History, Department of


Date of this Version



International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 15 (2002), pp. 211–221.


Copyright © 2002 Taylor & Francis


In January 1941, Great Britain’s Special Operations Executive (SOE) defined its policy on Austria with two objectives: (1) to assist in the disintegration of the Third Reich by fostering the soon to be expected all-out revolutionary and separatist uprising in Austria; and (2) to bring about the “restoration of Austria as a national unit” within the framework of a central European federation. In short, the hopes and aspirations of the SOE in the Austrian resistance against Nazi Germany were flying high. Five years later, in March 1946, Britain’s political representative in Vienna, William B. Mack, summarized the history of the Austrian resistance for Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin. Already the first phrases of Mack’s report made clear that there was hardly any history to tell: “The Austrian Resistance Movement cannot bear comparison with similar organizations in other countries occupied by the German Army during the war nor, with the possible exception of the Communist-sponsored Austrian Freedom Front (O.F.F.) and the all-party ‘O5’ Organization, did any section of it make any significant contribution to the Allied victory.” Now, with the SOE files on Austria partially released, the history of the Austrian resistance can be written, at least from the British perspective, ranging from high expectations at the beginning to disillusion at the end. What were the SOE plans and actions on promoting Austrian resistance and what was finally achieved?