302. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Austria0

879. G–1201 just received and do not consider desirable discuss Vice Chancellor’s position Article 26 with Platzer immediately prior Figl’s arrival. Approach to Platzer and relay by him of US views to Figl might involve US in coalition infighting.

Believe Pittermann largely motivated by party politics, i.e., by desire not give Jewish persecutees abroad better treatment than members Socialist emigration at home and abroad and by convenient opportunity criticize Chancellor re his lump-sum initiative. Pittermann can fit his criticism into previous advocacy rigorous economy. Figl and Peoples Party conversely would be delighted use Socialist opposition as excuse [Page 786] for failure reach settlement Article 26 claims as they have throughout Vienna Memorandum negotiations.

Furthermore, we note Pittermann’s statements made in private to Embassy and may be designed forestall request for increase in amount or to weaken US support Jewish claims. Olah and Kreisky have supported Article 26 settlement in talks here and publicly to press.

Finally, Pittermann might interpret approach to Platzer as violation confidence. Consider preferable you seek appointment Pittermann prior your vacation informing him you are acting under instructions and drawing on following points and others you consider appropriate:

US Government disappointed by Vice Chancellor’s attitude in view of traditional tolerance of Socialist Party and concern for human welfare. Many beneficiaries indigent and aged. If Pittermann raises Socialist emigration, might point out Jewish persecution much more systematic and extensive and that Austrian Jewish community virtually destroyed.
US profoundly shocked by juxtaposition Russian oil deliveries and Austrian payments fulfilling State Treaty obligation to persecutees. Comparison impossible:
USSR being paid $150 million plus oil and one time payments for German assets some of which only tenuously or partially German. US British companies initially developed oil fields for which oil being paid. Moreover US gave Austria tremendously valuable German assets its zone without payment, and assets under Austrian administration long before treaty.
US gave Austria $1.4 billion in economic aid since war; $43 million in surplus agricultural commodities which helped foreign exchange and investment in Soviet Zone; over $15 million for Hungarian refugees alone not counting millions for other refugee programs and movements; and military aid when completed will total $130 million.
Individuals not US Government recipients lump-sum payment. Although largest single group beneficiaries US, recipients scattered all over world.
Adverse propaganda for Austria in US from failure make satisfactory settlement far outweighs any possible bad propaganda to US in Austria from settlement. If US suffers in Austria, just one of those unfortunate situations which we prepared accept. Lump-sum payment, if anything, perhaps too small and our cause is just. Austrian leaders can turn payment into advantage to Austria by generous action, even at this late date. US Government has made every effort to restrain Jewish organizations and moderate their claims.2

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 763.00/9–1258. Confidential. Drafted by Chapin, cleared by Wehmeyer, and approved by Cameron.
  2. See footnote 1, Document 301. It reported that Pittermann reiterated that payments to persecutees in the United States under Article 26 of the Austrian State Treaty contrasted unfavorably to what was widely perceived as Soviet largesse in making oil concessions to Austria. The last sentence of the airgram urged the Department to “express its surprise and chagrin” over this view to Ambassador Platzer.
  3. Telegram 829 from Vienna, September 30, reported that Wainhouse had made the points contained in this telegram to Pittermann, that point 3 had seemed to impress him, and that he did not question the validity of claims under Article 26. (Department of State, Central Files, 763.00/9–3058)