Paris Peace Conf. 180.03101/11
Notes on Conversations Held in the Office of M. Pichon at the Quai d’Orsay, at 10:30 a.m., January 21, 1919
|United States of America:||President Wilson|
|British Empire:||Mr. Lloyd George|
|Lt. Col. Hankey|
|Prince de Bearn|
Interpreter: M. Mantoux.
The Chairman introduced Mr. Scavenius, lately Danish Minister to Russia, who had come by request to give information regarding the present situation in Russia.
Mr. Scavenius explained that when the Bolsheviki overthrew the provisional government they were supported by the soldiers, who wanted peace at any price, by the peasants who desired the division of the land, and by the workingmen who desired the advantages they would obtain by becoming a privileged class.
At the present time, however, the Bolsheviki are not supported by the soldiers, as the soldiers no longer exist. They had now become peasants. The peasants had obtained a division of the land, and all they want now are guarantees to enable them to hold and develop the land. As a matter of fact, the peasants are neither monarchists nor socialists. As regards the workingmen, while it is true that they have become the privileged class, there is considerable discontent amongst them, because the Bolsheviki have not been able to furnish [Page 656]them enough food. At the present time the Bolsheviki cannot count on those who were formerly soldiers, nor on the peasants, nor on a great part of the workingmen. Indeed, the Bolsheviki are now supported by a Red Army composed of Letts, Hungarians, Germans and Chinese, and these mercenary troops form a foreign nucleus around which there are a certain number of Russian forces. The best elements of this foreign nucleus are the Hungarians and Chinese.
Mr. Lloyd George inquired how many Chinese there were in the Red Army.
Mr. Scavenius estimated that there were about 20,000 or 30,000. He explained that he knew something about them, as he had been in charge of Chinese interests, and had had in his care about a million Chinese workers who had been imported into Russia during the war. These poor people had been left destitute by their government, and to ameliorate their condition he had endeavored to organize co-operative assistance. He had asked the help of the Chinese Government, and had been furnished 10,000 rubles as a fund for this purpose. Of course this has been entirely inadequate, and the result has been that a considerable number of these Chinese have been forced to enlist in the Red Army.
Mr. Scavenius estimated that there are some 300,000 men in the Red Army, but said that a large part of these are Russians of the bourgeois class. The Red Army did not constitute a real force that would be of much use against foreign troops, but they did constitute a real force under present conditions in Russia, as they had nothing opposed to them but an unarmed and famished population.
Mr. Lloyd George asked if the Red Army were not fighting the forces led by Denikin and Kolchak.
Mr. Scavenius replied that this was true, that the forces of Denikin had been able to stop the advances of the Bolsheviki, but had not proceeded north against them. This has been the general attitude of Cossack troops, as well as of the forces of General Krasnov, who are quite satisfied to defend their own country, but are not prepared to attack the Bolsheviki.
As regards the different adversaries with whom the Bolsheviki had to contend, Mr. Scavenius stated that the principal opponents of the Bolsheviki had first been the members of the Socialist Revolutionary party. At the time of Kerensky, the Socialist Revolutionary party had an overwhelming majority in the constituent assembly. But since the overthrow of the assembly by the Bolsheviki, this party has almost entirely disappeared, having completely lost the confidence of the public. They had failed to defend the constitution of the national assembly; they had been unable to support Kerensky against the Bolsheviki, and they had not been able to raise an army to fight the [Page 657]Bolsheviki. For instance, the failure of the party to defend Samara was an excellent example, and in the case of the defense of Kazan, all the army had fled except some two or three thousand volunteers composed principally of Czecho-Slovaks.
Mr. Lloyd George inquired whether Mr. Savinkov belonged to the Socialist Revolutionary party.
Mr. Scavenius replied that he had been a member of that party, but was now a member of the Radical Republican party, which had become the successor, so to speak, of the Socialist Revolutionary party. For instance, after the fall of Samara, Kolchak had forced out the Socialist Revolutionary leaders and had formed this new party called the Radical Republican party.
Mr. Lloyd George asked Mr. Scavenius to state exactly who Kolchak was.
Mr. Scavenius replied that he was an admiral; that he had been in command of certain forces at Harbin, that he had been moved to Moscow, and that he now called himself a Radical Republican.
Mr. Lloyd George asked who were with him now, since he had thrown out the Social Revolutionists. Mr. Scavenius answered that his followers are now Radical Republicans, amongst them being some of the old Social Revolutionists who had joined them. Also amongst them is this man Savinkov. Kolchak had also got control of the government at Ekaterinodar which is represented in Paris by Mr. Sazonov.
The other party opposing the Bolsheviki at this time is the Monarchist party composed of the higher middle class, landed proprietors and ex-officers of the former army. The Monarchist party is especially strong in South Russia at Kuban. The Radical Republican party had come to an understanding with the Monarchist party, and had been able to defend this by saying that while the officers might be Monarchists, the soldiers are really Republicans, and particularly that the Cossacks are Republicans. The Radical Republican party further defended its action by claiming that at this time it would not be desirable to raise the question as to whether there should be a monarchy or a republic in Russia. Their whole effort was to oppose the Bolsheviki and leave that decision until later.
As regards the numbers of the Monarchists, Mr. Scavenius estimated that there were some 80,000 troops in the Denikin Army, which probably meant that its fighting strength was 50,000. He understood that there were about 50,000 or 60,000 Cossacks with Krasnov, and that the Russian Army in Siberia, including the Czecho-Slovaks, though it was said to amount to 250,000 men, probably did not have a fighting strength of over 100,000. To sum up, therefore, the forces opposed to the Bolsheviki totalled some 200,000 or 210,000 men.[Page 658]
It was impossible to count on many forces in the Ukraine Army, as the army of the Hetmann of the Ukraine had been proved to exist principally on paper. This had been shown by the easy way in which Petlura had been able to overthrow the Hetmann.
Mr. Scavenius then took up the question of intervention in Russia. There are those, he said, who do not wish to intervene, and base their attitude on the fact that their soldiers are tired of the war, and that they could not undertake to suppress a democracy, as they themselves are a democracy.
Mr. Scavenius thought that their objections might be answered in two ways: First, by a voluntary army, and second, by the fact that the Bolsheviki are not a democracy. The Bolsheviki, on the contrary, had suppressed the only parliament that they had, and had denied the franchise to a large part of the Russian people.
Mr. Lloyd George remarked that all those present admitted that the Bolsheviki were not a democracy, and that this was not even contended by the labor party in England.
Mr. Scavenius expressed his personal opinion, that if there is to be intervention it must come about quickly. He pointed out that famine is forcing many to become Bolsheviki, the formation of the Red Army being in fact due entirely to the famine conditions, starvation being its best recruiting sergeant. Moreover, if let alone the extension of anarchy will continue. As the Bolsheviki do not find opposition, they will desire to exploit further territories and anarchy will spread. As far as intervention is concerned, it would have been far more profitable three months ago than now. Within the last three months the Baltic provinces had been lost, Petlura had obtained the upper hand in Ukraine and the Bolsheviki had taken Vilna, and they are now within a few days’ march of Warsaw.
In addition to their military operations, Mr. Scavenius pointed out, the Bolsheviki are carrying on a most energetic propaganda amongst the lower middle class. They claim, and Lenin is forcing the argument home, that the Allies will do to Russia just what the Germans wanted to do; that they will exploit Russia as a colony, and will restore the monarchy. This propaganda, however, could be met by saying that the purpose of intervention is not to restore the monarchy, but to restore the constituent assembly and to permit Russians to decide their own fate, for it should not be forgotten that the Russians now complain that the right to decide their own fate had been forcibly taken from them by a small and violent minority.
As still another point in support of the theory of intervention, Mr. Scavenius added that the peasants are now refusing to sow more than is necessary for their own needs. Consequently, next year there will be a famine. This attitude of the peasants was brought about by the [Page 659]presence of Bolshevik troops who had been sent to requisition their supplies. The net result is that the peasants have no intention of producing more than what they themselves actually need.
He would recommend, if he might be permitted to do so, being a [no?] military man, that if anything were done in the way of intervention, it be done on a big scale. Small expeditions had proved entirely useless; the troops composing these expeditions had simply been Bolshevized. In his opinion, it would be absolutely necessary to take the Bolsheviki centers, viz., Petrograd and Moscow, if anything is to be accomplished. This could be done via Finland, and the Finns would even go so far as to send troops themselves, if the Allies would recognize the Finnish Government. He felt convinced that the Finns would be able to put in the field some 30,000 troops, and these, together with the Allied troops now in Archangel and Murmansk, would be able to take not only Petrograd, but Vologda, whence they could obtain supplies from the Czecho-Slovaks in Siberia. He thought that there are probably some 100,000 troops available in Poland, but they were without ammunition and had no uniforms. He would point out, however, that there is a Polish delegation now in Paris asking for help. This help should be supplied, and the Poles used to drive back the Bolsheviki, who are now near Warsaw. Vilna should be taken and the southwestern route to Moscow opened up. At the same time, the forces under Denikin should march northwards, and he felt certain the Cossacks would be prepared to undertake an offensive against the Bolsheviki if they knew that there were other foreign forces in the country.
In reply to an inquiry of Mr. Lloyd George, Mr. Scavenius stated that he thought that at least 100,000 or perhaps 150,000 foreign forces would be necessary to stiffen the forces from Finland, Poland, Siberia and Southern Russia. He proposed that this foreign force should be composed of volunteers from amongst the Allied nations.
Mr. Scavenius then spoke at length about the importance of the Bolsheviki propaganda. When the Bolsheviki declared war against all governments they found that they could not exist unless others were Bolshevized, and for this purpose they established a Bolshevik propaganda with its principal seat at Moscow. An international confederation had been formed with representatives not only from the countries in Europe, but also from other parts of the world. There were some twenty men in the French group, and a French paper was published called “The Third International”, which was pent to France via Switzerland and especially via Belgium. There were also Anglo-Americans on this committee. The committee had made special efforts to disseminate their propaganda throughout India, and had set up a school for teaching the languages [Page 660]of India in connection with their propaganda. They were also working on the Irish question. The case of Germany afforded a striking illustration of what the Bolsheviki propaganda could accomplish. The former German Government had claimed that Bolshevism would only attack a vanquished foe; therefore they had done nothing to combat Bolshevism in Germany.
Mr. Lloyd George remarked that the Bolsheviki had lost Germany.
Mr. Scavenius feared that the same would take place as had taken place in Russia, and pointed out that the sequence of events seemed to be very similar.
Mr. Lloyd George asked whether Mr. Scavenius did not think that conditions were different, inasmuch as the Germans are an educated people, while the vast majority of Russians are illiterate. Mr. Scavenius agreed with this statement, but wished to call particular attention to the fact that it was a small minority, perhaps only five per cent of the German people, who had been really organizers of Germany; that this small minority no longer existed, and that those who remained, that is, the vast majority or 95 per cent, were like sheep. Moreover, their training had been such, and their psychology is such, that a small well-organized party like that led by Liebknecht1 appealed strongly to the German people. If, therefore, the Bolsheviki should succeed in Germany, Mr. Scavenius believed that their first step would be to form an alliance with Russia, their second to organize a great army, and their third to carry on an intensive propaganda within the Allied and neutral countries. In view of what is now taking place in Germany, Bolshevism is becoming from day to day a greater threat against civilization. How would it be possible, should an alliance between Bolshevik Russia and Germany take place, to make any peace agreement possible or lasting?
Mr. Scavenius stated in all earnestness that he believed that Bolshevism presented a definite danger to the whole world, and that in his opinion there is but one thing to do, and that is to do away with it as soon as possible.
M. Clemenceau asked whether Mr. Scavenius could state in more detailed form just what had taken place in the Ukraine.
Mr. Scavenius explained that Petlura’s success had been due to the fact that he found no resistance; that the army of Hetmann had existed only on paper, and that when the Germans withdrew and no Allies came to take their place, Petlura had found the way open to march on Kiev. The Danish Consul had met Petlura outside Kiev and Petlura had assured him that he could take Kiev whenever he wanted to. As a matter of fact, negotiations were opened between [Page 661]Petlura and the Hetmann, and are still going on. But the important thing to note is that Petlura was supported by the Bolsheviki, and they had supported him because they desired to make use of him and his army to get their men into the Ukraine. Already the landed proprietors are being forced out, and Bolshevik doctrines are finding favor.
M. Pichon asked why Petlura had started his movement.
Mr. Scavenius explained that Petlura represented a national movement. He reproached the Hetmann with being in accord with the Allies, and particularly for having declared that in his opinion the Ukraine should return to greater Russia. Petlura and his adherents do not wish to have Ukraine lose her autonomy. They oppose the return of Ukraine to greater Russia, but do not oppose the Ukraine under the federation of Russian states.
Mr. Lloyd George took advantage of the opportunity to thank Mr. Scavenius personally for protecting British subjects, and particularly for having saved the body of the valiant Captain Cromie from desecration at the hands of the Bolsheviki. He asked when Mr. Scavenius had left Russia.
Mr. Scavenius replied that he had left Russia on September 15th, but had received reports up to the 29th of December.
Mr. Scavenius read extracts from certain Bolshevik newspapers in which the Allies were branded as brigands.
Mr. Lloyd George remarked that he hoped that the Allies would not have to prove to be so. He also asked Mr. Scavenius if he knew the system in force for recruiting the Red Army.
Mr. Scavenius stated that there had been three mobilizations, but, as a matter of fact, the greater part of the army is composed of the well-to-do classes, who could not be considered as reliable Bolshevik soldiers. He had heard that many of the Bolshevik troops had never reached the front.
Mr. Lloyd George stated that he understood Mr. Scavenius to argue that no purpose would be gained by organizing various armies in Russia, unless 100,000 or 150,000 foreign troops were sent to support them. He also asked what would be the purpose in taking Moscow.
Mr. Scavenius replied that should the plan that he had suggested work out, and Moscow be taken, he thought that the death blow to Bolshevism would be delivered. The principal purpose in taking Moscow would be to issue two or three weeks after its capture, a call for a constituent assembly.
Mr. Balfour asked why the same would not happen in Moscow as had occurred in Archangel, namely, that intervention would simply tend to crystallize opposition to the foreign forces.[Page 662]
Mr. Scavenius answered that, in his opinion, the reason for the failure in Archangel and Murmansk and at other points, had been because the intervention had been on a small scale. What is necessary is intervention on a large scale, if intervention is to take place at all.
Mr. Lloyd George stated that his information is to the effect that the Menchiviks [Mensheviks?] and the remainder of the Social Revolutionists had determined to side with the Bolsheviki through fear of Allied intervention. In other words, the argument now advanced by the Bolsheviki with their opponents in Russia, is based on the threat of foreign intervention to reestablish a monarchy and restore the landed proprietors.
Mr. Scavenius recalled the point he had already made, that it should be made entirely clear to all that the Allies would intervene not to restore the monarchy or the conditions existing at the time of the monarchy, but to ensure a free expression of the will of the people, and to afford an immediate opportunity for the convening of a constituent assembly, through which they could express freely their desires as to the form of government they wished to set up; in a word, offered an opportunity for the establishment of a true democracy in Russia.
The Chairman expressed the thanks of the representatives of the Allied Governments and of the United States, and Mr. Scavenius withdrew.
President Wilson stated that he had received a letter from the King of Montenegro inquiring whether he might be permitted to send a telegram to his people asking them to return to their homes, to cease hostilities, and to assure them that they would be afforded an early opportunity to decide as to the form of government they desired to establish in Montenegro. The King would add also, that he, for his part, would abide by their decision.
It was agreed to permit the King of Montenegro to send a telegram to that effect.
President Wilson read a letter which had been addressed by Mr. Paderewski to Colonel House, in which the former, among other things, stated that the Poles were nowhere the aggressive party, asked for certain assistance in the way of artillery, rifles and ammunition, and requested the Allies to insist on the withdrawal of the Yugoslavs from Western Galicia.
It was agreed that the whole Polish question should be taken up, and some line of action decided upon, after some decision had been reached with regard to the Bolshevik question.
President Wilson read two telegraphic reports from Mr. Buckler,1a regarding his conversations with Litvinoff. At the request of the [Page 663]Chairman, he promised to furnish paraphrases of the telegrams in question.
It was agreed to continue the discussion of the Bolshevik question at the afternoon session, which was to begin at 3:00 o’clock.
The Chairman opened the meeting in the afternoon at 3:00 o’clock.
President Wilson suggested that Mr. Lloyd George’s proposal to summon representatives of the several governments in Russia to Paris, to give an account of themselves to the representatives of the Great Powers, might be amended in the sense that they should be asked to send representatives to a place other than Paris, say Saloniki. In that way, M. Clemenceau’s original objection to inviting the Bolshevik representatives to Paris might be overcome.
M. Sonnino pointed out that there are representatives of several of the Russian states already in Paris, such as Sazonov.
President Wilson observed that should these representatives be heard separately, it would be going into a circle. He thought it most desirable that they should be heard all in one room. This method would afford them an opportunity for a comparison of views, and if possible, a settlement upon some plan.
Mr. Balfour supported President Wilson’s suggestion.
M. Sonnino suggested that the meeting hear Sazonov, as they had heard Scavenius and Noulens.
Mr. Lloyd George thought that the document which President Wilson had read in the morning session from Litvinoff was remarkable, not that it showed that the Bolsheviki were converted to a realization of the error of their ways, but that it showed that they had at last seen that their plan would not do, and that they were in the mood to come to terms. He pointed out that in hearing Sazonov and others like him, the same side of the arguments would always be heard. He thought it most necessary to hear from the representatives of the different governments in Russia, including the Bolsheviki. If Saloniki did not serve, why then another place might do, such as the Island of Lemnos.
President Wilson ventured to think that what was back of Baron Sonnino’s suggestion was an antipathy to the Bolsheviki, and a natural repulsion against their acts. He would observe, however, that by opposing the Bolsheviki by armies, the cause of the Bolsheviki was being served by the Allies. They were being given a case. They could say to their followers that the imperialistic and capitalistic governments were desirous of destroying Russia. They would represent the Allies as the advocates and supporters of reaction. If the Allies could make it appear that this was not true, most of the moral [Page 664]influence of the Bolsheviki would break down, as their case would be gone. They could no longer allege that it was the purpose of the Allies and the United States to enslave the Russian people and to take charge of their affairs. It was therefore desirable that the Allies show that they are ready to hear the representatives of any organized group in Russia, provided they are willing and ready to come to one place, to put all their cards on the table, and see if they could not come to an understanding. He ventured to think that such a line of action, if adopted, would bring about more reaction against the cause of the Bolsheviki than anything else the Allies could do.
M. Clemenceau stated that in principle he was not favorable to holding conversations with the Bolsheviki, as he considered them to be criminals. He objected principally for the reason that it would raise them to the level of the Allies and give them great prestige.
But sometimes in politics it is necessary to hold conversations with criminals. Moreover, things were going from bad to worse. Recently, the Baltic provinces had been overrun by the Bolsheviki, Poland is in danger, and he had just received word that Budapest is about to pass under their control. Should they once be established in Vienna, the danger of Bolshevism would be great in Italy. Therefore, it would become the same in France, should Central Europe be contaminated by this evil.
Referring to the Litvinoff conversation, he wished to call the attention of those present to the skill with which the matter had been presented. At first, the attitude of the Bolsheviki had been one of refusal to compromise with the foreign governments. They claimed that they could not have anything to do with those governments who were making a war of capital. They then proposed peace, and when they were not heard they accused the Allied Governments of being capitalists and imperialists. But today they have changed their tune. They now say: “We will give you money”, and this was very clever, because, should the Allies show any signs of treating with them they would immediately say their former accusation, that the Allies were capitalists, was true, and that the only thing they thought of was getting money out of Russia.
He would point out further that the Bolsheviki never keep their plighted word.
But this, M. Clemenceau observed, did not find any solution to the problem. The question presses, and a speedy solution is necessary. The situation is growing worse from day to day. He could not say that the Russians were not anxious to see an end to present chaotic conditions, but if left to themselves, this change would not come within a short time, and certainly would not come quickly enough for the [Page 665]Allies, who were about to make peace, which would be an absurdity as long as half of Europe was in flames.
A conclusion must therefore be reached. If he were alone, and had the decision to make for himself only, he would do nothing. He would set up a form of barrage between himself and the Bolsheviki, and let Bolshevism work out itself. But he was not alone. He had to think of his Allies and as he had already pointed out, he thought it of the most vital importance that at the beginning of these conferences the Allies stand together. They must be unanimous, and as President Wilson’s proposal had opened new vistas and a new perspective, he was prepared to associate himself with President Wilson’s proposal.
He therefore suggested that it would be well to issue a short, clear, substantial paper in which it would be explained once and for all, that it is not the wish of the Allies to interfere in the internal affairs of Russia; that they do not desire to lend their help to any one faction, and that their one wish is to see the establishment of some representative government with whom they could deal. He asked President Wilson to draw up such a paper, and requested him to bear in mind that in such a statement the Allies were speaking also to the Germans. Let the announcement be made to all countries in Europe, and let them be invited to state what they want, and come to terms with each other.
Mr. Lloyd George withdrew his proposal in favor of President Wilson’s suggestion.
Mr. Balfour wished to say that he thought that if anyone would refuse to accept such an invitation it would be the Bolsheviki.
Baron Sonnino begged to disagree, and stated that for his part he thought that the Bolsheviki would be the first to come. He recalled their anxiety to enter upon some discussion with the Germans, and their efforts at the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk to secure means by which they could sow their seeds of dissension in Germany. He also pointed out again that they did not know what faith meant, and that they would make certain pledges with the fixed intention of breaking them. He feared that the Allies were now about to play their game.
He therefore suggested that Sazonov should be heard as well as the representatives of the other factions opposing the Bolsheviki, that they should be told clearly that if they should unite and give assurances that they would not endeavor to bring about reaction, the return of the monarchy and the re-establishment of the land again as it was before the Revolution, they would then be assisted by the Allies to form a strong government.
Mr. Lloyd George asked how this could be done. The only answer was by furnishing the arms, munitions and food, and it had been [Page 666]shown that the Allies were not in a position to furnish these factions with military support. For his part, he thought it unwise to let any question of amour propre affect the question. Moreover, it was necessary to consider the attitude of the people of Great Britain and of the Dominions, if some solution were not quickly found. In speaking that morning with Sir Robert Gordon [Borden], he had learned that Canada was going to withdraw her troops from Vladivostok, because the Canadians refused to remain longer. The same applied to the American forces in Archangel. If Great Britain tried to send troops to Russia there would be a mutiny. As regards volunteers, a few might be obtained, but he would ask what contribution Italy would make. Would Italy be prepared to intervene? He did not think so. Moreover, he would call attention to the fact that the Bolshevik Army was improving, as had been pointed out that morning by Mr. Scavenius. Mr. Scavenius had stated that if the Allies waited a few months longer, the Bolsheviki would have some 300,000 men, forming a fairly effective force, and it would require some 500,000 men to oppose them.
In addition, who was going to pay for military intervention in Russia? The people of the Allies would not stand for it; he was certain that the people of Great Britain would not stand for it.
While President Wilson’s proposal did not go as far as he had proposed, it did meet the objections to his proposal advanced by M. Clemenceau, and he hoped that it might receive the unanimous approval of those present.
Signor Orlando remarked that it was unnecessary to repeat how grave the danger is for all Europe. When a new sickness develops the first act is to endeavor to isolate it. This, in a word, is the proposal advanced by M. Clemenceau, and it is well worth considering. He referred to the statement that had been made that Italy was subject to the Bolsheviki disease. For his part, he did not believe that Bolshevism could become supreme in Italy, unless it found special conditions there. These conditions might be brought about by a depression of the morale of the people through one or two causes, either the disappointment following a failure to attain national aims, or an economic crisis. He asked that those present bear this statement in mind.
The second method of extinguishing the epidemic was to use material force, but there were many insurmountable objections to this. While it might be true that Italian troops could be sent to Russia, should they form a part of an international expedition, such an expedition would be a costly and long drawn out matter, as the forces would probably have to occupy permanently a large part of Russia. The only remaining solution would be what might be called the ideal solution or the use of moral forces. This is the proposal now under [Page 667]consideration. It is not a question of treating with the Bolsheviki; it is a matter of offering them an opportunity along with others, to find some way out of the difficult situation existing in Russia.
For his part, he indorsed the proposal.
President Wilson asked for an expression of the views of the Japanese delegates.
Baron Makino stated that he had heard and carefully considered all points of view. Not only did he have no objection to make, but he thought it to be the only step that could be taken. He would, however, make one inquiry, and he would ask what would be the attitude of those present should the Bolsheviki still stick to the principles enunciated in their constitution. He thought it absolutely necessary to avoid any appearance of countenancing their point of view.
According to the latest information which had reached him, it might be said that the situation, as regards the spread of Bolshevism in Siberia east of Lake Bikac [Baikal], had improved. He thought that the object of the Allied military expedition into Siberia had been attained. Bolshevism might be latent, but it certainly is not aggressive.
President Wilson stated that he thought that the emissaries of the Great Powers who were to meet the representatives of the different Russian factions including the Bolsheviki, should not be authorized to take any position regarding Bolshevism, but should simply report back to the Conference what they found in the way of accommodations of views and possibilities of the representatives of the different factions in Russia reaching some understanding.
Mr. Lloyd George thought that the emissaries should, nevertheless, endeavor to persuade the Russian representatives to agree to refer their differences to a constituent assembly.
President Wilson suggested that the exact wishes of those present be incorporated in the instructions to be issued to their emissaries.
Mr. Balfour thought it important to decide whether the abstention from hostile actions against surrounding nations should be made a condition precedent to the Conference idea.
President Wilson stated that he had already made a note of this, and in his draft would incorporate a statement to the effect that the troops of the different factions should refrain from aggressive action outside their own territory.
M. Clemenceau suggested that it might also be desirable to incorporate in the draft statement, a reference to the fact that the whole of Russia is menaced by famine, and to point out that the Allies were humanitarian and would consider the question of furnishing supplies to Russia. He thought that it would be found that the Bolsheviki [Page 668]would be anxious to listen, and that this would constitute an excellent point to start from.
Mr. Lloyd George expressed some doubt as to whether there is sufficient food to supply the countries of the Allies, if Russia were to be supplied also. Should prices go up in France and England due to an effort to furnish supplies to Russia, he thought that this would constitute a real danger. Moreover, Russia had always been an exporting, not an importing country, as far as food went, and he thought that there would be a sufficient supply obtained in the Ukraine.
It was agreed that President Wilson should draw up a statement and submit it for consideration the following morning at 11:00 o’clock.
The Chairman thought it very desirable that the different delegations be put to work as soon as possible. He understood that President Wilson would submit the question of a League of Nations at the next meeting. If so, he suggested that it would be well to proceed to consider the question of reparation of damages.
Mr. Lloyd George stated that he agreed to this, and suggested that the question of the League of Nations be taken up at the next meeting, and that those present lay down the general principles, and then appoint an international committee to work on the constitution of the League. It would be desirable to follow this by the consideration of the question of indemnity and reparation which should also be referred to a committee, and the same with regard to international labor questions.
President Wilson asked whether Mr. Lloyd George contemplated a committee formed of delegates.
Mr. Lloyd George answered that he thought it would be desirable to have qualified persons on the committee. President Wilson then explained for the information of those present, how he had gone about drawing up a constitution. He stated that he had taken the Phillimore report,2 and had asked Colonel House to re-write it.3 He had then re-written Colonel House’s constitution to suit his own ideas.4 Subsequently he had studied the plans prepared by General Smuts and Lord Edward [Robert] Cecil,5 and then he had re-written the constitution once more.6 Finally he had a talk with Mr. Bourgeois, and he was glad to say that he had found his ideas in substantial [Page 669]accord with Mr. Bourgeois, General Smuts and Lord Edward [Robert] Cecil.
Mr. Balfour suggested that the President’s draft be referred to the committee. President Wilson thought it well that the committee be formed of those men who had already studied the question. Mr. Lloyd George agreed to this, and as he would like to have both General Smuts and Lord Edward [Robert] Cecil on the committee, he suggested that the committee be composed of two persons appointed by each of the delegations of the Great Powers.
M. Pichon desired to remind those present of the questions raised in Mr. Paderewski’s letter to Colonel House which had been read by President Wilson at the morning session. It was most desirable that an answer be sent as soon as possible.
M. Clemenceau stated that Marshal Foch had already suggested the sending of the Polish Legion with the French Army to Poland via Danzig. He proposed that Marshal Foch be requested to attend the next meeting, and that the Polish question be discussed at that time. His proposal was accepted.
Mr. Balfour referred to the fact that it seemed to be agreed that a committee should be formed to consider the League of Nations, the question of indemnity, and international labor questions, and stated that he would like to suggest a fourth, namely, disarmament, which was so closely related to the question of strategic frontier. He pointed out that if the League of Nations is to be practical, the delegates must make up their minds as soon as possible regarding the question of disarmament. It was most important in this connection, to come to some agreement as to what arms Germany was to be allowed to have. It is evident that a League of Nations would be a sham if there is no disarmament.
President Wilson suggested that those present compare their views on this matter before referring it to a committee.
- Karl Liebknecht, leader of the Spartacist movement in Germany.↩
- Ante, p. 643.↩
- Miller, The Drafting of the Covenant, vol. ii, p. 3.↩
Foreign Relations:The Paris Peace Conference, 1919, vol. i, p. 497.↩
Ibid., p. 501.↩
- For General Smuts’ plan, see Miller, The Drafting of the Covenant, vol. ii, p. 23; for Lord Cecil’s memorandum, see Miller, My Diary, vol. iii, p. 85.↩
- Miller, The Drafting of the Covenant, vol. ii, pp. 65–93.↩