Paris Peace Conf. 180.03401/58
Notes of a Meeting of the Council of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers Held at President Wilson’s House in the Place des Etats-Unis, Paris, on Wednesday, June 11, 1919, at 4 p.m.
- United States of America
- President Wilson.
- British Empire
- The Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd George, M. P.
- M. Clemenceau.
- M. Orlando.
- United States of America
|Sir Maurice Hankey, K. C. B.||}||Secretaries.|
|Prof. P. J, Mantoux.—Interpreter.|
[1.] The Council had before them a re-draft of the proposed reply incorporating the alterations agreed to at the morning’s meeting. (Appendix I.)1
Mr. Lloyd George read the following paragraph proposed by Sir Hubert Llewellyn Smith as an alternative to the second paragraph on page 6.—1a Reparation: The Reply to the German Note (WCP–950 revise)
“The resumption of German industry is of interest to the Allied and Associated Powers as well as of interest to Germany. They fully recognise this fact, and they have no intention whatever of pursuing any policy based on the withholding from Germany of the commercial intercourse without which the resumption of her industries cannot take place. Subject to the paramount necessity of safeguarding their essential economic interests and of ensuring the revival of their own industrial life, which has so grievously suffered during the war, the Allied and Associated Powers have no desire or intention to put hindrances in the way of German trade or to close to Germany any markets or sources of supply”.
Continuing, he said that Sir Hubert Llewellyn Smith had reported to him that the present Draft was capable of being construed to mean what was not intended, and he considered it very dangerous.
President Wilson pointed out that Sir Hubert Llewellyn Smith’s redraft was a mere negation.[Page 302]
Mr. Lloyd George said that his point was that every country without exception had arrears to make up.
President Wilson suggested that Sir Hubert Llewellyn Smith had probably not seen the latest draft.
Mr. Lloyd George undertook to show him the latest draft and ask his view.
Sir Maurice Hankey said that Lord Sumner had objected to the words “the commercial facilities” in the paragraph under discussion. He had pointed out that the Germans might insist that this gave them the right to send commercial travellers and open accounts etc. Lord Sumner had less objection, however, if the word “the” was omitted, but he himself had not felt justified in making this alteration without the approval of the Council.
President Wilson pointed out that if Peace were signed, it would be impossible to keep out commercial travellers, although they might not find a welcome and might prefer to stay away.
Mr. Lloyd George said he was under the impression that both Great Britain and the United States had legislated rather stiffly against Aliens during the next few years. At M. Clemenceau’s request he re-read the paragraph.
It was generally agreed that the position was sufficiently safeguarded by the existing phraseology and particularly by the words “subject to conditions and within limits which cannot be laid down in advance and subject also to the necessity for having due regard to the special economic situation created for Allied and Associated countries by German aggression and the war”.
At a later stage of the meeting President Wilson suggested the addition at the beginning of this paragraph of a phrase indicating the need of the German people for food supplies.
This was accepted and it was also agreed to omit the word “the” before “commercial facilities”.
The final text of this paragraph therefore was agreed to in the following terms:—
“The Powers will, however, make a declaration on another point as follows:—the resumption of German industry involves access by the German people to food supplies and by the German Manufacturers to the necessary raw materials and provisions for their transport to Germany from overseas. The resumption of German industry is an interest of the Allied and Associated Powers as well as an interest of Germany. They are fully alive to this fact and therefore declare that they will not withhold from Germany commercial facilities without which this resumption cannot take place, but that subject to conditions and within limits which cannot be laid down in advance, and subject also to the necessity for having due regard to the special economic situation created for Allied and Associated countries by German aggression and the war, they are prepared to offer to Germany facilities in these directions for the common good”.
2. President Wilson then brought forward some further verbal criticisms by the United States Delegation, and the following alteration in addition to the one mentioned above, was accepted. Page 4, paragraph 22—omit the words “in writing” after “arguments”.
3. M. Clemenceau said that he himself was opposed to the idea of a Plebiscite, but to meet his colleagues he had accepted it. Upper Silesia: The Question of a Plebiscite
President Wilson said that he also did not think in principle that a Plebiscite was necessary. No. 13 of the 14 points was quite explicit on the point. There might be a part of the area in which a Plebiscite ought to be considered and this was why he had been willing to agree to the Plebiscite. There were, however, two distinct sides to the question, and only that afternoon Mr. White of the American Delegation had called at his house and left him a message to the effect that he had evidence that the German Roman Catholic priests were exercising the strongest influence in that region against the Poles.
Mr. Lloyd George said that the Poles, like the Irish, were specially good at propaganda. The Allies were only hearing one side of the case. Wherever Mr. White had obtained his information he was sure he had not heard the German side. When he had talked to the Poles about the Jews they had given the impression that they were treating them like angels of light although it was notorious how they really treated them. He had no wish to act on one-sided information. At present we only had the information of violent partisans. If the Germans should break off negotiations on this point he would not feel justified in ordering British soldiers to fight simply because a Plebiscite had been refused, and he would have to say so. He did not believe the troops of other nations would fight either in such circumstances.
M. Clemenceau said that was one of the reasons which had induced him to assent to the Plebiscite.
President Wilson said that Mr. White obtained his information from American citizens who had been in Upper Silesia before and during the war. As a matter of fact the Germans were far more subtle propagandists than the Poles. No one could induce him to believe that the Poles who were in no political position would be better propagandists in Upper Silesia than the Germans, who were. As against the Germans he was pro Pole with all his heart.
Mr. Lloyd George said he was apprehensive of the troops not being willing to advance simply because a Plebiscite had not been taken.
President Wilson pointed out that the reply to the Germans on reparation had been whittled down so that all sacrifice by the Allies [Page 304]had been abandoned. Now it was proposed to place the sacrifice on the Poles.
Mr. Lloyd George said he could not admit either of these statements. The only point in regard to Upper Silesia was that he did not wish to put a population under the Poles against their will. He could not forget that up to the last moment of the war the Poles had been fighting against us. Were we, he asked, to sacrifice our soldiers in order to force under Polish sovereignty peoples who did not desire it without even ascertaining their desires? He was convinced that all the trouble with Germany would relate to the Eastern front. He did not want to belittle any particular nation, but for the moment there was no doubt that the Germans had a higher civilization than the Poles. As a matter of fact they rather despised the Poles. To force a race of that kind against their will under a race that they regarded as inferior was not to promote peace. He was afraid of prolonging the war for unjustifiable reasons. If we said to the Germans “You must clear out to make way for the Poles” he was convinced they would refuse. If, however, we said “Clear out because we want to hold a Plebiscite” he did not believe they would refuse.
President Wilson pointed out that the Commission were unanimous in their belief that Allied troops would have to be put into Poland during the period preceding the Plebiscite. The serious aspect of this was that the Germans would say “your troops would bias the Plebiscite”.
Mr. Lloyd George said there was a great difference between Polish or German troops and Allied troops.
M. Clemenceau said that there were 350,000 Germans at present in Upper Silesia. They were concentrating there even from Dantzig. Probably this was not for the purpose of fighting, but in order to show that they had no intention of evacuating.
President Wilson asked if Mr. Lloyd George thought British troops would fight for a Plebiscite.
Mr. Lloyd George thought they would.
M, Clemenceau, in reply to Mr. Lloyd George, said that French troops would not fight to drive the Germans out of Upper Silesia when they demanded a plebiscite, but the question would never be posed in that way. Either the Germans would sign, or they would not sign, and there would be other considerations besides Upper Silesia.
President Wilson thought that if American soldiers were told that Germany had refused the decision of the Conference, they would march.
Mr. Lloyd George implored his colleagues not to put themselves in a situation where they might have trouble with their troops. As [Page 305]an indication of opinion in Great Britain he mentioned that even the Northcliffe press, which was attacking him personally, and for that reason exaggerated the proposals that he was alleged to have made, said that a Plebiscite for Upper Silesia was right.
(At this point there was an adjournment upstairs to meet the Experts of the Polish Commission.)