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.
- United States of America
- President Wilson.
- M. Clemenceau.
- British Empire
- Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd George, M. P.
- H. E. M. Orlando.
- United States of America
|Sir Maurice Hankey, K. C. B.||}||Secretaries.|
|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.[Page 749] [Page 751] [Page 752]
- British Lord President of the Council; Acting Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.↩
- Appendix IV to CF–19, p. 730.↩
- For Dr. Nansen’s letter, see Foreign Relations, 1919, Russia, p. 111.↩
- American, British, French, and Italian members, respectively, of the committee appointed to advise the Supreme Council concerning the Nansen proposals.↩
- Secretary to Lloyd George.↩
- See appendix VB, p. 752.↩
- See appendix to CF–8, p. 564.↩
- Appendix IA, supra.↩
- Appendix II to CF–19, p. 727.↩
- The Russian text in Mezhdunarodnaya Politika is dated May 7.↩
- Quoted in telegram No. 284, May 9, 1919, from the Ambassador in France, Foreign Relations, 1919, Russia, p. 111.↩
- 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).↩
- Foreign Relations, 1919, Russia, p. 102.↩
- Appendix III to CF–9, p. 574.↩
- 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.↩
- The words in square brackets were deleted by the Council of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers. [Footnote in the original.]↩