The great powers and the struggle over Austria, 1945-1955
The Austrian State Treaty, achieved after ten years of occupation of Austria by France, Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union, is a frequently cited example of the triumph of painstaking diplomacy between the great powers, but it can more accurately be depicted as the result of unilateral actions by the negotiating countries, particularly the Soviet Union. Careful examination of the records of the negotiations as well as available policy documents of the participants reveals that the highly publicized negotiations gradually became a sophisticated charade for the benefit of European and domestic audiences, while the critical decisions were made elsewhere. Indeed, as Europe grew increasingly polarized very little actual bargaining occurred between East and West; the Austrian negotiations became merely a forum for unilateral action. Thus, in describing the search for Austrian independence, the thesis is not simply a reiteration of the three hundred and seventy-nine meetings of the Foreign Ministers and Foreign Ministers' Deputies for Austria. Rather, it is a uniquely encapsulated version of the course of the Gold War in the ten critical years following the Second World War. The purpose of the thesis is to study, through the prism of British and American documents, the behaviour of the four great powers in the struggle to determine the future of Austria. Examining allied behaviour towards this small but strategically important country, and understanding how the Austrians came to choose a third way between East and West, sheds light upon the great power arrangements in Europe which have persisted to this day.