42. Telegram From the Delegation at the Vienna Ambassadorial Conference to the Department of State1

2559. Dept pass USIA. First Ambassadorial conference with US presiding in 4–1/2 hours meeting after agreeing rapidly procedures heard Figl suggest discussion of treaty article by article.2 Uncontroversial articles to be settled quickly while disagreed articles laid aside for later consideration. Figl divided such articles into two groups (1) obsolete and (2) incompatible with envisaged Austrian neutrality. Figl asked results Moscow negotiations be considered in treaty text specifically economic alleviations.

UK, US and France, to lesser extent, supported Figl position but Soviets argued agreement already existed on state treaty making article by article examination superfluous. Ilyichev argued only articles on which participants had observations be reviewed. Figl sought reconcile US and Soviet proposals by declaring intention to request deletion Article 6 and reserve right return to Preamble. Figl’s proposal adopted and examination of articles beginning Article 6 began.3

Conference quickly agreed delete Articles 6, 11, 13, 14, 15 at Austrian request. Figl suggested deletion Article 8 but readily agreed to accept retention. Article 9 including USSR 1950 addition accepted.

First disagreement arose Article 16. Austrian asked deletion on grounds obsolete and contrary refugee convention as well as envisaged Austrian neutrality. Soviets next took firm stand against deletion. Ilyichev argued article agreed at Berlin. Launched into attack West treatment DP’s and hindrances raised to repatriation. Absolved Austrian Govt of blame.

West Ambassadors strongly supported Figl with US Ambassador Thompson speaking last arguing that Austria might be obliged withdraw from Geneva Convention with which this article incompatible [Page 67] which would certainly not be helping Austrian start on new road envisaged for her. US Ambassador continued that in view Austria’s intended neutrality, particularly important that no foreign govt have basis for intervention Austrian internal affairs. This article as now stands allows indefinitely repatriation teams and thus furnishes basis intervention and quarrels with Austrian Govt. US Ambassador stated world demands we approach this treaty in new spirit. Our govts have not only to sign this treaty but ratify it. Would be great pity to present treaty to our respective Parliaments containing articles leading to misunderstanding and criticism.

When Ilyichev complained re alleged difficulties visiting DP camps, US Ambassador replied that Soviets for six years had permanent repatriation mission in US Zone and after its withdrawal Soviets had never been denied access to camps. To Soviet Ambassador’s complaint that visits DP camps conducted under eyes military police and Ilyichev’s reproach West more concerned with articles than human beings, Thompson retorted precisely because we do think of DP’s as human beings that we have controls on visits. US Ambassador concluded that ample time had passed for satisfying ourselves no remaining DP’s desire repatriation. To eliminate any doubt re this point US Amb offered allow visits to any camps US Zone. Wallinger and Lalouette supported US Chairman strongly. Discussion Article 16 to be resumed next session Tuesday May 3, 1430 hours under Soviet chairmanship. Factual joint communiqué issued conclusion conference.4

No further communiqué until end of conference unless jointly agreed.

Conference instructed secretariat proceed with correlation texts articles agreed thus far. Any disputes would be resolved in plenary session.

Verbatim text will be dispatched earliest.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–VI/5–255. Confidential; Niact. Repeated to London, Paris, Moscow, and Bonn. Telegrams from the delegation are numbered in sequence with telegrams from the Embassy in Vienna.
  2. The meeting began at 11 a.m. The heads of the five delegations were High Commissioner Thompson (United States), High Commissioner Ilichev (Soviet Union), High Commissioner Wallinger (United Kingdom), High Commissioner Lalouette (France), and Foreign Minister Figl (Austria). The unofficial U.S. Delegation verbatim minutes and the official conference minutes of this meeting were transmitted as enclosures to despatch 1273 from Vienna, May 4. (Ibid., 396.1–VI/5–455) For a French account of this meeting, see Documents Diplomatiques Français, 1955, Tome 1, pp. 557–559.
  3. For text of the articles of the treaty, see Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. ii, p. 516; subsequent revisions in 1948 and 1949 to articles that were still unagreed are Ibid., 1948, vol. ii, p. 1514, and Ibid., 1949, vol. iii, p. 1131.
  4. The text of the communiqué was transmitted with the minutes of this meeting; see footnote 2 above.