Paris Peace Conf. 180.03101/35


Minutes of a Conversation Held in M. Fiction’s Room at the Quai d’Orsay, Paris, on Tuesday, 11 February, 1919, at 3 p.m.

  • Present
    • America, United States of
      • President Wilson
      • Hon. R. Lansing
    • British Empire
      • The Rt. Hon. A. J. Balfour, O. M., M. P.
      • The Rt. Hon. Viscount Milner, G. C. B., G. C. M. G.
    • France
      • M. Clemenceau
      • M. Pichon
    • Secretaries
      • Mr. A. H. Frazier
      • Mr. L. Harrison
      • Lt. Col. M. P. A. Hankey, K. C. B.
      • Mr. H. Norman
      • M. Dutasta
      • M. Berthelot
      • M. de Bearn
    • Italy
      • H. E. M. Orlando.
      • H. E. Baron Sonnino.
      • Secretaries
        • Count Aldrovandi.
        • M. Bertele.
    • Japan
      • Baron Makino.
      • H. E. M. Matsui.
  • Joint Secretariat
    • America, United States of
      • Lieut. Burden
    • British Empire
      • Captain E. Abraham
    • France
      • Capt. A. Portier
    • Italy
      • Major A. Jones.
    • Japan
      • M. Saburi.
  • Also Present
    • America, United States of
      • Professor Haskins
    • British Empire
      • Sir Eyre Crowe
      • Lt. Col. Cornwall
    • France
      • General Belin.
    • Italy
      • M. Piacentini
      • Major Rugiu
    • Belgium
      • M. Hymans
      • M. Van den Heuvel
      • M. Vandervelde
      • M. Rolin-Jaequemyns
      • M. Bourquin

Interpreter: Professor P. J. Mantoux.

M. Clemenceau opened the meeting by asking M. Hymans to make his statement of Belgian territorial claims.

[Page 958]
Belgian Territorial Claims M. Hymans said that the general statement of the Belgian peace problem might be summarised in one comprehensive demand: the revision of the Treaty of 19th April 1839. There were in reality three Treaties of the 19th April 1839 which together formed one whole. The first1 was drawn up between the five Great Powers of the period—France, Great Britain, Prussia, Austria and Russia on the one hand, and Holland on the other hand. By this Treaty Holland undertook to transform into a final Treaty with Belgium the Provisional Treaty known as the ‘Treaty of the 24 Articles’ made on the 15th November 1831. The second Treaty of the 19th April 18392 registered the agreement of Belgium and Holland to the 24 Articles. The third Treaty of the same date3 recorded the guarantee to Belgium by the five Great Powers that the clauses of the Treaty should be executed. This Treaty fixed the territorial status of Belgium, the regime of the Rivers—especially the Scheldt, and set up the permanent neutrality of Belgium under the guarantee of the five Powers. This Treaty as between Belgium and Holland was not the result of free negotiations between the two contracting parties; it was dictated to these two countries by the five Great Powers.

Historical Retrospect Fifteen years before the Belgian Revolution, the Congress of Vienna in 1815 added Belgium to Holland4 in order to create a buffer against France. The revolution of 1830 freed Belgium from Dutch rule and shook the foundations of the Treaties of 1815. The Conference of London sought by other arrangements to achieve the same ends as had been pursued at the Congress of Vienna. It sought to reconcile Belgian independence with the stipulations of the Treaties, with the interests of the Powers, and with the preservation of the balance of power in Europe.

While deliberations were going on in London, Holland attacked Belgium. The latter was newly born and unprepared for war; she was vanquished and the Treaty recorded the result of her defeat. The five Powers, when fixing the frontiers of Belgium, deprived her of part of Limburg and Luxemburg, but in compensation decided that Belgium should be perpetually neutral and guaranteed her this neutrality. The whole political situation of Belgium therefore rested on this guaranteed neutrality. The present war destroyed it. Of the five Great Powers only two—France and Great Britain—loyally fulfilled their obligations. Two others—Germany and Austria—violated their undertaking; and Russia latterly had failed. [Page 959] It was the violation of the Treaty of 1839 which brought about the state of war between Belgium and Germany. The regime of neutrality was therefore broken and could not be revived. Neutrality depended on the balance between the five Great Powers. This balance was now upset. It rested on the equal confidence on the part of Belgium towards the five Great Powers, a confidence which could not now exist. The war had destroyed the foundations of Belgium’s political status, and economically had ruined the country.

Claims to Complete Sovereignty The Belgians therefore asked the Allied and Associated Powers, at whose side they had fought, and in particular the two Powers—signatories to and guarantors of the Treaties of 1839—to help them to set up a strong and prosperous Belgium, restored to full and complete political and economic sovereignty. This demand was in accord with the seventh point of President Wilson’s Declaration to Congress on the 8th January 1918.5 The Belgians were asking the Great Powers to furnish them with conditions of stability which might enable them to encounter new dangers. Belgium was at the sensitive point of Western Europe, protecting the coast of the North Sea, and consequently Great Britain and the Northern frontier of France. The security of Belgium was therefore in the hands of France and Great Britain and the interests of all three Powers were bound up together.

Question the Western Mouth of the Scheldt A. Historical The regime of the Scheldt and the Eastern frontier of the country were for Belgium obvious causes of weakness. The Scheldt was the vital artery of Belgium, connecting Antwerp with the sea. This River almost exclusively served Belgian interests, and yet Belgium did not control it. Both shores of the Western estuary of the Scheldt belonged to Holland. On the left bank, close to the mouth, Holland possessed a thinly populated tongue of land cut out of Belgian territory. This area was conquered by the United Provinces when they freed themselves from Spain in the sixteenth century, and kept it to give them control of the River. In 1648 the Treaty of Minister assigned this territory to Holland. This enabled her to close the Scheldt and to bring about the death of Antwerp for two centuries. In 1795 the French proclaimed the liberation of the Scheldt and attached this tongue of territory to the Department of the Scheldt, that is to say to Belgian territory. At the present time Holland was sovereign over the mouth of the River. She possessed only one port on the western bank—Ter Neuzen—the work and activity of which were purely Belgian. This Dutch sovereignty [Page 960] over the mouth of the River was only limited by a few servitudes in favour of Belgium, which servitudes had been created by the Treaty of 1839.

B. Disadvantages in Time of War The dangers of this situation for Belgium were great in time of war. Holland, being absolute mistress of the mouth of the Scheldt, had in 1914, as soon as war was declared, closed the River for all military traffic. The Belgians had been unable to send military supplies to Antwerp during the siege, and this had hastened its fall and, in addition, driven nearly 30,000 Belgian troops to take refuge in Holland and to suffer internment. Had the Scheldt been free for military purposes and had Great Britain been able to use it to land war stores, the whole course of the war would doubtless have been modified; at the very least the fall of Antwerp would have been delayed.

Economically too, in time of war, this state of things was dangerous to Belgium. The war-time regulation of buoys was established by the Dutch. They extinguished navigation lights and thereby almost put an end to all navigation. Should Holland, at any time, be engaged in a war in which Belgium remained neutral, the Dutch would be in a position to close the stream, or Holland’s enemy could block its mouth. In both cases the result would be disastrous for Antwerp.

C. Disadvantage in time of Peace M. Hymans said that he would like to explain the disadvantages of the conventional régime of the Scheldt in time of peace. The Treaty of 1839 had subjected pilotage, buoying, and the preservation of channels, to the common action of the two countries. All measures considered requisite by Belgium for the upkeep and management of the River required joint agreement and Dutch consent. The Belgians could, therefore, do nothing if Holland exercised her right of veto. Holland had little interest in the development of navigation in the Western Scheldt; on the contrary she was interested in checking this development in favour of Rotterdam. History showed that the naval policy of Holland had always aimed throughout the centuries at the ruin of the Port of Antwerp. Even when Holland consented to the undertaking of works for the upkeep of the River, it was Belgium that paid for them, even should they be carried out on Dutch territory and the Dutch executed the works without Belgian co-operation. Each time the Belgians had asked for authority to carry out works they had been met with delays and administrative procrastination which led to long and difficult diplomatic conversations between Brussels and The Hague. Further, the Treaty of 1839 only took into consideration the preservation of the channels, and made no provision for improvements, [Page 961] enlargements, or alterations. In future, in order to maintain Antwerp up to the level of its technical needs, it would be necessary to alter and deepen the channels to permit of the access of modern ships. The Belgian technical departments had already undertaken an extensive study of these questions. Belgium, therefore, was exposed to great risk in the future, seeing that Holland, on the basis of the Treaty of 1839, could refuse to permit these works in order to save Rotterdam from competition.

M. Hymans said that he would like to draw the attention of the meeting to two other striking anomalies. Holland, in respect to piloting, the establishment of buoys, etc., had on the completely Belgian portion of the stream, the same rights as Belgium on the Dutch portion, although Holland had no interest whatever in the matter. Consequently, as mistress of the Lower Scheldt, Holland could undertake any works she pleased without consulting Belgium, even should these works be detrimental to Belgian interests. The regime of the Scheldt therefore might safely be characterised as unreasonable and unjust, and M. Hymans thought that all were agreed in recognizing this.

D. Demand for Sovereignty Over the Western Scheldt Belgium asked for the free disposal of the river and absolute sovereignty over the western Scheldt as far as the Sea, both in time of peace and time of war. This stream, on the banks of which there was only one Dutch port, must belong the entirely to Belgium; it must be free to execute all necessary works appertaining to it. The security of Belgium in the future port of Antwerp required no less. This, moreover, was in accordance with Belgian national sentiment and in particular with the unanimous desire of Naval circles in the country.


Canal From Ghent to Ter Neuzen M. Hymans said that he wished to explain the question of the canal linking Ghent to the Scheldt and the sea. In this case too the shape of the land brought about serious difficulties which had been brought to notice in 1830 by the Belgian plenipotentiaries at the London Conference. This canal first crossed Belgian territory, then entered Dutch grounds on the bank of the Scheldt which it reached at Ter Neuzen. Holland was, therefore, mistress of the Northern part of this canal and the port of Ter Neuzen. This port in reality only served Belgium’s interest and had been constructed at Belgium’s expense. It was the fore port of Ghent which had now become the third naval port of Belgium.

The Treaty of 1839 only considered the free use of this canal by both countries. The Belgians had widened the canal in Belgian territory in order that ships of deep draft would be able to go up [Page 962] as far as Ghent, but they had failed to get the Dutch to make similar improvements on their part of the canal. The Dutch had also refused to establish buoys and navigation lights. This refusal on the part of the Dutch had given rise to a number of negotiations which had often been most difficult to conduct. Questions of compensation, completely divorced from the question of the canal had even at times been raised.

A. Claim to Sovereignty Over the Canal and Port of Ter Neuzen Belgium, therefore, claimed both absolute sovereignty over this canal and free disposal of the port of Ter Neuzen. M. Hymans said he wished also to draw attention to the military aspect of this question. The war had shown that the real centre the of existence for Belgium was not Antwerp but at Part of Flanders limited by the Scheldt and the sea. This being so, the Dutch ownership of the western bank gave Holland a bridge-head which might enable her to turn the line of the Scheldt.


Method of Negotiating With Holland President Wilson said that he was deeply interested in the statement made by M. Hymans whose argument had been convincing. He would like to know his opinion, however, and to discover in what way Holland might be approached seeing that she had remained neutral during the war, and had no representative at the Conference. In what way could Holland be brought to discuss the question?

M. Hymans replied that Holland was one of the signatories of the Treaty of 1839 in common with France and Great Britain. He asked the two Great Powers, the only survivors of the European Concert of 1836 to 1839, and the Allied and Associated Powers by whose side Belgium had fought, to establish in principle that the revision of that treaty was necessary and to summon Holland, one of the signatories, to collaborate in this revision. Belgium was in no way hostile to Holland but wished to live in good relationship with her, but it had not been concealed from the Dutch that the Belgians had important problems to discuss and solve with them. If these problems remained unsolved, the future relationship of the two countries might be embittered. He, therefore, asked that Holland should be summoned to negotiate with Belgium the revision of the Treaty of 1839 which was signed by her, and he begged the Great Powers to assist Belgium in these negotiations.

President Wilson said that he could see quite well [how] a modification of the regime of the river could be negotiated with Holland, but the radical solution resulting from the account given by M. Hymans was the restoration to Belgium of the left bank—how could Holland be brought to agree to this?

[Page 963]

M. Hymans said that he had thought it right to place before the meeting, all the elements of the problem, but left it to the Conference to find the solution. He would point out, however, that Holland had shown latterly that she was disposed to discuss these questions; the recent speech from the throne had been quite explicit in this respect as it had regarded the neutrality of Belgium to be dead, and the revision of the Treaty of 1839 to be necessary. The solutions of these problems would have to be considered with Holland. What he was asking the Great Powers to do was to support Belgium in the discussion.

Mr. Balfour said the real difficulty consisted in that a neutral country was to be asked to modify a treaty and to surrender territory without any offer of compensation.

M. Hymans said that he would at a later stage make a suggestion on the subject of compensation but would like first to speak on the subject of Limburg as this matter was closely connected with the question of the Scheldt.


The Limburg Question: (a) The Historical Aspect Mr. Hymans said he proposed to show the close connection of this question with that of the Scheldt and Antwerp. The Treaty of 1839 had taken from Belgium a part of Limburg as a territorial indemnity due to the King and Grand Duke, in exchange for a portion of Luxemburg which had been attributed to Belgium. The Treaty said “The King and Grand Duke shall possess either in his capacity of Grand Duke of Luxemburg or to be united to Holland the following territories.” The King and Grand Duke furthermore was to obtain an agreement with the German Confederation for the application of these clauses. The portion of Limburg yielded by Belgium remained attached to the Germanic Federation until its dissolution in 1867, and Maestricht was for a long time a Federal Fortress.

(b) The Geographical Aspect Dutch Limburg yielded by Belgium made a long salient on the bank of the Meuse between Belgian Limburg and Germany. Holland possessed the whole of the right bank of the stream and the bridge-head of Maestricht on the Aspect left bank.

(c) Water Communication Between Antwerp, the Meuse & the Rhine Mr. Hymans said that he had previously pointed out the necessity for Belgian sovereignty over the Scheldt in order to ensure the development of Antwerp. It was equally necessary to ensure direct water communication between Antwerp Meuse, and thence between the Meuse and the Rhine. These communications could only be established by passing through Dutch Limburg.

Mr. Balfour asked what were the reasons preventing access to the Rhine south of Limburg.

[Page 964]

Mr. Hymans replied that the reasons were of a geological order. Belgian technical experts had been studying this question long before the war. At present communication with the Meuse was very imperfect. It was effected through a canal which left the Meuse at Liege and crossed the Dutch enclave of Maestricht, (whence it drew water from the Meuse) ending at Antwerp after crossing the Belgian carpine [Campine?]. Passage through this Dutch enclave, only 5 miles broad, engendered all kinds of difficulties, and involved no less than four examinations by the Customs. Further, in Dutch territory the canal was extremely narrow. This produced such a congestion of traffic that this part of the trip took from three days to 1 month. The Belgians were unable to widen this canal in Dutch territory, and therefore could not improve it in their own territory. They could not increase the flow of water in it, though very insufficient, as the supply was derived from Dutch ground.

Belgian water communications with the Rhine are also most important. It was necessary to have a canal connecting Antwerp with the Rhine. This question had been studied for a long time. Many routes had been proposed, all for technical reasons passing close to Ruremonde and reaching the Rhine in the region of Duisburg. Here again it was necessary to pass through Dutch Limburg. The Treaty of 1839 gave Belgium a right of passage but when some 30 years ago Belgium built the Gladbach railway line, Holland declared that Belgian rights were exhausted. This means of communication was now quite inadequate and a waterway was now required to facilitate relations between Antwerp and Alsace Lorraine, and Switzerland. It was indispensable that this waterway should be subject to Belgian sovereignty.

(d) Military Importance of Limburg From the military point of view the shape of Limburg yielded to the Dutch was such that both the Belgian and Dutch frontiers were equally indefensible. This was proved during the Importance War. Holland made no attempt to defend this territory. In 1914 Belgium had been particularly alarmed at the thought that Germany, by invading Dutch Limburg, could cut the Belgian forces off from Antwerp and Liege, and thus cause the line of the Meuse to fall. In 1919 [1918] when the German Armies were defeated, the Dutch allowed 75/100,000 German troops, with all their transport and spoil, to cross Dutch Limburg. This led to a formal protest by the French, British and Belgian Governments. Belgian Limburg was therefore an open door seriously threatening the line of the Meuse.

Mr. Balfour asked whether the canal between the Rhine and the Scheldt would compete with any Dutch waterway.

[Page 965]

M. Hymans replied that this was quite likely to be true, and that Holland would not regard the project favourably if it tended to diminish the importance of Rotterdam. The Germans, moreover, by way of reprisal against Belgium, would certainly seek to divert commercial traffic towards Holland and Rotterdam.

Method of Negotiation With Holland M. Hymans said that he would now return to the question put by President Wilson:—How were these territorial problems to be settled by negotiation with the Dutch? Holland had remained neutral, and was not represented at the Conference. He had himself the best feelings towards the Dutch but he thought that their neutrality should not permit them to refuse to negotiate. Neutral countries had to some extent been the profiteers of the war. They had not suffered like the invaded countries, and Holland, more than any other had grown rich, especially by supplying Germany. She had accorded a most generous welcome to Belgian refugees, but it must not be forgotten that by defending her own independence, Belgium had preserved the independence of Holland. Holland would have been the first victim. It was possible to say to the Dutch that the Treaty of 1839 signed with them had now collapsed and that its revision must be discussed. Belgium had intended only to apply to France and Great Britain, the loyal and faithful custodians of the Treaty, but the negotiation would be a hard one to conduct. Belgium could not afford to remain isolated and had preferred to place the question immediately before all the Great Allied and Associated Nations which now represented the new international order.

Possible Compensations for Holland The question of compensation to Holland had been raised by Mr. Balfour with great justification. It was true that Belgium had nothing to offer but there were possibly other solutions which might satisfy Holland. Economic or Colonial compensations had been thought of. But, in close proximity to Holland there was a chance of compensation which might be more attractive to that country. Prussian Guelderland was inhabited by a population with close affinities to the Dutch, and still speaking a Dutch dialect. He would also draw attention to another territory strategically and economically of far greater importance, namely, Eastern Friesland, and the County of Bentheim, stretching between Guelderland and Emden. These territories lost their independence in the 18th Century, when they were conquered by Prussia. The Frisian race inhabiting them was the same as that of Northern Holland, and a Frisian Nationalist movement in this area had latterly become manifest. A modification of frontier in this direction would give Holland a very strong defensive line, [Page 966] the Ems. The threat to Holland constituted by the pocket of Bentheim would disappear. This pocket would allow a German attack to reach the banks of the Zuyder Zee in 24 hours and thus to cut Holland in two. From the economic point of view also, this solution would be advantageous to Holland. It would cancel the danger of the diversion of the traffic for Rotterdam to the port of Emden. The Germans had a project for linking Emden to the Rhine by canal. The realisation of this project would be disastrous for Rotterdam. Further, Holland would gain a useful port at Emden protected by a belt of islands, the principal of which was Borkhum, of which the Germans meant to make a new Heligoland, and which served them during the war as a submarine base. There was also another projected canal which was to link Emden to the mouths of the Weser, of the Elbe and even to the Kiel Canal. This project was a powerful conception once favoured by Bismarck. On the 5th May, 1895, when receiving a Delegation of German shipbuilders, Bismarck declared that he had always thought that the Baltic Canal should be continued up to the Gulf of Jade and thence to the Gulf of Dollart, thence to Emden. This would be child’s play in comparison with what had been done in Holstein. The German fleet would be three times more powerful if it could emerge from these ports and from Kiel as well as from Emden.

In 1912 Dr. Groh, a German engineer, in a book concerning Maritime Canals entitled “Holland a Federal German State: an easy technical conquest” said that communication between the Rhine and the Ems would enable the German fleet to cross Holland and come out in front of the English Channel. “Then,” he said, “We shall take England by the throat.”

M. Hymans said, that the proposal he made appeared to him to offer numerous military and economic advantages, not only to Holland, but also to the Allies. He had therefore taken an opportunity of submitting it to the consideration of the Conference.


The Luxemburg Question: (a) Historical Considerations M. Hymans said that the whole history of Luxemburg linked up to Belgium, with which it had been associated for centuries. In 1815, the territory had been constituted a Grand Duchy and given to the Nassau family in compensation for the property taken from them and given to Prussia. At the same time Luxemburg was attached to the Germanic Confederation. Nevertheless it continued to form a part of the Belgian provinces in all respects. Deputies from Luxemburg sat at The Hague and were considered to belong to the 55 Belgian Deputies. When the revolution broke out in 1830, it spread in Luxemburg at the same time as in Belgium. Deputies from Luxemburg continued to sit with Belgian Deputies until 1839. The treaty signed [Page 967] that year cut Luxemburg into two parts, and was considered to be a mutilation. It provoked among the people of Luxemburg the most emphatic and moving protests, comparable to those of the Alsatians and Lorrainers in 1871. In the years that followed, many appeals were made to King Leopold and the Great Powers. The status of Luxemburg was finally fixed in 1867. Luxemburg then became a neutral unarmed state, containing only 200,000 souls. It seemed specially designed to become the ground for a concentration of German Armies against Belgium and the natural corridor for an invasion of France, as was shown in 1914. The maintenance of such a state of things meant a permanent peril for Belgium and France.

(b) Economic Considerations Economically, Luxemburg was closely attached to Germany. In 1842, Luxemburg entered the Zollverein. In 1872, Germany got possession of the Luxemburg railways. Lastly, a Considerations German dynasty gained possession of the Grand Ducal throne. The favour this dynasty showed to Germany during this war was well known. Since the Armistice, however, Luxemburg had severed its economic connection with the Zollverein and regained the free disposal of its railways.

(c) Belgian proposal Concerning Luxemburg It was a political danger for Europe to maintain this political condition. Detached from the Zollverein, Luxemburg was too small to survive alone, and must lean on one of its neighbours. He would, therefore, say to the Powers that it was the Belgian solution that was the just one, as it corresponded with past history and rested on natural affinities and sympathies. He thought he was entitled to say that France did not claim Luxemburg. He would, therefore, ask the Conference to facilitate the rapprochement of the two countries, Belgium and Luxemburg. There was no desire on the part of Belgium to do violence to Luxemburg. All that was asked was a friendly rapprochement by free consent. At the present moment, there was anarchy in Luxemburg. The Grand Duchess had abdicated in favour of her sister, Charlotte, whom the Governments had not yet recognised and who, to gain recognition, wished to appeal to a referendum. Solicited by various forms of propaganda, the natives of Luxemburg were perplexed and did not know which way to turn. M. Hymans thought that this condition of things would last until the people knew how the Powers were disposed towards them. He would like the Allied and Associated Powers to indicate to the Luxemburg Government that they were not disposed to recognise the new Grand Duchess and that they suggested a conversation with the Belgian Government, with the object of seeking, without any constraint, the means of bringing the two countries into closer relations. He felt sure that, as soon as Luxemburg realised that the country was not going to [Page 968] France, it would turn to Belgium quite naturally. Belgium, on her side, eagerly desired this rapprochement and hoped that the Powers would help to bring it about. The failure of this aspiration would provoke the deepest disappointment in Belgium.

M. Vandervelde said that there was no difference of opinion on this subject.

(d) Question Referendum Mr. Lansing asked whether Belgium would be favourable to a referendum of the population of Luxemburg.

M. Hymans said that the Grand Ducal Government was now suggesting a referendum on the dynastic question alone and not on the eventual union of the country with France or Belgium. Under present conditions, he thought that the referendum would not obtain a considered view of the people. Public opinion was uncertain and would be influenced by interested propaganda. He disclaimed any idea of violence and the solution he had proposed was in accordance with this union. Should the Great Powers urge the Luxemburg Government to enter into conversation with the Belgian Government in order to discover in common whether a rapprochement was possible and under what conditions, M. Hymans thought that the freedom of the Luxemburg people would be safeguarded. If the conversation led to no solution, the Luxemburg Government would be free to seek some other.

President Wilson asked with what authority in Luxemburg M. Hymans would propose to converse, seeing that the present Government was not recognised.

M. Hymans replied that the Grand Duchess was not recognised. The Government of Luxemburg was the same as before. It still had a majority in the Chamber. The present Grand Ducal Government might organise a referendum in favour of the maintenance of a political constitution dangerous to European public order, but a people could not be permitted to neglect its international obligations. There were, in his opinion, three solutions:—

The maintenance of the present dynasty, which would be contrary to European order.
Union with Belgium.
Union with France.

Since France did not claim union, only the Belgian solution remained.


Walloons Cantons M. Hymans said he would like to make mention of certain Walloons Cantons taken from Belgium in 1815 by Prussia. He specially Walloons mentioned that of Malmedy, where French was spoken, the newspapers were printed in French and pro-Belgian manifestations of an undoubted character had recently taken place.

[Page 969]

There was also the small neutral territory of Moresnet which should be united to Belgium.


Rhine Questions M. Hymans said that if the questions of the Rhine were to be raised at the Conference, he reserved the right of defending Belgium’s political and economic interests.

In concluding, M. Hymans said that he wished to observe that the Treaties of 1815, 1831 and 1839 had also served Prussian policy in its thrust towards the Meuse. He hoped he had succeeded in convincing the meeting that these treaties must be revised and that the Belgian claims were legitimate. Belgium had demanded no guarantees when she took up arms. She had done her whole duty, but she had suffered grievously and was still suffering. Her industry was ruined and could not revive for many months. Belgium was not asking for the price of her services, and was animated by no spirit of conquest or imperialist ambitions. All Belgium asked from the Great Allied and Associated Powers was the conditions necessary to ensure the future and prosperity of the country.

(The Meeting then adjourned.)

12 February, 1919.

  1. British and Foreign State Papers, vol. xxvii, p. 990.
  2. Ibid., vol. xxxvii, p. 1320.
  3. Ibid., vol. xxvii, p. 1000.
  4. Treaty of May 31, 1815, concerning formation of Netherlands by union of Holland and Belgium, ibid., vol. ii, p. 136.
  5. Foreign Relations, 1918, supp. 1, vol. i, p. 12.