Lieutenant General Geoffrey Keyes, born on October 30th, 1888, served the United States Army during World
War II. He began the war as a member of the Chief Supply and Transportation Branch Supply Division War Department General
staff. He then served as a member of the 2nd and 9th Armored Divisions during 1942 before becoming a deputy commander
to General George S. Patton while in North Africa and Sicily. He later assumed command of the II corps, leading them up the
western side of Italy to meet up with the US Fifth Army in May of 1945 during the campaigns of Rome and the occupation of
Keyes then served the United States Army during the occupation of Germany as the commanding
general of the U.S. 3rd Army. He assumed command when the 3rd Army took operational responsibility of the Third and Seventh
Army Zones, and the 7th Army became nonoperational. He served at this position until January 10th, 1947.
was also assigned to become the United States High Commissioner on the Allied Council for Austria by President Harry S. Truman
on May 17th, 1947. Keyes' term as high commissioner exemplified the struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union
following World War II. He was reluctant to adhere to the Austrian government by removing troops for fear that the Soviets
would take control over Austria.
His term had a rough start with fourteen
strikes during his first month as high commissioner, which he believed were sparked by Soviet provocation. Keyes was ardent
in having American troops remain in Austria, as he felt that the country would become a strategic piece in the conflict between
the United States and the Soviet Union. Keyes particularly feared economic domination by the Soviets in the Austrian economy,
and set forth a plan to use money from the Marshall Plan to constitute an economy that would resist Soviet economic and political
pressure. Keyes also believed in physical protection from the Soviet Union, and believed that it was necessary to situate
military troops in Austria to prevent invasion. Keyes' propositions recieved support in 1948 when nearby Czeckoslovakia experienced
a communist takeover. Despite this boost in endorsement, Keyes' economic plans were dismissed, although his plans for a security
force progressed, and plans to create an Austrian Army were formed.
Keyes remained as the High Commissioner until
1950 when he retired from the military. Following his resignation, Keyes recieved a letter from President Truman, thanking
him for his service to his country.
Letter to Keyes:
Now that you have returned to your homeland,
I wish to express my congratulations and my gratitude for the services you have rendered to your country as the United States
High Commissioner to Austria. During a period of complex strains and vexing problems, you have displayed statesmanship of
the highest order.
We now mark the
point in the history of the Occupation of Austria at which the Department of State will assume the occupation responsibilities
which have heretofore been exercised by the Department of the Army through you. This represents the climax of one of the finest
chapters in the history of our Army—the chapter in which our soldiers, after carrying through to victory the battle
against Fascism, turned to the tasks of peace and helped to rebuild a shattered world.
To you and to all the Army personnel who have worked with you, both in uniform and as civilians,
our nation pays profound respect for the effectiveness with which you have handled the work of peaceful reconstruction and
economic rehabilitation which, in large part, has been the American contribution toward the settlement of Austria’s
HARRY S. TRUMAN
World Book Advanced: Encyclopedia)