`VITAL FORCE AMONG OUR WORKERS' 214,000 exiles
By DANIEL COUNIHAN
THE Church is a stronger force among the ordinary people of Austria than it has been since well before the war, the Austrian Chancellor, Herr Julius Raab, told me on Friday before he left London to return to Vienna.
He gestured emphatically with his hand as he said : The Church is strong throughout Austria. The recent Catholic Youth Rallies have shown that." The most notable increase in Catholic fervour, he said, is in the towns. The masses of the Austrian people in industry are not just officially Catholic. There has been a great increase in real fervour among the industrial workers. The Church
is a vital force i their lives. Herr Raab said parish life carries on in the Soviet occupied area of the country as freely as elsewhere. "There is no attempt at interference." He a thought Communism among
the people themselves was not a great danger. "You can already see," he said, "that there is a decline. Elections have shown that and it seems to be continuing."
Earlier, at a farewell news conference in the Austrian Embassy in London, the Chancellor told how considerable alleviation of the conditions of the Soviet occupation had improved the lot of the Austrian people generally. The main improvements are in the removal of inter-zonal controls at the demarcation lines, the Russians' agreement to pay for their own occupation costs, the de-requisitioning of buildings and the release by the Soviet authorities of certain of the industrial undertakings they have hitherto regarded as former German assets claimable by Russia.
Austrians convicted by Russian military courts arc no longer taken to Soviet prisons; they are allowed to serve their sentences in Austria. But he added: "Sometimes. of course, these sentences are hard. very hard — as much as 10 or 20 years' imprisonment.
Herr was rd
s guarded Raab ed about question nestion of Trieste. He said : "As a principle, we do not want to interfere in the negotiations." He stressed that this one-time Austrian
now has bi now has bi commercial port ng competition from other European ports. such as Bremen and Rotterdam, for the handling of Austrian exports.
The Peace Treaty
The was equally re served on Austria's relations with Yugoslavia. He said they have improved. There have been agreements currency and the Yugoslays about curr are anxious for Austrian tourists to m visit them. He made no mention of the demands Yugoslavia has made war over the question of
Yugoslav minorities in Carinthia and other Austrian territories on her borders. He told how Austria has been overcoming what has been one of her most serious problems—the handling of large numbers of refugees from Iron Curtain countries. Most of them. he said, are from Southern Czechoslovakia and territories formerly belonging to Hungary, such as Transylvania. Great strides have been made in taking them into the Austrian economy. A large part of Austria's building programme is for their benefit. About hopes for an eventual Austrian peace treaty. Herr Rash said there was naturally disappointment in Austria when the Foreign Ministers' Conference in Berlin failed to settle the matter. After that it was natural to expect some passage of time before it came to the fore again. But Austria does not mean to let it be shelved.