No. 791
The Deputy Director of the Office of Western European Affairs (Williamson) to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Bonbright)1

personal and official

Dear Jamie: I appreciated your thoughtfulness in your last telegram2 and can assure you that going to Vienna will not inconvenience me in any way. Your telegram did confuse such people as the Naval Attaché, JAMAG, ECA and all the other organizations in London as it was given the widest distribution possible. I will think of an appropriate answer and send it to you in due course.

You may have been put out at the lack of any more definite agreement in the tripartite talks in London. The action of the Soviets in refusing to come to a meeting rocked the British on their heels as they had it all worked out to “clear the deck” for the negotiation of the old treaty. Eden stated that as soon as the decks were clear, the British Government would join in the presentation of the abbreviated text. When the Russians failed to show, Mr. Eden said that a new situation was created which, from the point of view of British public opinion, would have to be examined carefully. In the first tripartite talk we had the British were categorical in saying that the abbreviated text could not be presented until a meeting had been held on the old treaty. In the subsequent meetings they moved a great deal. The agreed position we transmitted to you on Wednesday3 was as far as they would go pending further consideration of the problem by Eden. He has taken a lively interest in the whole question and Harrison, the British deputy, checked with him at every step in the discussions. I am sure that they will accept our position if we give them a little time and do not push the matter. That is the reason why Sam and I left. Red Dowling stayed over one more day to twist the arm of the British Deputy High Commissioner and then was going to France to talk about occupation costs. Both Sam and I felt that it would have been a mistake for either one of us to remain in London at this time since the British are going to arrive at their decision in their own fashion.

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The British have no quarrel whatsoever with the substance of the treaty and defended it magnificently against French criticism. In fact, they defended it more eagerly than we did. Their sole concern is on the question of timing and the possibility of an adverse Austrian reaction charging that we have thrown away many years of hard work and effort. We all agreed that the decision on timing as reported in the telegram would have to be taken in closed consultation with the Austrian Government.

I hope that something can be done to convince the French that they should not clutter the abbreviated treaty with miscellaneous articles on German policy. If you agree with the recommendations in the telegram, I hope that the appropriate instructions can be sent. It also might be desirable to discuss the possibility of a draft declaration which could be used to offset the French fears about an Austrian union with Germany. If any such declaration is prepared, it should cover all aspects of the problem of Austrian security including the problem of Anschluss.

From a tripartite point of view, I think the meeting in London was a success. Except for the Anschluss question, the French have pretty well adopted our position subject to the conditions which were listed in our final report. I think when the British decision is reached it will be a firm one to proceed with the presentation of the abbreviated treaty. Bob Hooker is following the question with the British, and Red and I had a chance to talk to the French Foreign Office people. The only disability of the conference was the fact that Sam and I nearly froze to death. I’ve never seen it so cold in London.

I am leaving for Rome next week and, according to the directive issued by Arthur Stevens, will be back in my office at 8:45 on Monday, February 11. With kindest regards.

Sincerely yours,

  1. According to notations on the source text, this letter was circulated to Byington and E. P. Allen. Allen thanked Bonbright for showing him the letter and noted that it “explains a lot.”
  2. Reference to telegram 3336 to London, Jan. 23, which approved of Williamson’s visit to Vienna after the conclusion of his duties in London. (663.001/1–2352)
  3. Reference to telegram 3224 from London, Jan. 24, supra .