Paris Peace Conf. 180.03101/15
Secretary’s Notes of a Conversation Held in M. Pichon’s Room at the Quai d’Orsay on Thursday, January 23, 1919, at 10:30 O’clock a.m.
- America, United States of
- President Wilson.
- Mr. R. Lansing.
- Mr. A. H. Frazier.
- Colonel U. S. Grant.
- Mr. L. Harrison.
- British Empire
- The Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd George.
- The Rt. Hon. A. J. Balfour.
- Lt-Col. Sir M. P. A. Hankey, K. C. B.
- Captain E. Abraham.
- Mr. C. J. B. Hurst.
- M. Clemenceau.
- M. Pichon.
- M. Dutasta.
- M. Berthelot.
- M. Fromageot.
- Captain A. Portier.
- H. E. M. Orlando.
- H. E. Baron Sonnino
- Count Aldrovandi.
- Major A. Jones.
- Baron Makino.
- H. E. M. Matsui.
- M. Saburi.
- America, United States of
Interpreter: Professor P. J. Mantoux.
1. Commission for Poland M. Clemenceau, in opening the meeting, asked whether the Representatives had nominated their Commissioners for Poland to proceed to Poland.
President Wilson said on behalf of the United States that General Kernan and Mr. Lord would be the American delegates.
Mr. Lloyd George, on behalf of Great Britain, agreed to nominate the British delegates in the afternoon.
M. Clemenceau, on behalf of France, nominated General Niessel and M. Velten.
M. Orlando said that he would nominate the Italian delegates in the afternoon.
2. Commission for the Russian Conference M. Clemenceau said that he had nominated, as the French delegates to proceed to Prince’s Island, M. Conti and General Rampont.
Baron Makino said that he would nominate delegates on behalf of Japan and would furnish the names as soon as possible.
The other Powers agreed to supply the names of their nominees in the afternoon.[Page 694]
3. Commission for the League of Nations The following names were given:—
|France.||M. Léon Bourgeois.|
|United States.||President Wilson.|
|Great Britain.||Lord Robert Cecil.|
4. Disarmament M. Clemenceau said the next subject to be dealt with was that of the reduction of armaments, concerning which a draft had been proposed by Mr. Lloyd George. (See Appendix “A”.)
Mr. Lloyd George pointed out that the draft contained two distinct proposals. The first dealt with the immediate situation. A decision on this point was, for Great Britain, a matter of very grave moment. Unless the enemy’s forces were immediately reduced, the British Government might be forced to maintain compulsory service. He did not know what might be the political result of such a decision. In another month’s time, the renewal of the Armistice would be considered. He felt that at that time we should demand a drastic reduction of the armed forces of Germany to a fixed quotum, such as might suffice to maintain internal order. It would also be necessary to place a limit on the armaments and munitions available for these forces; the surplus could be placed under Allied guard. If the Germans maintained armaments and munitions sufficient for an army of two or three million men, their demobilization would be nugatory. He was informed by the British War Office that to fulfil Marshal Foch’s requirements, a British Army of 1,700,000 men must be kept with the colours. This was a very serious demand which would not be readily accepted by the country. He would, therefore, urge that the first clause in the draft be proceeded with at once. The second could be reserved for a future date.
President Wilson, commenting on the terms of the draft, suggested the elimination of the words “and drastic”, as conveying the impression of a threat.
M. Sonnino suggested, as an alternative, the words reduction.”
Mr. Lloyd George pointed out that the text was not intended for communication to the enemy but only as a guidance to the Allied Commission that was to be set up to consider it. What he wished to convey to the Committee was that the enemy’s forces should be [Page 695] reduced to the minimum necessary for the maintenance of internal order.
President Wilson asked whether this could be done without consultation with the Germans and whether it ought not to be taken up by the Armistice Commission, so as to give the Germans a chance to state the numbers they actually needed.
M. Clemenceau said that, if there was no objection he would propose to summon Marshal Foch.
Mr. Lloyd George said that he would not be able to accept Marshal Foch’s opinion unsupported by British military experts on subject of such political moment to Great Britain. Marshal Foch had forwarded a demand for British troops which it would be extremely difficult for the country to honour. It was for this reason that he had suggested as an alternative to increasing the Allied forces the reduction of the enemy’s troops. It would be necessary for British members to be present on the Committee when dealing with this subject.
M. Clemenceau said that he had no objection whatever to the presence of British, American or other representatives on the Commission. He fully understood the reasons which prompted Mr. Lloyd George’s remarks. The question, however, was more difficult to solve than might appear. He, himself, had been asked in the Chamber of Deputies why Marshal Foch had not included in the Armistice an article requiring the demobilization of the German Army. Marshal Foch had explained that he had made no provision for this, as he did not wish to put any clause in the Armistice, the execution of which he would be unable to control.
5. Present Situation in Germany The situation in Germany had grown worse during the last few days. He had brought telegrams with him which he proposed to show to the Meeting. It appeared that, since the defeat of the Spartacus party, German officers were resuming their arrogant attitude and were considerably harder to deal with than before. Moreover, German troops were being massed against the Poles. The “Frankfurt Gazette” made mention of a large concentration on the Eastern frontier. He was very much afraid that the Poles might be so imprudent as to attack the Germans, and, in connection with the Allied Mission that was going to Poland, he had intended to suggest that it be instructed to forbid the Poles from engaging in any such adventure. The Allies would always be considered the supporters of Poland and they could not at the same time support the Poles in attacking Germany and ask the Germans to disarm.[Page 696]
6. Maintenance of Allied Troops on the Western Front Mr. Lloyd George said that he had felt bound to give notice to the Allied and Associated Governments that he was not able to undertake to maintain the forces demanded by Marshal Foch.
M. Orlando said that he would like to raise a point of procedure. He fully understood Mr. Lloyd George’s reasons. He also understood M. Clemenceau’s anxiety. He wished to suggest that the question of immediate reduction of the enemy’s forces was not a Peace Conference but an Armistice matter. The question of form often had a close relation to substance. He thought that we could obtain prompt demobilisation of the German armies more effectually by dealing with it as a condition of the renewal of the Armistice through the agency of Marshal Foch and the Allied Military Advisers, than by treating it as a question for the Peace Conference. He thought it would be a mistake to consult on a question of this kind all the Small Powers collected at the Peace Conference, which had no concern with the military commitments on the Western Front.
M. Clemenceau said that he also fully understood Mr. Lloyd George’s point. Mr. Lloyd George had been bound to make it, but the military front must be maintained. He was not aware of the demands addressed by Marshal Foch to the British Government. He would therefore suggest that a British, a French, an American and an Italian General should meet and report to the meeting what military forces it was necessary for the Allies to maintain.
President Wilson said that he had thought the question was still under discussion. He also was deeply interested in the question of maintaining American troops in Europe. What [When] he had last met Marshal Foch, final figures had not been given him, but only approximations. He had therefore concluded that the matter was still being considered. He thought that this was a question for the Supreme War Council and suggested that the Military Advisors should be heard on the subject.
Mr. Lloyd George said that on the following day the British Secretary of State for War would be in Paris and could be present at the Meeting.
M. Orlando said that General Diaz would also be present.
M. Clemenceau said that a Meeting of the Supreme War Council would take place at 10 hrs. 30 in M. Pichon’s room on the following day.
(It was agreed that Marshal Foch and the Military Experts of the Governments of the United States of America, the British Empire, France and Italy be invited to advise the Supreme War Council on [Page 697] the following day as to the size of the armies to be maintained by the Allied and Associated Powers on the Western Front, and more particularly as to the possibility of an immediate and drastic reduction in the armed forces of the enemy.)
7. International Legislation on Industrial and Labour Questions M. Clemenceau read a draft resolution proposed by Mr. Lloyd George. (See Appendix “B”)
M. Orlando asked if this text would be submitted to voting in the full Conference on Saturday.
M. Clemenceau said that it would be discussed but not voted on. There was to be no voting in the Conference. It would be included in the Agenda for Saturday.
President Wilson suggested that for the word “joint” in the eight[h] line, the word “common” should be substituted. Joint action would rarely be possible.
(This amendment was accepted)
Mr. Lansing proposed certain other alterations in the draft and the following final text was adopted:—
That a Commission composed of two representatives apiece from the five Great Powers, and five representatives to be elected by the other Powers represented at the Peace Conference be appointed to enquire into the conditions of employment from the international aspect, and to consider the international means necessary to secure common action on matters affecting conditions of employment and to recommend the form of a permanent agency to continue such enquiry in co-operation with and under the direction of the League of Nations.
Mr. Lloyd George said that he would like to have the opinion of the Conference concerning the kind of delegates that should be appointed to this Commission. As there were to be only two, he asked whether it would not be desirable that one should be an employer, and the other a representative of the working classes. In the alternative, one could be an official. He thought it desirable that the representatives of all the Powers should have the same character.
President Wilson pointed out that uniformity might not be feasible. For instance, American officials might not be easy to obtain.
M. Sonnino pointed out that as the smaller Powers among them only found 5 delegates, the same composition could not apply to their membership.
President Wilson pointed out that an American employer might be hard to get.
Mr. Balfour said that the countries in which conditions of employment were bad were the only countries that need feel much anxiety about their representation on this Commission. America, for instance, where conditions of employment were exceptionally [Page 698] good, need feel no anxiety on this score. There might be countries, however, in which the impression would be formed that they could only compete with such favoured countries as the United States or Canada by keeping down wages. Those countries must have an employer among their representatives, otherwise the employers of labour in those countries would think that wages were being raised in order to render competition with their rivals in other countries impossible. It is therefore, in his opinion, unnecessary to insist on an identical form of representation for all.
Baron Makino said that he entirely agreed with Mr. Balfour, and the case last cited was that of Japan.
M. Sonnino thought that this discussion somewhat anticipated the probable course of events. The means of procuring full and adequate representation could be dealt with at a later stage. The question was for the time being in the stage of study. This study could be adequately undertaken by officials, such, for instance, as the Italian officials serving on the Emigration Committee. After receiving their advice, further decisions could be taken. He thought it would be unfortunate to establish a precedent for a permanent organization not yet formed by insisting on one delegate from the employers and one from the workmen.
M. Clemenceau said that he agreed with M. Sonnino. The Governments were now asked to nominate two delegates each. He for himself proposed to nominate two officials. The Commission was to report on the best means of getting all the interests concerned represented. The delegates would doubtless for their own work consult the various interests in their own countries.
(It was therefore decided that each of the Great Powers should appoint two delegates.)
8. Reparation M. Clemenceau read a draft resolution proposed by Mr. Lloyd George. (See Appendix “C”.)
M. Pichon pointed out that Poland, which had suffered perhaps as much as any other country from devastation, had been omitted.
(It was agreed that Poland should be included).
Baron Makino suggested that instead of three representatives apiece, the Great Powers should be asked to supply not more than three each.
(This was agreed to).
Mr. Lansing proposed certain alterations, which were included in the final text.
(The following text was then adopted:—
That a Commission be appointed with not more than three representatives apiece from each of the five Great Powers, and not more [Page 699] than two representatives apiece from Belgium, Greece, Poland, Roumania, and Serbia, to examine and report, first on the amount for reparation which the enemy countries ought to pay, secondly on what they are capable of paying, and thirdly on the method, form and time in which payment should be made).
9. Breaches of Laws of war M. Clemenceau read a draft resolution submitted by Mr. Lloyd George (Appendix “D”).
M. Sonnino called attention to the expression in paragraph 3, “highly placed individuals”. He thought that responsibility should not be confined to highly placed individuals.
(After discussion, it was decided to read the sentence as follows:—
“All other individuals, however highly placed”)
(The following final text was adopted:—
That a Commission, composed of two representatives apiece from the five Great Powers, and five representatives to be elected by the other Powers, be appointed to inquire and report upon the following:—
- The responsibility of the authors of the war.
- The facts as to breaches of the laws and customs of war committed by the forces of the German Empire and their allies on land, on sea, and in the air during the present war;
- The degree of responsibility for these offences attaching to particular members of the enemy forces, including members of the General Staffs, or other individuals, however highly placed;
- The Constitution and procedure of a tribunal appropriate to the trial of these offences;
- Any other matters cognate or ancillary to the above which may arise in the course of the inquiry, and which the Commission finds it useful and relevant to take into consideration.)
10. Agenda for Plenary conference on Saturday M. Clemenceau said that the Agenda for Saturday would be composed of the resolutions accepted at this Meeting and on the previous day.
(This was agreed to)
Mr. Lansing pointed out that according to the rules, they should be in the hands of the delegates 24 hours before the meeting.
(The Secretary-General undertook to fulfill this regulation).
11. Territorial and Colonial Questions M. Clemenceau said that a number of territorial and colonial questions remained to be discussed. Of these the Territorial territorial were the most delicate problems.
Doubtless each power would feel inclined to put off their discussion, but it must be undertaken. Before discussion these questions required classification. He would therefore [Page 700] beg the Governments to think of this, and at a later meeting to bring with them a classification.
M. Sonnino asked whether the most practical means would not be to fix a time by which each Delegation should present their wishes. The meeting would then have a notion of the ground to be covered. This applied to the Great Powers and to the smaller countries alike. A complete picture of the whole problem would then be available.
Mr. Lloyd George said that considerable delay might be involved in waiting for the completion of all this work. European questions were so complicated that it would take a long time for such peoples as the Czecho-Slovaks and Poles to set forth a reasoned case. On the other hand Oriental questions and Colonial questions were less involved and to economize time he suggested that these matters might be tackled at once.
M. Sonnino pointed out that Mr. Lloyd George’s proposal was not in contradiction with his. It was a question of the order in which problems were examined. Mr. Lloyd George proposed one subject to be discussed first. He agreed with him but before long questions would arise which concerned a great number of interests and then it would be necessary before settling them to have a statement from all the Delegations concerned.
M. Clemenceau said that he would agree then to begin with the Colonial questions.
President Wilson observed that the world’s unrest arose from the unsettled condition of Europe, not from the state of affairs in the East, or in the Colonies, and that the postponement of these questions would only increase the pressure on the Delegates of the Peace Conference. He would therefore prefer to set in process immediately all that was required to hasten a solution of European questions. He entirely approved of utilizing intervals for the discussion of less important matters.
M. Clemenceau summing up, said that he understood Mr. Lloyd George to propose giving precedence to Oriental” and Colonial questions, while President Wilson preferred to begin with European ones.
Mr. Lloyd George said that he entirely agreed with the President in his estimate of the relative importance of these matters, and that he had only suggested dealing with the East and with the Colonies in order to save time while the various delegations were preparing their case.
M. Clemenceau suggested that a date be fixed by which all Delegations should be requested to state their cases in writing.
(It was then decided that the Secretary General should ask all Delegations representing Powers with Territorial claims to send to the Secretariat their written statements within 10 days).[Page 701]
12. International Regime of Ports, Waterways, & Railways M. Clemenceau read a resolution proposed by Mr. Lloyd [George] concerning the international regulation of Ports, Water-ways & Railways (Appendix “E”).
After discussion the following resolution was adopted:—
“That a Commission composed of two representatives apiece from the five Great Powers and five representatives to be elected by the other Powers represented at the Peace Conference, be appointed to inquire into the Question of the international regime of Ports, Waterways and Railways.”
13. Financial Questions M. Clemenceau pointed out that many complicated financial questions required settlement.
M. Sonnino said that the questions of Public Debts and paper money were especially difficult.
President Wilson questioned whether these problems could be isolated from territorial problems.
Mr. Balfour thought that even in so complex a case as that of the previous Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, some general principles of financial obligation should be laid down.
President Wilson thought that these questions varied so much that their settlement should not be subjected to any general rule.
M. Sonnino said that on certain definite questions a common principle could be found, for instance, to what extent were new States responsible for the debts of the older States they replaced? At what date did the State in process of dissolution cease to be responsible for the paper money it issued? Who was responsible for the money now circulating throughout the former Dual Monarchy? These questions related to phenomena of common occurrence and some principle could be laid down to deal with them.
Mr. Lloyd George added the instance of the Turkish Empire, a large part of which would be parceled out. What part, if any, of the Ottoman debt must be taken over with each portion? Who the Mandatories would be was not yet settled, but what their relations would be to the monetary obligations of the Turkish Empire was a difficult problem. Would they, for instance, be compelled to take over the debt at par or at the present value? Was Palestine to bear a share of the burden, and Syria, the Armenians and the peoples of the Caucasus?
President Wilson suggested that these problems be drafted in the form of resolutions on which the representatives could take action.
M. Sonnino said that an expert committee would be [appointed] to frame these questions in appropriate terms.[Page 702]
(It was therefore decided that the Great Powers should appoint a Committee of five, composed of one member from each, to frame and set in order the financial questions requiring solution)
14. Status of Claims for Reparation Mr. Lloyd George said that one of the problems requiring solution was whether claims for reparation should take precedence status of claims of the national debt in enemy countries.
(It was agreed that this was one of the problems that should be referred to the Committee above mentioned)
(The meeting then adjourned)