7. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State 1

1460. Although British and French Ambassadors had been likewise informed by respective Foreign Offices of Molotov’s démarche to Bischoff here, none of us had thought it wise to approach Bischoff on subject in view of the extremely confidential manner in which Austrian Government was handling subject. However, yesterday Bischoff in an unusually talkative mood at reception told British Ambassador and myself results of his second interview with Molotov (Vienna’s 1022). Bischoff, in accordance with instructions from his government, endeavored to obtain from Molotov some indication of exactly what Soviets had in mind as security or guarantees against Anschluss. Molotov evaded question and repeated what he apparently had said previously, that Austrian Government “should state its position” in regard to his statements on Austria in his Supreme Soviet speech. He said that after this had been done by Austrian Government they could discuss further exactly what Soviet Government had in mind as guarantee against Anschluss. Apparently Molotov made no particular reference to Austrian initiative for calling conference or at least Bischoff made no mention of this point.

Bischoff’s impression which of course has to be taken with some reservation is that Soviet Government is anxious to keep Austrian issue alive on general grounds. He feels that having committed themselves so definitely against negotiations on German question following ratification Paris agreements, Soviets do not wish to slam all doors for contact with West and he notes in this connection that at no point in his two interviews with Molotov did latter directly bring in question of Paris agreements. Bischoff, although usually unduly optimistic in regard to this country, is inclined to view present Soviet démarche not so much as indication willingness to conclude treaty with adequate safeguards against Anschluss but as preparing ground for possibility continuing Austrian negotiations after entry into force Paris accords.

I believe there is much in this view although it is conceivable that Soviet Government for its own reasons might desire resolution Austrian question, possibly in connection with proposed East European military organ which will unquestionably be brought into being following ratification Paris accords. In any event it does not appear that Soviet démarche is primarily a method of additional pressure to [Page 9] defeat ratification Paris agreements which following vote in German Bundestag3 Soviet Government must recognize as imminent. Soviet request for secrecy in these exchanges with Bischoff would also indicate that they are not at this juncture primarily interested in propaganda exploitation.

With reference to Vienna’s suggestion of quadripartite (sic) note, while this might have advantage of relieving Austrian concern over Soviet publication recent discussions, it would be almost impossible to keep fact of such note secret and this might tend to defeat its purpose. If contents of note as outlined should leak and require full publication by West powers, it is certain that Soviet response would not be in any way clarification of Molotov’s Supreme Soviet speech but reiteration of general propaganda charges seeking to place blame on West for failure to conclude Austrian treaty. Soviets might therefore be afforded opportunity to make for propaganda purposes connection between ratification Paris agreements and conclusion Austrian treaty.

Foregoing is of course on basis that Austrians would stand firm in event that Soviet pressure for Austrian initiative in calling Four Power Conference develops. In any event, we will have to await further clarification of exactly what, if anything, Molotov proposed along conference line to Bischoff. I believe in view of Molotov’s direct request to him (Vienna’s 974) that it would not be wise to attempt to obtain further details from Bischoff here.

With reference to Vienna’s 101,5 I will of course scrupulously respect confidence of Swedish Minister Vienna. Swedish Ambassador here has proved very cooperative and communicative on such matters in past. I have had no recent opportunity or occasion to discuss with him implications of Molotov’s Supreme Soviet speech but it is quite possible that he would tell me if such occasion presents itself on his own initiative of his conversation with Semenov. Statements attributed to Semenov are of interest in that they would represent departure from standard Soviet practice and Communist propaganda line which in opposing ratification Paris agreements carefully avoided implication that anything good could happen subsequent to their entry into force. While this of course is propaganda position with no real relation to Soviet intentions in future, Semenov’s apparent departure [Page 10] from the normal is of particular interest in relation to Soviet démarche on Austria.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 663.001/3–555. Top Secret; Limit Distribution. Repeated to London, Paris, and Vienna.
  2. Same as telegram 1937, Document 5.
  3. On February 27 the Federal Bundestag ratified the Paris Agreements.
  4. Same as telegram 1882, Document 3.
  5. In telegram 101, Thompson reported that Semenov recently confided to the Swedish Minister in Moscow that the Soviet Union would be prepared to conclude an Austrian Treaty even if the Paris Agreements were ratified and had stated further that the Soviet Union recognized that the Austrian question was separate from the German. (Department of State, Central Files, 663.001/3–455)