Paris Peace Conf. 180.03401/144


Notes of a Meeting Held at President Wilson’s House, Place des Etats-Unis, Paris, on Monday, 5 May, 1919, at 11 a.m.

  • Present
    • United States of America
      • President Wilson.
    • Great Britain
      • The Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd George, M. P.
    • France
      • M. Clemenceau.
Sir Maurice Hankey, K. C. B. Secretary.
Professor P. J. Mantoux Interpreter.

1. Sir Maurice Hankey read the following communication, which had been received from the Drafting Committee:—

League of Nations “On account of the important part which the Covenant of the League of Nations plays in the draft Treaty of Peace, the Drafting Committee forward the annexed proof1 indicating the changes which have been made in the text since Friday, May 3rd. The alteration in Article 22 was made under instructions given personally to M. Fromageot by M. Clemenceau, the President of the Conference.

  • “See Article 4, p. 11—Italy is omitted.
  • “ “ 22, p. 17.
  • “Annex I, p. 19.—Italy being omitted.
  • “ “ p. 20.—where Italy is included.”

M. Clemenceau said that it was very important to France that some words should be put in to enable her to utilise native troops for the defence of French territory just as she had done in this war. He was not responsible for the actual wording employed.

President Wilson drew attention to the previous discussion which had taken place on this subject at the Council of Ten on January 30th, (I. C. 128, Minute 1), when it had been agreed that precisely similar wording in the resolutions on the subject of mandates, namely, “for other than police purposes for [and?] the defence of territory,” would cover France’s needs.2 He asked Sir Maurice Hankey to bring the matter to Lord Robert Cecil’s attention and ask him what alteration, if any, there should be in the League of Nations Covenant.

[Page 464]

2. (At this point Colonel Henri was introduced.)

The Date of Handing the Peace Treaty to the Germans Colonel Henri, who is the officer in charge of the arrangements for the security of and communication with the Germans at Versailles, said that on the previous evening the Germans had sent him a message to the effect that they had been kept waiting so long that they proposed return to Berlin. This morning, a subordinate official had reported to him that 14 persons would be leaving this evening. Colonel Henri had asked for their names, but the subordinate said he did not know them. Colonel Henri had insisted that he could not make the arrangements for motor cars, etc., unless he knew who the persons were, and a reply had been promised by mid-day. He was to see Baron Lassneer [Lersner]3 in the afternoon.

M. Clemenceau suggested that Colonel Henri should be authorised to inform the Germans of the date on which the Treaty would be handed over. This raised the question of the date. He was informed by M. Dutasta that the American Representative on the Drafting Committee thought a meeting was possible on Wednesday afternoon, but the British and French Representatives considered Thursday was the earliest possible date.*

M. Clemenceau, continuing, said that he had just received news that Mr. Orlando was coming back and this would involve altering the first two pages of the Treaty.

Mr. Lloyd George said it would be better not to alter the Treaty in print but to alter it in writing if they came back, which would show the Germans that we had intended to go on without the Italians.

President Wilson proposed that the Germans should be informed that the Treaty would be handed to them on Wednesday morning.

Mr. Lloyd George preferred Wednesday afternoon.

M. Clemenceau gave Colonel Henri instructions to inform the Germans as follows:—

The delay in printing the Peace Treaty was due to the time taken in examining the full powers.
The Treaty was now being printed.
The Meeting with the Germans would be at 3 p.m. on Wednesday next, May 7th.

(Colonel Henri withdrew.)

(It was decided that no alteration should be made in the first two [Page 465] pages of the Treaty of Peace owing to the fact that the Italians had announced their intention of returning.)

3. Plenary Meeting (It was decided to hold a Plenary Meeting on the following day, Tuesday, May 6th, at 3 p.m.)

4. (M. Pichon then entered.)

The Position With Italy M. Pichon said he had had a verbal note from M. Bonin, conveying a message from Baron Sonnino. The gist of this was that, having received a vote of complete confidence from the Italian Parliament, and not desiring to complicate the situation at this very serious moment by any positive or negative act which might be interpreted as putting back the peace, and confident in the assurance by their Allies of their desire to obtain a peace satisfactory to all and in the general interest, the President of the Council and Baron Sonnino had decided to leave for Paris, arriving on Wednesday morning, with the hope of being present when the Treaty of Peace was handed to the Germans.

Sir Maurice Hankey again asked definitely whether the Drafting Committee were to alter the printing of the first two pages in view of the return of the Italians.

Mr. Lloyd George replied that they should not do so. Any alteration should be made in writing at the last moment.

President Wilson agreed.

(Mr. Lloyd George retired to interview the Marquis Imperiali, but returned very shortly after to say that the Marquis merely had the same message for him as M. Pichon had already received from M. Bonin.)

President Wilson drew attention to the following information, which related to the Italian question:—

Additional Italian troops had been sent to Sebenico.
There had been serious oppression by the Italians in the Dodecanese and in a village in Rhodes (?) named Alanova (?) a bishop had actually been killed in the church where he was officiating, while a woman had also been killed by the Italians.

This information had been conveyed to him by a Greek named Russes (?).

Mr. Lloyd George said he had received the same information.

(At this point, General Sir Henry Wilson entered with maps.)

Mr. Lloyd George said he had invited General Wilson to come here because he felt that the Italian movements in the East were, when considered in the aggregate, highly suspicious, and he thought his colleagues ought to be made acquainted with them.

General Wilson explained on a map the general military position in the East as regards the Italians. At the present time, there were about 30,000 Italians in Bulgaria. General Franchet d’Esperey was responsible for making those dispositions. There were two French [Page 466] divisions in this region, but they were troops who had come from Odessa, very tired and not the best French troops. In Hungary there were four Roumanian divisions, two weak French divisions, and, on the other side opposing the Roumanians, two Hungarian divisions.

Mr. Lloyd George said that in Asia Minor the Italians had occupied the harbour of Marmaris, nominally as a coaling station. They had a battalion at Konia, which had been sent there by agreement. They had landed troops at Adalia without consulting the Allied and Associated Powers and other movements were reported.

General Wilson said there were unconfirmed reports of landings at various places on the coast of Asia Minor, including Alaya.

Mr. Lloyd George re-called that the Italian expedition to Tripoli had been uncommonly well concealed. He was suspicious of a similar expedition now to Asia Minor. According to his information, the Italians were arming the Bulgarians and stirring them up to attack both the Greeks and the Serbians, but especially the latter. They were the only nation not demobilising.

M. Clemenceau said this was a fact.

Mr. Lloyd George thought that the situation in the East was not being very well handled by the Allies. The Bulgarians were a most formidable people and were not being disarmed.

M. Clemenceau disputed this. He said he had despatches in regard to the breech blocks of the Bulgarian guns which proved this.

Mr. Lloyd George said that the breech blocks were being taken to Sofia, where there were no Allied troops except Italians.

M. Clemenceau said he had ordered them back.

Mr. Lloyd George said that the Italians were the only considerable force in this region. He wished General Henrys was in charge, as he thought that for this particular work he was more suited than General Franchet d’Esperey.

M. Clemenceau asked where General Henrys was.

General Wilson said he was on his way back from Warsaw.

Mr. Lloyd George said that the British had a division and a half in the Caucasus. He would like to have examined the effect of bringing them back from the Causasus.

President Wilson recalled the report of the Military Representatives on the distribution of forces in Turkey.

Mr. Lloyd George thought the question ought to be re-considered. Any day it might be found that the Italians had captured Anatolia and it would be difficult to get them out of there once they had occupied it. The mandates for Turkey could not be settled now, owing to the decision to send out a Commission. He thought, therefore, that we should fall back on his original proposal of a re-distribution of the forces of occupation. The United States troops ought to go to Constantinople and to provide troops for Armenia. The British would [Page 467] come out of the Caucasus and the French might put a garrison in Syria, while the Greeks should be allowed to occupied [occupy?] Smyrna, since their compatriots were actually being massacred at the present time and there was no one to help them.

M. Clemenceau said the Italians had seven battleships at Smyrna.

Mr. Lloyd George said he would like to settle the forces of occupation in Turkey before the Italians returned to Paris: this afternoon, if possible.

President Wilson said he could not do it so hastily.

Mr. Lloyd George said if they discussed it with the Italians, they would anticipate them.

President Wilson said he did not know where he was to find the American troops. Marshal Foch would be nervous if he withdrew United States’ troops from the occupied zone in Germany.

General Wilson said that one United States’ division would be required for Constantinople and the Straits to replace one British division and the few French battalions that were there. He could not estimate the number required for Armenia, as this would depend on how far into the country they had to penetrate. At the present moment, the British were under an agreement to let the Italians go to the Caucasus.

Mr. Lloyd George said that all he had said was that he would like the British to come out of the Caucasus and the Italians had said they would like to go in, as there was oil there.

President Wilson said he did not approve of the Italians going to the Caucasus.

M. Clemenceau said he had made no agreement on the subject.

Mr. Lloyd George recalled the report of the Military Representatives, which, however, he was reminded by Sir Maurice Hankey, had never been formally approved. He understood that, in any event, the British were coming out.

President Wilson asked why any troops should replace the British.

General Wilson said that unless some civilised Power was in occupation, there would be the most terrible massacres.

Mr. Lloyd George agreed and pointed out that we could not persuade Denekin4 from entering Georgia.

General Wilson said he was most anxious to get the British troops out.

President Wilson said that the British troops were the only ones accustomed to this kind of business, although the French had some experience. United States’ officers would be quite unaccustomed to it.

Mr. Lloyd George said that the United States’ troops would be wanted in Armenia and would not meet with difficulties, although it [Page 468] was not the same in the Caucasus. In reply to President Wilson, he said he feared the effect of the Italians going to the Caucasus would be very serious. He was convinced that the forces of occupation should be settled at once and then the Commission could go out.

President Wilson said this was too important a matter to be settled in a hurry. He must confer with his military advisers first.

General Wilson said that the British problem was very simple, as it merely involved taking the troops out of the Caucasus.

Mr. Lloyd George said it had been proposed to put these troops in the region of Constantinople for the present, in order to have them ready to counter any move by the Italians.

M. Clemenceau said that he, himself, intended to take action today as regards Bulgaria.

President Wilson said he was not at all sure as to what military troops he could dispose of.

Mr. Lloyd George said that there was a general idea that the British were imperialistic in their desires, but as a matter of fact they were not willing to take any more responsibility.

President Wilson said it did not seem a question of assuming more responsibility but a question of their withdrawing their existing responsibilities.

Mr. Lloyd George pointed out that the Caucasus was very rich, but it would be a big job to look after it and the British Empire could not assume those additional responsibilities.

President Wilson feared that to let the Italians into the Caucasus would prove to be very serious and threaten the peace of the world.

Mr. Lloyd George said that to take the 1½ British divisions from the Caucasus and put them in Constantinople would safeguard the position against the Italians. Otherwise, the Allied and Associated Powers might find their hands forced. The situation ought to be tackled at once to avert these [this] possibility.

(It was agreed:—

That General Wilson should at once see General Bliss (to whom President Wilson sent a message by telephone) and should post General Bliss with the whole situation, in order that General Bliss may confer with President Wilson in the afternoon.
That the Naval Authorities should be invited to co-operate, when the naval elements entered into the problem.)

(General Wilson withdrew.)

5. The Return of the Italians. Permission To Publish In reply to a telephone message from M. Pichon, it was agreed that the fact that the Italian Delegation was returning to Paris should be published.

6. The Attitude of the Italians Mr. Lloyd George said that a few days ago an old friend of his, formerly a Welsh member of Parliament, had called on him in Paris, [Page 469] and said he was just leaving for Rome. He had told Mr. Lloyd George that he was convinced that the Italians were anxious for an excuse to come back, and had asked if there was anything he could do. Mr. Lloyd George had explained the general situation to him, without, of course, giving him any authority to act. Last night he had received a telegram from his friend in Rome, the gist of which was that he had seen M. Orlando, who had said he was willing to stand by the Pact of London but had intimated that when Italy had got Dalmatia and the Islands, she would go to Croatia and make a bargain for the exchange of Fiume.

President Wilson pointed out that all this fitted in with the naval and military movements that the Italians were making.

Mr. Lloyd George said that the Italians had already broken the Treaty by occupying Fiume.

M. Clemenceau pointed out, however, that the Italians had not occupied it alone: Allied troops were also in Fiume.

President Wilson recalled that the Armistice had given the right to the Allies to advance troops for the maintenance of order, and the Italians had used this excuse to push forward troops to Fiume, in which they had been joined by their Allies. This prevented us from saying that the Italians were outside their rights.

Mr. Lloyd George said that he would like to tell the Italians they must withdraw. If they should plead the Armistice as an excuse for staying, we must say: “Then let the Serbians go in; they are Allies.”

President Wilson pointed out that the Italians were sending troops to Sebenico. They were not entitled to do that under the Armistice.

Mr. Lloyd George said we ought to insist on adherence to the Armistice. They were playing the Pact of London against Great Britain and France, and it was Great Britain and France that must meet them. Our line should be to say: “You must clear out of Fiume and leave it to the Croatians, in accordance with the Pact.” They could not afford to do that.

President Wilson said he had just received a message from Mr. Lansing to the same effect as M. Pichon’s and the Marquis Imperiali’s messages, namely, that the Italians would be back on Wednesday morning. The message also stated that they were coming in the hope that they could take part in the meeting with the Germans. This meant that they were in the hope that the Allied and Associated Governments would make this possible for them.

Mr. Lloyd George said this could not be done on Wednesday morning.

7. Publication of the Peace Treaty M. Clemenceau said that the Germans had assumed that the [Page 470] Allied and Associated Powers were going to make a communication of the terms published and had asked that as theirs could not be ready they might be allowed to use the one issued by the Allied and Associated Powers, M. Cambon had given him this information.

Mr. Lloyd George said he had received a message from General Smuts, who considered that the Germans would obtain a considerable diplomatic advantage if the treaty were published. In such a gigantic document there would have to be a good many alterations, and the Germans would claim these to be a diplomatic victory for them. He pointed out that in many parts of the Treaty he himself had had to trust to experts who were not really looking at the Treaty as a whole. He anticipated, when he read the Treaty as a whole, that he might find a good many unexpected clauses, some inconsistent with others, just as had happened to him sometimes in introducing a complicated Bill into Parliament.

M. Clemenceau did not think it possible to keep publication back, but he would only publish a summary.

President Wilson agreed that the text ought not to be published.

Mr. Lloyd George pointed out that M. Tardieu’s summary was so long that it would occupy three whole sheets of the Times.

President Wilson said that Mr. Baker, who was in general charge of the United States Press arrangement, had prepared a summary.

Mr. Lloyd George said that Mr. Baker’s summary had been prepared in co-operation with Mr. Mair,5 who had done a large part of it, but even Mr. Mair’s summary would occupy two sheets of the Times.

(It was agreed that M. Tardieu, Mr. Baker and Mr. Mair should be invited the following morning to meet the Council of Three.)

8. Responsibilities for Breaches, etc. M. Clemenceau asked how the question of Responsibilities stood.

President Wilson said he understood that it had been held up at a recent Plenary, owing to some objection by the British Dominions.

Mr. Lloyd George said it was too late now to bring it before the Plenary. He understood that General Botha thought that the names of the Germans whom it was proposed to try should be given. He had pointed out that the British had made the same demand in South Africa. General Botha had agreed to all their other demands, but would not give way on that, and had insisted that he should [Page 471] be given the names. General Botha had then asked Lord Kitchener whether, in his place, he would give up men to be tried without knowing their names, and Lord Kitchener had replied that as a soldier, he would not. Consequently, the negotiations had been broken off, and the war had gone on for 17 months. In the end, only three names had been given for trial.

President Wilson said he had always felt that this was the weak spot in the Treaty of Peace.

Mr. Lloyd George pointed out that this depended on the mentality of the Germans.

9. Arrangements for Meeting with the Germans (A memorandum by the Secretary-General was considered with the result that it was agreed to proceed to Versailles that afternoon, and meet the Secretary-General there.)

10. The Size of the Army of Occupation of the Rhine Provinces Mr. Lloyd George pointed out that the cost of the Army of Occupation was to have precedence over indemnities and reparation. The present Armies of Occupation were costing £300,000,000 a year. At present no limit was placed on the size of the total army to be maintained. Unless some limitation were arranged, there would be nothing left for indemnity.

M. Clemenceau said that this did not affect the Treaty of Peace, but was a matter that should be arranged between the Allied and Associated Governments.

President Wilson said that in a previous conversation it had been arranged that the British and United States forces would be very small—only sufficient to show the flag.

(It was agreed that a Committee composed of General Bliss, for the United States of America, General Sir Henry Wilson for the British Empire, and a French Officer to be designated by M. Clemenceau, should meet to consider the size of the Army of Occupation of the Rhine Provinces, after conclusion of the Treaty of Peace.)

11. The Period of Organisation for the League of Nations Mr. Lloyd George pointed out a difficulty which had arisen about the organisation of the League of Nations. The United States of America could not devote any money to the League until the Treaty was ratified. It was absolutely necessary, however, to get the organisation of the League ready, as certain of duties would fall on it very soon after the signature of the Treaty of Peace. It was not considered desirable to proceed at once to Geneva, where sufficient buildings were not available. He asked authority, therefore, on behalf of Sir Eric Drummond, Secretary-General, to establish himself temporarily in London, where he would build up the organisation of the League.

[Page 472]

President Wilson said he had no objection.

M. Clemenceau said he had no objection.

It was agreed that the Secretary-General of the League of Nations should be authorised to establish the temporary and provisional organisation of the League of Nations in London.

12. The Council had before it a memorandum from the Secretary-General, entitled “Free Circulation for the German Delegation”. (Appendix.)

Couriers for the German Delegates M. Clemenceau considered that the couriers allowed to the German Delegation were quite sufficient.

President Wilson thought that the Allied and Associated Powers should be as liberal in these matters as possible.

Mr. Lloyd George pointed out that there was nothing for the Germans to spy on at the present time.

M. Clemenceau agreed to adopt a liberal attitude.

(It was agreed that the German Delegates at Versailles should be permitted to send to Germany and vice versa, in addition to the ordinary couriers bearing the official mail, other persons, including journalists, in such proportion as they may deem necessary.)

13. Decisions in Regard to China and Siam. Protest by the Japanese Delegation M. Clemenceau said he had received a protest from the Marquis Saionji against decisions having been taken in regard in Regard to affairs in China and Siam without consultation with the Japanese. No complaint was made against the substance of the Articles in the Treaty of Peace that had been agreed on, but as Japan had special interests in the Far East, he considered that the Japanese Plenipotentiaries should have been present at the discussion.

President Wilson pointed out that as he had no objection to the substance, the matter was not very material. No-one present could recall any decision in regard to Siam, and the clauses in regard to China had been prepared by experts, but had not been discussed at any meeting.

14. Mandates Mr. Lloyd George said he was very anxious to settle the question of the mandates before the Treaty of Peace.

President Wilson said that it could hardly be settled in 48 hours. In regard to Turkey in particular, it was impossible for him to give a decision at present as to whether the United States could take a mandate.

Mr. Lloyd George said that as far as Great Britain was concerned he would make no objection to a settlement of the Turkish mandates, though he realised President Wilson’s difficulty. What he was pressing for at present was the German Colonies.

M. Clemenceau said he was ready at any time to discuss the matter.

President Wilson said that to all intents and purposes it had been [Page 473] agreed that the mandate for German South-West Africa should be given to South Africa, for New Guinea and the adjacent islands to Australia, for Samoa to New Zealand.

Mr. Lloyd George said that there was still the remaining African Colonies.

M. Clemenceau said there was perfect agreement on these too.

Mr. Lloyd George urged early consideration of this question, as he was most anxious to be able to announce the mandates to the Press at the time when the Peace Treaty was issued.

President Wilson said he was very anxious to avoid the appearance of a division of the spoils being simultaneous with the Peace.

Villa Majestic, Paris, 5 May, 1919.

Appendix to IC–181B

Free Circulation for the German Delegation

The Germans’ request dated April 21st ran in this way: “The German Government are ready to send their delegation to Versailles, if the latter enjoy liberty of displacement, free use of telegraph wires, etc.”

The Allied and Associated Governments sent the following reply on April 22nd:

“The German delegation will enjoy all freedom as regards their movements in the fulfilling of their mission, as well as free use . . . . . . etc”.

The German delegation at Versailles have informed our military mission that the above terms were to be interpreted in the broadest sense, and that they consequently considered themselves as authorised to send from Versailles to Germany and vice versa, in addition to the ordinary couriers bearing the official mail, all other persons, inter alia journalists, in such proportion as they will deem necessary.

Up to the present, the interpretation given by the Germans has not been admitted and only the couriers have been allowed to travel.

Considering the protest raised by the German delegation, it is expedient that a definite decision shordd be come to in that matter.

  1. This draft text does not accompany the minutes.
  2. Vol. iii, pp. 803805.
  3. Commissioner on the German Delegation to Negotiate Peace.
  4. (Note by the Secretary. Mr. Hurst informs me that he pressed very strongly that the Treaty could be ready by Wednesday afternoon.) [Footnote in the original.]
  5. Gen. Anton Ivanovich Deniken, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of South Russia.
  6. George Herbert Mair, director of the press section of the British delegation.