Paris Peace Conf. 180.03101/18


Secretary’s Notes of a Conversation Held in M. Pichon’s Room at the Quai d’Orsay, Paris, on Monday, January 27, 1919, at 10 hrs. 30

  • Present
    • America, United States of
      • President Wilson.
      • Mr. R. Lansing.
      • Mr. A. H. Frazier.
      • Mr. L. Harrison.
      • Col. R. H. Williams.
    • British Empire
      • The Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd George, M. P.
      • The Rt. Hon. A. J. Balfour, M. P.
      • Lt. Col. Sir M. P. A. Hankey, K. C. B.
      • Captain E. Abraham.
      • Mr. H. Phipps.
    • France
      • M. Clemenceau.
      • M. Pichon.
      • M. Dutasta.
      • M. Berthelot.
      • Capt. Portier.
    • Italy
      • M. Orlando.
      • Baron Sonnino.
      • Major Jones.
    • Japan
      • Baron Makino.
      • H. E. M. Matsui.
      • M. Saburi.

Interpreter: Professor P. J. Mantoux.

M. Clemenceau, in opening the meeting, said that there were several small questions requiring solution before beginning the main business of the day.


Chairmanship of Meeting of Small Powers for the Election of Delegates to Commission M. Clemenceau said that the Small Powers were meeting in the afternoon to elect their delegates. It was necessary to find a Chairman for this meeting, and he suggested M. Jules Cambon.

(This proposal was accepted unanimously.)


Protests From Belgium and Portugal M. Clemenceau said that up to the present time he had received only two formal protests against the arrangements made for the Conference; one was from Belgium and the other was from Portugal. He intended to answer these protests, but suggested that a delay of some days should be allowed to elapse before he replied.

(This was agreed to.)


Terms of Reference to Commission on Reparation M. Clemenceau said that he had received a proposal from M. Klotz, French Minister of Finance, that the word “guarantees” Terms of should be included in the terms of reference to the Commission set up on the subject of reparation. (I. C. 117, paragraph 8.)1

(This proposal was agreed to.)

[Page 730]

(The terms of reference as amended therefore read:—

That a Commission be appointed with not more than three representatives apiece from each of the five Great Powers, and not more than two representatives apiece from Belgium, Greece, Poland, Rou-mania 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, thirdly on the method, form and time in which payment should be made, and fourthly on the guarantees that should be obtained for payment.)


Financial Section for the League of Nations M. Clemenceau said that the second proposal put forward by M. Klotz was that there should be a financial section of the League of Nations. (I. C. 117, paragraph 13.)2

President Wilson suggested that this proposal should be sent to the Drafting Committee on Financial Questions.

(This proposal was agreed to.)


Designation of Member of Financial Committee M. Clemenceau pointed out that each of the five Powers had agreed to nominate one member for the Financial Drafting Committee. He asked whether the members had yet been nominated by all concerned. On behalf of France, committee the nominated M. Klotz.

On behalf of Great Britain, Italy and Japan respectively, Mr. Montagu, M. Salandra and M. Mori were designated. It was agreed that the American nominee should be appointed very shortly.


Commission on Economic Questions M. Clemenceau said that he proposed to nominate a similar Commission to deal with Economic Questions. This Commission should frame in appropriate language questions arising under the following suggested headings:—


Raw Materials.

Industrial Re-constitution.

Privileges that should be granted to the devastated regions for their revictualling in raw materials and for the sale of their manufactured products. (President Wilson’s suggestion.)

Customs Regulations.

President Wilson said that he thought a distinction should be maintained between the questions of immediate moment to the Allied and Associated Powers and those which should form a part of the peace settlement proper. Certain questions related merely to co-operation between ourselves; others required consideration from the point of view of conferring with the enemy and with neutral Powers. These two categories should not be confused.

[Page 731]

M. Pichon suggested that the Committee might be charged with the task of discriminating between those two classes of problems.

President Wilson gave, as an illustration of his meaning, the revictualling and re-starting of industries in devastated regions. This would call for co-operation between the Allied and Associated Powers in respect to shipping, priority of supply, etc. This question was one strictly confined to the Allies and not one connected with making peace with the enemy.

Mr. Balfour observed that the question of preferential dealing in the matter of raw material appeared to involve both kinds of interest. The re-constitution of Belgian and French manufacturing industries was hard to separate from the re-construction of German industries. Germany could not pay for the re-building of the former unless herself assisted to re-start manufacturing. Priority of supplies, therefore, had a direct bearing on the Peace Treaty as well as on the arrangements to be made between the Allies.

President Wilson pointed out that it was quite true that Germany could not make reparation unless she had the means therefor. Unless German industries were reconstituted, it was clear that Germany could not pay. The means of obtaining reparation from Germany was obviously a question to be considered by the Commission on reparation. He could see ahead certain difficulties in connection with this matter. If he were to carry back to America a treaty in which economic arrangements with America’s friends were included in the settlement made with her enemies, the Senate might raise objections. Congress was jealous of being forestalled in commitments on economic matters. He could see no objection to the proposal under consideration provided it were not tied up with other matters in which the constraint of making peace was involved.

Mr. Lloyd George said that he also anticipated considerable difficulty in dealing with matters of this sort. Much of the raw material that would be required by Germany could only be found in the British Empire. France also, by the acquisition of Alsace-Lorraine would dispose of more raw material than she did before. This would be still more the case were she to acquire the Saar Valley. Germany, therefore, could not start her industrial life again save at the good pleasure of the Allies. There would be in England parliamentary difficulties similar to those alluded to by President Wilson in the United States. It was clear that Germany would be entitled to ask what her economic future was going to be. It would be very difficult to obtain her consent to a Peace Treaty which took from her all her colonies and left the victorious Powers in exclusive possession of a number of raw materials which she required. Unless we were prepared beforehand, we should be met by a series of questions on these [Page 732]subjects to confront our territorial demands and we might be at a loss to answer them. He felt that we ought to be prepared to meet this situation, and, therefore, supported the proposal that a Committee be set up to investigate these questions without, in any way, committing the Allied Powers.

President Wilson asked whether the questions enumerated above by M. Clemenceau were the only questions the Committee was to deal with.

M. Clemenceau replied that other questions might be added if occasion arose.

M. Orlando stipulated that the Committee should only be asked to frame the questions and not to offer solutions.

President Wilson remarked that every time a report was received on any questions, territorial or otherwise, problems of this nature were bound to arise. The Committee, therefore, would be dealing with conjectures. It could not know exactly what questions would arise. It might be preferable to deal with them only as they came up for solution in conjunction with other problems.

Mr. Lloyd George remarked that the investigations of the Committee might influence the judgment of the Council on territorial questions.

Mr. Balfour wished it to be recorded that the Committee should be entitled to add questions not included in the list given above.

(It was, therefore, agreed that each of the five Powers should nominate one member to form a Committee to investigate and to formulate economic questions having a direct bearing on the peace negotiations, and requiring solution by the Allied and Associated Powers before conferring with the enemy.)

On behalf of France and Great Britain respectively, M. Clementel and Sir Hubert Llewellyn Smith were nominated as members of the Committee. It was agreed that the names of the American, Italian and Japanese members should be given on the following day.


Commission on Questions of Private and Maritime Law M. Clemenceau proposed that a Commission should be established to consider the following subjects:—

Reestablishment of the conventional regime of the treaties.

Settlement of private claims.

Enemy ships seized at the beginning of the War, in Allied Ports (Hague Convention 1907).3

Goods on enemy ships that have taken shelter and remained in neutral ports.

Restoration of illegal prizes.

Goods which have been stopped without being captured. (O. C, March 11th, 1915.)4

[Page 733]

Mr. Lloyd George was of the opinion that a very big issue was raised by this proposal, but he did not think that all these questions could be settled in the Peace Treaty with the enemy. The whole subject appeared to him to be more suitable for the League of Nations. These matters, moreover, could be discussed in a more favourable atmosphere in the League of Nations than in debate with Germany. It would be far more difficult for himself to make concessions in dealing with the enemy than in treating on behalf of Great Britain with the League of Nations.

M. Sonnino agreed with Mr. Lloyd George that four-fifths of these subjects would be better dealt with by the League of Nations. They referred not so much to the consequences of this war, as to the future conditions of the world. There were, however, among the subjects proposed, some such as the disposal of enemy ships and the restoration of illegal prizes, which were strictly suitable for inclusion in the Peace Treaty with the enemy.

M. Clemenceau agreed on this point with Baron Sonnino.

President Wilson also expressed the view that the cases cited were matters for immediate disposal, but felt with Mr. Lloyd George that questions of principle should be referred to the League of Nations.

M. Clemenceau proposed that the list should be divided into two.

President Wilson suggested that the special cases alluded to in the list should be referred to the Commission on Reparation, while the question of general principles should be reserved for the League of Nations.

(This proposal was adopted.)


Question of Besarabaian Representation at Prince’s Island M. Clemenceau said that he had received a despatch from M. Bratiano, who wished it to be laid down that Bessarabia was not to send delegates to Prinkipo.

M. Pichon explained that according to M. Bratiano, Poland and Finland had been expressly excepted, whereas Bessarabia had not been mentioned. Bessarabia had willingly joined Roumania, and should therefore not be affected by the invitation to the various Governments of Russia.

M. Pichon was of opinion that it should be left to the Bessarabians themselves to decide whether or not they wished to go to Prinkipo. He himself felt convinced that they would not go.

(It was decided that no reply was immediately necessary, and that the question should stand over until the question of the meeting at Prinkipo came up for discussion.)


Representation at Prince’s Island of the Small States in Formation, Whose Territories Previously Belonged to the Russian Empire Mr. Balfour said that he wished to raise a point which he thought had been settled, but of which he could find no record in the Minutes. He wished to know whether those elements of Old Russia which, we hoped, would succeed in forming se[parate states?] such as Esthonia, Georgia, possibly Russian Armenia and Daghestan, to the Russian were invited to the meeting on Prince’s Island.

(It was decided (See I. C. 116(1)):6 that all such elements, unless expressly excluded, were invited to attend.)


Recognition of Finland Mr. Balfour said that the British Government had been asked by the French Government to recognize Finland. The British Government hitherto had been friendly to Finland, but Finland had stopped short of official recognition. At the present moment the Finns were behaving well, and he was inclined to agree. But as recognition of the Finnish Government would add one or possibly two delegates to the Peace Conference, he felt that the matter was not one which could be settled simply between the French and British Foreign Offices.

M. Pichon agreed that it was necessary to consult the Conference, but he had made the communication in question to the British Government, because both France and Great Britain had been concerned in dealings with General Mannerheim;7 he also pointed out that Finland figured not as a belligerent in the Conference, but as a neutral.

Mr. Lloyd George said he saw no objection to recognizing Finland. Even Mr. Sazonoff did not propose its incorporation in Russia. Poland had been recognized, and Finland had far clearer boundaries than Poland.

M. Pichon said that France was all the more disposed to agree, as she had previously recognized Finland, and had only withdrawn her recognition when the Finns had displayed obvious pro-German leanings. This had now been amended.

Baron Sonnino thought that the Finnish question was too closely bound up with the Russian question as a whole to be prejudged at the present time. Any decision concerning the frontiers of Finland might be regarded as a settlement hostile to Russia, if made without hearing the Russians.

Finland was pro-Ally now, but a short time ago she had chosen for herself a German Prince. These alternations of conduct seemed to recommend caution and delay on the part of the Powers.

M. Pichon said that there was one advantage in avoiding delay, which was that General Mannerheim’s Government might be overthrown if it failed to obtain recognition. He would, however, ask [Page 735]that, if a decision were not taken there and then, it should not be too long delayed.

President Wilson said that he agreed with Baron Sonnino.

M. Sonnino proposed that the Finnish question should be taken up again when the question of the meeting on Prince’s Island came up for discussion.

M. Pichon pointed out that the Powers had given a mark of confidence to the Finns by excluding them from the invitation.

(It was, therefore, decided that the question of recognizing Finland should be taken up in connection with the general problem of Russia.)

Instruction for the Polish Commission (It was decided that the instructions drafted by M. Pichon for the Commission to proceed to Poland should be Commission discussed on the following day.)

Procedure for the Reception of Delegates of the Small Powers by the Council Mr. Balfour said that he wished to draw attention to a matter which was rather of form than of substance. On the previous Friday the representatives of the British Dominions had been here. No discussions had followed on the statements they had made. Their position the council might appear somewhat ambiguous. According to the regulations, smaller belligerent powers with particular interests were entitled to participate in the Conference, while matters concerning them were discussed. It had originally been intended to deal with Colonial questions at this meeting, but other urgent matters came up for discussion. He would therefore suggest that in all such cases the meeting should be devoted primarily to the discussion of matters in which representatives of the Smaller States were interested, and at which they should be present throughout. At such meetings no other questions should be given precedence.

President Wilson expressed the opinion that this proposal was fair, but he would like to ask that the representatives of powers with special interests be required by the Chairman to confine their attention to the subject for which their attendance had been requested.

(The Chairman undertook to do this.)


Presentation of the Japanese Case President Wilson, referring to the discussion on the previous Friday (I. C. 120),8 asked whether it was wise to deal with the Pacific piecemeal. He Japanese case should not be heard before any partial decision was taken. If ready, he suggested that it should be heard first.

M. Clemenceau agreed.

Mr. Lloyd George suggested that, as Australia and New Zealand held views on these subjects which in some respects might not be [Page 736]the views of the British Government, these Dominions be present at the statement of the Japanese case.

M. Clemenceau said, that as the Dominions had been heard it appeared to him reasonable to hear Japan and then, after the statement had been heard, to open the discussion with the representatives of the Dominions in the room.

Mr. Lloyd George pointed out that Japan had been represented when Australia and New Zealand had been heard.

M. Clemenceau pointed out that Japan had a seat among the five Powers.

Mr. Lloyd George was of the opinion that Chinese as well as Australian and New Zealand Delegates should be present at the Japanese statement.


Mandatory Principle Mr. Balfour thought that if his Japanese colleagues would agree, the case of the Japanese acquisitions in this war would fall into two categories—first, the Pacific Islands, second, those parts of China conquered from the Germans. In the first Australia and New Zealand were concerned. In the latter they were not at all concerned. He hoped, therefore, that the two cases would be dealt with separately.

Baron Makino said that he had no objection to the presence of the Dominion representatives, but he had prepared a statement including both Kiaochow and the Pacific Islands, as the capture of both had been the result of one campaign. He would therefore not be able, in his statement, to follow the distinction laid down by Mr. Balfour. He again stated that he had no objection to the presence of any interested Power.

Mr. Balfour thought that great difficulties would be encountered if the discussion on China and the Pacific Islands was treated as one.

President Wilson suggested that even if the case for both were presented at one time and in one document the discussion might afterwards be held separately on each question.

Baron Makino asked whether the question would be discussed at once after his presentation of the Japanese case, or whether all statements of Colonial claims would be awaited.

M. Clemenceau said that France had no claim to advance in the Pacific. He was therefore prepared to deal with this question first in isolation.

Mr. Lloyd George pointed out that South Africa had raised a question which had no connection with the Pacific, namely, that of German South West Africa. Were we going to discuss the whole question of the Colonies or only some portion?

President Wilson pointed out that the case as a whole interested many Powers. The effect of dealing with each portion of the subject [Page 737]in the presence of the Powers specially interested in it would be kaleidoscopic. There would be a number of partial discussions followed by a general discussion with all parties previously heard present. This would be both a lengthy and unwieldly procedure.

Mr. Balfour said that underlying the whole discussion was the question of the mandatory principle. He asked when this was to be discussed.

President Wilson then suggested that the question [of] the Pacific should first be taken up and a decision reached as to whether the mandatory principle should, or should not, apply in that area. The discussion might then move to another quarter and investigate whether or not the principle was applicable there. This would avoid very large conferences and very long discussions. He therefore proposed that the Japanese case should be heard in the presence of the Chinese delegates and that after the statement, that part of the case concerning the Pacific should be discussed in the presence of the Dominion delegates. At a later meeting the other portion might be taken up in the presence of the Chinese delegates.

Baron Makino said that the mandatory system mentioned by Mr. Balfour was not the only principle underlying the Colonial question. There were others. He therefore urged that the discussions to be undertaken should, for the time being, only have a provisional character.


Question of Kiaochow Baron Makino said that he had another point to make. The presentation of the Japanese case concerning Kiaochow would be made with reference to Germany only. Japanese relations with China on these questions were on a different footing. The claim he would put forward was addressed to Germany alone, not to China. He did not wish to discuss in the presence of the Chinese delegates Japanese relations with Germany.

President Wilson said that he did not understand Baron Makino to contend that the disposition of Kiaochow did not affect China.

Baron Makino said that he was not very well versed in the procedure of the Conference. He asked whether he was to conclude that third Powers interested were to join in the discussion.

It was pointed out by the Chairman that this had been so decided in the regulations.

It was therefore decided that the Japanese statement should be heard both by the Chinese and the Dominions delegates:

That in the discussion to follow, the Dominions delegates should participate with regard to the Pacific Islands, and the Chinese delegates with regard to Kiaochow.

27 January, 1919.

  1. BC–8, p. 698.
  2. BC–8, p. 701.
  3. Foreign Relations, 1907, pt. 2, p. 1247.
  4. Ibid., 1915, supp., p. 144.
  5. BC–7+, p. 676.
  6. Gen. Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim, Regent of Finland.
  7. BC–10, p. 718.