Paris Peace Conf. 180.03101/43


Secretary’s Notes of a Conversation Held in M. Pichon’s Room at the Quai d’Orsay, Paris, on Friday, February 21st, 1919, at 3 p.m.

Present Also Present
America, United States of America, United States of
The Hon. R. Lansing Dr. Mezes
Mr. H. White Dr. Day
Dr. Haskins
Mr. L. Harrison British Empire
British Empire Sir Eyre Crowe, K. C. B.
The Rt. Hon. A. J. Balfour, O. M., M. P. Lt. Col. Cornwall
The Rt. Hon. Viscount Milner, G. C. B., G. C. M. G. Mr. Akers-Douglas
Secretaries France
Lt. Col. Sir M. P. A. Hankey, K. C. B.
M. Klotz } For Items
M. Clementel 2, 3 and 4 only.
Mr. E. Phipps
France Italy
M. Pichon H. E. M. Crespi
M. Tardieu M. de Martino
Secretaries Count Vannutelli-Rey
M. Dutasta Danish Delegation Present
M. Berthelot For Question 5
M. de Bearn M. Bernhoft, Minister for Denmark in Paris
M. Clausen, Attaché, Danish Embassy, Paris
H. E. Baron Sonnino
H. E. Marquis Salvago Raggi
Count Aldrovandi
M. Bertele
H. E. Baron Makino
H. E. M. Matsui

Joint Secretariat

America, United States of Col. U. S. Grant.
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 59]

1. On the proposal of Mr. Lansing, Mr. Pichon was asked to take the chair during the temporary absence of M. Clemenceau.

Election of Chairman M. Pichon, having thanked his colleagues for the honour conferred upon him, said that he had seen M. Clemenceau a few hours ago. He was progressing very satisfactorily and hoped to be able to take his place at the Conference on Monday next. Though this might not be possible, his return could, nevertheless, be expected shortly.

2. The first question to be discussed related to the creation of a neutral zone in Transylvania, and he would call on M. Tardieu, the Chairman of the Committee on Rumanian Affairs, to make a report.

Report From the Rumanian committee on Transylvania M. Tardieu said that the Committee on Rumanian Affairs had reached the conclusion that the question of Transylvania should be referred back to the Conference for settlement, for the following reasons. When the General Commanding-in-Chief of the Allied Armies of the East had signed the Armistice with Hungary,1 Rumania had not yet re-entered the war and no reason had then existed for fixing a definite line of occupation between Rumania and Hungary. Hungarian troops, therefore, remained in occupation of Transylvania. These troops had been accused by M. Bratiano, in a report dated 9th February, 1919, of having committed acts of cruelty; and, consequently, Rumanian troops had moved forward with the intention of occupying the whole of that region up to the line fixed by the Treaty of 1916.1a On February 14th, 1919, General Franchet d’Esperey had cabled that the Rumanian troops were continuing their advance into Transylvania and had already reached the line:—Maramaros-Sziget, Zilak, Czucza, Nagy-Szebecs, Zam.

Now, the final frontiers of Rumania had not yet been fixed by the Committee on Rumanian Affairs, who were still engaged in studying that question. But, owing to the advance of the Rumanians, it was possible that serious conflicts might take place at any moment between the Rumanian and Hungarian troops; an incident which would be doubly regrettable, seeing that the question in conflict was now under consideration. The Committee, therefore, had considered it expedient to report the situation to the Conference in order to avoid any conflict taking place in that region, and a proposal had been submitted four days’ previously, suggesting:—

The fixation of two lines at a certain distance from each other beyond which the Hungarian and Rumanian troops should not be permitted to advance, and
The establishment of a neutral zone between the two proposed [Page 60] lines, to be occupied by Allied troops with a view to preventing the spreading of Bolshevism, which was prevalent in Hungary.

During the last two days, the Committee had received reports from General Alby, the French Chief of Staff, and from the military advisers of the Italian Peace Delegation in Paris. M. Bratiano had also forwarded a note on the subject, and in addition, General Charpy, Chief of Staff to General Franchet d’Esperey, had just returned from those regions and submitted a report on the situation. Taking these facts into consideration, it was thought by the Committee that the military advisers of the Conference should be asked to fix the lines of extreme occupation above referred to and decide whether or not the intervening neutral zone should be occupied by Allied troops, in view of maintaining order against possible Bolshevist attempts.

Mr. Balfour enquired whether M. Tardieu’s Committee had heard any military experts on the question under reference.

M. Tardieu replied in the negative, and explained that the Committee had merely read General Alby’s report. They had purposely refrained from obtaining military advice, as the Committee might thereby have been led into a discussion of purely military questions, which were outside the terms of reference.

Mr. Balfour enquired how order would be maintained in the neutral zone if a neutral zone were constituted. Was that purely a military question?

M. Tardieu replied that in principle the maintenance of order in a neutral zone was not purely a military question, and for that reason the Committee had enquired into the matter. It had, however, been found that all sorts of military questions were involved—for instance: were Allied troops available for the occupation of the neutral zone? For that reason it had been decided to refer the question back to the Conference.

Lord Milner enquired whether it was intended that the question should be referred for report to the Military Representatives of the Supreme War Council at Versailles.

M. Tardieu replied that that was the intention of the Committee.

(It was decided to refer to the Military Representatives of the Supreme War Council at Versailles the questions raised in the following recommendation made by the Committee on Rumanian Affairs on February 17th, 1919:—

“The Commission on Rumanian Affairs beg to draw the attention of the Supreme Allied Council to the following situation:—

General Franchet d’Esperey sent a wire dated February 14th, 1919, saying that the Rumanian troops were continuing [Page 61] their advance into Transylvania and had already reached the line Maramaros-Sziget, Zilak, Czucza, Nagy-Szebecs, Zam.
The Rumanian Government (letter from M. Bratiano to the President of the Peace Conference dated February 9th) justifies such advance by the acts of cruelty committed by the Hungarians in that region.
The Commission on Rumanian Affairs is at the present time studying the line to be drawn as a frontier between Rumania and Hungary, and wishes that no armed conflicts should take place in that region.

For the above reasons the Commission on Rumanian Affairs asks the Supreme Council if the present situation does not seem to warrant the fixation of two lines beyond which the Hungarian and Rumanian troops should not go, a zone free of military occupation being thus established between the two proposed lines:—

10 kilometres, west of general line running from Vasaros Nameny, point of confluence of the two Keres, Algyo north of Szegadin; as regards Hungarian troops.
10 kilometres east of line Szatmar-Nemeti, Nagy-Varad, Arad, as regards Rumanian troops.

It is for the Supreme Allied Council to decide whether or not the zone forbidden to Hungarian and Rumanian troops should be, in view of maintaining order against possible Bolshevist attempts, occupied by Allied troops.”)

(3) M. Pichon said that the question of the recognition of Poland had been before the Allies for a considerable time. At the request of M. Paderewski, M. Dmowski had recently submitted the following Note, dated Paris, February 7, 1919:— Recognition of Polish Government

“I beg to bring to the notice of your Excellency that M. I. J. Paderewski, Prime Minister and Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, has requested the Polish National Committee to inform the Allied and Associated Powers’ Governments of the Constitution of his Ministry and to ask that the Sovereign State of Poland should be officially recognised by the respective Governments of those Powers.

The Polish National Committee, as official representative of the Polish government, beg to support that application to the Government of the French Republic.

At the same time the National Committee take the liberty to call the attention of Your Excellency on the following facts: the Allied Powers, by their declaration of Versailles, June 3, 1918,2 have recognised Poland as an independent and unified State; on the other hand, M. Paderewski’s Government have the support of the great majority of the nation of the whole of Poland.”

M. Pichon, continuing, said that he thought the moment now appeared to be opportune to give satisfaction to the Polish wishes. He pointed out that a short time ago General Pilsudski had resigned and handed over his powers to the Polish Diet. He had now been [Page 62] reinstated by acclamation. His Government could, consequently, be considered as firmly established, and could be recognised by the Allied Governments.

Mr. Balfour concurred as far as Great Britain was concerned.

M. Pichon remarked that the Allied and Associated Governments had already recognised the Polish National Committee and the independence of Poland. Official confirmation was, therefore, now merely asked for.

Mr. Lansing pointed out that the United States of America had recognised M. Paderewski’s Government about ten days previously.3 He saw no reason for renewing the recognition.

M. Matsui said that his Government had not yet recognised either the Polish Government or the Polish National Committee. He was therefore not authorised to do so without reference to his Government.

M. Sonnino was prepared, on behalf of the Italian Government, to accept the proposal before the Conference.

(It was agreed that the Great Powers would recognise M. Paderewski’s Government, taking note of the reservations made by the Japanese Representative.)

4. Mr. Balfour drew attention to the fact that the English and French texts of the draft terms of reference to the proposed Economic Commission of the Peace Conference, as agreed by the Economic Drafting Committee, (see Annexure “A”), were not identic. The original text had been drawn up in English, and consequently, if any discussion were to take place, it should be made on the English text. Report of the Economic Drafting Committee: (a) Acceptance of Terms of Reference

M. Clementel explained that the text had been prepared in the two languages, (French and English), in parallel columns, and it was in that form that it had been signed by all the Delegates.

Mr. Balfour proposed that the report of the Economic Drafting Committee should be accepted, on the understanding that the French text should be made to agree with the English text.

Mr. Lansing said that he could not agree to accept the report, as suggested by Mr. Balfour, because he had not seen it before; he had had no time to study it or to obtain the advice of his experts. He proposed, therefore, that the further consideration of the report in question should be adjourned to next Session.

M. Klotz asked permission to invite the attention of the Conference to the fact that the draft in question was not an agreement or convention which might commit the representatives of the Great Powers to some definite line of policy. The Conference was merely asked to accept a questionnaire, addressed to a Committee whose constitution [Page 63] had still to be decided; and the various countries represented reserved to themselves full right of making their suggestions and observations when the proposed Committee came to be appointed. Today, no question of principle was involved, but merely a question of procedure.

M. Clementel pointed out in support of the statement made by M. Klotz that the Economic Committee to be appointed would have a very big programme to carry through, and any delay at the present moment might have serious consequences. M. Baruch had, before leaving Paris for Brussels, particularly asked that the terms of reference to the proposed Economic Committee should be settled with as little delay as possible.

Mr. Lansing said that he would not, under the circumstances, insist on an adjournment.

M. Crespi remarked that an Italian text of the terms of reference was being prepared and would be circulated shortly.

(The Terms of Reference to the proposed Economic Committee of the Peace Conference as agreed by the Economic Drafting Committee were approved, subject to the French and English texts being brought into accord.)

Lord Milner enquired how the Economic Committee was to be formed.

(b) Transitory Measures Referred to Supreme Economic Council M. Clementel replied that the composition of the proposed Economic Committee would have to be decided by the Conference.

Lord Milner said that the British Dominions felt that this was a question in which they were particularly interested. The Dominions possessed very distinctive interests, which were not always identical with those of Great Britain. It would therefore be only right and reasonable to give direct representation to the Dominions; and if it were decided to give two delegates for each of the Great Powers, as is usually done, and five representatives for the Smaller Powers, he would suggest that two representatives should be allotted to the British Dominions and one to India.

Mr. Lansing said that he understood Lord Milner’s suggestion to be that a Commission of 18 members should be appointed, of which the British Empire would have five.

M. Klotz drew attention to the fact that on the proposal of President Wilson a Supreme Economic Council had been created, consisting of five representatives of each of the Great Powers. Why should not the various questions dealt with in the terms of reference be referred to that Committee, who would be instructed to carry out the work entailed by the creation of sub-Committees, the procedure to be followed being left to the Committee itself to settle?

[Page 64]

Mr. Lansing enquired whether the Supreme Economic Council gave representation to any but the five Great powers.

M. Klotz replied in the negative, and said that provision would have to be made for the smaller Powers to be represented when questions affecting them came up for discussion. On the other hand, the representatives of the British Dominions could form part of the five representatives allotted to each of the Great Powers.

Lord Milner agreed that if the question were to-be referred to the Supreme Economic Council, the special views of the British Dominions could be represented among the five British Delegates. He wished to lay stress, however, on the fact that the British Dominions occupied a very distinct position, especially as the interests of the Dominions frequently conflicted with those of Great Britain. He thought that was a solid reason. It was desirable to have all points of view represented. It was not merely a question of giving the British Dominions a stronger position.

M. Pichon reported that he had received a request from Mr. Hughes to the effect that Australia should have separate representation, and that he (Mr. Hughes) should be the selected representative for Australia. He (M. Pichon) thought that the representation of the British Dominions was legitimate, but he thought the smaller powers should also receive due consideration.

M. Clementel thought that the draft submitted by the Economic Drafting Committee contained two very distinct parts. A first part, dealing with all transitory measures, such as: the supply of materials for the restoration of the devastated areas, the economic restoration of the countries which had suffered most from the war, and the supply of commodities to neutral and ex-enemy countries. All such questions, in his opinion, could be referred to the existing Supreme Economic Council. Secondly, all permanent questions relating to the future, which really constituted economic questions connected with the Treaty of Peace, such as: future permanent commercial relations, contracts and claims, and the abrogation or revival of economic treaties. These questions should, in his opinion, be referred to a special Economic Committee of the Preliminary Peace Conference, which would have to be created.

(c) Permanent Measures Referred to an Economic Committee to be Created M. Klotz agreed, and asked that the five signatories of the report of the Drafting Committee should be instructed to draft a plan of procedure for the new Committee, sub-Committees being formed therein, and to make suggestions regarding its composition.

Lord Milner accepted this proposal and expressed the hope that the Committee would consider the point he had tried to make for proper representation of the British Dominions.

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(It was agreed that the first part of the terms of reference under the heading “Transitory Measures” should be referred to the Supreme Economic Council, and that the permanent subjects mentioned in the report should be referred to a special Commission of the Preliminary Peace Conference.

It was further agreed that the five signatories of the report of the Drafting Committee should meet to consider and report as to the procedure and method of work of the Economic Commission, and on its composition, having in mind Lord Milner’s request that the Dominions and India should be accorded separate representation and that the small Powers should also be represented.)

(At this stage MM. Klotz and Clementel withdrew. M. Bernhoft, Danish Minister in Paris, and M. Clausen, Attaché of Danish Legation in Paris, entered the Council Chamber.)

5. M. Pichon said he had been asked in the first place to distribute a letter, dated 6th February, 1919, addressed by M. H. A. Bernhoft, the Danish Minister in Paris, to M. Clemenceau, Ger President of the Peace Conference. (For full text see Annexure “B.”) Readjustment of the Danish-German Frontier

A mémoire by Mr. Jonas Collin, Professor at the Academy of Surgery in Copenhagen, one of the representatives of the Central Schleswig Committee, had also been forwarded to the Secretariat-General and would be distributed. The conclusion reached in this mémoire was that Central Schleswig up to the Sli-Danevirke-Husum frontier should be ceded to Denmark.

He would now call on M. Bernhoft to make a statement.

(a) Statement by M. Bernhoft M. Bernhoft then read the following statement. (See Annexure “C.”)

Mr. Lansing enquired up to what line the German troops should be withdrawn, if such a proposal were agreed to.

M. Bernhoft replied that there were five German Garrisons at present in Northern Schleswig, and he thought the German troops should be withdrawn to the Southern line of Central Schleswig.

Mr. Lansing enquired who would maintain order in these territories after evacuation by the German troops.

M. Bernhoft expressed the view that the population would be able to govern themselves to a certain extent. He thought that the German civil authorities and priests and schoolmasters should be allowed to remain, because the people themselves were strong enough to keep these down. The Danish workmen in this region were so strongly organized that small controlling Committees had already been appointed to supervise the work of the Landrats and of the local Police Officials. The only danger spot was at Flensbourg, a town of 67,000 [Page 66] inhabitants, which contained anarchical elements, and there a strong military force might be required to maintain order.

Mr. Lansing further enquired whether any arrangement was contemplated for the assumption of part of the German National debt.

M. Bernhoft replied that Denmark had hoped that if the country were restored to Denmark, it might come back without a debt.

Mr. Lansing asked whether that would be an inducement for the German population to remain and form part of Denmark.

M. Bernhoft agreed that that would probably be the case.

(The Danish representative and the Experts withdrew.)

(b) Committee on Belgium to report on Danish-German Frontier Mr. Balfour said he had intended, as in previous cases, to move a resolution for the appointment of a new Committee to enquire into the Danish claims. Mr. Lansing had, however, suggested to him that this enquiry could best be carried on Committee already occupied in considering Belgian questions. He wished, therefore, to propose the following resolution:—

It is agreed that the questions raised in M. Bernhoft’s statement on the Danish territorial interests in the peace settlement shall be referred for examination, in the first instance, to the Committee now examining the Belgian problems.

It shall be the duty of the Committee to reduce the questions for decision within the narrowest possible limits, and to make recommendations for a just settlement.

The Committee is authorised to consult the representatives of the peoples concerned.

M. Pichon said he had no objection to make to the proposal, except that the Kiel Canal question was involved. This was a very important matter, and he felt some doubt as to whether the existing Belgian Committee were the best prepared to advise on that question.

Mr. Balfour said he had reason to believe that the members of the Belgian Committee were fully qualified to report on the question to be referred to them.

(It was agreed that the questions raised in M. Bernhoft’s statement on the Danish territorial interests in the peace settlement shall be referred for examination, in the first instance, to the Committee now examining the Belgian problems.

It shall be the duty of the Committee to reduce the questions for decision within the narrowest possible limits, and to make recommendations for a just settlement.

The Committee shall be authorised to consult the representatives of the peoples concerned.)

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6. Mr. Balfour said that he understood the statement of the Albanian claims would be heard on the following day. He wished to give notice that he proposed to submit to the Conference a resolution on the general conduct of business, which would be circulated to the Conference that evening. He thought the time had now come to take a survey of the immediate task of the Conference. Agenda for Next Meeting

(It was agreed that the following questions should be discussed at the meeting to be held at 3.0 o’clock on Saturday afternoon, the 22nd February, 1919:—

General conduct of business.
Statement of the Albanians’ Claims. (Hearing of Albanian representatives.)

(The Meeting then adjourned to Saturday, 22nd February, 1919, at 3.0 p.m.)

Paris, 22nd February, 1919.

Annexure “A”

The President of the Commission Charged With Laying Down the Programme of the Economic Commission of the Peace Conference to the President of the Peace Conference 4

The Commission named on the 27th January,5 for the purpose of drawing up a programme of questions of which the study and preparation were to be entrusted to the Economic Commission of the Peace Conference, has carried on, between the 5th and the 11th of February, the exchanges of view which have resulted in the scheme which it has the honour to lay before you herewith.

This draft has been elaborated with the double object in view of exactly defining the elements of the task which will devolve upon the Economic Commission, and, while ensuring any necessary cooperation, of also preventing the Commission’s functions from encroaching upon those of other special Commissions: the Financial Commission, the Commission on Separations, on Transport, on the League of Nations, etc.

Along with this draft which has received the unanimous assent of the delegates of the five Powers represented, it has seemed useful to send you, as documents, the preliminary drafts worked out by the French,6 English, and American delegates.

[Page 68]

If the programme, which is proposed to the Conference, receives its approval, it would be desirable that the Economic Commission be constituted without delay, since its labours, which require the collaboration of many technical subcommissions, are concerned as much with the period of transition as with the permanent order following the war.

[Enclosure to Annexure “A”]

Draft Terms of Reference to the Proposed, Economic Commission of the Peace Conference

I. Transitory Measures

To consider what economic measures, if any, should be taken in common during the period of reconstruction following the war, with a view to ensuring:

The due supply of materials and other commodities necessary for the restoration of the devastated areas;
The economic restoration of the countries which have suffered most from the war;
The supply of neutral and ex-enemy countries without detriment to the supply of the needs of the Allies and Associated countries.

II. Permanent Commercial Relations

To consider what common measures are possible and desirable with a view to the removal of economic barriers and the establishment on an equitable basis of the principle of Equality of Trade Conditions in International Commerce.

Under this heading will arise such questions (among others) as customs regulations, duties and restrictions; the treatment of shipping, including port facilities and dues; unfair methods of competition, including false trade descriptions and indications of origin, “dumping”, etc.; and the exceptions and reservations, transitory or otherwise, which may be found necessary to meet special circumstances.

III. Contracts and Claims

To consider:—

What provision should be made with regard to pre-war contracts agreements and commercial obligations to which subjects or citizens of belligerent States were parties;
Whether claims should be admitted on either side for damage or injury arising out of the requisition, liquidation, sequestration or sale of enemy property or businesses, or the treatment or use of patents, trade-marks, trade descriptions, or designs or copyrights, or regulations relating to Trading with the Enemy, and, if so, on what basis.

[Page 69]

IV. Ex-Enemy Aliens

To consider what common action, if any, should be taken by the Allied and Associated Governments to prohibit or regulate the carrying on either individually or through Companies, of certain businesses and occupations by ex-enemy aliens during the period immediately following the war.

V. Abrogation or Revival of Economic Treaties

To consider what Treaties and Conventions of an economic character to which Enemy States were parties should be revived or abrogated respectively.

(Under this heading will be considered, among others, the Conventions relating to Industrial Property, Copyright, Posts and Telegraphs, etc.)


The Economic Commission, before formulating proposals as to any economic questions having a special aspect in regard to which other Commissions have been or may be set up by the Peace Conference, should consult the competent Commission; and on the other hand such other Commissions should, in the same circumstances consult the Economic Commission before formulating any proposal relating to one of the above classes of questions which fell within the scope of the Economic Commission.

  • Clementel
  • Baruch
  • Crespi
  • H. Llewellyn Smith
  • Fukui

Annexure “B”

Monsieur Georges Clemenceau,
President of the Peace Conference.

Mr. President: The triumph of the principles proclaimed by the Allied and Associated Powers having been assured by the victory of their Armies, the Association of Danish Electors in Northern Schleswig, led by their former members in the German Legislative Assembly, proclaimed, on behalf of the Danish population of Northern Schleswig, their desire, unchanged since 1864, of rejoining Denmark, at a Meeting held at Aabenraa on the 17th November last.7

[Page 70]

This resolution was communicated to the Danish Government on the 18th of the same month, and they were asked to take the necessary steps with the Peace Conference to obtain recognition of their rights and their return to Denmark. The Danish Government readily accepted this commission, and sent a formal request to the representatives of France, England, the United States and Italy to be allowed to raise the question at the Peace Conference.8 Later on, the Danish Government received a request from the Danes of Central Schleswig.

Soon after these resolutions, the Soldiers’ Councils exhibited a very liberal spirit in regard to the national claims of the Danes in Schleswig, but very soon their German sentiments came to the surface, and their attitude was modified. Since then, the German Soldiers’ Councils, elected in the towns, (Haderslev, Aabenraa, Toender, Soenderburg and Flensburg) sought to intimidate the Danes by every possible means, and have made them subject to all kinds of provocations, particularly in Flensburg, where the population contains a large element of Germans. The Soldiers’ Councils have both tolerated and encouraged anti-Danish demonstrations, prevented Danish meetings, allowed windows of Danes to be smashed, failed to protect the Danes against menace of assault, etc.

The Danes in Schleswig are willing to preserve for the present all German laws, courts, systems of education and administration, so as to avoid all danger of anarchy. Nevertheless, the Councils of Workmen and Peasants, which the Danes in Schleswig have elected, have placed Danish controllers over the magistrates (Landrat) and over the local Police authorities (Amtsvorsteher). The German civil authority is thus kept under control. The Soldiers’ Councils have acted quite differently. They rely on armed force, and the Danish population of Schleswig has no means of defence against their exactions. It is the unanimous desire of this population that the Soldiers’ Councils and the German troops, who have elected them, shall be removed. The intellectual, moral and social level of the population of Schleswig is high enough to ensure order being maintained there without the necessity of replacing the German troops if they are withdrawn.

Flensburg alone, a town of some 67,000 inhabitants, contains turbulent elements from whom disorder may be feared if there is no military protection. In the present circumstances, whilst the question of Danish Schleswig is being considered by the Peace Conference, this protection could hardly be asked from Denmark, but the presence of an Allied man-of-war would suffice to put down any inclination to violence.

Not only are the Germans trying to terrorise the Danish population, [Page 71] but they are also committing acts of plunder. Although 6,000 out of 25,000 combatants have been killed in a war in which they have been forced to fight under the German flag, the Danish Schleswigers find themselves subjected to heavy taxes and to pitiless requisitions of cattle, wheat, butter and other agricultural products. These requisitions have now become exorbitant. Live stock is especially affected. They propose to take one cow out of four. If this threat is carried out, the stock of milch cows, which forms the basis of the country’s agricultural industry, will be reduced to such a state that it will take years to build it up again. Moreover, these requisitions are paid for at ridiculously low prices, and even not paid for at all in regard to some of the more recent requisitions. The presence of the German troops ensures the execution of these requisitions, and these troops, who come from the German industrial districts, are particularly interested in watching that nothing escapes the requisition of food stuffs destined for their own country.

In the near future, the burden of taxes in Germany will be greatly increased, including possibly the confiscation of capital. It would seem unfair that a population which is on the eve of separation from Germany should have to submit to these taxes.

If the German troops and the Soldiers’ Councils could be removed from Schleswig, the people would be in a position, without fear of violence from the Germans, to take a plebiscite by which they desire to make known their attachment to Denmark, whilst the Peace Conference, before whom they have pleaded their just cause, will fulfil their most ardent desire to go back to their old fatherland without being completely impoverished.

In the name of the Danish population of Schleswig, I have the honour, Mr. President, to beg you to submit to the Peace Conference, their position to be delivered from the armed German forces which oppress them, by insisting on the withdrawal of the garrisons of Haderslev, Aabenraa, Flensburg, Soenderburg and Toender, and of the German Fleet at Flensburg and Soenderburg, so that Northern and Central Schleswig may no longer be under the direct influence of German armed forces.

If, in addition, the Peace Conference would decide on the sending of an Allied man-of-war to Flensburg, and possibly another to Haderslev or to Aabenraa, the Danish population of Schleswig would feel that their liberties were assured.

These measures would be welcomed with the most profound thankfulness by all Danes, both by those of the Danish Kingdom, and by those of Schleswig.

Receive, Mr. President, the assurance of my highest consideration.

H. A. Bernhoft

Danish Minister
[Page 72]

Appendix “C”

Re-adjustment of the Danish-German Frontier

(Statement by M. Bernhoft)

We have the honour to approach your Excellencies not only as representatives of the Danish Government, but also as Danes of Schleswig.

In the sitting of 23rd October, 1918, of the German Parliament, the Danish Deputy Konna [Hanssen?], associating himself with his colleagues from Alsace-Lorraine and Poland, once more claimed the right of self-determination for the Danes of Schleswig. He cited Art. 5 of the Treaty of Prague in 1886 [1866],9 which on the initiative of France, promised that the Danes of Northern Schleswig should resume their original nationality if, as the result of a free ballot, they expressed the wish to be reunited to Denmark. This promise has never been fulfilled and Art. 5 was declared abolished in 1878 by a Treaty between Germany and Austria,10 but the promise of the various nationalities expressed therein served as a basis for the political protests made by the Schleswigers, and they have never ceased to claim the right it conferred upon them.

On the same day, both Chambers of the Danish Parliament passed a unanimous resolution expressing the desire that our national aspirations might be realised in conformity with the right of self-determination of nations. But it was not until the victory of the Allied and Associated nations had assured the triumph of that principle, that the Schleswigers were able to take their cause into their own hands. On the 16th November, the Council and Governing Committee of the Association of Electors of Northern Schleswig passed the following resolution, which was ratified next day by a Grand Assembly of the Danish population:—

  • “(1) We desire that the question of Northern Schleswig should be settled by considering it a political unity, the population of which is free to decide by vote whether it wishes to be reunited to Denmark.
  • “(2) Northern Schleswig is that part of the Duchy of Schleswig, situated to the North of a line starting from the Southernmost point of the Island of Als, following the Flensburg fjord as far as Koober-mölle and thence along the valley of the river Krusaa, passing to the south of Froslev, so that Padborg forms a frontier station, following the boundary between the jurisdictions of Slogs and Kaer, the small stream called the Skelbaek, and the rivers Sonderaa and Vidaa as far as the point where the latter turns northward, and from that point to the North Sea and north of the northernmost point of the Island of Sild.
  • “(3) All persons over 20 years of age shall exercise the franchise, provided:—
    • “(a) that they have been born and are domiciled in Northern Schleswig;
    • “(b) or that they have lived in Northern Schleswig at least 10 years;
    • “(c) or that they were born in Northern Schleswig but were expelled by former Governors.
  • “(4) The ballot shall be taken in writing and shall be carried out by methods guaranteeing freedom of vote to everyone. The late authorities shall have no influence on the voting.
  • “(5) It is understood that the neighbouring districts of Central Schleswig, if they so demand, shall be entitled to make known by a separate vote whether they wish to be restored to Denmark.


The signatories hereof associate themselves with the foregoing resolution with the reservation that:—

In their opinion Flensburg forms part of Danish Northern Schleswig;
Any ballot taken in the neighbouring districts, should, in their opinion, be taken simultaneously with the voting in Northern Schleswig.

The Association of Electors addressed a petition to the Danish Government, praying that their cause might be laid before the Peace Conference and their interest might be there represented. Which request the Government had great pleasure in granting.

The aggression of Prussia and Austria against Denmark terminated in the Peace of Vienna on 30th October, 1864,11 by which Denmark was forced to give up Schleswig, Holstein and Lauenburg. The two latter provinces were and always have been German, Holstein having been annexed to the Danish Crown in 1460 and Lauenburg in 1815; the King of Denmark was Duke of Holstein and Lauenburg, and, in that capacity, was a member of the Germanic Confederation. Schleswig, on the contrary, has belonged to Denmark ever since the latter country existed, and has never formed part of the Germanic Confederation.

The question of Schleswig has often been compared to that of Alsace-Lorraine: the questions are similar but not identical. Whilst the whole of Alsace-Lorraine from Altkirch to Wissembourg protested in 1871 against separation from France, only the Northern half of Schleswig was annexed by Prussia in 1864 against its will. Southern Schleswig separated itself from Denmark of its own free will: it was already German or germanized, and had aimed at separation [Page 74] from the Danish Monarchy and annexation to Germany long before 1864.

If Southern Schleswig were now to be incorporated with Denmark, there would be a striking difference between that annexation and the restoration of Alsace-Lorraine to France. On the one hand, France, a great country with 40 million inhabitants, would receive about 2 million new citizens, who would throw themselves with joy into the arms of their former mother-country, to whom they are attached by the strongest ties. On the other hand, Denmark, a little country of 3 million inhabitants (including the Danish Schleswigers) would have its population increased by about 300,000 foreigners, whose sympathies would be with Germany, which they would not cease to consider as their real home.

It is unnecessary to point out that Northern Schleswig has remained Danish notwithstanding 55 years of Prussian domination. A Memorandum which we shall shortly have the honour to lay before the Conference and which unfortunately is not yet ready, will show that the spirit of Danish nationality has grown more accentuated among the Danes of Northern Schleswig than it was at the time of the separation in 1864. The stubborn and incessant fight waged against germanization by the Danes of Schleswig for 55 years has rendered them worthy of the sympathy of France. They have not given up hope that justice would triumph and that they would one day be restored to their own country.

The Danish peasants of Schleswig have derived the strength to sustain this unequal conflict against oppression from their high moral and intellectual culture. The population of Schleswig which has remained Danish now cherishes its nationality more deeply, with more understanding and firmer will, than did the population which passed under Prussian domination in 1864. The younger generation, to whom the future belongs, has remained Danish in spite of German schools, military service and the attraction that Germany could exert over characters ambitious of power, honour or money.

The Danes of Northern Schleswig have, so to speak, had to form a State within the State, with their own laws and their own institutions. Their principal means of action have been the press and their associations.

It is difficult to appreciate the high level of that press without knowing the Danish language, but it is possible to demonstrate by statistics its increasing circulation, of which the three maps annexed hereto12 attempt to give some idea. The first shows how the circulation of newspapers is distributed over the various districts; the second and more interesting map shows how many individual subscribers [Page 75] there are to each paper in the same districts, and the third gives the increase in the number of subscribers in the 11 years from 1901 to 1912. The war created an unusual situation and the Danish press has been the victim of a great deal of chicanery, merciless censorship, and numerous confiscations. Taken together, the three maps give an idea of the extent and intensity of Danish feelings towards the South. In the rural districts of Northern Schleswig each copy of a paper is read by between 6.9 and 12.9 individuals, including immigrated Germans and persons of German sympathies speaking the Danish language who, not knowing German, read the Danish newspapers. In how many countries, even the most civilized, is this proportion attained? In the towns, whose inhabitants number many German officials, the corresponding figures are lower (between 7.9 and 25.9 [5.9?]). Danish newspapers also penetrate into the districts of Central Schleswig adjoining Northern Schleswig. Further South, in the Angel region, and towards the town of Schleswig, Dannevirke and the Schleswig fjord (the Sli), where the Danish language disappeared many generations since, and in Friesland, where Danish has never been spoken, the Danish newspapers have no subscribers. The three maps show clearly what is the southernmost limit of the territory in which there is any possibility of restoring Danish nationality. In Schleswig, the Dane-Schleswig press had 12,678 subscribers in 1901 and 19,278 in 1912.

As it was almost entirely impossible to assemble for meetings and lectures at the inns and other public halls, the Danes built 52 clubhouses, their strongholds, which for the most part have been erected during the last few years, as shown by the annexed map. Four new houses were being built when the war broke out. Vast club-houses have, moreover, existed for many years at Haderslev and Flensburg, but none in other parts of Schleswig. The Schleswiger population itself subscribed one million Marks for the construction of these houses.

Map No. — shows the growing number of libraries during the last few years. Out of 170 libraries, those founded since 1909 are underlined. They have been founded by the “Association for the Preservation of the Danish Language in Northern Schleswig”, and number approximately 100,000 volumes. Between 1890 and 1911 the said Association also distributed 255,000 books, maps and pictures.

When the Danish language was completely prohibited in the schools, the “School Association” was founded with the object of sending youths and girls without means to schools in Denmark after they had passed through the German schools. The parents teach them to read Danish, and in Denmark they learn to write it and to know the history and geography of their own country. It was from the parents of these young scholars that the Prussian Government [Page 76] wished to take the right of guardianship; it recognised the danger to the germanisation of the younger generation of these studies in Denmark, since they stultified all the work of German teachers and were both superior in their methods of instruction and liked by the young people for the very reason that they were Danish. The pupils who left the Danish schools formed the armament of the rampart raised against Germanism.

These two great Associations and the “Association of Electors” numbered 26,000 members in 1914, that is to say, one out of every six inhabitants in Northern Schleswig, including the officials and the German population.

When danger directly menaced their own country, the Danes of Schleswig gave a final proof of their energy and self-sacrifice. A portion of the sum destined to rob the Poles of their land was placed at the disposal of the Prussian authorities in Schleswig. The Prussian Government purchased estates; the system of “Benteguter” was established, under which land was purchased by a society corresponding to the “Hakatist” society in Prussian Poland. The Danes however faced the danger and (in their usual unostentatious way) founded a rival organisation, which in 1910 became a public institution, and took the form of an Agrarian Bank. They were not unsuccessful in the struggle. The Prussian Government then adopted the same line of action as in Poland. It took measures to prevent any estate purchased by a German from returning into Danish hands. The Schleswigers themselves founded in every parish a new Association, the members of which pledged themselves not to sell their land to Germans. When war broke out these parochial associations were banded together in one large Association with 402 confidential agents. Thus nearly the whole of Northern Schleswig was secured against Prussian designs upon the land.

Such was the defensive organisation of the Danes of Northern Schleswig at the outbreak of the war; taking effect in the economic sphere through their Banks, Savings Banks, Agricultural Associations and Co-operative Societies, founded on the Danish model; politically through the “Associations of Electors”; on the land, both politically and economically, through the Association for preventing the re-purchase of land and the Agrarian Bank; in the intellectual sphere through the Association for the Preservation of the Danish Language, the School Association and the club-houses and finally through the press.

After half a century’s struggle against a powerful and unscrupulous Government, this small peasant population emerged with all the greater consciousness of nationality, well organised, and subject to its own self-imposed discipline, thanks to a will-power which affords [Page 77] splendid proof of the vitality of the Danish race and its capacity for development.

Was the object of the efforts above described merely that of defence against German supremacy within German territory? No, the struggle was maintained by the Schleswigers in order to preserve their Danish nationality until the day when they should see a possibility of returning to their own country. Never during the 55 long years since the separation have they ceased to hope for the eventual triumph of justice. To-day the realisation of their hopes is assured through the victory of the Allied and Associated peoples, and the Peace Conference has summoned all oppressed peoples before its tribunal. The Danes of Schleswig confidently submit their righteous cause to its decision. They have experienced the tragic fate of shedding their blood on behalf of their oppressors, thirty thousand having been forced to fight by the side of those whom they felt to be their enemies and more than five thousand having fallen for a cause, the defeat of which they desired. All those who were able to do so fled to Denmark, but the majority shared the cruel fate of so many Poles, Czechs, Serbs, Croats, Italians and Roumanians, who were forced to bear arms against those whom they considered their friends. The noble peoples of France and England understood that the small isolated population of Schleswig was entitled to their sympathy, which they showed by granting Schleswig prisoners special treatment in separate camps. For this Denmark of the future, which will include Schleswig, will always owe them a debt of gratitude.

The Association of Electors of Northern Schleswig has itself defined the boundaries of that country (Kortet)13 which extends over an area of 3,994 square kilometres, and contains a population of 166,966. It includes the districts of Haderslev, Aabenraa, Sonderborg, half the district of Toender, and a small portion of the district of Flensborg. The rural districts North of this line are Danish, and most undoubtedly they desire re-union with Denmark (Kort).13 In the towns of Haderslev, Aabenraa, Toender and Sonderborg, Danish is the language of the majority. According to Danish statistics Danish is the native tongue of three-quarters of the population (not including the officials) and is understood by everyone. According to German statistics, the Danish language predominates in the following towns: Haderslev, 5,679 as against 3,448, and Aabenraa, 3,489 as against 3,405. At Toender according to German Statistics, German speaking inhabitants number 2,953 as against 1,117 speaking Danish, but such statistics must be accepted with caution considering the manner in which they are compiled; at Toender the majority of the population speak Danish and all understand it. At Sonderborg, [Page 78] German is at present predominant owing to the fact that a Naval station has been established there, but this preponderance will disappear when the said station is abandoned.

At the elections of 1867, 27,488 Danish votes were recorded, of which some 23,000 were from North Schleswig. At the elections of August, 1867, Danish majorities were returned in all the towns (except Toender), all the boroughs (except Hoyer), and in all the rural constituencies.

In 1884 by reason of emigration and of inclination only 14,447 Danish votes were recorded, but from 1884 onwards a Danish reaction set in which has continued up to the present day. In 1912, 17,293 Danish votes were recorded, 16,500 of which were from Northern Schleswig, this being the most favourable election since 1877. The elections of 1912 resulted in a German majority in the four towns, some of the boroughs, and two or three rural constituencies, and a German majority is driving in a wedge between Toender and Flensborg. An analysis of the election results shows that the German majority is due to the German officials; if these are excluded, the votes are about equal; when the votes of Danish officials were included and those of persons now calling themselves German but who would assuredly welcome Danish rule, only a German minority would remain. Even at Toender where the richer citizens have always been Germans, a Danish nucleus has persisted, and there has never been so large a number of Danish voters at Toender as during the last few years. By way of recapitulation, it may be stated that German voters have never had a majority in rural constituencies. A really German majority among the owners of the soil only exists in the town of Toender, and the borough of Augustenborg (Als) the home of the family of the German ex-Empress.

The position of Northern Schleswig is so clear that there seems nothing to prevent the immediate institution of a plebiscite there. At least three-quarters of the voters may be relied on to declare in favour of returning to Denmark. The Danish population is becoming anxious and the Germans have recovered from their first despondency and are resuming their former arrogance of manner. Soldiers’ Councils and officials annoy the population, requisitions impoverish the country, heavy war taxes threaten its prosperity at a time when the people of Schleswig consider that they are de facto separated from Germany. On the other hand, the Germans are already endeavouring to meet the loss of Schleswig by placing their capital there and by establishing commercial branches, in the hope of escaping to some extent from the financial ruin of Germany. We therefore earnestly commend to the Conference the desire of the Danes of Northern Schleswig to be allowed their plebiscite as soon as possible.

[Page 79]

It might perhaps be said that Denmark could accept Northern Schleswig without a plebiscite, since there is no doubt of the Danish sympathies of its population. But the Danes of Northern Schleswig are eager to give themselves freely to Denmark; they long for the day of that great manifestation of their nationality, of their triumph over the Germans who will then have no excuse for attempting annexation in the future.

Middle Schleswig includes those regions south of Northern Schleswig in which Danish is spoken, or partly spoken, or in which Danish sympathies still exist. These two standards exist separately or together. These districts differ from Northern Schleswig in that they were subjected to German influence much earlier and on a much larger scale. Danish sympathies are not so widespread. A display of them may lead to unpleasantness, and as German has been used for several centuries in churches and schools, Danish culture has not been able to penetrate. But while the Danish language is still known, or Danish sympathies still exist as a tradition dating from before 1864, it is possible for the population to become pro-Danish once more, even in a country where German is spoken. The Danish Government, as well as the Danes of Northern Schleswig, desire therefore that central Schleswig may be allowed to vote, if it expresses a desire to do so. This desire has been expressed in petitions signed by 4,277 persons. All the petitions have not yet come to hand. The resolution of Aabenraa, of 16th November states:

“It is evident that the districts adjoining central Schleswig be entitled, if they claim the right, to proclaim by separate vote if they desire to return to Denmark”;

and, in a subsequent resolution of 30th December the Association of Electors of Northern Schleswig declared (inter alia) as follows:—

“The German authorities in Central Schleswig are endeavouring to oppose liberty of assembly and of petition, and also to prevent the Danish population of those districts from establishing the conditions necessary for a free ballot; we protest energetically against this conduct.
“We affirm that these proceedings of the Germans render the right of self-determination a fallacy for the time being in Central Schleswig.
“We request the Danish Government, when it lays our interests before the Peace Conference, to call the attention of the Conference to the fact that, in these conditions, the Danish population of Central Schleswig cannot hope to obtain its national right by means of ballot.”

Thus the conditions necessary for a plebiscite are already present in Northern, but not in Central, Schleswig. There are good reasons for holding the plebiscite immediately in Northern Schleswig, while [Page 80] Central Schleswig, on the other hand, should be allowed time to weigh the pros and cons and to form an opinion.

The Central Schleswig in question does not include the districts of Danevirke, the fjord or town of Schleswig, the district of Angel, nor the Frisian district to the west. The town of Schleswig has been German for many generations, Angel for two or three; the Frisian district was never Danish. No voice has been raised in these districts to ask for return to Denmark.

The southern boundary of that part of Central Schleswig in which there is a possibility of finding or awakening Danish sympathies includes those parishes or communes in which the Danish language still survives and those which showed a Danish majority in the first elections to the German Parliament in 1867. For topographical and economic reasons this zone should include the parishes of Adelby, Munkbrarup and Glücksbourg, forming the southern coast of the Flensborg fjord and in which the Danish language has not completely disappeared. For topographical reasons and to allow the Danish elements of the islands Foer and Amrum to vote without risk of being isolated, the plebiscite should take place over the whole Toender district.

Central Schleswig in which there can be question of a plebiscite would include the southern half of the Toender district (which does not belong to Northern Schleswig), part of the district of Flensborg, the town of Flensborg and the parish of Hjoldelund, or about Km. 1300 with a population of 101,500, of which more than 60,000 are at Flensborg.

At Kaerherred Danish is spoken by the people, but not by immigrants.

Laek, although chiefly German, belongs naturally to these districts; some Danish sympathies also remain on account of the railway to For and Amrum; if these islands pronounce in favour of Denmark, they will bring with them the northern parts of the Frisian district, with the river Soholmaa as a natural frontier.

The western part of the island of For and a part of the island of Amrum, together with the north of the island of Sild, are still inhabited by a population speaking Danish and with sympathies which are Danish for historic reasons. They belonged to the Duchy of Ribe and were always under Danish influence.

The population of these islands is only 4,000 persons speaking Frisian and Danish, but Danish is stronger wherever both languages exist. It should also be pointed out that at the beginning of the war the German Government had begun the construction of a dyke at Klangsbol, doubtless with the intention of joining up with the railway on the island of Sild, by establishing a station of Marines in Sild bay.

[Page 81]

In the parishes of Hanved, Valsboel, Haksted, Vi and Oversoc, together with Hjoldelund, German[y] has made progress, but an active Danish minority has always existed there.

Some 90 percent of the inhabitants of Flensborg speak German, but, on the other hand, its connection with Denmark is vouched for by its history, the celebrated men it has given to Denmark. its traditions, the memory of its ships flying the Danish flag for centuries, and the graves of thousands of Danish soldiers fallen in our wars against Germany. There is a very active Danish minority with a paper (“Flensborg Avis”), a Club, a Lecture Society (1000 members), a Young People’s Union (250 members), and a church (1923).

Wholesale Trade. Its chief market is Northern Schleswig; towards the South, competition from Hamburg, Lübeck and Kiel is met with. The Commercial Association states that, from reports received from its branches, from 25 percent to 80 percent of the town’s trade is deflected towards the North. Many clerks and dock labourers are employed.

Retail Trade. Chiefly in the town, but also along the fjord and towards the West.

Industry. Ship-building yards (third on the entire European continent); give employment to about 10 percent of the population.

Large working population. Socialists, having voted for the Socialist candidate without having been given the option of voting for a German or a Dane. It is difficult to prophesy which side it would take, but the more favourable conditions for workmen in Denmark must not be forgotten.

The town of Flensborg has petitioned the Danish Government to be attached to Denmark. This petition, however, was only signed by 3,401 men and women above 20 years of age, whereas the number of men and women voters was 38,000, which corresponds to barely 10 percent. On the other hand, the population is under the tyrannical régime of the German authorities and Soldiers’ Councils, and it is presumed that a free vote would be more favourable for the Danes. Up to 1885, Danish sympathies were in the ascendant, but German sympathies have since gained the upper hand. Is an awakening of the former sentiment in favour of Denmark now taking place, even among people who have considered themselves German up to the present?

Only the people of Flensborg can answer this question.


That the population of Northern Schleswig, considered as a single group, be allowed to decide positively by ballot, as soon as possible, whether they desire to be re-united to Denmark or not.
That those districts of Central Schleswig bordering on Northern Schleswig (including the town of Flensborg) which evince a desire to do so, be called upon to express by an individual plebiscite, voting in districts, whether they wish to return to Denmark.
That the conditions necessary for freedom of voting be ensured by the evacuation of the districts in question by German military forces, and by the setting up of an International Convention to safeguard the preparation and direct the carrying out of the plebiscite.
  1. Vol. ii, p. 183.
  2. Italy, R. Ministero degli Affari Esteri, Trattati e convenzioni fra il regno d’Italia e gli altri stati, vol. 23, p. 412.
  3. Foreign Relations, 1918, supp. 1, vol. i, p. 809.
  4. See Foreign Relations, 1919, vol. ii, p. 741.
  5. Translation from French text supplied by the editors.
  6. See BC–11, vol. iii, p. 730.
  7. French text, arranged in parallel column with English text, not printed.
  8. See vol. ii, pp. 450 ff., and infra.
  9. Vol. ii, p. 457.
  10. British and Foreign State Papers, vol. lvi, p. 1050.
  11. Ibid., vol. lxix, p. 773.
  12. Ibid., vol. liv, p. 522.
  13. Not filed with the minutes.
  14. The maps referred to are not filed with the minutes.
  15. The maps referred to are not filed with the minutes.