Paris Peace Conf. 180.03401/4


Notes of a Meeting Held at President Wilson’s House in the Place des Etats-Unis, Paris, on Friday, May 9, 1919, at 4 p.m.

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

1. Hungary: Food Supplies From the Banat Sir Maurice Hankey handed M. Clemenceau the draft of a letter prepared at M. Clemenceau’s request, and agreed to by Mr. Hoover and the British Experts, inviting M. Pashitch to permit the export of food-stuffs from the Banat to Hungary.

M. Clemenceau approved that the terms of the letter carried out the decisions reached in the morning, and undertook to despatch it.

2. The Council had before them the following documents:—

Action in the Event of the Germans Declining To Sign the Treaty A Note from Marshal Foch (Appendix I) as to the military action to be taken in the emergency contemplated.
A Note from the Naval Kepresentatives of the Allied and Associated Powers on the Naval steps to be taken in the same contingency (Appendix II).

Mr. Lloyd George pointed out that no very drastic proposal was contained in either of these documents.

President Wilson said that what was most disturbing him was that a certain period of time was allowed for the execution of the naval and military clauses, the maximum amount allowed being three months for the destruction of certain fortifications. For this period after the ratification of the Treaty of Peace, a much larger force would have to be maintained on the Rhine than thereafter. As far as he could recollect, his military advisers estimated it at 30 divisions. The United States’ share of this would be such that they would have to stop sending troops home. By June 1st they would have reached [Page 527] the minimum contingent to be supplied by the United States—some 6 or 8 divisions. This was rather a serious problem and serious not only to the United States of America. It would mean a number of transports lying idle for some three months. Once ships were fitted as transports they were unsuited for commercial purposes. It would probably not be worth while to convert them for commercial purposes and then reconvert them for transport purposes.

Mr. Lloyd George said that General Wilson had told him he was anxious and rather alarmed at the rapid withdrawal of the United States forces. He had asked him to speak to General Bliss on the matter before it was raised at the Supreme Council.

President Wilson said that at present the United States were shipping 300,000 men a month homewards.

Mr. Lloyd George speculated as to the number of troops required for the occupation of Berlin. These were possibilities that ought not to be excluded from purview, and this was the reason for General Wilson’s anxiety.

M. Clemenceau thought 6 divisions would be enough.

Mr. Lloyd George thought to this it would be necessary to add the occupation of the Lines of Communication. He asked the distance, however, from Berlin to the Rhine, and to the sea.

Sir Maurice Hankey estimated the distance from Frankfort to Berlin at about 250 to 300 miles, and the distance from Berlin to Stettin about 90 miles.

Note. The discussion was adjourned at this point and resumed later. It will be more convenient to continue the record at this point.

Mr. Lloyd George said he would like the Military representatives at Versailles specifically to consider what forces would be required for the occupation of Berlin. It was unnecessary for the Council to commit itself to a decision because it asked for this information. In his view, there was a good deal to be said for the occupation of Berlin if Germany refused to sign the Treaty. It would be the outward and visible sign of smashing the Junkers. They would never be convinced otherwise. He felt sure of this after hearing Brockdorff-Rantzau’s speech.1

President Wilson said the hope rested on the remainder of Germany ridding themselves of the Junkers. Apart from Brockdorff-Rantzau, the other German delegates had looked reasonable men.

Mr. Lloyd George pointed out that none the less they had allowed the Junker to take the lead. They could not free themselves from the sense of servitude to the Junkers.

President Wilson thought that Mr. Lloyd George’s theory was correct that the insolent parts of Brockdorff-Rantzau’s speech had [Page 528] been his own and the reasonable parts supplied by the other delegates.

Mr. Lloyd George pointed out that there was no cohesion or unity of thought in the document.

M. Clemenceau suggested that Marshal Foch should be invited to the Council to give his views as to the amount of force required for the occupation of Berlin.

Mr. Lloyd George suggested that Marshal Foch should also be asked to consider whether the Poles ought to make any advance on Berlin.

(It was agreed that Marshal Foch should be heard at 11 o’clock on the following day.)

3. Policy in Russia President Wilson presented a military problem to his colleagues.

The United States, he said, as agreed between the Allied and Associated Powers some time back, had been trying to send supplies to the civilian population of Siberia from Vladivostock. By agreement between the Allies and [omission] a Mr. Stevens, who, long ago in the days of the old regime had been in Siberia, had become the head of a somewhat inconvenient Commission to run the railroads of Siberia.2 The United States had agreed to police the railroads as far west as Irkutsk.3 The position was that the United States Government did not believe in Koltchak. The British and French military representatives in Siberia, however, were supporting him. Koltchak had become irritated by the presence on the railway of United States soldiers, whom he regarded as neutrals. Moreover, the impression had got abroad among the peasants of Siberia that the United States was the standard of a free Government which they ought to imitate. When they saw the attitude of neutrality taken by the United States soldiers, they thought there must be something wrong with the Government of Koltchak. Further, the Cossacks were out of sympathy with the United States soldiers and he suspected that the Japanese would be glad to have a collision between the Cossacks and American soldiers. As a consequence of this state of affairs the United States Government found itself faced with the two following alternatives:—

To take sides with Koltchak and send much stronger forces to Siberia.
To withdraw.

If the former alternative were adopted and the United States increased their forces it was certain that the Japanese would increase [Page 529] theirs still more. The original agreement had been that the Japanese and the United States should send roughly equivalent forces. When the United States sent 9,000 men the Japanese sent 12,000 men. He had not objected to this slight discrepancy, but the numbers of Japanese had subsequently gone up to 70,000, which had afterwards been reduced to a nominal 30,000. This, however, left a great disproportion. If the United States troops continued merely to guard the railway and to maintain, as it were, a neutral position, he was advised that collisions were bound to occur. If United States soldiers were attacked, it could not be expected that they would do nothing. If they were withdrawn, the field would be left to the Japanese and Koltchak, who was supported by the Allies.

He then read a series of telegrams from General Graves commanding the United States forces in Siberia, bearing out the above summary of the position, and pointing out that if the present policy were continued, there would almost certainly be a collision between the United States troops and Russian troops.

Mr. Lloyd George said that this strengthened his view as to the need of arriving at a policy in regard to Russia. Koltchak was advancing Eastward [westward?] at a very remarkable rate. He was in a position either to move Northwards and join hands with the forces based on Archangel, or to march on Moscow.

President Wilson said he had always been of opinion that the proper policy of the Allied and Associated Powers was to clear out of Russia and leave it to the Russians to fight it out among themselves.

Mr. Lloyd George asked that before a decision should be taken, the Council should hear M. Tchaikowsky.

President Wilson agreed.

Mr. Lloyd George suggested that President Wilson should send a reply to General Graves asking him to take no action for the moment, as the whole problem was being considered by the Allied and Associated Powers.

President Wilson said the risk of this was that there might be a collision between the United States and Russian troops. He suggested that the Allied and Associated Powers should simultaneously ask Koltchak what his programme was.

Mr. Lloyd George suggested he might be asked two definite questions:—

Will you allow the peasants to retain the land or do you propose to restore the old seigneurial rights?
Are you prepared to revive the Constituent Assembly?

President Wilson in regard to the first point, said that a few days ago he had asked a very Russophile friend whether the peasants had [Page 530] really got the land out of all the chaos in Russia. His friend had replied that they had only got it in a very inequitable way, each man having seized the land nearest to him. The difficulty would not only be to distribute the land to the peasants, but to systematise the existing distribution involving in some cases dispossession of individuals and groups.

(After some further discussion during which Mr. Lloyd George produced a map showing the great advance that Koltchak’s troops had made, it was agreed that M. Tchaikowsky should be heard on the following day at noon.)

Mr. Lloyd George undertook that Mr. Philip Kerr,4 who knew his address, should summon him.

4. The Austrian and Hungarian Treaties. Breaches of theLaws of War, etc. Sir Maurice Hankey reported that he had communicated to the Secretary-General the decision of the Supreme Council that the Commission on Responsibility for Breaches of the Laws of War should be asked to prepare draft articles for insertion in the Treaty of Peace with Austria. In reply, he had merely received articles contained in Annex IV to the report of the Commission, with a letter stating that these were intended to apply equally to the cases of Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey.

Sir Maurice Hankey pointed out, however, that these draft articles had been superseded by other articles prepared by the Supreme Council.

(After a short discussion it was agreed:—

That Articles 228, 229 and 230 of the Conditions of Peace handed to the German Delegates should be taken by the Drafting Committee as the basis for the preparation of corresponding articles in the Treaties of Peace with Austria and with Hungary.
That the Treaties of Peace with Austria and with Hungary should contain no article corresponding to Article 227 of the Conditions of Peace, handed to the German representatives, since it was not desired to arraign the Emperor of Austria.)

Sir Maurice Hankey was instructed to communicate this decision to the Secretary-General for the information of the Drafting Committee.

5. Disposal of German Submarines Sir Maurice Hankey produced a report signed by Admiral Benson,5 Admiral Hope,6 Admiral de Bon,7 Admiral Grassi8 and Admiral [Page 531] Isaur Takeshita9 on the subject of the disposal of submarines. With the exception of Admiral de Bon, it was unanimously recommended that all the submarines, submarine salvage vessels and docks surrendered by Germany should be broken up. Admiral de Bon did not, however, agree in this view and considered that the destruction of submarines and the future of submarine warfare could not be separated.

(The subject was postponed for future consideration.)

6. Sir Maurice Hankey read the following letter from Lord Cunliffe:—10

New States and Costs of the War “Dear Sir Maurice.—It has been suggested that before the Committee which is to report on what Austria could and should the war pay can make any real progress the “Big Four” must decide whether the new States, Poland, etc., are to bear any portion of the costs of the war.

Could you get this point settled?—Yours very truly, Cunliffe.”

(The subject was postponed for further consideration.)

7. German journalists and Comunication to the Allies Mr. Lloyd George said he had had a letter from Sir George Riddell drawing attention to the risk that when the German delegates made communications to the Allies, German journalists would telegraph them to Germany where efforts would be made to influence public opinion throughout the world in favour of the German point of view.

M. Clemenceau said he did not much care if they did.

(It was agreed to take no action.)

8. Austrian and Hungarian Treaties. Recognition of New States Sir Maurice Hankey produced the formula which he had drafted in an attempt to give effect to a decision which, broadly speaking, he thought had been arrived at on the previous day.

There was a short discussion in the course of which M. Orlando said he would like to consider the draft carefully before taking a decision.

Sir Maurice Hankey’s draft is attached in Appendix 3. The alterations suggested in the course of the discussion are underlined.11

Villa Majestic, Paris, 9 May, 1919.

[Page 532]

Appendix I to CF–4

The President of the Council, Minister of War, to Mr. Lloyd George, Prime Minister

No. 32/Me.

I have the honour to transmit to you the accompanying copy of a Note from Marshal Foch.

This Note records the opinions expressed by Marshal Foch, General Bliss, General Sir Henry Wilson and General Diaz in the course of a meeting which they held on April 8th in pursuance of a decision of the Supreme Council of the Allied and Associated Governments.

For the Minister and by order.

[File Copy not signed]
General Division
Head Military Cabinet

[Note From the] Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Armies

No. 19


In pursuance of the decision of the Supreme Council of the Allied and Associated Governments dated April 8th, Marshal Foch and Generals Bliss, Sir Henry Wilson and Diaz met on April 8th, at 5 p.m.

They expressed the following opinion:—

We still possess to-day sufficient forces to undertake operations which might be necessary to overcome all difficulties likely to arise from the signature of Peace, for we shall not be confronted by armies properly organised or of equal value to our own. It is, however, clear that this advantageous situation is changing daily to our prejudice as time goes on and that it may be reversed whenever we have only reduced forces under arms.

1. Question put:—“In the case of the Enemy Powers (Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey) refusing to sign the Treaty of Peace.”

In that case it would be a question of resuming the war in the form of operations directed against the centres of resistance of the Enemy Powers and, since the resistance would presumably come from Governments, directed in principle against the capitals or seats of those Governments.*

2. Question put:—“In the case where such disorder prevailed in one or other of the Enemy countries, that there was no Government to sign a Treaty of Peace.”

[Page 533]

In that case operations would be resumed in an attempt to achieve thereby the ends which the absence of any Government would leave in suspense; for instance, the payment of indemnities. For this purpose operations would be directed in such manner as to take possession of the centres of enemy wealth such as, so far as Germany is concerned, the Mines of the Ruhr Basin, with a view to securing by the occupation and exploitation of those centres the fulfillment of the Clause set forth in the Treaty.

With regard to Austria however, where the employment of such means might prove deficient, it appears especially urgent to check the development of Bolshevism by a prompt occupation of political centres and railways having their termini therein, in order to secure the communications of the troops of occupation.

3. Question put:—“In the case in which the German Government would be able to sign the Treaty of Peace on behalf of the whole of Germany, with the exception of Bavaria, on account of its jurisdiction neither being recognised nor existing in point of fact in that country.”

In that case it would be necessary, after having treated with Germany, to reduce Bavaria by military action taken in concert with Italy, an operation which at the present time offers no difficulties.

In any one of the cases contemplated it would no doubt be necessary to revert to a certain extent to the enforcement of the Blockade; this question is not dealt with here, as it is in the province of the Admirals who are being likewise consulted.


Appendix II to CF–4

[Note From the Naval Representatives of the Allied and Associated Powers]


Naval Action in the Event of Non-signature by Enemy Powers of the Treaties of Peace

In conformity with the request of the President of the Supreme Council of 8 April, addressed to Admiral Wemyss, the Admirals representing in Paris the Navies of the United States of America, the British Empire, France and Italy met on 10 April to consider the steps to be taken in each of the contingencies mentioned in the President’s memorandum. They submit the attached report for the consideration of the Council.

If any of the enemy Powers refuse to sign the Treaty of Peace, hostilities against such Power no doubt would be resumed, but in the second contingency, where the non-signature of the Treaty [Page 534] resulted from there being no responsible Government, military occupation only might be necessary.
The operations to which the Allied navies could contribute would be:—
The establishment of a formal blockade.
Military operations against defended ports in conjunction with the Allied armies.
Occupation of surrendered ports.
The two latter would necessitate joint study and mutual understanding by the Military and Naval Staffs
As the navies are not concerned in the case of Bavaria, the attached report refers only to contingencies Nos. (1) and (2) of the President’s memorandum.
W. S. Benson
The United States of America.
George P. W. Hope
(on behalf of Admiral Wemyss who concurs in the report)
The British Empire
de Bon France
M. Grassi Italy

Naval Action Possible in Certain Contingencies

i. germany

So far as Germany’s sea forces are concerned her submarines have all been surrendered or rendered useless, and the Allied Naval Armistice Commission reports that the surface ships-of-war left in Germany are in such a condition that their value as a fighting force may be regarded as negligible. It would, therefore, appear impossible for Germany to raise an efficient naval fighting force in a reasonable time under the existing conditions of material and discipline; and, even if such a force were raised, the Allies could muster sufficient ships in the North Sea and Baltic to deal with the situation.

2. With regard to the principal German ports, it must be borne in mind that so far as is known the forts defending them are still effective, and strong opposition must be anticipated to any attempt to occupy them. Further, the maintenance of a naval force alone in a German port would be both difficult and hazardous, and its [Page 535] presence would bring no more pressure to bear on the German people as a whole than the ordinary measures of an effective blockade.

3. The following are considered the only purely naval measures which could be taken:—

The officers and men of the ships interned at Scapa made prisoners-of-war.
The interned ships at Scapa seized.
All fishing by German vessels prohibited.
All German vessels found at sea, either with or without permits, seized.
The blockade re-established by declaring a formal blockade of the whole of the enemy coast.

4. The Blockade has been gradually relaxed and in its present form is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain.

In order to enforce a formal blockade in the Baltic, the Allied force in that sea would require strengthening and bases would have to be established at Libau or elsewhere. It would probably be necessary to occupy such bases by a military force, transported by sea.

In the case of the North Sea the minefields in the Bight would prevent a close blockade.

5. In the event of Germany refusing to sign the peace terms, some action of an immediate and striking nature would be desirable.

Naval bombardments or demonstrations without the cooperation of the military on land would be both objectionable, and ineffective.

Blockade can only act slowly, whilst the remaining measures mentioned in paragraph 3 would not produce the desired effect.

6. The Admirals therefore conclude that no naval measures by themselves are likely to be effective, and that any naval operations, such as the occupation of selected ports, must necessarily be carried out in conjunction with, or in continuation of, the operations of the land forces of the Allies.

ii. austria and hungary

All vessels-of-war are already interned or in Allied hands on the Danube.

The principal ports are in the occupation of the Allies.

With regard to economic pressure, the present system of inspection of all ships could be adjusted to reduce imports as considered desirable, and the establishment of a formal blockade of the Adriatic appears unnecessary.
With regard to the Danube, all the monitors and other armed craft are now under the control of the Allies. They have recently retired below Baja, and if an advance up the river is contemplated it could only take place in conjunction with military measures.
[Page 536]

iii. bulgaria

Although the blockade has been raised there should be little difficulty in re-establishing it.

The Danube, so far as Bulgaria is concerned, is already under control.

iv. turkey

The blockade, which has been raised, could be re-established.

2. All forts and other defences commanding the passage between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea are now in the hands of the Allies. They should be completely destroyed as soon as possible.

Appendix III to CF–4

[Draft by Sir Maurice Hankey of Agreement Regarding Recognition and Boundaries of New States]

It is agreed:—

That the Treaties of Peace with Austria and with Hungary shall each contain Articles binding Austria and Hungary as well as the other High Contracting Parties to recognise the frontiers of the various States formed out of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire and of all contiguous States. Wherever possible the complete boundaries of all these States are to be fixed in the said Treaties of Peace with Austria and with Hungary. In cases, however, where it is not found practicable to fix the whole of these boundaries before the signature of these Treaties Austria and Hungary as well as the other High Contracting Parties shall agree to recognise these States within such boundaries as may be subsequently determined by the Principal Allied and Associated Powers. This will, of course, not apply to Austrian-Hungarian territory, the boundaries of which will be fixed by the respective Treaties of Peace.

  1. At plenary session of May 7, vol. iii, p. 417.
  2. The agreement was between the Allies and the United States. For the Inter-Allied Railway Agreement and correspondence concerning the American Railway Mission in Russia, headed by John F. Stevens, see Foreign Relations, 1918, Russia, vol. iii, pp. 183307; ibid., 1919, Russia, pp. 236260; ibid., 1923 vol. i, pp. 758777; ibid., The Lansing Papers, vol. ii, pp. 329331, 334, 336337, 339342, 359.
  3. For assignment of sections of the Siberian railways to be guarded by American and Allied troops, see telegram No. 240, April 22, 2 p.m., from the Consul at Vladivostok, Foreign Relations, 1919, Russia, p. 555.
  4. Secretary to Mr. Lloyd George.
  5. United States representative on the Interallied Military and Naval Committee.
  6. Deputy First Sea Lord, at times British representative in place of Admiral Sir Rosslyn Wemyss on the Interallied Military and Naval Committee.
  7. French representative on the Interallied Military and Naval Committee.
  8. Italian representative on the Interallied Military and Naval Committee.
  9. Japanese representative on the Interallied Military and Naval Committee.
  10. British representative on the Subcommittee on Financial Capacity of Enemy States of the Commission on the Reparation of Damage.
  11. The underlined portions of appendix III are printed in italics.
  12. The United States could not participate in any action against Bulgaria or Turkey, since they are not at war with those powers. [Footnote in the original.]