7. Memorandum of a Conversation, Vienna, July 16, 19551
- Chancellor Raab, Vice-Chancellor Schaerf, Mr. J. K. Penfield, General W. H. Arnold, Mr. H. G. Torbert, Col. Noel, Col. Nixon, Capt. Schlesinger, Mr. Puhan
General Arnold and I called on the Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor today to discuss military assistance to Austria.
I made a general statement, pointing out that American policy has been consistent in supporting Austria’s defense effort and cited as evidence U.S. support of the Gendarmérie during the past five years. I indicated that of current Austrian requests, we had been able to meet some fully, others partially, and still others were under consideration. I said that we felt we had made considerable progress in meeting Austrian requests at this early stage.
I explained that there were two general criteria which governed the extent of our assistance. The first was our laws and congressional authorizations, the second and more important since it determined the limits of the first, the Austrian Government’s plans and ability to use U.S. assistance effectively. Hence the U.S. would follow with great interest Austrian plans and progress in the development of its military forces and hoped to be kept currently and fully informed.
I noted our awareness of Austria’s problems, both political and financial, and the wish of Austrian Government leaders to move ahead promptly and efficiently, but added that we must consider Austrian plans in the light of NATO standards which prescribe two years normal and one and one-half years minimum service for adequate training of modern reserve forces. We desired to continue our cooperation with the Austrian Government in all ways legislatively possible and warranted by Austrian efforts.
The Chancellor stated that Austrian plans to establish an army were further forward than we realized but that a one and one-half or two year term of military service in Austria was currently out of the question. I acknowledged our understanding of this but hoped for future improvement.
I then expressed the hope that the Austrian Government would view sympathetically the U.S. desire to have military air and ground transit rights across Austria after the entry into force of the State Treaty. I added that we would also like to obtain special favorable rail rates for this traffic. In discussing this subject further General Arnold explained that we might want to send sealed freight and personnel trains across the Tyrol between Germany and Italy and receive [Page 17] permission for military planes to overfly Austria on more or less the same route.
The Chancellor stated that he would have to consult his Government. He added that as long as the Russians were here this was extremely difficult, but that he would in the future consider sympathetically specific requests we might have.
General Arnold then expressed his dismay at the slowness of the Austrian effort in military matters, emphasizing the deleterious effect this has on U.S. opinion.
He stated that the U.S. had equipment, valued at twenty million dollars which would equip seventeen thousand men, ready for transfer to the Austrians. This equipment was now in the hands of the Gendarmérie, the Vienna police, and the greatest bulk in Italy. He requested that the Austrians designate a representative empowered to negotiate the transfer. We would request the Austrians to pay the freight on the shipment of this matériel in Italy from the Brenner, whence we would ship it, to places of storage in Austria. We would also request the Austrians to supply a labor force, preferably Gendarmerie in work clothes to effect the storage of the matériel. The Austrians must also assume responsibility for the guarding and maintenance of equipment, while we would provide the necessary documentation (locator cards, et cetera). General Arnold indicated that we were endeavoring to obtain additional authorizations, the extent of which would depend on the impression made by Austrian energy and utilization. The Chancellor agreed to designate representatives soonest, Monday or Tuesday of next week, to discuss the details of the turnover.
General Arnold next turned over to the Chancellor a series of folders, containing detailed descriptions of U.S. installations in Austria—what the U.S. forces found there when they first occupied the installations, what was constructed by the U.S., and what improvements had been made. The General stated that we were required by U.S. laws to receive value consideration upon transfer, in contra-distinction to the stockpile equipment, and that we hoped to reach an agreement under which the Austrian authorities would assume certain claims against the U.S. occupation forces. It was pointed out to the Chancellor that this had been mentioned by Ambassador Thompson in conversations before he left.
The Chancellor stated that the Finance Ministry was the competent agency to negotiate the detailed agreement and that this would be arranged for next week.
In this connection, General Arnold and I pointed out that the buildings contained fixtures but would not contain furnishings since such moveable equipment would have to be transferred to other U.S. units. The Chancellor indicated agreement with this view.[Page 18]
General Arnold stated that he expected to continue his negotiations in a friendly and reasonable atmosphere, but did not intend to be held up by certain claimants. The Chancellor agreed to pass the word along, particularly in the U.S. Zone of occupation, that unreasonable demands were not to be made of U.S. occupation forces.
General Arnold passed a letter to the Chancellor,2 containing advice regarding further financial assistance to the Gendarmérie.
The Chancellor stated he had no further questions to raise at this time.