Paris Peace Conf. 180.03401/53

CF–53

Notes of a Meeting Held at President Wilson’s House in the Place des Etats-Unis, Paris, on Monday, June 9, 1919, at 11 a.m.

  • Present
    • America, United States of
      • President Wilson.
    • British Empire
      • The Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd George, O. M., M. P.
    • Secretary-General
      • Sir Maurice Hankey, K. C. B.
    • France
      • M. Clemenceau.
    • Italy
      • H. E. M. Orlando.
      • M. S. Crespi.
    • Secretary-General
      • Count Aldrovandi.
  • Also Present
    • America, United States of
      • General Tasker H. Bliss.
    • British Empire
      • General Sir H. H. Wilson, G. C. B.
      • Major-Gen. The Hon. C. J. Sackville-West, C. M. G.
      • Brig.-Gen. H. W. Studd, C. B., C. M. G., D. S. O.
    • France
      • General Belin.
      • Comdt. Lacombe.
    • Italy
      • General U. Cavallero.
      • Major G. Raggiu.
Joint Secretariat
British Empire Major A. M. Caccia, C. B., M. V. O.
France M. Fould.
Prof. P. J. Mantoux—Interpreter.

M. Clemenceau announced that a reply had been received from Buda Pesth, acknowledging receipt of the telegram which had been despatched on 7th June, 1919, in regard to the Hungarians’ attack against the Czecho-Slovaks (W. C. P. 940).1 Situation in Czecho-Slovakia Arising From the Advance of the Hungarian Red Army

President Wilson said that the military representatives had been summoned by the Council of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers in order to discuss the question of the military measures to be taken with regard to Hungary, in accordance with the proposals contained in a joint note No. 43, submitted by the Military Representatives, Versailles (M. 241).2

He, (President Wilson), had heard contrary statements in regard to the Hungarian advance into Czecho-Slovakia. He would, therefore, like to hear from one of the Military Experts what were the [Page 255]actual facts of the case and he would ask General Wilson to give a short summary of the present military situation.

General Wilson stated that the first move forward had been made by the Czecho-Slovaks, who had overstepped the boundary. This act had raised a strong national spirit in Hungary, with the result that the Hungarians had attacked the Czecho-Slovaks, and the chances now were that the Hungarians would beat the Czecho-Slovaks.

President Wilson enquired whether the Hungarians were making a very vigorous attack against the Czecho-Slovaks.

General Wilson replied that the information available was not sufficient to enable him to give a definite reply to that question.

Mr. Lloyd George said that he had received very important information supplied by a British subject who had just returned from Buda Pesth. This witness had stated that the whole blame lay with the Roumanians. At the time of the Armistice the General Commanding in Chief the Armies of the East, General Franchet d’Esperey, had fixed a boundary line between Roumania and Hungary. That boundary line had been crossed by the Roumanians in defiance of General Franchet d’Esperey’s orders, who had then proceeded to fix a second boundary line considerably in advance of the first. Now, the second boundary line had also been crossed by the Roumanians. At that time, Bela Kun was done for, and the people outside the capital were determined to get rid of him. But the moment the Roumanians began their last advance into Hungary, many of the aristocratic officers of the old Hungarian Army had rushed to Bela Kun to be enrolled to fight against the Roumanians to stem the invasion, with the result that at the present moment a strong national movement for the defence of the country had been started in Hungary. At the same time, the Czecho-Slovaks had also advanced with the object of occupying the only coal-bearing area remaining within the boundaries of the new State of Hungary. The result had been a national Hungarian rising against the Czecho-Slovaks.

It would be seen, therefore, that the fault lay entirely with the Roumanians who had been the first to invade the new State of Hungary; and the attack of the Roumanians had been followed by the advance of the Czecho-Slovaks in the direction of the coal basin of Pecs.

The statement made by his informant, who had come straight from Buda Pesth, fully bore out what General Bliss had stated in the Memorandum attached to the joint note submitted by the Military Representatives, Versailles.

M. Clemenceau pointed out that no reply had yet been given by the Military Representatives to President Wilson’s question in regard to the military situation in those regions.

[Page 256]

Mr. Lloyd George said that he had received the following two telegrams which would answer M. Clemenceau’s question:—

The first telegram was dated Prague 5th June, 1919, and had been received in Paris on 8th June. It stated that General Pellé had, at President Masaryk’s request been appointed Commander in Chief of the Czecho-Slovak army and that martial law had been proclaimed at Pressburg.

The second telegram dated Prague 7th June, 1919, stated that Wobsi (?) had been captured by the Magyars and that the situation was extremely grave. The Czecno-Slovak troops were quite dispirited and a great shortage of munitions existed. Pressburg was threatened, where the only powder factory of Czecho-Slovakia was situated.

Mr. Lloyd George, continuing, said that his informant had also stated that the Slovaks had become Bolshevik and that the whole of Czecho-Slovakia had almost become Bolshevik.

(General Cavallero pointed out on a map the boundaries of Hungary, the Hungarian territory occupied by the Roumanians and the territory at present occupied by the Hungarians in Czecho-Slovakia.)

General Belin explained that in their advance into Czecho-Slovakia, the Hungarians had driven a wedge between the left wing of the Czecho-Slovak army and the right wing of the Roumanian army, so that continuity between the two armies had been broken. As a result, a road had been laid open for a possible advance of the Hungarians on Pressburg, the most important Czecho-Slovak centre.

Mr. Lloyd George asked for information in regard to the invasion of Hungary by the Roumanians.

General Belin replied that the Roumanians had stopped their advance on the line of demarcation which had been laid down by General Franchet d’Esperey after the Armistice line had been passed.

Mr. Lloyd George emphasised the fact that the Roumanians had advanced well into Hungary beyond the first Armistice line.

President Wilson agreed that the Roumanians had, in consequence, occupied a not insignificant part of Hungarian territory.

Mr. Lloyd George, continuing, said that in addition the Czechs had also invaded Hungary and were advancing on the coal mines of Pecs. In his opinion, it was evident that the Roumanians and the Czechoslovaks were wholly to blame for what had occurred and in considering this matter, it was the duty of the Council to be fair, even to their enemies.

President Wilson agreed. He added that under the circumstances it was sometimes very difficult to be fair to their friends. He suggested that the military advisers should withdraw and that the question should be further considered by the Council of Four in private.

Mr. Lloyd George enquired whether the Council was in possession of [Page 257]all the requisite information in regard to the supply of munitions and other war material to Roumania and Czecho-Slovakia.

General Cavallero reported that General Segre, the chief of the Armistice Commission at Vienna, had been asked to dispatch to the Czecho-Slovak army war material to be taken from the stocks and supplies of the old Austro-Hungarian army. General Segre had willingly agreed to this proposal and the military representatives in the Joint Note they submitted to the Supreme War Council, had recommended that the Italian Armistice Commission at Vienna should be charged with the carrying out of the work in question.

Mr. Lloyd George enquired what supplies were now being given by the Allied and Associated Governments to the Roumanian armies. He pointed out that Roumania had defied the Allied Commander in Chief, General Franchet d’Esperey, and twice the Roumanians had refused to obey his orders. This clearly proved that the Paris writ was not running. Orders were sent by the Supreme Council to the Roumanians, who merely snapped their fingers at them. Consequently, in his opinion, it would be necessary to stop the dispatch of all further supplies until a complete understanding was reached. He understood that a great deal of material was supplied by Great Britain and that would now be stopped, and he suggested that France should do the same. The whole of the trouble in Central Europe arose from the fact that their friends refused to obey the orders issued by the Supreme Council. He thought it would be necessary to take strong measures with their friends. In this case, all the trouble had arisen because Roumania had advanced in defiance of the orders given. Consequently, all supplies to Roumania should be stopped until a complete understanding had been reached as to what ought to be done.

President Wilson expressed the view that the Roumanians should be made to retire to the original Armistice line. He enquired whether they had advanced since General Smuts’ visit.

Mr. Lloyd George replied in the affirmative.

M. Clemenceau said that the Roumanians had stopped their advance, as a result of the last instructions issued by the Supreme Council.

Mr. Lloyd George thought it would be more correct to say that they had been stopped by the Hungarian forces.

M. Clemenceau pointed out that their military experts, in Joint Note No. 43, had recommended that the Roumanians should advance.

General Sackville-West explained that this recommendation was merely based on the terms of reference to the Military Representatives which were as follows:—

“The Supreme Council of the Principal Allied and Associated [Page 258]Powers has charged the Military Representatives of the Supreme War Council at Versailles to examine the military action to be taken by the Allied armies to put an end to Hungarian attacks against Czecho-Slovakia.”

General Cavallero asked permission to read the following telegram, giving the information received by the Italian General Headquarters:—

“As a result of the advance of the Roumanian Army, which, on the 25th. April, was about to reach …3 and to proceed in a northwesterly direction towards the Theiss, the Czecho-Slovak Minister of Defence on 27th April ordered the Czecho-Slovak troops to cross the present line of demarcation in order to occupy the whole of the territory which had been evacuated by the Hungarian troops in front of the Czechs. The Hungarian troops had been withdrawn from this territory in order to resist the further advance of the Roumanians. The Czecho-Slovak advance was made by General Hennocque’s4 troops.”

M. Clemenceau enquired why the Hungarians had evacuated the territory facing the Czecho-Slovaks.

General Cavallero replied that the Hungarians had been compelled to withdraw their troops in order to stop the Roumanian advance. The Czecho-Slovaks in their advance had threatened the whole of the region lying to the south of the mineral bearing mountains, where the only remaining coal mines in the new State of Hungary were to be found.

M. Clemenceau enquired whether M. Bratiano, Dr. Benes and Dr. Kramarcz should not be summoned before any decision was taken.

President Wilson thought that this would not be necessary. He, personally, thought it would be dangerous to play with ammunition dumps.

Mr. Lloyd George agreed. In his opinion, it was imperative that measures should be taken to enforce the orders issued by the Supreme Council. In the past, the small Balkan States had defied every order issued from Paris and, having got themselves into trouble, invariably appealed to Paris to extricate them from their difficulties. He agreed with President Wilson that the question should be settled by the Council of Four without consulting the small Powers concerned.

(It was agreed that the question should be further discussed by the Council of Four.)

(The Meeting then adjourned.)

  1. Appendix I to CF–52, p. 246.
  2. This document does not accompany the minutes.
  3. Omission in file copy of the minutes.
  4. Of the French Army; in command of the Czechoslovak troops in Slovakia.