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  • Waltzing into the Cold War: The Struggle for Occupied Austria
  • Günter Bischof
James Jay Carafano , Waltzing into the Cold War: The Struggle for Occupied Austria. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2002. 249 pp.

This well-written, first-rate study ought to carry a title like Cold War Secrecy: The American Militarization of Occupied Austria after World War II. The book's stereotypical title evoking a Strauss operetta is a misnomer; there was nothing light-hearted "in three-quarters time" about the battle over Austria's secret rearmament. Carafano hardly touches on the complex international negotiations that led to the Austrian state treaty—one of the most vexing issues in the East-West conflict. He skims over Austrian [End Page 141] domestic politics. He introduces the major players among Austrians and the Western allies in sharp cameo portraits.

This is a study of the U.S. Army that originated as a Georgetown Ph.D. dissertation. As a West Point graduate, Carafano knows an enormous amount about the Army as an institution, particularly its culture and "rhythm of habits" (p.11). The massive World War II American army was created "to end the war quickly" (p.13), but it was ill-suited for the uncertainty of "the fog of peace" (p.47). Before World WarII, West Point and the staff colleges did not give officers such as Lester Flory, who ledthe planning team into Austria, a solid grounding in international relations or in political-military affairs. Carafano implies that most of America's proconsuls in the postwar occupation regimes were provincial men who had to learn on the job. This is an important insight.

Despite having participated in the post-World War I occupation of the Rhineland, the U.S. Army had failed to maintain a doctrine or any institutional memory of past occupation policies. From the superficial training done by civilian administration teams, one would never have known that the Army would soon be responsible for administering 200 million people (including 7 million Austrians) and spending a billion dollars annually after World War II (p.13).

After a late and tentative start, the U.S.-British allied authority—known as the Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF)—set up a modest planning unit for Austria in 1944. Constant friction between the military commanders and the planning personnel beset this unit and SHAEF as a whole. Cooperation during the planning stage was good with U.S. State Department representatives and reasonably good with the British but not with the Soviet Union. The basic "Handbook for Austria" envisaged a dysfunctional state—"a fertile breeding ground for the development of Nazi pan-Germanism" (p.26).

Nothing could have prepared even the best-intentioned occupiers for the utterly chaotic conditions in Austria at the end of the war. Apart from the war-related destruction, more than a million displaced persons (DPs) and hundreds of thousands of capitulating Wehrmacht soldiers had flooded into Austria late in the war. It was here in the Alpenfestung that Hitler was expected to make his last desperate stand. The U.S. Army's mission was to prevent "disease and unrest" and to restore political stability. The lack of preparedness was further compounded by rapid demobilization and chronic shortages of personnel. The Army's pig-headed non-fraternization policy did nothing to help build trust with its hapless charges. One young American soldier stationed in Austria quickly came to the conclusion: "Americans have no ability to act as conquerors" (p.68).

In an outstanding chapter on intelligence, Carafano presents the surprising conclusion that the hunt for Nazis and "werewolves" (the Nazi guerrilla movement founded by Heinrich Himmler) in Austria kept the "overworked and underresourced" U.S. Army (p.87) so busy that the Soviet Union was not recognized as a threat until 1948. Nonetheless, Carafano's suggestion of a seemingly late start to the Cold War in [End Page 142] Austria is skewed by his exclusively American perspective. There is plenty of evidence that the British during the final phase of World War II already believed that the Soviet Union posed a threat in Austria.

The heart of Carafano's study covers the years 1948 to...