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Austria Operations

Early Soviet expectations for domination of Austria were pinned on a serious misreading of the electoral strength of the Communist Party of Austria (Kommunistische Partei Österreichs--KPÖ), and reality forced the Austrian Communists and their Soviet backers to turn to extraparliamentary means. With the Soviet Union occupying Austria's industrial heartland, the KPÖ hoped first to gain control of the labor movement and then to exploit popular discontent with the difficult postwar economic situation to bring mass pressure to bear on the government. As part of its overall strategy, the KPÖ sought to weaken the SPÖ by encouraging party factionalism and to undermine the cooperation between the two major parties. Similar tactics successfully brought Communists to power in neighboring East European countries in the late 1940s. But in Austria, Socialists united around Renner's social democratic approach and managed to outflank the Communists for worker support, as they had done after World War I.

In 1947 and 1948, the Soviet Union attempted to block Austria's participation in United States-sponsored aid programs, including the European Recovery Program (known as the Marshall Plan), and in the fall of 1947 the KPÖ pulled out of the coalition government over this issue. Ironically, the provisions that the Soviet Union itself had sought in the 1946 Control Agreement enabled Austria to freely sign the aid agreements and join the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC), the body charged with planning how to use the Marshall Plan. Membership in the OEEC facilitated Austria's economic integration with the West and provided the economic basis for a stable parliamentary democracy in the postwar period.

  • GRCROOND Project involved staybehind paramilitary operations in Austria to develop escape and evasion network. GRREPAIR Project developed the central section of the escape and evasion network in Austria. GRCROOND / GRREPAIR (1952-62) sought to develop and strengthen the Austrian paramilitary program so that this program could be activated at full strength in the event of hostilities. The program included staybehind, evasion and escape; guerrilla warfare and resistance; paramilitary training; and caching of equipment.
  • ICEBERG (1948-53) was Vienna Operations Base's staybehind program and selected, trained, and placed W/T operators and other types of staybehind agents in strategic locations in Eastern Austria to become active only after the outbreak of hostilities and the loss of this area to hostile forces.
Following Soviet leader Joseph Stalin's death in March 1953, the Austrian government, headed by the newly elected chancellor, Julius Raab, sought to break the stalemate by proposing that Austria promise not to join any military bloc. The Indian ambassador to Moscow, acting as intermediary for the Austrians, went further and suggested permanent neutrality as the basis for a treaty. The Western Allies did not favor this proposal, and the Soviet Union continued to insist on the priority of a settlement in Germany.

In late 1954 and early 1955, however, the Western Allies and the Soviet Union feared that the other side was preparing to incorporate its respective occupation zones into its military bloc. In February the Soviet Union unexpectedly signaled its willingness to settle the Austrian question. In April a delegation composed of Raab, Figl, Adolf Schärf, and Bruno Kreisky went to Moscow. Four days of intense negotiations produced a draft treaty premised on permanent Austrian neutrality. The Western Allies only grudgingly accepted the draft for fear that it would be a model for German neutrality. They particularly objected to a proposed four-power guarantee of Austrian neutrality, believing that it would provide an opportunity for Soviet intervention in Austria. Under strong Western opposition, the Soviet Union dropped the proposal.

On May 15, 1955, the State Treaty was signed. The treaty forbade unification with Germany or restoration of the Habsburgs and provided safeguards for Austria's Croat and Slovene minorities. Austrian neutrality and a ban on foreign military bases in Austria were later incorporated into the Austrian constitution by the Law of October 26, 1955. The 40,000 Soviet troops in Austria were withdrawn by late September. The small number of Western troops that remained were withdrawn by late October.

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Page last modified: 22-11-2013 00:03:02 ZULU