IF THE occupation armies in Europe are compared with a lance, the point of the lance is in Austria. You cannot simply cut the shaft of this lance; the point must first be withdrawn. Today, point and shaft both remain. There will be no real peace in any part of this area so long as there are troops in Austria.

Peace cannot be restored in fragments; this is now so clear as to need no further demonstration. Such progress as has been made has been the result chiefly of concessions by the west. The troops of the western Powers have been brought home from Italy, but the Russian troops have been left in strategic positions in central and eastern Europe.

To "make peace" means to restore normal conditions in the world. But it seldom is possible to resume peaceful pursuits at the point where they were dropped. Thus to normalize conditions means more than to restore things as they were. The world agrees, for example, that the abolition of Nazism and the prevention of aggression are essential for peace. But what conditions should the victorious Powers create in the countries for which they are responsible in order to make these objectives likely of attainment?

In the western view, for instance, aggression remains a possibility so long as democracy is absent: a government which can act independently of the will of the people slips easily into the paths set by its own ambition. In the view of the east, on the other hand, the possibility of conflict lies in a lack of social progress. Communism holds that not dictators but capitalists, i.e. the exponents of private enterprise, are responsible for unrest and wars. Which, then, are to be taken as the decisive factors of peace and progress ? Are they democracy and freedom in the body politic? Or are they the nationalization of industry and social-economic equality? Is America the ideal state which reconstruction efforts should emulate -- or England, or France? Or is Russia the ideal state? It seems obvious that the two ideals cannot be pursued simultaneously.

At one conference after another the political experts of four governments tried to solve the problem of obtaining a "glowing moisture" by mixing fire and water, that is to say, by combining American and Russian ideals; and finally the experiment was abandoned as futile. In view of that failure, one possible procedure is to leave each nation to decide the kind of political and social organization it will have. This formula is not practicable, however, if the people in question are looked upon as a danger to peace; nor is it acceptable, even for a peaceful people, if there is likelihood that the nation as a whole will be coerced by an aggressive minority backed by outside force. The other alternative, when the Great Powers fail to agree on how to organize the house which they are occupying together, is for each Power to organize its own part of the house according to its own ideas. This may be preferable to anarchy. But is it suitable in Austria? Since Austria constitutes no danger to peace, and since the Austrian people have already, on their own initiative, chosen to organize their homeland on the principles of democracy and freedom of the individual under law, it scarcely seems appropriate or useful.

In order to bring out more clearly what policy is now advisable in regard to Austria, let us examine certain major aspects of the problem. There is no need to waste words about the importance of Austria's geographic position. She separates the Germans from the Italians and the Slav nations from the western nations; she commands the passes of the Alps and the entrance to the Danube basin. Politically and culturally, Austria has been a region of first importance in central Europe throughout the history of the Continent. No wonder Russia regards the idea of withdrawal from the Vienna area as a great concession!

The greater part of Austria's economic assets are to be found in her eastern regions. Indeed, it is not too much of an exaggeration to say, in the current Viennese witticism, that the Russians have Austria's industry and the western Powers have the scenery. In the case of Germany, division into zones is a misfortune but not a fatal injury. The center of the German economy lies in the Ruhr; German cultural life is focussed in the west; and the great majority of Germans have their homes there. The present truncated body of western Germany could at least exist. But in Austria the cow is, so to speak, standing the other way round: the economic and cultural centers of Austria lie in the eastern part of the country. Moreover, Austria is not so much the home of a distinct race as it is an individual entity moulded by the past thousand years. The soul of Austria is in her tradition and way of life. Such a country cannot be chopped into pieces and survive. It sometimes happens in the Alpine forests that a trapped fox gnaws his leg off in order to live in freedom, even as a cripple; but no fox whose muzzle was caught in the trap could gnaw his head off. A beautiful countryside can hardly be converted into a separate entity. If a European -- or at least a western European -- customs union could be speedily developed, matters might be different. The economic collaboration of Austria with one particular area alone, however, would be bound to lead her quickly to complete dependence upon that area. If such a state of affairs lasted for any length of time, a series of evils might ensue which only another war could remedy, as we saw in the recent past.

The Austrian questions which are of vital importance are, therefore, not only matters of principle but problems of time. They can be understood only in relation to recent events. Modern technical progress has furnished the state with increasingly effective methods of control over its own citizens. This makes it vital to preserve democracy. The establishment of a Communist dictatorship is an irrevocable action, not to be undone except with outside aid. You cannot fight planes and tanks today at the barricades with firearms. A decision which would subject a part of Austria to the dictatorship of the small Communist minority would be a cause of utter dismay for every Austrian statesman. The "killer" mentality means that once they had obtained power, they would hold on to it by any and all means. Nobody can blame the Austrian Government for resisting such a development with the utmost energy.


A speedy liberation of all of Austria would be in the general interest of Europe and would promote the special interests of each of the Great Powers as well, of course, as Austrian interests. Its achievement would justify certain risks and sacrifices. Only when this principal question of liberation has been answered in the affirmative can a serious effort be made to judge the conditions which would justify the conclusion of an Austrian treaty. It is comparatively simple, of course, to formulate the conditions of such a treaty in abstract terms: territorial integrity, political freedom, a sound economy. But to give them concrete expression requires consideration of much more than mathematical factors.

One of the main stumbling blocks to the conclusion of an Austrian peace treaty so far has been the question of the "German assets" in Austria. The Soviet Union, due to a lack of interpretation of what should be regarded as "German assets," has claimed property which legally belonged to Austria until 1938 and was taken over by Germany only under duress. To support its claims the Soviet Union is able to cite the Potsdam Agreement. Although the Great Powers dislike open criticism from representatives of small countries, I cannot refrain from calling the article of the Potsdam Agreement describing "German assets" a diplomatic blunder. Neutral countries, countries which shared in aggression, and finally Austria, were lumped together on the same list. Austria was the first victim of Hitler's aggression, and in that moment lost her legal status and existence. There ceased to be an Austrian Government. For seven years Austria was subjected to a systematic policy of German economic penetration and was governed as an integral part of the German Reich. Would it make any sense to declare that, say, Bavaria is a "German asset," and to seize it lock, stock and barrel, for reparations payments? The claim to "German assets" in Austria in the form in which the Soviet Union has put it forth is not quite comparable to that, but it is still illogical enough.

The lack of precision in the wording of the Potsdam Agreement is baffling. The western Powers insist today that the principles of the London declaration regarding occupied territories are implicit in it. The Soviet Union, however, does not agree, and two years of discussion have been necessary to clarify the Potsdam declaration to some degree. Its main principle is plain, at any rate: whatever rights the Soviet Union may have acquired to "German assets," these rights cannot exceed the rights of the previous German owner of such property. At present the legal status of German property in Austria is based on its legal status prior to 1938. It is hard to see how any claim to a right to change this legal basis could be said to be supported by the Potsdam declaration. Indeed, for such claims to be raised makes one wonder about the effectiveness of our system of international law.

The absence of precise definitions in the Potsdam declaration makes it infinitely difficult to agree upon a principle for determining the amount of "German assets" to be transferred to the U.S.S.R. The French proposal submitted to the London Conference is, in the main, based on a lump-sum agreement. It tries to find a way out of the maze of definitions by changing the basis of the discussion, i.e. by avoiding the effort to agree on a legal principle. But this inevitably gives rise to two questions: (1) How much can Austria's economy pay without grave danger to her political, economic and social life? (2) What key positions in Austrian life will be held by one or the other of the Powers as a result of the transfer of German property, and how will these be used? The answer to the latter question cannot be made only in mathematical terms; it must also take into consideration the country's over-all political and economic situation. In particular, one factor of great importance must be borne in mind. Foreign property in Austria which is subject to Austrian law is not a threat to Austria's independence, but property held by a foreign Power regardless of its status under Austrian law would be extraterritorial property. The history of imperialism suggests how serious a danger to a country's sovereignty is the assertion by another Power of extraterritorial rights.


Austria's internal affairs have been stable since the war ended, differing markedly in this respect from the situation in Hungary, Bulgaria or Rumania. This is partly because Austria's cultural tradition keeps her from being susceptible to the Communist creed, partly because the distribution of land in Austria is the soundest in Europe -- Communism has no chance in the Austrian village. Moreover, the structure of the political parties is simple and distinct. Both the big parties are agreed on all fundamental questions, and they represent 95 percent of the population. What is very important, too, the key positions, especially those having to do with public safety, are in the hands of democratic forces. In the course of an attack lasting three years, and under economic conditions most unfavorable to the existing government, Communism has made no progress.

How dependent is Austria on the Danube area? Nobody can deny that the old "Monarchy on the Danube" formed an unusually favorable economic unit. This was in part the result of a specific political system, which, however, cannot easily be replaced. Only a long period of political education could bring the member nations together again.

The countries of the Danube area are no longer purely rural countries with a large agricultural surplus, as is often erroneously supposed. But though trade relations within the area are important, no economic union appears practicable so long as the present acute political tension continues. A Communist Austria as part of a Communist-directed Danubian area is at least conceivable. But the idea of a free democratic Austria fitted economically into a Communist Danube region is absurd. All long-range plans for organizing Austria in the Danube area must therefore be postponed until the United Nations organization is capable of taking over the defense of the internal affairs of small states against outside interference. In a short-term view, Austria is far from dependent on the Danube area; in the long run, her relationship with the other states of the area will certainly not be unimportant. However, the political and economic problems of the next five years must be solved before we can solve those of the next 25.

Three points may be made in this connection: (1) It is extremely desirable to increase Austria's trade with the countries of the Danube area, because this not only would improve Austria's economic situation but also, to a certain degree, would improve the economic situation of western Europe. (2) At the moment, this trade is limited because no surplus is available for export on either side.[i] (3) Austria's dependence upon trade in the Danube area is not sufficiently great to make it an effective weapon against her in the hands of anybody in that area who wanted to pursue an imperialistic policy.

After all, Austria was never supplied with anything free of charge; she gave important industrial products in return for what she received. The countries of the Danube area need these products just as badly as Austria needs theirs. Once Austria gets to her feet, she could probably stand up against an economic war from this direction with less help from outside than she is receiving now. But such an economic war seems very unlikely. The ever-present danger to Austria is that of aggression by military forces.

Has the world realized that peace is indivisible, and that if there is to be peace anywhere military imperialism must be stopped wherever it attacks? The democratic forces in Austria are in the front line. They are holding on, in the hope that the universal answer to the question is "Yes."


It is open to debate whether there is an intention on all sides to conclude a treaty with Austria, and it therefore becomes advisable to consider now what should be done if, by the imposition of intolerable terms, the conclusion of a treaty is made impossible.

One proposal is that, in such case, the western Powers and Austria should conclude separate treaties. For several reasons this would not be practicable. The present draft Treaty is in itself the product of a policy of the Great Powers toward Austria which has gone astray in principle. The compensation for the disadvantage of the Treaty is that it would bring about the immediate evacuation of Austria by all occupation forces.[ii] This advantage would be lost if separate treaties were made with the west; no reasonable person could advocate a one-sided withdrawal of troops. Separate treaties would further the disintegration of Austria.

Should it become obvious that the Soviet Union is not disposed to agree to an Austrian treaty unless a fundamental change in the situation has taken place, then the United States and, let us hope, the other western Powers also, should fundamentally revise their policy in Austria. This revision, however, could only lead to a solemn declaration to the effect that a small country deprived of its government cannot be held responsible for the action of its citizens who were pressed into the service of a foreign war machine. This would be consistent with the treatment of other conquered countries, big and small. Austria should be looked upon as a free nation, whose status does not differ from that of Belgium or Czechoslovakia and whose rights are not impaired. The idea that Austria's armaments ought to be limited in order to control the German capacity for armaments has already once proved to be sheer nonsense; indeed, it merely furthered German aggression. For economic reasons Austria will never have more than a small army for self-protection. It would be indefensible to adopt a policy which would merely degrade her.

Austria needs no treaty to adjust her free and independent existence. An agreement on evacuation between the occupying Allied Governments is necessary only because the maintenance of occupational forces is not based on international law. The question of German property should not be dealt with in the treaty with Austria at all. This property should be defined in the German peace treaty, which should also say expressly that Germany's acts of economic penetration in Austria are null and void. This fundamental revision of policy toward Austria ought to be combined with economic help as provided by the European Recovery Program.

In addition, the western Powers should emphasize four things: 1, that the revival of a free and independent Austria is an important objective of their future policy; 2, that they will never agree to the annexation of Austrian territory by a foreign Power; 3, that they are themselves ready to evacuate Austria at the time the Soviet troops leave; 4, that a further occupation of Austrian territory constitutes a violation of international law, which -- sooner or later -- must be taken up by the United Nations as a factor disturbing peace.

Such a policy cannot give immediate practical relief to Austria. It would, however, give the Austrians the mighty moral backing which they need to carry on, and it would give them a firm hope for a better future. This better future will come when the development of the United Nations puts an end to the use of naked force as an instrument of international policy. When that happens, Austria will finally be really free.

Austria will not -- indeed she cannot -- tread the path of political adventure. Her ambition is to prove to the world that a country with a strong cultural tradition and a sound way of life can live on respectable terms with other nations -- in short, can "live and let live." The pursuit of this ambition will always put her foremost among those nations which desire a greater degree of world unity. Disregarding the reactionary slogans which can be heard from certain quarters, the Austrian people are convinced that only a speedy advancement of international collaboration, the reduction of economic barriers, and the creation of a real world organization in which every nation takes part according to its abilities can inaugurate a new period of progress.

The Austrian people thankfully acknowledge the flow of help from the United States. They will uphold the banner of freedom. They will insist that their government submit to their judgment in every election, and that any government which has lost their confidence must make way for a new one.

[i] Incidentally, trade with these countries never made up more than 38 percent of Austria's trade balance during the best years between 1918 and 1938, and tended to decrease as a result of their growing industrialization. In the last three years there has been practically no trade along the Danube.

[ii] Article 33 requires that they leave not later than 90 days after the Treaty goes into effect.

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