Paris Peace Conf. 180.03101/33



Minutes of the 2nd Meeting of the 13th Session of the Supreme War Council, Held in M. Pichon’s Room, Quai d’Orsay, Paris, on Saturday, February 8, 1919, at 3 p.m.

  • Present
    • America, United States of
      • President Wilson
      • Hon. R. Lansing
      • Mr. A. H. Frazier
      • Mr. L. Harrison
    • British Empire
      • The Rt. Hon. A. J. Balfour, O. M., M. P.
      • Rt. Hon. Viscount Milner, G. C. B., G. C. M. G.
      • Lt. Col. Sir M. P. A. Hankey, K. C. B.
    • France
      • M. Clemenceau
      • M. Pichon
      • M. Dutasta
      • M. Berthelot
      • M. de Bearn
    • Italy
      • H. E. M. Orlando
      • H. E. Baron Sonnino
      • Count Aldrovandi
    • Japan
      • Baron Makino
      • H. E. M. Matsui
  • Also Present
    • America, United States of
      • Admiral W. S. Benson, Naval Adviser
      • Com. A. F. Carter, U. S. N.
      • Mr. Hoover
      • Mr. McCormick
      • Mr. Davis
    • British Empire
      • The Rt. Hon. Lord R. Cecil, K. C., M. P.
      • Admiral Sir R. Wemyss, G. C. B., C. M. G., M. V. O. 1st Sea Lord & Chief of the Naval Staff
      • Maj. Gen. W. T. Thwaites, C. B., Director of Military Intelligence.
      • Maj. Gen. The Hon. C. J. Sackville-West, C. M. G., Permanent Military Representative.
      • Maj. Gen. Sir F. H. Sykes, K. C. B., C. M. G., Chief of the Air Staff.
      • Brig. Gen. H. Studd, C. B., D. S. O.
    • France
      • M. Klotz
      • M. Loucheur
      • M. Clémentel
      • M. Leygues
      • M. Tardieu
      • M. de Lasteyrie
      • Marshal Foch, O. M., G. C. B.
      • Gen. Weygand, K. C. B.
      • Admiral de Bon
      • Major Lacombe
      • Captain [Lt.?] Odend’hal
      • Capt. Levavasseur
    • Italy
      • H. E. Gen. Diaz
      • Gen. Cavallero
      • H. E. Admiral Thaon di Revel
      • Admiral Grassi
      • Commander Ruspoli
    • Japan
      • Admiral Takeshita
      • General Tanaka
      • Colonel Sato
      • Commandant [Captain?] Nomura
      • Commandant [Captain?] Yamamoto
  • Secretariat
    • America, United States of
      • Colonel U. S. Grant
    • British Empire
      • Capt. E. Abraham
    • France
      • Captain A. Portier
    • Italy
      • Major A. Jones
    • Japan
      • M. Saburi

Interpreter: Professor P. J. Mantoux.

M. Clemenceau, in opening the Meeting, said that before continuing the discussion of the previous day which had remained incomplete, he proposed to settle two small matters:

One—relating to the demand of the German National Assembly at Weimar for greater postal facilities in the occupied regions;

The other—relating to a demand of the Germans for the repatriation of their prisoners.

(This was agreed to).

1. Postal & Telegraphic Facilities in Occupied Regions M. Clemenceau read the request made on behalf of the German National Assembly at Weimar and Marshal Foch’s suggested reply, (see Appendix “A”).

President Wilson asked whether the formula “All liberties compatible with a state of war” offered the Weimar Assembly any considerable facilities as compared with the present conditions.

Marshal Foch stated that the German demand was for full liberty, and the reply offered a conditional freedom.

President Wilson said that he did not wish to grant the Germans any freedom which it was not safe to give them, but it was clearly desirable to assist the Germans in the formation of some authority with which the Allies could deal. It was therefore important to assist the Weimar Assembly. It was clearly undesirable that their letters should take as long as three weeks and their telegrams as long as seven days for delivery.

Mr. Balfour said that, in his opinion, Marshal Foch’s answer was the right one. It might, however, be possible, without touching any question of principle, to ask the administration to hasten the process.

M. Clemenceau said that the delays alleged were probably exaggerated.

Marshal Foch concurred.

President Wilson then proposed that the Council express the hope to Marshal Foch that communications should be hastened as far as possible.

(It was therefore decided to ask Marshal Foch to expedite the delivery of letters and telegrams as far as possible.)

2. M. Clemenceau read the correspondence which had taken place between Herr Erzberger1 and Marshal Foch on this subject, (see Appendix “B”).

[Page 928]

Repatriation of German Prisoners President Wilson asked whether he was to understand that Marshal Foch was in favour of the repatriation of German prisoners.

Marshal Foch said that the demand had been presented to him in a manner which suggested that certain categories of prisoners deserved favourable consideration. For instance, the wounded, the unfit, and fathers of large families. He had undertaken to forward to his Government and to support the demand made in regard to certain categories of prisoners.

M. Clemenceau, referring to the demand made by Herr Erzberger, pointed out that his request concerned all German prisoners, and, in a subsidiary manner, asked that special treatment should be accorded to the severely wounded, the sick, those who had been long in captivity, fathers of large families and all civilians. He asked Marshal Foch whether he had supported the entire demand, or only a portion of it.

Marshal Foch replied that, in his letter, he had referred only to certain special categories. The Allies would, themselves, determine which of these categories deserved consideration.

M. Clemenceau said that it would not be possible for the Governments to give an answer to this request without hearing the competent Ministers. For instance, in the case of France, the Minister answerable for the restoration of the devasted districts. The question had an economic side to it. He, therefore, proposed that an answer should be sent to Herr Erzberger through Marshal Foch that the Governments were examining the question and would give him a reply as soon as possible. As to the fathers of large families, he, personally, would resist this demand very strongly.

M. Sonnino suggested that the Powers might yield at once concerning certain classes, such as the wounded, the sick, the old and civilian prisoners, whose retention had no economic value. There was no doubt in these cases and good will could be shown without any risk.

Marshal Foch said that he had done no more than transmit a request and his support in respect to certain classes which might be considered to deserve special consideration.

(Marshal Foch and General Weygand then withdrew).

Mr. Balfour said that he agreed that the competent authorities should be consulted before a decision was reached on this subject. He would like to point out that Great Britain, after France, possessed the greatest number of German prisoners and he would suggest that the British authorities should also be consulted. The British Minister dealing with German prisoners might be put in touch with the [Page 929] French Minister mentioned by M. Clemenceau, and a joint report might be obtained from them.

(It was therefore decided that no reply should be given to Herr Erzberger’s request for the repatriation of German prisoners until a joint report had been received from the Competent French and British Authorities.)

3. Reduction of German Armaments M. Tardieu read and explained the solution proposed by the Committee on this subject (See Appendix “C”). The committee had aimed at the simplification of the proposals of made on the previous day. It had not thought it right to lay down the number of Divisions Germany was to be authorised to keep. The Committee had left this matter for the decision of the Council. The first request was that the German Government should furnish the full figures of machine guns, field guns, heavy guns, aeroplane motors and seaplanes. An allotment of each would be made for the Divisions the Germans were to keep up. All the surplus would be yielded to the Allies according to Article 2 of the Report. As, however, the enumeration by the Germans might be a lengthy operation, it was proposed under Article 3 that they should yield at once certain quantities of the equipment mentioned.

President Wilson said that his first impression on looking at the document was that the third point was the only one which gave a determinate proposal. He had expected that the result of the Committee’s deliberations would be the formulation of a definite demand from Germany in the form of Article 3. Article 2, however, introduced an indeterminate demand. We left it to the Germans to calculate the surplus over and above the equipment of the Divisions we allowed them to maintain. If we did not trust their calculations we should have to verify them. It might be extremely awkward and difficult to achieve this. This was the very sort of difficulty which he wished to avoid. He had hoped that we should be able to make a final demand once and for all in fixed numbers. After that he would like to make a fresh statement to the Germans, not by way of inducement or bargain, but in order to indicate to them our whole temper and the plan we proposed to follow, to the effect that after the surrender of the arms and equipment required of them we should relax the blockade, not only in respect of food but also in respect of raw materials. This we could not do unless assured that the latter would not be used for the disturbance of the peace. We must be certain that in the period elapsing between the renewal of the Armistice and the preliminaries of Peace—a period which he hoped would not exceed six months—the Germans would be unable to set up a stock of big guns and ammunition. He thought it was both [Page 930] wise and fair that Germany should know what we intended to do after imposing these new terms upon them. Much of the irritation caused by the imposition of these terms would, he thought, be removed by proceeding in this manner. He quite saw the necessity of stating the number of divisions Germany should maintain for the preservation of internal order, but he felt that the uncertainty introduced into the demands by Article 2 should be eliminated.

Mr. Lansing said that he would like to make an explanation concerning Articles 2 and 3. He had only just seen the English version of the Resolution. The Committee had discussed both an immediate minimum and a final minimum, that is to say, a minimum for immediate delivery and a minimum for ultimate delivery. He had understood that only the former would be specified.

Lord Milner said that he did not at all disagree with the additional proposal made by the President of the United States. He thought, however, that any such proposal was outside the scope of the Committee’s reference. The Committee was appointed to simplify the demands to be made on Germany. It seemed to him that it had succeeded in doing so. It was now apparently considered that the Committee’s proposal was itself complicated. To his mind it appeared simple. We began by fixing the strength of the German Army. We then allotted to it a fixed number of machine guns, field guns, heavy guns and aeroplanes. We then said to the Germans: “Surrender everything you have of these categories over and above this allotment.” This constituted not an indefinite but a definite demand. As, however, its execution would take time, we demanded the immediate cession of certain fixed quantities.

M. Tardieu said that he agreed with Lord Milner. Article 2 was not really indefinite, because our object was to ensure that no arms or material remained in Germany which would enable her rapidly to equip more forces than we allowed her to maintain.

President Wilson quoted from a report furnished on the previous day, giving an estimate of all the equipment now in Germany over and above the requirements of 30 divisions.2 He pointed out that the figures were not round figures, but had the appearance of exact statistics. The figures were:—

Heavy guns 1,500
Field guns 6,425
Machine guns 41,675

Now the demand for immediate delivery made in Article 2 of the Committee’s report was for:— [Page 931]

Heavy guns 1,000
Field guns 4,000
Machine guns 20,000

We therefore left the Germans, even after this demand, an excess of:—

  • 21,675 Machine Guns
  • 2,425 Field Guns
  • and 500 Heavy Guns.

over the requirements of the divisions we permitted them to equip. He had understood that the intention had been to demand the surrender of sufficient arms to render the Allies safe. If the figures could be trusted, we were leaving the Germans enough to equip in a short time 60 divisions, rather than 30. If we really knew what quantities they possessed, we could make an exact demand.

M. Loucheur said that if definite quantities were to be demanded, a great deal more should be required than the Committee had put down. The figures given on the previous day represented what was in possession of the German Armies. The figures took no account of what was in the arsenals and in the factories. If these were added, the figures should be doubled. Since November 1st the Germans had completed the construction of armaments then in process of fabrication. France had done likewise. If definite figures were therefore to be fixed, they must be far bigger than those given.

President Wilson said he wished to recall that when the Armistice Terms were sent to America, the people regarded them as the terms rather of a surrender than of an armistice. Now M. Loucheur would demand of the Germans in addition the cession of 82,000 machine guns, 12,000 field guns and 3,000 heavy guns, as in his opinion the numbers given on the previous day should be doubled. If this request were sent to America, people would say that the original figures of the Armistice must have shown astonishing ignorance of the situation in Germany, if the demand then made was so insufficient that an almost equivalent demand must be made now, three months later.

It was very important that the Allies should make a good impression on the world. These continual aggravations of the armistice put the Allies to a moral disadvantage. As far as the interests of safety were concerned, he would be content for himself to leave the Germans in possession of what they had. The Germans were beaten, and they knew it. Their spirit was broken, and they would not renew the struggle.

M. Tardieu said that Article 2 saved us from the appearance of making extravagant demands. It affirmed the principle that no more armaments should exist in’Germany than were required for the [Page 932] maintenance of 30 divisions. If the margin were suppressed, we should be forced to raise the figures.

M. Loucheur said that in the last three months, according to the normal rate of production, the Germans were in a position to have completed 50 field guns per day, 15 heavy guns, and 200 heavy machine guns, without counting lighter machine guns. It was therefore not surprising if their stock had been greatly increased since November 11th. France was in the same position.

M. Clemenceau said that at the time of the Armistice the experts had worked on hypothetical figures. The same was the case at the present time. He thought the finding of the Committee was a reasonable one and secured the safety of the Allies.

Lord Milner added that the proposal had a sort of finality about it. We should not be saying month by month to the Germans, “Give us more and yet more than we previously demanded.” The proposal did contain a settlement of the question, at least until the preliminaries of peace. The demands, moreover, were simplified in that they were confined to certain categories of equipment.

President Wilson said that the demand was not susceptible of successful administration. He had made this point on the previous day, and had been supported in this by so competent a military authority as Marshal Foch. He had a strong distaste for the practice of making reiterated demands. He thought it was fair, however, for the victor to demand information from the vanquished concerning military equipment in his possession. This demand could be made through Marshal Foch before the renewal of the Armistice. Definite figures would then be at hand and the vagueness he complained of would be eliminated. M. Loucheur assumed that German factories had continued turning out armaments at the same rate as before the Armistice. Possibly M. Loucheur had certain knowledge on this subject. If he had not, it appeared very unlikely that this process should have gone on. It was quite likely that little more armament existed in Germany than that with the Armies. The figures for this equipment had been given. He would therefore suggest that Marshal Foch should obtain statistics from the Germans.

Lord Milner said that this was the demand formulated in Article 1 of the Report.

President Wilson said that it was suggested as one of the terms of the Armistice. He proposed to make the demand immediately as a preliminary to the renewal of the Armistice.

M. Clemenceau said that the refusal of the Germans to cease hostilities with the Poles afforded the Allies a good pretext for making this demand.

President Wilson agreed.

[Page 933]

M. Clemenceau then asked President Wilson to draft a text combining his own views with the suggestion just made concerning Poland.

Should it be impossible to obtain the German reply before February 17th, the next renewal of the Armistice might be for a shorter period than one month.

(The following draft was then read by President Wilson, and adopted:—

“It is agreed that an immediate demand shall be made of the Germans that they supply us with all the information now in their hands as to the number of machine guns, of field guns, of heavy guns, of aeroplane motors and of naval aircraft now in their Depots and factories. That they be informed that their refusal to desist from hostilities in Poland, notwithstanding the fact that the Polish authorities have agreed to desist from the use of force against the Germans in Poland, makes this demand for information immediately imperative with a view to determining the terms which shall be exacted when the time comes for the renewal of the armistice.”)

4. Report of Committee on Navel Peace Terms (See Appendix “D”).

Admiral Wemyss said that the naval questions to committee on be solved were simpler than military questions. The Admirals knew exactly what the conditions were, exactly what they wanted, and what they could get. Delay, however, would render the situation more difficult. The condition of the German Fleet was not as chaotic as it had been at the time of the Armistice. The Allied Admirals had come to the conclusion that they could now fix what should be the state of the German Fleet in time of peace. They could obtain its reduction to that extent at the present time. The Associated Navies had no power of inflicting any damage on Germany to enforce the carrying out of the terms of the Armistice. When the Germans failed to carry out any of the terms, the Navies had to request their colleagues on land to put pressure on them. All this could be stopped by telling the Germans immediately that our requests were not provisional but final. It was possible to lay down at once how many ships Germany should keep; what should be the fate of her naval fortifications, arsenals, etc. How the Allies should dispose of the surrendered ships was a question which concerned the Allies alone and not Germany, and he did not propose to enter into this question at all. The continuance of the blockade was a matter which affected the Navies very materially. It deprived the Fleets of their freedom of action and hampered demobilisation. If final terms could be fixed at once, the Navies would no longer be tied down to their present employment as instruments of the blockade. The spirit of unrest in the world did not leave the Naval Services untouched. A very calming influence on [Page 934] sea-faring folk as a whole would be effected by the settlement of naval peace terms at the next renewal of the Armistice.

M. Leygues said that he had no objection to raise as long as the question of the distribution of German ships was left out of account.

Admiral De Bon said that he wished to support Admiral Wemyss. He would specially emphasise the fact that the blockade was depended on to make Germany amenable. It would soon be impossible to carry out this blockade by reason of the demobilisation of the Naval Forces. The most practical way of solving the present difficulties of the Associated Navies was to lay down at once the general principles which should form the preliminaries of peace. He would suggest that other Departments of the Governments concerned should do likewise. This would ease the general unrest in the world.

Mr. Balfour said that on reading the proposals made by the Admirals, he noticed that a number of subjects were introduced, such as the question of Heligoland, the Kiel Canal, the German Colonies, and other territorial questions. These were very important matters concerning which the Council had not been consulted and though he sympathised very much with the trouble experienced by the Associated Navies in continuing the blockade he felt that such subjects could not be introduced into the naval terms of an Armistice.

President Wilson agreed with Mr. Balfour that it was not possible to anticipate the conditions of peace in the renewal of an Armistice. The present Assembly was not concluding peace terms. He would give most careful and friendly study to the document but he thought it quite impossible that many of its provisions should form any part of the Armistice.

Admiral Wemyss explained what was the naval bearing of all the questions entered into. The question was then adjourned.

(It was decided that:—

The Blockade of Germany should be discussed on the following Monday.)

8[5?]. President Wilson read the following draft:—

  • “(1) Formation of the Supreme Economic Council Under present conditions many questions not primarily of military character which are arising daily and which are bound to become of increasing importance as time passes should be dealt with on behalf of the United States and the Allies by civilian representatives of these Governments experienced in such questions as finance, food, blockade control, shipping and raw materials.
  • (2) To accomplish this there shall be constituted at Paris a Supreme Economic Council to deal with such matters for the period of the Armistice. The council shall absorb or replace such other existing interallied bodies and their powers as it may determine from time to time. The Economic Council shall consist of not more than five representatives of each interested Government.
  • (3) There shall be added to the present International Permanent Armistice Commission two civilian representatives of each associated Government, who shall consult with the Allied High Command, but who may report direct to the Supreme Economic Council.”

This Resolution was adopted.

M. Clemenceau said that he understood that he was authorised by the Council to send to Marshal Foch, for communication to the Germans, the proposal relating to the disarmament adopted in paragraph 3.

This was agreed to.

The Meeting then adjourned.

Villa Majestic, Paris, 9 February, 1919.

Appendix “A”

(1) German Demand on the Subject of Assembly at Weimar

No. A. A. I.–763

The Representative of the German Government to the President of the Inter-Allied Commission of the Armistice.

As the National Assembly is to meet on February 6th in Weimar, it is of an urgent necessity that the members of the National Assembly should be free, without any obstacle whatever, in their personal and postal intercourse with their constituents.

At the present time, the forwarding of letters takes as much as three weeks, and telegrams require sometimes 7 days.

In the name of the German Government, I request that the necessary steps should be taken in order that the deputies of the occupied territories may be assured that they will be able to have unrestricted telegraphic and postal intercourse from Weimar with their constituents.

Spa, February 3rd, 1919.

(2) Suggested Reply by Marshal Foch

Marshal Foch to General Nudant, Spa.

Reply to request No. A.A.I.–763 of the German Commission of Armistice forwarded on February 3rd, number 3.186.

As has been already stated by the High Command of the Allies all liberties compatible with the state of war will be granted to allow as far as possible the relations between the German National Assembly and the occupied territories.

[Page 936]

But there cannot be any question of the Allies allowing a free and unrestricted exchange of correspondence, and consequently of their giving the assurance asked for on that point by the German Government.

Appendix “B” to IC–136 [BC–26]


[Correspondence Between Herr Erzberger and Marshal Foch]


To:—Marshal Foch.

Sir, By your letter of January 16th you expressed, in a way which deserves our gratitude, the intention of using your credit with the Allied Governments in favour of the repatriation of German prisoners of war, special consideration being given to the most deserving categories.

This promise has awakened in the whole German nation eager and joyful hopes with regard to the return of our brave men.

The German National Assembly which is to meet in a few days at Weimar and of which I have the honour to be a member, will first of all consider the question of the fate of German prisoners of war. The deep emotion produced in the whole nation by the feeling of uncertainty which has hitherto prevailed on their account, will be powerfully and unanimously echoed in the Constituent Assembly of the German people.

The representatives of the nation are sure to ask the Government—and such an inquiry will be fully justified—what they have done to secure the immediate return of our sons. The Government should be in a position to supply the nation with precise and unequivocal information.

I therefore beg you, Sir, kindly to let me know in a few days the result of the intervention to which you had allowed us to look forward. I cannot believe that the Allied Governments have refused to listen favourably to the Marshal to whom they have confidently entrusted the Supreme Command of all their military forces and who conducts the Armistice negotiations in their joint names.

Pray accept, Sir, the assurances of my most distinguished and highest consideration.


Secretary of State
[Page 937]


Marshal Foch

To:—H. E. Herr Erzberger, Secretary of State, President of the German Armistice Commission, Treves.

Mr. Secretary, I quite understand the concern which Germany has as regards the repatriation of prisoners of war now in the hands of the Allied Governments. It is my intention to forward to these Governments your request asking in particular for the early repatriation of the most deserving cases, and to support it.

As regards relations between the occupied regions and those regions not occupied, I am disposed to allow intercourse so far as is compatible with the security of the Armies, with a view to avoiding any unemployment and subsequent disturbances.


Appendix “C”3

[Proposal by Committee on the Reduction of German Armaments]

1. The German Government will report on its own responsibility, within a period of two weeks, the quantities of war material of the following categories, remaining on February 17, 1919, in possession of its combat troops, and in its depots, arsenals, and factories:

  • machine guns,
  • field guns,
  • heavy guns,
  • aeroplane engines,
  • machines for naval aviation.

2. All material of these various categories in excess of the equipment necessary for . . . . . . will be delivered to the Allies before March 17.

3. Without waiting to fulfill the preceding clauses, the German Government will deliver to the Allies, before March 1, the following minimum numbers of the materials mentioned:

Machine guns 20,000
Field guns 4,000
heavy guns 1,000
aeroplane engines 5,000
machines for naval aviation 250

4. The said quantities will be furnished out of German material, beginning with the most modern types, and, as regards heavy guns, in the following order: [Page 938]

  • mobile short guns
  • long-range short guns
  • mobile long guns
  • long-range long guns

5. After the carrying out of the provisions outlined under 1. and 2., all material concealed and brought to light, which is in excess of the figures furnished by the German Government, will be rightfully seized and destroyed.

Appendix “D”

naval peace terms

Joint Note From the Admirals of the Allied and Associated Powers4

(Translation from the French Text)

After having received authority from their Governments, the Admirals representing the Admiralties of America, France, Great Britain, Italy, and Japan held a meeting to study the Peace conditions which it is considered advisable to impose on the enemy at the Peace Conference.

The existing situation was first examined into and may be summed up as follows:—

Germany has not yet fulfilled the clauses of the Armistice concerning the handing-over of submarines and merchant ships.

According to authentic information the spirit of anarchy which existed in the Fleet is tending to disappear, and the enemy is reestablishing and re-organising himself.

During this time demobilisation is weakening the Allies’ powers of action on land as well as on sea. The continuation of the blockade is weighing exceedingly heavily on all the nations, and it is desirable to set them free from it as soon as possible.

Moreover, the present situation leaves the world in great uncertainty, the effects of which are considerable in every branch of human life. This cannot continue much longer without causing the gravest difficulties.

As regards Austria-Hungary, the difficulties are no less great.

In making the conclusion of Peace dependent on the programme which the Conference has arranged, we have exposed ourselves to an indefinite prolongation of the state of Armistice, in which for nearly three months we have lived in a state of continual discomfort.

For these reasons the Admirals consider that they should ask their [Page 939] Governments that the Peace Conference may examine and decide as soon as possible the definite naval and military conditions to be inserted in the Peace Preliminaries which should be imposed on the enemy Powers. They accordingly submit their proposals on the subject of those conditions.

The other Ministerial Departments might, no doubt, do the same.

If this is so, on the date when the Armistice with Germany is to be prolonged or, in any case, within as short a period as possible, all the enemy Governments might be informed of the conditions to be imposed upon them as preliminaries of peace, these conditions replacing those of the Armistice.

Signed by For
Admiral Benson. America.
Vice-Admiral de Bon. France.
Admiral Wemyss. Great Britain.
Admiral di Revel. Italy.
Vice-Admiral Takeshita Japan.

Naval Clauses for Insertion in the Preliminary Peace Terms With Germany

I. Submarines

All German submarines, without exception, submarine salvage vessels and docks for submarines (including the Kiel tubular dock) are surrendered to the Allies and the United States of America. Those which can proceed under their own power or be towed shall be taken into Allied ports within a maximum period of fifteen days, to be there sunk or broken-up.

The German submarines which cannot be delivered thus, as well as those which are in course of construction, shall be completely broken-up by the Germans, under the supervision of the Allied Commissioners.

The destruction of these submarines shall be completed within a maximum period of three months after the signature of the preliminaries of Peace.


The materials arising from these submarines may be used, but solely for industrial and commercial purposes. It is forbidden to make use of these materials for works having a warlike object.

Additional clause containing an agreement between the Allies and not for insertion in the Terms with Germany:—


All the German submarines, submarine salvage-vessels and docks for submarines, which are surrendered to the Allies, shall be sunk or broken-up under the supervision of the Allies or the United States of America.

The materials arising from the above vessels may be used, but solely for industrial and commercial purposes. It is forbidden to make use of these materials for works having a warlike object.

A maximum period of three months is allowed for the removal of the material and the destruction of the submarines. In the particular case of Japan this period shall not, in any case, be less than 180 days after arrival in Japan.

II. Surface Vessels

All the German surface warships now interned in Allied or neutral ports, in conformity with the terms of the Armistice, cease to belong to Germany; they are definitely surrendered to the Allies and the United States of America.

The ships shall be sunk or broken-up in the shortest possible time.


The German warships named below shall be delivered to the Allies and the United States of America, at ports to be designated by them, within a period of one month for the purpose of being sunk or broken-up. These vessels should be in condition to proceed under their own power to the places decided on by the Allies; the guns and torpedo material must remain intact.

With these reservations the German Government may remove from these ships, before their surrender, such material as has a commercial value.

These vessels are:—

  • battleships
    • Oldenburg
    • Thüringen
    • Ostfriesland
    • Heligoland
    • Posen
    • Westfalen
    • Rheinland
    • Nassau
  • light cruisers
    • Pillau
    • Graudenz
    • Regensburg
    • Stralsund
    • Strassburg
    • Augsburg
    • Kohlberg
    • Stuttgart

Forty-two modern destroyers

Fifty modern torpedo boats

[Page 941]

IV. Construction of Warships

Germany shall stop the construction of all warships now on the slips. These vessels shall be broken up under the supervision of the Allies and the United States of America. The materials arising from the breaking-up of these vessels may be used by Germany on condition that they are used for commercial purposes and on no account for warlike purposes.

Until the signature of the definite Treaty of Peace Germany shall not undertake any new construction of warships, submarines included.

V. Heligoland

The fortifications, military establishments, and harbours of Heligoland shall be destroyed under the supervision of the Allies, by German labour and at the expense of Germany, within a period to be determined by the Commissioners of the Allied Powers.

The final disposal of the island of Heligoland remains to be decided by the Peace Conference.

VI. Routes of Access Into the Baltic

In order to secure free access into the Baltic to all nations, Germany shall not erect any fortifications in the area comprised between the latitudes 55°27ʹ N. and 54°00’ N. and longitudes 9°00ʹ and 16°00ʹ E. of the meridian of Greenwich, nor install any guns commanding the maritime routes between the North Sea and the Baltic.

The fortifications now existing shall be demolished and the guns removed under the supervision of the Allies.

VII. Kiel Canal

The Kiel Canal shall be open at all times to all war or commercial vessels of every nation. No nation shall benefit by specially favourable treatment, and no class of vessel shall be excluded from the Canal.

VIII. German Colonies

The German Colonies shall not be returned to Germany.

IX. Submarine Cables

The German Cables enumerated below shall not be returned to their previous owners.

The final allocation of these cables will be determined by the decisions of the Prize Courts of the Allies concerned.

[Page 942]
  • Emden–Vigo.
  • Emden–Brest.
  • Emden–Teneriffe.
  • Emden–Azores (two cables)
  • Azores–New York (two cables)
  • Teneriffe–Monrovia.
  • Monrovia–Pernambuco.
  • Monrovia–Lome.
  • Lome–Duala.
  • Constantinople–Constanza.
  • Chifu–Tsingtau–Shanghai.
  • Yap–Shanghai.
  • Yap–Guam.
  • Yap–Menado (Celebes)


German auxiliary cruisers, whether in German or Austrian ports, or interned in neutral ports, and Fleet auxiliaries which could be, rapidly turned to commercial purposes or which are converted merchant vessels, shall be treated as are other merchant vessels.

The vessels affected by this clause are enumerated in the attached list. (Appendix I.).5


All Allied or neutral merchant vessels which have been captured, brought into port and condemned by the German Prize Court, shall be included in the number of the German merchant vessels which will be surrendered under the heading of Reparation.


Having in view:—

The reiterated and flagrant violations of the Laws of Nations committed at sea by the Germans;
The extensive damage of all sorts caused to the merchant navies of the world by the systematic destruction of merchant vessels carrying passengers and cargoes;
The impossibility, in the greater number of cases, of exactly determining the circumstances to which the losses of vessels are due, the reparation required from Germany (for merchant vessels sunk) will be fixed according to the total number of vessels destroyed by the Germans, whatever the means used for their destruction.

XIII. Minesweeping

Germany shall sweep up all mines in the areas which have been assigned to her in the agreement already entered into between the Allies and the United States of America.

[Page 943]

In accordance with this agreement, Germany shall be responsible for sweeping in the following areas:—

That portion of the North Sea which lies to the eastward of longitude 4°00ʹ E. from Greenwich—
between the parallels of latitude 53°00ʹ N. and 59°00ʹ N.
to the northward of latitude 60°30ʹ N.
The Baltic Sea, excluding Russian waters. In regard to these waters further details will be given as soon as the Russian question is determined.

XIV. Aircraft

The Admirals support the proposals made by the inter-Allied Committee which has dealt with this subject.

XV. Wireless Telegraphy


The German high-power W/T stations at

  • Nauen,
  • Hanover, and
  • Berlin

shall not be used for the naval, military or political purposes of Germany, or of any State which has been allied to Germany in the war, without the assent of the Allied Powers and the United States of America, which will not be given until they are satisfied that the naval and military stipulations of the Treaty of Peace have been fully carried out. During the intervening period these stations may be used for commercial purposes, but only under the supervision of the Allies and the United States of America, who will decide the wavelengths to be used.

Germany shall not build any more high-power W/T stations in her own territory or that of Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, or Turkey, until the naval and military stipulations of the Treaty of Peace have been fully carried out.
In the event of Germany violating the provisions of the Treaty of Peace or disregarding the decisions of the International Radio-Telegraphic Conference, the Allies and the United States of America shall be at liberty to withhold the services of their W/T stations from German stations.
Germany shall have only one vote at the next International Radio-Telegraphic Conference, irrespective of the number of independent or Semi-independent States into which Germany may be divided.
[Page 944]

Naval Clauses for Insertion in the Preliminary Peace Terms With Austria-Hungary

I. Submarines and Surface Warships

All Austro-Hungarian warships, including submarines and the Danube flotillas, shall be broken-up or sunk as soon as possible by the Allies and United States of America.

A list is given in Appendix—.6

II. Warships Under Construction

The construction of all Austro-Hungarian warships (including submarines) actually on the slips shall cease. These vessels shall be broken-up under the supervision of the Allies and the United States of America; and no new warship construction shall be undertaken by Austria-Hungary before the final Peace is signed.

The material arising from the breaking-up of these vessels may be utilised, but only for commercial purposes.

III. Merchant Cruisers and Fleet Auxiliaries

Austro-Hungarian merchant cruisers and Fleet auxiliaries which can be readily adapted for commercial purposes (or which have been converted from merchant vessels) shall be dealt with as merchant vessels.

The vessels affected are given in Appendix—.6

  1. Matthias Erzberger, Secretary of State without Portfolio, President of the German Armistice Commission.
  2. See BC–25, appendix B, annex iii, p. 920.
  3. Translation from the French supplied by the editors.
  4. Bears the notation “Advanced copy without appendices.”
  5. See footnote 4, p. 938.
  6. See footnote 4, p. 938.
  7. See footnote 4, p. 938.