Paris Peace Conf. 180.03401/31


Notes of a Meeting Held at President Wilson’s House in the Place des Etats-Unis, Paris, on Saturday, May 24, 1919, at 4 p.m.

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

1. The Council had under consideration a draft despatch for Admiral Koltchak prepared by Mr. Philip Kerr at the request of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers. (Appendix I.) Policy Towards Russia

President Wilson explained to Viscount Chinda that he and his colleagues had felt some misgivings lest Admiral Koltchak might be under reactionary influences which might result in a reversal of the popular revolution in Russia. They also feared a Military Dictatorship based on reactionary principles, which would not be popular in Russia and might lead to further bloodshed and revolution. This despatch had been prepared for consideration in order to lay down1 the conditions of support for Admiral Koltchak and the groups working with him at Archangel and in South Russia. Should Admiral Koltchak accept the conditions, he would continue to receive the countenance and support of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers, otherwise he would not. The substance of the document was contained in the six conditions laid down in the last half.

Viscount Chinda said that he had only received the document a short time before leaving the Embassy, and consequently had not been able to study it in detail. Unfortunately, Baron Makino was on a visit to the devastated regions, and would not be back until the following day. He would be very much obliged if he could be allowed time to discuss the despatch with his colleagues before [Page 16] giving a final reply. Nevertheless, speaking personally, he felt that in all probability his Government would be prepared to associate themselves in this despatch. His reason for this belief was a despatch which had recently been addressed by his Government to the Japanese Ambassadors in Washington, London, Paris and Rome, which he proceeded to read not as a proposal, but only as a matter of information. The gist of this despatch was somewhat as follows: More than six months have elapsed since the provisional Government under Admiral Koltchak was organised at Omsk to restore order in Siberia. It has so far accomplished its extremely difficult task with admirable tact and determination. Its position had lately been strengthened by its recognition by other anti-Bolshevist groups in Russia as the central organisation in Russia. Having regard to the general desire to see the restoration of an orderly and efficient Government in Russia, and believing that official recognition will materially conduce to this end, the Japanese Government feels that the time has come for a provisional recognition to be accorded, on condition of a promise by the Omsk Government to safeguard the legitimate interests of the Allied and Associated Powers, and that it will assume responsibility for the debts and financial obligations of the former Russian Government.

The message concluded with an instruction to bring this declaration to the notice of the Governments to which the Ambassadors were respectively accredited, and to suggest to them that the question might conveniently be discussed among their delegates at Paris. On concluding the reading of this despatch Viscount Chinda remarked that the policy in the draft despatch which had been handed to him seemed to be a preliminary step towards the policy proposed by the Japanese Government. This was the reason for his confidence that the Japanese Government would accept it. Nevertheless, he would like to discuss the matter with his colleagues.

One point of detail in the despatch to which he wished to draw attention was the following statement:—

“Finally, that they abide by the declaration made by Admiral Koltchak on November 27th, 1918, in regard to Russia’s national debts.”

He asked what the declaration was to which this referred.

Mr. Lloyd George, who had sent for the document containing the declaration, read the following:—

“Telegram from M. Klioutchnikoff1a to the Ambassador in Paris:

November 27th, 1918.

Please communicate the following to the Government to which you are accredited:— [Page 17]

“The Russian Government at the head of which stands Admiral Koltchak remembering that Russia always kept all her obligations towards her own people as well as other nations to which it was bound by conventions, presumes it necessary to announce in a special declaration that it accepts all obligations incumbing [sic] to the Treasury and will fulfil them in due time when Russia’s unity will be again achieved. These obligations are the following: Payments of interests, redemption of inner State debts, payments for contracts, wages, pensions and other payments due by law, and other conventions. The Government declares at the same time all financial acts promoted by the Soviet Powers as null and void, being acts edicted by mutineers.”

(Sir Maurice Hankey undertook to send a copy to Viscount Chinda.)

Viscount Chinda supposed that the responsibility for sending supplies to Russia would be divided between the various Governments according to their respective capacity.

Mr. Lloyd George said that up to now Great Britain had supplied the great bulk of the war material. He would be very glad to adopt Viscount Chinda’s proposal, as then the United States of America would have to supply the greater part.

Viscount Chinda said that he had only mentioned it because of the limited resources of Japan for such supplies.

President Wilson said that this was a matter for Congress. He hoped, however, he might induce Congress to take a share when the whole matter was explained to them.

Mr. Lloyd George said that substantially the conditions in this despatch had been read to the British Trades Unionists, who had been satisfied on the whole.

Viscount Chinda then drew attention to the following passage in the despatch:—

“They are therefore disposed to assist the Government of Admiral Koltchak and his Associates with munitions, supplies, food, and the help of such as may volunteer for their service, to establish themselves as the Government of All Russia,” etc.

He thought that Japan, having a standing army, might find it difficult strictly to conform to the letter of this proposal.

President Wilson said he did not understand this phrase to mean Government help. It had not been in contemplation to send formed troops. His interpretation of the words was that it meant such individuals as might volunteer.

Mr. Lloyd George said the phrase had been inserted to meet the case of Great Britain. There was a very strong feeling against sending forces to Russia, and it was necessary to give guarantees to the soldiers that they would not be sent. Nevertheless, a good many men [Page 18] in the British Army had volunteered to go to Russia to take part in the operations; indeed, sufficient numbers had volunteered to supply the Archangel force. That was the reason for this provision.

Viscount Chinda said it would be very difficult for the Japanese Government to undertake their help in that sense. There were technical difficulties in the way of employing Japanese forces as volunteers. They could only send regular troops.

President Wilson said Mr. Lloyd George’s interpretation showed that he had not read it aright. He understood it had been agreed that the Allied and Associated forces should be withdrawn from Archangel.

Mr. Lloyd George said that the difficulty in withdrawing the men who had volunteered from England was that they were mostly men in technical services, such as artillery and aircraft, who could not well be spared. If they were withdrawn, it would place both the Archangel forces and Denekin in great difficulties.

Viscount Chinda said that the Japanese forces in Siberia were regulars, and they could not be converted into volunteers.

President Wilson said that the answer was that the United States and Japanese troops who were in the rearward services were not affected. This phrase only concerned the troops taking part in regular operations. The United States and Japanese forces were on the lines of communications. He suggested that the difficulty should be met by the substitution of some such words as the following:—

“Such other help as may prove feasible.”

Mr. Lloyd George said that he thought the phrase had better be left out rather than amended.

(It was agreed that the words: “and the help of such as may volunteer for their service”, should be omitted.)

M. Clemenceau said that he learnt that the Japanese had furnished a considerable amount of munitions to Admiral Koltchak, but he could not specify the exact amount.

Mr. Lloyd George said that on the whole he thought it would be better to omit the following words from the second paragraph of the letter:—

“The total cost of which exceeds £100,000,000.”

(It was agreed to omit the above words, and to substitute the following:

“at a very considerable cost”.)


(It was agreed that the draft despatch should be provisionally approved, subject to the above corrections, but that no action should [Page 19] be taken until it had received the formal approval of the Japanese Delegation.

Viscount Chinda undertook to notify Sir Maurice Hankey if the despatch was approved, and Sir Maurice Hankey was instructed in that event to submit a copy for signature by the representatives of the Five Powers, after which it would be dispatched in their name to Admiral Koltchak by M. Clemenceau.)

2. (Colonel Kisch2 was introduced.)

Colonel Kisch gave a description with a map of the military situation in Siberia. He explained that Admiral Koltchak’s main operations were on his northern wing with the immediate object of effecting a junction at Kotlas with the forces based on Archangel. His subsequent objective would be Viatka. The Bolshevists had been forced back in this district, and, in order to meet the menace, had withdrawn 20,000 men from opposite the forces at Archangel. With these reinforcements they would be able to oppose Koltchak’s 36,000 men on his northern wing with about double strength, though the morale of the Bolshevist troops, who had been severely handled, was low. The Bolshevists had countered this attack by Admiral Koltchak by a counter-attack against his southern wing, where they had made a total advance in the region of Samara, which had been threatened by Koltchak, of some 60 miles. Denekin was creating a diversion to check this counter-attack by an advance towards Tzaritzin, and Admiral Koltchak was putting in his last reserves to check this Bolshevist advance, and meanwhile was pressing on in the north. On the west the Esthonians had made a considerable advance, and, if aided by a rising in Petrograd, might even hope to capture that city. The inhabitants in the districts recently over-run by Admiral Koltchak had received him favourably. In the northern part of Russia there was close affinity between the population west of the Urals and the Siberian population, but before long Koltchak, if he continued his successes, would be entering the really Bolshevist regions of Russia. The Military Situation in Siberia

(Colonel Kisch then withdrew.)

3. Mr. Lloyd George said that if a satisfactory answer was received from Koltchak, the following decisions would have to be taken:—

Whether the Allied and Associated Powers should confine themselves to rendering him assistance. The Next Stage in Russian Policy
Whether they should recognise the Omsk Government as the Government for the area occupied by Koltchak’s troops.
Whether the Omsk Government should be recognised as representing the whole of Russia.

President Wilson said that he hoped, before Koltchak’s reply was received, to have Mr. Morris’s3 report.

Mr. Lloyd George suggested that someone ought to be sent to see Denekin.

4. Sir Maurice Hankey said he had received a letter from M. Berthelot, stating that the Committee on New States would be glad if a Japanese representative could be added. This would be more especially important when commercial matters were under consideration. Committee on New States. Addition of Japanese Representative

Viscount Chinda said he would be glad to arrange for a Japanese representative.

(It was agreed that a Japanese representative should be added to the Committee.)

5. President Wilson read a letter addressed to Sir Maurice Hankey by Sir Esme Howard on behalf of the Commission on Baltic Affairs. (Appendix II.) Commission on Baltie Affairs To Examine the Future Relations of the Baltie State to Russia

(It was agreed that the Commission on Baltic Affairs should be authorised to examine the future relations of all the Baltic States to Russia, and to submit recommendations thereon.)

6. Sir Maurice Hankey drew attention to the following reference from the Council of Foreign Ministers at their meeting on the 23rd May, 1919 (I. C. 190, Minute 44):—

“The Articles 1–3, 5–6, of the Committee’s Report provinces were accepted.5 Paragraph 4 and the question formulated by Mr. Balfour regarding the advance on Petrograd, together with the 7th Article proposed by Mr. Lansing, were referred to the Council of Heads of Governments. The Situation in the Baltie Provinces

Mr. Lansing made a reservation to the effect that Article 7 as proposed by him would fulfil all the necessary purposes and render Mr. Balfour’s suggestion unnecessary.”

(After the procès-verbal and the various documents referred to in the above conclusion had been consulted, it was agreed to adjourn the subject for discussion with the Foreign Ministers.)

7. (The following resolution, submitted by Sir Maurice Hankey, was accepted:—

[Page 21]

It is agreed:—

That the Economic Commission shall be asked immediately to prepare, for consideration by the Council of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers, Articles for insertion in the Treaty with Bulgaria. The Treaty With Bulgaria. References to Economic, Financial and Reparation Commission and Military Representatives for This
That the Financial Commission shall be asked immediately to prepare, for consideration by the Council of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers, Articles for insertion in the Treaty with Bulgaria.
That the Reparation Commission shall be asked immediately to prepare, for consideration by the Council of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers, Articles for insertion in the Treaty with Bulgaria.
That the Military Representatives of the Supreme War Council at Versailles, with whom shall be associated Naval and Aerial Representatives of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers, shall be asked to prepare, for the consideration of the Council of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers, Military, Naval and Air Clauses for insertion in the Treaty with Bulgaria.)

(Sir Maurice Hankey was instructed to communicate these decisions to the Secretary-General for the necessary action.)

8. M. Clemenceau reported that M. Venizelos had applied to be heard on the subject of the frontiers of the territory to be allotted to Greece. Application of M. Venizelos To Be Heard

9. With reference to C. F. 29, Minute 6,6 the instructions to the Drafting Committee in regard to the alterations in Articles 102 and 104 of the Treaty of Peace with Germany were initialled by the four Heads of Governments. Dantzig. Drafting Error in Articles 102 and 104 of the Treaty of Peace With Germany

(Sir Maurice Hankey was instructed to forward Germany the initialled copy to the Drafting Committee.)

Appendix I

Draft Despatch to Admiral Koltchak

(Prepared by Mr. Philip Kerr for consideration at the request of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers, 23rd May, 1919.)

The Allied and Associated Powers feel that the time has come when it is necessary for them once more to make clear the policy they propose to pursue in regard to Russia.

It has always been a cardinal axiom of the Allied and Associated Powers to avoid interference in the internal affairs of Russia. Their original intervention was made for the sole purpose of assisting those [Page 22] elements in Russia which wanted to continue the struggle against German autocracy and to free their country from German rule, and in order to rescue the Czecho-Slovaks from the danger of annihilation at the hands of the Bolshevik forces. Since the signature of the Armistice on November 11th, 19187 they have kept forces in various parts of Russia. Munitions and supplies have been sent to assist those associated with them, the total cost of which exceeds £100,000,000. No sooner, however, did the Peace Conference assemble than they endeavoured to bring peace and order to Russia by inviting representatives of all the warring Governments within Russia to meet them in the hope that they might be able to arrange a permanent solution of Russian problems. This proposal and a later offer to relieve the distress among the suffering millions of Russia broke down through the refusal of the Soviet Government to accept the fundamental condition of suspending hostilities while negotiations or the work of relief was proceeding. They are now being pressed to withdraw their troops and to incur no further expense in Russia on the ground that continued intervention shows no prospect of producing an early settlement. They are prepared, however, to continue their assistance on the lines laid down below, provided they are satisfied that it will really help the Russian people to liberty, self-government, and peace.

The Allied and Associated Governments now wish to declare formally that the object of their policy is to restore peace within Russia by enabling the Russian people to resume control of their own affairs through the instrumentality of a freely elected Constituent Assembly and to restore peace along its frontiers by arranging for the settlement of disputes in regard to the boundaries of the Russian state and its relations with its neighbours through the peaceful arbitration of the League of Nations.

They are convinced by their experiences of the last year that it is not possible to attain these ends by dealings with the Soviet Government of Moscow. They are therefore disposed to assist the Government of Admiral Koltchak and his Associates with munitions, supplies, food, and the help of such as may volunteer for their service, to establish themselves as the government of All Russia, provided they receive from them definite guarantees that their policy has the same object in view as that of the Allied and Associated Powers. With this object they would ask Admiral Koltchak and his Associates whether they will agree to the following as the conditions upon which they accept continued assistance from the Allied and Associated Powers.

In the first place, that, as soon as they reach Moscow they will summon a Constituent Assembly elected by a free, secret and democratic [Page 23] franchise as the Supreme Legislature for Russia to which the Government of Russia must be responsible, or if at that time order is not sufficiently restored they will summon the Constituent Assembly elected in 1917 to sit until such time as new elections are possible.

Secondly, that throughout the areas which they at present control they will permit free elections in the normal course for all local and legally constituted assemblies such as municipalities, Zemstvos, etc.

Thirdly, they will countenance no attempt to revive the special privileges of any class or order in Russia. The Allied and Associated Powers have noted with satisfaction the solemn declarations made by Admiral Koltchak and his associates that they have no intention of restoring the former land system. They feel that the principles to be followed in the solution of this and other internal questions must be left to the free decision of the Russian Constituent Assembly; but they wish to be assured that those whom they are prepared to assist stand for the civil and religious liberty of all Russian citizens and will make no attempt to reintroduce the regime which the revolution has destroyed.

Fourthly, that the independence of Finland and Poland be recognised, and that in the event of the frontiers and other relations between Russia and these countries not being settled by agreement, they will be referred to the arbitration of the League of Nations.

Fifthly, that if a solution of the relations between Esthonia, Latvia. Lithuania and the Caucasian and Transcaspian territories and Russia is not speedily reached by agreement the settlement will be made in consultation and co-operation with the League of Nations, and that until such settlement is made the Government of Russia agrees to recognise these territories as autonomous and to confirm the relations which may exist between these de facto Governments and the Allied and Associated Governments.

Sixthly, that as soon as a government for Russia has been constituted on a democratic basis, Russia should join the League of Nations and co-operate with the other members in the limitation of armaments and of military organisation throughout the world.

Finally, that they abide by the declaration made by Admiral Koltchak on November 27th, 1918, in regard to Russia’s national debts.8

The Allied and Associated Powers will be glad to learn as soon as possible whether the Government of Admiral Koltchak and his associates are prepared to accept these conditions, and also whether in the event of acceptance they will undertake to form a single government and army command as soon as the military situation makes it possible.

Appendix II to CF–31

[Sir Esme Howard to Sir Maurice Hankey]

Dear Hankey: The Commission on Baltic Affairs, which was appointed in accordance with your letter to M. Dutasta of the 28th [Page 24] April, has had several meetings, and begun the examination of Baltic questions.

The Italian representative on the Commission9 has, however, expressed the view that the mandate of the Commission was somewhat vague and that more precise instructions are required before making definite recommendations on questions which involve, to some extent, examination of a part of the Russian problem.

The Commission are unanimous in thinking that the examination of Baltic questions is a matter of urgent importance, but in view of the point raised by the Italian delegate they feel that it would be desirable to have a more precise definition of their functions. In dealing with Baltic problems it will be necessary in the first instance to examine the future relations of all the Baltic States to Russia. The Commission therefore proposes, subject to the approval of the Council of Four, to enter on the immediate examination of this question, and to submit recommendations thereon.

One reason which has rendered this question particularly pressing is that Admiral Koltchak’s recent successes have, I understand, made his recognition by the Allied and Associated Powers a matter of serious discussion on which a decision may be taken shortly. But if this Government is to be recognised some security should first be obtained from Koltchak, as a condition of recognition, for the future of the Baltic provinces to which the Allied Governments have given assurances that their status will be determined as far as possible in accordance with the wishes of the population. Unless this is done at once it may be difficult to ensure that Koltchak, after victory over the Bolsheviks, would allow us to make good the assurances given by us to the Baltic States. In view of past experience in the case of Finland the Commission are agreed that the future status of these provinces must be guaranteed internationally if they are to have adequate security.

For these reasons we feel that the Commission on Baltic Affairs should be clearly authorised to discuss these questions forthwith, and I am directed by the Commission to enquire whether the Council of Four approve this course.

Yours sincerely,

Esme Howard
  1. The text from this point through the paragraph beginning “M. Clemenceau” on page 18 is that of a version revised in a few passages, issued on May 28, 1919.
  2. Y. V. Klyuchnikov, Acting Foreign Minister of the Kolchak government, Omsk.
  3. Lt. Col. F. H. Kisch, British technical expert on military questions concerning Russia, China and Japan.
  4. Roland S. Morris, American Ambassador to Japan, on special mission in Siberia.
  5. FM–19, vol. iv, pp. 752, 757.
  6. For text of the report, see appendix C to FM–19, ibid., p. 762.
  7. Vol. v, p. 913.
  8. Armistice with Germany, vol. ii, p. 1.
  9. Ante, p. 16.
  10. Giuseppe Brambilla.