20. Letter From the Officer in Charge of Western European Affairs (Jones) to the Ambassador in Austria (Thompson)1

Dear Tommy: Dick2 and I just finished briefing the Secretary on the Austrian NSC paper3 which goes before the Council tomorrow (it already has JCS concurrence without change). There were two areas in which he displayed interest.

He mentioned that he saw Van Zeeland at the Belgian Embassy at dinner last night and learned that he had been retained by the Austrian Government to advise it on raising funds for the rehabilitation of the former USIA plants. Van Zeeland was under the impression that the U.S. had been “sticky” on that subject and we informed the Secretary that so far as we knew, the problem was that the IBRD Mission to Austria had adopted a negative attitude, but that the U.S. had released counterpart for use in the former Soviet zone.
Paragraph 14 as it is going to the NSC reads:

“Seek to discourage Austria from requesting a four-power guarantee of Austria’s territorial integrity; and failing that, limit any guarantee in which the United States will participate to one within [Page 38] the framework of the UN, without excluding, however, the possibility that conditions may warrant a tripartite Western declaration supporting Austria’s political and territorial integrity.”

I quote the entire paragraph as the latter part is, I think, new since the draft4 we sent you a month or more ago. The Secretary’s question concerned the first clause and occurred to him when, in response to his query, we informed him that there was not yet tripartite agreement on the approach to the Austrians concerning the guarantee. He asked whether the clause would mean that we would make the attempt to discourage the Austrians from requesting a guarantee whether or not the British and French joined with us. In the ensuing discussion, the Secretary pointed out that as the paragraph reads, an effort one way or another would have to be made once the NSC approves. He then observed that while a tripartite approach would probably be preferable, a unilateral approach would be better than nothing. Bob Bowie argued that with the French interest in the Figl idea of the guarantee being aimed at preventing Anschluss, we might be better off going into the matter informally alone with the Austrians, as the French might prove a handicap in a tripartite effort. It was decided to leave the language as it is, partly because I pointed out to the Secretary that I thought you still had hopes of bringing the British and French into line but mainly because the Secretary clearly wishes to leave no stone unturned in our efforts to avoid an official Austrian request for a guarantee.

Upon return to our offices, we found your Despatch 806 of March 285 informing us that the British and French Ambassadors will, following the May elections, go along with you in an effort to discourage the Austrians from requesting a guarantee. We have, of course, informed the Secretary. However, given the Secretary’s views as recapitulated above, he will want you to make some kind of a unilateral approach to the Austrians should, by any chance, your British and French colleagues prove unwilling to join you at the appropriate time. In any event, it may prove desirable for you to supplement an eventual tripartite approach by talking to the Austrians alone and informally to assure that our arguments against guarantees are not diluted by joint representation. Since the hiatus before the election gives us time for consideration, perhaps you could reply by letter after which any necessary supplement or modifications of your present instructions could be sent you officially. Not having had time to study the new drafts attached to your Despatch 806, I refrain from commenting on them at this time.

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As you will note, I am sending copies of this letter to Wally Barbour and Ted Achilles and hope you will keep them informed similarly. I think it would be helpful if your future despatches and other communications on the guarantee question could be repeated or copied to Paris and London direct from Vienna as we are having difficulty doing so from here. The records management people are persistent in destroying the hecto copies of your despatches before we have even seen them, and we are having a bit of a problem over retyping for distribution to the other two embassies.

My best regards.


John Wesley Jones
  1. Source: Department of State, Austrian-Italian Desk Files: Lot 59 D 253, 211 Guarantee Question. Secret; Official–Informal.
  2. Presumably Richard B. Freund.
  3. Supra .
  4. Not found in Department of State files.
  5. Not printed. (Department of State, Central Files, 663.0021/3–2856)
  6. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.