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Why Was Austria Not Absorbed Into Eastern Bloc History Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

Austria is located at the Eastern foothills of the Alps, the western edges of the Hungarian plains. Austria became the occupation of the Allied forces after World War II; before the war she was a very neutral state which became Nazi Occupied. She was an independent state again, she was divided up into four zones and Vienna, which this represented the four allies; Russia, America, France and Britain until 1955. Most of the 20th century Austria took part in the economic miracle of the cold war and aid of the Marshall plan, though this period was full of violent political conflict. With an uncomfortable confrontation with the Nazi’s one must now explore the effects on Austria and though this why she wasn’t absorbed into the eastern bloc.

Austria after the World War II was in the same situation as much of Europe after the war, there was a severe lack of food, housing problems and refugee problems. There was also lack of production, and unstable currency, the economic was fractured, power shortage, raw materials, and an exhausted labour force. The country depended on the allied forces who occupied Austria until 1955, to prevent Austria from soviet takeover which made it clear that they required Austria to gain access into Europe on many occasions.

The most significant point one must recognise is the Allies effort to deal with Austria after the war and how the allies felt it was one of the more easier problems to deal with post war, therefore one factor why she was not absorbed into the Eastern Bloc. Power belonged to the Allies in Austria and the politicians were known as powerless puppets. Through this the Allies began the process of denazification as post-war Karl Renner, Austrian politician and the first president of the republic, announced Austria separate from Germany which also led to the socialist party known as the Verein der Unabhängige eventually weakening. Austria only wanted to be an independent state and if they became part of the eastern sector then this would not have happened.

The Allies emphasized the threat of Communism which further the ideas of wanting independence across around Austria. The Soviet Union gave every sign to the Western powers that they wanted to turn Austria into Communist state. In may 1947 there were communist sponsored food riots, Then the Soviet Red Army marched into Vienna and through propaganda broadcasts, encouraged the formation of anti-Nazi coalitions composed of Socialists, Communists, liberals, and conservatives. As one will notice it is very clear that there were numerous signs that Austria would become an Eastern Bloc country should the Allies not helped.

One would assume that with popularity increasing for the Soviet Union in Austria with the Soviets giving food to workers in soviet run factories at a time of severe food shortages this would happen however the Soviets were betrayed by President Karl Renner and the first attempt to takeover failed. When the protests over the spring of 1947, when food, electricity, heating and fuel were at the biggest shortage the Austrian communist party staged a riot, with around 5,000 demonstrators, with the Soviets closely watching. However the significant factor in why one can notice the first significant factor is the Austrian council turned to Allied forces for help and with the allies believing the Soviets were responsible, the putsch of Communists broke apart by the time the Allies met however, it identified clear tensions and that the Soviets had every intentions of making Austria part of her Eastern Bloc, which the Allies would fight to stop.

Soviet Union emerged as a major imperialist power at the end of the war and wanted to expand in any way they could. Molotov, the foreign minister categorically declared: “My task as minister of foreign affairs was to expand the borders of the fatherland” [1] . Stalin’s insecurity and the intentions of Molotov were clear of expanding the soviet empire and controlling their own security sphere. We will know look at how the United States contributed to helping Austria not be absorbed into the Eastern Bloc.

The United States have a significant part to play in the reason why Austria was not absorbed into the eastern bloc. In June of 1947 a massive program of aid was announced for Austria which included the delivery of food, medical supplies, fuel, and other necessities. Also announced was that the United States would stop accepting reimbursement for occupation and would refund all payments, this therefore was significant as it meant Austria was able to stabilize the economic situation and therefore never would have to become part of the Eastern Bloc as they would be more independent. The United States aid also caused even more tension it shown the public the real difference of emergences and intentions. The economic difficulties in the Austrian treaty negotiations reached no significant conclusions by the end of the discussion on 11th October 1947 Austria accepted there offering to be part of the program by the United States, the involvement of the Marshall plan however made the Soviet Union drop out, the tension was growing more and more evident between East-West rift. So far we have seen that the allies clearly did everything to prevent Austria from becoming a communist state which is why she was not part of the Eastern Bloc.

The negotiations threatened the independence of Austria “the foreign ministers, instead of arguing over the definition of the term, should try to enumerate what specific Austrian resources would require. The German assets in Eastern Austria, for which the Soviet government would receive a lump-sum payment from the Austrian government. The French suggestion also specified the business interests and percentage of production involved.” [2] One will have noticed that the Austria was not absorbed into the because of the help of the Allies, mainly the United States, however to what extent was the Austrian Government responsible for themselves not being absorbed into the Eastern Bloc, we will now look at the final events which took place before Austria was eventually granted her independence.

One significant factor about Austria in terms of why it was not absorbed into the eastern sector was that it was under Nazi control and later after the war the soviet union failed to take over it. A country who had a good economy relying on engineering, mining, steel and tourism would have proved and ideal source for the Soviet Union which was her their main source of entry and communication to western Europe. “The Western Allies powers were generally powerless to resist the spread of Communism thanks to the power of the red army” [3] Therefore one can see it was essential to stop the spread of the Soviet Union and allow Austria to be absorbed into the Eastern Bloc.

There are many long term factors also involving why she was not absorbed into the eastern bloc. The state with a total of 54 million in before the war was the centre of the Hapsburg monarchy. The runt republic governed Austria from 1918 to 1934 in a democracy which was how Austria wished to be governed not in a communist way and more get their independence back which is why one can see it arguable that it was the determination of Austria which prevented them from being absorbed into the Eastern sector.

The Moscow Declaration October 30th 1943, must be considered as a contributing factor made by Austria for their reason why they did not become part of the eastern bloc. The Governments of the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union and the United States agreed that Austria, the first free country to fall a victim to Nazi aggression, shall be liberated from German domination. “The Moscow Declaration had momentous consequences- good and bad- for Austria. On the plus side, i share the view that the ‘victim’ version of history spurred Austrians to develop a strong sense of national identity and to reduce to political insignificance the latent yearning for the greater German nation that had played such a destructive role during the inter-war years.” [4] One must realise that the Allies were very accepting to Austria “in circumstances Austria got off lightly, astonishingly so. 13,000 Austrians were investigated for war crimes, of whom 23,000 were tried, 13,600 condemned, 43 sentenced to death and just 30 executed. Some civil sentences were dismissed.” [5] Therefore one can see that Austria wasn’t absorbed into the Eastern Bloc because they had help from Austria. However one can see that this was to make amends with the allies and begin the support against the Soviet Union and why they did not become part of the Easter Bloc.

One must recognise that even though the Allies were significantly responsible for stopping Austria becoming part of the Soviet Union it was very much to their own benefit “Austrians were also disappointed with the allies, who had not clarified any of the burning issues since the Moscow declaration to the point way more clearly to a constructive solution of the Austrian problem. The idea of Austrian independence, as formulated in the Moscow Declaration and interpreted in Hull’s letter to Vandenberg, did not appeal to the planners a January 1945 OSS document, based upon State Department opinions and commissioned by the War Department, still insisted that the Allies were free of any commitments regarding Austria’s Future” [6] One will see that it was more to protect themselves which the Austria were clearly aware of but for those majority who supported the Allies it was a better option to do the Moscow declaration to protect themselves from becoming part of the Eastern Bloc.

The next significant factor came from the Vienna Conference of Ambassadors. Where one would see this as a civil way of dealing with problems it led to mainly open disagreements. Western Powers represented Austria “Acting upon Austria’s request the western powers opposed article 16, which provided for the repatriation of displaced persons, and on their own initiative pressed for elimination of Article 17, which limited the size of Austria’s army. Both articles had been included in the long draft treaty initiative, were for the first time thrown seriously off balance.” [7] 

As John Dulles informed President Eisenhower” the soviets are very sticky and following their usual tactics of holding out to the last in hopes of getting some slight dividend” [8] . The Molotov and the Soviet Union eventually deleted all treaties with Austria go and on the morning of 15th May 1955 they signed making 500,000 Austrians joyful. The foreign ministers Macmillian, Molotov, Pinay, Dulles and Austrians Figl’s. One will see that it Austria’s request was successful however it was clear that the real emerging power and without a doubt the clear reason why Austria did not become part of the Soviet Union’s Eastern bloc was from the United States of America. “On the continent it were the Christian democrat parties which were left as victors: dominant in West Germany, the key to government stability in the low countries and Austria” [9] We will see that it wasn’t just about stopping the Soviet Union it affected every aspect to stop the Communist spread.

Before one can conclude one must realise that even though Austria did not want to become part of the Soviet Union this is only a majority, there were many people in Austria who did want a Soviet Austria. Anastas Mikoyan First Deputy Premier of the Soviet Union, told Kreisky a member of the Austrian Parliament during the course of negotiations when hoped neutral negotiations could still be made “listen, they cannot say no, because they [have] promised you the state treaty for such a long time, now that the state treaty will come, they cannot say no” [10] , this was when Kreisky hesitated over not having a neutral Austria and what the western intentions were. As we have clearly throughout the events leading up to this though it was more Austrians that wanted an independent state especially evaluating the reaction to having their own independence granted at the signing of the Austrian State Treaty.

To conclude it is evident why Austria was not absorbed into the Eastern Bloc, and that was from the Allied forces help and that started as part of the recovery process after the war and with nazifying the country, whereas the real reason came from the United States, with the help of aid, no occupation costs and contributed to getting the economy stable, pushing the Moscow declaration and getting her independence we can see without this perhaps the soviet union would have swallowed Austria. The United States pushed for Austria particularly from what we have evaluated at the Vienna Conference and the eventual signing of the Austrian state treaty. John Foster Dulles, represented America as the foreign minister and pressured the Soviet Union’s minister Molotov into the eventual agreement. One must not forget that the United states had her own benefits to get from helping Austria out. The United States had her own conflicts with the Soviet Union and this just continued the Cold war for them. The United States had to prevent The Soviet Union otherwise they would have used Austria as their entry into Europe.

Austria also contributed to her own independence. One must realise the significance of the Moscow Declaration had in order to gain allied support. It is clear however that in order for the Austrians to not be absorbed into the Eastern Bloc without the United States they would have.

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