Paris Peace Conf. 180.03401/32
Notes of a Meeting Held at President Wilson’s House in the Place des Etats-Unis, Paris, on Monday, May 26, 1919, at 11 a.m.
- United States of America
- President Wilson.
- British Empire
- The Rt Hon. D. Lloyd George, M.P.
- M. Clemenceau.
- H. B. M. Orlando.
- United States of America
|Sir Maurice Hankey, K.C.B.||}||Secretarties|
|Prof. P. J. Mantoux—Interpreter.|
1. The Council had before them a letter addressed to Colonel House by Lord Robert Cecil, dated 24th May, on the subject of Aerial Navigation. (Appendix I.) In this letter, Lord Robert Cecil asked for certain amendments to the Covenant of the Nations which should be considered as drafting changes. Alteration in Covenant of League of Nations: Aerial Navigation
President Wilson expressed the view that these might be regarded as drafting alterations.
(It was agreed:—
That the Drafting Committee should be instructed to make the following amendments to the Covenant of the League of Nations:—
|Art. I, Para. 2, last line.||}||for “military and naval” substitute “military, naval and air.”|
|Art. VIII, last para, last line.|
|Art. IX, last line.|
|Art. XVI, Para. 2, 3rd line, for “military or Naval” substitute “military, naval or air.”|
Sir Maurice Hankey was instructed to prepare an instruction to the Drafting Committee for the initials of the Four Heads of Governments.)
2. With reference to C. F. 30, Minutes 2 & 3,1 the attached errata to the Treaty of Peace with Germany (Appendix II) were initialled by the Four Heads of Governments. Errata in Economic clauses of German Treaty
(Sir Maurice Hankey was instructed to communicate them to the Secretary-General for the information of the Drafting Committee.)[Page 26]
3. With reference to C. F. 31, Minute 1,2 Sir Maurice Hankey stated that the Japanese Delegation had agreed to the draft despatch to Admiral Koltchak (Appendix III), subject to two very small amendments, namely, in paragraph 2 instead of the words “they are now being pressed to withdraw etc.,” was substituted the following: “some of the Allied and Associated Governments are now being pressed to withdraw etc.,” and paragraph 4 instead of the words “the last year” was substituted “the last 12 months.” Russia: Policy of Allied & Associated Powers
(These alterations were approved and the letter was signed by the Four Heads of States. The letter was then taken by Mr. Philip Kerr to the Japanese Embassy, where it was signed by the Marquis Saionji. Sir Maurice Hankey was instructed to communicate the letter to the Secretary-General with instructions to dispatch it, in the name of the Conference to Admiral Koltchak.
Note. The Marquis Saionji, when appending his signature, particularly asked that the letter should not be published until a reply was received. Sir Maurice Hankey made a communication in this sense to the Secretary-General.)
4. The general clauses, namely, Articles 47 to 50 of the military, naval and air clauses for inclusion in the Austrian Treaty, which had previously been initialled by the other three Heads of Governments, were initialled by M. Orlando, withdrew his previous objections. General Clauses of the Military, Naval & Air Terms With Austria
(Sir Maurice Hankey was instructed to forward them to the Secretary-General, for the information of the Drafting Committee.)
5. The letter from the Austrian Delegation at St. Germain contained in Appendix IV was read.
Mr. Lloyd George said he thought a different procedure ought to be adopted with Austria from that adopted with Germany. The two cases were not really comparable. The Austro-Hungarian Empire had broken up, one half was friendly, and the other half, consisting of Austria and Hungary, he believed at any rate was not unfriendly. They were not in the same category as Prussia. Consequently, would it not be worth while, he asked, to give a different reply to what had been given to Germany? In his view, the question of compensation and the question of the military terms could not be ready for some time, perhaps 9 or 10 days. But a good many parts of the Treaty were ready, for example, the boundaries with Austria and with Hungary. Letter From Austrian Delegation
President Wilson said that the southern boundary of Austria was not yet ready.
Mr. Lloyd George said it could be settled in a very short time. Ports, Waterways and Railways were ready, as were the Economic [Page 27] Clauses. He suggested that these should be handed to the Austrians, but that the question of reparation and the military clauses should be reserved and that the experts of the Allied and Associated Powers should be asked to meet the Austrian experts in regard to these. He did not mean that the Council of Four itself should meet the Austrians, but that our experts should meet their experts in regard to compensation and the military terms, which they should discuss with them on general lines.
M. Clemenceau said that the experts would require very precise instructions.
President Wilson said that we knew exactly what the experts thought on the subject. He then read a weekly list of outstanding subjects which had been prepared by Sir Maurice Hankey. He noted Sir Maurice Hankey’s statement that no communication had been made to the Drafting Committee about the boundaries between Italy and Austria.
Mr. Lloyd George suggested that these should be settled today.
President Wilson said that, according to his recollection, there had been a general understanding that Austria should be treated somewhat differently from Germany. Consequently, he agreed with Mr. Lloyd George’s proposal to get the experts together.
M. Orlando asked if it would not be possible to have these questions roughly settled. He thought the outstanding questions could be arranged in 2 or 3 days, and then the negotiations could start. The difference of treatment to the Austrian Delegation would not be well understood in Italy, where Austria had always been regarded as the principal enemy. The Austro-Hungarian Empire had dissolved and the different States forming out of it were regarded with mixed feelings by Italy, some friendly and some otherwise. Austria, however, was regarded as the principal enemy. To adopt a different procedure would create a very painful impression in Italy. It would be felt there that the Italian contest with Austria was not taken very seriously. He agreed that in very rapid decision was necessary, but he did not see why one or two questions should not be left in suspense while proposals as to the remainder of the Peace Treaty were handed to the Austrians. To adopt a totally different procedure would create a very bad impression in Italy without any useful result. [If] In 3 or 4 days, a sufficient portion of the Treaty could be assembled and handed to the Austrians, so as not to give an impression of a piecemeal presentation, he would not object.
Mr. Lloyd George said that Italy must really understand the fact that the peace of Austria was entirely different from that of Germany. Supposing Bavaria and Saxony had broken off from Prussia before the war came to an end and had perhaps even fought against Prussia, it would have been impossible for the Allies to take the line [Page 28] they had. For one thing, there would have been no representatives of the German Empire to meet. Consequently, a different line must be pursued and he could not see why Italy should not agree to a different procedure. He doubted if either the question of the military terms or the compensation could be settled in 3 or 4 days. If so, the settlement would be a bad one.
M. Clemenceau said that he was ready to make every effort to meet M. Orlando, because he had learned from experience that, when the Allies were not in agreement with Italy, the immediate result was anti-French and sometimes even pro-German demonstrations in Italy that were extraordinarily disagreeable. He wanted, above all things, to avoid any differences with Italy. When, however, M. Orlando suggested that it had been agreed to adopt the same procedure for Austria as that for Germany, this was not the fact. M. Orlando had not been present when the decision had been taken, for reasons over which his colleagues had no control. It was in his absence that the new procedure had been agreed on. All he sought was a reasonable agreement in a reasonable way. The Austrian Peace was very different from, and, in many respects, much harder to arrive at, than the German, for the reason that the country had fallen to pieces, raising all sorts of questions of boundaries and there were conflicts arising on the Polish front and elsewhere in the late Austro-Hungarian Empire. In Istria, he learned that trenches and barbed wire were being put up by both sides. President Wilson had come to Europe with a programme of peace for all men. His ideal was a very high one, but it involved great difficulties, owing to these century old hatreds between some races. We had in Central Europe to give each what was his due not only between them, but even between ourselves. For example, to take the question of disarmaments. M. Orlando had been good enough to visit him on the previous day to discuss the question of Dalmatia; but the Yugo-Slavs would not agree to disarm themselves while Italy adopted her present attitude. He, himself, was not in a position to oppose Italy in this matter, because France had put her signature to the Treaty of 1915,3 but it was not a question that could be decided in two or three days. Referring again to M. Orlando’s visit, he said the principal subject for discussion had been the anti-French manifestations in Italy. M. Orlando said that there was an improvement, but since then he had received two despatches from M. Barrère,4 which indicated the situation to be worse. There was a pronounced pro-German propaganda in Italy, where [Page 29] enormous sums were being expended by Germany. All this ought to be stopped and there was only one way to stop it. It was necessary to have the courage to tackle and solve the most difficult questions as soon as possible. It was not at all easy to do so and could only be done if M. Orlando would take the standpoint that he must preserve the Entente with his Allies. He recalled that, in the previous weeks, he had a serious disagreement with Mr. Lloyd George on the question of Syria when both had spoken very frankly. Nevertheless, both had concluded by saying that they would not allow their differences to upset the Entente. The same was not said in certain quarters in Italy. Hence, he maintained that these questions could not be settled in three days. Consequently, it was impossible to meet the Austrians with a complete Treaty as had been done in the case of the Germans. If M. Orlando would agree, he thought a start might be made by getting discussions between the experts, which would gain time. It was very hard to settle all these extraordinarily difficult questions rapidly. President Wilson adhered to his principles as applicable to the Austrian Treaty. France and Great Britain admitted the principles, but also did not deny that they were bound by their signature of the Treaty of 1915. If M. Orlando wanted a settlement, he must discuss it with the supreme desire to maintain the Entente and meanwhile a plan must be found to keep the Austrian Delegation quiet. We should tell them that the Treaty was not ready, but that it would be useful to have certain discussions with their experts. He did not want to embarrass M. Orlando in Italy and if this would be the result, he would withdraw every word he had said, but he was very anxious that the Austrian Delegates should not return to Vienna.
M. Orlando thanked M. Clemenceau most sincerely for what he had said, which was absolutely frank and clear. He did not wish to refer in detail to the troubles in Italy. The impressions he had received from Italy differed from M. Barrère’s reports, which, according to his own account, were exaggerated. Nevertheless, he did not deny that the situation in Italy was extraordinarily grave. It could be excused and justified if it was recalled how Mr. Lloyd George before his visit to London had informed his colleagues that if he had to return to England without being able to show a considerable step towards peace, the position would be very serious. It was exactly the same now in regard to Italy. The trouble there arose from uncertainty. Once the Italian claims were settled, it would be found that Italy was as sincerely loyal to the cause of the Entente as before. He was absolutely sure that the present disquieting phenomena in Italy were due to anxiety and uncertainty. Like M. Clemenceau, he, himself, had decided to remain always with the Entente and to run all the personal risks involved. He felt he [Page 30] could not be accused of adopting too uncompromising a spirit. He had always made every effort to reach an agreement, including the recent conversations with Colonel House and Mr. Miller,5 where he had discussed proposals involving very grievous renunciations by Italy. He thanked M. Clemenceau for his courageous words in favour of tackling the main problems, difficult and complex as they were. But, having regard to the excitement of public opinion, he asked why this should be still further excited by questions of procedure. In the present exciting state of affairs and in view of the exasperation in Italy, if questions of procedure were added, an irritation would be caused which would produce an effect contrary to what was desired. This was his only reason for anxiety.
President Wilson asked whether M. Orlando in his remarks had not really suggested the way out. He had suggested to say to the Austrians that by Wednesday or Thursday all matters would be laid before them which could be settled directly, but that some questions that could not be settled directly would be reserved.
M. Orlando said that President Wilson had correctly interpreted his views and he would accept his suggestions.
Mr. Lloyd George said it only remained to divide the Treaty of Peace into two categories.
President Wilson said he had assumed that the only reserved questions would be the military terms and reparation.
Sir Maurice Hankey said that Mr. Headlam-Morley had come to him that morning and had told him that the Economic Clauses were based on the assumption that Austria was to be a continuation of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire, but that the Financial Clauses were drawn on the assumption that Austria was a new state. He had urged that the whole Treaty of Peace wanted examination from this point of view.
Mr. Lloyd George questioned whether Mr. Headlam-Morley’s description of the Economic Clauses was correct.
(It was agreed:—
That the Treaty of Peace should be handed to the Austrians in the course of the present week, but that the military terms and reparation clauses should be reserved for discussion with Austrian experts.
Sir Maurice Hankey was instructed to draft a reply to the Austrian Delegation to give effect to this decision.)
6. President Wilson drew attention to a copy of a letter he had [Page 31] received, which had been addressed by the Secretary-General to Mr. Barnes in regard to the participation of Germany in the new Organisation contemplated for Labour. From this letter he read the following extract:— Labour Organisstion. Admission of German Representatives
“Consequently, I would be grateful to you for informing the Washington Conference that Germany will be admitted after the closing of the Conference, and under conditions expressed in the letter of May 15th of the Labour Commission.”5a
This letter, President Wilson pointed out, did not carry out the decision of the Council, which had merely consisted in a recommendation to the Labour Conference at Washington that Germany should be admitted, but had left the final decision to the Conference.
(Sir Maurice Hankey was instructed to call the attention of the Secretary-General to this error.)
7. A letter was read from Marshal Foch somewhat in the Allowing sense:— Action in the Eyent of the Germans Refusing To Sign
At the Meeting of the 19th inst. the Council communicated to the Marshal a decision that after May 27th the Army under his command should be ready to advance, in the event of the German reply calling for immediate action. He was instructed to make his dispositions so that the advance might be in the best possible conditions. This implied the following:—
- Administrative measures to ensure that the effectives were completed, by bringing back personnel on leave.
- Tactical movements; that is to say, concentration of all the necessary forces.
- Not to keep the troops waiting too long in expectation of movements; that is to say, it was desirable to take the last measures as late as possible, and not more than three days before they should be executed.
He recalled that he had been instructed to delay until May 30 the final measures so far as the French Army was concerned. Tactical measures, however, must begin on May 27th, hence it was necessary that he should receive orders before 4 p.m. today, so that he could either give a counter order or confirm his previous orders. Consequently, he asked to have May 30th confirmed as the date on which he was to resume his march, or otherwise.
President Wilson suggested the reply should be that three days’ notice would be given to Marshal Foch as soon as the Council knew if action was necessary.
Mr. Lloyd George and M. Clemenceau agreed.
(M. Clemenceau undertook to instruct Marshal Foch accordingly.)[Page 32]
8. M. Clemenceau said he had received a letter from Dr. Benes, who wanted to be heard on the Military and Financial questions. Austrian Treaty; Military and Financial Questions. Application From Dr. Benes To Be Heard
(It was agreed that Dr. Benes should be heard, and Sir Maurice Hankey was instructed to draft a reply.)
9. M. Clemenceau handed Sir Maurice Hankey a Note prepared for the Council of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers by the Council of Foreign Ministers, dealing with Boundaries in the Banat. Boundaries of the Banat
(Sir Maurice Hankey was instructed to translate and circulate the Note.)
10. M. Clemenceau handed Sir Maurice Hankey a letter received from the Marquis Saionji, asking that in ordinary circumstances Japanese Request Japan might be represented on the Council of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers. Japanese Request To Be Represented on the Council of Four
(Sir Maurice Hankey was instructed to draft a polite reply to the effect that Japan would be invited whenever questions particularly affecting her were under consideration.)
11. M. Clemenceau read a Note from the Secretary-General, suggesting that the letter forwarded by the German Delegation on May 17th5b concerning provisions contained in Article 438 of the Conditions of Peace (Religious Missions) should be referred to the Committee appointed to deal with political questions outside Europe, composed of Messrs. Beer (America), Macleay (British Empire), de Peretti (France), della Torretta (Italy), Chinda (Japan). German Letter in Regard to Religious Missions
(This proposal was approved, and Sir Maurice Hankey was instructed to notify the Secretary-General accordingly.)
12. A letter from the German Delegation, dated May 24th, on the subject of responsibility for the consequences of the war and reparation, was read. (Appendix V). Letter From the German Delegation on the Subject of Responsibility and Reparation
(It was agreed that the letter should be sent to the Commission dealing with Reparations in the Austrian Treaty, which should be asked to advise the Council of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers as to the nature of the reply to be sent.)
Villa Majestic, Paris, May 26, 1919.[Page 33] [Page 37]
- Ante, pp. 4–5.↩
- Ante, p. 15.↩
- Great Britain, Cmd. 671, Misc. No. 7 (1920): Agreement Between France, Russia, Great Britain and Italy, Signed at London, April 26, 1915; a translation from the Izvestia which was transmitted to the Department by the Ambassador in Russia on December 5, 1917, is printed in Foreign Relations, 1917, supp. 2, vol. i, p. 497.↩
- Camille Barrère, French Ambassador in Italy.↩
- David Hunter Miller, technical adviser on international law to the American Commission to Negotiate Peace.↩
- Appendix III to CF–16, vol. v, p. 684.↩
- Post, p. 779.↩
- Translation from the French supplied by the editors.↩
- Appendix II (B) to CF–20, vol. v, p. 742.↩
- Foreign Relations, 1918, supp. 1, vol. i, p. 468.↩
- Message to Congress, January 8, 1918, ibid., p. 12.↩
- The passage quoted is actually from the address of Lloyd George before the Trade Union Conference at London, January 5, 1918. For text, see ibid., p. 4.↩
- See note from the German Imperial Chancellor to President Wilson, Foreign Relations, 1918, supp. 1, vol. i, p. 338.↩
- Address to Congress, ibid., 1917, p. ix.↩
- Treaty of peace between France and Germany, May 10, 1871, British and Foreign State Papers, vol. lxii, p. 77.↩
- Treaty of peace between Russia and the Central Powers, March 3, 1918, Foreign Relations, 1918, Russia, vol. i, p. 442.↩