Paris Peace Conf. 180.03101/4


Secretary’s Notes of a Conversation Held in M. Pichon’s Room at the Quai d’Orsay on Monday, January 13, 1919, at 4 p.m.

  • Present
    • France
      • M. Clemenceau.
      • M. Pichon.
      • M. Dutasta.
      • Berthelot.
      • Capt. A. Portier.
    • Great Britain
      • Mr. Lloyd George.
      • Mr. Balfour.
      • Lieut. Col. Hankey.
      • Major Caccia.
    • Italy
      • Baron Sonnino.
      • Count Aldrovandi.
      • Capt. Jones.
    • United States of America
      • President Wilson.
      • Mr. It. Lansing.
      • Mr. A. H. Frazier.
    • Japan
      • M. Matsui.
      • Viscount Chinda.

Interpreter: Professor P. J. Mantoux.

(This Meeting was a continuation of a Meeting of the Supreme War Council commenced earlier in the afternoon, procès-verbal of which has been prepared separately.)

Procedure of the Peace Discussions

M. Pichon said that it was proposed to continue the discussion of the Draft (see Appendix (A) of I. C.–104)1 submitted by the French Government on the general procedure in regard to the Peace Discussions.

1. Representation of British Dominations and India Mr. Lloyd George said that he wished in the first place to return to a question which had been postponed the previous evening in order to enable him to discuss it with the Dominion Premiers. The latter were disappointed at the smallness of the representation allotted to them. They had not even received the same representation as had been granted to Belgium and Serbia, though they had supplied a larger number of troops and their losses had been greater. He had explained quite frankly to them the reasons which had guided President Wilson in his desire not to accord a larger representation, as it would have had the appearance of an over-representation of England, regarding [Page 532] her as a unit. He had informed them that they would be treated like the smaller States, and that one Representative would be present whenever any question which affected them came under consideration. He had also agreed to add from time to time one or two of the Dominion Representatives to the British panel of five.

A second question had been raised at the conference of the British Imperial War Cabinet held that morning in connection with the representation of India. The native States of India, which represented a population of 70,000,000 to 80,000,000 men, and had furnished some 180,000 men to the army, had a right, he thought, to be represented. He had promised to put forward their claims.

President Wilson wished to remove any impression that he personally had any objection to the British Dominions being separately represented. He fully admitted that their claims were great. He had merely been guided by the desire to remove any cause of jealousy on the part of the other smaller States. He now understood the proposal to be that from time to time one or two of the Dominion Premiers should be admitted among the five National Representatives, and that, besides these five, there should be one Representative from each of the Dominions whenever any subject of interest to them came under discussion.

Mr. Lloyd George said that, in connection with this matter, he wished to quote a remark made to him that day by Sir Robert Borden. He had pointed out that, if he returned to Canada and confessed that Canada was getting merely half the number of representatives that had been allotted to Serbia or Roumania or Belgium, there would be a feeling that they were being badly treated, especially when it was known that the Canadian losses during the war had been greater than those of Belgium. Nevertheless, if it were thought that a greater representation of the Dominions would create a bad feeling outside, he did not wish to press the question.

President Wilson enquired whether Mr. Lloyd George would feel satisfied to give Canada two Representatives, South Africa two Representatives, Australia two Representatives, and New Zealand one Representative. He was trying to find a basis for general application.

Mr. Lloyd George agreed that such an allotment would be fair. But he would not care himself to make that proposal to the Conference.

President Wilson said that he himself would submit the proposal and enquired whether Mr. Lloyd George would be satisfied if one Representative was allotted to British India and one to the native States of India.

[Page 533]

Mr. Lloyd George accepted this number, and explained that, naturally, these Representatives would only be present when questions affecting them came up for discussion.

(It was agreed that the British Dominions and India should have the right to be represented by the following number of Delegates:—

Canada 2
Australia 2
South Africa 2
New Zealand 1
India, including native States of India. 2
Total 9

(For Newfoundland it was decided that, though it would not be given separate representation, a Representative from that country could be included in the British Delegation.)

2. Representation of Russia M. Pichon expressed the view that all questions connected with the representation of the great Allied and Associated of Powers, the smaller Powers, Russia, and Montenegro, had been settled at yesterday’s meeting.

Mr. Lloyd George said that there was some misapprehension as regards Russia. They had decided that representatives of sections in Russia, such as Prince Lvof and M. Savinkof, should not be admitted. But the question of the general representation of Russia had never been discussed.

(It was agreed that the question of the representation of Russia should be postponed until the question of general policy of Russia had been examined).

3. Representation of Brazil President Wilson said that, in connection with the questions settled at yesterday’s meetings, he wished again to refer to Brazil. Brazil was the only considerable Latin-American State containing a population of over 30,000,000. She had been more subject to German influence than any other of the South American States. Many of the States which went to constitute Brazil were controlled by the German elements in the population, and in another generation this country might have become wholly Germanised. He was therefore interested in attempting to divorce her from Germany. He thought if she were given an exceptional position—for instance, if three Delegates were allotted to her—she would be attached to our own interests, and so be of use to the Allies as one of the great States of South America.

Mr. Lloyd George felt some doubt in accepting this proposal. He thought that the representation should bear some reference to the sacrifices made by each country. Brazil had certainly sent two or three torpedo-boats, but beyond that she had made no effort at all. [Page 534] He thought it would be invidious if she were to get three Representatives, as compared with the two Representatives allotted to Belgium, Greece and Serbia.

President Wilson agreed. His heart bled for Belgium and Serbia; but they had not made a voluntary sacrifice.

Mr. Lloyd George suggested that Greece had.

President Wilson pointed out that the argument that he urged concerned the future. It was a political argument. He believed that if they did not carry out this [his] proposal, Germany would at once regain her grip on Brazil.

Mr. Lloyd George said that he did not wish to resist his [this] proposal; he merely wondered what the outside public would think. On the other hand he did not wish to arrest the progress of the meeting by resisting further.

Baron Sonnino said that he would agree to three Representatives being given to Brazil, provided three were also given to Belgium. He thought it was impossible to give Brazil more Representatives than Belgium.

Mr. Lloyd George thought that if three Representatives were given to Belgium and to each of the other small countries, Brazil would no longer hold a preponderating position, and President Wilson’s argument would therefore fall to the ground, as they would all be on the same footing.

(It was agreed to give three Representatives to Brazil, the remaining smaller belligerent Powers retaining the number of Representatives previously agreed upon.)

4. Representation of Costa Rica President Wilson asked permission to raise a purely American question concerning the relations of America and Costa Rica. When he (President Wilson) first became President, revolutions had been fomented in Central America by people desirous of supplying arms and munitions, and anxious to obtain concesssions. He had then issued a Note3 to the effect that the United States of America would not accept any Government formed for the purpose of furthering the ambitions of an individual. An example of this had occurred in Mexico, and for that reason America had refused to recognise Carranza. Later on, a similar instance had occurred in Costa Rica and the United States of America had refused to recognise the new ruler of that country. Costa Rica had made many attempts, without success, to renew relations with the United States of America. With this object in view, she had first offered to declare war on Germany and, finally, receiving no reply to these overtures, had actually declared war in order to force the United States of America to recognise her. In these [Page 535] circumstances he could not bring himself to sit at the same table as a Representative of Costa Rica. Naturally, if any question directly affecting Costa Rica should come up for discussion he would be prepared to reconsider his decision, but under present conditions he proposed that Costa Rica should not be represented at the Peace Conference.

(This was agreed to.)

5. Representation of Neutral States and Small States Who had Broken Off Relations With the Enemy (It was agreed that each of these should have one Representative

6. Attendance of Delegates M. Pichon then read clauses contained in paragraph 2 of the French Draft Proposals relating to the attendance of Delegates.

(These were accepted without discussion.)

Mr. Balfour said he wished to raise the question as to who should be responsible for summoning the small and neutral States. He presumed that France would be.

Mr. Lloyd George and M. Pichon agreed that this would be done by all the five Great Powers.

(This was agreed to.)

7. Representation of Enemy Powers Paragraph 3 of the French draft note, relating to representation of enemy Powers, was read by M. Pichon and agreed to.

8. Technical Advisers M. Pichon then read paragraph 4 of the note Advisers relating to Technical Delegates.

M. Lloyd George drew attention to the last sentence of the paragraph. He wished it to be quite clear that this sentence should not in any way preclude the adoption of the panel system by the various Powers in selecting the Plenipotentiaries for meetings of the Conference.

(Paragraph 4 was agreed to on this understanding.)

9. Peace Conference Principles and Methods M. Pichon then proposed consideration of Part II of the French draft note relating to the principles and methods of conducting the Peace Conference. He explained that the proposals therein contained had been drafted on the basis of the Principles put forth by President Wilson in his speech of the 8th January, 1918,4 and in his speech of the 27th September, 1918,5 and also on the answers which the Allies had drawn up on the 5th November 1918.6

President Wilson proposed, as a practical consideration, that a number of questions should be referred to the Delegates of the five Great Powers, so that they could discover their differences and points [Page 536] of agreement before going into the Conference. For instance, if the League of Nations was to serve as the medium of treatment for any particular question, then they should begin by discussing a League of Nations. Therefore he could not now agree on a sequence or order of discussion. For example, some of the points, such as the publicity to be given to Treaties, could not be decided until they knew what was meant. He did not mean by this that there should not be confidential conversations between countries, but that no Treaty should come into force until it had been published. That was a subject for general discussion. It was proposed that that should be referred to the national Delegates. The same conclusion applied to other questions, such as the treatment of Russia, which called for immediate decision. It was necessary to remove quicksands before they could begin to walk. Therefore, the order of discussion should be settled from time to time. A list of subjects to be discussed could be prepared, but not the order of sequence.

Mr. Lloyd George expressed his entire agreement. He thought they must first take Russia and the League of Nations, and there might be other questions which were ripe for immediate settlement, and could be got out of the way.

Mr. Balfour said that they must not put off too long the discussion of boundaries. The new countries would be in a state of perpetual disturbance until they knew where they were.

Mr. Lloyd George suggested that the question should be discussed from the point of view of its effect on demobilisation.

M. Clemenceau agreed that demobilisation stood in relation to the condition of Russia, Germany, &c.

President Wilson wished to make a suggestion, namely, that each of the following questions be referred to the National Peace Delegates, with a request that they should submit their recommendations as concisely and as soon as possible:—

League of Nations.
New States.
Frontiers and territorial changes.

These subjects could then be discussed by the present Conference in the order given.

Mr. Lloyd George suggested adding, “The responsibility of the authors of the war.”

President Wilson said that this question need not be referred to a Committee, since it could be settled forthwith by themselves.

M. Clemenceau said that President Wilson proposed that certain questions should be referred to the five National Peace Delegates, [Page 537] who would report to this Conference. This Conference was merely a Supreme War Council. As such it had no power to discuss such questions. Nothing could be done until the Peace Conference was brought together. He would therefore propose that an official meeting of the Peace Conference should be called together forthwith. Nothing of importance need be discussed, but the work could be distributed and questions could be referred to the Committees, as suggested by President Wilson. The day afterwards the Delegates of the five Great Powers could meet to examine questions ready for solution, such as Russia, and at the same time the National Delegates could be drawing up their recommendations.

President Wilson explained that his idea was a very simple one. He thought that the five Powers should hold a Conference to find out their own minds before they entered into the process of the Peace Conference.

M. Clemenceau pointed out that President Wilson’s proposal came to this: that they intended to arrive at a complete understanding before the Peace Conference could meet. That would take some months, and would be a great disappointment to the public. They had trumpeted abroad that the Conference was going to meet forthwith, and the Delegates had been appointed and had arrived. He fully agreed that the five Powers should first come to a decision amongst themselves; but it was necessary first to hold an initial meeting of the Peace Conference and give the Delegates a mandate to start work. After that the heads of the Associated Powers could meet together.

Mr. Lloyd George pointed out that no great difference existed between the two proposals. He fully agreed with President Wilson that they should exchange views in order to discover their differences and concentrate their efforts on these. But he also agreed with M. Clemenceau that a meeting of the Peace Conference should be called forthwith.

M. Pichon said that President Wilson’s proposal was then accepted, with the amendment suggested by M. Clemenceau.

(This was agreed to.)

M. Clemenceau proposed that the meeting of the Peace Conference should be held on Thursday, the 16th January, 1919, at 14:30 o’clock.

Baron Sonnino pointed out that the Italian Delegates had not yet been appointed, and that Signor Orlando had left for Italy. The Italian Delegates could be appointed in a day or two, but they would then have to get to Paris. He proposed, therefore, that the Conference should be postponed to a later date.

Mr. Balfour enquired how many of the important Delegates were now present in Paris.

[Page 538]

M. Pichon replied that most of the Delegates had already arrived in Paris.

M. Clemenceau insisted that no further delay should occur in holding the meeting. Two months had passed since the Armistice had been signed, and nothing had been done. He therefore urged that the meeting should be held on Thursday next.

Baron Sonnino said that he would regret the absence of his colleagues, but would withdraw any further objection. On the other hand, he wished to point out that if the object of the Conference was to pass President Wilson’s proposal, it would, in his opinion, be found impossible to get twenty States to hand over to five Powers all questions relating to the drawing up of the Peace Treaty.

Mr. Lloyd George thought that the question might be disposed of as follows: The first Peace Conference would be opened by a speech by President Poincare; then M. Clemenceau would take the chair, and he would invite the small States to put forward their claims, and to submit these to the Great Powers for their consideration.

President Wilson suggested that the small Powers should send their proposals to the Secretary of the Conference, in order to remove the impression that the big Powers were acting independently. M. Clemenceau would impress on these small States that the Great Powers wished to have their views, and, as far as possible, to be guided by them.

M. Pichon said that he understood that all the small Powers should be invited to attend the first meeting.

Baron Sonnino proposed that the first meeting should be postponed until Saturday, in order to give time for Signor Orlando and the Italian Delegates to attend.

M. Clemenceau accepted this suggestion, and said that meanwhile other subjects could be brought under discussion. He suggested that a meeting should be held on Wednesday, the 15th instant, to settle the draft regulations of the Conference and to discuss the situation in Russia.

(It was agreed that the First Allied Peace Conference should be held on Saturday, the 18th January, 1919, at 14:30 o’clock, and that a meeting of the Supreme War Council should be held on Wednesday, the 15th January, 1919, at 10:30 o’clock.)

10. Announcement in Press of Meeting of Peace Conference (It was also decided that an announcement should be published in the press to the effect that the formal Conferences would open on the following Saturday, the 18th January, 1919.)