Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Political Science


Political Science

First Advisor

David D. Warren


Since the Second World War the world has witnessed a gigantic struggle between East and West, between communism and democracy. After the War the European theater was one of the main areas in which this struggle was waged with each side seeking to extend its influence and block the advance of the other. The result was that virtually no progress could be made in resolving outstanding issues growing out of World War II. Thus for ten years the Soviet Union obstructed the re-establishment of Austria's independence and sovereignty. Why then did the Soviets so suddenly change their policy in 1955 paving the way for Austria's freedom? To answer this question it will be necessary to give an account of the developments in Austria and at the international conference table during this ten-year period. The first part of the thesis will draw mainly in the New York Times, the Reports of the U.S. High Commissioner for Austria, and various books dealing with this period.

Yet it is not enough to merely outline the developments leading to the change in Soviet policy if an adequate explanation is to be provided for the shift which occurred in 1955. Soviet foreign policy, like any other foreign policy, is basically determined by two factors. On the one hand, it is an integral part of the overall policy of the country and as such closely connected with domestic events. On the other hand, it is to a large extent a reaction to the given international situation. In order to understand the Soviet willingness to negotiate an Austrian peace settlement, internal developments in the Soviet Union as well as the international situation existing at the time must be analyzed. Here, The Current Digest Of the Soviet Press proved to be a very valuable source of information.

The early Soviet policy toward Austria indicates that the Soviet Union was hoping to include, if not the whole of Austria, at least the Soviet zone in the satellite empire. When developments in Austria as well as Western opposition made the realization of this aim very unlikely, the negotiations on the treaty reached a stalemate.

Two changes in Soviet leadership--in 1953 and in 1955--were necessary to break the deadlock in the negotiations on the treaty. After Stalin's death in 1953, several conciliatory moves by the Malenkov government created a more favorable international climate. Yet it was not until Khrushchev won power in the spring of 1955 that there was a clear break with Stalinist principles. The new Soviet policy of peaceful coexistence was an important factor in the shift of the Russian attitude toward Austria. An examination of the international situation at that time reveals that major international problems had been settled. The political and military situation in Europe made an Austrian settlement feasible and even advantageous from the Soviet point of view. Thus it is in the combination of internal developments in the Soviet Union and the political situation on the international scene that the reasons can be found for the Russian withdrawal from Austria.



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