Austria's Integration with the West

Austria Table of Contents

Early Soviet expectations for domination of Austria were pinned on a serious misreading of the KPÖ's electoral strength, and reality forced the Austrian Communists and their Soviet backers to turn to extraparliamentary means. With the Soviet Union occupying Austria's industrial heartland, the KPÖ hoped first to gain control of the labor movement and then to exploit popular discontent with the difficult postwar economic situation to bring mass pressure to bear on the government. As part of its overall strategy, the KPÖ sought to weaken the SPÖ by encouraging party factionalism and to undermine the cooperation between the two major parties. Similar tactics successfully brought Communists to power in neighboring East European countries in the late 1940s. But in Austria, Socialists united around Renner's social democratic approach and managed to outflank the Communists for worker support, as they had done after World War I.

In 1947 and 1948, the Soviet Union attempted to block Austria's participation in United States-sponsored aid programs, including the European Recovery Program (known as the Marshall Plan), and in the fall of 1947 the KPÖ pulled out of the coalition government over this issue. Ironically, the provisions that the Soviet Union itself had sought in the 1946 Control Agreement enabled Austria to freely sign the aid agreements and join the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC), the body charged with planning how to use the Marshall Plan. Membership in the OEEC facilitated Austria's economic integration with the West and provided the economic basis for a stable parliamentary democracy in the postwar period.

Custom Search

Source: U.S. Library of Congress