A Cold War over Austria: The Struggle for the State Treaty, Neutrality, and the End of the East-West Occupation, 1945-1955

After World War II, Austria was occupied by Soviet, American, British, and French forces. This study provides the history of the treaty that was negotiated in order to end this occupation. In the Moscow Declaration of 1943, the United States, Great Britain and the Soviet Union had declared that Austria should be liberated from Nazi rule and reconstructed as an independent state. After the war, however, this goal was soon overshadowed by security and power considerations, and then by the Cold War. While the West strove to safeguard Austria’s independence from communist expansion, the USSR refused to finalize a treaty and to withdraw from its zone in the eastern part of the country. In the end it took until 1955 to come to an agreement and receive Soviet consent for a treaty. An important Soviet precondition for agreeing to withdraw was Austria becoming a permanently neutral country. The roots of Austria’s neutrality as traced in this volume were not only linked to Soviet, but also to Austrian considerations. Based on US, Soviet, British, French, German, Swiss and Austrian documents, the book analyzes the risks, pitfalls and blockades that had to be avoided and overcome before Austria could finally regain its independence and be reconstructed.