Paris Peace Conf. 180.03401/9


Notes of a Meeting Held at President Wilson’s House in the Place des Etats-Unis, Paris, on Monday, 12 May, 1919, at 11 a.m.

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

1. M. Clemenceau read a letter he had had from Brockdorff-Rantzau on the subject of Labour Legislation, (Appendix I) together with a draft reply (Appendix II).

Labour Legislation. Letter From the German Delegation Mr. Lloyd George said that the reply was a matter of some importance and should be carefully studied. It would be a serious matter for France and for Great Britain if the Germans were to work 10 hours while we were limited by law to 8 hours.

President Wilson said that as an 8 hours man he did not share this view. The United States’ experience had been that men could produce more in 8 hours than in 10.

Mr. Lloyd George agreed generally, but said that in some forms of labour, for example, cotton, he did not think the principle applied. In regard to coal, for example, the British experience had been that the adoption of shorter hours had lessened output.

President Wilson agreed in regard to unskilled labour but not in regard to cotton. He thought the real argument was that it would be disadvantageous to the Allied and Associated Powers to have the sympathy of their working classes excited in favour of the German working classes, thus setting up a sympathetic connection between the two.

Mr. Lloyd George suggested the question should be referred for a reply to the Labour Advisers of principal Allied and Associated Powers.

(It was agreed that the letter from the German Delegation should be referred to a Committee of Labour Experts which should include [Page 566] M. Colliard, of the French Delegation, Mr. Barnes of the British Delegation and Mr. Robinson of the United States Delegation.)

M. Orlando undertook to nominate an Italian representative.

Sir Maurice Hankey was instructed to communicate this decision to the Secretary-General.

2. Prisoners of War. Letter From the German Delegation M. Clemenceau read a letter he had received from the German Delegation on the subject of pris-DeiegatSn oners of war (Appendix III), but the question of the reply was postponed until the afternoon.

3. Reparation in the Austrian-Hungarian Treaties. New States and Coasts of the war With reference to C. F. 8 Minute V,1 Sir Maurice Hankey handed round the draft of a letter to Lord Cunliffe on these subjects.

(The letter was approved, signed by M. Clemenceau and dispatched to Lord Cunliffe.)

4. The Austrian and Hungarian Treaties. Reparation in Regard to Shipping M. Orlando said he had a question of special interest to Italy to raise in connection with reparation by Austria and by Hungary, namely, the question of the tonnage in the Adriatic. In his view, the same distribution of the enemy tonnage could not be applied in the Adriatic as in the case of the German tonnage. The reason of this was that in the Adriatic whether the ships served Italian interests or Jugo-Slav interests, there was this common bond between them that if they were taken away from the Adriatic, it would deal a death blow to Italian ports and to Jugo-Slav ports. Hence, the portion of the Austrian-Hungarian tonnage in the Adriatic must not be dealt with on the same principles as the German tonnage. In reply to M. Clemenceau, he stated that these ships had been sequestrated by the Allies and used in the Mediterranean for the benefit of the Allies. The question now arose as to whom they should belong in the future. It would mean ruin to all the ports in the Adriatic if they were taken away from that sea.

M. Clemenceau said he did not quite understand what was proposed.

Mr. Lloyd George said that surely M. Orlando did not suggest that Italy, while obtaining a share of the German ships, should also appropriate all the Austrian ships remaining in the Adriatic. If this were done, the Northern Powers being excluded from any share in the Austrian ships, while the Italians were receiving not only the whole of the Austrian ships but their share of German ships also, would not be fairly treated.

M. Orlando said that the question of the Austrian ships would not make an addition to the Italian tonnage, since they had a special economic use which was quite distinct from the Italian mercantile [Page 567] developments. To say to Italy that the acquisition of these ships would compensate her losses was not fair because, in fact, Italy would be acquiring certain ports that had essential shipping needs of their own. These ships would have to be appropriated as they had been in the past for the services of these ports.

Mr. Lloyd George said he did not mind if Italy would stand out of the German claim altogether and take her chance of recouping herself from the Austrian-Hungarian Mercantile Marine. Most of the fighting with Germany had been done by Great Britain and France but, nevertheless, it had been decided to give Italy a share of the shipping. If Italy was to have a share of the ships of the nation she had not fought and in addition to have all the merchant ships of the nation she had fought, he really could not understand what logical basis was being acted on.

President Wilson said that what M. Orlando was claiming was that the Adriatic fleet should not be removed from that sea.

Mr. Lloyd George said it would be equally fair and right to say that North sea ships were not to be removed from the North sea. The German ships plying in the North sea were just as essential there as the Austrian shipping was in the Adriatic. Nevertheless, the British Government had never thought of making such a demand.

M. Orlando wished to put the question in another aspect. He greatly regretted the effect of his proposal on Mr. Lloyd George as he was firmly convinced of its justice. Italy was now to have Trieste which was a great commercial sea port. If, however, Trieste was to be handed to Italy but its mercantile fleet was to be taken away, Italy would receive a ruined city. It had been rightly decided that Alsace-Lorraine was not to contribute towards reparation. Alsace-Lorraine was not a maritime country but was a riverside country and in that case it had been decided that the river craft should not be included in the German craft ceded for reparation, but should be left to Alsace. All he asked was the application of the same principles to Trieste since without these ships Trieste would be a ruined city.

M. Clemenceau pointed out that Great Britain had lost a very formidable tonnage.

M. Orlando said Italy had also.

M. Clemenceau said that the Italian losses were not comparable to the British.

Mr. Lloyd George thought that the British losses were larger in proportion even than the Italian.

M. Clemenceau said he entirely agreed with the views expressed by Mr. Lloyd George.

President Wilson asked what exactly M. Orlando intended by the Trieste mercantile fleet.

[Page 568]

M. Orlando said the merchant ships registered at the port of Trieste.

Mr. Lloyd George said he was not familiar with what had been decided about river craft on the Rhine, but he would point out that these could not be used anywhere else, whereas the ships registered at Trieste could for the most part be used in any part of the world. If Italy gave notice of this proposal, he would object to Italy having any share of the German ships. During M. Orlando’s absence it had been agreed to share the Italian [German?] ships equally. Now Italy said that she was quite prepared to share equally in the German ships, but must have also all the Austrian and Hungarian ships. He must enter a strong protest against this proposal.

M. Orlando said that he regretted that his ideas of justice did not correspond with those of Mr. Lloyd George and M. Clemenceau. He then read the following extract from Annex III of the Reparation Clauses in the Treaty with Germany (Part VIII, Annex III, Clause 3, Page 108):—

“The ships and boats mentioned in paragraph 1, including all ships and boats which (a) fly, or may be entitled to fly, the German Flag; or (b) are owned by any German national. Company or Corporation, or by any Company or Corporation belonging to a country other than an Allied or Associated country, and under the control or direction of German nationals; or (c) which are now under construction (i) in Germany; (ii) in other than Allied or Associated countries for the account of any German national, Company or Corporation.”

All he asked was that the same basis should be applied to the Austro-Hungarian nationals, but it should not apply to any citizen of Trieste, since these were becoming Italians.

Mr. Lloyd George said that what M. Orlando meant was that, as in the German treaty only ships belonging to German nationals were being taken, the ships registered at Trieste must not be taken, since the inhabitants of Trieste became Italian citizens.

President Wilson pointed out that they would not be Italian citizens until the Treaty was signed.

Mr. Lloyd George said he was quite unable to understand how this proposal could be made. Hundreds of thousands of tons of Allied shipping had been sunk in carrying wheat and coal and munitions to Italy, and yet the Allies were not to participate in the tonnage received from Austria. Under this scheme Trieste and Pola were to be ruled out, because they were to become Italian, and the only ships to be taken were those in Sebenico and Spalato and other Jugoslav ports. In fact, as the Jugo-Slavs had now become Serbs and were Allies, the principal Allied and Associated Powers would be ruled out altogether.

[Page 569]

M. Clemenceau agreed that if this principle was adopted they would never touch a penny.

Mr. Lloyd George said he hoped it would never be necessary to tell this story in Parliament, in order to explain why Great Britain could get no part of the Adriatic Fleet.

M. Orlando said that it would be impossible for Italy to deprive Trieste of her Fleet so that the result would be that the rest of Italy would get no reparation for the ships lost.

Mr. Lloyd George said that the most dangerous voyage during the war had been that to Italy, and the British mercantile marine had lost very heavily in these narrow seas. He entirely disputed that Trieste would be ruined any more than any other port. If there was a chance of trade and business being done, ships of all flags would go there.

President Wilson pointed out that Austria by this treaty was likely to be deprived of all access to the sea, as were the Czechs and other parts of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire. Consequently, by the application of M. Orlando’s principle all the ships belonging to Czechs and Hungarians would be divested of their nationality.

M. Orlando asked if he would be free, as Mr. Lloyd George suggested, to abandon the Italian share of the German commercial fleet and accept instead the whole of the fleet registered at Trieste and Pola.

Mr. Lloyd George said there were two principles of reparation. Rither (1) that Italy should put in a claim against the Germans for damage inflicted on her by Germany and another claim against the Austrians and Hungarians for damage inflicted by Austria and Hungary; or, (2) to share in the total amount for reparation. Possibly there might be a third principle, namely, that Italy should look to Austria for the whole of her reparation, while Great Britain and France looked to Germany. He knew of no other principle except those three.

M. Orlando said that the least he could ask was that Italy’s share of the ships should include the ships at Trieste.

President Wilson asked if he made this demand whether the amounts were in the proper proportion or not.

M. Orlando replied yes.

Mr. Lloyd George said that M. Orlando’s intention was, supposing Italy received 100 ships, that these ships should be picked out from the Trieste ships. This was a question which might be discussed.

[Page 570]

5. The Expedition to Smyrna M. Clemenceau said that there only remained the Greek affair, on which some explanation should be given. During the absence of the Italian delegates from Paris, the Greeks had asked us to agree to a disembarkation at Smyrna, which we conceded. As a consequence, a concentration of ships had taken place, he believed at Kavalla. There was no question of making a repartition affecting Smyrna, but we desired that the Greeks should be able to land to protect their co-nationals from massacres; many such had lately taken place. We considered it convenient that British, French and Italian detachments should take part in the landing. So far as we know there were at Smyrna many Italian warships, 6 or 7.

M. Orlando said there were only 2.

M. Clemenceau said that we should not wish that the British, French and Italian disembarkation should be made in a different manner. France had there only a small force, and we should not like the Italians to land a much larger detachment. We could not do that without warning M. Orlando in order to ask him to make appropriate dispositions.

M. Orlando asked if it was a question of a Greek, French, British, and Italian landing.

M. Clemenceau said that the Greeks would occupy Smyrna, but, he repeated, we did not pretend to give an indication of any repartition of territory.

Mr. Lloyd George said we proposed that the occupation should be a Greek occupation, to suppress massacres lately perpetrated against Greek subjects.

M. Clemenceau repeated that the Greeks had asked permission to make this landing.

President Wilson, interrupting, said that the original suggestion had not come from the Greeks. The Council had suggested to the Greeks that they should land their troops to prevent massacres.

M. Clemenceau said: Yes, that is right. In these circumstances, and in order to prevent a conflict, and to keep the best possible order, Admiral Calthorpe2 had been asked that he should go from Constantinople to Smyrna. According to his information, the Italians had already disembarked some time back some sailors at Smyrna, and then they had been withdrawn.

M. Orlando said he had no information to this effect.

M. Clemenceau said that what was intended was that simultaneously with the Greek occupation there should be a disembarkation of Italians, French and English, leaving the custody of the city to the Greeks.

[Page 571]

Mr. Lloyd George said that the Allied disembarkation was solely for the occupation of the forts, and that they would be replaced by Greeks, when they would embark again. It was natural that there should not be more commands in a single place. The command at Smyrna would be Greek.

(Turning to Colonel Hankey, he asked if Turkey had been warned.)

Sir Maurice Hankey said it had not.

Mr. Lloyd George said that Sir George Riddell had received a letter from a British inhabitant of Smyrna, a thoroughly reliable man whom he himself knew quite well, giving a very bad account of Turkish atrocities on the Greeks, which included massacres and tortures.

M. Orlando said he was not well up in this question, and would like to postpone his answer in the afternoon when he had talked it over with M. Sonnino.

Mr. Lloyd George said that according to his information, three Italian landings had taken place without any notice to their Allies, namely, at Makri Marmaris, Budrum and at Scala Nuova. He asked if that was true and what was the reason for them.

M. Clemenceau said that there was also a landing at Adalia.

Mr. Lloyd George said we knew all about that.

M. Orlando said it was on this question that he wished to consult M. Sonnino, who knew all about the matter.

President Wilson asked that he would take particular note of the landings mentioned by Mr. Lloyd George.

6. Austrian and Hungarian Treaties. Question of Boundaries President Wilson asked Sir Maurice Hankey how matters stood as regards the preparation of the Austrian and Hungarian Treaties.

Sir Maurice Hankey replied that he had, in accordance with instructions, circulated the report of the Foreign Ministers on the subject of boundaries, and that this was ready consideration.

(It was agreed to meet on the same afternoon with the Foreign Ministers at the Quai d’Orsay and consider the boundaries of Austria and Hungary.)

Villa Majestic, Paris, 12 May, 1919.

Appendix I

Letter From Herr Brockdorff-Rantzau to M. Clemenceau on the Subject of the International Labour Convention


Sir: With reference to articles 55 and 56 of the Proposals for the establishment of a League of Nations submitted by us, we beg here [Page 572] with to transmit the draft of an International Agreement on Labour Law, prepared by the German Government.3

The German Government is of one mind with the Allied and Associated Governments in holding that the greatest attention must be given to Labour questions. Domestic peace and the advancement of mankind depend vitally on the adjustment of this question. The demands for social justice repeatedly raised in this respect by the working classes of all nations are only partly realised in principle in Section XIII of the draft of Peace Conditions of the Allied and Associated Governments on the organisation of Labour. These sublime demands have for the most part been realised in Germany with the assistance of the working classes, as is generally acknowledged, in an exemplary manner. In order to carry them into execution everywhere in the interest of mankind the acceptance of the programme of the German Delegation is at least necessary.

We deem it requisite that all states should join the agreement, even though not belonging to the League of Nations.

In order to guarantee to the working classes, for whom the proposed improvements are intended, co-operation in the framing of these provisions, the German Delegation is of the opinion that representatives of the national Trade Union organisations of all contracting powers should be summoned to a conference at Versailles to discuss and take decisions on international Labour Law, before the peace negotiations are terminated.

The proceedings of this conference should, in the opinion of the German Delegation, be based on the resolutions of the International Trade Unions Conference in Bern (5th to 9th February 1919:4 Programme for International Labour Legislation, addressed to the Peace Conference in Paris) which emanated from the decisions of the International Trade Unions Conference in Leeds in 1916.5 At the request of the Trade Unions of Germany we beg to enclose a copy of these resolutions,6 which have been adopted by representatives of the Trade Union organisations of Bohemia, Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, France, Greece, Holland, Italy, Canada, Norway, Austria, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain and Hungary.

Accept [etc.]

[Page 573]

Appendix II

Preliminary Draft of a Reply to Herr Brockdorff-Rantzau

Sir: I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of May 10th7 in regard to International Labour Legislation. The reply of the Allied and Associated Governments is as follows:—

Article 427 indicates clearly that the enumeration of principles set forth in Part XIII is not exhaustive. The purpose of the organisation set up by that part of the Treaty is that it should pursue the constant development of the International Labour Regime. All the necessary improvements will be brought about through that organisation.
The Labour Convention has been inserted in the Treaty of Peace and Germany will therefore be called on to sign it. In the future, the right of your country to participate in the organisation created by Article 387 will be determined by the situation of Germany in respect of the League of Nations, that situation being defined by Article I of the Treaty and by the reply sent on May 10th by the Allied and Associated Governments to your letter dated 9th of the same month.
It has not been thought necessary to summon for the present a Labour Conference at Versailles. The conclusions of the Syndical Conference at Berne have been studied with the closest attention. Representatives of the Syndicates have taken part in the preparation of the Articles relating to Labour. As appears, moreover, from the Annex to Section II of Part XIII, (page 200) the programme of the first session of the Conference, which will be held at Washington as soon as the Treaty comes into force, already comprises the majority of the questions raised at the Syndical Conference at Berne.

The Allied and Associated Governments are therefore of the opinion that their decisions give satisfaction to the anxiety which the German Delegation professes for social justice, and ensure the realisation of the reforms which the working-classes have more than ever the right to hope for after the cruel trial to which the world has been subjected during the last five years.

[Page 574]

Appendix III

Letter From Herr Brockdorff-Rantzau to M. Clemenceau on the Subject of Prisoners of War


Sir: The German Delegation has noted with satisfaction that the Draft Treaty handed to it recognises the principle that the Repatriation of German Prisoners of War and German Interned Civilians is to be effected with the greatest possible rapidity.

It is in accordance with the opinion of the German Peace Delegation that the task of settling the details of execution of that Repatriation should be entrusted to a Special Commission. Direct conversations between the Commissions pretty well of all the Belligerent States in regard to Prisoners have been shown to be the best means of solving the difficulties, and it ought to be all the easier at the present moment to clear up by early discussion in a Commission any divergencies of view or doubts in regard to certain points. The German Peace Delegation, bearing in mind the difference of jurisdiction in the various countries concerned, is of opinion, for instance, that it is indispensable for Prisoners of War and Interned Civilians, who have been detained for offences other than those against discipline, to be repatriated unconditionally. Germany has recognised this same principle as regards the Prisoners of War and Interned Civilians of the Allied and Associated Powers detained in Germany. In the view of the German Peace Delegation, certain alleviations should, as a matter of course and for reasons of equity, be agreed in favour of Prisoners of War and Interned Civilians for the period which will elapse until their final departure.

The German Peace Delegation has, moreover, been compelled to note that the arrangements contemplated are favourable only to the Allied and Associated Governments, for instance, so far as concerns the restoration of private property, the search for persons who have disappeared and the care to be taken of graves. The German Peace Delegation presumes that, for questions such as these, complete reciprocity may be required for general reasons of humanity.

Because of the great technical difficulty of repatriating Prisoners of War and Interned Civilians, especially in view of the shortage of tonnage and the lack of coal, the greatest importance should be attached to finding a solution of all preliminary questions before the despatch of the repatriated Prisoners and Interned Civilians actually begins. For that reason, the German Peace Delegation proposes that the Commission should start its deliberation forthwith, separately from all other questions. The explanation of this proposal lies, firstly [Page 575] in the fact that there are thousands of German Prisoners of War and Interned Civilians in oversea countries, but the German Delegation is likewise thinking of the Germans who are in Siberia, and whose despatch seems to be a question not only of special urgency, but of extraordinary difficulty.

The German Delegation, for reasons of internal policy, regards it of the utmost importance that the German Prisoners of War and Interned Civilians should be returned to their homes in as normal conditions as possible, in order that they may there be brought back as rapidly as possible into the economic life of the country. That only appears possible—the precise settlement of transport problems apart—if everything possible is done to improve the mental and physical state of those who are returning home.

Having regard to the present situation in respect of economic existence in Germany, it must be admitted that Germany is unable to do with her own resources everything required in order to secure that end. This refers especially to food and clothing; therefore the German Delegation thinks it desirable that the deliberations of the Commission should likewise include an examination of the question of the manner in which the Allied and Associated Governments might assist Germany in the solution of these problems. The question arises, for instance, of supplying against re-payment complete sets of clothing (underclothing and civilian clothing), and footwear for the prisoners before their despatch.

I avail [etc.]

  1. Ante p. 560.
  2. Admiral Sir Somerset Arthur Gough-Calthorpe, British High Commissioner at Constantinople and Allied commander in chief in the Eastern Mediterranean.
  3. For the text of this draft, see appendix to German proposals for a League of Nations, vol. vi, p. 774.
  4. For text, see Conditions of Peace With Germany, Senate Document No. 149, 66th Cong., 1st sess. (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1919), p. 36.
  5. For text, see ibid., p. 39.
  6. For text, see ibid., p. 42.
  7. Appendix I, supra.