Paris Peace Conf. 180.03101/56


Secretary’s Notes of a Conversation Held in M. Pichon’s Room at the Quai d’Orsay, Paris, on Tuesday, 11th March, 1919, at 3 p.m.

Present Also Present
America, United States of France
Hon. R. Lansing. Marshal Foch.
General Tasker H. Bliss. General Weygand.
Secretaries Italy
Mr. A. H. Frazier. H. E. Marquis Salvago Raggi.
Mr. L. Harrison.
British Empire
The Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd George, M.P.
The Rt. Hon. A. J. Balfour, O.M., M.P.
Lt. Col. Sir M. P. A. Hankey, K.C.B.
Sir P. Loraine, Bt.
M. Clemenceau.
M. Pichon.
M. Dutasta.
M. Berthelot.
M. Arnavon.
M. de Bearn.
H. E. M. Orlando.
H. E. Baron Sonnino.
Count Aldrovandi.
M. Bertele.
H. E. Baron Makino.
H. E. M. Matsui.

Joint Secretariat

America, United States of Lieut. Burden.
British Empire Major A. M. Caccia, M. V. O.
France Captain A. Portier.
Italy Lieut. Zanchi.
Japan M. Saburi.
Interpreter:—Prof P. J. Mantoux.
[Page 315]

(1) M. Clemenceau said that he had received a telegram, dated the 10th March, 1919, from General Nudant, the President of the Inter-Allied Armistice Commission at Spa, transmitting two verbal communications, which he had received from the German Minister Von Haniel. The first message read as follows:— Preliminary Peace Terms

“If, as stated by the press, the approaching discussions are intended to take the character of preliminaries of Peace and to prescribe, for instance, the Military and Naval terms of Peace, Wako1 will not be qualified to deal with them. That would have to be done by a Commission presided by Brockdorff-Rantzau. You are requested, therefore, to give sufficient notice in order that the competent Commission may arrange to come to the meeting place.”

Mr. Balfour said that apparently all Minister Von Haniel asked for was that due notice should be given in order that the German Government might be able to send a duly accredited Commission. He thought that was a reasonable request.

(It was agreed that when the time came for presenting the preliminaries of Peace to Germany, due notice thereof would be given, as requested.)

(2) M. Clemenceau, continuing, said that the second part of the message received from General Nudant read as follows:—

Poland (a) Proposed Transport of Troops via Danzig “General Hammerstein2 has handed in a written statement giving reasons in support of Germany’s demand that no troops should be landed at Dantzig. The statement may be summed up as follows: The passage by rail of Polish troops across a region thickly populated by Poles in order to reach Warsaw would positively lead to risings and troubles in Eastern Prussia, at the rear of the German troops, who are now facing the Bolsheviks between the Sea and the Polish front.”

Marshal Foch explained that a resolution had been passed by the Conference on the 25th February last,3 calling on M. Noulens as President of the Allied Commission in Poland to enquire whether the proposed disembarkation of troops at Dantzig, and their transport by rail to Poland, would be guaranteed by the German Government, without the necessity of securing this guarantee by a previous occupation by Allied Contingents of Dantzig and of the railways.

General Barthelemy and General Carton de Wiart, the French and British representatives on the Allied Polish Commission had arrived in Paris yesterday. General Wiart had informed him that he had [Page 316] assisted at a meeting held at Kreutz on the 6th March last, when Mr. Noulens had handed to the Germans the resolution of the Conference above quoted. The German representatives had said that they would refer the matter to their Government; but so far no formal reply had been received. Meanwhile, General Hammerstein at Spa had been putting every possible obstacle in the way to prevent the Allies’ request being granted.

(b) Appointment of General Henrys as Chief of Staff to the President of the Polish Republic Mr. Lloyd George said he had spoken to General Wiart the previous evening, and the account he had given of Poland made him believe that the Allies ought to attend to the affairs of poland as soon as possible. The Poles had no idea of organisation; they had no capacity to direct on govern. The Premier was a pianist; the President, an idealist without any practical ideas. The generals of the army were all acting independently; they had no notion of training the 500,000 troops they were raising or of co-ordinating the various units constituting the army. Taking these facts into consideration, General Wiart held the view that a French General of position should immediately be sent to take command of the whole of the Polish forces. He felt confident the Polish Government would willingly accept some such arrangement, on the understanding that the President of the Republic would continue to be the nominal head of the army with the French General as his Chief of Staff: the latter, however, being granted full powers of action. General Wiart was very insistent that someone should be sent at once, but he thought that the officer selected should be a general, whose name was widely known and respected. He suggested, for instance, someone like General Gouraud.

Marshal Foch said that in his opinion all that General Wiart had said was very exact. He quite agreed with him that the Poles really had no army organisation of any kind, except perhaps at Posen, where German methods were still being followed.

In Galicia the Austrians were in command of the Polish forces, but (and that was typical of the Austrians) they were on bad terms with the civilian population and had only introduced disorder into the army. At Warsaw, there was no organisation of any kind. Consequently, he thoroughly agreed that a French General should forthwith be sent to Poland to put into execution without further delay the scheme for the reorganisation of the Army, which had already been accepted in principle by the Polish Government.

(After some further discussion, it was agreed that the Polish Government should forthwith be asked to accept General Henrys, as Military Adviser and Chief of the Staff to the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Republic, to organise the Polish forces in Poland.)

[Page 317]

(3) Reported German Intrigues in Czecho-Slovakia M. Clemenceau next called attention to a letter sent by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czecho-Slovakian Republic, dated Paris, 8th March, 1919, addressed to himself, which had been circulated.

(For full text of letter, see Annexure “A”.)

Mr. Lloyd George said that the letter in question contained various references to intercepted documents. In his opinion, everything seemed to depend on those documents, and it would be impossible for the Conference to arrive at any decision without seeing those papers.

M. Pichon explained that his reason for bringing the matter at once to the notice of the Conference had been that Dr. Benes’ letter contained the following sentence, namely: “The Prague Government begs me to lay these facts before the Inter-Allied War Council, with the request that the situation may receive consideration and the necessary measures be taken immediately.” Furthermore, Dr. Benes also wrote: “The Czecho-Slovakian Government accordingly begs the Allied and Associated Governments to address an energetic protest to the Governments of Vienna and Budapest requiring them at once to cease all hostile action towards the Czecho-Slovak Republic either of a military nature or from the point of view of propaganda.” He (M. Pichon) had therefore thought that the Conference would desire to address some communication to the Governments of Vienna and Budapest pending the receipt of the relevant documents.

Mr. Lloyd George hoped that no decision would be reached on that date: that would look like pre-judging the case. In his opinion, there was another side of the question. The situation was not the same as that which existed in Germany. In Austria-Hungary there were various nationalities; all had fought against us, and some had suddenly become our Allies. These various nationalities were all now scrambling for territory. He had heard, for instance, that both the Rumanians and the Czecho-Slovaks were claiming territories which contained 40 per cent of Magyars. In his opinion, the Allies were here to do justice to all those peoples. He would circulate a letter which the Archduke Joseph had addressed from Budapest to H. M. the King of Great Britain, in which he exposed the tactics of the Czecho-Slovaks, and pleaded for justice. He thought great care should be taken to show complete fairness to all parties. The new map of Europe must not be so drawn as to leave cause for disputations which would eventually drag Europe into a new war.

M. Pichon said that if Mr. Lloyd George thought that no action should be taken on that day, he would not insist. He would, however, have been more ready to accept Mr. Lloyd George’s proposal, had the complaint made by the Czecho-Slovaks related merely to the action of the Austrians or Hungarians. But the plots mentioned [Page 318] by Dr. Benes had actually been started by Germans, whose names were given, including the well-known Baron Lancken, the notorious German Consul, Baron Gobsattel, as well as Dr. Schwarz, an agent of the Berlin Foreign Office. Dr. Benes affirmed that papers had been seized proving that an agreement had been entered into between the authorities of Berlin, Vienna and Budapest, to cause risings and strikes and civil war in Bohemia. Mr. Lloyd George had proposed that no action should be taken until the promised documents had been received, and he (M. Pichon) agreed. Obviously, it would be necessary to await the receipt of those documents before any decision could be reached.

Mr. Lloyd George drew attention to the claims put forward by Dr. Benes in his document, where he stated: “That the Hungarian Republic be ordered to give every satisfaction to the Czecho-Slovak Republic, the nature and method of such satisfaction being determined by the latter.”

Mr. Lansing agreed that Dr. Benes made exactly the same request that Austria had made to Serbia in 1914.

Mr. Lloyd George, continuing, said that he thought that the demand made by the Czecho-Slovaks was monstrous; the Italians had not dreamt of putting forward such a request when the Laibach incident had recently been considered.

M. Pichon thought that a reply should immediately be sent to Dr. Benes, informing him that the Conference had taken his letter into consideration, and had decided to take no action pending the receipt of the promised documents.

Mr. Lansing agreed to the general plan of postponing the further consideration of the question. He thought, however, that in addition the Allied Commission in Teschen should be called upon to investigate the matter in situ in order that an independent view might be obtained, which would be of the greatest value.

He also wished to draw attention to the fact that though apparently the Berlin Government was wholly to blame for the intrigues in question, the Czecho-Slovaks merely asked for action to be taken against the Vienna and Budapest Governments. Furthermore, he thought the Czecho-Slovak Government had displayed considerable laxity; firstly, in permitting a courier to pass between Berlin and Prague and, secondly, in allowing a German official to reside at Prague.

M. Pichon pointed out that the official in Prague was there in accordance with the agreement entered into by the Czecho-Slovaks to supply German-Austria and the Magyars of Hungary with coal and other raw materials.

M. Sonnino enquired whether the intercepted documents referred to in Dr. Benes’ letter had already been posted to M. Clemenceau.

[Page 319]

M. Pichon, in reply, read the last paragraph of Dr. Benes’ letter, namely:

“I am at present preparing a detailed report on these events, which will be addressed to all the Allied and Associated Governments. This report will contain all the documents to which I have alluded in the present memorandum. I shall also venture to submit a copy of the said report with the documents in question, to the Supreme War Council, but before this can be done, I am taking immediate steps to inform the Council of the matter, in order that it may be aware of the facts, in the event of the Czecho-Slovak Government being obliged to take energetic measures in consequence of the Austro-Hungarian conspiracy.”

Mr. Balfour said that before leaving this subject, he would like to ask Marshal Foch a question. The documents under consideration dealt with two kinds of attack on the Czecho-Slovaks: attack through propaganda and strikes, and a military attack by German-Austrian and Hungarian troops. The Czecho-Slovaks appeared to be exceedingly apprehensive in regard to the threatened military attack. He, himself, would be surprised to learn that either the German-Austrians or the Hungarians were in a condition to make a military attack on the Czecho-Slovaks, and he would be glad to have some explanation on that point from Marshal Foch, either immediately or later on, when the whole question would again come up for discussion.

Marshal Foch replied that as far as his information went, he had been led to believe that the means of attack of Hungary and German-Austria were not very great, as against the Czecho-Slovaks. He would, however, look into the matter further before giving a final verdict, as he knew an attempt was being made to reconstitute two or three Hungarian divisions on the Bohemian front.

Mr. Lansing expressed the view that the continuance of the bureaucracy in Berlin was at the bottom of all the trouble; he referred to the continued employment of the same people and the same personnel that had been made use of by the old régime, together with the same methods of intrigue and espionage. He thought that the Allied and Associated Governments should suggest in some way or another to the German Government that their house must be cleaned, and that the men who had hitherto been responsible for all the trouble must be got rid of.

Mr. Lloyd George agreed, and suggested that a hint to that effect might be dropped by one of the members of the Food Supply Commission, for instance, by Mr. Hoover.

M. Clemenceau expressed the view that Germany only possessed one type of personnel—Scheidemann, Rantzau, and the rest, all [Page 320] belonged to the old gang, and it would be impossible to get rid of them.

(It was agreed that:—

(1) The Governments of the United States of American, Great Britain, France and Italy, shall instruct the Commission at Teschen to proceed forthwith to Prague, in order to investigate the facts of the conspiracy of enemy States reported to the Allied and Associated Powers by the Czecho-Slovak Government, to furnish a report, and to make arrangements [recommendations?] as to the action to be taken.

(2) The communication addressed to [by] the Minister of Foreign Affairs to [of] the Czecho-Slovak Republic to the Prime Minister and Minister of War, Paris, on 8th March,4 shall be communicated by M. Pichon on behalf of the Allied and Associated Powers to the Commission at Teschen.

(3) M. Pichon shall inform M. Benes that further consideration of the question is postponed, pending the receipt of the documents referred to in his report of March 8th.)

(4) M. Clemenceau asked permission to read the following letter, dated the 6th March, 1919, which he had received from M. Pachitch:—

Request of Serb-Coast-Slovene Delegation to be Present When Boundaries Between Italy and the S. C. S. Kingdom Discussed “Mr. President,

At the meeting of the Supreme Allied Council held on February 18th,5 we had the honour to state that in our opinion we ought to be placed in the same situation and have the same opportunities as the Royal Italian Government for examining and discussing the problem of our frontiers. This statement was inspired by the desire to fix our future common frontiers on a basis of equilibrium and in such manner as to ensure neighbourly relations between the two countries of a loyal and friendly character. There was a further and more general reason for making that statement, namely, that our Government could only assume responsibility for solutions to which it had given its consent after an exchange of suitable explanations.

The degree to which we have been animated by a desire to reach an amicable settlement, such as will leave in the future no trace of misunderstanding between the two Governments, has we think been proved by our offer to submit the settlement of this problem to an arbitration by President Wilson which would be sanctioned by the Peace Conference itself.

In view of the assertion coming from different quarters and diffused by authorised organs of the Press, to the effect that the Council of Ten has accepted the point of view of the Italian Delegation, namely, that the delimitation of these frontiers should be examined and determined simultaneously with that of the frontiers between France and Germany and in accordance with the same procedure, that is to say in the Supreme Allied Council,—we consider it to be our duty to bring to the notice of that exalted Council the essential difference between those two problems, a difference which is derived from the fact that the Rhine frontier is to be fixed as between enemy States, [Page 321] whereas that on the Adriatic must be fixed between two Governments whose peoples have been friends in the past, who desire to remain friends in the future and, what is even more important, between two countries which have fought for the selfsame cause of right and justice and have substantially contributed, in proportion to their strength and their resources, to the common victory.

We are indeed unable to imagine how a problem which touches so nearly the most vital interests of our country could be examined in a practical manner and settled equitably unless we have an opportunity of discussing it with our partners before the Council, nor how the Conference itself can sanction an arrangement which would be lacking in an essential element of validity, namely the participation of one of the interested parties.

For the foregoing reasons we take the liberty of writing to you, Mr. President, and of requesting your Excellency to be so good as to communicate this request to the Supreme Allied Council with a view to our admission to its deliberations whenever the discussion of frontier delimitation between Italy and the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croates and Slovenes shall be placed on its Agenda.

I beg, etc.

(Sgd) P. Pachitch”

M. Clemenceau, continuing, asked the Conference to say what reply should be sent to M. Pachitch.

Mr. Lloyd George thought that it had been agreed that the Small Powers would be entitled to be present whenever any question affecting their rights came under discussion; and, in his opinion, it made no difference whether the question to be discussed was one between two Small Powers or between a Great Power and a Small Power. He felt sure that the Italian representative would accept that view of the matter.

M. Sonnino said that at the Meeting of the Conference held on 18th February, 1919, after the Serbian Delegation had put forward their territorial claims, he himself had proposed, and the Conference had agreed to accept the following resolution:—

“That the question raised in the statement of MM. Vesnitch, Zolger and Trumbitch, on behalf of the Serbian Delegation on the Serbian territorial interests in the Peace settlement, (excepting only the question in which Italy was directly concerned) shall be referred for examination in the first instance to an expert Committee, and that it shall be the duty of that Committee to reduce the questions for decision within the narrowest possible limit, and to make recommendations for a just settlement.”

That is to say, it had been decided that all frontier questions in which Italy was directly concerned should be considered by the Conference itself. That did not, however, mean that the representatives of the Serbians should not be present when frontier questions affecting them were discussed by the Conference. The Serbs obviously had the same right to appear before the conference that other interested States had to appear before Commissions. He agreed, therefore, [Page 322] that the interested parties would have the right to appear before the Conference to express their views, and to take part in the discussions; but the Small Powers could obviously have no voice in drawing up the final decisions.

Mr. Lloyd George hesitated to accept Baron Sonnino’s interpretation of the question. He would draw the attention of the Conference to the decision taken at the meeting held on March 5th last, in regard to the admission of Belgians to the deliberations concerning the preliminaries of peace. It was then agreed:—

“That the right of the Belgian Government to be represented on the Supreme Council of the Allied and Associated Powers during the discussion of the preliminary Peace Terms should be limited to the occasions coming within the regulations for the Peace Conference when terms for which Belgium was specially interested were under discussion.”

In his opinion that decision could not be interpreted to mean that the Small Powers should retire when a decision had to be taken.

M. Sonnino held that in the case of a Commission on Frontiers the Small Powers were heard, but they took no part in the final decision. In his opinion, the Conference when dealing with territorial questions, should adopt the procedure followed by territorial Commissions.

Mr. Lansing thought that in justice when the decision came to be taken, either both parties should be present, or both parties should retire.

M. Clemenceau pointed out that the final decision would rest with the Conference itself.

Mr. Lloyd George agreed, but enquired whether both parties should be present during the discussion which led up to the final decision. That was the question under consideration. In other words, should one of the two interested parties be turned out, whilst the other party remained to take part in the final discussion.

M. Orlando said that according to his understanding the question should be regarded in the following light. In the first place, he could not agree that the Resolution quoted by Mr. Lloyd George was applicable except on the assumption that the question under consideration referred to a single State, called Serbia, and to a problem affecting that State. Had that really been the case, he would not have ventured to dispute the fact that questions concerning Italy and Serbia should be discussed as between equals and strictly in accordance with the procedure laid down for all other States with particular interests, taking part in the Conference.

But the question now under discussion did not concern the Kingdom of Italy and the Kingdom of Serbia proper. The Conference was asked to consider a question relating to the frontiers which [Page 323] separated Italy from an enemy State, formerly known as the Austro-Hungarian Empire. If, in consequence of the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, new States had been formed, some of which desired to join Serbia, that meant that the Conference had no longer to deal with the Kingdom of Serbia, but with a new State consisting partly of the old Kingdom of Serbia and partly of other territories which belonged to an enemy State. The correctness of this point of view was evidence[d] by the fact that the Delegation had sent the communication under consideration not in the name of the Kingdom of Serbia but in the name of the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, and one of those members of that Delegation had actually been a Minister of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The whole question, therefore, turned on whether this new State should or should not be recognised. Obviously, he (M. Orlando) could not prevent the friendly and allied Powers from recognising it, even though agreements to the contrary had been entered into. Certainly, the recognition of the new State would not constitute an amiable act towards Italy. But, however that might be, his Allied and Associated colleagues would not hesitate to admit that Italy was entitled to a free choice in the matter; and so far Italy had not recognised the new State. He, personally, did not recognise the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. Furthermore, he regarded the Croats and the Slovenes, that is to say the people whose frontiers were in question, as his enemies. As far as Italy was concerned, these people had merely taken the place of the Austrians; and he would ask his colleagues to consider whether the representatives of the Austro-Hungarian Empire could have done anything worse to Italy, had they been present instead of the Croats and the Slovenes. Consequently, as far as he was concerned, the question presented itself as follows. No appeal could be made to a resolution which did not apply to the case under consideration. The question for the Conference to decide was whether matters relating to frontiers between Enemy and Allied countries should be discussed in the presence of the Enemy. He (M. Orlando) could never accept such a proposition. Italy’s allies and associates could naturally do as they pleased, but in regard to matters in which he was concerned, he would never agree to discuss them under those conditions, any more than France would ever agree to admit Germany to take part in a discussion on the settlement of her frontiers.

M. Sonnino, with whom he found himself in complete agreement, had stated that instead of imposing our conditions on the Croats and on the Slovenes, as would be done in regard to other enemy countries, he would agree to their being given a hearing. In agreeing to that, he had made a great concession and it showed how great was their desire to be conciliatory. But beyond that point he could [Page 324] never agree to go and he must absolutely refuse to discuss and to dispute with his enemies.

Mr. Lloyd George said that he could well understand M. Orlando taking the line he had in regard to the Croats and Slovenes, as obviously they were not in the same position as the Belgians and the Serbs. But he could hardly take that line in regard to Mr. Pachitch. It would hardly be consistent for M. Orlando to say that he did not object to Mr. Pachitch or to the other Serbian delegates, but that he declined to discuss any territorial question if representatives of the Croats or of the Slovenes were admitted on equal terms. Therefore he would make the following suggestion. He thought it would be a very strong order for the Conference to rule the Serbs out when questions relating to their frontiers came under discussion, especially when it was remembered that the King of Serbia was now the King of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. The Serbs by the great gallantry displayed by their Armies had helped to conquer the countries in question. In his opinion, the Serbs should be granted exactly the same rights as had been accorded to the Belgians to attend when questions affecting their territorial interests were being discussed by the Conference. The Croat and Slovene countries did not constitute separate and independent bodies: They were going to be attached to and to form a part of Serbia. He begged M. Orlando, therefore, to consider whether the representatives of the Kingdom of Serbia proper, whose armies had fought on the side of the Allies, should not be present when questions concerning them came under discussion. He thought the Conference could hardly refuse the request of a country who had done its duty to the Allies and manfully supported the common cause during the whole period of the war.

M. Clemenceau thought that M. Orlando’s proposal, together with Mr. Lloyd George’s amendment, would meet with general approval; that is to say, the representatives of Serbia, an Allied country, should be admitted to the Conference to take part in the discussions whenever questions affecting their frontiers came under considerations.

Baron Sonnino pointed out that M. Pachitch would come to the Conference, not as a representative of Serbia, but as a representative of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes; and he would presumably be assisted by M. Trumbitch and by Dr. Zolger, the latter a former Austro-Hungarian Minister.

M. Pichon agreed that M. Pachitch had written his letter on behalf of the Delegation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, that is, as the representative of a State which had not yet been recognised by all the Allies. Mr. Lloyd George’s proposal, however, was that the representatives of Serbia alone should be invited to attend in connection with all questions relating to their own frontiers. [Page 325] Consequently, he thought a reply should be sent to M. Pachitch, informing him that the Conference would be willing to admit the representatives of Serbia, but it could not receive the representatives of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes whose constitution had not yet been recognised by all the Allies.

M. Orlando said that the question under consideration might lead to very grave results for Italy. On the other hand, the question was not a very urgent one, since M. Pachitch’s letter had only been written on the 6th March last. He begged the Conference, therefore, with the greatest insistence to adjourn the further consideration of the question for a few days, in order to allow him to consult all his colleagues. He was particularly anxious that nothing should be done to prejudge the final solution of the question.

Mr. Lloyd George agreed that the Conference would be bound to meet a request of that kind.

Mr. Lansing said that before the discussion was closed he wished to state the views of his Government, whose views coincided with those expressed by Mr. Lloyd George. The question under consideration concerned Serbia, the same country which the Allies had always known: and the mere fact that the old Serbia had acquired or annexed other territories did not affect the case.

Baron Sonnino, interposing, said that the case under consideration did not merely refer to the acquisition or annexation of territories by Serbia.

Mr. Lansing thought that it did, just in the same way as England had acquired or annexed Scotland and called herself Great Britain. It was all a mere technicality, and in his opinion, it was important to uphold the decisions already reached. Serbian interests were at stake. When questions affecting Roumania and Serbia had been considered by the Conference, both parties affected had been heard. Consequently, he favoured the conclusion that either both parties should be included or both parties should be excluded. In any case one of the contending parties should not be allowed to sit as a judge of its own case.

(It was agreed to adjourn the further consideration of the question to a later meeting).

(5) M. Clemenceau said that the Territorial Co-ordination Committee had enquired whether the question relating to the constitution of a Turkish State fell within its jurisdiction, since no Commission had yet been appointed to deal with that question. Boundaries of Turkey

Mr. Lloyd George said that this enquiry raised very important questions of principle, for the solution of which instructions would have to be given by the Conference. So far, not even the crudest indications had been given. Furthermore, the mandatory question [Page 326] was involved and would have to be discussed by the Conference. He proposed, therefore, that further discussion should be adjourned until President Wilson’s return.

(It was agreed that the question of the constitution of a Turkish State should be adjourned to a later date.)

(6) M. Clemenceau said that the Committee for the study of territorial questions relating to Greece had enquired whether the delimitation of Albania and Jugo-Slavia, with the exclusion of the Adriatic frontiers, fell within its competence. Albania

Mr. Balfour remarked that this raised a difficult question, since it had been agreed to exclude all frontier questions in which Italian interests were concerned. Furthermore, in view of the situation in Albania, he thought that the frontier between Albania and Jugo-Slavia would vitally concern Italy, and on that account should be excluded.

(It was agreed that the Committee for the study of Territorial Questions relating to Greece should not deal with the frontiers of Albania and Jugo-Slavia.)

(7) M. Clemenceau reported that a group of ladies, representing the Suffrage Association of the Allied countries, who had previously been received by President Wilson, had called on him with a request to take part in the work of the Conference. He had suggested, in reply, that a chosen number of their representatives should ask to be heard by the various Commissions of the Conference dealing with questions in which they were interested, such as, the International Labour Legislation Commission, and the League of Nations Commission. Women Representation at the Conference

M. Pichon pointed out that these ladies did not only ask to be heard, but they also wished to form part of the Commissions in question.

M. Sonnino said that he had also seen some of the women representatives, who had submitted the same proposals to him. They were anxious to be represented on the League of Nations, as it was possible that questions concerning white slave traffic might be considered.

(It was agreed that the Women’s Suffrage Association of the Allied Countries should be invited to send a deputation to state their case to the Commission on Labour Legislation and to the League of Nations Commission.)

(The meeting then adjourned until Wednesday, March 12th, 1919.)

Paris, March 12th, 1919.

[Page 327]

Annexure “A”

From:—The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czecho-Slovak Republic.

To:— The Prime Minister and Minister for War, Paris.

Monsieur le Président: Certain events which have taken place during the last few days at Prague and regarding which I have to-day received official information, compel me to address this memorandum to you with the request that you will kindly communicate the contents either to Marshal Foch or to the Supreme War Council. Our position is serious. The decision of the Conference with regard to Teschen has been a severe blow to us. The Germans are taking advantage of it, believing that they can treat us just as they like and that we are no longer protected. I therefore address myself to you and respectfully request your swift and energetic intervention.

On the 1st March, 1919, the Czecho-Slovak Authorities discovered a conspiracy of espionage and revolutionary propaganda at Prague against the Czecho-Slovak Republic organized by agents from Berlin and Vienna with the connivance of the authorities at Budapest. This plot, as may be seen from the intercepted documents, was prepared with the object of keeping the Governments of Berlin and Vienna informed as to the military situation of the Czecho-Slovak Republic, and of fomenting disturbances either in the German regions, or in the mixed Czech and German districts, or in the purely Czech territory where they hoped to stir up a Bolshevist movement. The plot was organised by agents of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Berlin, by Baron Gobsattel (late Consul of the German Empire) and Dr. Schwartz. The Czech Authorities had allowed them to remain in Prague at their own request because they were occupied in charitable work for German nationals. Under cloak of this pretext they carried on their hateful campaign, and, as proved by documents seized by the Czecho-Slovak Government, they were sent from Berlin by the present Ministry of Foreign Affairs and worked under the directions of the notorious Baron Lancken, who even paid a clandestine visit to Prague on one occasion in this connection.

The plot was discovered by the Czecho-Slovak authorities, who arrested a courier sent by the Berlin Government on Messrs. Gobsattel and Schwartz’s premises with revolutionary propaganda, leaflets, ethnographical maps, and other documents addressed either to the two gentlemen in question, to the authorities in Vienna, or to the authorities in Budapest.

In agreement with the authorities in Vienna these gentlemen organised a press campaign, especially in the German papers, describing the situation of the Czecho-Slovaks as disastrous; they exploited the decision of the Peace Conference on the Teschen question [Page 328] against the Prague Government, and tried to stir up either Nationalist or Bolshevist disturbances. At the same time, the Czecho-Slovak authorities were able to seize a certain number of documents emanating from the War Ministry in Vienna.

From these documents they were able to ascertain that, in connection with this campaign of espionage and propaganda, the Vienna Government was preparing military measures against the Czecho-Slovak Republic. It was organising certain regiments and issuing written orders, announcing that these regiments were intended to undertake operations in certain districts of Bohemia and Moravia, especially those of Znaim in Moravia and Trautenau and Leitmeritz in Bohemia.

It tried simultaneously to bring about a general strike in the Czecho-Slovak Republic (to begin on 4th. March), hoping to stir up serious Bolshevist disturbances. The regiments referred to above even received maps and detailed plans of operations, mentioning the names of villages and localities on which they were to march. At the same time arms, ammunition and, above all, machine guns were issued to them. The Czecho-Slovak authorities ascertained with absolute certainty that all these orders and operations were prepared by agents of the War Ministry in Vienna and that the exceedingly widespread system of espionage was organised on behalf of the Vienna authorities and with this special object, on the territory of the Czecho-Slovak Republic; the whole scheme was prepared in concert with similar attempts made by Magyars in Slovakia.

The Prague Government begs me to lay these facts before the Interallied War Council, with the request that the situation may receive consideration and the necessary measures be taken immediately.

As a matter of fact, the Czecho-Slovak Republic—as one of the Allied countries which, notwithstanding the danger that menaced it, always worked loyally with the Allies—cannot be left defenceless in the difficult situation in which it is placed. It is organising itself, but it has a considerable army in Russia which it requires for its own defence, but which cannot return. The whole world knows that this army defended the interests of the Allies with the greatest devotion; it is now far from its own country and cannot defend it directly.

Furthermore, we are threatened by another great difficulty; notwithstanding the efforts of the Allies, the Czecho-Slovak Republic cannot obtain sufficient food supplies. From this point of view, it is placed in a much more difficult position than that of our enemies to-day; German-Austria and the Magyars exploit this situation and make use of it in their subversive dealings and for their pan-German ends.

[Page 329]

We believe, therefore, that the Allied and Associated Governments cannot allow this action on the part of the Governments of Vienna, Budapest and Berlin to pass without rejoinder, since it is not only dangerous for us, but also directed against the Allies.

The Czecho-Slovak Government accordingly begs the Allied and Associated Governments immediately to address an energetic protest to the Governments of Vienna and Budapest, requiring them at once to cease all hostile action towards the Czecho-Slovak Republic either of a military nature or from the point of view of propaganda.

This is the first measure of imperative necessity which should be taken with the least possible delay. In addition to this, the Czecho-Slovak Government requests the Allied and Associated Governments to impose the following measures upon the Vienna and Budapest Governments viz:—

That the Austro-German Republic be compelled to give entire satisfaction to the Czecho-Slovak Government.
That, after most careful enquiry, exemplary punishment be meted out to all the guilty parties, the nature and extent of such punishment being communicated to the Government of the Czecho-Slovak Republic.
That the Government of the Austro-German Republic be ordered to repay to the Czecho-Slovak Republic the total amount of all extraordinary expenditure, whether of a military nature or undertaken in the interests of public safety incurred to prevent the threatened invasion and revolution.
That all military detachments intended to invade the territory of the Czecho-Slovak Republic be immediately disarmed and disbanded under Inter-allied control.
Whereas no reliance can be placed in any contingent declaration by the Government of the Austro-German Republic that it will attempt no further plots against the Czecho-Slovak Republic, and whereas this would in no wise secure the Czecho-Slovak Republic against any other hostile action, the permanent armed forces of the Austro-German Republic must be so diminished as to be merely sufficient to assure the service of public safety.
That all weapons rendered superfluous by the reduction of armed Austro-German forces be restored to the Interallied Commission (including Czecho-Slovak delegates) which shall be entrusted with the control of all munition factories and arsenals on Austro-German territory.
That all Austro-German railways be placed under the control of the Interallied Commission, including Czecho-Slovak delegates.
In view of the imminent danger that the Government of the Austro-German Republic will continue to plot against Czecho-Slovak independence, the Government of the Czecho-Slovak Republic reserves the right to take provisionally all measures necessary to prevent any Austro-German action hostile to the Czecho-Slovak Republic.
That the Government of the Hungarian Republic be ordered to open a most strict enquiry, under Interallied control, as to the share taken by the Magyar Army in the projected invasion and as to the delivery of arms and ammunition for this purpose.
That, after careful enquiry, exemplary punishment be meted out to the guilty parties within the territory of the Hungarian Republic, and that the result of this enquiry, together with the nature and extent of such punishment, be communicated to the Government of the Czecho-Slovak Republic.
That the Hungarian Republic be ordered to give every satisfaction to the Czecho-Slovak Republic, the nature and method of such satisfaction being determined by the latter.

The Governments of Vienna and Budapest could easily be compelled to acquiesce in the measures required, because the question of food places them entirely at the mercy of the Allies. In any case, I venture to repeat my request and to beg the Allies to deal with this question and to protect us from our common enemies.

In closing I would just venture to draw the attention of the Allied and Associated Governments to the conclusions which may be drawn from all these events.

The so-called Socialist Government at Berlin is pursuing the same policy towards us as the old Imperial Government, making use of the same agents and the same methods as the former militarist Government of William II.
The Republic Governments at Vienna and Budapest are employing the same methods against us as the old Austro-Hungarian Government and whilst ostensibly desiring to submit themselves to the decision of the Peace Conference, are attempting to stab us in the back.
Up to the present we have refrained from taking any military action or reprisals against our Austrian and Magyar enemies.

I must add that the Allied and Associated Governments have requested us to supply German Austria and the Magyars of Hungary with coal and other raw materials, which we have loyally done, and in the meantime our enemies were planning a treacherous attack on us. Conditions with us are such that the population is losing all patience, and if measures of some kind are not taken to give us at any rate moral support, we shall not be able to guarantee order in our country.

Monsieur le Président, I am at present preparing a detailed report on these events, which will be addressed to all the Allied and Associated Governments. This report will contain all the documents to which I have alluded in the present Memorandum. I shall also venture to submit a copy of the said report, with the documents in question, to the Supreme War Council, but before this can be done I am taking immediate steps to inform the Council of the matter, in order that it may be aware of the facts, in the event of the Czecho-Slovak Government being obliged to take energetic measures in consequence of the Austro-Hungarian conspiracy.

I have [etc.]

Edward Benes
  1. Abbreviation for Waffenstillstandskommission (German Armistice Commission).
  2. Military representative on the German Armistice Commission.
  3. See BC–39, p. 120.
  4. Annexure A, p. 327.
  5. BC–35, p. 44.