Paris Peace Conf. 180.03101/46


Secretary’s Notes of a Conversation Held in M. Pichon’s Room at the Quai d’Orsay, Paris, on Tuesday, 25th February, 1919, at 3 p.m.

[Page 118]
Present Also Present
America, United States of Present during questions 1, 2,
Hon. R. Lansing and 3
Hon. H. White America, United States of
Secretary Dr. Mezes
Mr. L. Harrison Mr. Beer
British Empire France
The Rt. Hon. A. J. Balfour, O. M., M. P. Marshal Foch
The Rt. Hon. Viscount Milner, G. C. B., G. G. M. G. General Weygand
Secretaries M. de Peretti
Lt. Col. Sir M. P. A. Hankey, K. C. B. Italy
Mr. E. Phipps M. Galli
France Japan
M. Pichon M. Otchiai
M. J. Cambon Present during questions 1 and 2
Secretaries only
M. Berthelot America, United States of
M. de Bearn Mr. E. M. House
Italy General Tasker H. Bliss
H. E. Baron Sonnino Mr. A. H. Frazier
H. E. Marquis Salvago Raggi Mr. Auchincloss
Secretaries British Empire
Count Aldrovandi Sir W. Tyrrell, K. C. M. G., C. B.
M. Bertele Lt. Col. Kisch, D. S. O.
Japan France
H. E. Baron Makino M. Degrand
H. E. M. Matsui M. Hermitte
Lieut. de Percin
H. E. General Diaz
General Cavallero
Present during question 1 only
British Empire
The Rt. Hon. E. S. Montagu, M. P.
M. Klotz.
H. E. M. Crespi.
Present during question 2 only
Marquis della Torretta.
Present during question 3 only
British Empire
Sir Eyre Crowe, K. C. B.
Col. R. Meinertzhagen, D. S. O.
M. Tardieu.

Joint Secretariat

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

(1) M. Pichon called on M. Crespi to report to the Conference the results of the reference to the “Committee for drafting terms of reference to Financial Committee” relative to the payment of the March Coupons of the Austrian Debt.

Austrian Debt Payment of Coupons Due 1st March, 1919 M. Crespi said that the question had been raised yesterday by Mr. Balfour and the broad facts of the case were therefore well known to the members of the Conference. The coupons, which fell due for payment on 1st March, 1919, represented a sum of Two Hundred and Righty Millions of Crowns. The Committee for drafting terms of reference to the Financial Committee had prepared the following draft telegram to be addressed to the late Austrian Empire Financial Conference about to be held at the Ballplatz, Vienna:—

“The Allied and Associated Governments are informed that there is some danger that when the coupons of the Austro-Hungarian loans fall due on March 1st, they will not be paid owing to the inability of the Austrian Government, the Hungarian Government and the other Governments concerned to come to an understanding as to the respective quotas due on such payments.

The Allied and Associated Governments declare that as far as they are concerned any arrangement now made with regard to the payment of the coupons in March out of common funds will not prejudice in any way the settlement by the Peace Conference of the quotas to be imputed to each for the Austro-Hungarian debt.”

[Page 119]

A copy of the telegram had been circulated in English, French and Italian, the English being the original official text.

Mr. Balfour said he had nothing to add to what had been stated by M. Crespi. He was perfectly agreeable that the proposed telegram should be sent: but he did not pretend to be an expert on the subject. He wished to enquire, however, who would send the telegram.

M. Pichon said that the telegram would be sent by the French Foreign Office in the name of the five Great Powers. In addition, each Great Power could, if it so wished, send a copy of the telegram to its own representatives in Vienna.

Mr. Balfour agreed and said that the British Government would forward a copy of the telegram to the British Military Mission in Vienna.

(It was agreed that a copy of the following telegram1 should be addressed by the French Foreign Office in the name of the five Great Powers to the Gesamter Konferenz, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ballplatz, Vienna:—

“The Allied and Associated Governments are informed that there is some danger that when the coupons of the Austro-Hungarian loans fall due on March 1st, they will not be paid owing to the inability of the Austrian Government, the Hungarian Government and the other Governments concerned to come to an understanding as to the respective quotas due on such payments.

The Allied and Associated Governments declare that as far as they are concerned any arrangement now made with regard to the payment of the coupons in March out of common funds will not prejudice in any way the settlement by the Peace Conference of the quotas to be imputed to each for the Austro-Hungarian debt.”

The British Delegation would also send a copy of the same telegram to the British Military Mission in Vienna.)

(2) M. Cambon informed the Conference that no report had yet [Page 120] been received on the subject of the transportation of General Haller’s troops by sea to Dantzig. Apparently some misunderstanding had occurred yesterday. The question was being studied by the Allied Maritime Transport Council in London, and not by the International Ports, Waterways and Railways Commission in Paris. General Weygand would, however, be able to make a statement on this subject. Poland (a) Despatch of General Haller’s Army

General Weygand said that the question of the transport of troops by sea to Dantzig had formed the subject of a study by the French General Staff. To give some indication of the magnitude of the shipping problem involved, he would quote the following figures:—suppose twenty ships of 5,000 tons each could be made available, the transfer of the four Polish Divisions, now in course of formation, would take three months, provided a continuous circulation of the ships were arranged. On the other hand, if transport of the troops were to be completed in two months, the period required for the complete organisation of the four Polish Divisions, twenty-seven ships of 5,000 tons each would be required for the purpose. Those figures would provide a basis for an appreciation of the problem. The problem, however, was far more complex. Provision would have to be made for the transport of the necessary horses required by the four divisions. But, if horses could be found in Poland, then with the same twenty ships the transport could be completed in two months instead of three months. Furthermore, the harbour accommodation at Dantzig must be sufficient to cope with the requirements of the case. In his opinion the Allied Commission in Poland should be asked to report on the following two questions, namely:—

Number of horses obtainable in Poland to meet requirements of General Haller’s Divisions.
The accommodation available for disembarkation of troops at the Port of Dantzig.

Mr. Balfour agreed that an enquiry to that effect should be sent to the Allied Commission in Poland. In addition, however, he thought that an enquiry should be sent to the Allied Maritime Transport Council in London regarding the supply of the ships required for the transport of the troops in question.

M. Pichon expressed the view that a question of principle still remained unsettled, namely, the military conditions to be fulfilled. The view had been expressed by Marshal Foch that the military occupation of the railway line between Dantzig and Thorn by Allied troops would be necessary, otherwise the Poles would always be liable to attack by the Germans. A question had been put by Mr. Balfour as to whether small Allied contingents could not be sent to accompany the Polish troops. Thereto Marshal Foch had replied that such an arrangement would undoubtedly help matters; but it [Page 121] would not guarantee the safety of the Polish troops. Consequently, the question as to what could be done to secure the safety of the Polish troops in transit from Dantzig to Poland still remained to be settled. Marshal Foch had expressed the view that the best plan would be straightaway to fix the Eastern frontier of Germany.

Marshal Foch agreed that that would undoubtedly be the best solution. Whatever measures might be taken to ensure the transport of the troops by sea to Dantzig, the Allies would still be faced with other problems connected with the disembarkation of the troops at Dantzig, and their transport along the railway lines from Dantzig to Thorn, and from Dantzig to Mlawa, since the Port of Dantzig and the railway lines were under control of the Germans. The Port and the railway lines could be occupied by the Allies, but that solution would cause great difficulties, would entail great expense, and would not appeal to all of the Allied nations. Consequently, it was not a practicable solution. The second solution would be to fix the Eastern Frontiers of Germany at the next meeting with M. Erzberger, and so free the Port and the railway lines of all German control.

The present difficult situation of the German Government was well known; internal troubles were daily increasing; at Mannheim, Carlsruhe, Baden and Düsseldorf, the Soviet movement was rapidly extending. At the present moment Germany would therefore accept any terms that the Allies might demand. The German Government only asked for a Peace. That was the only thing that would satisfy the people and enable the Government to master the situation.

(b) Settlement of Situation on Western Front Before Proceeding With Eastern Problem In his opinion, whatever attempt might be made to settle the situation in the East would be fruitless until the Western question had been settled. It was imperative, in his opinion, that the account with Germany should forthwith be settled in summary manner by fixing the Frontiers and by assessing the sums due on account of indemnities and reparations. It should be realised without disillusions that in the year 1918 a favourable situation on the Western Front had only been created as a result of victory; but since the Armistice had been signed, the Allies had been marking time in the West, and they had lost ground in the East. Consequently, the situation on the Western Front should forthwith be settled so that all the resources in men and material thus set free could be made available for the solution of the Eastern problem.

In Russia at the present moment Bolshevism and complete anarchy reigned, and sooner or later these Russian questions must be solved, otherwise the fruits of victory would be lost, either through the cementing of an alliance between Germany and Russia, or through the spread of Bolshevism in Germany. On the other hand, if carefully [Page 122] considered, the Eastern problem would not be more difficult to solve than the Western problem. From 1812 up to 1917, Russia had ever been the burial ground of every government and of every army that had attempted to enter the country without first establishing sufficient bases and sufficient lines of communication, and without an adequate number of men. A war in that country had to be carried on under very special difficulties, due to the enormous extent of country that had to be penetrated, occupied, and defended.

Mr. Lansing, intervening, enquired whether when Marshal Foch had spoken of settling the Allies’ difficulties in the West, he had meant that the Allies should forthwith enter into a Treaty of Peace with the Germans.

Marshal Foch replied that what he had meant had been that the Preliminaries of Peace must be signed, and that could be done with Germany alone in a fortnight’s time: and the same thing could be done as soon as possible with the other enemy countries. In other words, his plan would be to settle all the important outstanding questions on the Western side in order to enable the Allies to use the resources thus made available for the solution of the Eastern questions.

The difficulties which the Allies had to face in Russia were due, not only to the enormous distances, to which he had already referred, but also to the nature of the enemy that had to be dealt with. The enemy might be badly organised, but he was scattered over an enormous territory, acting like a violent virus. Now to fight against such an enemy, troops of a particular composition were required; and in great numbers in order to cover the whole territory involved. But those troops need not be strongly organised or of superior quality. The necessary conditions would be fulfilled by the employment of such armies as might be raised locally in the countries of Eastern Europe. For instance, the Polish troops would be quite able to face the Russians, provided the former were strengthened by the supply of modern appliances and engines of war. But great numbers were required, which could be obtained by mobilising the Finns, Poles, Czechs, Roumanians and Greeks, as well as the Russian pro-Ally elements still available.

These young troops, in themselves not well organised, (though better organised than the Bolsheviks), would, if placed under a unique command, yield a total force sufficient to subdue the Bolshevik forces and to occupy their territory.

If this were done, 1919 would see the end of Bolshevism, just as 1918 had seen the end of Prussianism. But in order to attain that object, just as the Allies had a base on the Western front, the Rhine, which enabled them to impose their will on Germany, so would it be necessary to constitute a similar base on the Eastern [Page 123] side, consisting of a chain of independent states—the Finns, the Esthonians, the Poles, the Czechs and the Greeks. The constitution of such a base would enable the Allies to impose their demands on the Bolsheviks.

Finally, to enable the Allies to transfer their resources from the Western base to the Eastern base, an end would have to be put to all further discussions on the West by imposing on Germany the Preliminaries of Peace, which she would be bound at the present moment to accept.

Mr. House enquired from Marshal Foch whether he thought a preliminary peace with the Germans should be hurried on, to include the determination of the eastern boundaries of Germany besides including a summary decision of the military conditions, and questions relating to frontiers, finance and reparation; the whole to be disposed of simultaneously.

Marshal Foch replied that Mr. House had correctly stated his views.

Mr. Balfour said that everybody must admit that Marshal Foch had made a speech covering a wide field and of far reaching importance. On the other hand, the proposition which he (Mr. Balfour) had moved yesterday was that the Polish division now in France should be sent to Poland: a small and modest suggestion involving no particular question of principle at all. On that narrow foundation Marshal Foch had started out to build a great plan stretching from the Rhine to Vladivostock, which involved the immediate conclusion of the preliminary terms of peace with Germany.

He (Mr. Balfour) was most anxious to hasten the conclusion of the preliminary terms of peace. He had, himself, moved a proposition with that object in view. He could not, therefore, be accused of hampering the attainment of that object. But when Marshal Foch asked the Conference to defer the sending of a Polish division to Poland until the preliminaries of peace had been concluded with Germany, he evidently underrated the difficulties of the latter task. A discussion with a view to bringing about a preliminary peace could hardly be brought to a satisfactory conclusion unless three or four such questions as the following were first settled, that is to say: financial questions, the question relating to the left bank of the Rhine, the question of Dantzig, etc., questions which could hardly be settled before President Wilson’s return to Paris. No doubt other questions connected with the future frontiers of Germany could practically be settled in President Wilson’s absence. For instance, the frontiers between France and Germany, the frontiers between Denmark and Germany and the frontiers between Poland and Germany excluding Dantzig.

[Page 124]

On the other hand, the Conference could not move a step until the reports of the Allied Commissions, which were now at work on these problems, had been received. Those reports could not, however, be expected before the 8th March next. The Conference would then have a week to consider those reports before the return of President Wilson, and during that time no doubt some spade work could be done. It was evident, however, that, if the dates suggested by him were correct, it would be impossible to have the preliminary terms of peace ready, covering finance, disarmament, future maritime conditions, the question of the left bank of the Rhine, territories adjoining Alsace-Lorraine, Dantzig, etc., regarding which well-informed people held very divergent views. It would be impossible to draft a peace, involving all these questions, at the earliest before the end of March, and even that would be a very sanguine estimate. He would, therefore, press for the acceptance of his original proposal. It would be impossible to wait five or six weeks, which appeared to be the shortest time within which the preliminaries of peace could be drawn up, before sending to Poland the Polish troops which were so urgently required.

As regards Marshal Foch’s plan to mobilise the whole of Eastern Europe, the Finns, the Esthonians, the Poles, the Roumanians and the Greeks into a great anti-Bolshevik army to be hurled against Russia, he had no objections to offer, as he was not qualified to express an opinion. But the plan undoubtedly dealt with tremendous issues: it could not be regarded as part of the accepted policy of the five Great Powers, and the Conference could not be asked to settle that question before deciding to carry out the small and most desirable operation of sending General Haller’s army to Poland. He fully agreed with Marshal Foch that not a single hour should be lost in settling the preliminary terms of peace, since a settlement of that question would help to solve all other problems. On the other hand, the question of sending troops to Poland must, for the moment, be dissociated from the greater question of policy raised by Marshal Foch: a question which must await the receipt of the recommendations of the various Allied Commissions and the return of President Wilson.

Marshal Foch said he did not object to the idea of sending a division to Dantzig with as little delay as possible. But, at the present moment, the wish could hardly be realised, as the gates of Dantzig were closed. The Allied Commission in Poland could be asked if the thing were possible. But he, himself, could not see how the Poles, who were at war with Germany, could disembark in a German town. He quite agreed with Mr. Balfour that troops should be sent, but for the moment he failed to see how it could be done, and some other solution of the difficulty might have to be found.

[Page 125]

Lord Milner enquired whether it would not be possible to open the gates of Dantzig, if closed, by giving an order to Germany to open them. Marshal Foch had stated that on the west front an effective source of pressure on Germany could be exercised, especially as Germany would be unable to refuse to accept demands, which the Allies had a perfect right by the terms of the Armistice to make. Would it not, therefore, be sufficient to say to Germany: “Let these Polish troops through, or we shall attack on the western front?”

(c) Proposed Telegram to Allied Commossion in Poland Mr. House expressed the view that it would be well to ask the Allied Commission in Poland, who were in touch with the Germans, to report exactly what views the Germans held regarding this matter. He thought a dispatch should be framed to the Allied Commission asking for a definite answer.

Marshal Foch agreed, and said that he had himself intended to propose the despatch of a telegram to the Allied Commission in Poland, embodying, inter alia, the following four questions:—

Whether the transport of troops by the Dantzig-Thorn route was possible without previous occupation of the port of Dantzig and the railway lines by Allied contingents.
The capacity and resources of the port of Dantzig for disembarkation of troops.
Transport facilities and rolling stock available on the Dantzig-Thorn and Dantzig-Mlawa railway lines.
Whether horses could be obtained in Poland to meet the requirements of the troops to be despatched.

As the Allied Commission in Poland was in touch with the Germans, it would be in a position to reply after consulting the latter.

M. Pichon understood that Marshal Foch’s proposal was accepted. Under the circumstances, he would ask Marshal Foch at once to draft the necessary telegram, which would be sent in the name of the five Great Powers to the Allied Commission in Poland. At the same time, he would point out that the Commission would only be in a position to supply information; it could not carry on negotiations. The question to be put to the Germans could, however, be based on the terms of the armistice which permitted the Allies to use the railway lines in question. Negotiations could only be carried out by Marshal Foch.

M. Sonnino invited attention to the fact that certain Polish contingents, numbering some 10,000 to 12,000 men were now in Italy. The question did not perhaps arise at the present moment, as it was intended merely to ask for a report on the possibilities of the Dantzig route to Poland. He wished, however, to bring the fact to the notice of the Conference.

M. Cambon suggested that, in drafting the telegram, the Allied [Page 126] Commission should be invited to carry out the necessary enquiries through the medium of General Dupont, the Chief of the French Military Mission in Berlin, as he was already on the spot, and had ready access to the competent German authorities.

(After a short interval, Marshal Foch submitted the following telegram to be despatched to the Allied Mission in Poland. The telegram was approved, Marshal Foch being requested to forward the same:—

“In accordance with the terms of Clause XVI of the Armistice of 11th November, 1918, the Allies have free access to all territories evacuated by the Germans on their Eastern front, either by way of Dantzig or by the Vistula, both for the purpose of sending supplies to the populations and for the purpose of maintaining order.

Taking advantage of this clause, the Allied and Associated Governments intend shortly to transport to Poland the Polish troops now in France and in Italy. These troops will disembark at Dantzig, whence they will proceed by rail via Thorn and Mlawa.

The Inter-Allied Commission at Warsaw is requested to inform the Allied and Associated Governments:—

Whether the proposed disembarkation of troops at Dantzig and their transportation by rail can be guaranteed by the German Government without the necessity of securing this guarantee by a previous occupation of Dantzig and of the railways by Allied contingents.
What are the capacities of and the material facilities available at the port of Dantzig, both as regards the establishment of a base and the disembarkation of troops.
What quantity of transport is available, especially as regards rolling stock on the Dantzig-Thorn and Dantzig-Mlawa lines, and also on the Polish lines connecting with them.
As the transport of Polish troops could be greatly expedited by the enclusion of horses, it is important to know whether any of the horses required could be obtained in Poland.

The Inter-Allied Commission at Warsaw should, as in the case of previous negotiations, avail itself of the services of General Dupont as intermediary.”)

(d) telegram to Allied Maritime Council in London Mr. Balfour enquired whether a telegram should not also be sent to the Allied Maritime Council in London, asking it to furnish a plan in the event of the transportation of troops by sea being decided on.

It was agreed that the following telegram should be sent to the War Cabinet by the British Delegation for communication to the Allied Maritime Council in London:—

“The Council at the Quai d’Orsay this afternoon decided to refer to the Allied Maritime Transport Council the preparation of a plan for the shipment at an early date, of General Haller’s Polish army from France to Dantzig en route to Poland. The Commission of the Allied [Page 127] and Associated Powers in Poland has been instructed to communicate details as to the capacity of the port of Dantzig and the railways serving it. I understand that the Ministry of Shipping are in possession of the facts regarding the numbers of General Haller’s army but the number of horses to be shipped will depend on information to be furnished by the Commission in Poland. Please ask Secretary, Allied Maritime Transport Council, to take the matter up. The Proces-verbal of this part of the meeting will in due course be sent to the Secretary, Allied Maritime Transport Council.”)

(3) M. Pichon called on M. de Peretti to explain the views of the French Government on the Moroccan question with special references to the Act of Algeciras.2

Morocco: The Act of Algeciras M. de Peretti then read the following statement:—

(Statement will be circulated later.)3

Mr. White said that as a signatory of the Act of Algeciras he had listened with great interest to M. de Peretti’s statement and, as far as his knowledge went, the facts appeared to him to have been fairly and accurately stated. In signing the Act of Algeciras the United States had made the following reservations:—

“The Government of the United States of America had no political interests in Morocco and had taken part in the present Conference with no other desire or intention than to assist in assuring to all the nations in Morocco the most complete equality in matters of commerce, treatment, and privileges and in facilitating the introduction into that Empire of requirements which should bring about a general state of well-being founded on the perfect cordiality of her foreign relations, and stable internal administrative declarations:—that in subscribing to the regulations and declarations of the Conference by the act of signing the General Acts subject to ratification according to constitutional procedure of the additional protocol and in consenting to the abrogation of American rights and interests in Morocco, it assumes no obligation or responsibility as to the measures which may be necessary for the enforcement of the said regulations and declarations”.

He had heard with great pleasure the statement made by M. de Peretti that France intended to observe the open door in Morocco. M. de Peretti had also made a statement to the effect that France would demand compensation for her sacrifices. He wished to enquire whether that meant that France would require special concessions for herself. However: as long as the open door was maintained, the United States had no objections to offer in principle to the proposals made by France. She would, however, reserve her final adhesion until the wording of the clauses to be inserted in the Peace Treaty had been made known.

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Mr. Balfour said that it would perhaps be unnecessary for him to say anything concerning the interests of Great Britain in Morocco, because her special interest in that country had ceased after the signing of the Treaty of 1904.4 Furthermore, Great Britain did not now wish to take advantage of any conditions which Germany might now be compelled to renounce, to extract advantages which Britain had deliberately given up by the earlier treaties. He was glad to hear that it was the fixed intention of France to perpetuate the policy of the open door which would be extended to all countries, including Great Britain. It was not, however, from the point of view of Great Britain that he wished to put a question on the international aspect of the case. It was possible he might have misunderstood some of the details of the case: but the Treaty under consideration was apparently one in which many Powers, both Allied and Neutral, were concerned, other than those represented at the Conference.

In regard to a Treaty in which so many parties were concerned he did not know what international rule would apply when one or two of the parties in question had gone to war. It was clear that Germany and Austria could no longer possess any rights; and no one would wish to defend rights which Germany had obtained by abusing her power and threatening the world with war.

In regard to the exact relation, which the proposals made that afternoon would have in connection with other parties such as Spain, he would like to enquire whether the Peace Conference had any right without consulting Spain to remove or abrogate a Treaty in which Spanish interests appeared to be very intimately concerned.

It had been stated that by one or other of the Treaties France had been given the protectorate over the whole of Morocco including the Spanish sphere of influence and Tangiers. That might be so, but by those same instruments, Spain had also been given a sphere of influence in which she had similar rights to those claimed by France elsewhere. He could not say which view was right, but Spain conceived herself to have claims equal to those of France and other countries in Tangiers. Whether Spain exercised those rights to the benefit of mankind, whether the laxity of her administration had permitted the Germans to make Morocco a base for submarine warfare, he did not know. But did the Assembly of the five Great Powers now meeting in Paris to deal with problems between the Allies and the Central Powers, have the right to deal with claims which Spain possessed under those Treaties with which it was proposed to deal so drastically.

The five Great Powers were there as guardians of the Treaty rights of the world. Therefore he would deeply regret if anything were [Page 129] done which might have the appearance of an attempt to impose conditions on neutrals, apparently depriving them of their rights.

It was imperative, therefore, that great care should be taken in moving in the matter. He did not know what form of conclusion should be reached. But it was impossible that day to deal with other parts of the proposal beyond these which took away from Germany and Austria the things they had legitimately lost. In any case, the consideration of the parts dealing with international and allied parties would have to be postponed until the Conference had time to consider the proposals put before them.

In conclusion he wished to make one more observation. He was reminded that the Spanish sphere and the internationalisation of Tangiers did not depend on the treaties of 1905,5 1909,6 1911,7 and 1912,8 but on the treaty between France and Spain of 1904.9 Under Article 1 of that Treaty Spain adhered to the terms of the Anglo-French Treaty; Article 2 defined the Spanish sphere of influence and Article 9 dealt with the town of Tangiers. Those Treaties could not be said to have been forced on Spain, France and Europe since the claims of Spain against France and Great Britain went back to the Treaty of 1904.

M. de Peretti expressed his satisfaction at the complete agreement which appeared to exist between Great Britain, America and France on the question of the clauses concerning Morocco to be inserted in the Treaty of Peace with Germany. For the moment the French Government did not ask for anything more. In reply to Mr. White’s enquiries in Regard to the privileges which France claimed, he could assure him that he had merely referred to those moral privileges which devolve on a well-educated country in its relations with a less educated people. No other privileges were claimed by France. Mr. White had also expressed his approval of the maintenance of the “open door”. Not only did France intend to maintain this, but no discrimination would be shown between one country and another, all being placed on an equal footing.

The statements made by Mr. Balfour were quite correct, and the French Government held exactly the same views. There was no question of imposing anything on any country not represented at the Conference. All that France asked was that the Powers represented at the Conference should voluntarily renounce the privileges which they had acquired by the Act of Algeciras, which privileges would be accorded [Page 130] to them by the declaration he had that afternoon made on behalf of the French Government. The rest merely concerned France and Spain.

Mr. Balfour had referred to the Treaty of 1904. That Treaty had, however, been modified by the Franco-Spanish Treaty signed on the 27th November, 1912, which defined the Spanish sphere of influence within the French Protectorate. France had every intention of adhering to the terms of that Treaty. The Sultan of Morocco recognised only one protectorate in Morocco, namely, the French protectorate, and it was only by an agreement entered into between France and Spain that the Spanish sphere of influence came to be recognised.

In regard to Tangier, Mr. Balfour had referred to Clause IX of the secret Treaty of 1904 between France and Spain, wherein it was laid down that the town of Tangier should be subjected to a special régime, owing to the presence there of a diplomatic body. Now, in the statement which he had made that afternoon, he had informed the Conference of the intention of the French Government to establish a special régime at Tangier, not an international régime, but something in the nature of a municipal régime. The British Minister at Tangier had expressed his approval of these proposals.

Mr. Balfour enquired whether there had not been an exchange of notes between France, Great Britain and Spain, laying down that Tangier should be granted an international régime.

M. de Peretti agreed, and said that in 1914 France and Great Britain had agreed upon a plan for an international statute to be applied to Tangier.

Mr. Balfour, intervening, remarked that the agreement relating to the application of the international régime at Tangier had been agreed to by Great Britain in 1912.

M. de Peretti, continuing, explained that though the agreement with Great Britain had been signed in 1912, discussions with Spain had subsequently lasted for two years, before Spain had agreed to consider a definite plan. That plan had been submitted to the Spanish Government in December, 1914, but so far no reply had been received. A few days ago M. Romanones10 had stated in the Cortes that the war had prevented the Spanish Government from signing the agreement. As he had already stated, all that France asked, however, was that certain clauses which concerned Germany should be inserted in the Peace Treaty with that country. Although every question relating to Allied and Neutral countries could not be embodied in the Peace Treaty, France hoped that the question could be profitably discussed during the presence of the representatives of those countries in Paris.

[Page 131]

Mr. Balfour enquired whether the best plan would not be that a definite resolution embodying the general views of the French Government should be drawn up and circulated for discussion at a future meeting.

(It was agreed that a draft resolution embodying the views of the French Government on the Moroccan question, with special reference to the Act of Algeciras, should be drafted and circulated by M. de Peretti, and the question would be discussed by the Conference at an early meeting.)

(4) Agenda It was agreed that the following questions would be discussed at a meeting to be held on Wednesday afternoon, February 26th, 1919, at 3 o’clock:—

A statement by M. Tardieu, Chairman of the Allied Commission on Belgium, on behalf of that Commission.
The report of the Military Representatives of the Supreme War Council, Versailles, on the creation of a neutral zone in Transylvania.
Armenian Claims.

(The Conference then adjourned to Wednesday, February 26th, 1919.)

Paris, 26th February, 1919.


The Moroccan Questions

Statement by M. de Peretti

(Circulated with reference to Section 3, Morocco, The Act of Algeciras, Page 13,11 BC–39, Report for Tuesday February 25, 1919)

The task of dowering Northern Africa with modern civilization has been laid upon France by the force of circumstances.

In the first instance, France was compelled to obtain a footing in Algeria in order to protect her trade against the attacks of the Barbary pirates. Then the same reasons which drove her to intervene in Tunisia, where the unsettled situation was a menace to Eastern Algeria, forced her to enter Morocco, to stamp out a hot-bed of anarchy which threatened Eastern Algeria.

Since 1905, Germany has hindered France in the fulfilment of this task. Germany, whose hope of universal hegemony was thwarted by France, thought Morocco would provide an opportunity of opposing such a troublesome neighbour. She had no interests of any kind there, and even seems to have insisted on the fact that she only interfered in Moroccan affairs because it pleased her to do so. For ten [Page 132] years they provided her with a weapon against France, and the German Government used this sharp sword, this dry powder, whenever wishing to deal a blow to France.

In 1908 [1905] the Emperor William landed at Tangiers. The Moroccan Government at once invited the Powers to an International Conference to discuss reforms to be introduced in Morocco, which were precisely those which a French Mission to Fez was attempting to carry into effect at the time.

France was thus deprived of the position she had assumed in Morocco with the consent of England and Spain, and which fell naturally to her on account of the connection between her interests and those of the land ruled by the Shereef. Moroccan affairs were put under international control instead of being directly controlled by France. As soon as invitations [to] the Conference were issued by the Sultan, the German Government, who had suggested them and made them their own, supported the suggestion in diplomatic circles.

The French Government, whose intentions were peaceful, did not attempt to question German interference in a discussion which did not concern her, nor to urge that the French right was universally recognised. Its conscience was clear, for it had no hostile intentions towards Germany in Morocco, and only desired peace and security for French possessions in Northern Africa. It therefore agreed to confer not only with Powers such as Spain and Great Britain, who had special interests in Morocco, but with Germany, Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Denmark, the United States, the Netherlands, Portugal, Russia and Sweden, who had none at all.

The Algeciras Conference came to an end on 7th April, 1906, when a general Treaty was signed. During the proceedings the Powers bound to France by previous agreements adhered strictly to them, and the remainder maintained a correct and friendly attitude; no attention was paid to German advances, and Germany was isolated in her campaign against France. Towards the end Austria-Hungary certainly pretended to side with Germany as a splendid second, but this was less to support her ally than to help her out of an awkward situation.

Germany was therefore defeated at Algeciras. Her attitude towards France found no support, and her aggressive policy was universally condemned. The Conference achieved her moral downfall. But the German Government had attained its ends, holding that the Algeciras Conference had not decided the Moroccan question. On the contrary, although it recognised the exceptional situation and special rights of France and Spain, the general Treaty of 7th April, 1906, provided the German Government with the weapon they sought against France, by creating international institutions, by burdening the administration of the country with complicated and detailed [Page 133] regulations controlled by the Diplomatic Corps at Tangiers, and by the power of daily interference in local affairs thus given in theory, to all the Powers, but in reality to Germany alone, since the others had no desire to exercise it.

From the end of the Conference to the war of 1914, events have shown how often the German Government made use of these weapons, how frequent were the blows it was able to strike at France, and what advantages it gained through them. In this way to [sic] German policy first proclaimed in the speech made by William II at Tangiers has become daily more clearly defined: it aimed at keeping an open sore in the side of France, and at preventing the wound from healing so as to be able at pleasure to harass the Government of the Republic and thus to influence its general policy.

The French Government, led by force of circumstances to occupy part of Morocco, was faced at every step by fresh difficulties created by Germany, but instead of seeking excuses for quarrelling, it took every opportunity of showing an extremely conciliatory spirit, so great was its desire to maintain peace in Europe.

The French Government, moreover, sought later to justify German interference by deliberately creating German interests in Morocco for this purpose.12 This was its reason for the Agreement of 8th February, 1909, and the Contract of 17th February, 1910.13 Indeed, if the stipulations thereof had been carried out, the Germans would have possessed real interests in Morocco, but these would have been compatible with French interests and would have united nationals of both countries in a common task. The Berlin Cabinet had to admit that German interests would have been inaugurated in Morocco by the means we suggested, but it wished them to be separate from and entirely opposed to French interests. Both the Agreement and the Contract therefore remained a dead letter.

After this failure, the French Government made another attempt to maintain peace; it offered to make sacrifices in the Congo to compensate Germany for renouncing her claims in Morocco. By the Franco-German Agreement of 4th November, 1911, Germany at last acknowledged that France had a right to carry out reforms in Morocco, and that she must therefore establish a protectorate over the whole of Morocco.

This agreement was a bargain; the German Government accepted the sacrifices made by France and endeavoured to make them as painful as possible by sending the “Panther” to Agadir, where she remained till negotiations were at an end. But Germany gave nothing in exchange. [Page 134] After taking possession of the stipulated Congo districts, she did not disarm in Morocco, but adopted an attitude which, during 1912 and 1913, became more bitterly hostile than ever before.

Notwithstanding her recognition of the French Protectorate in Morocco, Germany had no intention of refraining from fostering disorder and anarchy in the Shereef’s kingdom, provoking fresh insurrection and strife, or causing “incidents” within the country and beyond its boundaries, thus attacking France in her vital operations by imperilling her possessions in Northern Africa, without exposing German interests to any counter-attack. She continued this practice until the day when, having provoked the world-war, she bore down upon Paris with the massed forces of von Klück’s and von Bülow’s armies.

Since the war, Germany has created a battle-field against France in Morocco. She has assisted rebels (making use of the Spanish zone as a base for operations), furnishing them with money, arms and ammunition, thus compelling France to maintain a force of 80,000 men on this front.

Since the signing of the Armistice, the French Government has received irrefutable proof of the fact that Germany has continued to subsidise Moroccan rebels.

Through the victory of the Allies, which has cost France so dear, that country is now free from the German menace which confronted her unceasingly in Morocco. She is now justified in insisting on her legitimate claims at the Peace Conference.

By the Treaty of Peace with Germany, all conditions and charges which hampered the French Protectorate after German intervention must be removed. This is but right and proper. Further, Germany must henceforward play no part in Morocco.

Penalties must be exacted from her for the past and guarantees demanded for the future; she must not be in a position to recommence her old tactics.

The Treaty of Peace must, therefore, stipulate that the German Government shall accept the abrogation of the Treaty of Algeciras, the Franco-German Agreements of 2nd February 1909 and 4th November, 1911, as also of all treaties and agreements in force between Germany and the Kingdom of the Shereef. The German Government, which duly acknowledged the establishment of the French Protectorate over the whole of Morocco, shall agree to accept all consequences resulting therefrom, and in particular the absolute cancellation of all capitulations. It shall pledge itself to take no part in any negotiations which may arise between France and other Powers on the subject of Morocco.

Special clauses must be included in the Treaty of Peace concerning property belonging to the German State or its nationals, the [Page 135] admission of Germans into Morocco, as also concerning mining disputes and the Moroccan State Bank.

These clauses shall be defensive in character. Germany, who had no interests in Northern Africa, merely entered these regions in order to hinder France in her work of civilisation; she must therefore be kept at a distance until the said work is so advanced that it cannot be checked or hindered by any malevolent influence.

Germany’s Allies, like herself, must renounce all advantages which have accrued to them under treaties dictated by Germany, and must recognise all conditions resulting from the French Protectorate in Morocco. There is no reason, however, why the said defensive clauses should apply to them, for they have not played the same part as Germany in the past and do not, like Germany, threaten to hinder France in her future schemes for civilisation.

As regards the other signatory Powers of the Treaty of Algeciras, whether Allies of France, Associates or Neutrals, they cannot refuse to recognise the injustice of maintaining a state of affairs created through the malevolent intervention of Germany. They have all either already renounced the system of capitulations as regards Morocco, or are prepared to do so. It would be unjustifiable for them to take advantage of the Treaty of Algeciras. They will most decidedly follow the example of Great Britain, who has already declared herself ready to adopt the point of view of the French Government; for the British Government merely asks for a return to the Franco-British Agreements of 1904, which guaranteed to British nationals in Morocco all privileges compatible with the French Protectorate. The French Government is pursuing no selfish aims with regard to Morocco; in guiding that country along the path of progress, it merely wishes to reserve therein some compensation of French sacrifices, but is far from desiring in any way to close this country to foreigners and claim monopoly thereof. The regime of the open door will prevail in Morocco, for France has not made this country accessible with the intention of closing it to those who desire to work therein on an equal footing with the French.

The repeal of the Treaty of Algeciras would, therefore, in no way prejudice the Allied or Neutral Powers. But the Treaty of Algeciras concerned the whole of Morocco; its abrogation would be felt not only in the French zone of the Shereefan Empire, but also in the Spanish zone and that of Tangiers.

As regards the Spanish zone, it is evident from the declarations made to the Cortes by the Spanish Government, that it intends to cause that zone to benefit by the cancellation of the conditions imposed by the Treaty of Algeciras. Does the Spanish Government also wish to renounce the rights admitted, by the Franco-Spanish Treaty of 27th November, 1912, to belong to it in its zone of influence? [Page 136] Will it listen to the protests of the Sultan of Morocco, who complains, in the name of the guiding principles of the League of Nations, that the national integrity of the Shereefan Empire has been assailed, by releasing certain portions of that Empire from his authority? Those are questions which do not come before the Peace Conference and only concern France and Spain, by whom they might, if necessary, be settled by amicable negotiation.

It is otherwise in Tangiers. The abolition of the Treaty of Algeciras would alter the present situation in Tangiers. France demands that the new position created in that town by the abolition of the regulations prescribed at Algeciras should be recognised by the Powers who were parties to that Treaty. The maintenance of the present situation in Tangiers would, moreover, enable Germany to return to Morocco and resume the policy which she pursued there for ten years, greatly to the peril of the peace of Europe.

What is the present position of Tangiers, in point of law and of fact?

In point of law, the Franco-Moroccan Treaty of 30th March, 1912, which established the French Protectorate over the whole of Morocco, and the Franco-Spanish Treaty of 27th November, 1912, which delimited the Spanish zone of influence in Morocco within the French Protectorate, both made a special reservation regarding the Statute of Tangiers. The town of Tangiers and its suburbs were to be given a separate constitution, the form of which was to be determined subsequently, by reason of the presence of the various International Commissions created or maintained under the Treaty of Algeciras.

The draft of an International Statute, prepared for Tangiers in 1914 by the French and British Governments, remained a dead letter, as the Spanish Government neglected to adopt it.

In point of fact, no stable administration can be established in Morocco by any Protecting Power which does not dispose freely of Tangiers. It is the old diplomatic capital of Morocco, it is the gate which opens Morocco to Europe. To refuse Tangiers to France, who has charge of Morocco, would be to refuse her the key to the house in which she lives. Now, up to the present Tangiers has remained in the same condition as that of the whole of Morocco before the Protectorate Treaty. It is a veritable diplomatic Tower of Babel, in which no one governs, where every kind of intrigue is fostered, where the administration is anarchical and every ancient abuse is perpetrated under cover of the capitulations and the Treaty of Algeciras.

This state of things could not endure without great danger to Tangiers, Morocco, France, and Europe generally.

For these reasons, de jure and de facto, France asks her Allies, in so far as they are severally concerned, to recognise that, after the abolition of the Treaty of Algeciras (which imposed upon Morocco an [Page 137] internationalisation directed against France), Tangiers can no longer be subject to international administration. Tangiers, which in point of law forms part of France’s Protectorate, must be, in fact, annexed to the French zone. France, moreover, desires nothing more than to seek to institute the special administration provided for in the Franco-Spanish Treaty, an administration which would be in no wise international, but would give satisfaction to all rightful interests existing in the town.

To sum up, it is indispensable to France that the Treaty of Peace should provide for the cancellation of all international guarantees (Hypothèques?) now burdening Morocco by the action of Germany; to this intent, various clauses must be inserted into the Treaty after having been considered and drafted by a Special Commission, which the Supreme Council of the Allies is asked to constitute at the earliest possible moment from among the delegates of those Allied Powers who were signatories of the Treaty of Algeciras.

  1. The “Brief Summary” of the minutes of this meeting (BC–39a) and the telegraphic report of the meeting from the American Mission to the Department of State give the address and text of this telegram as follows:

    “Gesandten Konferenz, p. a. Staatsamt des Auesseren, 1 Ball Platz, Vienna.

    The Allied and Associated Governments understand that there is some risk that the coupons payable first March on the Austro-Hungarian loans will not be paid, owing to inability of the Austrian, Hungarian and other governments concerned to arrive at an agreement as to their respective liabilities to contribute towards payment.

    The Allied and Associated Governments declare that so far as they are concerned any action taken now with regard to the payment of the March coupon from the common fund will not prejudice the settlement at the Peace Conference of the distribution of the liability for the Austro-Hungarian debt.”

    (Paris Peace Conf. 180.03101/46)

  2. Foreign Relations, 1906, pt. 2, p. 1495.
  3. See addendum, p. 131.
  4. British and Foreign State Papers, vol. xcvii, p. 39, and vol. ci, p. 1053.
  5. Franco-Spanish treaty of September 1, 1905, E. D. Morel, Morocco in Diplomacy (London, 1912), p. 248.
  6. Franco-German declaration of February 8, 1909, Great Britain, Cd. 6010. Morocco No. 5 (1911).
  7. Franco-German convention of November 4, 1911, ibid., No. 6.
  8. French-Morocco treaty of March 30, 1912, British and Foreign State Papers, vol. cvi, p. 1023; Franco-Spanish treaty of November 27, 1912, ibid., p. 1025.
  9. Great Britain, Cd. 6010, Morocco No. 2 (1911).
  10. Alvaro de Figueroa y Torres Romanones, Spanish Prime Minister from December 3, 1918, to April 15, 1919.
  11. See minute 3, p. 127.
  12. The portion of M. de Peretti’s statement comprised in this and the three following paragraphs appears to be substantially a translation of pp. 200–202 of a work by Louis Maurice, La Politique marocaine de l’Allemagne (Paris, 1916).
  13. For a description, see ibid., pp. 136–156.