Austrian State Treaty

   Signed in Vienna on 15 May 1955 by John Foster Dulles for the United States, Harold Macmillan for Great Britain, Vyachyslav Molotov for the Soviet Union, Antoine Pinay for France, and Leopold Figl, Austrian foreign minister, the treaty ended 10 years of Allied occupation. It thus marked the reappearance of an independent Austria. Negotiations concluded some months earlier had established that Austria would also be neutral, though this arrangement was not a formal part of the State Treaty itself. However, without prior accord on neutrality, the State Treaty would have been very difficult to conclude. The Soviet Union was anxious that Austria not be a part of any hostile military alliance, particularly one that involved Germany. The death of the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in 1953 temporarily relaxed tensions between the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Soviet Union, which made Austrian sovereignty possible.
   The State Treaty officially described Austria as invaded, then occupied, by Germany from 1938 to 1945. Active Austrian responsibility for the war was thereby ruled out. Nevertheless, the arrangement clearly acknowledged that for many Austrians the Anschluss had not been altogether unwelcome. The State Treaty forbids any kind of political and economic union of Austria and Germany and requires that Austria respect human rights, including those of resident minorities. Anyone who served in the German army with the rank of lieutenant or above was forbidden to serve in the army of the Austrian republic. With some minor adjustments, the boundaries of Austria in 1938 were to apply to the new state. Germany, for its part, recognized Austria’s independence. Austria was to foster democratic institutions and prohibit all National Socialist and fascist organizations and parties. It was also to renew the Habsburg Exclusion Act of 1919.
   The Allies promised not to exact any reparations. They also agreed to return to local ownership German assets that the victors had seized in Austria in 1945, as permitted in the Potsdam Treaty. These properties included significant industrial installations and oil fields, banks, insurance companies, and the equipment and capital of the Danube Steamship Company. The Soviet Union insisted on some compensation for its lost rights in these enterprises, which it valued at US $150 million. The Austrians agreed to pay this off in kind, rather than cash. This they did with large quantities of manufactured products and petroleum. The obligation was completely fulfilled by 1963.
   See also Foreign Policy; Raab, Julius.

Historical dictionary of Austria. . 2014.

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