Britain and the Occupation of Austria, 1943–45 by Alice Hills (auth.)

By Alice Hills (auth.)

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Sample text

Failure to do this, Eden warned, would mean a return of Austria to the German fold. 7 Although this did not contradict the May memorandum, it deliberately dampened expectations. Roberts, to name one dissenting voice, was unconvinced by its proposals. He thought the time had come for a more positive line, at least in propaganda to Austria, and that Austria should now be treated separately from the rest of the Danube basin. The following month, Eden let it be known that he too wished for the adoption of a more positive line; he did not want a public declaration of British policy, but he thought a joint Allied declaration would be useful.

Austrians lacked a compelling sense of national identity. 26 Parallel with this went the German penetration of all positions of influence in politics, culture, industry and science. There was also the military call-up. The Austrians were not second-class citizens, but regular ‘Ostmarker’ of the Reich, and the steadily increasing recruitment drive of the German Army presented resistance organisers with severe problems. In addition, Austria was geographically isolated, especially from direct contact with any of the Allies; contacts were made through Berne, Ankara and Stockholm but, until 1944, these links were tenuous.

According to Jebb, most of the researchers had little experience of government and, even if they had, would have proved incapable of coercing political departments and actually formulating policy. But, whatever the case – and Jebb was undoubtedly correct – hesitancy remained characteristic of most of the recorded public and private discussions. The treatment to which a postwar Austria should be subject and the means by which she could be freed from German domination remained uncertain until much later than 1943.

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