Austria: Key for War and Peace

Courtesy Reuters

SMALL wonder that Austria's name is on every tongue, and that the prolonged argument of the four Powers over her future echoes around the world. The tenacity with which the parties to the dispute hold to their positions seems in strange contrast to the agreement on general aims which preceded the negotiations. It was announced at the Moscow Conference in 1943 that Austria, the first of Hitler's victims, was to be reëstablished as a sovereign state with political and economic security; but agreement upon particulars now appears impossible, and the failure offers the threat of war. Is this small country worth such trouble? Are the details of the treaty which is meant to restore Austria to a place in the community of nations so important that they should be allowed to disquiet the world?

The answer is brief and simple: the Powers are negotiating over Austria -- but they are dealing with Europe. The question of the political independence of Austria is a question of the freedom of all the medium and small nations of the Continent. The disposition of Austria's economic resources raises the problem of the expansion of the Soviet Union, which apparently seeks to incorporate other lands and peoples in the Russian empire. The effort to safeguard Austria's intellectual and spiritual freedom points the choice between two ways of life for all the peoples of the earth -- between the omnipotent state and human rights, one-party rule and parliamentary government, dictatorship and democracy. History and geography make this small country the crossroads at which Europe takes one of two paths.

Austria bears a name which once stood for the greatest Power in continental Europe. The capital city, Vienna, was for centuries the seat of the emperors of the "Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation." It was at Vienna, in 1529 and again in 1683, that the vanguard of the attack of the Orient upon Europe -- of Islam against Christianity -- was hurled back. Up to 1918, the House of

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