181. Memorandum of Conversation0



  • Austrian Relations with Eastern Europe


  • United States
    • The Secretary
    • Ambassador Stevenson
    • Mr. Tyler
    • Mr. Appling
    • Mr. Lissance—Interpreter
  • Austria
    • H.E. Bruno Kreisky, Foreign Minister
    • Dr. Ludwig Steiner, Under-Secretary of State
    • Dr. Franz Matsch, Representative to the United Nations
    • H.E. Dr. Wilfried Platzer,
    • Ambassador Ambassador Hans Thalberg, Foreign Office

Kreisky said Austria had settled its differences and established good working relations with all of its neighbors. After working well with Bulgaria and Rumania, they were now taking up Hungary and perhaps ultimately would take on Czechoslovakia. He felt it Austria’s political task to keep the region calm, and felt that they were having reasonable success. They were also collaborating closely with the church and had been able to assist in its concerns in Hungary. In a way, they were achieving a certain “liberation” of the area and it was now possible for thousands of people from the Communist countries to come to Austria where they could see a free, prosperous and happy society where people were “free to complain”.

Kreisky said there was a certain disintegration in process in the Bloc. For the present, it was largely economic. If Moscow could not put pressure on Albania, the satellites had to realize that Moscow certainly could also not push them around. The opportunity to choose either of two leaders gave satellites a certain freedom of action. For example, Rumania refused to take sides until it had what it wanted from the Soviet Union in economic questions. Khrushchev badly needed the support of all European Communist parties and in each of them there were nuclei of doctrinal opposition.

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The Secretary asked about the iron curtain on the Hungarian border and Kreisky said they were moving cautiously to weaken it. They were proposing a treaty with Hungary for a mixed commission which would deal with frontier incidents on the spot rather than involving the two governments at top levels. They were working out an exchange of farmlands on both sides of the frontier which had been troublesome.

To a question from the Secretary, Kreisky replied that he saw no reduction of fear of Germany in Eastern Europe. It might not be so evident now, but it was always an important imponderable.

Ambassador Stevenson asked about internal shifts in Czechoslovakia and said they had recently shown some interest in increased trade with us. Kreisky said Czechoslovakia was the most reactionary (in the Communist sense) of the satellites. They had left it to the Stalinists to liquidate Stalinism. This had not been possible and therefore, they were only now moving in that direction. He suggested it would be best to stand off for several weeks or months to see how things go. It seemed unwise to deal with people who might soon depart.

Kreisky said that minorities from the satellite nations living in Austria were loyal to Austria and that no efforts were being made to use them to stir up trouble in Austria. Kreisky said Ulbricht was an arch Stalinist. He remained in power as a figurehead and as a matter of prestige. With Adenauer’s departure, perhaps this would change.1 Ulbricht was known to be disagreeable and inflexible and had no political sense at all. The Communists needed a man more adequate to their present policies.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL Aus–E.Eur. Confidential. Drafted by Appling and approved in S on October 2. The meeting was held at the U.S. Mission. The source text is labeled “Part 1 of 4.” A separate memorandum covering the conversation on East-West relations is ibid. Memoranda of conversation dealing with two other topics discussed are printed as Documents 182 and 183.
  2. Adenauer, who had announced his intention to step down in September 1962, resigned as German Chancellor on October 11.