Paris Peace Conf. 180.03401/128
Notes of a Meeting Held at President Wilson’s Residence in the Place des Etats-Unis, Paris, on Tuesday, April 29, 1919, at 4 p.m.
United States of America
- President Wilson.
- The Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd George, M. P., Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury.
- M. Clemenceau.
- United States of America
|Sir Maurice Hankey, K. C. B.,||Secretary.|
|Professor P. J. Mantoux||Interpreter.|
1. M. M. G. Cahen was present for this discussion.
Prisoners of War The Supreme Council had before them a Note by Sir Maurice Prisoners of Hankey setting forth the questions referred by the War Council of Foreign Ministers.1 (Appendix I.)
2. Article 1 M. Cahen said that what the French members of the Commission had had in mind was that, in case the Germans were asked, as part of the Clauses on Reparation, to supply labour for the purpose of restoring the devastated regions, a combined system of railway trains should be worked out. The same trains that brought the workmen might return with prisoners. The French representatives had felt it necessary to postpone the decision, in order that the two questions might be considered together.
M. Clemenceau said that the prisoners of war ought to be returned immediately after the conclusion of Peace. Why should we mix up the question of trains with the question of prisoners?
M. Cahen said that the only reason was that the two questions were intimately connected.
M. Clemenceau said that to keep the prisoners would amount to slavery. The question of the supply of labour was another question that might be arranged at Versailles.
M. Cahen asked if it was not proposed to enforce the supply of labour on the Germans.
M. Clemenceau replied that it was not. It would be arranged.
President Wilson said he entirely agreed with M. Clemenceau. [Page 338] Forced labour would be unprecedented, unless one went back thousands of years.
Mr. Lloyd George also agreed with M. Clemenceau.
(It was agreed:—
That the new Article referred to in Article 1 on the subject of Prisoners of War, should provide for the repatriation of Prisoners of War as soon as possible after the signature of the Treaty of Peace, and should be carried out with the utmost rapidity.)
3. Article 6 President Wilson said that the proposal in Article 6 was practically to take hostages for the surrender of persons believed to have been guilty of breaches of the laws of war. It would be necessary to go back some hundreds of years to find a precedent for this also.
Mr. Lloyd George said it was not as though we were dealing with the former German Government. He doubted whether it would be any use to take hostages in dealing with the present Government.
President Wilson asked what it was proposed to do with the hostages. In the end you would have to return them, and they would constitute no effective threat.
M. Clemenceau said that all these should be kept against whom there was a presumption of personal guilt.
President Wilson said that this was provided for. (Article 5.)
M. Cahen said that this had been a British proposal. The argument in favour of it was that we had evidence of crimes against the laws of war by persons in Germany. If our sanctions proved insufficient, there would be great popular discontent. We had many officer prisoners of the military caste, which was collectively guilty. We proposed that some of these officers should be kept if the accused persons were not delivered to justice. Mr. Lansing said that there must be no hostages. This was not in our minds. It was merely proposed to give Germany an inducement to hand over the accused persons. If this proposal was rejected offenders against discipline who otherwise would be released as an act of grace, might be kept.
Mr. Lloyd George said that he did not agree in this.
M. Clemenceau and President Wilson were of the same view.
(It was agreed:—
That Article 6 should be entirely suppressed.
Sir Maurice Hankey was instructed to communicate this decision to the Secretary-General for the information of the Drafting Committee.)
4. The Recognition of the Jugo-Slavs M. Clemenceau said that the question of the recognition of the Jugo-Slavs had been cleared up. It had been ascertained that the mere acknowledgment of their credentials was equivalent to recognition, and would give occasion to no special declaration by the Allied and Associated Governments.[Page 339]
5. Luxemburg The attached Articles, prepared by Dr. Mezes, Sir Eyre Crowe, Baron de Gaiffier and M. Tardieu, in regard to Luxemburg, were approved, subject to the agreement of Belgium. (Appendix II.)
(Note. M. Hymans, who was present few minutes later at the meeting on reparation, was shown the Articles by Sir Maurice Hankey, and expressed his concurrence.)
Sir Maurice Hankey was instructed to forward the Articles to the Secretary-General, for communication to the Drafting Committee of the Preliminary Peace Conference.
6. Helgoland Sir Maurice Hankey, at the conclusion of the meeting, consulted President Wilson as to his recollection of the decision taken in regard to Heligoland on April 15th, (I C.–171. A.),1a when no Secretary had been present. The Drafting Committee, he pointed out, had received conflicting accounts.
President Wilson supported Mr. Balfour’s recollection of the decision, namely that the naval harbour, as well as the fortifications, was to be destroyed, and that the island was not to be re-fortified.
Sir Maurice Hankey undertook to report this to the Drafting Committee.
(The meeting then adjourned upstairs to the meeting with the Belgian representatives on Reparation.)
Villa Majestic, Paris, April 29, 1919.
- For discussion, see FM–9, vol. iv, pp. 631–639.↩
- Not found in Department files.↩
- Translation from the French supplied by the editors.↩
- The text of the translation is that which appears as article 40 of the Treaty of Versailles.↩
- British and Foreign State Papers, vol xxxi, p. 1352.↩
- Ibid., vol. xxxvii, p. 806.↩
- Ruppert, Le Grande-duché de Luxembourg dans ses relations Internationales, recueil des traités, etc., p. 367.↩
- British and Foreign State Papers, vol. lvi, p. 1038.↩
- Ruppert, op. cit, p. 547 and p. 600.↩
- British and Foreign State Papers, vol. lxii, p. 77.↩
- Ruppert, op. cit., p. 105.↩
- British and Foreign State Papers, vol. xcv, p. 780.↩