Paris Peace Conf. 180.03201/15


Secretary’s Notes of a Meeting of Foreign Ministers Held in M. Pichon’s Room at the Quai d’Orsay, Paris, on Wednesday, 14th May, 1919, at 3 p.m.

Present Also Present
America, United States of America, United States of
Hon. H. White. Dr. Lord.
Secretary British Empire
Mr. L. Harrison. Sir Eyre Crowe.
British Empire General Malcolm.
The Rt. Hon. A. J. Balfour, O.M., M.P. Col. Twiss.
Secretaries Hon. H. Nicolson.
Sir P. Loraine, Bt. Mr. A. Leeper.
Mr. E. Phipps. Col. Henniker.
France Mr. H. J. Paton.
M. Pichon. Admiral Hope.
Secretaries Mr. Fullerton Carnegie.
M. Arnavon. Col. Kisch.
Capt. de St. Quentin. Mr. Forbes Adams.
M. de Bearn. Col. Meinertzhagen.
Italy France
H. E. Baron Sonnino. M. J. Cambon.
Secretary Admiral de Bon.
M. Bertele. Lieut. de V. Odend’hal.
Japan Capt. [Col.?] Georges.
H. E. Baron Makino. M. Laroche.
M. Saburi.
M. Kawai.

Joint Secretariat

America, United States of Lieut. Burden.
British Empire Captain E. Abraham.
France Captain A. Portier.
Italy Lieut. Zanchi.
Interpreter:—M. Cammerlynck.

(1) Method of Procedure To Be Followed by Commission on the Revision of the Treaties of 1839 M. Pichon said that the Belgian Minister in Paris had come to see him, and had enquired whether the whole Belgian Delegation was to be present at the first meeting on the 19th May, when the revision of the Treaty was to be considered, or whether M. Hymans should be present alone. The answer had been, subject to confirmation, that the only Belgian plenipotentiary whose presence was necessary was M. Hymans, who might be accompanied by any technical advisers he might consider requisite.

[Page 705]

The next question had been whether the Belgian and Dutch Delegations would be called upon to make a statement of their points of view at the beginning of the first meeting, and which of the two would be asked to speak first. The answer had been that Belgium should take the initiative of starting the discussion.

The third question had been whether the Commission, comprising at the first meeting the Foreign Ministers of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers, would nominate a technical sub-commission to elucidate the question. M. Pichon had replied to this in the affirmative, subject to confirmation, as in the case of the other replies made, by the Council. As Baron Gaiffier wished to have a firm answer by the 14th, M. Pichon asked whether the Council approved of the replies he had given.

Mr. Balfour said that in his view the matter was very largely a question of form, and that he was prepared to leave it entirely to M. Pichon as Chairman of the Council.

(This was agreed to, and the replies above quoted were approved.)

(2) M. Pichon asked which Commissions had dealt with the frontiers of Bulgaria.

Fixing of Bulgarian Frontiers M. Cambon said that the Commission on Greek Affairs had concluded its work on the common frontiers between Greece and Bulgaria.

M. Laroche1 said that the Serbian Commission was also ready. The Roumanian Committee had thought that it was not within its terms of reference to deal with the ancient frontier between Roumania and Bulgaria.

M. Pichon said that the question to be decided was whether or not representatives of the countries concerned, Greece, Serbia and Roumania, should be heard in the Council before the frontiers were settled.

Baron Sonnino asked whether the results obtained by the Committees had been unanimous.

M. Laroche said that there had been unanimity except on a small point regarding the frontier between Serbia and Bulgaria. There had been complete unanimity in regard to Roumania; there had been considerable difference of opinion in regard to the frontier between Bulgaria and Greece.

Mr. Balfour enquired whether representatives of the countries concerned had not been heard by the Committees.

[Page 706]

M. Cambon replied in the affirmative.

M. Pichon suggested that the best plan would be for the Council to hear an explanation of the reports of the Committees, and then if necessary to call in the representatives of the countries concerned.

(This was agreed to, and it was decided that the reports of Committees relating to the frontiers of Bulgaria should be heard on the following Friday at 3 p.m.)

(3) Repatriation of Russian Prisoners Colonel Georges said that on the 3rd April, 1919, the Inter-Allied Control Commission at Berlin had concluded that the retention of prisoners of war was impossible, and that the Germans should be allowed to organise their repatriation in their own way, provided none were forced to return home who might not wish to. This proposal had been submitted to the Allied Governments and accepted. On the 9th April an order had been given that this decision be communicated to the German Government. On the 17th April General Nudant had asked for details regarding the means adopted for carrying out the repatriation. An interchange of correspondence between General Nudant and the Berlin Commission took place on the 21st and 23rd April, and on the 6th May. This correspondence was sent to the Peace Conference by the Marshal Commanding-in-Chief the Allied Armies, together with his remarks. The proposals in question were as follows:—

A stream of transportation by rail through Poland, on one part and Czecho-Slovakia and Galicia, on the other for Great-Russians and Ukrainians.
Transport by coasting vessels for prisoners belonging to the Baltic Regions.
Transportation by sea to Archangel, to the Black Sea and Siberia, of other prisoners.

The Berlin Commission had drawn up a plan for organising these various streams of repatriation. This plan, together with the comments made on it, gave prominence to certain points, to which the attention of the Conference must be drawn.

The necessity of obtaining the consent of the Esthonian Government to the landing of Russian Prisoners of War on its territory. A similar demand would have to be made to the Lettish Government.
The necessity of an agreement with the Polish Government regarding the passage of prisoners of war across Polish territory. A month ago the Polish Government had been unwilling, but it appeared by the news brought by General Malcolm, that this attitude had since been modified.
It would have to be recognised in principle that part of the tonnage under the control of the Entente Powers should be utilised for repatriation.
[Page 707]

M. Pichon said there might be some difficulty in dealing with the Lettish Government under existing circumstances.

Colonel Georges continuing, observed that the liberty left to Germany of repatriating Russians in its own way, was not exempt from certain risks, the principal of which were the probable massacre of the Anti-Bolsheviks and the reinforcement of the Soviet Armies. This point had been very clearly set forth in a letter of April 19th, giving the views of the British War Cabinet. This decision, however, was based on the unanimous opinion of the representatives in Berlin, who had come to the conclusion on the spot that it was impossible to make a selection among the prisoners, and that it was desirable to act quickly and repatriate them en masse. Since then, the Berlin Commission appeared to have modified its views. The proposals made by it appeared to admit more and more the possibility of making selections and of organising, at least by sea, provided tonnage could be found, distinct streams of repatriation for the various categories of prisoner. This being so, it would appear that repatriation should be so carried out as to make use of these possibilities. Humane considerations should also be given weight, and the anti-Bolshevik prisoners of war should not be handed over to the tender mercies of their enemies. There was also a military interest in avoiding any reinforcement of the Bolshevik troops, and in increasing the manpower of all Russian Forces faithful to the Entente. It would follow from this reasoning that an order of urgency should be established regarding the repatriation of these prisoners. Firstly, non-Bolshevik prisoners of war should have priority of repatriation to anti-Bolshevik areas. Anti-Bolshevik areas should be understood to mean the non-occupied portions of the Baltic provinces, Northern Russia, the Kuban Region, the Caucasus, and Siberia. The situation of the Ukraine was still too disturbed to place that country in that category. Secondly, until the situation in Russia became clear, repatriation of non-Bolshevik prisoners into a Bolshevik area should be deferred, still more that of declared Bolsheviks and agitators. If these principles were admitted, the following executive measures could be taken.

Baltic Provinces. Measures for repatriating about 8,000 men by rail across Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, and by coasting vessels to Esthonia. This process to begin as soon as the Governments concerned should agree.
Northern Russia. In this direction, North Russians, 10,000; Western Siberians, 17,000; Eastern Siberians, 5,000; and subsequently Great-Russians could be dispatched. The expected junction of the armies of Koltchak and of the Russian Forces in the North would, ere long it was hoped, allow of the transport of the Siberians to their own country, via the Trans-Siberian, a cheaper method than transport by sea to Vladivostock. This plan for repatriation might begin by the [Page 708] dispatch of the Northern Russians as soon as the Conference had accepted in principle the allocation of a tonnage for the purpose, and as soon as the executive Committee had marked off the necessary ships.
Kuban. Caucasus. 2,200 Tartars; 1,400 Cossacks; 2,000 Georgians; 1,000 Roumanians, could be sent. The two former to Novorossiisk, the two latter to Batum. This scheme of repatriation was of less importance from a military point of view than the others. It could therefore be undertaken at a later date when tonnage was available.

General Malcolm said that he agreed with the scheme proposed by Colonel Georges in almost every detail. The decision of the Allied and Associated Governments had been taken more than a month ago, and some 1,500 Russians had already gone home. The remainder knew that they were entitled to expect repatriation. By the means suggested, reinforcements could be sent to the friendly forces in Russia, provided ships were supplied to supplement the land transport. This point could only be settled by the shipping authorities. Colonel Georges had suggested that transport by rail should be deferred, and that transport by sea should have precedence. He would suggest that transport by land should continue without interruption. About 600 a week could be repatriated in this manner via Tilsit and Vilna. So far, this had been well carried out under the supervision of British, French and Italian officers. A good effect had been produced, as the men arrived well supplied with food and clothing. This, moreover, had had the effect of putting a stop to trouble in the prisoners’ camps, which had begun to be serious. The number of Georgians and Armenians to be repatriated was small. They could go either via Hamburg or by Fiume, as the Ministry of Shipping might decide. The Georgians, moreover, said that they had a ship at their disposal, which would probably sail from Fiume. It had previously been thought that the Polish Government would object to any transit of Russian prisoners through Polish territory. This attitude appeared to have changed. An invitation had been sent to an Allied Commission to come and study the question. It would be easy to send Allied officers in charge of parties of prisoners as far as the break of gauge in the line. The same could be done for Ukrainians through Czecho-Slovakia.

Mr. Balfour said that many people were anxious lest the Bolshevik forces be reinforced by the return of prisoners of war. It was alleged that there were 500,000 Russian prisoners in Germany. If these were all to become Bolshevik troops, it would undoubtedly be a serious responsibility to send them back to Russia. Whether they were Bolsheviks themselves, or whether, on arriving in Russia, they were forced to fight for the Bolsheviks, was from this point of view immaterial. He did not make himself responsible for these arguments, but he would like to know how General Malcolm would meet them.

[Page 709]

General Malcolm said that he thought he could on this point speak not only for himself, but for his colleagues. Had they believed that there were as many as 500,000 Russian prisoners, they would have voted against their repatriation. There were not, however, he believed, more than half that number. Of these 60,000 came from non-Bolshevik areas. This left some 190,000 belonging to Central and South Russia. He believed that the Allies could afford to let all these return. Many would refuse to do so, probably as many as 50,000. The remainder would be repatriated by land and by a very slow process. On the other hand, those going by sea to non-Bolshevik areas would reach home much sooner. Our friends would therefore be reinforced before our enemies. Moreover, all these men were very home-sick. Any Government attempting to force them into military service would certainly have great trouble with them. They had been on an average some three years in captivity, and their military value was negligible. This consideration applied, of course, to those returning to North Russia and Siberia, as well as to those returning to Central Russia, but, in view of these considerations, he thought the criticism alluded to by Mr. Balfour was not very strong, and that the Bolsheviks would receive no serious military advantage from the repatriation of Russian prisoners in Germany.

(The proposals outlined by Colonel Georges and General Malcolm were accepted.

It was agreed that M. Pichon should take the necessary steps on behalf of the Council to obtain the co-operation of the Esthonian and Lettish Governments, and that General Malcolm through the British War Office should request the Ministry of Shipping to furnish the requisite tonnage.)

(4) Admirals’ Report on the Measures Requisite for the Maintenance of Order in Sleswig Admiral de Bon read and explained the report appended to these Minutes as “Annexure A”. He added that the Italian Government had not been asked to co-operate in these measures, but that the co-operation of the Italian Navy would be welcomed should Italy wish to send a few light ships to join the Allied Fleet.

M. Sonnino said that he had not seen the record of the Meeting of the 30th April,2 and that he was somewhat surprised at the exclusion of Italy from participation in these operations. He thought it would have been more suitable had Italy been asked whether she would take a share.

M. Pichon said that all would welcome Italian co-operation. The omission was due firstly to the absence of the Italian Delegation, and secondly to the feeling that Italy was perhaps not interested in the matter.

[Page 710]

(It was commonly agreed that Italian co-operation would be welcomed.)

Mr. Balfour said that apparently Fleets alone could not do all that was required. He was in some doubt as to where the additional troops were to come from.

Admiral de Bon said that it had been considered sufficient that each of the nations concerned should furnish one battalion.

Mr. Balfour asked whether the respective General Staffs had been consulted. He was in some doubt whether a battalion could be furnished from Great Britain.

M. Pichon said that he was about to make the same remark.

Admiral de Bon said that General Desticker had expressed no doubt as to the possibility of finding the troops required. He had only expressed some hesitation as to the quantity of troops required for the maintenance of order. Admiral Benson had said that he could supply 1,000 to 1,500 marines. He suggested that the question of the Commanding Officer should be settled, and that the question of obtaining the requisite troops from the various nations be left to him to negotiate.

M. Pichon asked whether it would be necessary to refer the question of command to the Heads of Governments.

Mr. White suggested that this question should be settled in the Council of Foreign Ministers.

Admiral de Bon said that the question of command was easy to solve. As the British Fleet would bear the main part, he thought the command should be given to a British Admiral.

Mr. White said that he had intended to make the same proposal.

M. Sonnino said that he also agreed.

(It was agreed that the command of the whole force, both at sea and on land, requisite to maintain order in Sleswig during the consultation of the population, should be entrusted to a British Admiral.

It3 would be his duty to settle with the respective Governments concerned all means required to execute the proposals contained in the Admirals’ report.)

(5) M. Pichon read a proposal made by M. Benes. (See Annexure “B”.) He suggested this proposal be remitted to the Committee on Czecho-Slovak Affairs.

Railway Clauses for Insertion in Treaty With Austria and Hungary in Connection With Czecho-Slovak Republic M. Cambon thought that it would be more suitable to refer it to the International Commission on Ports, Railways and Waterways.

Mr. Balfour asked whether he was not right in supposing that according to Article 52 of the report of that Commission the first step in obtaining agreement relating [Page 711] to a railway connecting one country and another was that the railway administrations concerned should be asked to come to an agreement among themselves. It was only failing agreement between them that the Commission of experts stepped in. The case under consideration appeared to be exactly the sort of case contemplated by the Article.

“It was agreed that the British Admiralty should arrange with the Ministries of Marine and of War of the respective Governments concerned for the provision of the land and sea forces required.”

M. Pichon said that he thought Mr. Balfour’s view might be adopted, and he was prepared, if the Council agreed, to tell M. Benes to ask the railway administrations to work out a solution.

(This was agreed to.)

(6) Renunciation of Austrian Rights Over Galicia M. Cambon explained that the Galician question was a very intricate one. The study of the matter had not been completed, and the Commission was not in a position to make a report. It was unlikely to be able to do so in time for the framing of the Treaty with Austria. As, however, it was desired that Poland should not have a common frontier with Austria or Hungary, it would appear sufficient to insert in the Treaty with Austria an Article to the following effect:—

“Austria renounces in favour of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers all her rights and titles to those of the territories situated beyond the frontiers of Austria as defined in Article … which previously formed the Province of Galicia.”

He would himself propose a slight alteration of this text. In spite of various efforts, the question of Teschen had not been solved, but, in any case, it was clear that Austria was not to have this region. He would therefore suggest that the last clause should read: “which previously formed the Austrian Provinces of Galicia and Silesia”.

Mr. Balfour said that he entirely agreed, but his attention had been drawn to a slight omission. There was a strip of Ruthenia which should be provided for in the Article. This strip intervened between Galicia and the part of Bukovina ceded to Roumania. He would therefore suggest, in addition to the modification suggested by M. Cambon, the addition of the words “as well as that part of Bukovina which has not been ceded to Roumania”.

(After some discussion, the following draft Article was accepted:—

“Austria renounces in favour of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers all her rights and titles to those of the territories situated beyond the frontiers of Austria as defined in Article … which previously formed the Austrian Provinces of Galicia and Silesia, as well as to that part of Bukovina which has not been ceded to Roumania.”)

[Page 712]

(7) Eventual Cession to the Polish Republic of a Part of the German Fleet Mr. Balfour expressed the opinion that this matter should be deferred until the Conference had decided on the fate of the German Fleet as a whole. It would be absurd to attribute any portion of it to a particular State before a decision had been taken on the fate of the whole.

(The question was therefore adjourned.)

(8) Occupation of Armenia by Allied Troops M. Pichon pointed out that this question was connected with a number of other questions which had not yet been settled. It would be a mistake, he thought, to investigate this question in isolation from the question of Turkey, Asia-Minor, etc.

Mr. Balfour, Mr. White, and M. Sonnino expressed their agreement.

(The question was therefore adjourned.)

(9) Request for a Hearing From Essad Pasha4 (This question was also adjourned.)

(The Meeting then adjourned.)

Paris, May 15th, 1919.

Annexure “A” to IC–186 [FM–15]

[Admirals’ Report on Measures Requisite for Maintenance of Order in Slesvig]

(Translation of French Text of Report)

In accordance with the decision of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Allied and Associated Powers, dated 30 April, the Admirals representing the navies of the United States of America, France and Great Britain met on Saturday, 3 May, at the Ministry of Marine, to discuss the measures to be adopted immediately on the signature of Peace with Germany to maintain order in Slesvig during the operation of the plebiscite.

General Desticker, representing Marshal Foch, attended the meeting.

The Admirals considered the report dated 19 March, and also the note of 4 April, of the Committee on Danish Affairs, as well as the letter of M. Pichon to the effect that according to recent news from Copenhagen the Germans might try to foment trouble in Slesvig after the evacuation.

2. The Admirals are of opinion that:—

The port of Flensburg should be selected as base for the naval demonstration on the coast of Slesvig.
The naval force to be employed should be composed of light vessels (cruisers, destroyers or gunboats) of the three navies.
These small vessels could proceed at short notice to any point along the coast but would not be, by themselves, sufficient for maintaining order and could not spare any men from their crews as landing parties. It would consequently be necessary to have at hand troops ready to act. These troops could be stationed at Flensburg, and should be conveyed there in transports.
It appears preferable that the troops sent should be provided equally by the three Powers; they should be under the general direction of the naval officer commanding the inter-allied naval forces, who would act in close co-operation with the International Commission charged with the administration of Slesvig.

General Desticker, owing to short notice, had not been able to make a complete study of the question. Subject to any modification which further study may show necessary, he thinks that three or four battalions would be sufficient, if they were suitably constituted for their special police mission and were supplied with the necessary light equipment (cyclists, automatic machine guns, etc.)

3. The Admirals assume that the command of the inter-allied naval force will be decided by the Chiefs of the Governments concerned.

As soon as this decision is communicated and the Governments have approved the proposals outlined above, each Admiralty will make the necessary arrangements in detail with a view to the measures agreed upon being put into operation immediately on the signature of the Treaty.

Signed by For
Admiral Benson United States of America
Vice-Admiral de Bon France
Rear-Admiral Hope Great Britain

Annexure “B” to IC–186 [FM–15]

[The Czechoslovak Minister of Foreign Affairs (Benes) to the Secretary General of the Peace Conference (Dutasta)]

His Excellency M. Dutasta,
Secretary General of the Peace Conference, Paris

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith the clauses upon Railways, the insertion of which in the Peace Treaty with Austria-Hungary is claimed by the Czecho-Slovak delegation.

Please accept [etc.]

Edward Benes
[Page 714]

Special Claims of the Czecho-Slovak Republic for Insertion in the Peace Treaty With Austria-Hungary

Railway Clauses

The clause provided in Article 52 of the draft of the clauses presented by the Commission on the International Regime of Ports, Waterways and Railways relative to the arrangement of the Exploitation of the lines connecting two parts of a country and crossing another, was voted for in so general a manner inasmuch as the Commission had not learned of the new frontiers. Now that this delimitation is known, the vital interest of the Czecho-Slovak Republic requires that in the Treaty with Austria and Hungary the said clause stipulate as follows:

A Commission of experts designated by the Allied and Associated States in which Austria shall be represented shall determine the conditions of exploitation of the line Breclava (Lundenberg)–Gänserndorf–Marchegg–Devin (Devenujfalu).

A Commission of experts designated by the Allied and Associated States in which Hungary shall be represented shall determine the condition of exploitation of the following lines:

Cata (Csata)–Lecenac (Losoncz).
Banriev (Banreve)–Sajoecseg–Miskolcz–Zsolcza–Szerencs–Satoraljaujhely.
Zsolcza–Hidasnemeti–Kosice (Kassa).

  1. A correction states that this paragraph should be amended to read as follows:

    M. Laroche said that the Committee on Roumanian and Yugo-Slav territorial claims was also ready with its report on the frontier with Serbia, but thought, etc.”

  2. See FM–10, p. 641.
  3. A correction states that this paragraph should read as follows:
  4. President of the Provisional Government of Albania.