15. Telegram From the Embassy in Austria to the Department of State1

1608. Re Department telegram 1863.2 Believe my testimony before Congressional committee at this time would be highly disadvantageous and earnestly hope it can be avoided. A reassuring picture, which I believe is justified in the long run, would encourage Austrians to think recent waverings have gone unnoticed while alarmist picture would be likely stir up political issues here contrary to our interests. Helmer’s recent article in Die Zukunft only one of indications that Socialists not adverse to having choice between East and West become an election issue since they realize country is and will remain pro-West.

I have of course been disturbed by recent developments as have many Austrians both Socialist and Peoples Party but do not believe they are as significant as indicated in reference telegram. Many of them have their roots in domestic issues. Had the Soviet loan been for the Tirol I am sure Raab would have opposed it. The non-renewal of foreign trade law was chiefly due to Peoples Party unwillingness to pay Socialists’ price, and for present I believe Austria will continue collaboration on control strategic material. Albanian recognition largely due to efforts obtain release of Austrian prisoners and offset establishment relations Germany and Spain. Chinese recognition of course much more serious problem but do not believe imminent.

Against these moves must be considered Austrian cooperation in military field such as transit rights which I understand will shortly be approved, the attitude of the Austrian press which has in general taken strong anti-Communist line, cooperation re neutrality declaration, et cetera.

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Root of present problem is attitude of Chancellor. I am submitting by mail analysis his position3 but briefly I believe he is obviously endeavoring to prepare ground for obtaining Soviet concessions on payments for German assets and to obtain best terms in current negotiations in mistaken idea concessions can be obtained without cost. (Kreisky told me Raab is furious that Socialists are insisting upon pushing Austrian entry Council of Europe because of effect on his dealings with Soviets.) While I am convinced that Raab is basically sound he has I believe been misled by success of his negotiations in Moscow and subsequently into thinking that he can out-smart the Soviets and this combined with his provincial outlook and lack of experience in foreign affairs will continue to cause us trouble. He dominates his party and is one of the few in it who have qualities of statesmanship and courage. In a showdown he might well be our staunchest supporter and for present attitude of Socialists and large section of his own party will probably prevent his going very far in ill-advised maneuvers.

Prepared return for consultation at any time but believe this should be deferred pending further developments.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 763.00/12–3155. Secret; Limit Distribution.
  2. Supra.
  3. Reference is to despatch 607, January 12, 1956. (Department of State, Central Files, 763.13/1–1256)