Paris Peace Conf. 180.03401/130
Notes of a Meeting Held at President Wilson’s House in the Place des Etats-Unis, Paris, on Wednesday, April 30, 1919, at 11 a.m.
- The United States of America
- President Wilson.
- The British Empire
- Mr. Lloyd George.
- M. Clemenceau.
- The United States of America
|Sir Maurice Hankey, K. C. B.||Secretary|
1. Military Terms of Peace. Article 46 President Wilson said that Mr. Lansing had drawn his attention to Article 46 of the Military Terms which provided that “the Armistice of November 11th, 1918 and the subsequent Conventions thereto remain in force so far as they are not inconsistent with the above stipulations”. He doubted the expediency of this.
Mr. Lloyd George agreed.
(President Wilson undertook to send word to General Bliss and ask him to give a statement as to the precise signification of this Article.)
2. Finland (It was agreed that Mr. Hoover’s letter on the subject of the recognition of Finland should be sent for examination and report by the Council of Foreign Ministers, Appendix I.)1
3. The credentials of the German Delegates M. Clemenceau said that M. Jules Cambon was sending word to Herr Brockdorff Kantzau, asking him to meet him on Thursday afternoon at the Hotel Trianon, with the credentials of the German Plenipotentiaries.
Mr. Lloyd George urged that the meeting should be held in the morning and not in the afternoon, and that M. Jules Cambon should be accompanied by other Members of the Credentials Committee.
M. Clemenceau suggested that M. Cambon should be telephoned for.
(The discussion of this subject was adjourned, pending the arrival of M. Jules Cambon.)
4. Air Terms in the Treaty Peace. Article 41 M. Clemenceau said that Article 41 had been reserved.
Sir Maurice Hankey read the Article, which relates to the establishment by Germany of landing places and dirigible sheds, prohibiting their establishment within 150 kilometres of any frontier.[Page 353]
Mr. Lloyd George said he had protested against this clause and considered 50 kilometres sufficient.
President Wilson suggested that the whole Article was ridiculous.
(It was agreed that Article 41 should be struck out of the Air Terms.)
Article 51 M. Clemenceau said he was informed that Article 51 was reserved. This Article states that “the upkeep and cost of the Commissions of Control and the expenses involved by their work shall be borne by Germany”.
(It was agreed that this Article should be retained.)
5. Letter From Japanese Delegation The Council had before them a letter from the Japanese Delegation, asking:—
- That Japan should be represented on the Commission for Reparations, since Reparations is a question of general interest, and
- To see inserted in Article 16 of the Financial Clauses a particular disposition concerning Japan, which has 4,000 German prisoners while Germany has only a few civil Japanese prisoners. (Appendix II)
The discussion of this letter at once gave rise to a discussion on the letter addressed by M. Loucheur to President Wilson on the question of the application by Serbia for a seat on the Reparations Commission. (Appendix III.)
(6) Representation of Belgium serbia and Japan on the Reparations Commission After some discussion, the following proposal submitted by M. Loucheur, Mr. Norman Davis, M. Baruch, Mr. Lamont, and Mr. Keynes, was approved:—
“Belgium shall sit, as originally proposed, as one of the five members of the Commission for all general discussions and for all other questions except those relating to damage by sea, for which Japan shall take her place, and those relating to Austria-Hungary, for which Serbia shall take Belgium’s place. The Commission will thus always be limited in number to five, and the Japanese and Serbian representatives on the occasions on which they are entitled to sit will have the same power of voting as the delegates of the other four Powers.”
(7) Italy and the Treaty of Peace With Germany The discussions on M. Loucheur’s letter gave with rise to a discussion on the attitude to be taken if the Italian Delegation did not return to meet the Germans.
Mr. Lloyd George asked if the Allied and Associated Powers were to put in a claim on Italy’s behalf.
President Wilson replied that we could not do so.
M. Clemenceau asked whether it would not be advisable to let M. Orlando know that the Germans had arrived, and that the Allied and Associated Powers would meet them in a day or two.
Mr. Lloyd George advocated taking no action. They had been offered a definite proposal.[Page 354]
President Wilson said that as far as he was concerned, Italy could have any district in Austria, provided she could secure it by a majority of votes in the plebiscite. This of course, would only apply to a clearly defined district, and not to a small spot on the map. If the Italians alleged that a particular island was Italian in character, they could have a plebiscite.
Mr. Lloyd George pointed out that their claim to the islands was based on security.
President Wilson said that argument was not a valid one. If Italy insisted on her claims to Dalmatia under the Treaty of London, it would upset the whole peace of the world and especially of the Slavonic world.
M. Clemenceau said there was news this morning that an Italian dreadnought had been sent to Smyrna.
Sir Maurice Hankey reminded the Council that M. Clemenceau at the last meeting with MM. Orlando and Sonnino had asked a direct question, whether the Italians would be present to meet the Germans at Versailles, and M. Orlando had replied that this depended on what happened at Rome.
(There was then some short discussion as to the inferences to be drawn from MM. Orlando’s and Sonnino’s speeches, and as to the awkward situation which would arise if the Italians returned and insisted on France and Great Britain carrying out the Treaty of London, which President Wilson was unable to support.)
Mr. Lloyd George reminded his colleagues that he had asked M. Orlando if they would be justified in putting forward claims on Italy’s behalf, if Italy was not present at Versailles to meet the Germans. M. Orlando had recognized that this was impossible.
President Wilson recalled a conversation he had had with M. Orlando in which the latter had shown quite clearly that he realized that if the Italian Delegates did not return, they could not sign the Treaty with Germany; they would be outside the League of Nations; and he had said some words which indicated that he considered they would be, in a sense, outcasts.
President Wilson had then pointed out that they were quarrelling with their best friends and M. Orlando had replied in some phrase to the effect that Italy would rather die with honour than compromise.
(No action was decided on as to making any communication.)
8. Reparation; the Question of Joint and Several Liability Attention was then drawn to the last paragraph of M. Loucheur’s letter (Appendix III) in which was raised the question of the joint and several liability of the enemy States.
President Wilson asked if that had been decided.
Mr. Lloyd George said he thought it had been, subject to a book-keeping arrangement proposed by M. Orlando.[Page 355]
Sir Maurice Hankey said that this had been discussed before he was introduced as Secretary. The only intimation on the subject that he had had was that M. Orlando had undertaken, that the Italian financial expert (M. Crespi) should discuss the question with the experts of the other Allied and Associated Powers. He had heard from Lord Sumner2 that a preliminary discussion had taken place, but after that, the Italian Delegates had left, and he thought, no more had been done.
Mr. Lloyd George considered that the question was very important. Roumania and Serbia were absorbing great slices of former Austrian territory which was entirely free from war debt, and it would seem desirable that this asset should be balanced against other liabilities.
President Wilson said that the question was too complicated for an off-hand decision. He saw Mr. Lloyd George’s point, but it would work both ways. Germany would have to take her share of the Austrian, Bulgarian and Turkish liabilities, and to that extent, the direct indemnity obtained from Germany would be lessened.
Mr. Lloyd George suggested that the matter should be settled at once.
President Wilson suggested that a decision should be taken that Germany should be jointly liable with her Allies.
Mr. Lloyd George agreed in this, but suggested that in addition the following questions should be referred to expert examination:—
- To work out the Austrian bill of reparations on the same principle as had been adopted in the ease of Germany.
- To work out the proportion of the Austrian War debt to be borne by Jugo Slavia, Transylvania and other parts of the former Austrian Empire transferred to other nationalities.
M. Clemenceau said that he would first like to consult his experts, but would inform them of his views on the following morning.
(9) The Council next took up the question raised in paragraph (a) of M. Loucheur’s letter.
The Proportions in which Sums Paid for Reparation Will Be Divided Mr. Lloyd George said he was prepared to accept the principle that the proportions in which the successive instalments paid over by Germany in satisfaction of the claims against her should be divided by the Allied and Associated Governments, should be determined by the Permanent Commission set up under the Reparations Articles, in proportion to the claims allowed by the Commission. It was true that these would not be known before May 21st, 1919, but he was prepared to accept this principle.
President Wilson said that this seemed obviously fair.
M. Clemenceau agreed.[Page 356]
(10) The Council had before them the draft Articles in Appendix IV, relating to China. These had been prepared by a Committee composed of:—
- China Articles To Be inserted in the Preliminary Peace Treaty Mr. E. T. Williams for the United States of America.
- Mr. Ronald Macleay for the British Empire.
- M. Jean Gout for France.
The Articles were agreed to, subject to a reservation by Mr. Lloyd George in Article VI, as he wished to enquire as to why the German renunciation was in one case in favour of the British concessions, and in the other, in favour of the French and Chinese Governments jointly. (Note: After inquiry, Mr. Lloyd George accepted the Articles.)
(11) Press Arrangements at the Meeting With the Germans President Wilson said that he was informed that the Allied and Associated journalists were very anxious to see the Treaty of Peace handed to the Germans. He understood that under present arrangements they were only to be permitted to view the approach of the Germans from behind a hedge. He was informed that there was a room separated from the Conference room by a glass screen, and that a number of journalists could be accommodated in this room, and view the proceedings.
(M. Jules Cambon entered during this discussion. This room was entered by a side door so that the Conference would in no way be inconvenienced.)
M. Clemenceau said that this description was correct. He thought that the journalists might be admitted to this room for this particular meeting.
Mr. Lloyd George suggested that it was very undignified and improper to admit the journalists and to treat the meeting almost as though it were a menagerie. He did not mind so much the presence of two or three. But it had to be borne in mind that the Germans were in a very delicate and disagreeable position and might have just cause to complain at descriptions being given of the precise manner in which they received the Treaty. He had no bowels of compassion for the Germans, but he thought that the admission of journalists on such an occasion would be unprecedented.
M. Clemenceau suggested that at any rate, they might be admitted to be present at the end of the corridor in order to witness the arrival and departure of the Delegates.
President Wilson said he did not agree in this decision as he considered on principle that the journalists should be present, but he did not press his objection.
(It was agreed that the journalists should be permitted to witness the arrival of the Delegates from the end of the corridor in the Trianon Hotel.)[Page 357]
(12) It was agreed:—
- That the credentials of the German Delegates should be examined on the following morning at 11 a.m.
- Credentials of the German Delegates That M. Jules Cambon should be accompanied by the Members of the Committee appointed at the Peace Conference for the examination of credentials.
- That the Committee for the examination of credentials should report the result of their interview to M. Clemenceau, President Wilson, and Mr. Lloyd George the same afternoon at President Wilson’s house at 4 p.m.
(13) Mr. Lloyd George asked how this matter stood.
Publication of Peace Terms President Wilson said he understood it had been decided provisionally to publish a summary when it was handed to the Germans, although that depended on the nature of the summary.
Lloyd George suggested it would be desirable to ascertain from the Germans how they regarded the matter. He suggested that M. Cambon should be asked to ascertain this on the morrow.
M. Clemenceau undertook to consult M. Cambon on the point.
(14) Guarantees of Execution of the Treaty of Peace3 The Secretary and Interpreter were asked to withdraw from the room during this discussion. After their return, M. Clemenceau handed to Sir Maurice Hankey the following sentence to be added to Article 2 (c) of the clauses approved on April 22nd (I. C. 175B).
“Si, à ce moment, les garanties contre une agression non provoquée de l’Allemagne n’étaient pas considérées comme suffisantes par les Gouvernements Alliés et Associés, 1’évacuation des troupes d’occupation pourront être retardée dans la mesure jugée nécessaire à l’obtention des dites garanties.”4
Villa Majestic, Paris, 30 April, 1919.[Page 361]
- For previous discussion of this letter, see IC–177A, p. 316; for the decision of the Council of Foreign Ministers, see vol. iv, pp. 662–665.↩
- British Lord of Appeal in Ordinary; president of the Subcommission on Valuation of Damage (First Subcommission) of the Commission on Reparation of Damage.↩
- For previous discussion of this subject, see IC–175B, p. 113. For the text of the draft articles concerning the guarantees of execution of the treaty, see appendix IV thereto, p. 117. The draft articles also appeared as appendix V to the minutes of this meeting, but are not reprinted here.↩
- Translation: “If at that date the guarantees against unprovoked aggression by Germany are not considered sufficient by the Allied and Associated Governments, the evacuation of the occupying troops may be delayed to the extent regarded as necessary for the purpose of obtaining the required guarantees.”↩
- Regent of Finland.↩
- Translation from the French supplied by the editors.↩
- Appendix II, supra.↩
- Foreign Relations, 1901, appendix (Affairs in China), p. 312.↩