396.1 BE/1–2954: Telegram

No. 378
The United States Delegation at the Berlin Conference to the Department of State1

top secret priority

Secto 46. Department pass OSD. Tripartite group on Austria met over draft report resulting January 24 meeting (Sectos 21 and 232). Problems remaining are troop withdrawal and subjects in paragraphs 1 and 3 Secto 23.

Troop Withdrawal
In absence further message mentioned Tosec 423 (now received) we could only state likelihood US would prefer complete evacuation to reduction to token levels as retreat position in face Soviet insistence troop withdrawal. Believe British and French have accepted our refusal consider Western initiative raise troop withdrawal although not inconceivable they will raise it with us at higher level. French and British present thinking is (as second position to previously agreed first) to counter Soviet suggestion complete withdrawal with proposal reduction to token levels because: (a) presence even small numbers our forces backed by NATO provision re occupation forces considered by far most effective deterrent; (b) uncertainty effectiveness tripartite security declaration in connection complete evacuation since only consultation required and “automatic” character present NATO provisions would not apply if one or more other NATO countries unwilling associate with declaration. They recognize (a) treaty involves full evacuation but consider that different situation, and (b) complete evacuation possibly more attractive from viewpoint Austrian public reaction but consider [Page 864] this point over-weighed by security considerations, fearing another Korea in Austria. They further argued reduction to token levels largely alleviates burdens occupation and irritants for public. They have yet consult their military authorities. We countered only briefly saying we expected further Washington views and would transmit theirs. We will suspend further action pending your views.4
French more adamant against complete withdrawal than British, but spoke of possible acceptance if backed to wall as third and last position.
Both British and French prefer as second position making reduction to token levels without conditions paragraphs 2a and b of BER D–3/11 which they say make withdrawal tantamount to treaty.5 We maintained desirability try both and pointed out further retreat in paragraph 4 same document. British and French remain willing obtain Austrian commitment re Army and military assistance in connection treaty. We confirmed agreement commitment need only be oral (Tosecs 43 and 466) pointing out necessity obtaining Raab and Schaerf undertakings which may require tripartite action Vienna on short notice (foresee danger allowing Figl use own communications system this subject). Presume oral commitment to cover interim period prior to negotiation of some form bilateral on military assistance. Separate cable covers planning aspects.7
Until French and British as well as we receive further instructions, group will not reconvene although we pointed out importance being prepared meet this contingency at Berlin, however unlikely Soviets will raise it.
Meeting also agreed position on Article 35 which differs from Paris tripartite position8 only by (a) omitting mention of Deputies as alternates to Ministers in arguing case for alleviation and (b) specifying aims Ministers will be
Making case for alleviation,
Suggesting general lines of alleviation, and
Obtaining four power agreement on instructions to working group.
There was brief discussion basis rebuttal to Soviet charges re gendarmérie during which we mentioned Adkins case.9 In addition points in BER D–3/1210 we offered some arguments from Vienna’s 1876 to Department11 and reassured French with information its paragraph 3.
  1. Repeated to Bonn, Frankfurt, London, Vienna, Paris, and Moscow.
  2. See the memorandum of conversation by Davis, Document 351.
  3. Tosec 42 informed the U.S. Delegation that the Department of State did not accept the British and French suggestion for the reduction of Western forces in Austria. (396.1 BE/1–2654)
  4. On Jan. 30 the U.S. Delegation was informed further that complete withdrawal appeared better than leaving a token force in Austria in the light of various considerations. (Tosec 59 to Berlin, 396.1 BE/1–2954)
  5. Under paragraph 2a the four powers would have agreed on an Austrian Army of 58,000 men; under paragraph 2b the Soviet Union would have agreed to give up control over economic enterprises in Austria. (CFM files, lot M 88, box 168, “Four-Power Meeting in Berlin”)
  6. Neither printed. (396.1 BE/1–2654 and 1–2754)
  7. In Secto 47 from Berlin, Jan. 29, the U.S. Delegation reported that the French were without instructions concerning the possible use of Austrian manpower in the event of war. (396.1 BE/1–2954)
  8. For a summary of the final report of the Tripartite Working Group, see the memorandum by Fuller, Document 320.
  9. Lt. William Adkins, USAF, had defected to the Soviet Union in January 1954.
  10. Not printed. (CFM files, lot M 88, box 168, “Four-Power Meeting in Berlin”)
  11. Telegram 1876 listed eight points that might be used to rebut Soviet charges against the gendarmérie. (396.1 BE/1–2754)