria and Yugoslav demands for reparations and for territory in Carinthia. The Soviets abandoned their support of the Yugoslav demands and agreed to recognize Austria’s pre-1938 boundaries. The [Page 1093] Western Powers agreed that in implementation of the Potsdam agreement, allowing the USSR partially to satisfy its reparations claims against Germany by removals of German assets in the Soviet zone of Austria, the Soviet Union would be allowed to keep a large percentage of the oil and Danube Shipping properties in eastern Austria and would surrender all other properties claimed by them as German assets in exchange for a lump sum payment of $150 million.

By December, 1949, the details implementing this decision had been worked out and the crucial Article 35, on German assets, was finally agreed. Only five comparatively minor articles remained unagreed: Articles 16, 27, 42, 48, and 48 bis. Analyses of these Articles are attached.4 The Soviets had promised that Articles 42 and 48 would cause no difficulty once Article 35 was agreed. They now, however, stated that Article 48 bis must also be settled before they could change their position on Articles 42 and 48. When the Western Powers offered to accept the Soviet version of 48 bis, the Soviets stated that they could not accept their own version pending conclusion of bilateral negotiations with the Austrians on the amount of postwar debts for relief supplies.

These alleged negotiations have made no progress since December 5, 1949, when the Austrians submitted a note which the Soviets have not yet found time to answer. During the early months of 1950 both the Western Powers and the Austrian Government tried to get the Soviet Government to state when conclusion of the bilateral “negotiations” could be expected. The Soviets refused to give any indication. The Treaty Deputies held five meetings in January, February and March at which the Western Powers demanded that all five unagreed Articles be considered as a whole, and the Soviets refused to discuss Article 48 bis and demanded that discussion begin with the other articles. The Western Powers considered it useless to discuss Articles 42 and 48, since the Soviets had promised to change their position on these articles once 48 bis was agreed, and did not desire to conclude Articles 16 and 27 separately, in the absence of an assurance that all outstanding issues could be settled, hoping to use these articles for bargaining purposes.

On April 26 the Soviets introduced a new complication, accusing the Western Powers and the Austrian Government of encouraging a revival of Nazism and remilitarization in the Western zones of Austria and demanding that the already agreed Article 9, “Dissolution of Nazi organizations”, be revised (a discussion of this Article [Page 1094] is attached). The Western Powers refused to reopen the Article or to discuss the revision thereof proposed by the Soviets.

On May 4 the Soviet Deputy introduced a third excuse for delay: he accused the Western Powers of violating the provisions of the Italian Peace Treaty relating to Trieste, indicating that as long as the United States and Great Britain keep their troops in Trieste there is no guarantee that they will withdraw from Austria, and therefore no use in signing an Austrian Treaty. The Soviet Deputy has repeated his accusation at every subsequent meeting, without however making any specific proposal, and offering each time to go on discussing the articles of the Austrian Treaty. At one time he refused to meet again until the Western Powers had answered a Soviet note of April 20 on Trieste. After the note was answered, he stated that the answer was unsatisfactory.

The last meeting of the Deputies (the 258th) was held on December 15. The Soviets renewed their accusations on Trieste and on the revival of Nazism. As at all previous meetings in 1950, progress was prevented by a procedural disagreement: the Soviets demanded that discussion begin with Article 9 and the Western Deputies refused to discuss individual articles in the absence of a Soviet indication that such discussion could lead to settlement of the Treaty as a whole. The Western Deputies have proposed that the next meeting be held in mid-March.

On May 18, 1950, the three Western Foreign Ministers agreed:

  • “(1) That if and when the Soviet government show themselves ready to complete the treaty, the western powers should settle the unagreed Articles as quickly as possible and on the best terms they can get.
  • “(2) That our present position on each of the unagreed Articles should be maintained until the Soviet government demonstrate their readiness to complete the treaty.
  • “(3) That in the treaty negotiations the western deputies should continue to place the blame for the delay on the Soviet deputy for his attitude on Article 48-bis, and for his introduction of other pretexts, and to emphasize their own readiness and desire to settle all outstanding issues.
  • “(4) That the continuity of the deputies’ negotiations should be maintained in order to keep alive Austrian hopes and to be in a position to take advantage of any possibility of a settlement. But so long as the present Soviet attitude persists frequent meetings can serve only to encourage hopes which are bound to be disappointed, to increase Austrian pressure on the western powers to make concessions to the Soviet Union, and to provide the latter with a propaganda forum. Meetings of the deputies should therefore not as a general rule be held more frequently than every six-eight weeks.”5

[Page 1095]

3. discussion

By stalling on Article 48 bis, reopening the agreed Article 9, and introducing the irrelevant Trieste issue the Soviets have clearly indicated that they are not prepared to conclude an Austrian Treaty at present. There thus appears no likelihood that the Treaty Deputies can make any further progress in the near future.

U.S. policy favors conclusion of an Austrian Treaty at the earliest possible time. Such a treaty would be meaningless unless it provided for withdrawal of all occupation forces from Austria; Soviet consent is therefore required. The French and British have so far been in complete agreement with our policy on the Austrian Treaty.

There appear to be three suggested courses of action at possible Four-Power talks:

To propose that the four Deputies be instructed to proceed immediately to consider all five of the unagreed articles, without reopening articles already agreed or introducing extraneous issues. The British and French, in the light of their past positions, can be expected to approve of this course. There is no indication that the Soviets would agree to it. If such instructions were issues and obeyed by the Deputies, speedy conclusion of an Austrian Treaty could be expected, since none of the five articles are important enough to justify rejecting the Treaty.
To attempt to settle the unagreed articles at the Four-Power talks. This course has the serious disadvantage of introducing complicated details into such general talks. Its advantage is that it would eliminate the possibility that the Soviets may agree to instruct the Deputies to conclude a treaty and then introduce further stalling devices to evade this instruction. It would require prior consultation with the French and British on possible compromise terms to be offered to the Soviets.
Such terms should include several steps, for bargaining purposes. Details would have to be worked out by experts accompanying the principles in the talks. Proposals should be kept as simple as possible. The following compromise proposals are suggested, to be made successively:
To adopt the Soviet version of Article 48 bis and the Western versions of Articles 16, 27, 42, and 48.
To adopt the Soviet versions of Articles 48 bis and 16, and the Western versions of Articles 27, 42, and 48.
To adopt the Western versions of Articles 27 and paragraph 9 of Article 42, and the Soviet versions of the rest of Article 42 and of Articles 48 bis, 16, and 48.
To accept the Soviet versions of all five Articles. This last proposal would be justified as a last resort if it would obtain immediate and final agreement to a Treaty.
This course can only be adopted if the scope of possible talks with the USSR foresee that experts on individual subjects can hold detailed negotiations during the course of the meetings.
To propose a simplified Four-Power declaration in lieu of a Treaty. Such a declaration should include the following points: (a) provision for withdrawal of all occupation forces within 90 days after ratification; ratification and the 90-day period are necessary in order to provide sufficient time to carry out tripartite plans for training and equipping an Austrian army (it might even be necessary for the U.S. to delay ratification somewhat to provide the necessary time), (b) Reestablishment of Austria’s independence within her frontiers as they existed on January 1, 1938, and agreement to respect this independence, (c) No reparations to be exacted from Austria, (d) The Four Powers to favor Austria’s admission to the UN. (e) Each of the occupying Powers to relinquish to Austria all German assets and war booty held or claimed by them in Austria. If the Soviets would not accept the last point (as they almost certainly would not) the agreed text of Article 35 of the draft Treaty could form part of the declaration.
It is not certain whether or not the French and British would agree to such a declaration; prior discussions would have to be held with them as they have not yet been approached on this item.

4. recommendation on the u.s. policy position

(1) To include settlement of the Austrian Treaty in any possible Four-Power talks.

(2) To reach tripartite agreement on a firm Western position prior to the Four-Power talks.

To propose that the Soviet version on all five remaining unagreed Articles of the Austrian Treaty be accepted at the outset of the negotiations in order to obtain immediate and final settlement of the Treaty.
To propose a progressive series of positions as outlined in course 2, page 5 of RPTS D–3/1, in the event that the British and French can not agree to the tactics proposed above.

(3) To propose to the Soviets in the Four-Power talks that the Western Powers are prepared to accept the Soviet versions of the five remaining articles in the interest of obtaining rapid settlement of the Treaty.

(4) No agreement will be reached which does not take into account the necessity that Austrian security forces will, prior to the withdrawal of Western occupation forces from Austria, be reasonably adequate to maintain internal security.

(5) To avoid any discussion with the British and French at this time of alternative proposals if the Treaty is not concluded, such as the proposal for a Four-Power Declaration or reference of the Austrian question to the General Assembly of the United Nations.

If the foregoing conclusions are accepted it is proposed that the Austrian question be listed on the agenda as follows: [Page 1097]

“Continuation of the discussions of the Council of Foreign Ministers to obtain rapid conclusions of the Treaty for the establishment of an independent and democratic Austria.”

  1. This paper is one of a series of background studies entitled “Policy Review for Possible Talks with the Soviets” (RPTS) which were prepared by a Steering Group within the Department of State in late 1950 and early 1951. Series RPTS D–3 dealt with various aspects of the Austrian treaty question; all recommended changes were incorporated in the final version numbered D–3/le and dated January 23. Copies of the entire RPTS series are in CFM files, lot M–88, box 157.
  2. The Moscow Declaration of November 1, 1943, is printed in Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. i, pp. 749770; in which the Declaration on Austria is included as annex 6.
  3. Not printed. The unagreed articles are printed in Foreign Relations, 1949, vol. iii, pp. 1131 ff.
  4. For documentation concerning the Foreign Ministers meetings in London in May 1950, see Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. iii, pp. 828 ff.