Paris Peace Conf. 180.03201/13


Secretary’s Notes of a Meeting of Foreign Ministers Held in M. Pichon’s Room at the Quai d’Orsay, Paris, on Friday, 9th May, 1919, at 3 p.m.

Present Also Present
America, United States of America, United States of
Hon. R. Lansing Dr. C. Day
Secretary Dr. C. H. Haskins
Mr. L. Harrison Mr. Morison
British Empire Mr. A. W. Dulles
The Rt. Hon. A. J. Balfour, M. P. General Tasker H. Bliss
France Mr. Hoover
M. Stephen Pichon Mr. McCormick
Secretaries British Empire
Capt. de St. Quentin Sir Eyre Crowe
M. de Bearn Hon. H. Nicolson
Italy Mr. A. Leeper
Baron Sonnino Colonel W. L. O. Twiss
Secretary General Lt Colonel A. C. Temperley
Count Aldrovandi Hon. A. Akers-Douglas
Secretary Sir Esme Howard
M. Bertele Sir W. Goode
Japan Captain C. T. M. Fuller, R. N.
H. E. Baron Makino Captain Woolcombe
Secretary General Lt. Colonel Hon. C. C. Bigham
M. Saburi France
Secretary M. Tardieu
M. Kawai M. Cambon
M. Laroche
M. Hermitte
M. Aubert
M. Seydoux
M. de Martino
Count Vannutelli-Rey

Joint Secretariat

America, United States of Lieut. C. Burden
British Empire Major A. M. Caccia
France Capt. A. Portier
Italy Lieut. Zanchi
Interpreter:—M. Cammerlynck
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1. Territorial Frontiers of Austria: (i) Frontiers Between Austria and Czecho-Slovakia At the Meeting held on the previous day, M. Pichon said that the Council of Foreign Ministers would, in the first place, complete the examination of the remaining territorial frontiers of Austria, as presented in the reports of the Commissions appointed by the Conference. Questions had been left over from the meeting held on the previous day (I. C. 182),1 and he would ask the Council to commence with the examination of the frontiers between Austria and Czecho-Slovakia.

Mr. Lansing enquired whether the members of the Committee on Czecho-Slovak questions had reached a unanimous conclusion on this question.

M. Laroche said the Committee were unanimous in recognising that the frontier between Czecho-Slovakia and Austria should, in principle, coincide with the administrative boundaries, which formerly separated Bohemia and Moravia from the Austrian provinces. With respect to various rectifications asked for by Czecho-Slovakia in this frontier, the Committee were of opinion that for the most part, these demands could only be decided by a boundary Commission on the spot. The Committee had, however, unanimously recommended that the town of Gmünd should be given to Austria, whilst the railway station of Gmünd should go to Czecho-Slovakia, for the reason that the railway station formed an important junction. The distance between the railway station and the town was about two miles, so that the inconvenience caused by this arrangement would not be very great. Furthermore, the Committee considered it to be of great importance that Czecho-Slovakia should be able to control the course of the Morava river in order to be in a position to construct canals to serve the provinces of Moravia. It had been recommended, therefore, that the frontier should be drawn so as to leave the Morava entirely within Czecho-Slovak territory, it being understood, on the other hand, that the railway which followed the Morava at varying distances would be left entirely within Austrian territory.

One important question, however, remained to be provided for in the Austrian Treaty, namely, the renunciation by Austria of the northern provinces of Galicia and Teschen, whose boundaries had not yet been delimited.

(It was agreed to accept the recommendations of the Committee on Czecho-Slovak questions in regard to the frontier between Czechoslovakia and Austria.)

(j) Frontiers Between Austria and Jugo-Slavia M. Tardieu said that the Committee2 had carefully studied the [Page 680] Jugo-Slav claims to the Austrian provinces of the valley of the Drave. After examining the ethnographical, historical, economical and political conditions, it had decided upon the following solutions for the two boundary regions which formed distinct basins, having as their respective centres, Marburg and Klagenfurt.

(a) District of Marburg.

The United States, British and French Delegations noted that the district of Marburg was inhabited by a population in which the real Slovene element possessed the majority. On the other hand, the Italian Delegation considered that Marburg, of which it recognised the German character, depended on the Austrian economic system, and could not therefore be detached from it without disturbing the economic life of the region and compromising the maintenance of peace.

In consequence, the United States, British and French Delegations proposed to assign to Jugo-Slavia the basin of Marburg; whilst the Italian Delegation opposed to this proposal the reservation of principle formulated above.

(b) District of Klagenfurt.

The United States, British and French Delegations noted that the basin of Klagenfurt was inhabited by a mixed population, composing important Slovene elements, particularly to the east of Klagenfurt. This basin, moreover, constituted a geographical entity separated from the south by the natural barrier of the Karawanken mountains. For this reason, the basin, and not particularly the town, of Klagenfurt, constituted an association of economic interest more closely connected with the districts situated to the north than with those situated to the south. Nevertheless, the United States, British and French Delegations considered that the information at present in their possession did not appear to be sufficient to allow them to determine with certainty the natural aspirations of the nations of this district. On the other hand, the Italian Delegation considered that the Klagenfurt basin formed an integral part of the Austrian geographical system from which it could not be separated, without disturbing the life of the region and compromising the general peace. For the above reasons, the Committee proposed that the frontier between Jugo-Slavia and Austria should follow the course of the Karawanken mountains from a point south-east of Eisenkappel as far as the Klagenfurt-Laibach road. At the same time, the United States, British and French Delegations proposed that a local enquiry or consultation (under conditions to be determined by the Allied and Associated Governments) should be held, in order to afford the inhabitants of the Klagenfurt Basin an opportunity of protesting, should they wish to do so, against inclusion in Austria, and demanding union with Jugo-Slavia. The Italian Delegation, however, opposed to this proposal [Page 681] the reservation of principle formulated above. It declared, moreover, that in its opinion, any question of a consultation or enquiry, as well as of a plebiscite, bore an eminently political character which removed it from the competence of the Territorial Committees.

M. de Martino invited the attention of the Council to the importance of Marburg as a railway centre. In his opinion, the questions of Klagenfurt and Marburg were intimately connected. Consequently the two problems should be studied together and the study should be continued right up to the Italian frontier.

Mr. Balfour said that before accepting M. de Martino’s proposal he wished to enquire whether the arrangement in regard to the boundaries in the district of Marburg had not been something in the nature of a compromise, whereby it had been agreed that a triangle situated to the north of Luttenburg should be left to Austria in exchange for Marburg and the adjoining territory, which was to be included in Jugo-Slavia. As a result, he considered that the Council could not consider one question without the other, as it was by taking the two questions together that a compromise had been reached.

M. Tardieu agreed that the question should be considered as a whole.

M. Pichon enquired whether the Commission should not be authorised to study the question up to the Italian frontier.

M. Sonnino considered that this could be done then and there. The Council of Four had charged the Council of Foreign Ministers to accept the proposals submitted by the Committee for the study of territorial questions relating to Jugo-Slavia, or to put up their own recommendations in regard to matters requiring amendment.

M. Tardieu explained that the Committee had thought that a study of the frontiers beyond the Klagenfurt-Laibach road must involve the consideration of Italian claims which had been reserved by the Council of Ten.

M. Sonnino said that if he had correctly understood the question, the Committee in fixing the frontiers between Austria and Yugo-Slavia had given careful consideration to the position of the existing railway lines in these regions, with the result that it had decided to leave the railway line between Klagenfurt, Assling and Trieste free, that is to say, outside the territories allotted to Jugo-Slavia. Now, to give effect to this principle, it would be necessary that the frontier which had been delimited up to the Klagenfurt-Laibach road should thence proceed in a southerly direction, remaining east of Assling, until it met the Italian frontier. In other words, it was essential that the whole of the railway line from Klagenfurt to Trieste, via Assling, should remain in Austria until it reached the Italian frontier. In his opinion, that was the idea which the Committee had meant to follow in accordance with the principle accepted in regard to railway communications [Page 682] by other Commissions. Under this arrangement one important direct railway line of communication would exist between Trieste and Vienna, whilst the other railway lines more to the east would pass through Jugo-Slav territory.

Mr. Lansing said the Council of Foreign Ministers had received no specific reports on these various questions. The Committee for the study of territorial questions relating to Jugo-Slavia had not reported on the particular questions under consideration. He proposed, therefore, that these should first be referred to that Committee for examination.

M. Sonnino said that he would be prepared to accept Mr. Lansing’s proposal. He would point out, however, that the Council of Four had directed the Council of Foreign Ministers to report on these very questions. Should his colleagues, nevertheless, insist on referring these questions to the Committee, he would bow to their decision, but only on the understanding that the terms of reference to the Committee should clearly lay down the principle he had just enumerated, namely, that the main line of railway communication between Trieste and Vienna, via Assling, and Klagenfurt should pass wholly through Italian and Austrian territory.

M. Pichon enquired whether the Commission should also be charged to deal with the question of the Italian frontiers in these regions.

Baron Sonnino replied in the negative. He invited the attention of his Colleagues to the fact that the Supreme Council had decided that all frontier questions affecting Italy should be settled by that Council. Consequently the reference to the Committee would relate only to the part between the Klagenfurt-Laibach road, where the Committee had previously stopped, and the frontier of Italy. Now, the principle which governed the Committee appeared to be to leave the Railway line between Trieste and Vienna outside Jugo-Slav territory. He thought that question could, therefore, be accepted at once. Otherwise it should, in his opinion, be referred forthwith to the Supreme Council and not to the Committee on Jugo-Slavia.

Mr. Lansing maintained that there was nothing either in the report or in the maps submitted by the Committee for the study of territorial questions relating to Jugo-Slavia, which supported Baron Sonnino’s contention.

Mr. Balfour said that he understood Baron Sonnino to state that the Councils of Foreign Ministers were not competent at present to decide questions relating to the Italian frontiers. In this view he entirely concurred with Baron Sonnino, at all events as far as Great Britain and France were concerned, since there existed the additional complication in regard to the Treaty of London. On the other hand, for the Council to decide at this stage that a certain railway line must be left out of Jugo-Slavia and included in Italy and Austria seemed [Page 683] to him to be hardly justifiable with the information at present available.

Baron Sonnino agreed that the Committee would be quite unable to discuss such a question, especially if the Foreign Ministers themselves could not do so. Consequently in his opinion the question should be referred to the Supreme Council.

M. Pichon remarked that Mr. Lansing had not said that the present Council were not competent to consider the question. He had merely asked that the question should be referred to the Committee for study and report.

Mr. Lansing agreed. He explained that he felt himself at present incompetent, because he had received no advice from his experts either on the ethnological aspect of the case or in regard to the Railways.

Baron Sonnino said that he asked himself what the Committee would do when it reached the Italian frontier, since it would not be competent to deal with the question further. The Committee could, therefore, only deal with another 20 kilometres of country beyond the Klagenfurt-Laibach road.

Mr. Balfour enquired whether it would not be an advantage that the question should be examined by a Committee before it came under consideration either by the present Council or by the Supreme Council. So far the question had not been examined by the Committee because the Italian Delegation had held the view that for political reasons Committees should not do so. He quite agreed with the view put forward by the Italian Delegation in regard to the question of international policy: but the Committee could give the ethnologic and economic aspect of the case which would greatly help the Council to deal with the larger questions. For instance, the area which the Italians desired should be given to Austria and not to Jugo-Slavia was, he understood, largely inhabited by Jugo-Slavs.

That was a question on which the Committee could furnish a statement.

Again, the Italian Delegation maintained that for economic reasons a direct line of communication between Trieste and Vienna and Bohemia should pass wholly through Italian and Austrian territory without crossing Jugo-Slavia. That constituted partly an economic point. Surely the two questions could be looked into by a competent Committee of experts. He understood that to be the suggestion made by Mr. Lansing.

Mr. Lansing agreed that Mr. Balfour had correctly interpreted his proposal.

M. Sonnino said that provided the Council of Ministers were willing to accept the lines proposed by the Committee on Jugo-Slav affairs, he would, himself, withdraw the reservation made by the [Page 684] Italian Delegation in regard to the districts of Marburg and Klagenfurt.

M. Tardieu pointed out that two reservations had been made: one by the Italian Delegation in regard to the Klagenfurt Basin, which the Delegation considered should remain Austrian on account of its forming an integral part of the Austrian geographical and economic system. On the other hand, the United States, British and French Delegations, considered that a local enquiry or consultation should be held in order to afford the inhabitants of the Klagenfurt Basin an opportunity of protesting, should they wish to do so, against inclusion in Austria and of demanding union with Jugo-Slavia. It would be seen, therefore, that the Committee had not made any definite proposals. The Italian Delegation considered that the Klagenfurt Basin should be included in Austria, whereas the other three Delegations proposed that a line should be drawn south of the Klagenfurt Basin up to which the enquiry or consultation should proceed.

Mr. Balfour enquired whether the procedure adopted in the case of Malmedy could not be followed in the present instance. Malmedy had been incorporated in Belgium, but provision was made in order to allow the inhabitants to protest against their inclusion in Belgium within a certain time; reference would then be to the League of Nations which would decide. He thought that procedure might be found a convenient method of dealing with the problem of Klagenfurt.

M. Sonnino pointed out that the two cases were very different. In Malmedy there was a question of bringing Germans under Belgian sovereignty; whereas the people of Klagenfurt already formed part of the Austrian State.

M. Pichon interpreted the views of the Council to be that the question should be referred to the Committee on Jugo-Slav affairs to report as soon as possible, giving precise details to enable a decision to be taken.

M. Tardieu pointed out that the Committee could give ethnic and statistical data relating to this region but it could not give particulars relating to the railway line which would join the Italian frontier at an unknown point.

Mr. Lansing agreed that the Council only required the Committee to give ethnological and economic information.

(It was agreed that the Committee for the study of territorial questions relating to Jugo-Slavia should submit recommendations in regard to the frontiers between Jugo-Slavia and Austria, up to the Italian Frontier, based on ethnic and economic considerations; the Committee should submit their report on the morning of the 10th May, 1919.)

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2. M. Pichon read the following letter which he had addressed to the Chargé d’Affaires of the Netherlands Government in Paris, dated 9th May, 1919:—

Summons to Belgian and Netherlands Representatives To Discuss the Revision of the Treaties of 1839 “In a note dated 4th April, 1919, you were kind enough to inform me that the Royal Netherlands Government was prepared to take part in a discussion on the subject of the revision of the Treaties of 1839.

I am directed to inform you in reply to the Note above mentioned that the Supreme Council of the Allied and Associated Great Powers has decided that a Conference, including the five Ministers of Foreign Affairs of those Powers, together with the representatives of the Netherlands and of Belgium should meet as soon as possible, in Paris, in order to examine the question of the revision of the Treaties of 1839.

I regret that up to the present, it has not been possible to fix exactly the date on which these discussions could commence; but as soon as the Supreme Council is in a position to reach a decision thereon, I shall have the honour of informing you immediately.

Pray accept, mon cher Chargé d’Affaires, the assurance of my highest consideration.

(Signed) Pichon”.

(It was agreed that M. Pichon should forthwith issue a further communication to the representatives of the Netherlands and Belgium Governments, inviting them to attend the meeting as above arranged on Monday, 19th May, 1919.)

3. Belgium’s Protest Against the Eventual Use of the Belgian National Colours by Germany M. Pichon drew attention to the following letter dated 6th May 1919, which had been addressed by the Secretary-General of the Peace Conference to the American, British and Italian Delegations:—“The Secretary-General of the Peace Conference has the honour to forward herewith a copy of a letter which has been addressed to him by the Secretariat of the Belgian Delegation”. In this letter the Belgian Delegation requests the Allied and Associated Powers not to recognise the new German flag in the event of the Colours of the latter being as announced, namely, the same as those of the Belgian flag. This question could, if so agreed, be placed on the Agenda paper for the next meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs.

Mr. Balfour said he could not see what this had to do with the Peace Conference. It would obviously be impossible to add a new Article to the Peace Treaty on this question. He thought the matter should stand over until the Germans had committed the anticipated outrage.

M. Pichon suggested no action should be taken until Germany had declared her intention in the matter.

Baron Sonnino thought that once Germany had decided on her action it would be far more difficult to insist on a change being made. [Page 686] In his opinion it would be easier to warn Germany beforehand and inform her that the Allied and Associated Governments endorsed Belgium’s protest.

Mr. Balfour drew attention to the fact that a letter on this subject had been addressed by the Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs to the American, British, French and Italian Ministers of Foreign Affairs in March last. To this letter the British Government had already forwarded the following reply, dated 8th May, 1919, which he thought fully met the case:—

“I have the honour to refer to the Note of March 15th last in which Your Excellency called attention to a statement which had appeared in the neutral press that the German Republican Government intended to adopt for the Republican Flag the same colours as the Belgian national Flag.

Your Excellency asked for the assurance that His Britannic Majesty’s Government would not recognise such a flag.

In reply I have the honour to say that His Majesty’s Government while feeling it would be difficult to make a demand of the German Government not to choose red, black and gold for the national colours, are of opinion that the Allies might insist that these colours, if adopted, should be so arranged that no confusion between the Belgian and German Flags would be likely to arise”.

M. Pichon explained that the French Government had also answered in the same sense.

(The question was then adjourned.)

4. Belgian Protest Against Retention and Publication by Germany of the Documents Taken From the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs M. Pichon said that the following letter, dated Spa, 1st May, 1919, had been addressed by the Head of the Belgian Mission to General Nudant, President of the Inter-Allied Armistice Commission, on the subject of the retention and publication by Germany of the documents taken from the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs:—

“In compliance with instructions from my Government I sent to the President of the German Armistice Commission, under date of 10 April, 1919, a protest—of which I sent you a copy (cf. my procès-verbal of 10 April, 1919, S 3)—in regard to the retention and the publication by the Germans of documents belonging to the Department of Foreign Affairs of Belgium.

The note of which I send you a copy herewith, reiterates my protest. The Minister of Foreign Affairs believes that joint action by the Allies seems to be indispensable, and he asks whether it would not be possible to obtain the intervention of Marshal Foch against this open violation of the Armistice Agreement.

I have the honour to beg you to be so good as to investigate the possibility of satisfying this request”.

M. Pichon, continuing, said that a clause in the Armistice existed which apparently dealt with this question. Consequently, it would [Page 687] be sufficient to request Marshal Foch to enforce the provisions of the Armistice.

M. Sonnino pointed out that Article 19 of the Armistice referred to by M. Pichon merely dealt with economic questions. It required the immediate return of all the documents, specie, stocks, shares, paper money, touching public or private interests in the invaded countries.

Mr. Lansing enquired whether any of the documents referred to by the Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs had actually been published in Germany.

M. Pichon invited attention to the following letter, dated Spa, 1st May, 1919, addressed by the Head of the Belgian Mission to General von Hammerstein, President of the German Armistice Commission:—

“In my note of 10 April, I protested against the retention by the German Government, and the publication of political circulars or other documents of public interest belonging to the Belgian Government and I again requested the immediate return of all copies now remaining in Germany, as well as the cessation of the work of publication which is manifestly contrary to the letter and spirit of Article 19 of the Armistice Convention.

Up to the present time, I have as yet received no reply in regard to this matter.

The Minister of War informs me that, according to a report in the “Rhine and Westphalia Gazette” of 2nd April last, two fresh volumes of these circulars have appeared.

I reiterate my protest against this open violation of the Armistice Agreement, and I urge General von Hammerstein to inform me as to the measures taken by the German Government in compliance with the justifiable and repeated requests which I have made in regard to this matter.”

Mr. Lansing proposed that Marshal Foch should be asked to report what Powers he possessed under the Armistice.

(It was agreed that correspondence received from the Head of the Belgian Mission at Spa, quoted above, should be referred to Marshal Foch with a request that he should report to the Council what powers he possessed under the Armistice to insist on the return of the documents taken from the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.)

5. Policy of the Allied and Associated Powers on the Regions Bordering the Baltic Sea: (a) Esthonia Mr. Balfour said that all the information which he received from Esthonia as well as that received by the American Delegation went to show that some kind of assistance and encouragement should be given to Esthonia which for four months had been struggling against Bolshevism. Esthonia did not require men; she required equipment, food, and money, though not much. A small allowance of money, with some indication from the Allied and Associated Governments, that they supported [Page 688] their cause would encourage the Esthonians to continue their struggle against Bolshevism. In his opinion, the Allied and Associated Governments should recognise the Esthonian Government as a de facto Government, and in addition they should even be prepared to give a certain amount of assistance in the work in which that Government was engaged. The matter was one of pressing urgency, as the fate of Esthonia was hanging in the balance. These remote people were quite unacquainted with the temper of the Allies in Paris. He proposed, therefore, that some form of encouragement should forthwith be given to the Esthonian Government by the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs. The British Government had been giving naval assistance and stores to the Esthonians, and largely owing to that small contribution, the Esthonians had been able to carry on their struggles. But the British Government could not continue this action except in conjunction with the Allied and Associated Governments. The British Government had already acknowledged the Esthonian Government as a de facto Government, but as far as he knew, this had not yet been done by any of the other Allied and Associated Governments. However, deeds were more important than words and he felt some action should be taken in the direction indicated.

Mr. Lansing said that his recollection was that Great Britain had recognised the Esthonian Government as a de facto Government about a year ago and had again confirmed the recognition in September last. The French Government had taken very much the same course.

M. Pichon explained that the French Government had not so far recognised the Esthonian Government, but it had had unofficial dealings with Esthonian representatives and had thereby acted as if according recognition to a de facto Government.

Mr. Lansing pointed out that at the bottom of the whole question lay a very important principle of policy. The recognition of de facto Governments in territories formerly Russian, constituted in a measure a dissection of Russia which the United States of America had carefully avoided, except in the case of Finland and Poland. In the case of Poland Russia herself had acquiesced.

Mr. Balfour said he would, under the circumstances, withdraw his suggestion for the recognition of Esthonia if the United States of America objected thereto, especially as he was more interested in the question of obtaining some material assistance for the Esthonians.

Mr. Hoover said that the Food Commission had established a systematic distribution of food in Esthonia but the problem was inseparable from that of public order and means of communication. The Esthonian Government, at the present moment only possessed three locomotives, two of which were broken down and unserviceable. As a result, the people were dying of starvation, and it was impossible to get food into the interior of the country. The Army had succeeded [Page 689] up to the present in maintaining its position: it was sadly in need of ammunition, clothing and supplies, which were not available at the present time. The high rate of casualties was due almost entirely to death from starvation. The scenes witnessed in Esthonia were most heartrending. The problem could not be encompassed without means of transport and the restoration of public order. Humane and not political considerations should prevail.

Mr. Balfour enquired whether Mr. Hoover would not add to his statement of the requirements of Esthonia a certain amount of financial assistance. Furthermore, he would be glad to know whether Mr. Hoover had any plans for improving means of communication.

Mr. Hoover explained that a section of the Supreme Economic Council dealt with questions relating to communications. He thought a certain number of Armistice locomotives and wagons obtained from the Germans could be set aside for work in Esthonia. In this connection, he would invite attention to the fact that the Germans had converted the Russian into the German gauge which would greatly help in arriving at a solution. Food supplies could be sent to Esthonia by the United States of America in accordance with the powers conferred by Congress, but no direct money loans could be made by the United States Government as no authority existed. In regard to shipping, the British controlled a large quantity of German tonnage which could be put aside for the purpose of bringing munitions and supplies to Esthonia. He thought the whole question was one of co-operation between Allies and if authority were given to the Supreme Economic Council and to the Military Authorities, a solution would be found without difficulty.

Mr. Lansing proposed that the matter should be referred to the Supreme Economic Council to prepare definite plans.

Mr. Balfour thought that something more would be required. He thought that the Supreme Economic Council, the War Department and the Admiralty should be instructed to prepare the necessary plans: the Supreme Economic Council to be authorised to take action without again referring the matter to the Council. He realised that the American Government could do nothing in the way of advancing hard cash: but they did a great deal in the supply of food. On the other hand, only a very small amount of money, some £200,000 would make a great difference and he enquired whether France, Great Britain and Italy would be able to supply this sum.

M. Sonnino did not think that Italy could advance any money for this purpose.

M. Pichon pointed out that it would be necessary for him in the first place to obtain the sanction of the Budget Committee of the Chamber of Deputies. He would have to address a certain request [Page 690] to that Committee shortly and he would then take the opportunity of pressing for an advance for this purpose.

Mr. Lansing pointed out that in this connection the United States of America was already spending £400,000 a month in relieving the situation in Esthonia.

Mr. Balfour said that he had intended to make it clear that the United States Government could not give money as such for technical reasons. But it was giving much larger sums of money in the shape of food and assistance. He would add that he was, himself, in M. Pichon’s position. He would suggest that Great Britain should give an advance but he would have to get the permission of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Prime Minister. He would, however, do what he could.

(b) Latvia and Lithuania Mr. Hoover asked permission in the next place to invite attention to the situation in Latvia and Lithuania. The Germans had arrested the Government of Latvia and the British naval authorities had prevented food supplies from entering the country. The difficulty arose from the fact that the Germans were living on the civil population; they were not fighting the Bolsheviks, and they prevented the local authorities from organising the country.

The Bolsheviks had now retreated from Riga because no food was available. As a result the town of Riga was now in the hands of mobs and atrocities of a hideous nature were being committed. The American Food Commission were in a position to send food but this could not be landed without the help of the Navy, since no Government, not even a Bolshevik government existed.

Captain Fuller reported that the British Admiralty was fully aware of the situation in Riga. A week or 10 days ago an invitation had been received from the Germans asking that the British Navy should help them to recover Riga, the conditions being that the British forces should act in conjunction with the German forces.

Mr. Balfour thought that Mr. Hoover had not suggested that the British Navy should act in conjunction with the German forces: all he wanted was that the British Admiralty should send ships to Riga to ensure the landing of food.

Captain Fuller replied that it would not be possible to assure the landing of food at Riga unless the town itself were also occupied.

Mr. Hoover said that he felt certain that if food were landed at Riga, the Bolsheviks would promptly return.

Mr. Balfour thought that the question stood as follows. Food could only be got to Riga under the protection of the British Navy. In addition, the town must be protected against attack because as soon as food was available in the town the Bolshevik would enter. The British Admiralty were of the opinion that Riga could not be protected [Page 691] by marines, consequently, it would be necessary to consider whether any other forces were available to maintain order in the town.

Mr. Hoover pointed out that a humanitarian policy would allow the Germans to do the work on land in co-operation with the British Navy acting at sea.

M. Pichon thought it would be impossible to accept German co-operation.

Mr. Lansing maintained that unless a solution could be found the Allied and Associated Governments would be responsible for the death of the people. Should the British Admiralty refuse to cooperate with the Germans purely from fear of giving the latter some economic advantages, it would be wholly responsible for the deaths that would occur.

Mr. Balfour thought that Mr. Lansing had spoken under some misconception. The British Admiralty had not considered either the economic or any other advantages. But so long as war lasted, it was rather a strong order to expect the British and German forces to co-operate. Everyone must feel the strength of the appeal made by Mr. Lansing. But volunteers could be found to go to the scene of action if only paid. Consequently, enquiries should be made as to whether other forces were available before the Allies could agree to march shoulder to shoulder with the Germans, with whom they were still at war.

M. Pichon entirely agreed with Mr. Balfour’s standpoint. In Finland, in Russia, and in Scandinavia, other elements could be found to constitute volunteers to do the work required.

Mr. Lansing said that paradoxical as it might seem, the Allied and Associated Governments were, by the Armistice, Allies of Germany in the Baltic provinces. The reason the Germans had been asked to stay there was because the Allied and Associated Governments did not want them to leave.

M. Pichon thought it was one thing to tell the Germans to stay where they were and quite another thing to join and fight with them.

Mr. Lansing enquired wherein lay the objection. Was it sentiment or danger to Allied forces?

M. Pichon thought it was both. In his opinion it would be very bad from, a moral point of view. Furthermore, there was great danger in our troops supporting the action of the Germans in Russia.

Mr. Lansing agreed that the point was that the Allies did not wish to support the Germans in Russia. At the same time, thousands of people were starving in Esthonia. In his opinion, it was essential to put ideas of humanity above those of sentiment and to do everything possible to prevent people from starving.

Mr. Balfour maintained that the question was not so simple as [Page 692] Mr. Lansing believed. The Germans had been behaving disgracefully in the Baltic provinces and were acting for their own political ends. They were everywhere preventing and hampering the policy of the Allies which was to encourage the local people to do what they could to organise themselves. Sufficient reason might not exist to force the Allies to occupy Riga, but sufficient reason existed to justify an endeavour to obtain volunteers to do the work required. This was clearly better than to assist the Germans who were merely furthering their own political objects. He agreed that everything possible should be done to save the population from starving, but if it were true that volunteers were available, Mr. Lansing and the Allies should be able to find some means to make use of them.

Mr. Hoover thought that the organisation of a mercenary army would require a considerable time.

Mr. Lansing pointed out that he had heard what Mr. Balfour had said in regard to the condition of Esthonia with considerable interest. The American authorities had investigated the charges brought against the Germans and they had found that the Germans had been behaving far better than had been reported. General Von der Goltz appeared to be behaving with considerable good faith, confining himself merely to military matters. The political situation was wholly due to the people quarrelling among themselves. They had been trying to get a Cabinet that represented all parties, including the Baltic Barons. In his opinion, there existed no danger of German misbehaviour.

Mr. Balfour enquired whether Mr. Lansing intended to imply that the statement relating to the disarmament of the Letts by the Germans was untrue.

Mr. Lansing replied that the Germans had certainly disarmed the Letts when a movement against the Government had been started.

M. Pichon thought the Allies at present possessed no means to land forces to maintain order as suggested by Mr. Hoover. He thought that the Commanders of the local Allied Naval Forces should be called upon to make an enquiry and to report as to the means that could be taken to relieve the situation.

Mr. Balfour invited attention to the curious difference existing between the information received from Esthonia by Mr. Lansing and himself. Under these circumstances he thought it would be a good thing for the Delegates of the various countries who had representatives in the Baltic Provinces to join and consider the information received by their various representatives.

Mr. Lansing suggested that Mr. Hoover should be authorised to call such a meeting together and obtain a report. He would point out, however, that the question was also a food one.

Mr. Balfour said that both Naval and Economic authorities would be available to represent the American, British, French and Italian [Page 693] views. These delegates should meet together to consider the facts available and submit a definite policy to be followed.

Mr. Lansing thought the proposal would be acceptable. But he thought that even if the Germans were devils in Hell the people should still be fed. In his opinion, that was the only question regarding which the Commission should be asked to suggest the best policy, that was to say, the Commission should be appointed merely to report how best the Allied and Associated Governments could feed the people.

Mr. Balfour thought that the terms of reference to the Committee should not be such that the feeding of the people alone should be considered, and that no consideration should be given to the existing state of affairs in the country.

M. Pichon agreed with the views expressed by Mr. Balfour. He thought the question should be considered as a whole; no aspect of the case should be neglected.

(It was agreed that a Committee consisting of an American, British, French and Italian, Economic, Naval and Military Representative should be appointed to report on the best means of keeping and maintaining order in the Baltic States and revictualling the population.

It was further agreed that the Foreign Ministers of Great Britain and France should consider the question of making a small money advance estimated at a total of £200,000 to the Esthonian Government.

The following were appointed to form part of the Committee, with instructions to report as promptly as possible:—

United States of America Mr. Hoover.
Admiral Benson.
Colonel Logan.
Great Britain Sir E. Howard.
Sir W. Goode.
Admiral Hope.
General Thwaites.
France M. Seydoux.
Admiral de Bon.
Colonel Georges.
Italy . . . . . . .
Admiral Grassi.
. . . . . . .)

6. M. Seydoux said that the Supreme Economic Council had for some time considered the question of the removal of the blockade restrictions on Hungary. It had been proposed to re-open relations with Hungary when the blockade restrictions on Austria had been removed. But on account of Bolshevik outbreaks in Hungary it had been found impossible on the 2nd April to give effect to this proposal. Indeed, it had been [Page 694] found necessary to insist on closing the frontier between Austria and Hungary. Now that the Government of Bela Kun was about to be upset, he thought steps could be taken to remove all commercial restrictions. Hungary was self-contained up to a certain point, but the supply of food and raw materials was becoming an urgent problem. It appeared, however, that a considerable quantity of breadstuffs and meat existed in the Banat and surrounding countries in excess of requirements of Greater Serbia, and was consequently available for export to Hungary. As a result of a study of this question the Supreme Economic Council had decided to enquire from the Council of Foreign Ministers whether the time had not now arrived for the lifting of the blockade on Hungary. Furthermore, the Eastern Sub-Commission of the Blockade were taking measures to prevent the passing of food and other raw materials from Hungary into Russia.

Mr. Hoover pointed out that the proposal referred to by M. Seydoux had been reached by the Supreme Economic Council on the supposition that the Bela Kun Government would fall at once. So far that had not happened; but the Supreme Economic Council asked for a mandate to act as soon as that Government should disappear. The information available went to show that two days ago it appeared certain that the Bela Kun Government would be upset. Unfortunately, the invitation to Austria to attend the Peace Conference had been interpreted to include the Hungarian Government with the result that Bela Kun’s Government had again been put on its feet.

Mr. Balfour drew attention to the fact that no invitation had so far been delivered to the Hungarian Government.

M. Pichon expressed the view that the authority asked for by the Supreme Economic Council could be granted—that is to say that as soon as the political situation permitted, and order was re-established in Hungary, the blockade should be removed.

M. Sonnino inquired what interpretation should be placed on the words “reestablishment of order”. He enquired whether an unofficial notification could not be allowed to leak out that the blockade would be raised as soon as the Government of Bela Kun was overthrown.

Mr. McCormick thought that if Bela Kun was put out of office the blockade could be removed. In his opinion the matter was one of the greatest importance, as Hungary was the last barrier that was still standing and preventing the re-establishment of normal economic conditions in Southern Europe.

Mr. Balfour thought that the Supreme Economic Council and the General Staff should be the judges in regard to the re-establishment of order.

(It was agreed to authorise the Supreme Economic Council to take all preparatory measures to remove the blockade restrictions on [Page 695] Hungary without further reference to the Supreme Council as soon as the General Staff informed them that order had been re-established in the country.)

(The Meeting then adjourned.)

Paris, 9th May, 1919.

  1. FM–12, p. 676.
  2. The Commission on Rumanian and Yugoslav Affairs.