No. 526


The Ambassador at Large ( Jessup) to the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs ( Burns)1

top secret

My Dear General Burns: I attach a Policy Review paper on the Austrian Treaty prepared by the Steering Committee for use in possible talks with the Soviets. The representatives of the Department of Defense on the Committee did not concur in the recommendations on pages 6–7.

I consider that the recommendations in the attached paper reflect correctly the decision of the NSC to seek the conclusion of the Austrian Treaty. On October 26, 1949 the Secretaries of State and of Defense discussed with the President the question of the Austrian Treaty. The President stated that he had given the problem careful consideration and felt without question that the Treaty should be concluded in order to obtain the withdrawal of Soviet military forces from Austria and to gain the general political advantage which will be derived from this action. On May 5, 1950 the President approved NSC 38/6, which states that “the U.S. should continue to participate in the Treaty negotiations and make every effort to bring them to a satisfactory conclusion”.2 NSC 38/4, also approved by the President, states that the U.S. should insure “prior to the withdrawal of the occupation forces, that the Austrian armed forces are reasonably adequate to maintain internal security,” and that “an initial Austrian army of approximately 28,000 would be required to maintain internal security in the period immediately following the withdrawal of the occupation forces”.3

It is therefore United States policy to conclude an Austrian treaty as quickly as possible. On May 18, 1950 the three Western Foreign Ministers confirmed this policy, agreeing that “if and when the Soviet government show themselves ready to complete [Page 1098] the treaty, the Western powers should settle the unagreed Articles as quickly as possible and on the best terms they can get”. The United States Government has repeatedly assured the Austrian Government that it is our policy to conclude the treaty, and that the Austrian question will be included in any over-all discussions with the Soviets. The deputies of the three Western Powers have been prepared at any time to reach final agreement on the treaty; the fact that no treaty has been concluded is due solely to Soviet intransigence.

In August 1950, representatives of the three Western Powers discussed the creation of an Austrian army, reaching substantive agreement on plans for such an army and on procedures for assuring its creation and training before withdrawal of the occupation forces. The United States intends to insure that all plans are completed before ratification of a treaty, even if it is necessary to delay ratification, in order that the initial army of 28,000 may be in being at the time of the withdrawal of the Western occupation forces.4

The security consideration set forth in NSC 38/4 is thus being met by present planning and, in any case, is not involved in the proposal made in the attached paper, which allows the same time for creation of an Austrian army as agreement by the deputies would allow. The five unagreed Articles which prevent completion of the Treaty are of comparatively minor importance and in no way affect United States security interests. The major issues have already been settled, and the Western Powers have gained their basic demands: recognition of Austria’s pre-war boundaries, creation of an Austrian army, renunciation of reparations, and Austrian sovereignty and independence. Even on Article 35 the Western Powers have obtained a part of their demands, including renunciation by the Soviets of all properties except oil and Danube shipping, subjection of the latter to Austrian law, and reduction of Soviet oil holdings to a level substantially less than those which they now control. It is believed that the advantage of obtaining withdrawal of Soviet troops from eastern Austria more than counter-balances the disadvantage of concession on the few remaining Articles.

Such a thorough-going new proposal as this is necessary to break the stalemate in treaty negotiations and to furnish a strong Western position on Austria in possible Four-Power talks. It will be impossible to avoid discussing Austria in any over-all discussion of East-West differences. The attached paper proposes the discussion [Page 1099] of the Austrian Treaty as part of a general settlement of such differences, including those concerning Germany. There is no reason to believe that the Soviets will reverse their present position and agree to an Austrian treaty. However, if the Soviets refuse the Western proposal suggested in the attached Policy Review paper they will demonstrate clearly their unwillingness to live up to their international commitment in this respect, and the Western Powers will be placed in the best possible propaganda position.

The total number of Western troops in Austria is not only less than half the number of Soviet troops but is substantially less than the number of the proposed initial Austrian army. The Austrian Government is friendly and cooperative with the Western Powers and the population has shown no signs of being tempted by Soviet promises or Communist propaganda. The draft Treaty provides for simultaneous withdrawal of all occupation forces, and the United States will not of course withdraw its forces if the Soviets do not do so. The Austrian Government will be assured of continuing United States support, and can be confidently expected to join the Western bloc of European nations. Politically, few countries of Europe are as stable as Austria.

It is requested that in the light of the foregoing the Department of Defense concur in the course of action recommended on pages 6–7 of the attached Policy Review paper.5

Sincerely yours,

P[hilip] C. J[essup]
  1. Drafted by Benjamin D. Kimpel of the Office of Western European Affairs.
  2. Not printed, but see NSC 38/5 and the editorial note, Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. iv, pp. 387 and 397.
  3. NSC 38/4, November 17, 1949, is printed ibid., 1949, vol. iii, p. 1190.
  4. For documentation concerning U.S. interest in the formation of a future Austrian army during 1950, see Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. iv, pp. 473 ff.
  5. Not further identified.