Paris Peace Conf. 180.03401/133


Notes of a Meeting Held at President Wilson’s House in the Place des Etats-Unis, Paris, on Wednesday, April 30, 1919, at 4.30 p.m.

  • Present
    • United States of America
      • President Wilson.
      • Dr. C. H. Haskins.
      • Dr. A. A. Young.
    • British Empire
      • The Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd George, M. P.
      • Mr. J. W. Headlam-Morley.
      • Dr. O. T. Falk.
    • France
      • M. Clemenceau.
      • M. Klotz.
      • M. Tardieu.
      • M. de Lasteyrie.
      • M. Lyon.
      • Sir Maurice Hankey, K. C. B. Secretary.
      • Professor P. J. Mantoux. Interpreter.

The Council had before it Articles prepared by the experts present, with others, on the subject of Alsace-Lorraine. (Appendix.)

M. Tardieu said that the only points in dispute were Articles 12, 24 and 30.

Article 12 After M. Tardieu had explained the object of Article 12, Mr. Lloyd George withdrew the reservation which had been made by the Representatives.

Article 12 was accepted.

Article 24 M. Tardieu, in explanation of Article 24, said that the balance of the property in Alsace-Lorraine under the general economic clauses of the Peace Treaty ought to be used for satisfying the economic claims of the pre-war period. This balance, according to the general rule, should be part of the general fund for reparation.

The French Government asked for a special privilege in the case of Alsace-Lorraine, because of the economic situation of the German private properties which was the result of the systematic germanisation of Alsace-Lorraine. They asked that the balance of the property should be attributed to Alsace-Lorraine itself.

Mr. Lloyd George said that this was not the proposal. It was that the balance should be handed over to the French claim for reparation.

Mr. Klotz did not admit this.

[Page 374]

Mr. Lloyd George said he was afraid he must contest this clause very strongly. Its effect was to give priority to special claims in Alsace-Lorraine, which, though of low category, were in reality general claims. He only asked for the application of the usual rule that the surplus should go into the general pool. The balance should go into the pool and be distributed according to the principles of distribution adopted. Under the present proposal the Alsace-Lorraine claims, though of low category, would have priority over our reparation. M. Tardieu had spoken of germanisation. This was true to the extent that German skill and brains had greatly increased the wealth of these provinces. Nevertheless, the balance ought to go into the general pool. He was informed that one effect of this clause would be that pensions would be given to German officials in front of pensions to Allied soldiers.

M. Clemenceau withdrew the proposal.

It was agreed that Article 24 should be suppressed.

Article 30 M. Tardieu said that Article 30 referred to reparation to Alsatians and Lorrainians. France asked that they should be treated in the same way as other French citizens under Annex I of the Reparation Clauses. The first article of the Reparation clauses declared Germany to be responsible for losses. Article 2 provided for reparation for the civilian population. It was impossible to say that Alsatians and Lorrainians were not French citizens and part of the French population. He felt he was entitled to put forward claims for them on the same ground as for other French citizens. Otherwise, France would have two classes of citizens. It was a matter of sentiment for France, and he asked that these people should be put on the same footing as other French citizens.

Mr. Lloyd George said that the principle had already been considered and decided in respect to Poland and Czechoslovakia.

There had been considerable devastation in Poland, but Poland had nominally been at war against us, even though it had been against the will of the Polish people. Poles had actually taken part in the devastation of France. Similarly, soldiers from Alsace-Lorraine had taken part in the devastation of France. It had been decided against the Polish claim. If, however, it were now granted to Alsace-Lorraine, it must be granted to the Czechs, Poles and Yugo-Slavs.

The French Government stood to lose a good deal by this.

The second point was that the destruction in Alsace-Lorraine had been mainly wrought by the French armies when redeeming these provinces. He doubted if much destruction had been done by the German Armies. In these circumstances, he felt the claim was not one that could be justified.

[Page 375]

M. Tardieu said that the material devastation in Alsace-Lorraine was insignificant. What they wanted was pensions for widows, orphans and mutilated.

Mr. Lloyd George said that these were due to French bombardments and British bombing. It was rather difficult in these circumstances to allow any claim.

President Wilson pointed out that many of them would be widows and orphans of German soldiers. He said his advisers took the same view as Mr. Lloyd George. He could see the sentimental importance of the matter for France, but to agree would be to upset the general principles of reparation.

The French Representatives withdrew the proposal, and it was decided that Article 30 should be suppressed.

Article VII President Wilson said he was informed that the missing Article VII affected Belgium and the redemption of marks. Its object was to provide for the redemption of German marks.

Mr. Lloyd George said he understood it had been only discussed on the possible assumption that the Belgian claim in regard to the redemption of marks was accepted. That claim had been refused.

Mr. Tardieu said that the Article had only been adopted on that assumption.

Mr. Young said the Germans only acknowledged by this clause their mark debt. By it they would have to agree to redeem the marks at some future time under a convention to be concluded between France and Germany.

President Wilson said that if this Article was passed, it ought to be applied to Belgium also.

Mr. Falk pointed out that the Belgians could sell marks on the market. This clause provided little more than this for France. France was entitled either to sell marks on the market, or to make an arrangement with Germany.

President Wilson said that this Article would make the public impression that it authorised the French Government to secure a redemption of the marks at a better rate than the market rate. The same advantage would have to be provided for Belgium.

Mr. Falk suggested that it would be better to suppress the Article altogether.

Mr. Lloyd George pointed out that the Article did not really amount to anything. It would give the impression to the Germans of some advantage being given to France, and make difficulties in their signing the Treaty of Peace without corresponding advantage.

M. Klotz said that the Article merely contained a statement of fact. It would be an advantage to Germany that France should not [Page 376] keep marks in hand, otherwise they were in a position to destroy the exchange. It merely provided for a Convention between the German and French Governments. In the course of the armistice discussion, the Germans had told M. Lasteyrie that they were afraid to let so many marks remain in French possession, and they had offered to buy them back at the rate of 70 centimes. The Belgians would not agree, in which they made a mistake, and the plan had fallen through.

President Wilson pointed out that France could enter into a Convention with Germany on this subject at any time, there was no need to authorise it in the Treaty of Peace. What was the object of inserting a clause that really added nothing to France’s power, but gave the impression of something disadvantageous to the Germans?

Mr. Lloyd George agreed and pointed out that it would also cause difficulties with the Belgians.

(It was agreed that Article VII should be dropped except the last paragraph.)

Note. Article VII will be found in the French printed copy of these Articles.1

Villa Majestic, Paris, 30 April, 1919.

Appendix to [IC–] 178B


M. 97

The High Contracting Powers, recognising the moral obligation to redress the wrong done by Germany in 1871 both to the rights of France and to the wishes of the population of Alsace and Lorraine which were separated from their country in spite of the solemn protest of their representatives at the Assembly of Bordeaux, have agreed upon the following articles:

[Page 377]

Article 1

The territories which were ceded to Germany in accordance with the preliminaries of peace signed at Versailles on the 26th February 18712 and the Treaty of Frankfurt of the 10th May 1851 [1871]3 are restored to French sovereignty from the date of the armistice of the 11th November 1918.

The provisions of the Treaties establishing the delimitation of the frontiers before 1871 shall be restored.

Article 2

The German Government shall hand over without delay to the French Government all archives, registers, plans, titles and documents of every kind concerning the civil, military, financial, judicial or other administrations of the territories restored to French sovereignty.

If any of these documents, archives, registers, titles or plans have been misplaced, they will be restored by the German Government on the demand of the French Government.

Article 3

Separate agreements shall be made between France and Germany to deal with the interests of the inhabitants of the territories referred to in Article 1, particularly as regards their civil rights, their business and the exercise of their profession, it being understood that Germany undertakes as from the present date to recognise and accept the regulations laid down in Annexe 1 hereto regarding the nationality of the inhabitants of or natives of the said territories, not to claim at any time or in any place whatsoever as German nationals those who shall have been declared to be French on any ground, to receive all others in her territory and to conform, as regards the property of German nationals in the territories indicated in Article 1, with the provisions of Chapter III (?) Article B. b. of the economic clauses.

Those German nationals who without acquiring French nationality shall receive permission from the French Government to reside in the said territories shall not be subjected to the provisions of the said Chapter IV (?) article B. b. of the economic clauses.

For the purposes of this Chapter persons who have recovered French nationality by virtue of Article I of Annex I shall be held to be Alsace-Lorrainers.

Similarly the persons referred to in Article 2 of the said Annex shall be held to be Alsace-Lorrainers with a retroactive effect to the [Page 378] 11th November 1918, from the date on which they may have claimed French nationality until the moment when this privilege is refused to them.

Article 4

Those persons who have regained French nationality in virtue of Article 1 of the Annexe attached hereto, will possess the quality of Alsace-Lorrainers for the purposes of the present Chapter.

The persons referred to in Article 2 of the said Annex will from the day on which they have claimed French nationality be held to be Alsace-Lorrainers with retrospective force as from the 11th November 1918. For those whose request is rejected, the privilege will terminate at the date of the refusal. Those fictitious personalities will also be held to be Alsace-Lorrainers who have been recognised as possessing this quality, whether by the French administrative authorities or by a judicial decision.

Article 5

The territories referred to in Article 1 shall return to France free and quit of all public debts under the conditions laid down in part . . . . of the present treaty.

Article 6

In conformity with the provisions of article of part . . . . of the present treaty France shall enter into possession of all property and estate of the German Empire or German States situated within the territories referred to in Article I without incurring any payment or credit on this account to any of the States ceding the territories.

This provision applies to all movable or immovable property of public or private domain together with all rights belonging to the German Empire or States or to their administrative areas whatsoever.

Crown property and private property of the ex-Emperor or of ex-German sovereigns shall be assimilated to property of the public domain.

Article 7

[No text for article 7 is given in these draft articles. For discussion of this article, see page 375; and concerning its text, see footnote 1, page 376.]

Article 8

A special Convention will determine the conditions for repayment in marks of the exceptional war expenditure advanced during the course of the war by Alsace-Lorraine or public bodies in Alsace [Page 379] Lorraine on the account of the Empire according to the terms of German legislation such as payment to the families of those who have been mobilised, requisitions, billeting of troops, assistance to those who have been expelled.

In fixing the amount of these sums Germany will be credited with that portion which Alsace Lorraine has contributed to the Empire for the expenses resulting from these payments, this contribution being calculated according to the proportion of the imperial tax paid by Alsace Lorraine in 1913.

Article 9

The French Government will collect for its own account the taxes, duties and dues of every kind of the Empire which being leviable in the territories referred to in Article I have not been recovered at the time of the armistice of 11th November, 1918.

Article 10

The German Government shall without delay restore to Alsace-Lorrainers (individuals, associations and public institutions) all property, rights and interests belonging to them on the 11th November, 1918, in so far as these are situated in German territory.

Article 11

The German Government undertakes to continue and complete without delay the execution of the financial clauses regarding Alsace-Lorraine contained in the Armistice Conventions.

Article 12

The German Government engages to bear the expense of all civil and military pensions which had been acquired in Alsace Lorraine on the date of 11th November, 1918, and the maintenance of which was a charge on the budget of the German Empire, with the exception of military pensions due to these Alsace-Lorrainers who have acquired or regained French nationality.

The German Government will furnish each year the funds necessary for the payment in francs at the average rate of exchange for that year of the sums to which persons resident in Alsace Lorraine would have had the right in marks if Alsace Lorraine had remained under German jurisdiction.

[Page 380]

Article 13

For the purposes of the obligation assumed by Germany in part . . . . of the present treaty to give compensation for damages caused in the form of fines to the civil populations of the Allied and Associated countries, the inhabitants of the territories referred to in Article I shall be assimilated to the above-mentioned populations.

Article 14

The regulations concerning the control of the Rhine and of the Moselle are laid down in part . . . . of the present treaty.

Article 15

[No text for article 15 is given in these draft articles.]

Article 16

The railway bridges and other bridges now existing within the limits of Alsace Lorraine upon the Rhine shall, as to all their parts and their whole length, be the property of the French State, which shall ensure their upkeep.

Article 17

The French Government succeeds to all the rights of the German Empire over all the railways which were worked by the Imperial railway administration and which are actually working or under construction.

The same shall apply to the rights of the Empire with regard to railway and tramway concessions within the territories referred to in Article I.

This substitution shall not entail any payment on the part of the French State.

The frontier railway stations shall be established by a subsequent agreement, it being in anticipation stipulated that on the Rhine frontier they shall be situated on the right bank.

Article 18

In accordance with the provisions of Article 6 (a) of Part I of the economic clauses of the present Treaty, for a period of five years from the coming into force of the present Treaty, natural or manufactured products which both originate in and come from the territories of Alsace and Lorraine reunited to France shall, on importation into German Customs territory, be exempt from all Customs duty.

[Page 381]

The French Government shall fix each year, by decree communicated to the German Government, the nature and amount of the products which shall enjoy this exemption.

The amount of each product which may be thus sent annually into Germany shall not exceed the average of the amounts sent annually in the years 1911–1913.

Further, during the period above-mentioned, the German Government shall allow the free export from Germany, and the free re-importation into Germany, exempt from all Customs duties and other charges (including internal charges), of yarns, tissues, and other textile materials or textile products of any kind and in any condition, sent from Germany into the territories of Alsace or Lorraine, to be subjected thereto any finishing process, such as bleaching, dyeing, printing, mercerisation, gassing, twisting or dressing.

Article 19

During a period of ten years dating from the entry into force of the present Treaty those Central Electric Supply Works situated in German territory and formerly furnishing electric power to the territories referred to in Article I or to any establishment the working of which passes definitely or temporarily from Germany to France shall be required to continue this supply up to the amount of consumption corresponding to the undertakings and contracts current on the 11th November 1918.

This supply shall be effected according to the contracts in force and at a rate which shall not be higher than that paid to the said works by German nationals.

Article 20

It is understood that the French Government preserves its right to prohibit in the future in the territories restored to French sovereignty all new German participation:

In the management or exploitation of the public domain and the public services, such as railways, navigable waterways, water works, gas works, electric power, etc.
In the ownership of mines and quarries of every kind and the enterprises connected therewith.
In metallurgical establishments, even though their working may not be connected with that of any mine.

Article 21

As regards the territories referred to in Article I Germany renounces on behalf of herself and her nationals as from the 11th November [Page 382] 1918, all rights under the law of the 25th May 1910, regarding the trade in potash salts, and generally, under any stipulations for the intervention of German organisations in the working of the potash mines. Similarly, she renounces on behalf of herself and her nationals all rights under any agreements, stipulations or laws, which may exist to her benefit with regard to other products of the aforesaid territories.

Article 22

The settlement of the questions relating to debts contracted before the 11th November 1918 between the German Empire and the German States or their subjects residing in Germany on the one part and Alsace-Lorrainers residing in Alsace-Lorraine on the other part shall be effected in accordance with the provisions of Chapter . . . . of the present Treaty, the expression “before the war” therein being replaced by the expression “before the 11th November 1918”.

There shall be established in the territories referred to in Article I for the settlement of the afore-said debts under the conditions laid down in Chapter . . . . of the present Treaty, a special clearing office, it being understood that this office shall be regarded as a “central office” under the provisions of Article 1 of the regulation in Chapter . . . .

Article 23

The property, rights and interests of Alsace Lorrainers in Germany will be regulated by the stipulations of Chapter . . . . of the present treaty.

Article 24

The French Government reserves the right to retain and liquidate all the property, rights and interests which German nationals or societies controlled by Germany possessed in the territories referred to in Article I on November 11, 1918, subject to the conditions determined in the first clause of Article 3 above.

Germany will directly compensate its nationals who have been dispossessed by the aforesaid liquidations.

The French Government will apply the product of these liquidations to the settlement of the private debts referred to in Article 20 [22].

Article 25

Notwithstanding the stipulations of Chapter . . . . of the present Treaty all contracts made before the date of the promulgation in Alsace-Lorraine of the decree of 30th November, 1918, between Alsace Lorrainers (whether individuals or companies) and others resident [Page 383] in Alsace Lorraine on the one part and the German Empire and German States and their nationals resident in Germany on the other part, the execution of which has been suspended by the armistice or by subsequent French legislation, shall be maintained. Nevertheless any contract of which the French Government shall notify the cancellation to Germany in the general interest within a period of six months from the date of coming into force of the present Treaty shall be annulled except in respect of any debt or other pecuniary obligation arising out of any act done or money paid thereunder before the 11th November, 1918.

With regard to prescriptions, limitations, etc., in Alsace Lorraine, the provisions of Articles E and F of Chapter 4 of the Economic Clauses, shall be applied with the substitution for the expression “outbreak of the war” of the expression “the 11th November 1918” and for the expression “duration of the war” of the expression “period from the 11th November 1918 to the date of the coming into force of the present Treaty”.

Article 26

Questions concerning the rights of industrial, literary or artistic property of Alsace-Lorrainers shall be regulated in accordance with the general stipulations of Chapter . . . . of the present Treaty, it being understood that those Alsace-Lorrainers who hold rights of this nature under German legislation will preserve full and entire enjoyment of these rights on German territory.

Article 27

The German Government undertakes to pay over to the French Government such proportion of all reserves accumulated by the Empire or by public or private bodies dependent upon it for the purposes of the invalidity-old-age insurance as would fall to the invalidity-old-age insurance office at Strasburg.

Article 28

With regard to the execution of judgments and orders the following rules shall be applied:

1. All civil and commercial judgments which shall have been given since the 3rd August 1914 by the Courts of Alsace-Lorraine between Alsace-Lorrainers, or between Alsace-Lorrainers and foreigners, or between foreigners, and which shall not have been appealed against before the 11th November, 1918, shall be regarded as final and capable of being fully executed. When the judgment has been given between [Page 384] Alsace-Lorrainers and Germans or between Alsace Lorrainers and subjects of the Allies of Germany, it shall only be capable of executing after an “exequatur” has been issued by the corresponding new tribunal in the restored territory referred to in Article 1.

2. All judgments given by German Courts since the 3rd August 1914, against Alsace-Lorrainers for political crimes or misdemeanours shall be regarded as null and void.

3. All sentences passed since the 11th November 1918 by the Imperial Court of Leipzig on appeals against the decisions of the Courts of Alsace-Lorraine shall be regarded as null. The papers in regard to the cases in which such sentences have been given shall be returned to the Courts of Alsace-Lorraine concerned.

All appeals to the Imperial Court against decisions of the Courts of Alsace-Lorraine shall be suspended. In the cases referred to above the papers shall be returned in the following conditions for transfer without delay to the French Court of Appeal which shall be competent to decide them.

4. All proceedings in Alsace Lorraine for offences committed during the period between the 11th November 1918 and the coming into force of the present Treaty will be conducted under the German laws except so far as these have been modified by decrees duly published on the spot by French authorities.

Article 29

All other questions concerning Alsace-Lorraine which are not regulated by the present Chapter and its Annex or by the general stipulations of the present Treaty, will form the subject of further conventions between France and Germany.

Article 30

Reserved Alsace Lorrainers will for the purpose of the reparation of damages of the classes dealt with in Annexe I to the Chapter on Reparations be assimilated to the nationals of the Allied and Associated Powers.


1. Nationality

(Annex to Article 3)

Article 1

The following persons are reinstated in French nationality as of full right from the 11th November 1918: [Page 385]

Persons who lost French nationality by the application of the Franco-German Treaty of the 10th May 1871, and who have not since that date acquired nationality other than German nationality:
The legitimate or natural descendants of the persons referred to in the immediately preceding paragraph, with the exception of those whose ascendants in the paternal line include a German who immigrated into Alsace-Lorraine after the 15th July, 1870:
All persons born in Alsace-Lorraine of unknown parents, or whose nationality is unknown.

Article 2

Within the period of one year from the signature of the Preliminaries of Peace, persons included in any of the following categories may claim French nationality:

All persons not restored to French nationality whose ascendants include a Frenchman or French woman who lost French nationality under the conditions referred to in Article 1:
All foreigners, not nationals of a German State who acquired the status of a native of Alsace-Lorraine before the 3rd August, 1914.
All Germans resident in Alsace-Lorraine, if they have been so since a date previous to the 15th July, 1870, or if one of their ascendants was at that date domiciled in Alsace-Lorraine:
All Germans born or domiciled in Alsace-Lorraine, who have served in the Allied or Associated armies during the present war, and the descendants of such Germans:
All persons born in Alsace-Lorraine before the 30th May, 1871, of foreign parents, and the descendants of such persons:
The husband or wife of any person whose French nationality may have been restored under Article 1, or who may have claimed and obtained French nationality in accordance with the preceding provisions.

The legal representative of a minor may exercise, on behalf of that minor, the right to claim French nationality; and if that right has not been exercised, the minor may claim French nationality within the year following his majority.

Except in the cases provided for in No. 6 of the present Article, the French authorities reserve to themselves the right, in individual cases, to reject the claim to French nationality.

Article 3

Subject to the provisions of Article 2, Germans born or domiciled in Alsace-Lorraine shall not acquire French nationality by reason of the restoration of Alsace-Lorraine to France, even though they may have the status of a native of Alsace-Lorraine.

[Page 386]

They may only acquire French nationality by naturalisation, on condition of having been domiciled in Alsace-Lorraine from a date previous to the 3rd August, 1914, and of submitting proof of unbroken residence within the restored territory for a period of three years from the 11th November, 1918.

France will be solely responsible for their diplomatic and consular protection from the date of their application for French naturalisation.

Article 4

The French Government shall determine the procedure for establishing the reinstatement as of right, and the conditions under which decisions shall be given upon claims to French nationality and upon applications for naturalisation under the present Treaty.

  1. The French text of article VII is:

    “Le Gouvernement allemand s’impose de ne prendre aucune disposition tendant, par un estampillage ou par toutes autres mesures legates ou administratives qui ne s’appliqueraient pas an reste de l’Allemagne, à porter atteinte à la valeur légale ou au pouvoir libératoire des instruments monétaires ou monnaies allemandes ayant cours légal à la signature du présent Traité et se trouvant à la dite date en la possession du Gouvernement francais.” (Paris Peace Conf. 185.1135/34.)


    “The German Government undertakes not to take any action, either by means of stamping or by any other legal or administrative measures not applying equally to the rest of Germany, which may be to the detriment of the legal value or redeemability of German monetary instruments or monies which, at the date of the signature of the present Treaty are legally current, and at that date are in the possession of the French Government.”

  2. British and Foreign State Papers, vol. lxii, p. 59.
  3. Ibid., p. 77.