Paris Peace Conf. 180.03401/20


Notes of a Meeting Held at President Wilson’s House in the Place des Etats-Unis, Paris, on Tuesday, May 20, 1919, at 11 a.m.

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

1. Suggested Reply to German Letter on Economic Effect of Peace Treaty The Council had under consideration the German note on the economic effect of the Treaty of Peace (Appendix 1A), and a draft reply agreed to by American, British, French and Italian representatives. (Appendix 1B.)

Mr. Lloyd George considered that, in paragraph 2, a statement should be given as to Great Britain’s imports of food and iron ore, in order to show that Germany would only be in the same position as Great Britain had been in for years. In paragraph 5, Mr. Lloyd George suggested that the actual figures of shipping losses should be given, in order to bring home to the German people the reasons why they would suffer in common with the rest of the world from the shortage of shipping.

President Wilson commented that the last paragraph was somewhat weak. If any part of the German case was true, it was a bad reply to point out that the millions of German citizens who had been engaged in military matters could turn their activities to works of peace.

Mr. Lloyd George said that the case of Great Britain was the answer to this part of the German contention.

President Wilson pointed out the omission from sufficient emphasis on the fact that all countries would be embarrassed by lack of raw material owing to the shortage of shipping.

Mr. Lloyd George said his general comment on the letter was that this was the most important of the replies to any of the German letters. It was very important to make a thoroughly good case, which should be supported by figures.

President Wilson agreed in this view. It should be pointed out how small the proportion of imports that Germany would lose would be to the total losses due to the war.

[Page 733]

M. Orlando said that Italy before the war could only import one seventh part of the raw materials she required in Italian bottoms. After the war, she could only import 1 fourteenth in Italian bottoms.

Mr. Lloyd George thought that someone with the gift of writing should be asked to re-draft the reply.

(After some discussion, it was agreed that Lord Curzon1 should be asked to re-draft the reply for the consideration of the Council of the principal Allied and Associated Powers.)

2. Reparation and Responsibilities: Reply to German Note M. Clemenceau signed a French translation of the reply to Herr Brockdorff-Rantzau’s letter of May 13th on the subject of Reparation and Responsibilities.

(The German letter and the reply are contained in Appendix 2A, and Appendix 2B.)

(It was agreed that the two letters should be published as soon as they had been sent.)

3. German Views on Peace Terms Mr. Lloyd George read extracts from views expressed by Herr Dernburg, German Minister of Finance, on the Peace Terms, to Colonel Thelwall of the British Mission, Berlin.

4. Committee on New States: Reference to Drafting committee of Draft Treaty with Poland Sir Maurice Hankey read a letter from Mr. Headlam-Morley urging that the Draft Treaty with Poland attached Report No. 2 of the Committee on New States should be referred to the Drafting Committee.

(The following was accepted and initialled:—

“It is agreed that the Drafting Committee of the Peace Conference should carefully review the draft of a Treaty with Poland attached to Report No. 2 of the Committee on New States. The Drafting Committee should suggest any alterations that may seem to them advisable in order to carry out more effectively the principles and objects with which this Treaty has been drawn up. If there are any material alterations which the Drafting Committee wish to suggest they should confer with the Committee and render a joint report to the Council of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers.”

Sir Maurice Hankey was instructed to forward the resolution to the Secretary-General for the Drafting Committee.)

5. Smyrna Mr. Lloyd George read a telegram from British G. H. Q., Constantinople, dated May 17th, to the effect that the Greeks on landing had been fired on by Turkish gendarmes and that firing had continued all day, the Greeks attacking and killing Turkish soldiers whenever they were seen. It was further alleged in the telegram that the wounded were killed and some of them [Page 734] thrown into the sea and that the Greek Officers had made no attempt to restrain their men.

(Sir Maurice Hankey was instructed to bring this to the attention of M. Venizelos.)

6. The following resolution, carrying out the decision of the previous day, was initialled by M. Clemenceau, President Wilson and Mr. Lloyd George:—

Reparation: Article 232 of the Treaty With Germany “The Council of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers have considered the attached letter from M. Fromageot2 and have agreed that the following words ‘during the period of the belligerency of each as an Allied and Associated Power against Germany’, which had been omitted from the French text but retained in the English text of Article 232 of the Treaty of Peace with Germany, should be re-instated in the French text.”

M. Orlando, however, pointed out that the question had been examined by an expert Committee which had voted unanimously an American proposition in favour of the omission of the words quoted and the addition of other words at the end of the article. He asked if this had been in mind when the decision had been taken on the previous day. He suggested that before a final decision was taken, the experts should be seen.

President Wilson said he had some vague recollection of the incident. The proposal had been made by Mr. Dulles, one of the American lawyers, whose thought had been for United States citizens on board the Lusitania who, unless some special provision was made, would get no reparation. From a pecuniary, though not from a sentimental, point of view, this was a relatively small matter. Whatever had been the attitude of the experts, however, it was evident that nothing had got into the Treaty.

M. Orlando pointed out M. Fromageot’s letter explained that the purpose was to exclude the claims by New States.

Mr. Lloyd George said this was not the case. He proposed that the decision of the previous day should be adhered to.

M. Orlando reserved his consent, but undertook to consider the matter with experts.

7. The Bolshevist’s Reply to Dr. Nansen The Council had before them a copy of the reply by the Bolshevists to Dr. Nansen’s letter,3 together with a Memorandum agreed to by Mr. Hoover, Lord Robert Cecil, M. Clémentel, and Professor Attolico,4 with a covering letter from Lord Robert Cecil to Sir Maurice Hankey.

(Appendix 3.)

[Page 735]

After a prolonged perusal of this document

M. Clemenceau said he did not see how any change could be made in what the Council had tried to do. There was no doubt that the Bolshevists were now going down hill. Dr. Nansen had suggested a humanitarian course, but Lenin was clearly trying to draw it into a political course.

President Wilson said that Lenin’s argument was that the price the Allied and Associated Powers were trying to exact for food was that their enemies should beat the Bolshevists by compelling the latter to stop fighting. What was really intended was to stop aggressive fighting by the Bolshevists, because this was inconsistent with food distribution. They were perfectly correct in claiming that the Allies were supporting Koltchak and Dennikin, and not putting pressure on them to stop fighting. Lenin’s argument was that for him to stop fighting was to sign his death warrant.

M. Clemenceau pointed out that Lenin was not in the hands of the Allies.

President Wilson replied that if supplies were stopped, Koltchak and Dennikin would have to stop fighting too.

M. Clemenceau said it was impossible to stop Lenin fighting, and his word could not be trusted.

President Wilson said he did not feel the same chagrin that he had formerly felt at having no policy in regard to Russia. It had been impossible to have a policy hitherto.

Mr. Lloyd George said there had been very little choice. There had been a lunatic revolution which certain persons, in whom little confidence was felt, were trying to squash. The only reason why the Allies had encouraged them was to prevent Germany from getting supplies. They were, however, now entitled to say, having supported us so far “you cannot leave us in the lurch.”

President Wilson said that the Americans had only gone to Siberia to get the Czechs out, and then the Czechs had refused to go.

Mr. Lloyd George said that his Government’s object had been to reconstitute the Eastern front. They had succeeded in doing this, though somewhat East of the line on which they had hoped to establish it. Nevertheless, the reconstitution of the front did prevent the Germans from getting supplies, with which they might have broken the blockade. The feeling in Great Britain was that it was impossible now to leave these people in the lurch.

President Wilson said that at least pledges could be exacted for further support.

M. Clemenceau fully agreed.

[Page 736]

Mr. Lloyd George agreed, and said it could be done in either of two ways:—

By a formal dispatch;
By summoning the representatives of the various Russian groups now in Paris and putting the conditions to them.

President Wilson preferred the first proposal. The second would be contrary to the idea that had been at the basis of the Prinkipo scheme, namely, that it would not be fair to hear one party without hearing the other. His view was that a formal demand and notice ought to be sent to the various Russian groups. He had himself sent something that was almost equivalent to this, as he felt he was entitled to do.

(After some discussion it was agreed that Mr. Philip Kerr5 should be asked to prepare a draft for the consideration of the Council.)

Mr. Kerr was sent for. While awaiting Mr. Kerr

President Wilson read extracts from a document which had been alluded to at a discussion on the previous day, signed by M. Kerensky and some of his friends, and which contained a number of proposals, including the following:—

That the Powers should only help the various Russian groups on certain fundamental conditions for the establishing of Russia on a democratic basis with a constituent assembly, and Governments which declined to agree should not be supported.
That as a Constituent Assembly could clearly not be called at the present time, Regional Assemblies should be elected on a democratic basis for the re-establishment of Local Government.
That a representative mission should be sent by the Great Powers to Russia to give assurance of sympathy and assistance.
That proposals for supplying food were harmful.

These proposals in short, President Wilson continued, were that the Powers should obtain an assurance from each group that it would be united with the other groups to form an all Russian Government on a constituent basis, and that in the meantime each group should do what it could in its own area.

Mr. Lloyd George was afraid of splitting up Russia.

President Wilson said it was merely proposing to substitute a democratic for an autocratic basis.

(After some further discussion Mr. Kerr entered.)

President Wilson informed Mr. Kerr that the Council desired to make a further effort with Russia along the lines of definite assurance to the several groups as to what they were aiming at. They had been reading a document prepared by certain Russian groups in Paris who, though anti-Bolshevist, were suspicious of reactionary tendencies among the groups fighting the Bolshevists. These suggested that pledges should be demanded from the various groups fighting the [Page 737] Bolshevists to establish a government on a democratic basis. In the meanwhile it was proposed to establish a democratic Government in these Regions by setting up Provincial Central Assemblies. The idea of the Council was to embody these demands in a message to the several Governments, and they hoped Mr. Kerr would prepare a draft for their consideration.

Mr. Lloyd George pointed out that the question of the Baltic Provinces had not been discussed. All the other Russian groups fighting the Bolshevists were violently opposed to any recognition of Esthonia and Latvia and the other Baltic provinces. They alleged that to recognise them would be to tear up Russia and to bar access to the sea.

Mr. Kerr asked what promise was to be given to the various Russian groups to encourage them to give these undertakings.

Mr. Lloyd George said it was not a question of promising more, but of continuing the assistance which was now given.

President Wilson said that the dispatch should intimate that without satisfactory guarantees no further help would be given.

Mr. Kerr asked if they were to accept the frontiers laid down by the League of Nations.

Mr. Lloyd George said they must.

President Wilson said there was no other solution. He then produced a letter from Mr. Hoover on the subject of the Baltic Provinces, where there was an appalling shortage of food. This was due, according to Mr. Hoover, not to lack of financial or shipping facilities, but to the absence of order. He suggested that enough naval force should be given to provide for the protection of relief in the coast towns, and for its distribution along the coast. In this way the established governments should be helped to preserve order. The situation was so appalling from the humanitarian point of view, that he hoped the Council would be willing to hear a deputation composed of the British and the United States Naval authorities and himself.

Mr. Lloyd George suggested that in the first instance, Mr. Hoover should discuss the matter with the Admirals.

(This was agreed to.)

(Mr. Kerr withdrew with instructions to draft a letter of [for] consideration.)

8. Prisoners of War. Reply to Brockdorff-Rantzan’s Letter The Council had before it a draft reply prepared by Mr. Philip Kerr, under instructions from Mr. Lloyd George, to Brockdorff-Rantzau’s letter of May 10th on the subject of prisoners of War. (Appendix 4.)

(The reply was approved.)

(Sir Maurice Hankey was instructed to ask the Secretary-General to translate it into French for M. Clemenceau’s signature.)

(It was agreed that Brockdorff-Rantzau’s letter, together with the reply should be published after despatch to the Germans).

[Page 738]

9. Reparation. Serbia’s Claims The Council had before them a letter from the Serbian Delegation6 urging that out of the initial one thousand million pounds to be paid by Germany, eighty-million pounds should be specifically assigned to Serbia, together with a Memorandum by the Committee considering the question of Reparation in the Austrian Treaty, to whom it had been referred on May 13th.

(The Memorandum of the Committee was approved, subject to the omission of the first paragraph of Clause 2, and the first four words of the second paragraph.) (Appendix 5A. and Appendix 5.B.)

Villa Majestic, Paris, 20 May, 1919.

Appendix IA to CF–20

[The Head of the German Delegation (Brockdorff-Rantzau) to the President of the Peace Conference (Clemenceau)]

Translation of French

Translation of German Original

M. Président: In conformity with my communication of the 9th instant,7 I have the honour to present to Your Excellency the Report of the Economic Commission charged with the study of the effect of the conditions of Peace on the situation of the German population.

“In the course of the last two generations, Germany has become transformed from an agricultural State to an industrial State. As long as she was an agricultural State, Germany could feed forty million inhabitants.

In her quality of an industrial State she could ensure the nourishment of a population of sixty seven millions. In 1913, the importation of food stuffs amounted, in round figures, to twelve million tons. Before the war a total of fifteen millions of persons provided for their existence in Germany by foreign trade and by navigation, either in a direct or an indirect manner, by the use of foreign raw material.

According to the Conditions of the Treaty of Peace, Germany will surrender her merchant tonnage and ships in course of construction suitable for overseas trade. German shipbuilding yards will build for five years in the first instance tonnage destined for the Allied and Associated Governments.

Germany will, moreover, renounce her colonies; all her overseas possessions, all her interests and securities in the Allied and Associated countries, and in their colonies, Dominions and protectorates, will as an instalment of the payment for part of the reparation, be subject to liquidation, and be exposed to any other economic war measure which the Allied and Associated Powers think fit to maintain or to take during the years of peace.

[Page 739]

By the putting into force of the Territorial Clauses of the Treaty of Peace, Germany would lose to the East the most important regions for the production of corn and potatoes, which would be equivalent to the loss of 21% of the total crop of those articles of food. Moreover, the intensity of our agricultural production would diminish considerably. On the one hand, the importation of certain raw material indispensable for the production of Manure, such as Phosphates, would be hindered, on the other hand, this industry would suffer like all other industries from lack of coal. The Treaty of Peace provides for the loss of almost a third of the production of our coal mines. Apart from this decrease, we are forced for ten years to deliver enormous consignments of coal to various Allied countries.

Moreover, in conformity with the Treaty, Germany will concede to her neighbours nearly three quarters of her mineral production, and more than three fifths of her zinc production.

After this diminution of her products, after the economic depression caused by the loss of her Colonies, of her merchant Fleet, and of her possessions abroad, Germany would not be in a state to import from abroad a sufficient quantity of raw material. An enormous part of German industry would therefore inevitably be condemned to destruction. At the same time, the necessity of importing food stuffs would increase considerably; whilst the possibility of satisfying that demand would diminish in the same proportion.

At the end of a very short time, Germany would, therefore, not be in a position to give bread and work to her numerous millions of inhabitants, who would be reduced to earning their livelihood by navigation and by trade. These persons would have to emigrate, but that is a material impossibility, all the more so because many countries and the most important ones will oppose any German immigration. Moreover, hundreds of millions [thousands] of Germans expelled from the territories of the Powers now at war with Germany, from the Colonies and territories which Germany must surrender, will return to their native land.

The putting into execution of the conditions of Peace would, therefore, logically bring about the loss of several millions of persons in Germany. This catastrophe would not be long in coming about, seeing that the health of the population has been broken down during the War by the Blockade, and during the Armistice by the aggravation of the Blockade of famine.

No help, however important, or over however long a period it might be distributed, would prevent these deaths “en masse”. Peace would impose on Germany numberless human sacrifices that this War of four years and a half did not demand of her, (1,750,000 killed, nearly 1,000,000 dead, victims of the Blockade).

We do not know, and indeed we doubt, whether the Delegates of the Allied and Associated Powers realise the inevitable consequences which will take place if Germany, an industrial State, very thickly populated, closely bound up with the economic system of the world and reduced to the obligation to import enormous quantities of raw material and food stuffs, suddenly finds herself pushed back in the phase of her development which would correspond to her economic condition and the numbers of her population as they were half a century ago.

[Page 740]

Those who will sign this Treaty will sign the death sentence of many millions of German men, women, and children.”

I thought it my duty, before entering upon a discussion of other details of the Treaty, to bring to the knowledge of the Allied and Associated Delegations this summary expose of the problem of the German population.

I have at the disposal of Your Excellency statistical proofs of the above statements.

I have [etc.]


Appendix I (B) to CF–20

Suggested Reply to German Note on the Economic Effect of the Peace Treaty


(Agreed to by the American, British, French and Italian Representatives)

We have noted the communication of the German Delegation of May 13th with reference to the studies of its Economic Commission as to the Treaty of Peace.8 Our observations upon the communication are as follows:
In general, we would point out that though Germany will lose territories in which grain, iron ore, coal and the like are produced, such commodities are not thereby made unavailable for Germany. The importation of food and materials, which took place on a large scale before the war, may be expected to continue in the future.
The German note ignores the great relief to German productive industry which will be afforded by the reduction of armaments, and it takes no account of the diminution of German consumption owing to the transfer of territory with nearly six million inhabitants.
The gradual transformation of Germany from an agricultural State to an industrial State has not affected in the past, nor should its continuance in the future, affect the nourishment of the population; inasmuch as the products of industry are readily exchangeable for the products of agriculture. The severance of agricultural territory which is restored to Poland will not destroy its productivity like the devastation wrought by the German armies in the West. Nothing in the Treaty will prevent the products of these regions from finding a market, as heretofore, in Germany.
As to the merchant marine and the Germans employed in that and any coordinate industries, it will be recognized that the destruction of merchant shipping has created throughout the world a shortage, and has added to the sufferings of all those who follow the sea [Page 741] as a means of livelihood. There can be no special consideration evolved for the seamen of Germany at the expense of the seamen of the Allied and Associated Nations, who lost their livelihood, owing to the destruction of a large portion of the world’s shipping which German methods of warfare brought about; an amount far in excess of the tonnage which will be transferred under the terms of peace. The transfer of German ships to Allied flags will not prevent Germany from carrying on overseas trade.
The statements pertaining to the production of fertilizers are apparently founded on a misconception. Phosphate has always been imported by Germany, and there is no stipulation in the Peace Treaty which prevents such continued importation. As regards Coal, it is to be noted that the transferred territories include important areas of coal consumption as well as of production. Through the destruction of the coal mines of France, the shortage throughout the continent of Europe has been needlessly intensified. The industries of the Allies should not be the first ones to suffer through such wanton destruction.
The cession of the Briey Basin containing iron ore deposits is simply a return of these properties to their original owners. All raw materials, such as iron ore, will naturally seek industries to which they are essential. No restrictions are imposed by the Treaty upon Germany’s importation of such materials.
The world is faced with the necessity of drastic re-adjustments in industry and the means of livelihood; and it is obvious that Germany must, like the other countries, re-adjust itself to changed conditions. When the world’s shipping tonnage has again become normal, an adequate supply of raw materials should be available to all countries, including Germany.
In the framing of the Treaty of Peace, there has been no intention, on the part of the Allied and Associated Governments, to destroy Germany’s economic life. On the contrary, the necessity for a return to more normal economic conditions has been borne constantly in mind. For example, the Reparations Commission is, in various clauses, charged with specific instructions to this end.
The wholesale sacrifice of life and health, and the wanton devastation of territory and the destruction of wealth which have marked this war are bound for many years to impose enormous burdens on the Nations of the world. These burdens are not created or aggravated by the conditions of Peace nor could any conditions be drafted which would remove them. The Treaty certainly does not impose an excessive share of these burdens on Germany. Germany will, moreover, find new resources by reason of the fact that millions [Page 742] of her citizens, who up to now have been employed in military affairs, or in preparation for war, can now turn their whole activities to works of Peace.

Appendix II (A) to CF–20

[The German note of May 13, 1919, is printed as appendix II to CF–19, page 727.]

Appendix II (B) to CF–20

Reply to Principal German Plenipotentiary, Approved by the Council of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers

Sir: In your note of May 13th9 you state that Germany, while accepting in November 1918 ‘the obligation to make reparation’ did not understand such an acceptance to mean that her responsibility was involved either for the war or for the acts of the former German Government.

It is only possible to conceive of such an obligation if its origin and cause is the responsibility of the author of the damage.

You add that the German people would never have undertaken a war of aggression. Yet, in the note from Mr. Secretary of State Lansing of November 5th, 1918, which you approve of and adduce in favour of your contention, it is stated that the obligation to make reparation arises out of ‘Germany’s aggression by land, sea and air.’

As the German Government did not at the time make any protest against this allegation, it thereby recognised it as well-founded.

Therefore Germany recognised in 1918 implicitly but clearly, both the aggression and her responsibility.

It is too late to seek to deny them to-day. It would be impossible you state further that the German people should be regarded as the accomplices of the faults committed by the ‘former German Government’. However, Germany has never claimed and such a declaration would have been contrary to all principles of international law that a modification of its political regime or a change in the governing personalities would be sufficient to extinguish an obligation already undertaken by any nation.

She did not act upon the principle she now contends for either in 1871 as regards France, after the proclamation of the Republic, nor in 1917 in regard to Russia after the revolution which abolished the Tsarist régime.

[Page 743]

Finally, you ask that the report of the Commission on Responsibility may be communicated to you. In reply, we beg to say that the Allied and Associated Powers consider the reports of the Commissions set up by the Peace Conference as documents of an internal character which cannot be transmitted to you.

G. Clemenceau

Appendix III to CF–20

feeding of russia


Copy of Letter From Lord Robert Cecil to Sir Maurice Hankey

My Dear Hankey: When the Nansen scheme was first started, I understand that Hoover, Clémentel, an Italian and I were appointed as a Committee to advise the Supreme Council as to the steps to be taken in connection therewith.

Yesterday Mr. Hoover brought to me the reply that Lenin has sent to the Nansen letter, and suggested that we should take some action upon it. I enclose a copy of Lenin’s reply.

Accordingly, a meeting was held today in the Astoria, attended by Mr. Hoover, Professor Attolico and myself. Monsieur Clémentel was invited but was prevented from coming. At that meeting it was agreed that Mr. Hoover should send immediately the following reply to Nansen’s question at the end of the Lenin telegram:—

“Please inform Nansen that until whole matter has been given further consideration by the Governments here we consider it extremely inadvisable to arrange any meeting with Bolshevik representatives.”

We further agreed upon the memorandum of which I also send you a copy. Will you please inform the Supreme Council.

Yours very sincerely,

Robert Cecil
[Enclosure 1—Telegram]

[The Representative at Copenhagen of the American Relief Administration (Swenson) to the Commission to Negotiate Peace]

Ammission, Paris.
Crab 104, May 14th. For Hoover.

[Page 744]

Following telegram10 was received by wireless through Swedish station to Mr. Friduof Nansen:

“Sir: Your very kind message of April 17th10a containing your exchange of letters with the Council of Four reached us only on May 4 by way of the Nas Wireless Station and was at once given to the People’s Commissariat of Social Welfare for thorough examination. Wish in the name of the Russian Soviet Government to convey to you our heartiest thanks for the warm interest you manifest in the well-being of the Russian people. Great are indeed the suffering and privations inflicted upon the Russian people by the inhuman blockade of the Associated and so-called Neutral Powers and by the incessant wars forced upon it against its will. If left in peace and allowed free development Soviet Russia would soon be able to restore her national production, to regain her economic strength, to provide for her own needs and to be helpful to other countries. But in the present situation in which she has been put by the implacable policy of the Associated Powers help in foodstuffs from abroad would be most welcome to Russia, and the Russian Soviet Government appreciates most thankfully your human[e] and heartfelt response to her sufferings, and considering the universal respect surrounding your person will be especially glad to enter into communication with you for the realisation of your schemes of help which you emphasise as being purely humanitarian. On this basis of humanitarian work or help to suffering people we would be disposed to do everything in our power to further the realisation of your project. Unfortunately your benevolent intentions which you indicate yourself as being based upon purely humanitarian grounds and which according to your letter must be realised by a commission of fully non-political character have been mixed up by others with political purposes. In the letter addressed to you by the Four Powers your scheme is represented as involving cessation of hostilities and of transfer of troops and war material. We regret very much that your original intentions have thus been fundamentally disfigured by the government[s] of the Associated Powers. We need not explain to you that military operation[s] which obviously have in view to change external or internal conditions of the involved countries belong wholly to the domain of politics and that likewise cessation of hostilities which means preventing the belligerent who has every reason to expect successes from obtaining them is also a purely political act. Thus your sincerely charitable intentions have been misused by others in order to cover such purposes which are obviously political with the semblance of an action originally humanitarian only. Being ready to lend every assistance to your scheme so far as it bears the character you have ascribed to it in your letter we at the same time do not wish to be the objects of foul play, and knowing that you like ourselves mean business and wish really to attain the proposed, we would like to ask whether this incantation [intermixture?] of heterogeneous purposes has been finally adopted by yourself. We expect that we will be able to make it clear to you that in order to realise our [your?] intentions this interpretation [Page 745] must be carefully avoided. You are no doubt aware that the cessation of the wars upon the Russian people is likewise the object of our most warm desires and it must be known to you that we have many times proposed to the Associated Governments to enter into negotiations in order to put an end to the present bloodshed and that we have even agreed to take part at the Conference at Prinkipo notwithstanding the extremely unfavourable conditions proposed to us and also that we were the only party to accept it. [We] responded in the same peace loving sense to overtures made by one of the Great Powers. The Prinkipo Conference was frustrated not by us but by our adversaries, the protégées of the Associated Powers, the counterrevolutionary governments of Koltchak, Denikin and the others. These are the Thislu [tools?] with the help of which the Entente Governments are making war upon us and are endeavouring to obtain our destruction and wherever they are victorious their victory means the triumph of the most extreme barbarity and bestiality, streams of blood and untold sufferings for the labouring masses [, domination] of the wildest reaction. Koltchak from the East, Denikin from the South, the Roumanian Feudris [feudals], the Polish and Finnish most reactionary militarists, the German Barons and Esthonian white guards from the West and Russian white guard bands from the north, these are the enemies whom the Entente Governments mob [move?] against Soviet Russia and against whom as against Entente troops we are carrying on a desperate struggle with ever-growing success. The so-called Governments of Koltchak and Denikin are purely monarchical, all power belongs there to the wildest adherents of Tsarism, extreme Tsarist papers are in every way imported [supported?] by them. Tsarist hymns are constantly sung [at] their ceremonies. The so-called constitution of Koltchak is in reality monarchical; among their soldiers they distribute only Tsarist literature, under the domination of Denikin the adherents of Constitutional government of the people are persecuted and under the domination of Koltchak the adherents of the constituent assembly are imprisoned or shot. Program [Pogrom]-making literature is being widely distributed by these so-called governments and whenever Jews come under their domination they are the object of the most horrible bestialities. In the West the Polish legionaries and the troops of the Ukrainian counter revolutionary Petliura who are both supported and even directed by Entente officers have perpetrated such massacres of Jews which by far surpass the most horrible misdeeds of the black hundred of old Tsarism. As the Russian Red Cross in its appeal to the International Red Cross on April 28 states whole villages, whole towns were turned the Russian [sic] neither sex nor age was spared and in numerous places the whole Jewish population was literally wiped out by these troops headed by Entente Generals and officers. The [In the?] realm of Koltchak and Denikin everything that was gained by the peasants through the revolution is being taken back from them. Koltchak declares solemn manifestoes that peasants must not have possession [of] land taken by force from the nobility. He orders in his decrees that the seizure of the land of the gentry by the peasants should be prosecuted as a serious crime and brushes [crushes] the resistance of the peasants by wholesale massacres during which [in some] parts [Page 746] of Siberia many thousands of peasants were killed en masse. For the workers this domination means every possible persecution, oppression, wholesale arrests, and [in] many cases wholesale shootings, so that in some towns the workers were simply wiped out by the enraged ex-Tsarist officers who are [at] the head of Koltchak’s troops. The horrors perpetrated by these Koltchak officers defy description, and their victims are innumerable including all that is progressive, all that is free thinking in Siberia. Inebriated officers are torturing, flogging, tormenting in every way the unfortunate labouring population under their domination and to be a worker is to be predestined to be the object of their brutalities. These are the adversaries owing to [against] whom we are engaged in a desperate struggle and whom the Associated Governments are in every way supporting, providing them with war material, foodstuffs, financial help, military commanders and political advisers and on the north and east fronts sending their own troops to help them. In the hands of these barbarous bandits Entente rifles and Entente cannons are sending death to the Russian workers and peasants struggling for their life and liberty. The same Entente Governments are the real source of the military supplies with the help of which our Polish Roumanian Finnish and other adversaries from the west are uninterrupted by [uninter-ruptedly?] attacking us and it was officially declared in the French Chamber of Deputies and in the British House of Commons that the policy of the Entente is now to send against Soviet Russia the armies of these nationalities. An American radio of May 8 [6?], sent from Lyons says most emphatically that the Entente encourages the movement of the troops raised by the Russian counter revolutionary General Youdenitch which presumably threatens Petrograd that the Entente expects that the Bolsheviki will be forced to withdraw to Moscow and that the Associated Governments [intend in connection herewith to bind (abandon) your plan of revictualling Russia. While declaring they have abandoned the idea of intervention the Associated Governments]11 are in reality carrying on the most reckless interventions policy and even the American Government, despite all the statements to the contrary published in the American Press, seems at present to be wholly dominated by implacable hostility of the Clemenceau Ministry against Soviet Russia. This being the case we are in a position to discuss cessation of hostilities only if we discuss the whole problem of our relations to our adversaries, that is in the first place to the Associated Governments. That means to discuss peace and to open real negotiations bearing upon the true reasons of the war waged upon us and upon those conditions that can bring us lasting peace. We were always ready to enter into peace negotiations and we are ready to do it now as before and we will be glad to begin discussing these questions but of course directly with the other belligerents, that is with the Associated Governments or else with the persons empowered by the latter. But it is of course impossible for us to make any concessions referring to these fundamental problems of our existence under the disguise of a presumably humanitarian work. This latter must remain purely humanitarian [Page 747] and nonpolitical and we will welcome every proposal from your side made to us in the spirit of your letter sent by you to the Council of Four on April 3rd.11a [To] these wholly nonpolitical proposals we respond most gladly, we thank you most heartily for your good intentions, we are ready to give you every possibility of controlling the realisation [of] such humanitarian scheme, we will of course cover all the expenses of this work and the cost of the foodstuffs and we can pay if you desire by Russian goods. But seeing that your original plan has been so unfortunately disfigured and considering that the most complete and difficult questions that have been created must first be thoroughly elucidated, we would suggest that vou take the necessary steps to enable delegates of our Government to meet you and your collaborators abroad and to discuss these questions and we asked you kindly to indicate the time and place for this conference between our delegates and the leaders of your commission and what guarantees can be obtained for the free passage of our delegates through countries influenced by the Entente. Signed People’s Commissary for Foreign Affairs, Tchitcherin.[”]

Nansen adds “Please tell Hoover that I intend to meet Lenin’s delegates perhaps Stockholm but shall be glad to hear Hoover’s opinion soon as possible.”

[Enclosure 2]

[Memorandum on the Nansen Proposal]

Lenin’s reply to Nansen really amounts to this:

“I shall be very glad to accept supplies but not to cease from fighting, though I would be prepared to enter into negotiations for a general Russian peace.”

It is now for the Associated Governments to take the next step, and before deciding what that step should be they must make up their minds what is to be their policy in Russia.

It seems to me they have two courses open to them: They may either decide that so long as the Bolshevik Government is in power there is no hope for Russian peace, and that therefore the first thing to do is to smash the Bolshevists. If this is to be their line they must strain every nerve to support Koltchak, Denikin, the Letts, the Esthonians, the Poles, and even the Finns in attacking Russia. They must furnish them with supplies and money and instructors, and do everything to make their coming campaign against the Bolsheviks successful. They must also break off all relations direct and indirect with the Bolsheviks, and advise Nansen to say that in view of Lenin’s response his scheme for relief is at an end, and that nothing further of that sort can be looked for by the Russian Government. That is one policy. It may be the [Page 748] right one, but it undoubtedly involves much further bloodshed and destruction of material wealth.

The other policy would be to ask the military authorities to define as nearly as they can what is the position of the various forces fighting in Russia. As soon as the line dividing the combatants has thus been determined, each and all of them should be admonished to retire, say, 10 kilometres on their own side of the line, and to refrain from all future hostilities. They would be told that international commissaries would be sent to the various fronts to see that these directions were obeyed. If, and so far as, they were obeyed, the Associated Powers would do their utmost to supply to the various Governments concerned food and clothing and other necessaries. If some refuse and some accept, those who accept should be supported. Those who refused would be deprived of all assistance. The Governments should further be informed that the Associated Powers or the Council of the League of Nations would immediately take into consideration the whole Russian problem. Their first step would be to call upon all sections of the Russian people, or any part of them who express their adherence to this policy to elect by free and universal suffrage, under the supervision of the League of Nations, a constituent assembly for the purpose of determining the future constitution of the Russian Government. In the meantime Nansen would be advised to say that so long as the Soviet Government declined to abstain from fighting he was powerless to help them.

This policy is in accordance with the general principle underlying the Covenant of the League of Nations—namely, that national grievances must not be settled by a resort to arms unless every other possible means of settling them has been first tried. It does not in any way prejudge the rights of any Russian quarrels, but it proceeds upon the principle that in any case peace is to the interest of all concerned.

I believe that either of these policies has a fair chance of success, and may be defended by powerful arguments. What is not defensible is a combination of the two: a suggestion that Lenin must cease fighting while we are supplying arms and equipment to Denikin and Koltchak; or, conversely, that Koltchak and Denikin should be encouraged to wage war against Lenin while we are negotiating with the latter to give him economic assistance. Compromises of this kind can only lead to a prolongation of hostilities in Russia, and the spreading in that country of the belief that the Associated Powers cannot be trusted.

May 16, 1919.

[Page 749]

Appendix IV to CF–20

prisoners of war

Copy of Reply Approved by Council of Principal Allied and Associated Powers to Letter From Herr Brockdorff-Rantzau Dated 10 May, 1919

(See WCP 783)

Sir: The representatives of the Allied and Associated Powers have given consideration to the note of the German Peace Delegation dated 10th May 191912 in regard to the repatriation of the German prisoners of war. In reply they wish to state that they cannot agree that prisoners of war and civilian prisoners who have been guilty of crimes or penal offences should be released. These crimes and penal offences have been committed on Allied soil and have been dealt with by the legally constituted authorities without reference to the fact that the wrongdoer was a German rather than an Allied citizen. For instance a certain German prisoner broke at night into the house of a farmer on whose estate he was set to work and murdered the farmer and his wife in cold blood with a bill-hook. For this double murder the said prisoner was sentenced to death on June 11th 1919, by a regularly constituted court martial. Under the Berne Convention,13 however, the execution of the sentence is suspended until peace has been signed. Justice would certainly not be satisfied if, as a consequence of the Treaty, this murderer were reprieved. For these reasons the Allied and Associated Powers cannot agree to alter the provisions of the Draft Treaty in respect of prisoners of war who have been guilty of crimes or penal offences.

In regard to the second question, the German Peace Delegation makes no specific suggestions as to the alleviation which they would propose for the prisoners of war and interned civilians between the date of the signing of peace and their repatriation. The Allied and Associated Powers are not aware of what alleviation it is possible to make seeing that they have scrupulously endeavoured to observe both the laws of war and the dictates of humanity in the treatment which they have given to prisoners of war, and that as provided in the last section of article 218 it is essential that prisoners of war and interned civilians should remain subject to discipline and control pending their repatriation in the interests of all concerned. The German Peace [Page 750] Delegation may rest assured that it is the intention of the Allied and Associated Powers to treat their prisoners of war during the period between the signing of peace and repatriation with full consideration of their feelings and their needs.

The restitution of personal property to prisoners of war constitutes a legal right which the Allied and Associated Powers have every intention of respecting. As regards information about the missing the Allied and Associated Powers have always endeavoured to supply the German Government with all information in their possession on this subject and they will certainly continue to do so after peace is signed. Concerning the care of graves they would point out that articles 225 and 226 would appear to assure to the German people that the graves of their fellow citizens shall be both respected and properly maintained and that so far as is practicable under clause 225 the bodies of their soldiers and sailors may be transferred to their own country.

In regard to the German request for complete reciprocity the representatives of the Allied and Associated Powers have to state that they felt it necessary to include Article 222 in view of the treatment which their own nationals have received while interned in Germany during the war. As there was no parallel between the treatment which was accorded to prisoners of war by the German Government on the one side and the Allied and Associated Powers on the other no claim for reciprocity in this respect can arise.

In regard to the third question, the representatives of the Allied and Associated Powers are ready to do everything possible to repatriate German prisoners of war and interned civilians properly fed and in good condition after the conclusion of peace. They regret, however, that the pressing demands upon them from territories recently liberated from the German yoke as well as from their own nationals will probably make it impossible for them to supply the prisoners of war with the clothing etc., for which the German Peace Delegation asks.

Finally in regard to the appointment of a Commission to deal with the repatriation of prisoners of war, the representatives of the Allied and Associated Powers will be glad to set up such Commissions immediately upon the signature of peace. They regret, however, that they do not see their way to appoint them until they are notified of the intention of the plenipotentiaries of the German Empire to sign peace.

G. Clemenceau
[Page 751]

Appendix V A to CF–20

Memorandum on the Request of the Serbian Delegation Enclosed in Sir Maurice Hankey’s Letter of May 15 [11], 1919

The suggestion of the Serbian Delegation that, out of the initial £1,000,000,000, 2 milliards of Francs or £80,000,000, should be specifically assigned to Serbia, seems to us, in that form, inadmissible.

There is no reason to think that the total of the Serbian claims bear such a proportion to the total of the claims ranking against Germany and likely to be accepted by the Commission, even if the fact that Serbia gains large territories at the expense of Austria is not treated as ground for a reduction of her claims.
[There is not in the case of Serbia the special ground, which existed in the case of Belgium, that the damages inflicted on her were caused in a war which was specially a violation of her international status as well as generally aggressive and accompanied by inhuman conduct.

On the other hand]* we think that Serbia’s claim to prompt and even generous assistance is strong. Her population has been left in great distress; her country was thoroughly pillaged by processes equally methodical and merciless; and the resumption of her agricultural industry is half paralysed by lack of live stock, of agricultural implements and of means of transport by road and rail. The difficulty is to find a practical relief for her.

Serbia has many partners in this condition of urgent need. It is probable that, on the one hand, the rate at which her injuries can be repaired is slow, since so much of it is damage to buildings, while, on the other, a relatively small amount of aid, if given in the right form and very promptly—such as rolling stock, agricultural implements, tools and breeding stock—would quickly produce extensive benefit.

Apart from the specific share of these things, which may be assigned to her out of the reparation in specie that can be obtained from Austria, from Hungary and from Bulgaria, the only thing that can be done is an immediate creation of credit by an immediate promise of a defined amount from the first sums realised out of the German reparation. Live stock and agricultural implements are hard to buy: the available quantity is small and the purchases are many and are pressing, but if Serbia is given money or the means of getting money, she must take her share with the rest and buy what she can. The British, French and Italian representatives suggest a promise of £5,000,000 forthwith or of £1,000,000 every three months for fifteen months, and the representatives of the United States of America now assent to this proposal.

[Page 752]

Appendix V B to CF–20

serbian claims for one-tenth of total sum of first instalment of reparation demanded from germany


The Secretariat-General of the Peace Conference has the honour to transmit herewith to the Secretariat-General of the British Delegation, for urgent communication to Mr. Lloyd George, copy of a letter addressed by Mr. Pachitch to M. Clemenceau and requesting that two milliards out of the twenty milliards required from Germany as an instalment in respect of Reparation for damage should be allotted to Serbia.

The Secretariat General of the British Delegation.



Mr. President: As no other country has suffered more than Serbia during the war which has so happily terminated, and no other country has received so small a measure of relief, our people finds itself in the greatest degree deprived of all means of recovery, and even of existence. Moreover, the Germans and Austro-Hungarians have regarded as an enemy country not only Serbia, properly speaking, but also all the provinces of the former Hapsburg Monarchy, which are inhabited by our racial kinsmen, especially Bosnia and Herzegovina, Dalmatia and Smyrna [Slovenia?] and have behaved accordingly towards their inhabitants. The definite ruin of our unfortunate country was, however, only completed on the day when Marshal Mackensen invaded it at the head of German troops in October, 1915. In Serbia the enemy not only carried off or destroyed all privately owned instruments of production, but likewise destroyed all means of communication and all elements indispensable for the restoration of economic life. Serbia finds herself absolutely incapable of resuming her economic activity in default of means of communication and of the necessary instruments. Our Delegates on the Reparation Commission urged this point in the most pressing manner and handed in lists of objects of first necessity. They had previously asked that we should be authorised to recover in Germany, Austria, Hungary and Bulgaria, the live [Page 753] stock, the instruments of production, the tools and means of communication which had been removed by the enemy from our country. The Germans, more especially during their retreat, relentlessly seized the livestock and carried it off; it was their army which destroyed the means of communication.

Our request on this point was not met and it thus comes about that the Germans are returning to their Allies Serbian livestock in compensation for the livestock removed, and that certain Serbian dealers are repurchasing in Bulgaria Serbian livestock at exorbitant prices.

While bringing this situation to the notice of the Supreme Council of the Allies, we pray that it may receive their most favourable consideration. We think that there is no exaggeration in the idea that it would be just and equitable that, out of the twenty milliards which Germany will have to hand to the Allies as an instalment of Reparation for damage, two milliards should be allotted to us for the immediate reconstruction of our country and especially for the purchase of livestock, instruments of production, tools and means of communication.

We beg leave once more to insist on the point that it is the Germans who have been the principal authors of the destruction of our railways and of our ways of communication, as well as of the pillage of our livestock and provisions. Throughout the occupation of our country special German trains, “loot trains” (Beutezüge) carried off from our country everything which the German army had removed both from public and private properties. The Austro-Hungarians and the Bulgarians did likewise.

We therefore have the honour to beg the Supreme Council of the Allies, over which your Excellency presides with so great a spirit of solidarity, to be so good as to right this injustice and guarantee to Serbia without delay two milliards in respect of Reparation for damage, and thus enable her to resume her economic life, failing which our country can only look forward to a gloomy future.

P. Pachitch
  1. British Lord President of the Council; Acting Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
  2. Appendix IV to CF–19, p. 730.
  3. For Dr. Nansen’s letter, see Foreign Relations, 1919, Russia, p. 111.
  4. American, British, French, and Italian members, respectively, of the committee appointed to advise the Supreme Council concerning the Nansen proposals.
  5. Secretary to Lloyd George.
  6. See appendix VB, p. 752.
  7. See appendix to CF–8, p. 564.
  8. Appendix IA, supra.
  9. Appendix II to CF–19, p. 727.
  10. The Russian text in Mezhdunarodnaya Politika is dated May 7.
  11. Quoted in telegram No. 284, May 9, 1919, from the Ambassador in France, Foreign Relations, 1919, Russia, p. 111.
  12. The bracketed passage has been supplied from the copy of the telegram received by the American Commission to Negotiate Peace (Paris Peace Conf. 861.48/48).
  13. Foreign Relations, 1919, Russia, p. 102.
  14. Appendix III to CF–9, p. 574.
  15. For the agreement between France and Germany concerning prisoners of war, April 26, 1918, see British and Foreign State Papers, vol. cxi, p. 713; and for the agreement between France and Germany concerning the liberation or repatriation of civilians, and the treatment of the population in occupied territories, April 26, 1918, see ibid., p. 721.
  16. The words in square brackets were deleted by the Council of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers. [Footnote in the original.]