9. Telegram From the Office of the High Commissioner for Austria to the Department of State1

2072. Figl and Kreisky informed Western HICOMs today of Bischoff’s report on his conversation with Molotov on the Austrian memo2 which took place March 14.3 Semenov was present at the interview. With regard to point 1 of the Austrian memo, Molotov said additional guarantees would be required only in case of ratification of Paris agreements and the rearmament of Germany. If there should be agreement on the German question in the future these guarantees would no longer be necessary.

With regard to point 2 of the memo, Molotov observed that there appeared to be no difference of opinion between Austria and the Soviet Union.

With regard to point 3 Molotov also observed that there appeared to be no basis of opposition.

In discussion of point 1, Molotov asked what guarantees would be possible and acceptable to Austria. Bischoff replied that guarantees were not up to Austria and urged Molotov to express what the Soviet ideas were. Molotov stated that the prevention of the Anschluss was not only in Austria’s interest but was also a European question. Bischoff inquired whether he had in mind some kind of guarantee by European powers. Molotov replied that they must both think over this question and whether it would be better to have a guarantee by the big powers or by the neighbors of Austria.

Bischoff reported as his own opinion that the Soviets would have more interest in a conference after ratification of the Paris agreements than before.

In the discussion that followed, Kreisky expressed the opinion that it was now clear that the Soviet move was not primarily directed against ratification of the Paris agreements. He attached great importance to the fact that Molotov himself was conducting the conversations, and he thought it was also clear that this was not merely a propaganda maneuver. Both he and Figl emphasized that the Austrians considered themselves obliged to keep the discussions going and could not afford to let themselves get in the position where they [Page 12] might be charged with having missed the boat. While the matter was left that both sides would think about the problem, they thought it unlikely that Molotov would now make any further move until the Austrians had expressed an opinion. The only move the Austrians have definitely decided upon is to recall for consultation the Ambassadors at Washington, Paris, London and Moscow, to arrive here on March 28.

The Austrians inquired whether we thought the Western powers would agree to attend a Four Power conference to deal only with the Austrian question, if such conference took place after ratification. We replied we were not in a position to answer this question, but pointed out that at the moment the public position was that if such a conference were called today, it would presumably be called on the basis of the Molotov speech,4 and I said I did not think my government would be prepared to attend a conference on such a basis. I said my government was anxious not to miss any opportunity conclude the Austrian treaty, and if it became clear that the Russians really mean business, I was sure we would do everything possible to see if an acceptable basis could be found. I observed that Molotov’s reference to a guarantee by neighbors contained some pitfalls, at which point Kreisky emphatically stated that Austria would never accept a guarantee by her neighbors, as this would mean putting Czechoslovakians and Hungarians in the role of victors in the war. I attempted without success to draw out both Figl and Kreisky as to whether the Austrians had any even rough ideas as to what kind of reply they consider it would be appropriate for them to give to Molotov and I am convinced that they have not yet formulated any even tentative proposals. Kreisky did emphasize that while there was no danger of Anschluss from the Austrian side, they were very much concerned at what the position might be in Germany in several years time in view of the extent to which German economic and other pressure on Austria was already evident. Figl urged that our governments inform their Ambassadors of our thinking as fully as possible before their return to Vienna. I am meeting with Wallinger and Lalouette tomorrow in order see if we can reach any joint recommendations.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 663.001/3–2155. Secret; Priority; Limit Distribution. Repeated to London, Bonn, Moscow, and Paris.
  2. Transmitted in telegram 1948; see footnote 2, supra.
  3. Bohlen reported briefly on Bischoff’s conversation with Molotov in telegram 1548 from Moscow, March 15. (Department of State, Central Files, 663.001/3–1555) Bischoff told Bohlen that there had been no mention of a four-power conference in the first two discussions and that Molotov had no particular comments to make on the Austrian position, but would refer it to his government.
  4. Presumably a reference to Molotov’s report to the Supreme Soviet on February 8.