Paris Peace Conf. 180.03101/59
Minutes of the Meeting of the Supreme War Council Held at the Quai d’Orsay, Paris, Monday, March 17, 1919, at 3 p.m.
|America, United States of||America, United States of|
|President Wilson||Admiral W. S. Benson|
|Hon. R. Lansing||General Tasker H. Bliss|
|Secretaries||Major General M. N. Patrick|
|Mr. A. H. Frazier||Dr. Bowman|
|Mr. L. Harrison||Prof. Lord|
|British Empire||Colonel W. S. Browning|
|The Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd George, M. P.||Colonel E. G. Gorrell|
|The Rt. Hon. A. J. Balfour, O. M., M. P.||Captain Schofield|
|Lt. Col. Sir M. P. A. Hankey, K. C. B.||British Empire|
|Mr. E. Phipps||General Sir H. H, Wilson, K. C. B., D. S. O.|
|France||Major General W. Thwaites, C. B.|
|M. Clemenceau||Major General Hon. C. J. Sackville-West, C. M. G.|
|M. Pichon||Rear Admiral G. P. W. Hope, C. B.|
|Secretaries||Brigadier General H. W. Studd, C. B., C. M. G., D. S. O.|
|M. Dutasta||Brigadier General P. R. C. Groves, D. S. O.|
|M. Berthelot||Captain C. T. M. Fuller, C. M. G., D. S. O., R. N.|
|M. Arnavon||Paymaster Captain Pollard, C. B., R. N.|
|M. de Bearn||Mr. C. J. B. Hurst, C. B., K. C.|
|Italy||Lieut. Col. F. H. Kisch, D. S. O.|
|H. E. M. Orlando||France|
|H. E. Baron Sonnino||M. Leygues|
|Secretaries||M. J. Cambon|
|Count Aldrovandi||Marshal Foch|
|M. Bertele||General Weygand|
|H. E. Marquis Saionji||General Belin|
|H. E. Baron Makino||General Le Rond|
|H. E. M. Matsui||General Duval|
|Admiral de Bon|
|Comdt. de V. Levavasseur|
|Lieut. de V. Odend’hal|
|Admiral Thaon di Revel|
|Capt. di Corvetta|
|Capt. F. Ruspoli|
|America, United States of||Colonel U. S. Grant|
|British Empire||Major A. M. Caccia, M. V. O.|
|France||Captain A. Portier.|
1. M. Clemenceau said that the first question on the Agenda related to the Military, Naval and Aerial Terms of Peace, and he would call upon M. Mantoux to read the document which had been circulated, Article by Article. He understood there were certain parts which had been reserved; and he enquired whether the Commission had prepared any special reports in regard to those paragraphs, or whether Marshal Foch or General Weygand would be in a position to give the necessary explanations. Military, Naval and Aerial Terms of Peace
General Weygand explained that the sub-Committees which had dealt with subjects such as the Kiel Canal, and Cables, had submitted special reports, which had been duly considered by the Allied Military, Naval and Aerial Commission. When the time came, he would if so desired, give the summary of those reports.
(M. Mantoux then read the draft Military, Naval and Aerial Terms of Peace, Article by Article. For full text, see Annexure “A”.)
(a) Section I. Military Clauses. Chapter I. Article 1 (Read and approved.)
Article 2 President Wilson asked to be assured that the exterior dangers from the Bolsheviks and so forth, which the Germans might have to meet on their eastern frontiers had been considered by the military experts in fixing the total number of effectives to be allowed to Germany.
Marshal Foch replied that the Commission considered that the 100,000 men allowed, in addition to the gendarmerie, would be quite sufficient for the maintenance of order within the territory of Germany and for the defence of her frontiers.[Page 357]
Mr. Lloyd George enquired, following up President Wilson’s point, how many German troops had been engaged in suppressing the various Spartacist insurrections through Germany, including Bavaria.
Marshal Foch replied that he had no exact idea; only vague estimates were available.
Mr. Lloyd George enquired whether the number of German troops so engaged had exceeded 100,000.
Marshal Foch replied in the negative.
President Wilson said that in putting his question he had in mind such isolated places as East Prussia, which adjoined Russia.
Mr. Lloyd George pointed out that the province of East Prussia would have no direct contact with Russia, as Lithuania intervened.
Marshal Foch said that in the whole of Eastern Germany, the number of German troops did not exceed 28,000 to 30,000 men.
(Article 2 was approved.)
Article 3 President Wilson called attention to the use of the word “never” in the second paragraph of Article 3. In his opinion, that word would cover all future time, and if that were intended, some permanent machinery would have to be set up to ensure the execution of the conditions therein set forth.
Mr. Balfour suggested that President Wilson’s point would be met by substituting the word “not” for “never”.
Article 4 & 5 (It was agreed that paragraph 2 of Article 3 should read:—“The number and strengths of the units of infantry … constitute maxima which must not be exceeded”.)
(Were read and accepted.)
Article 6 M. Clemenceau said that Marshal Foch had proposed the following text in substitution of the one which had been previously reserved by the Supreme War Council:—“The number of Employés or Officials of the German States, such as Customs House Officers, Forest Guards, Coastguards, must not exceed that of the employés or officials functioning in 1913. The number of gendarmes and employés or officials of the local or municipal police, may only be increased to an extent corresponding to the increase of population since 1913 in the districts or municipalities in which they are employed. These employés and officials shall never be assembled for military training”.
Mr. Balfour suggested that the word “not” should, as in the previous Article, be substituted for “never” in the last paragraph.
(This was agreed to.)
Mr. Balfour, continuing, said that if the Peace Conference were to decide that the territory on the Western bank of the Rhine should be administratively severed from the rest of Germany, the eastern section would, under this article, still be authorised to have the number of employés formerly needed by the entire German Empire.[Page 358]
President Wilson said that this question had better be postponed for the present, as it could not be settled until a decision had been reached on the territorial question itself.
(Clause 6 was accepted, subject to such modifications as might be required when the territorial question relating to the future constitution of German territories on the Western bank of the Rhine came to be settled).
Articles 7 & 8 (Were read and accepted.)
Article 9 President Wilson suggested that the word “not” should be substituted for the word “never” in the last line of the first paragraph.
(This was agreed to.)
(Article 9 was accepted, as amended.)
President Wilson called attention to the very great scope and difficulty of the second sentence of this Article, namely:—
Article 10 “All orders shall be notified to the Allied and Associated Governments, and may not be carried out until after such notification”.
No limiting time was given, and no provisions were made to set up a permanent machinery for receiving the notification therein referred to, and for granting permits. In his opinion, the execution of that sentence was not feasible, and he proposed that it should be deleted from the text. It would be impossible to introduce a guarantee of that nature without setting up an instrumentality permanently limiting the sovereignty of Germany. The only other alternative would be to reserve the right of going to war with Germany in the event of her failing to make the notification therein referred to.
M. Clemenceau pointed out that the same difficulty would arise if Germany were to set up an army of 200,000 men in place of the 100,000 allowed her.
President Wilson agreed. He pointed out that in the Convention provisions had been made for the setting up of Inter-Allied Commissions of Control, but no time limit of any kind had been given. He quite agreed to the setting up of these Commissions during the definite time required for carrying out the necessary disarmament. But all these Commissions of Control had been made instrumentalities of the Inter-Allied High Command, which, in his opinion, meant an indefinite continuation of that Command, and of the Allied and Associated armies. In his opinion, if the Allied armies were to be maintained for ever in order to control the carrying out of the Peace Terms; not peace, but Allied armed domination would have been established. His Government would never agree to enter into such an arrangement and, were he to enter into such an agreement, [Page 359]he would be far exceeding his authority under the United States Constitution.
Mr. Lloyd George expressed the view that there was very great force in what President Wilson had said. In his opinion, Article 10 was the sort of clause which would be a perpetual source of irritation and humiliation to any country; whilst, on the other hand, it would not ensure the purpose intended. For instance, if in 1870 the Germans had imposed on France a condition to limit her army, that would have been a reasonable proposition. But if Germany had, in addition, imposed a condition that France was not to order a single rifle without asking her permission, that would have been intolerable. In 40 years’ time, when Germany might have recovered her self-respect, should she require to order anything to replace the armaments permitted to her, she would have to give notice separately to France, Great Britain, America, Italy and Japan. He did not know what the Germans were made of, but he certainly knew what France and Great Britain would have felt about it. In his opinion, such a condition would constitute a constant source of insult, whilst, on the other hand, it did not really serve any useful purpose. Should the Germans mean to evade it, they would merely refrain from making the required notification. The first part of Article 10, which President Wilson was ready to accept, was merely a treaty obligation, whereas the second part of the first paragraph was merely intended to check that obligation. In his opinion, however, it did not succeed in doing that, and the Allied and Associated Governments would obviously be thrown back on the ordinary means which Governments possess of checking the doings of other countries. Although diplomatically the Allies had been taken by surprise when Germany declared war, and especially in regard to the use that might be made of the guns, the number of men and the number of guns possessed by Germany had been fully and accurately known. The construction of guns and the training of men could not be carried out clandestinely. Should there be a clause in the League of Nations requiring each member to notify to the others its programme of armaments and stocks of war material, that would be in no way humiliating, as every country would be bound to do the same thing.
President Wilson pointed out that a condition to that effect already practically existed in the League of Nations Covenant.
Mr. Lloyd George, continuing, said that the clause as it now stood would merely be making for trouble. Should some German Minister say that he would defy the Allies and refuse to give the information required: would the Allies be prepared to go to war? That might be done should Germany proceed to order rifles or war material greatly in excess of the quantities prescribed; but not otherwise. His military advisers took substantially the same view as President [Page 360]Wilson, namely, that the conditions objected to could never in reality be enforced, and, in his opinion, it was inexpedient to put into a treaty a number of conditions that the enemy would be bound to evade. In his opinion, that was not a good plan, as the continual evasion of a multitude of small points would eventually lead to the document itself becoming a mere scrap of paper. He wished, therefore, strongly to support President Wilson’s objection.
Marshal Foch held that there were two objects to be attained in regard to the control to be exercised over the execution of the clause. One control would have to be set up in order to follow the immediate application of the conditions dealing with the surrender and destruction of armaments and other war materials in excess of the quantity prescribed. The work of that control would naturally come to an end as soon as the material in question had been surrendered. But, in regard to the application of the other conditions, no provisions had been made for setting up a special control and the only control possible would be that which would, under ordinary circumstances, be exercised by Military Attachés and other similar agencies. Should the Supreme War Council, however, hold the opinion that the condition in question would cause unnecessary humiliation to the enemy, he agreed to its suppression.
(It was agreed to accept Article 10, with the omission of the following sentence:—
“All orders shall be notified to the Allied and Associated Governments and may not be carried out until after such notification.”)
President Wilson proposed that the last sentence of the first paragraph of Article 11 should read as follows:—
Article 11 “This will also apply to any special plant intended for the manufacture of military material, except such as may be recognised as necessary for the manufacture which is authorised.”
(This was agreed to.)
Article 12 President Wilson pointed out that Article 12, in effect, established a limitation on the activities of other countries than Germany. One of the outstanding difficulties of the present war had been the question of ensuring that goods shipped to neutral countries did not find their way to Germany. This clause would have the effect of limiting sales by other countries to Germany. As far as he was concerned, he would be content to oblige Germany to manufacture her own armaments, if possible. But that involved a supervision of exports and imports from and into Germany, and he did not see how that could be done without setting up very complicated machinery. The United States of America had tried to do that on the Mexican frontier but with little success, because the [Page 361]power of smuggling was very great and required a minuteness of supervision which was not practicable. It had been agreed to set up a League of Nations which made it obligatory for each member to notify its stock of war material.
Mr. Lloyd George enquired whether that would not be the answer to President Wilson’s criticisms.
President Wilson, continuing, said that the League of Nations by itself would not be sufficient, because the application of Article 12 involved a perpetual and permanent supervision. In accordance with the Covenant of the League of Nations, the members would only be required to disclose the war material possessed by them and not whence it came, whereas the Article under consideration required an investigation into the origin of supplies, not only in Germany, but in other countries also. If suitable inoffensive machinery could be set up, he would be prepared to accept the Article in question, but in the place of an illusive process of that nature he would prefer merely to judge by results. In order to give effect to his proposal, he would suggest that Article 12 should be made to read:—
“Germany shall strictly prohibit the import of arms, munitions and war materials of every kind, and shall also prohibit the export of the same to foreign countries.”
The treaty obligation to enforce the provisions of the Article would thus be placed upon Germany.
Mr. Lloyd George said that, in his opinion, Article 12 should be accepted as it stood, as, under the Covenant of the League of Nations, it had been laid down that the manufacture of arms, munitions and war material should become a State undertaking.
President Wilson said that the procedure mentioned by Mr. Lloyd George had only been accepted in principle.
Mr. Lloyd Grorge, continuing, said that his argument was thereby somewhat weakened. Nevertheless, if the Article as originally drafted were included as a part of the Treaty, any member of the League of Nations selling arms to Germany would be guilty of a breach of the League’s Covenant.
President Wilson said that, under the circumstances, he was prepared to withdraw his objection.
Mr. Balfour pointed out that the French and English drafts did not correspond, in that the English version read:—
“Importation into Germany of arms, munitions and war material of every kind is strictly prohibited,”
whereas the French text read:—
“Importation into Germany of arms, munitions and war materials of every kind shall be strictly prohibited.”
(Article 12, with the following amendment, was accepted:—
“Importation into Germany of arms, munitions and war material of every kind shall be strictly prohibited. The same applies to the manufacture for and export of arms, munitions and war material of every kind to foreign countries.”)
Article 13 Mr. Balfour enquired how it would be possible to forbid the importation of materials required for the manufacture of asphyxiating gases, as many of these were innocent chemicals which were eventually perverted to these nefarious uses.
Marshal Foch suggested, in order to meet Mr. Balfour’s criticism, that the second paragraph of Article 13 might be altered to read:—
“The same applies to materials specially intended for the manufacture, storage and use of the said products or devices.”
(This was agreed to.)
(Article 13, as amended, was accepted.)
Article 14 Article 14 was read and accepted.
Article 15 Mr. Balfour called attention to the second paragraph which laid down that “Until the expiration of his period of enlistment, no non-commissioned officer or private may leave the army except for reasons of health and after having been first finally discharged as unfit for service.” That condition would require the retention in the Army of men, for instance, who had committed every crime in the calendar. In his opinion, the imposition of such a condition would be inherently impossible.
President Wilson agreed. He thought that for pure reasons of humanity, it might be desirable to omit such a condition.
Mr. Lloyd George suggested that the second paragraph in question should be omitted, and that the third paragraph should be made to read:—
“The proportion of men discharged for any reason must not exceed in any year 5 per cent, etc.”
President Wilson said that the words “before expiration of period of their enlistment” should be added after the words “for any reason”.
(Article 15, as amended, was approved, namely:—
“The period of enlistment for non-commissioned officers and privates must be 12 consecutive years.
The proportion of men discharged for any reason before expiration of the period of their enlistment must not exceed in any year 5 per cent of the total effectives fixed by the second paragraph of Article 2 of the present stipulations.”)
Mr. Balfour pointed out that a corresponding correction to that made in Article 15 would also have to be made in Article 16, by the omission of paragraph 4 and by making paragraph 5 read:— Article 16
“The proportion of officers discharged for any reason must not exceed in any year 5 per cent, etc.”
(This was agreed to.)
Article 17 (Article 17 was read and approved.)
Article 18 (Article 18 was read and approved.)
Article 19 President Wilson asked to be told for his own information what was technically included under “Mobilisation”. Would it, for instance, prevent the whole of the 100,000 men being assembled in one place?
Marshal Foch explained that by “Measures of Mobilisation” was understood any steps taken to increase the number of men, or the number of animals, forming part of an army, by the calling up of reserves.
(Article 19 was accepted.)
Article 20 President Wilson observed that he quite agreed with the provisions contained in Article 20 in regard to the Western frontiers of Germany. In regard to the Eastern frontiers, however, Germany, would now be faced with much weaker Powers, owing to the creation of a number of new States, such as, Poland, Czecho-Slovakia, Hungary, a new Roumania, a modified Serbia, and a Turkey broken up into a score of parts, from which the stronger units would have disappeared. It must not be forgotten that Germany’s ambitions had always leant towards the South and the East, and he would like to enquire whether sufficient thought had been given towards ensuring the safety of those regions against future German aggression. He was particularly concerned that nothing should be done to revive those ambitions, either by permitting Germany to attach to herself the newly created States, or by permitting her to retain as formidable a front on that side as heretofore.
Mr. Lloyd George drew attention to the answer given by General Degoutte at a previous meeting, which would appear to cover President Wilson’s objections. General Degoutte had then stated that Germany only had two fortresses which were situated less than 50 miles from the Eastern and Southern frontiers.
President Wilson accepted this explanation and withdrew his objections as being more theoretical than practical.
M. Clemenceau said that he understood a large number of railway sidings existed along the Franco-German frontier. He enquired [Page 364]from Marshal Foch whether he placed any importance on their existence.
Marshal Foch replied in the negative.
(Article 20 was accepted without amendment.)
(b) Section II. Naval Clauses. Article 21 (Article 21 was read and accepted.)
Article 22 (Article 22 was read and accepted.)
Article 23 (Article 23 was read and accepted.)
Article 24 M. Leygues suggested that the last sentence of Article 24, which stated that “all these vessels will be destroyed or broken up” should be omitted, as the question was purely one which affected the Allied and Associated Governments, and a decision would be reached among themselves.
(This was agreed to.)
Mr. Lansing pointed out that in the Military Clauses the expression “Allied and Associated Governments” had been employed, whereas in the Naval Clauses the expression “Governments of the Allies and the United States of America” had been used. He assumed that would be put right when the text came to be edited.
Mr. Balfour thought it was important to decide which of these expressions should be employed. The expression “Governments of the Allies and the United States of America” had been deliberately used in the Article in question in order that no other Associated Government should participate in the possible distribution of the ships to be surrendered.
Baron Sonnino pointed out that the word “Government” appeared in the singular in connection with the word “Associated” in the French text.
President Wilson said that he preferred that the present text be retained.
(Article 24 was approved, the last sentence being deleted, namely: “All these vessels will be destroyed or broken up.”)
Article 25 (Article 25 was reserved for further consideration.)
Article 26 (Article 26 was read and accepted.)
Article 27 (Article 27 was read and accepted.)
Article 28 (Article 28 was read and accepted.)
Article 29 (Article 29 was read and accepted.)
Article 30 (Article 30 was read and accepted.)
Article 31 President Wilson enquired what the term “in Germany” was intended to mean. Did it mean that the construction and acquisition of any submarines would be forbidden both to the German Government and to private individuals?
Marshal Foch replied in the affirmative.
(Article 31 was accepted.)[Page 365]
Article 32 President Wilson suggested that the last words of the last paragraph, namely: “in German territory” should be omitted.
(This was agreed to.)
(Article 32 was accepted, with the omission of the last three words: “in German territory.”)
Article 33 Baron Sonnino pointed out that in the last paragraph of Article 33 the French word “Ultérieurement” had been translated as “ultimately”. He suggested that a better translation would be “subsequently.”
(This was agreed to.)
(Article 33 was accepted, the word “ultimately” in the last paragraph being altered to “subsequently”.)
Article 34 President Wilson suggested that the words “on account of ill-health” should be omitted in paras. (1) and para. (3) of Article 34. The concluding sentence of para. (3) being made to read:—” … must engage to serve to the age of 45, unless discharged for sufficient reasons.”
(This was agreed to.)
(Article 34 as amended was accepted.)
Article 35 President Wilson said he was entirely in sympathy with the destruction of the fortifications on the Islands of Heligoland and Dune, but he thought the destruction of breakwaters was rather a serious matter from a humane point of view, as those formed havens for fishermen in case of storms in the North Sea. If the destruction of the fortifications could be assured, he could see no real justification for destroying harbours. No doubt the works had been undertaken for military reasons, but they were there now, and were extremely useful as fishing harbours.
Mr. Lloyd George pointed out that the fishing harbours were quite different and separate from the Naval harbours. No fishing boats had ever been allowed into the Naval harbours.
Mr. Balfour thought that the Clause was not well expressed. What was meant was that only certain harbours, that is to say, that only purely Naval harbours, should be destroyed. But that was not clearly stated in the Article in question, as the use of the word “included” gave the sentence too wide an interpretation.
Admiral de Bon said that in Heligoland two kinds of harbours existed, harbours for fishermen and harbours constructed as Naval Bases. After Germany had obtained possession of these islands she had built ports purely as Naval bases, and the latter were alone intended for destruction in the Article in question. That destruction was absolutely necessary in order to prevent Heligoland again becoming useful as a base for military operations.[Page 366]
President Wilson pointed out that Germany’s Naval Establishment had under the Naval Convention been reduced to a minimum. The Naval Service had also been reduced to a minimum; and in addition the fortifications were all to be destroyed. Consequently, his contention was that the artificial harbours were useful places of refuge. It would be noticed that the destruction of these harbours was to be carried out “under the supervision of the Allied Governments,” since the United States of America did not wish to take part in a destruction which was not considered to be necessary from a purely military point of view.
Mr. Lloyd George said that after President Wilson’s statement he would rather like to look further into the question, and he suggested that this Article be reserved for future consideration.
(It was agreed that Article 35 should be reserved for future consideration.)
Article 36 (Article 36 was read and accepted.)
Article 37 President Wilson pointed out that the second paragraph of Article 37 made it incumbent on Germany to notify to the Governments of the Allies and the United States of America the strength of the armaments of the coast defenses. In his opinion, that was a question in which all European countries were particularly interested. He proposed, therefore, that the second sentence of Paragraph 2 should read:—“The German Government shall communicate forthwith particulars thereof to all European Governments.”
Mr. Balfour enquired whether it would not be preferable to say straight away that the League of Nations should be informed.
President Wilson replied that the League of Nations should be regarded as something more than an alliance to enforce this Peace Treaty. In his opinion the United States of America could be omitted from this clause, since it was not more entitled to have the information therein set forth than Japan or any other Asiatic Government.
Mr. Balfour thought that Article 37 should be compared with Article 9 in which it was clearly stated that the number and calibre of the guns constituting the armament of fortified works, etc., would have to be notified by the German Government to the Allied and Associated Governments. He thought the two articles should be placed in the same framework and, consequently, America should not be left out of Article 37.
President Wilson admitted the force of Mr. Balfour’s contention. On the other hand, Article 37 dealt with local fortifications which could not be transported to the United States of America or elsewhere.
Baron Sonnino enquired whether the Allied and Associated Governments [Page 367]could not be made responsible for giving the necessary information to other Governments.
President Wilson replied that that would place Germany under the perpetual obligation of notifying a particular group of States as to her doings; a condition, which he considered exceedingly humiliating to her.
(Article 37 was approved; the last sentence of Paragraph 2 being made to read:—“The German Government shall communicate forthwith particulars thereof to all the European Governments.”)
M. Leygues said that the Sub-Commission appointed by the Supreme War Council at the meeting held on March 6th, 1919, to report on the future regime of the Kiel Canal1 had unanimously agreed that the following clause should be inserted in the preliminary Treaty of Peace, on the assumption that the canal should remain entirely within German territory and without prejudice to any guarantees of a military nature which might be stipulated:—
“The Kiel Canal shall remain under the sovereignty of Germany with the reservation that the rules, which shall ultimately be formulated in regard to the international regime of navigable waterways shall be applied to this Canal and its approaches, in particular those rules which concern freedom of navigation for the subjects, goods, and flags of all nations at peace with Germany in such manner that no distinction shall be made between the subjects, goods, and flags of Germany, and of all other States at peace with her. This provision shall apply not only to merchant ships, but also to ships of war.”
M. Leygues continuing, said that two questions arose in connection with the text submitted by the Sub-Commission. In the first place, the proposal had been made that the Canal should be placed under the sovereignty of Germany. In the past that arrangement had permitted the hegemony of Germany, and enabled it to make the Baltic a German lake, both economically and militarily. He did not think the Allies were going to allow Germany to reconstitute that power; but the use of the word “sovereignty” meant the grant of full power to Germany to do what she liked. Should the Allied and Associated Governments wish to assure a normal existence to the new Baltic nationalities, such as Finland, Poland, Esthonia, Lithuania, free access to the sea must be assured. Now, the Baltic was not a free sea since all channels had been mined by Germany with the exception of the Kiel Canal, which was reserved for her own use. The Belt was not practicable, on account of the dangers to navigation, and there remained only the Sound which was too shallow, being less than 7 metres deep, for the passage of large ships. Therefore, the Kiel Canal could not in justice be placed under the sovereignty of Germany; [Page 368]it must be subjected to a regime, which would allow its free use to all countries for the passage both of commercial and military ships. The Canal was accessible to the larger ships: it had a surface width of 100 metres, a bottom width of 31 metres, and a depth of 11 metres. Therefore, unless the Kiel Canal were opened, the Baltic countries would only be able to keep ships below a certain size owing to the shallowness of the only other available channel, the sound. In his opinion, therefore, two things were necessary, namely: firstly, German sovereignty over the Kiel Canal must not be proclaimed and, secondly, the regime to be enforced should allow free access to the Baltic through the Kiel Canal to the ships of all countries, and especially to the ships of those Baltic countries whose independence and autonomy it has been decided to recognise so that their means of existence might be ensured to them.
President Wilson said that he was quite prepared to discuss any proposal that would make the Kiel Canal a free International waterway. But the draft text under consideration merely stated that the rules, which might ultimately be formulated in regard to the International régime of waterways should be applied to this Canal. In his opinion, that statement was extremely vague as the unknown rules formed the essence of the system to be applied. Had it been proposed to give to the Kiel Canal the same status as the Suez or Panama Canal, that would constitute a definite proposal. But the clause as now drafted merely prescribed the application of an unnamed and undefined system. He inquired, therefore, whether it would not be sufficient to say that the régime to be applied to the Kiel Canal should be the same as that applied to the Suez Canal.
M. Leygues said that the Admirals who had first considered the question, had proposed the following text:—“The Kiel Canal shall be opened at all times to all commercial and war ships of all nations. No nation will be given favoured treatment and no class ships shall be excluded.” He suggested that the Conference should accept that text.
Mr. Lloyd George enquired when the Report of the Commission on International Ports, Waterways and Railways could be expected. He did not think that Germany should be treated in any different way to other countries in connection with the public waterways passing through her territory. He invited attention to the International régime applied, for instance, to the Danube.
President Wilson thought that a distinction should be drawn between the Kiel Canal and other International waterways, in that the Kiel Canal was an artificial waterway running altogether through Germany, and created by her; whereas great rivers, like the Danube, constituted the boundaries of nations, or passed through one national territory and continued in another.[Page 369]
Mr. Balfour pointed out that the Conference was now discussing how to limit Germany’s military and naval power. The use of the Kiel Canal in time of war gave Germany an enormous advantage, and it was in the public interest that the Kiel Canal should not be used for purely military purposes. From a commercial point of view, he was told, the Kiel Canal was not of much importance; consequently, unless the fortifications in connection with the Canal could be destroyed, it was of little use to take any other action. He proposed that the whole question should be referred to the Inter-Allied Commission on International Ports, Waterways and Railways.
President Wilson agreed that the question should be left to the Commission on International Ports, Waterways and Railways because it constituted, in reality, a purely commercial question and, he thought, the same general policy ought to apply to the Kiel Canal as to other International waterways.
Mr. Lloyd George expressed the view that the Sub-Commission which had considered the question of the Kiel Canal had accepted that principle. On the other hand, it would be difficult to avoid the Kiel Canal remaining under the sovereignty of Germany.
Mr. Balfour thought that measures should nevertheless be taken to prevent its being fortified.
Admiral de Bon said, in reference to Mr. Balfour’s statement in regard to the employment of the Kiel Canal for military purposes, that the destruction of all fortifications had been prescribed. The French representatives had, in fact, drawn up the following text for inclusion in Article 38:—
“In view of ensuring free passage through the Kiel Canal, from the North Sea into the Baltic, Germany will neither erect any fortification nor instal any gun, in the islands or on its territory, within 30 miles from the Elbe Mouth and the Kiel Canal.
The fortifications now in existence will be demolished and the guns removed, within three months.
The same will apply to the torpedo-tube batteries, the mine-stores, and obstruction material sheds.”
This text had, however, not yet been accepted by the Allied Naval experts.
Mr. Lloyd George proposed that the further consideration of Article 38 should be postponed until the Report of the Inter-Allied Commission on International Ports, Waterways and Railways had been received. He understood their Report might shortly be expected.
Baron Sonnino said that if he were correctly informed, the work of the Commission on International Ports, Waterways and Railways was being held up pending a decision being reached on certain territorial questions. Consequently, this particular question should be [Page 370]referred to that Commission as a special thing, requiring immediate decision. Otherwise the Conference by referring questions from one Commission to another would be entering into a vicious circle.
President Wilson drew attention to the fact that in a previous Article provisions had been made for the disarmament of the coasts of Germany, which would obviously include the armaments in the neighbourhood of the Kiel Canal. Therefore, there would be no great objection in omitting Article 38 altogether. The Convention was, in his opinion, quite complete without that Article, which could, eventually, find a place in some other document.
M. Clemenceau agreed on the clear understanding that the Article should form part of the Preliminaries of Peace.
(It was agreed to reserve Article 38 for further consideration.)
Article 39 (Article 39 was read and agreed.)
Article 40 M. Clemenceau said that a Report relating to submarine cables had been submitted by the Judicial Commission to which the question had been referred, but it had not yet been circulated.
President Wilson submitted that the question was not a military or a naval one at all, except in a very restricted measure.
M. Leygues suggested that the consideration of this question should be adjourned to a later date as the Report of the Commission relating thereto had not yet been distributed.
(Article 40 was reserved for further consideration.)
Section 3. Air Clauses. Article 41 (Article 41 was read and approved.)
Article 42 (Article 42 was approved. The English text being altered to read:—“within two months from the signature of the present stipulation …”)
Article 43 (Article 43 was read and approved.)
(The following text of Article 44 was approved:—
Article 44 “Until the complete evacuation of German territory by the Allied and Associated troops, the aircraft of the Allied and Associated Powers shall enjoy in Germany freedom of passage through the air, freedom of transit and of landing”.)
Article 45 General Duval pointed out that in drafting Article 45 the British, Italian, Japanese, and French Representatives had asked for the addition of the following words at the end of Article 45, viz:—
“And after the signature of the Treaty of Peace during a period to be fixed by the Treaty of Peace”
This proposal had been opposed by the American representative.
President Wilson said that he could not accept any such additional condition. He thought the Article should stand as at present drafted.
General Duval explained that the Commission had asked for the addition of the words in question for the reason fully set forth in the following report of the Aeronautical Commission on the questions referred by the Supreme War Council of the Peace Conference:—
“It was thereupon ruled that the questions to be answered were four in number, viz:—
- 1st Question. Can civil aeroplanes and airships be easily transformed into weapons of war?
- 2nd Question. Should all aviation and all aeronautical fabrication continue to be forbidden, in Germany and all other enemy States, until the signature of the Treaty of Peace?
- 3rd Question. After the Treaty of Peace and in view of the easy transformation of commercial aircraft into weapons of war, will it be necessary to prohibit civilian aviation in Germany and all other enemy States?
- 4th Question. Arising out of the preceding questions is it necessary to suggest alterations in the Regulations concerning the Air Terms imposed on Germany until signature of the Treaty of Peace?
I. In answer to Question 1 the Commission unanimously replied:—
Yes Commercial aeroplanes and airships can be very easily and quickly transformed into weapons of war.
II. In answer to Question 2, the Commission unanimously replied:—
Yes (question quoted).
III. In reply to Question 3 (quoted), Great Britain replied as follows:
Yes, for a period long enough to dissipate the very extensive air industry now existing in Germany and all States which became our enemies by reason of the war. This period should not, in its opinion, be less than from two to five years.
France replied as follows:—
Yes, for 20 or 30 years, a period required for the destruction of all existing flying material and dispersion of personnel, for it is impossible to foresee the progress of flying in the immediate future. Even now:—
1 aeroplane can carry 1 ton of explosives a distance of 300 kilometres.
1000 aeroplanes can carry 1000 tons of explosives a distance of 300 kilometres (or more than has been dropped during a whole [Page 372]year of war). In order to have 1000 aeroplanes ready for use at any time, it is sufficient for the factories to turn them out at the rate of 100 a month.
Italy replied as follows:—
Yes, for a long period, since Germany and all enemy States deserve to be penalised and the Allies are entitled to take precautions.
Yes, (agreeing with the majority).
The United States replied:—
No, considering all such restrictions of the entire flying activity of Germany and her Allies after the signature of the Treaty of Peace to be neither wise nor practicable.
IV. In accordance with the answers given to the above questions, and after extensive study of the Regulations relating to the Air Terms imposed on Germany until the signature of the Treaty of Peace, the Commission recommended that the following amendments be made to such Regulations, viz:—
1. That Article 45 be completed as follows:— “And after signature of the Treaty of Peace during a period to be fixed by the Treaty of Peace.”
This was carried by a majority of votes.
The United States reserve their opinion as regards this addition.
2. That the whole of Article 50 be omitted.
This was carried unanimously.”
President Wilson said that the Military Units of aircraft had already been regulated by other Articles. The addition proposed was an excursion into other realms. Railroad trains could be used to carry guns, should the manufacture of trains therefore be limited? Some types of ships could be readily converted for military use, should the construction of ships be limited on this account? The amount of military equipment authorized has already been limited, and personally he was not willing to go any further in that direction.
(Article 45 was accepted without amendment).
Article 46 President Wilson asked the Commission that formulated Article 46 to say whether all the materials specified constituted military material or not.
General Duval replied in the affirmative.
President Wilson enquired whether plant[s] for the manufacture of hydrogen necessarily constituted military material?[Page 373]
General Duval replied that the proviso in question related only to hydrogen plant[s] in military Aviation Parks.
President Wilson thought that had not been specifically stated.
General Duval pointed out that the commencement of Article 46 clearly stated that “on the signature of the present stipulations, all military and naval aeronautical material, … must be delivered to the Allied and Associated Governments”.
President Wilson said that if the first paragraph were strictly interpreted and applied it would be sufficient. He was perfectly satisfied with all military material, but he did not think that it was clear that only this was intended. He had another observation to make, namely, that it was not definitely stated whether this material should be destroyed or turned over. If turned over, it must either be stored or divided. In case the latter method were adopted, would it be put to the credit of Germany on the balance sheet or not? He thought many complicated questions might arise from this paragraph.
General Duval stated that there had not been full unanimity as to what disposition should be made of the materials surrendered; but in any case it was not considered that this disposition should be specified in the terms agreed to with the Germans. There was entire unanimity about this, and about the fact that the material should be surrendered.
Mr. Balfour said that the question under consideration formed a parallel case with that relating to the surrender of ships, and the disposition of the aircraft should be decided on the same principles. He was informed by his experts that all aircraft and aircraft appliances and sheds, now in Germany, were military, as Germany had no commercial aircraft as yet.
M. Sonnino proposed that the third paragraph should be made to read as follows:—
“In particular, there will be included the following military and naval material”.
President Wilson, subsequently, proposed that the following phraseology should be accepted for the third paragraph of Article 46:—
“In particular, the material to be handed over will include all items under the following heads which are or have been in use or designed for military or naval aeronautical purposes”.
(This was agreed to.)
(Article 46 was adopted, paragraph 3 being altered to read:—
“In particular, the material to be handed over will include all items under the following heads which are or have been in use or designed for military or naval aeronautical purposes”.)
(d) Section IV. General Articles. Article 47 President Wilson expressed his willingness to accept Article 47, but the German Government was in an unstable equilibrium, and supposing it were upset within three months, then the Allied and Associated Governments would presumably have to set up a new Government in Germany.
M. Clemenceau thought that the same remark would apply to all the Articles of the Convention.
M. Fromageot asked for a ruling as to the character of the document that the Conference wished to present to the Germans. If the Convention under discussion were to be considered merely as a set of military clauses for immediate execution by the Germans, and not as a Treaty of Peace, it was to be feared that when the Treaty of Peace was presented to Germany, she would argue that the clauses previously accepted had not been Peace conditions, and consequently were open to fresh discussions. On the other hand, if the Articles under consideration were to be considered as final Peace conditions, then it would be necessary for them to be ratified by the legislators of the various countries, parties to the agreement, and in that case he would suggest that Article 47 be made to read:—
“After the expiration of a period of three months from the date of exchange of ratifications of present stipulations for German laws, etc.”
President Wilson remarked that the same question arose in regard to Article 48, and asked that that Article be read before the whole question came under discussion.
Article 48 (Article 48 was then read.)
President Wilson, continuing, said that the paragraph as it now read indicated that these terms would be part of the Armistice. But if they were to constitute the Preliminary Treaty of Peace, the wording was not correct. In this matter he found himself in considerable difficulty, and he would be compelled to seek legal advice. He had assumed that this preliminary Convention would only be temporary until the complete Treaty was prepared, and that it would have the character of a sort of exalted armistice, the terms being re-included in the formal Treaty. If this Preliminary Convention should have to be submitted to the Senate for a general discussion there, he knew from the usual slow processes of legislatures that it would be several months before it could be ratified.
Mr. Balfour expressed the view that the statements made by President Wilson were most important and serious. As he understood the situation, the policy accepted was that a Preliminary Peace should be made, each clause of which should be a part of the [Page 375]final Act, so that by the settlement of the Preliminary Peace a great part of the final permanent Peace would actually have been conquered. It now appeared, however, that the American Constitution made that full programme impracticable.
President Wilson said he did not feel quite sure of his ground, and he proposed that the question be postponed until he could consult with the Constitutional lawyers, in whose opinion he had more confidence than in his own. For the present, it appeared to him that they would have to use the alternative phraseology proposed by M. Fromageot, namely:—“After the expiration of a period of three months from the date of exchange of ratifications of present stipulations for German laws, etc.”
(Articles 47 and 48 were reserved for further consideration.)
Mr. Balfour drew attention to the footnote of Article 49, and expressed the view that the note was not really relevant, as no express time limit had been fixed.
(e) Section V. Inter-Allied Commissions of Control. Article 49 President Wilson said that while it was not specifically stated that any of the Commissions provided should have an indefinite duration, he thought it would be advisable to add a statement including the explanation made by Marshal Foch that these Commissions would not continue more than three months.
Marshal Foch stated that it appeared to him unnecessary to undertake such a contract with the Germans. They could agree to this among themselves.
Mr. Balfour called attention to the fact that some of the operations might take more than three months, such as the destruction of the naval works at Heligoland harbour. It appeared to him that provision would have to be made for supervision during an indefinite, not an eternal, period.
M. Clemenceau thought that some definite conclusion should be reached.
Mr. Balfour enquired whether it would not be necessary to continue to exercise supervision over the German Army and its armaments in order to ensure their maintenance in the status stipulated.
President Wilson held that supervision of that nature would become endless. He thought that the Allies should agree among themselves that these Commissions would cease to function when the terms had once been carried out; for example, as soon as the army had been actually reduced to 100,000 men.
Marshal Foch maintained that Articles 49 and 50 mutually explained one another.
Mr. Balfour thought that Article 49 included in general all the terms, and was not specifically limited by Article 50.[Page 376]
M. Orlando thought that a very important point had been raised and it was necessary that a distinction should be made. First of all, there were clauses the execution of which could be completed within a definite period, and it had been unanimously agreed that the Commissions of Control over the execution of these clauses would last during the time necessary for their execution. But there were also clauses the execution of which would extend over an indefinite period, and the most important of these seemed to be that Germany should not have an army exceeding 100,000 men. It was necessary, then, to know what control the Allies would establish to supervise the carrying out of these clauses operating during an indefinite period. Marshal Foch had said that the control of the Commissions would not be applied to the clauses having an indefinite period of execution. Article 49 should, therefore, be modified to conform with this interpretation and to make the distinction between the two kinds of stipulations clear. It remained, then, to determine what guarantee the Allies would have for the execution of the other stipulations. Commissions could not be charged with this duty, as Germany would, as a result, always remain under the control of such Commissions. He personally would not object to such a proposal, but he did not think it would be accepted. What guarantee would there then be? The League of Nations might be considered. One of the Allied Powers alone could not be charged with this duty since Germany had taken engagements towards all the Allies conjointly. Some Inter-Allied agency would, therefore, have to be constituted. He feared he might be accused of raising difficulties, but it seemed to him that these were questions which must be considered.
M. Clemenceau agreed that the question raised by M. Orlando was a very important one, but he thought that they were digressing from the question under consideration.
President Wilson suggested that “All Military, Naval and Air Clauses” should be substituted for “The Military, Naval and Air Clauses”.
(This was agreed to.)
(Article 49 as amended was approved, to read as follows:—
“All Military, Naval and Air Clauses contained in the present stipulations for which a time limit is fixed, shall be executed by Germany under the control of Inter-Allied Commissions specially appointed for this purpose by the Allied and Associated Governments.”)
Article 50 (Article 50 was read and approved.)
Article 51 (Article 51 was read and approved.)
Article 52 (Article 52 was read and approved.)
Article 53 (Article 53 was read and approved.)[Page 377]
Articles 54, 55 and 56 President Wilson said that these Articles, as at present drafted, contemplated the continuation of the Inter-Allied High Command during a period of three or four months after the signing of the Peace Preliminaries. He wished to enquire why the High Command should be continued when Commissions had been created whose function it would be to supervise the complete execution of the stipulations of the Treaty. He proposed, therefore, that the Military Inter-Allied Commissions of Control should represent the Allied and Associated Governments. The same remark applied to Article 55, where the words: “Allied and Associated Governments”, should be substituted for “Admiralties of the Allied Governments and the United States”.
(It was agreed:—
- That Article 54 should read: “The Military Inter-Allied Commission of Control will represent the Allied and Associated Governments in dealing with …”
- That Article 55 should read: “The Naval Inter-Allied Commission of Control will represent the Allied Governments and the United States in dealing with …”
- That Article 56 should read: “The Aerial Inter-Allied Commission of Control will represent the Allied and Associated Governments in dealing with …”)
(The Military, Naval and Aerial Terms of Peace were accepted, subject to the following amendments and reservations:—
Article 3. Paragraph 2 to read:—“The number and strengths of the units of infantry … constitute maxima which must not be exceeded”.
Article 6. The following amended text was accepted, subject to such modifications as might be required when the territorial question relating to the future constitution of German territories on the Western bank of the Rhine came to be settled:—“The number of employés or officials of the German States, such as Customs House Officers, Forest Guards, Coastguards, must not exceed that of the employés or officials functioning in 1913.
The number of gendarmes and employés or officials of the local or municipal police, may only be increased to an extent corresponding to the increase of population since 1913 in the districts or municipalities in which they are employed. These employés and officials shall not be assembled for military training.”
Article 9. The word “not” to be substituted for “never” in the last line of the first paragraph.
Article 10. The second sentence to be omitted:—“All orders shall be notified to the Allied and Associated Governments and may not be carried out until after such notification”.
Article 11. The last sentence of the first paragraph to read as follows:—“This will also apply to any special plant intended for the [Page 378]manufacture of military material, except such as may be recognised as necessary for the manufacture which is authorised”.
Article 12. The words “shall be” to be substituted for “is” in the first paragraph.
Article 13. Paragraph 2 to read:—“The same applies to materials specially intended for the manufacture, storage and use of the said products or devices”.
Article 15. The following amended text was accepted:—“The period of enlistment for non-commissioned officers and privates must be 12 consecutive years. The proportion of men discharged for any reason before expiration of the period of their enlistment must not exceed in any year 5 per cent of the total effectives fixed by the second paragraph of Article 2 of the present stipulations”.
Article 16. The fourth paragraph to be omitted. The fifth paragraph to be amended to read:—“The proportion of officers discharged for any reason must not exceed in any year 5 per cent of the total effectives of officers provided by Article 2, third paragraph, of the present stipulations”.
Article 24. The last sentence of Article, viz: “All these vessels will be destroyed or broken up” to be deleted.
Article 25. Reserved for further consideration.
Article 32. The last three words, viz: “in German territory” to be deleted.
Article 33. The word “subsequently” to be substituted for “ultimately” in the last paragraph.
Article 34. The words “on account of ill-health” in paragraphs 1 and 3 to be deleted, paragraph 3 being amended to read:—“Officers belonging at the date of the signature of the present stipulations to the German Navy and not demobilised must engage to serve to the age of 45, unless discharged for sufficient reasons”.
Article 35. Reserved for further consideration.
Article 37. The last sentence of paragraph 2 to read:—“The German Government shall communicate forthwith particulars thereof to all the European Governments”.
Article 38. Reserved for further consideration.
Article 40. Reserved for further consideration.
Article 42. This Article to commence:—“Within two months …”
Article 44. The following text was accepted:—“Until the complete evacuation of German territory by the Allied and Associated troops, the aircraft of the Allied and Associated Powers shall enjoy in Germany the freedom of passage through the air, freedom of transit and of landing”.
Article 46. The third paragraph was amended to read as follows:—“In particular, the material to be handed over will include all items under the following heads which are or have been in use or designed for military or naval aeronautical purposes”.
Article 47. Reserved for further consideration.
Article 48. Reserved for further consideration.[Page 379]
Article 49. Article 49 to be amended to read as follows:—“All Military, Naval and Air Clauses contained in the present stipulations for which a time limit is fixed, shall be executed by Germany under the control of Inter-Allied Commissions specially appointed for this purpose by the Allied and Associated Governments”.
Article 54. This article to read:—“The Military Inter-Allied Commission of Control will represent the Allied and Associated Governments in dealing with …”
Article 55. This Article to read:—“The Naval Inter-Allied Commission of Control will represent the Allied Governments and the United States in dealing with …”
Article 56. This Article to read:—“The Aerial Inter-Allied Commission of Control will represent the Allied and Associated Governments in dealing with …”
2. Marshal Foch asked permission to draw the attention of the Conference to the situation in Poland. On the 2nd of January last the Allied and Associated Governments had decided to send to Poland a Mission to report on the situation and on the needs of that country. Mr. Noulens, in despatches dated the 5th, 8th, 11th and 12th March had, in the name of the Mission, drawn attention to the actual situation existing in Poland. The gravity of the situation was such that the very existence of this nation, which the Allied and Associated Governments had decided to recognise, to reconstitute and to assist, was in question. The most imminent danger related to the town of Lemberg which was infested by the Ukrainians, and whose fall would entail that of the Polish Government. Such an eventuality threatened to draw into anarchy a country menaced on three sides by the Germans, Bolsheviks and by the Ukrainians. It was, therefore, absolutely necessary to take immediate action, and the Allied and Associated Governments could no longer delay in arriving at a decision in order to ward off the grave peril which threatened Poland. Assistance must at once be sent to Lemberg. The possible measures included the transport to Lemberg of a part of the Polish troops at Odessa if the situation in that region made this possible; and the transport to Lemberg of one Polish regiment from France. The transport of these troops would be carried out over the Roumanian, Italian and Austrian railways and for this purpose an understanding would have to be reached by the Allied General Staffs. The force thus made available would, however, [be] largely strengthened by the support of the Roumanian Army, for which purpose a force of ten to twelve divisions at least could be obtained of good physique and good moral[e]. The Roumanian Government had, in principle, agreed to participate in the prepared operations on the condition that the Allied and Associated Governments would furnish the material which was lacking, namely: clothing, equipment and food. The assistance of the Roumanian Army should be accepted without [Page 380]delay and without hesitation on account of its great value and on account of the proximity of Roumania to the theatre of operations. It was of the utmost importance that Roumania should be given, without delay, the assistance, required, but in order to bring together the necessary resources concerted action between the Allied General Staffs was again necessary. Inter-Allied Intervention in Poland: (a) Marshal Foch’s Scheme for Allied Intervention in Poland
To sum up, the two countries, Poland and Roumania, with whom the Allies were tied, offered sufficient forces for the purpose required, provided that these troops received guidance and material assistance. Their combined action would constitute a most solid barrier against Bolshevism, which would otherwise triumph. The object in view would be realised as soon as the Allied Governments decided on a resolute policy, affirming their resolve to stop the progress of Bolshevism, and constituting for the purpose an Allied High Command, charged with the duty of supplying to Poland and to Roumania (and eventually to the other Governments in a position to act, such as Finland etc.,) the necessary material aid, and with the duty of co-ordinating the action of these various Governments.
Mr. Lloyd George hoped the Conference would not accede to the proposals contained in the statement read by Marshal Foch as, he thought, it would merely mean giving support to the perpetration of a great mischief. The proposal at bottom merely meant the setting up of a great army for the eventual invasion of Russia. It would be agreed that Roumania had nothing whatever to do with Lemberg, but it was hoped that, once the Roumanian troops had been brought to that place, they would be available for operations against Russia. He was entirely opposed to any such operations which could only be carried out at the expense of the Allies. Even supposing the policy was correct, who was going to pay? Roumania could not finance their own justifiable military operations. The Poles were starving and unable to defend Lemberg against an untrained mob of Ukrainian rebels, unless they were organised, furnished with supplies, and paid by the Allies. He, therefore, personally would have nothing to do with the proposal which merely, being interpreted, meant that in the first place the Roumanians and the Poles would be assembled in Galicia and under the guise of relieving Lemberg, Russia would be invaded. Furthermore, the proposal suggested the transfer of troops from Odessa. Did the Conference fully realise what was happening in that region? It had been said that the Ukrainians possessed a powerful army, that they did not want the Bolsheviks, that they would be able in effect to roll the Bolsheviks back to Moscow. As a matter of fact, it appeared that the Allied troops, as well as the anti-Bolshevik Ukrainian troops, had actually been driven back to a narrow fringe in the south of the country. Kerson had been lost and the Bolsheviks were pressing on towards Odessa; [Page 381]the whole of that grain district had, in fact, fallen into the hands of the Bolsheviks. In the face of that situation, it was now proposed to take all the forces from Odessa in order to take part in some quarrel at Lemberg. In his opinion, these proposals merely meant giving help to the Bolsheviks, since Petlura was fighting against the Bolsheviks and now it was proposed to destroy him.
In regard to the question of Lemberg, he would enquire whether any decision had been reached that the town should belong to Poland. In his opinion no decision had been reached by the Committee appointed to enquire into the frontiers of Poland. Why, therefore, should the Conference decide the question in favour of the Poles and against the Ukrainians before the question had been properly examined? Had the Poles felt very strongly on this question he thought they would have been able to defend themselves.
To sum up, he was entirely in favour of using all sources of persuasion in order to bring about the temporary settlement of the dispute between the Poles and the Ukrainians in the same way as had been done in the case of Teschen. But he was absolutely opposed to the idea of organizing armies, to the idea of sending Roumanians at the Allies’ expense to Lemberg, and to the idea of sending Haller’s Army, which was required to defend Poland, to Lemberg to fight questions of this kind. Consequently, he suggested that the proposal made by Marshal Foch should be negatived in so far as it related to military operations, and that persuasion should, in the meantime, be used pending a decision on the question of the frontiers of Poland. Apparently the Poles had a quarrel with the Ukrainians and an attempt was being made by them to grasp territory from the Ruthenians. No doubt the Polish troops would march against Lemberg, provided they were fed and paid by the Allies, but he personally would never agree to such a proposal.
Marshal Foch asked that the discussion should be brought back to the particular question under consideration. Today was the 17th March, a month in which the enemy generally prepared his offensive, a fact which was evidenced by the experience of previous years. Therefore, if the Conference would that day merely consider the Allied situation, and not that of the enemy which was unknown, the following conclusions would be reached.
In accordance with M. Noulens’ report, it would be admitted that the situation in Poland was very grave. Lemberg was about to fall, and if Lemberg fell the Polish Government would fall with it. That is to say, the Government would be wrecked at its birth, and the country, which it had been intended to re-constitute, would be threatened, by Germans, Bolsheviks and Ukrainians with the result that the creation of the Allies might only live a few days. To prevent the occurrence of this catastrophe, the Commission sent to [Page 382]Poland by the Allied and Associated Governments had proposed that the Polish troops at Odessa and in France should be sent to Lemberg without delay. And, as Allied Commander-in-Chief, he had put forward proposals to give effect to the demands made by the Commission. He had accordingly proposed that arrangements should forthwith be made by the Allied General Staffs for the transportation of the above Polish troops across various territories, in order to assist in the defence of Lemberg, which would otherwise fall. The Commission had also reported that assistance could be given by Roumanian troops, who were only too anxious to give the help required, provided an understanding were reached between the Roumanian and Polish Governments. He (Marshal Foch) still took, as the basis of his proposals, the suggestions made by the Inter-Allied Commission which had been sent to Poland; and, in order to give effect to the recommendations of the Commission, he had merely formulated a scheme having as its object the continuation of the policy hitherto followed, namely: the creation of an independent Poland, and its support when threatened. The Roumanian Government, which was fighting on the Allied side, had agreed to send troops to Lemberg on condition of its receiving some assistance. The scheme he had proposed was a very moderate and restricted one; it was based on the recommendations made by the Polish Commission and it would work out successfully with the employment of only small military means, without great expense, and without undertaking any imprudent engagements. By the application of his scheme, a nucleus of resistance against the Bolsheviks would be created, and time would be gained for a further study of the situation. At the present moment, it was undeniable that the Bolsheviks were gaining ground everywhere in South Russia, and they were preparing a big attack on the Lower Dniester. Consequently, measures should forthwith be taken to put up a resistance to prevent the wings of the anti-Bolshevik armies being rolled up and the centre being pierced. It was with that object in view that he had proposed to constitute here an Inter-Allied staff to deal with this question with a view to the utilisation of all available means.
M. Pichon drew attention to the fact that the Polish Commission, which had dealt with this particular question, had put forward certain definite proposals, which would appear to agree with what Mr. Lloyd George had said, Paragraph 3 of the Commission’s proposal, dated 14th March, 1919, read as follows:—
“3. Lastly, with the object of making a simultaneous diplomatic attempt to save Lemberg, it submits to the Supreme Council the proposal to enjoin the Ukrainian Government, through the intermediary of the Warsaw Commission to accept an armistice.
If this attempt is to have any chance of success, the armistice conditions [Page 383]should, generally speaking, take the present situation into account, and more particularly in regard to the present possession of the oilfields.”
In his opinion, in the manner above suggested, a solution might best be obtained. He thought if the Ukrainians were given the oilfields, they would be likely to accept an armistice. That was the proposal which had been put forward by General Barthélémy, and General Carton de Wiart, and had been accepted by all the experts, except Marshal Foch.
M. Cambon said that he was President of the Committee for Polish Affairs. Having heard General Barthélémy and General Carton de Wiart and Lieutenant Foster, his Committee had decided to adopt the recommendation just read by M. Pichon, which included the idea of an armistice. The Commission in Poland had recently visited General Petlura and had been somewhat badly received. In consequence the conclusion had been reached that the proposal for an armistice by itself would not in all probability satisfy the Ukrainians, unless some advantages were at the same time granted to them, such as the temporary cession of the oilfields. In addition, in order to make the acceptance of an armistice more certain, it would be necessary for Poland to be able to put forward some show of force. For that reason, in his opinion, the necessary help should be given to Poland by the immediate return of the Polish troops now in France.
M. Clemenceau enquired by what route the troops would be sent from France to Poland. He thought there would be some difficulty in sending them via Dantzig.
(c) [sic] Supply of Ships for Transport of Gen. Haller’s Troops to Poland Mr. Lloyd George pointed out that the difficulty was one of shipping. No ships were available unless each of the Allies agreed to make a contribution, as it was a question of withdrawing ships which would otherwise be employed for the transportation of Australian or American troops from France.
President Wilson enquired as to the advisability of communicating with the Allied Maritime Transport Council with a view to hastening the matter.
Mr. Lloyd George pointed out that the shipping question was one which would have to be settled by the Governments concerned as matters of policy were involved, which the Allied Maritime Council could not settle. There was no spare shipping and consequently the ships required for Polish troops could only be obtained by the temporary withdrawal of ships at present employed for the transport of Allied and American homeward bound troops.
President Wilson enquired whether the Allied Maritime Council could not be asked to submit a memorandum showing what each [Page 384]country was required to do, that is to say, to submit a scheme giving a definite quota of contribution.
(This was agreed to.)
M. Clemenceau summing up, said that the proposal made by the Committee for Polish Affairs which read as follows should at present be accepted:—
“With the object of making a simultaneous diplomatic attempt to save Lemberg, it submits to the Supreme Council the proposal to enjoin the Ukrainian Government, through the intermediary of the Warsaw Commission to accept an armistice. If this attempt is to have any chance of success, the armistice conditions should, generally speaking, take the present situation into account, and more particularly in regard to the present possession of the oilfields”.
(This was agreed to.)
(d) Appointment of an Allied General Staff to Study Question of Transport of Polish Troops to Poland and Possible Utilisation of Roumanian Troops in Poland Marshal Foch proposed that the question of the transport of Polish troops from France and Odessa to Poland should be studied by an Allied General Staff. He also proposed, with the consent of the Conference, to study the possible utilisation of the Roumanian troops in Poland.
M. Clemenceau thought that the question to be settled was chiefly a financial one, as the employment of the Roumanian army would entail considerable expense.
Marshal Foch pressed for a definite answer to his proposal. He asked, in the event of its acceptance, that a representative of each Government should be appointed.
Mr. Lloyd George said that he agreed to accept the first part of Marshal Foch’s proposal, relating to the study of the question of the transport of Polish troops from France and Odessa to Poland; but he declined to agree to the study of the second proposition to which he was entirely opposed in principle. He could not agree to instruct the Allied Commander-in-Chief to study the question of attacking the Ukrainians at Lemberg, whilst at the same time, General Franchet d’Esperey was being instructed to do all he could to help the Ukrainians to fight against the Bolsheviks at Odessa.
President Wilson expressed his agreement with Mr. Lloyd George’s views.
M. Orlando said that he would also accept Marshal Foch’s first proposal.
(It was agreed:—
- To call upon the Allied Maritime Transport Council to submit a scheme showing what should be the contribution in shipping of each of the Allied and Associated Governments for the transport of General Haller’s troops from France to Dantzig.
- To enjoin the Ukrainian Government through the intermediary [Page 385]of the Warsaw Commission to accept an armistice. The armistice conditions should, generally speaking, take the present situation into account and more particularly in regard to the present possession of the oilfields.
- To authorise Marshal Foch to study the possibility of the transport of Polish troops to Poland from France and Odessa.)
(The meeting then adjourned.)
Villa Majestic, Paris, 18th March, 1919.