312. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • Austria and Europe


  • His Excellency Dr. Bruno Pittermann, Vice-Chancellor of Austria1
  • His Excellency Dr. Wilfred Platzer, Ambassador, Embassy of Austria
  • The Secretary
  • WE—Mr. Turner C. Cameron, Jr., Deputy Director, Office of Western European Affairs
  • L/EUR—Mr. Richard D. Kearney, Assistant Legal Adviser
  • WE—Mr. Frederic L. Chapin, Austrian Desk Officer
  • Interpreter—Mrs. Nora Lejins

The Vice-Chancellor said that Austria’s tranquility permitted him to come at last to the United States to which he had been invited many years ago.

The Secretary recalled that Austria had not always been so tranquil. The United States had struggled hard to obtain the Austrian State Treaty. The President had often spoken of the fact that the good intentions of the Soviets could be demonstrated by deeds rather than words. The deed had been the agreement reached on the Austrian State Treaty, and this had led to the Summit Conference.

Dr. Pittermann expressed his thanks for the steadfast policy of the United States which had put the Austrian State Treaty in the forefront, and which by its insistence on conclusion of the Treaty had had an important bearing on the ultimate favorable outcome.

[Page 802]

The Secretary hoped that the Government and people of Austria would always realize that while the treaty imposed certain, primarily military, restrictions on Austria, which were perhaps proper in a country with the geography and size of Austria, the aspirations and hopes of the Austrian and American peoples and their devotion to freedom and democratic government created a unity between the two for which no counterpart could be found in Austria’s relations with the Soviet Union, as it was presently constituted.

Dr. Pittermann replied that the Austrian Government had attempted to overcome the military weakness imposed upon it by the broadest and most extensive political stability. For 14 years, Austria had had the same Government, and he was convinced that the vast majority of the voters would endorse that coalition government in the next election. Austria was attempting to fulfill its obligations and show its gratitude for western assistance by demonstrating the advantages of a democratic government and a strong economy to the peoples behind the Iron Curtain, showing them how much better the Austrian system was for the individual than theirs.

The Secretary said he had just come back from Germany2 where he had had occasion once more to remark on the solid achievements which the Federal Republic had made. He had emphasized to Chancellor Adenauer that these should not be bartered away lightly for concessions of doubtful value from the Soviet Union. Germany and the German people now had and wished to maintain a very close relationship with France. A longstanding cause of war in Europe had thus been overcome. The relationship between the two countries was not ephemeral but rather reinforced by membership in the Coal and Steel Community, EURATOM, NATO, and the Brussels pact. These were immense achievements which the Soviet Union wished to undo. If the United States should buy German reunification at the price of returning Germany to a place in Central Europe, in which it would have no ties to Western Europe, this would recreate the situation which had led to a series of wars.

Dr. Pittermann said he would like to reply as a co-worker for European unification rather than as Vice-Chancellor of Austria. He could only agree with the Secretary’s views and wish that all the democratic governments of Europe west of the Iron Curtain were more closely united than they were today. Such a unification would exert a significant ideological force and win respect for the West.

[Page 803]

The Secretary continued that it was important for Austria to have the kind of Germany represented by the Federal Republic, rather than the kind of Germany which would correspond with the wishes of the Soviet Union.

  1. Source: Department of State, Austria Desk Files: Lot 68 D 123. Official Use Only. Drafted by Chapin. See also Document 313.
  2. Pittermann visited the United States as a private citizen February 9–20. He spent February 9–12 in Washington, meeting with Dulles, Dillon, and other officials of the Department of State on February 9, Secretary of Labor Mitchell and President Eisenhower on February 10, and Vice President Nixon on February 11. A memorandum of his conversation with Under Secretary Dillon is in Department of State, Austria Desk Files: Lot 68 D 123. During the conversation, the two leaders discussed the fulfillment of Austrian obligations under the Vienna Memorandum and Article 26 of the Austrian State Treaty and the release of counterpart funds. In discussing the latter, Pittermann pointed out that the Austrian Government had applied for release in June 1958 and that U.S. approval, normally a formality taking 2 or 3 months, had not been received. Dillon replied that the delay was not unusual, given the number of agencies involved.

    No records of conversations with any of the other officials visited by Pittermann have been found.

    On February 12, Pittermann flew to Chicago. He traveled by train to New York on February 15, departing from there for Vienna on February 20.

  3. Dulles visited London, Paris, and Bonn February 3-9; for documentation on his visit to the Federal Republic of Germany, see vol. VIII, Documents 164.