Paris Peace Conf. 180.03401/44½


Notes of a Meeting Held at President Wilson’s House in the Place des Etats-Unis, Paris, on Wednesday, June 4, 1919, at 11 a.m.

  • Present
    • Unites States of America
      • President Wilson
    • Great Britain
      • Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd George, M. P.
    • France
      • M. Clemenceau
    • Italy
      • M. Orlando
    • Experts of Reparation
      • Mr. Lamont
      • Mr. Norman Davis
      • Mr. Baruch
      • Mr. McCormick
      • Mr. Dulles
      • Lord Cunliffe
      • Lord Sumner
      • Mr. Keynes
      • Mr. Dudley Ward
      • Mr. Sutton
      • M. Loucheur
      • M. Klotz
      • M. Tardieu
      • M. Cheysson
      • M. Jouasset
      • M. Sergent
      • M. Chevalier
      • M. Crespi
      • M. d’Amelio
Sir Maurice Hankey, K. C. B. } Secretaries.
Count Aldrovandi.
M. P. J. Mantoux.—Interpreter.

The Council had before them the draft Reparation Clauses for inclusion in the Treaty with Austria.

1. Mr. Lamont (U. S. A.) reminded the Council that they had approved the draft Reparation Clauses which had previously been before them subject to certain changes which had now been made according to the instructions then given. Further, the Commission had reconsidered the financial provisions of these Clauses and, having regard to the weakness of Austria’s economic position, it had been decided not to specify any definite amount of bonds to be issued by Austria in connection with Reparation payments and to insert special instructions to the Commission to take Austria’s economic situation into careful consideration. [1.] Austria’s Financial Position

2. Mr. Dulles put forward claims made by Czecho-Slovakia for the restitution of Objects of Art. It was agreed that the claims in their present form were too general: they could only be inserted in the treaty provided they referred to specific objects. 2. Recovery of Object of Art

Lord Sumner was instructed to deal with the matter on behalf of the Commission.

President Wilson said that some of the claims seemed to him to go rather far back in the matter of date: and added that his experience [Page 169] had led him to oppose the break-up of learned and artistic collections.

Lord Sumner pointed out that all these claims had to be proved before a juridical Commission, who would deal with the question whether lapse of time was a bar to a claim. He agreed with the objections to breaking up collections, but only a few specific objects had been mentioned in which national feeling was understood to be deeply engaged.

3. President Wilson suggested that the words “during the war” should be inserted after the word “sequestrated[”] in Art. VIII. 3. Restitution

This was agreed.

4. Mr. Lloyd George said that he regretted that it should have been found necessary to call upon Austria to surrender the cattle specified in Annex IV of the proposed Clauses: he understood that the position of the country with regard to food supplies was very serious. It must be noted that these proposed deliveries were in addition to the restitution of cattle removed from Allied countries and which would be identified. Such a measure had seemed harsh even in the case of Germany. He thought, at any rate, that the percentage which these figures represented to the number of cattle now in the country ought to be ascertained. 4. Surrender of Livestock

M. Tardieu said that the figures in the Annex had been approved by Dr. Taylor, one of Mr. Hoover’s colleagues.

Mr. Lamont said that the condition of Vienna was certainly bad: but the cattle would be taken from the districts adjoining Italy, and, owing to transport difficulties would in no case have been sent to Vienna.

Mr. McCormick said that the figures represented a very small proportion of the cattle in Austria. The demand for the surrender of cattle had been inserted at the desire mainly of Italy and Serbia who had suffered very seriously in this respect.

M. Orlando said that the Austrians had carried off nearly 400,000 head of cattle from Italy.

Mr. Lloyd George then withdrew his objection to the provision in Annex IV for the surrender of cattle.

5. M. Crespi drew attention to a provision proposed for insertion in the Financial Clauses allowing the requisition without payment by the new States of buildings of historical value in the ceded territories. He put forward some general claims of a similar kind on behalf of Italy in Trentino and Trieste and more especially referred to the Palazzo Venezia in Rome. The text proposed was as follows (Article 12, paragraph 1, of Financial Clauses):— [5.] Buildings of Historical Value [Page 170]

“States to which Austrian territory is ceded and States arising from the dismemberment of Austria shall acquire all property and possessions situated within their territories belonging to the old or new Austrian Governments, and the value of such property and possessions acquired by States other than new Austria shall be fixed by the Reparation Commission for the credit of the new Austria on account of the sums due for reparation. Nevertheless, any building or other property so situated whose principal value lies in its historic interest and associations and which formerly belonged to the Kingdom of Bohemia, the Kingdom of Poland, the Kingdom of Serbia, or the Venetian Republic and the episcopal princedoms of Trient and Bressanone, shall, subject to the approval of the Reparation Commission, be transferred to the Government entitled thereto without payment. These States shall have no claim to any property of the Governments of the old or new Austria situated outside their own respective territories.”

Lord Sumner supported the Italian claim to the Palazzo Venezia: it was not the Austrian Embassy but had been used for the representation of the Venetian Republic in Rome and had thus passed into the possession of Austria at the end of the eighteenth century. It had since been used for the representation of Austria at the Vatican, for which other arrangements had now been made by the Italian Government.

Mr. Lloyd George agreed to the Italian claims as regards this building but considered that the claims as embodied in the proposed clause were too wide.

M. Crespi pointed out that the clause in this form had been put forward by the Poles and Czecho-Slovaks.

President Wilson suggested some modification, and the substitution of “may … be transferred” for “shall … be transferred” was finally adopted.

6. M. Sergent called attention to the fact that in the Treaty with Germany a provision had been inserted in the Territorial Clauses sanctioning the acquisition by Poland, without payment, of the forests formerly belonging to the State in the territory ceded by Germany to Poland. The Polish delegation had asked for the insertion of a similar clause in the Treaty with Austria. He thought there was no objection and would propose to insert this provision among the Financial Clauses. It should be understood that the concession applied to Poland only. 6. State Forests in Poland

President Wilson said he did not see how claims from other States could be avoided.

Mr. Lloyd George pointed out that the clause was inserted in the Treaty with Germany as some compensation to the Poles for the devastation of their forests by the Germans.

M. Clemenceau thought that if these forests had really belonged to the Polish State they could hardly be made to pay for them.

[Page 171]

Mr. Lloyd George said that Poland was getting a great deal out of the war: the value of these forests, which was considerable, might represent a suitable means of contribution towards the cost of the war. Poland was also getting valuable coal mines. He suggested that the question of releasing Poland from payment for these forests should be put back until they know what contribution the Polish Government was prepared to make towards the cost of war.

7. Mr. Lamont was then asked to state how the situation stood with regard to the payment of contributions by the new States towards the cost of the war. He pointed out that the provisions for the payment reparation by the States arising New states out of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire had now been omitted from the proposed Reparation Clauses. They had drawn up instead a formula of undertaking to make contribution towards the cost of the war: this had been accepted by the Czecho-Slovaks and he hoped within 24 hours to get the consent of the other three states concerned, viz:—Roumania, Poland and Jugo-Slavia. The undertaking provided for the payment to the Allies of an amount equal to 25 per cent of the par value of the war bonds, found in each case in the territory in question; the amount payable being in no case less than 15 per cent of the value of the bonds which might reasonably be supposed to have been subscribed for in that territory. The total amount thus obtainable from all the four States would be from six to ten milliards of kroner. 7. Payment of Contribution by New States

Mr. Lloyd George said that he thought payment for the State forests ought to be additional to this sum. He desired to make two comments on these proposals. He did not see why a minimum of 15 per cent of war bonds should be allowed for: he thought the figure should be 25 percent in both cases. It would be very difficult to ascertain how much had been subscribed in any given territory—probably they would have to resort to a rough allocation according to the estimated wealth of the territory. Further, he desired to recall to the minds of the Council a former proposal of M. Orlando to the effect that, in the case of States like Serbia and Roumania who have claims against Germany and are receiving accessions of territory, the amount of reparation which this new territory would have had to pay had it remained part of Austria should be set off against the claims made against the Enemy States by the State benefiting by the accession of territory. This scheme would relieve the Allies from the necessity of collecting contributions from the Jugo-Slav and Roumanian Governments which would probably prove a difficult proceeding. He was disposed to suggest that claims and obligations should be regarded as cancelling out—more especially in the case of Roumania. Serbia, indeed, might have a balance of claim and, upon the suggestion of [Page 172] Mr. Davis, he agreed that some preliminary assistance might be given to Serbia on account of her claims in order to enable her to deal with her forged notes and that possibly a prior claim on the payments by Bulgaria should be accorded to her. Claims by Serbia and Roumania against Bulgaria, Hungary and Austria for restitution and reparation in respect of livestock might also stand. Poland and Czechoslovakia having no claims against the enemy should be dealt with on the lines described by Mr. Lamont.

Instructions were accordingly given to the Reparation Commission to negotiate with the respective States in question in accordance with these suggestions.

It was agreed that, subject to a satisfactory agreement regarding contributions being concluded with the four States already referred to, and to the insertion of the modifications agreed upon at the present meeting, the Reparation Clauses should be incorporated in the Treaty with Austria.

The meeting terminated at 12:50.