Conference files, lot 59 D 95, CF 107

No. 804
Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Perkins) to the Secretary of State1

secret

Subject:

  • Conversation between the Austrian Chancellor, Dr. Leopold Figl, and an officer of the Department in New York City on May 27, 1952.

Prior to his departure from this country on May 27, Dr. Figl requested Mr. Allen, the Departmental Escort Officer, to convey to you his deepest appreciation and heartfelt thanks for the opportunity which he had been given to observe, as he put it, “America at work”. He appreciated the opportunity afforded to him to confer with the President and you and other Governmental leaders in the Executive, Legislative and Judicial Branches of the Government, as [Page 1761]well as the arrangements which had been made for him to visit Williamsburg, Niagara Falls, Detroit, Chicago, Wisconsin, New York and Hyde Park. He was greatly impressed by what he termed the real spirit of democracy evidenced not only in high places in the Government but among the workers, educators, business men and others with whom he had come in contact during his brief stay in this country.

The Chancellor said that he was quite aware and deeply appreciative of the fact that his trip in the United States had been arranged to exclude talks with military leaders and visits to military installations and of the further fact that no attempt had been made to impress him with either the military or economic might of the United States. He said that it was typical of America that this should be so and that it was in sharp contrast with the normal procedure in some countries where the only purpose of official visits is to impress the visitor with the country’s outstanding achievements.

In referring to his conversations in Washington with respect to economic matters, the dollar diversion investigation etc., Dr. Figl said that he had only great admiration for a country which produces leaders who (and he mentioned specifically you, Mr. Harriman and myself) on the occasion of an official visit such as his, rather than indulging in diplomatic niceties and endeavoring to cover unpleasant matters, would openly and frankly, as they did in this instance, discuss “serious questions in a serious manner”. Chancellor Figl continued by saying that the Washington discussions did not detract in any measure from the pleasures of his visit but rather added to his treasure chest of experiences a keener appreciation of America and its leaders. He said that this strengthened rather than weakened his position and that he could now tell his Government “This is the way things are—this is the way Mr. Acheson, Mr. Harriman and Mr. Perkins feel about this situation; I was there and they told me. Now let’s do something about it”. The Chancellor concluded by stating that he could now return to Austria with renewed courage and endeavor to impress his associates in the Government and the Austrian people as a whole with first-hand information concerning the United States which would, he sincerely hoped, result in accomplishing the objectives which we all seek in Austria and result ultimately in the re-creation of a completely free and independent Austria which could then take its place beside the United States in the fight for world peace and freedom.

Mr. Allen’s memorandum of the foregoing conversation is attached.2

  1. Drafted by Allen.
  2. Not attached to the source text, but a copy is in file 033.6311 RA/5–2752.