Paris Peace Conf. 180.03401/2


Notes of a Meeting Held at President Wilson’s House in the Place des Etats-Unis, Paris, on Friday, May 9, at 11:25 a.m.

  • Present
    • United States of America
      • President Wilson.
    • France
      • M. Clemenceau.
    • British Empire
      • The Rt Hon. D. Lloyd George, M. P.
    • Italy
      • H. B. M. Orlando.
Sir Maurice Hankey, K. C. B. } Secretaries.
Count Aldrovandi.
Prof P. J. Mantoux.—Interpreter.

(Mr. Hurst was introduced.)1

Guarantees. Provision for Reoccupation of Terrritory in Case of Necessity President Wilson pointed out that the text of Article 430 of the Treaty of Peace differs from the instructions on the subject which were given to the Drafting Committee. The instructions to the Drafting Committee were as follows:—

“In case either during or after this 15 years’ delay, the Inter-Allied Commission of Reparations recognise that Germany refuse to execute the whole or part of the conditions agreed upon by her according to the present Treaty, the international re-occupation of part or the whole of the areas defined by Article 2 will take place immediately.”

Article 430 of the Treaty reads as follows:—

“In case either during the occupation or after the expiration of the 15 years referred to ahove, the Reparation Commission finds that Germany has failed to observe the whole or part of her obligations under the present Treaty, the whole or part of the areas specified in Article 429 will be re-occupied immediately by the Allied and Associated forces.”

The essential difference between the two texts, President Wilson pointed out, is that in the Article in the Peace Treaty the words “Germany has failed to observe” have been substituted for the original words “Germany refuse to execute”.

[Page 520]

Mr. Hurst pointed out that the change was a very small one. It was an Article in regard to which no action would take place for at least five years, and then it would only affect a relatively small area of territory.

Mr. Lloyd George pointed out that there was considerable difference between refusal and failure to execute the Treaty.

President Wilson pointed out a further difference, namely, that the original draft, though loosely worded, was only intended to apply to Reparation, whereas Article 430 applied to the whole Treaty. The Reparation Commission had nothing to do with anything but Reparation. He agreed, however, that the original text was partly misleading.

Mr. Hurst said that this would entail the modification of Article 430, and no doubt an opportunity would arise during the negotiations with the Germans. The alteration would be to Germany’s advantage, so that Germany was not likely to object. He undertook to arrange for a Meeting of the Drafting Committee in the afternoon, and to present a fresh draft by the following morning.

President Wilson asked whether the word “may” should not be substituted for “will” in the last line.

M. Clemenceau asked what the original text was.

Mr. Hurst said it was “will”.

M. Clemenceau said he would prefer to adhere to the original text, owing to the effect of a change on the French people.

Mr. Hurst said the difficulty could be surmounted by using the future tense in the French text.

(It was agreed that the Drafting Committee should prepare a fresh draft of Article 430 to be presented to the Supreme Council of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers on the following morning.)

(Mr. Hurst withdrew.)

(It was agreed in the afternoon to discuss the action to be taken in the event of a failure on the part of the Germans to sign the Treaty of Peace.)

(Sir Maurice Hankey was instructed to circulate a memorandum by Marshal Foch.2

He circulated at the Meeting the memorandum by the Allied Admirals on the Naval action to be taken.)3

Villa Majestic, Paris, May 9, 1919.

  1. Cecil James Barrington Hurst, Legal Adviser to the British Foreign Office and member of the Drafting Committee.
  2. See appendix I to CF–4, p. 532.
  3. See appendix II to CF–4, p. 533.