Paris Peace Ccfof. 180.03401/8


Notes of a Meeting Held at President Wilson’s House in the Place des Etats-Unis, Paris, on Saturday, May 10, 1919, at 4 p.m.

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

(1) German Comments on the Peace Treaty M. Clemenceau handed round two notes on the Peace Terms which had been forwarded by the German Delegation.

President Wilson produced the draft replies which he had prepared.

It was agreed:—

To approve the replies prepared by President Wilson;
That both the Notes and the Replies should be published at once.)

(The two Notes with the Replies are reproduced in the Appendix.)

(2) Maintenance of Order in Slesvig During the Plebiscite M. Clemenceau produced a report that had been sent to him by the Ministry of Marine, signed by Admiral Benson, Admiral de Bon, and Admiral Hope in regard to the measures to be taken to maintain order in Slesvig during the operation of the plebiscite.1 The Admirals had come to the conclusion that it was not their function to decide which nation should have the command of the Allied force. The report had been called for by a Meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers on April 30th.

Mr. Lloyd George suggested that as the matter was not urgent, it should be postponed.

(This was agreed to.)

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(3) Boundaries of Austria and Hungary M. Clemenceau produced a report containing the results of consideration given by the Council of Foreign Ministers to the boundaries of Austria and Hungary.

Mr. Lloyd george and president Wilson asked that before the report was discussed, it might be circulated.

(Sir Maurice Hankey was instructed to reproduce and circulate the report.)

(4) Russia Mr. Lloyd George asked what impression M. Tchaykowsky had made.

President Wilson said that he had not been as definite as he himself would wish. He had received the impression that Koltchak’s advisors had inclined to the Right as soon as they had got power. This very often happened.

Mr. Lloyd George said he got the impression that M. Tchaykowsky did not quite trust Denekin. Pie did evidently like Koltchak, though he himself had not got a very clear impression of Koltchak’s “entourage”. He did not think public opinion would allow us to abandon Koltchak even if he should establish a reactionary Government, because the world would say that the establishment of order was so important. It would be awkward to be placed in the position of supporting a Government that we did not believe in.

President Wilson said he thought a fresh view ought to be obtained of Koltchak. He did not like being entirely dependent upon the views of British and French military men.

Mr. Lloyd George pointed out that Colonel John Ward, who commanded the Middlesex Battalion, was a Labour Member of Parliament.

(After some discussion President Wilson undertook to ask an American gentleman named Mr. Morris,2 who was at present at Tokio, to proceed as rapidly as possible to Omsk in order to gather as much information as he could about Admiral Koltchak’s political intentions.

He undertook to instruct him to consult Colonel Ward, and Colonel Johnson, Commanding the 5th Hants. Battalion, as to their view of the political situation.)

President Wilson said that Koltchak’s programme was all right viewed in the background of M. Tchaikowsky’s mind. What, however, did it look like, he asked, viewed in the background of Admiral Koltchak’s mind?

Mr. Lloyd George said he felt sure that a soldier was bound to get to the top in Russia. Even if the Bolsheviks ultimately prevailed, it would probably be by military action.

(5) New States and Costs of the War With reference to C. F. 4 Minute 6,3 Sir Maurice Hankey again [Page 561] brought forward Lord Cunliffe’s letter asking for a decision as to whether new States such as Poland, were to bear any portion of the costs of the war. He was informed that a decision on this point was essential before the experts on Reparation by Austria and Hungary could proceed with their enquiry, and he was also informed that this was the most backward part of the Austrian and Hungarian Treaties.

President Wilson said that his first and sentimental idea was that Poland ought to be let off altogether. Poland had been caught, as it were, in three nets—the Austrian, the German, and the Russian, and had in consequence suffered dreadfully. It seemed only common justice to leave her out from any share of costs of the war or reparation. The same did not apply to other parts of Austria-Hungary, but he did not know on what basis their share of reparation was to be reckoned. He asked whether they were to take a share of the national debt or only of reparation?

Mr. Lloyd George said that their share of the national debt should be regarded as cancelled, as the Allied and Associated Powers were not concerned in this.

President Wilson suggested that reparation should be worked out on the same principles as for Germany, by categories of damage.

Mr. Lloyd George said that if put in the same categories as for Germany, the Austrian reparation would become merely collateral to Germany, and to that extent they would relieve Germany of her debt.

President Wilson said that one of the elements in his mind was that in fairness to Italy, to make Austria collateral, would increase the possibility of adequate reparation to Italy.

Mr. Lloyd George said that Italy was in exactly the same position as Great Britain.

M. Orlando agreed.

President Wilson said the difficulty was that there would not be enough to go round, and this was the argument for making Austria collateral.

Mr. Lloyd George said that if Germany’s capacity to pay were adequate, all would agree that to make Austria collateral would be a relief. Even if Germany’s resources were inadequate, this would provide some relief. He suggested that the claim for Austria and Hungary ought to be on a different basis. It ought to be assumed that Austria could not pay the whole of the damages, and it would be better to lay down definitely how much Austria and Hungary were to pay.

President Wilson hoped that a moderate sum would be named.

M. Clemenceau asked who was to estimate the amount.

[Page 562]

President Wilson said theoretically this could be done, but he did not know whether the sources of information were sufficient to enable the sum to be estimated and allotted.

Mr. Lloyd George said it would be very dangerous to impose an unknown liability on these new countries.

President Wilson asked whether the Reparation scheme for Germany could not be applied in some way; so as to make Austria’s share collateral but independent.

Mr. Lloyd George proposed, without prejudicing the decision, that the experts should be asked to report as to how much the whole group of countries in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire could pay.

President Wilson suggested that the experts should be asked to report whether it would be feasible to form a conclusion as to how much the whole group; omitting Poland, could pay, and, in the event of this not being feasible, to add to the suggestion an outline of the proportion to be paid by each component part.

Mr. Lloyd George and M. Clemenceau agreed.

M. Orlando said that it was a very complex question, which would have to be referred to experts. For example, considering the case of war debts only, it would be very difficult to ascertain the precise situation of the several States formed out of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire. It would be found that some had a war debt, and others had not, and the situation would be very confusing. The best plan was to put the matter in the hands of experts, who should be asked to take as the basis of their work that all the States except Poland should pay: on this basis the experts should estimate the capacity of the whole group to pay. Then they should examine the distribution of liabilities, as well as of means of payment. The Germans might have the right to complain if they did not know how much their former allies were to pay. This was an additional reason for dealing with the problem reasonably.

Mr. Lloyd George said there was another reason. All the Allied Powers had incurred heavy debts for the emancipation of these races. They had been freed not by their own efforts, but by those of the Allies. Their only share in the war had been to fight against us. Without taking a final decision as to the case of Poland, he thought the enquiry should be extended to Poland.

President Wilson said that Poland had been prostrated by the war almost as much as Belgium. He did not think that she ought to bear any part of the Austro-Hungarian war debt. He did not think that any of the new countries should bear a part of the Austro-Hungarian war debt, but only a part of reparation.

(Sir Maurice Hankey was instructed to draft a decision on this matter for consideration.)

[Page 563]

(6) Financial Clauses in the and Hungarian Treaties Sir Maurice Hankey said he had been asked by the British representatives on the Committee which was preparing the Financial Clauses for the Austrian and Hungarian Treaties to obtain authority to consult the Czecho-Slovaks and other States concerned.

(It was agreed that the Committee considering the Financial Clauses should have authority to consult the Czecho-Slovaks or delegates of any other State represented at the Peace Conference.)

Villa Majestic, Paris, May 10, 1919.

Appendix to CF–8

German Attitude to League of Nations

German Note


Sir: The German Peace Delegation has the honour to pronounce its attitude on the question of a League of Nations by herewith transmitting a German programme,4 which, in the opinion of the Delegation, contains important suggestions on the League of Nations problem. The German Peace Delegation reserves for itself the liberty of stating its opinion on the draft of the Allied and Associated Governments in detail. In the meantime it begs to call attention to the discrepancy lying in the fact, that Germany is called upon to sign the statute of the League of Nations, as an inherent part of the Treaty-draft handed over to us, on the other hand, however, is not mentioned among the states which are invited to join the League of Nations. The German Peace Delegation begs to inquire whether, and if so under what circumstances, such invitation is intended.

Accept, Sir, the expression of my highest estimation.



The receipt of the German programme of a League of Nations is acknowledged. The programme will be referred to the appropriate Committee of the Allied and Associated Powers. The German plenipotentiaries will find upon a reexamination of the Covenant of the League of Nations that the matter of the admission of additional [Page 564] Member States has not been overlooked but is explicitly provided for in the second paragraph of Article I.

German Objections to Draft Conditions of Peace

German Note

The German Peace Delegation has finished the first perusal of the Peace Conditions which have been handed over to them. They have had to realise that on essential points the basis of the Peace of Right, agreed upon between the belligerents, has been abandoned. They were not prepared to find that the promise, explicitly given to the German People and the whole of mankind, is in this way to be rendered illusory.

The draft of the treaty contains demands which no nation could endure, moreover, our experts hold that many of them could not possibly be carried out.

The German Peace Delegation will substantiate these statements in detail and transmit to the Allied and Associated Governments their observations and their material continuously.



The Representatives of the Allied and Associated Powers have received the statement of objections of the German plenipotentiaries to the Draft Conditions of Peace.

In reply they wish to remind the German Delegation that they have formed the Terms of the Treaty with constant thought of the principles upon which the Armistice and the negotiations for peace were proposed. They can admit no discussion of their right to insist upon the Terms of the Peace substantially as drafted. They can consider only such practical suggestions as the German plenipotentiaries may have to submit.

  1. Printed as annexure A to FM–15, vol. iv, p. 712.
  2. Roland S. Morris, Ambassador to Japan.
  3. Ante, p. 531.
  4. For the text of this German program, see vol. vi, p. 765.