44. Telegram From the Department of State to the Delegation at the Vienna Ambassadorial Conference1

3106. Department approves tactics for deletion Article 16 outlined Embtel 23952 including your proposed compromise offer to permit entry repatriation missions Allied and Associated Powers limited period before completion troop withdrawal, if necessary to obtain deletion entire article. Regret cannot approve compromise offer regarding withdrawal USEP or similar US organizations Embtel 25313 since it would appear to signify weakening of US policy of protection and assistance for refugees and have detrimental effects US objectives secured through US programs utilizing or operating on behalf refugees. No objection to second compromise offer proposed in same telegram since obvious US could not maintain operations in Austria not desired by that government once independent and free.

If unsuccessful in obtaining elimination entire article you are authorized propose compromise outlined Vienna’s 2395 which would a) provide definite time limit of no longer than 90 days applicable to [Page 71] Austrian obligations under entire article; b) eliminate paragraph 5; and c) define those persons covered under article as those DP nationals of any Allied or Associated Powers who were in Austria at early explicit date. If unable obtain all three of these modifications you should next offer to drop demand for (c) above. Department agrees that final compromise position regarding minimum acceptable safeguard Soviet duress would be provided by acceptance entire article subject to time limitation described in (a) above (Vienna’s 2395 and 2538 paragraph 104).

Adoption of any of foregoing compromises would undoubtedly involve Western and Austrian responsibility take adequate measures secure protection and maintenance persons affected as necessary.

If negotiating situation such that West must finally consent Article 16 in Soviet version as only means secure overriding objective treaty agreement, US considers this decision must involve concomitant acceptance by three Western powers of moral responsibility and their recognition politically imperative take necessary decisions and actions assure safety and well-being all persons potentially endangered thereby or who consider themselves so. This responsibility would involve necessity secure, prior coming into force of treaty, safe haven (West Germany, France or elsewhere) through coordinated diplomatic action. Success this effort would undoubtedly require prior commitment by three powers effect final resettlement all persons involved and seek means to finance all costs thereof plus costs interim care. Believe also three powers should agree in principle accept substantial numbers own countries for final resettlement. US prepared give most expeditious treatment under RRA.

While per capita costs would vary with specific arrangements worked out, FOA suggests illustrative round figure US $1000 (including transport, interim care possibly for extended periods and resettlement costs), for discussion purposes. Irrespective of any limiting definitions which may be contained in compromise text, must expect that Soviets will exploit right of free access to carry out well known objectives any and all categories. Thus many refugees outside limitations may rightly consider themselves endangered and therefore number persons requiring evacuation could, under any formula, involve most of foreign speaking refugees.

Also believe three powers must be prepared issue joint statement simultaneous with final agreement of West to accept treaty with any version of Article 16 which would 1) make clear that decision taken solely in broader interests securing Austrian treaty 2) reaffirm and pledge continuing Western support principle asylum and assistance political refugees and support thereof in UN.

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You are requested inform your British and French colleagues of foregoing in order strengthen Western position re Article 16 and emphasize US assessment minimum consequences acceptance Soviet version in terms responsibility incurred for protection from moral and material coercion persons involved and for maintaining faith with principle political asylum. FYI: Vigorous opposition this article by major religious and nationality groups here could prejudice US ratification treaty particularly at time US efforts resolve refugee/escapee problem receiving bad domestic press and papers beginning carry reports Communist redefection campaign. End FYI.

Agree desirability obtaining reiteration Austrian past commitment treatment refugees (Embtel 2538) and further suggest three Western Ambassadors obtain assurances from Austrian Government it would construe Soviet version of Article as permitting continuation existing US, international, and voluntary agency programs Austria in behalf political refugees (including subsequent escapees) and that this will not be inconsistent with Austria’s proposed neutrality. Finally Austrian Government should agree make official public declaration at time signing of treaty to reassure thousands of refugees in Austria that government will continue its traditional practice of granting political asylum to refugees and will not tolerate involuntary repatriation of any foreigner within its territory.5

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–VI/4–3055. Secret; Priority. Signed by Secretary Dulles and repeated to Paris, London, Frankfurt for OFC, Geneva for U.S. Delegation at ICM, Moscow, and Bonn.
  2. Telegram 2395 stressed deletion of the whole Article, but failing that, deletion of paragraph 5 and redrafting the remainder. As a final compromise the whole Article could be accepted subject to interpretive limits. (Ibid., 663.00/4-2055)
  3. Not printed. (Ibid., 396.1–VI/4–3055)
  4. Telegram 2538 suggested a 90–day time limit. (Ibid., 396.1–VI/5–155)
  5. On May 4 Thompson replied that he did not believe the modifications desired in this telegram could be obtained unless they were taken up at the Foreign Ministers meeting. Thompson concluded his remarks by underscoring the difficulty of his position on Article 16:

    “I am making hard fight to achieve objectives sought by Department, but Department must realize that I am working within the framework of the fact that we have once agreed to Article 17 as it stands; that I have not been authorized to reserve such questions for Foreign Ministers meeting; that I am not to break down conference over such issue, and that presumably I am to work for early conclusion of the Austrian Treaty and not expose United States to the charge of stalling.” (Telegram 2578 from Vienna; Ibid., 396.1–VI/5–455)