Paris Peace Conf. 180.03401/61

CF–61

Notes of a Meeting Held at President Wilson’s House in the Place des Etats-Unis, Paris, on Thursday, June 12, 1919, at 11 a.m.

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

1. The attached instructions to the Drafting Committee (Appendix Eastern I) were approved and initialled by the four Heads of States. Eastern Frontiers of Germany: Instructions to Drafting Committee

It was also agreed that the plebiscite should be held under the auspices of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers and not under the League of Nations.

Sir Maurice Hankey was instructed to notify this decision to the Secretary-General for the Drafting Committee.)

2. (It was agreed to discuss this question in the situation afternoon, when a further report would be available from the Foreign Ministers.) Military Situation in Hungary

3. The Council had before them a draft,1 prepared by Mr. Philip Kerr and submitted by Mr. Lloyd George, of a reply to Herr Brockdorff-Rantzau’s letter covering the German counter proposals.

In the course of the discussion a number of alterations were made in the draft. The great majority of these were purely drafting and verbal alterations. The following alone raised questions of principle:— Rejoinder to the German Counter proposals.

The Saar Valley.

M. Clemenceau produced a fresh draft, as he wished to avoid raising again the question of the boundaries of 1814. This had already [Page 325]been the cause of some agitation in France and he did not wish to include anything which would raise it again.

(M. Clemenceau’s draft was accepted.)

Memel.

Mr. Lloyd George pointed out that this paragraph had been left blank, because the point had not yet been decided and he had not been able to give Mr. Kerr any instructions.

Baltic Provinces.

An addition proposed by Mr. Kerr, calling attention to the high handed German action in the Baltic Provinces, was not accepted as it was not considered relevant.

Reparation.

Under this heading, it was pointed out that the draft as originally worded contained an admission that the Allied and Associated Powers were not claiming the utmost to which they were entitled.

Mr. Lloyd George and M. Clemenceau both thought that this would raise political difficulties in their respective countries.

President Wilson pointed out, however, that the object of the letter was rather to show the Germans the intentions of the Allied and Associated Powers than for home consumption.

(It was agreed to substitute some such phrase as the following:—

“They confined the payments payable by Germany to certain specific categories clearly justified by the terms of the Armistice.”)

Another sentence added under the heading, Reparation, was the following:—

“and to make proposals thereafter within four months of the signing of the Treaty for a settlement of the claims under each of the categories.”

League of Nations.

(The following draft, based on a proposal made to Mr. Lloyd George by Mr. Bonar Law, was approved as an addition:—

“The German revolution was postponed until the last moments of the war, and there is as yet no guarantee that it represents a permanent and fundamental change.”)

President Wilson only consented to the use of the word “fundamental” under pressure, as he considered that, strictly speaking, it did not convey what it was meant to say. He preferred some such term as “more than formal.” Under strong pressure from Mr. Lloyd George and M. Clemenceau, however, he gave his assent.

Last page of the Memorandum.

(It was agreed that the period allowed to the Germans within which to give their final answer should be five instead of seven days.

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M. Clemenceau explained that five days was all that the Germans desired.

A copy of the letter, as finally approved, will be found in Appendix II.)

4. Baron Makino said he was willing to have the despatch of the Allied and Associated Powers2 published, together with Admiral Koltchak’s reply.3 He suggested, however, that Admiral some indication should be given to the press that Admiral Koltchak’s reply was considered satisfactory. Russia: Admiral Koltchak’s Reply

Mr. Lloyd George suggested that a reply in this sense should be sent to Admiral Koltchak, which could be published.

(Mr. Philip Kerr was instructed to draft a reply, but no final decision was taken as to publication.)

5. There was a short discussion in regard to a second document, prepared by Mr. Philip Kerr and presented by Mr. Lloyd George, dealing with the Responsibility of Germany for the War and the Legal Basis of the Peace Negotiations.4 This document, like Mr. Kerr’s previous document, had been circulated by Mr. Lloyd George on the previous day. Responsibility of Germany for the War, and the Legal Basis of the Peace Negations

M. Clemenceau said he would like to reserve this paper for the present. The Germans had issued a White Book, in which they accused the French of having violated the frontier very many times. He thought that this document should rebut the statements in the White Book. He liked the document well enough as a magazine article, but did not consider it so vigorous as the other. He thought the tendency would be for it to weaken the first document.

President Wilson said that he was well satisfied with the document so far as it went. He felt a little, however, that it might be unwise to go into the historical argument without making it more complete. The document had conveyed a slight feeling of inadequacy. It would not prove satisfactory to the future historian. If, however, it were only intended to reassure our own people that the Germans were not believed, this moderate statement was, perhaps, sufficient. He did not feel quite happy, however, about an argument that was incomplete.

M. Clemenceau said it could not be made complete unless it was expanded into a large volume. In France, at any rate, there was no necessity for such a document, as the facts were perfectly well understood.

Mr. Lloyd George said that the same was true in Great Britain, but he did not like to leave the German note without some reply.

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President Wilson suggested that, since all that was required was to let the Germans know that we denied their allegations, the document might be considered adequate. Moreover, perhaps something was to be said for it on the ground of its quietness. As a general traverse of the German argument, it was sufficient. He proposed that it should be accepted, subject to the possibility of change before being sent in.

Mr. Lloyd George supported this view. If the Germans declined to sign and an advance by the Army was necessary, it might be necessary to stir up public opinion again to a certain extent.

M. Clemenceau asked for it to be reserved for the present, while he obtained a translation of the German White Book. He asked Sir Maurice Hankey to put himself in communication with the Secretary-General on this matter.

6. The Council had before them the reply to the German proposals on the subject of the League of Nations proposed by Colonel House, Lord Robert Cecil, M. Leon Bourgeois and their associates. (Appendix III.) League of Nations: Draft Reply Proposed by the Commission

President Wilson read this document.

(It was agreed to substitute for the first paragraph a fresh paragraph proposed by President Wilson, adding at the end the following sentence:—

“Provided these necessary conditions are assured, they see no reason why Germany should not become a member of the League in the early future.”

The second and third paragraphs were approved without alteration.

The last paragraph was approved, except the last 5 lines, for which was substituted the following:—

“It goes without saying that the realisation of this programme will depend in large part on the satisfactory carrying out by Germany of its own engagements.”

A copy of the document as finally approved is contained in Appendix IV.)

7. The Committee had before them the Report of the Commission on the Left Bank of the Rhine.5 As, however, the English copy of the Report did not reach Mr. Lloyd George before the meeting, the Report was not discussed in detail. Occupation of the Left Bank of the Rhine

Mr. Lloyd George said he would like to raise the whole question both as to the period of occupation and the numbers of troops. The question of the régime to be adopted would follow from this. If the [Page 328]occupation was for a prolonged period, the conditions should be gentle. If for a short period, the conditions by Germany on France in 1871 would be very suitable. He would like to ask the Military Authorities the question as to whether they would prefer a short period with stringent conditions or a long period with weak conditions.

M. Clemenceau was unwilling to consult the military. He hoped that his colleagues would not ask him to make any change in the existing agreement.

President Wilson asked if M. Clemenceau would be willing to give an undertaking to reconsider the question within a short period.

M. Clemenceau said that among the Allies, he was willing to say that he would be prepared to reconsider it after the lapse of a certain time, provided the Germans gave satisfactory guarantees and assurances that they would carry out the Treaty. He was, however, not willing to say this to Germany.

Mr. Lloyd George said he would like to consider this proposal. His difficulty was to get the occupation clauses accepted by Parliament. They would say—”Why do you want both occupation and guarantee”. He was in a real difficulty here. To show how strong the feelings of his colleagues were, he read a memorandum by Mr. Barnes on the subject which he subsequently handed to M. Clemenceau (Appendix 5). He instructed Sir Maurice Hankey to check the statement which Mr. Barnes had attributed to Marshal Foch. He asked whether M. Clemenceau would allow him to make a statement to Parliament about the understanding between the Allies. This, of course, would be after the signature of Peace but would indicate to the Germans the intention.

M. Clemenceau, after leaving the room to consult Mr. Loucheur said that he and M. Loucheur had come to the conclusion that it was a question of drafting. Both he and M. Loucheur were of one mind that it would be impossible to concede to the Germans a reduction in the period of occupation. He was prepared, however, to do his best in the delicate matter of drafting a statement which could be used by Mr. Lloyd George in Parliament.

Mr. Lloyd George said that a prolonged occupation was not really necessary for the protection of France. It was insisted on mainly for political reasons. If the occupation was to be for a prolonged period it should be made as harmless as possible. He wished to utter a warning (and he intended to make a formal protest on the subject) that a prolonged occupation would be a great peril to France and a prolonged peril to the Peace of Europe.

M. Clemenceau said he could not accept that point of view. It was necessary that the German people should see a Foreign Army on German [Page 329]soil as a guarantee for the payment of the indemnity. He himself could remember the German occupation in 1871 and what a relief it had been when the Germans left. They had not moved a man until the last penny was paid. An occupation was necessary as a reminder to the Germans that they owed money which they should pay.

In regard to the French army, he felt sure that it would obey all orders while in the occupied territories and the French Government did not mean to interfere in any way with the people. While he could not accept and must altogether repudiate Mr. Lloyd George’s point of view, he was prepared to agree on his conclusions. He would go so far as to say that if the proposals of the Commission were approved by his Colleagues, he would accept them, though he himself, however, thought personally that a shorter formula might be devised. He was ready to examine the question with his Colleagues.

(The discussion on this subject was adjourned.)

8. President Wilson read the draft reply to the German Note prepared by the appropriate Commission on the subject of the territory of the Saar Basin (Appendix 6). The Note Note was approved, subject to the following alterations:— The Saar Valley. Reply to the German Note

6th paragraph, 10th line: for “law” put “order”.

Delete the following words:—

“By no means followed that it is an Arbitrary Government nor (as the German Note suggests) that it is the French Government which will be in power. The Commission …”

The sentence would then read as follows;—the words underlined6 being an addition:—

“It is true that the Governmental Commission to which belongs the Supreme Authority will not be directly responsible to a Parliamentary Assembly, but it will be responsible to the League of Nations and not to the French Government. The arrangement made will afford ample safeguards against any abuse of the Power entrusted to it; the Commission will besides etc.”

Add at the end of the Note, the following sentence:—

“The German Note constantly overlooks the fact that the whole arrangement is temporary, and that at the end of 15 years the inhabitants will have a full and free right to choose the sovereignty under which they are to live.”

A copy of the Note as finally approved is attached in Appendix 7.

Villa Majestic, Paris, 12 June, 1919.

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Appendix I to CF–61

eastern frontiers of germany

Instructions to the Drafting Committee

The Drafting Committee is instructed to revise the Treaty of Germany, in accordance with the attached copy of the Report of the Committee on the Eastern Frontiers of Germany dated June 10th, 1919,7 to the following extent:—

1.
By introducing the revised definition of the boundary of Germany with Poland in Appendix 1.
2.
By introducing in the Treaty of Peace Articles based on the draft in Appendix II relative to the carrying out of a plebiscite in Upper Silesia, the text being amended as in manuscript.
3.
By introducing an Article based on the Economic Clause on page 5.
4.
By introducing an Article based on the Financial Clause on page 5, which is to be made applicable to all territory transferred from German to Polish sovereignty.
  • W. W.
  • G. C.
  • D. LlG.
  • V. E. Or.

Appendix II to CF–61

M–256

Draft Letter

The Allied and Associated Powers have given the most earnest consideration to the observations of the German Delegation8 on the draft Treaty of Peace. The reply protests against the peace both on the ground that it conflicts with the terms upon which the Armistice of November 11th, 1918, was signed, and that it is a peace of violence and not of justice. The protest of the German Delegation shows that they utterly fail to understand the position in which Germany stands to-day. They seem to think that Germany has only to “make sacrifices in order to attain peace”, as if this were but the end of some mere struggle for territory and power. The Allied and Associated Powers therefore feel it necessary to begin their reply by a clear statement of the judgment of the war which has been formed by practically the whole of civilised mankind.

In the view of the Allied and Associated Powers the war which began on August 1st, 1914, was the greatest crime against humanity [Page 331]and the freedom of peoples that any nation, calling itself civilised, has ever consciously committed. For many years the rulers of Germany, true to the Prussian tradition, strove for a position of dominance in Europe. They were not satisfied with that growing prosperity and influence to which Germany was entitled, and which all other nations were willing to accord her, in the society of free and equal peoples. They required that they should be able to dictate and tyrannise to a subservient Europe, as they dictated and tyrannised over a subservient Germany. In order to attain their ends they used every channel with which to educate their own subjects in the doctrine that might was right in international affairs. They never ceased to expand German armaments by land and sea, and to propagate the falsehood that it was necessary because Germany’s neighbours were jealous of her prosperity and power. They sought to sow hostility and suspicion instead of friendship between nations. They even developed a system of espionage and intrigue which enabled them to stir up internal rebellion and unrest and even to make secret offensive preparations, within the territory of their neighbours whereby they might, when the moment came, strike them down with greater certainty and ease. They kept Europe in a ferment by threats of violence and when they found that their neighbours were resolved to resist their arrogant will, they determined to assist their predominance in Europe by force. As soon as their preparations were complete, they decided, in conjunction with a subservient colleague, to declare war at 48 hours’ notice over a matter which could not be localised and had long been a subject of European concern, knowing perfectly well that this almost certainly meant a general war. In order to make doubly sure, they refused every attempt at conciliation and conference until it was too late, and the world war was inevitable for which they had plotted, and for which alone among the nations they were adequately equipped and prepared.

Germany’s responsibility, however, is not confined to having planned and started the war. She is no less responsible for the savage and inhuman manner in which it was conducted. Though Germany was itself the guarantor of Belgium, the rulers of Germany violated, after a solemn promise to respect it, the neutrality of this unoffending people. Not content with this they deliberately carried out a series of promiscuous shootings and burnings with the sole object of terrifying the inhabitants into submission by the very Rightfulness of their action. Their conduct of the war was animated by exactly the same disregard for humanity or law. They were the first to use poisonous gas, notwithstanding the appalling suffering it entailed. They began the bombing and long distance shelling of towns for no military object, but solely for the purpose of reducing the morale of their opponents by striking at their women and children. They [Page 332]commenced the submarine campaign with its piratical challenge to international law, and its destruction of great numbers of innocent passengers and sailors, in mid ocean, far from succour, at the mercy of the winds and the waves, and the yet more ruthless submarine crews. They drove thousands of men and women and children with brutal savagery into slavery in foreign lands. They allowed barbarities to be practised against their prisoners of war from which the most uncivilised peoples would have recoiled. The conduct of Germany is almost unexampled in human history. The terrible responsibility which lies at her doors can be seen in the fact that not less than seven million dead lie buried in Europe, while more than twenty million others carry upon them the evidence of wounds and sufferings, because Germany saw fit to gratify her lust for tyranny by resort to war.

The Allied and Associated Powers believe that they will be false to those who have given their all to save the freedom of the world if they consent to treat this war on any other basis than as a crime against humanity and right.

This attitude of the Allied and Associated Powers was made perfectly clear to Germany during the war by their principal statesmen. It was defined by President Wilson in his speech of September 27th 1918,9 and explicitly and categorically accepted by the German people as a principle governing the peace:—

“If it be in truth,” he said, “the common object of the Governments associated against Germany and of the nations whom they govern, as I believe it to be, to achieve by the coming settlement a secure and lasting peace, it will be necessary that all who sit down at the peace table shall come ready and willing to pay the price, the only price, that will procure it, and ready and willing also to create in some virile fashion the only instrumentality by which it can be made certain that the agreement of the peace will be honoured and fulfilled. That price is impartial justice in every item of the settlement, no matter whose interest is crossed; and not only impartial justice, but also the satisfaction of the several peoples whose fortunes are dealt with.”

It was set forth clearly in a speech of the Prime Minister of Great Britain dated 14th December 1917:—10

“There is no security in any land without certainty of punishment. There is no protection for life, property or money in a State where the criminal is more powerful than the law. The law of nations is no exception, and, until it has been vindicated, the peace of the world will always be at the mercy of any nation whose professors have assiduously taught it to believe that no crime is wrong so long as it leads to the aggrandisement and enrichment of the country to which they owe allegiance. There have been many times in the history of the world criminal States. We are dealing with one of them now. And there will always be criminal states until the reward of international crime [Page 333]becomes too precarious to make it profitable, and the punishment of international crime becomes too sure to make it attractive.”

It was made clear also in an address of Monsieur Clemenceau of September 1918:—11

“What do they (the French soldiers) want? What do we ourselves want? To fight, to fight victoriously and unceasingly, until the hour when the enemy shall understand that no compromise is possible between such crime and ‘justice’

Similarly, Signor Orlando speaking on October 3rd, 1918, declared:—12

“We shall obtain Peace when our enemies recognise that humanity has the right and duty to safeguard itself against a continuation of such causes as have brought about this terrible slaughter; and that the blood of millions of men calls not for vengeance but for the realisation of those high ideals for which it has been so generously shed. Nobody thinks of employing—even by way of legitimate retaliation—methods of brutal violence or of overbearing domination or of suffocation of the freedom of any people—methods and policies which made the whole world rise against the Central Powers. But nobody will contend that the moral order can be restored simply because he who fails in his iniquitous endeavor declares that he has renounced his aim. Questions intimately affecting the peaceful life of Nations, once raised, must obtain the solution which Justice requires”.

Justice, therefore, is the only possible basis for the settlement of the accounts of this terrible war. Justice is what the German Delegation asks for and says that Germany had been promised. Justice is what Germany shall have. But it must be justice for all. There must be justice for the dead and wounded and for those who have been orphaned and bereaved that Europe might be freed from Prussian despotism. There must be justice for the peoples who now stagger under war debts which exceed £30,000,000,000 that liberty might be saved. There must be justice for those millions whose homes and land, ships and property German savagery has spoliated and destroyed.

That is why the Allied and Associated Powers have insisted as a cardinal feature of the Treaty that Germany must undertake to make reparation to the very uttermost of her power, for reparation for wrongs inflicted is of the essence of justice. That is why they insist that those individuals who are most clearly responsible for German aggression and for those acts of barbarism and inhumanity which have disgraced the German conduct of the war must be handed over to a justice which has not been meted out to them at home. That, too, [Page 334]is why Germany must submit for a few years to certain special disabilities and arrangements. Germany has ruined the industries, the mines and the machinery of Belgium, Northern France, and Poland, not during battle, but with the deliberate and calculated purpose of enabling her own industries to seize her neighbours’ markets before their own industries could recover from the devastation thus wantonly inflicted upon them. Germany has despoiled her neighbours of everything she could make use of or carry away. Germany has destroyed the shipping of all nations in the high seas, where there was no chance of rescue for their passengers and crews. It is only justice that restitution should be made and that these wronged peoples should be protected for a time from the competition of a nation whose industries are intact and have even been fortified by machinery stolen from occupied territories. If these things are hardships for Germany, they are hardships which Germany has brought upon herself. Somebody must suffer for the consequences of the war. Is it to be Germany or the peoples she has wronged?

Not to do justice to all concerned would only leave the world open to fresh calamities. If the German people themselves, or any other nation, are to be deterred from following the footsteps of Prussia; if mankind is to be lifted out of the belief that war for selfish ends is legitimate to any State, if the old era is to be left behind and nations as well as individuals are to be brought beneath the reign of law, even if there is to be early reconciliation and appeasement, it will be because those responsible for concluding the war have had the courage to see that justice is not deflected for the sake of convenient peace.

It is said that the German Revolution ought to make a difference and that the German people are not responsible for the policy of the rulers whom they have thrown from power. The Allied and Associated Powers recognise and welcome the change. It represents a great hope for peace, and a new European order in the future. But it cannot affect the settlement of the war itself. The German Revolution was stayed until the German armies had been defeated in the field, and all hope of profiting by a war of conquest had vanished. Throughout the war, as before the war, the German people and their representatives supported the war, voted the credits, subscribed to the war loans, obeyed every order, however savage, of their government. They shared the responsibility for the policy of their government, for at any moment, had they willed it, they could have reversed it. Had that policy succeeded they would have acclaimed it with the same enthusiasm with which they welcomed the outbreak of the war. They cannot now pretend, having changed their rulers after the war was lost, that it is justice that they should escape the consequences of their deeds.

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II

The Allied and Associated Powers therefore believe that the peace they have proposed is fundamentally a peace of justice. They are no less certain that it is a peace of right on the terms agreed. There can be no doubt as to the intentions of the Allied and Associated Powers to base the settlement of Europe on the principle of freeing oppressed peoples and re-drawing national boundaries as far as possible in accordance with the will of the peoples concerned, while giving to each facilities for living an independent national and economic life. If there is any doubt upon this point they would refer to the section of the attached Memorandum which deals with the legal basis of the peace.13

Accordingly the Allied and Associated Powers have provided for the reconstitution of Poland as an independent state with “free and secure access to the sea”. All “territories inhabited by indubitably Polish populations” have been accorded to Poland. All territory inhabited by German majorities, save for a few isolated towns and for colonies established on land recently forcibly expropriated and situated in the midst of indubitably Polish territory, have been left to Germany. Wherever the will of the people is in doubt a plebiscite has been provided for. The town of Danzig has been constituted as a free city, so that the inhabitants are autonomous and do not come under Polish rule and form no part of the Polish state. Poland has been given certain economic rights in Danzig and the city itself has been severed from Germany because in no other way was it possible to provide for that “free and secure access to the sea” which Germany has promised to concede. The justification for the proposals can be seen from the following table:—14

The German counter proposals entirely conflict with the agreed basis of peace. They provide that great majorities of indisputably Polish population shall be kept under German rule. They deny secure access to the sea to a nation of over twenty million people, whose nationals are in the majority all the way to the coast, in order to maintain territorial connection between East and West Prussia, whose trade has always been mainly sea-borne. They cannot, therefore, be accepted by the Allied and Associated Powers. At the same time in certain cases the German Note has established a case for rectification which will be made (see Appendix)15 and in view of the German contention that Upper Silesia though inhabited by a two to one majority of Poles (1,250,000 to 650,000, 1910 German census) wishes to remain a part [Page 336]of Germany they are willing that the question of whether or not Upper Silesia should form part of Germany or of Poland, should be determined by the vote of the inhabitants themselves.

In regard to the Saar basin the régime proposed by the Allied and Associated Powers is to continue for fifteen years, this arrangement they considered necessary both to the general scheme for reparation, and in order that France may have immediate and certain compensation for the wanton destruction of her Northern coal mines. The district has been transferred not to French sovereignty, but to the control of the Society of the League of Nations. This method has the double advantage that it involves no annexation, while it gives possession of the coal field to France and maintains the economic unity of the district, so important to the interests of the inhabitants. At the end of fifteen years the mixed population which in the meanwhile will have had control of its own local affairs under the governing supervision of the League of Nations, will have complete freedom to decide whether it wishes union with Germany, union with France, or the continuance of the régime provided for in the Treaty.

As to the territories which it is proposed to transfer from Germany to Denmark and Belgium, some of these were robbed by Prussia by force, and in every case the transfer will only take place as the result of a decision of the inhabitants themselves taken under conditions which will ensure complete freedom to vote.

Finally, the Allied and Associated Powers are satisfied that the native inhabitants of the German colonies are strongly opposed to being again brought under Germany’s sway, and the record of German rule, the traditions of the German Government and the use to which these colonies were put as bases from which to prey upon the commerce of the world, make it impossible for the Allied and Associated Powers to return them to Germany, or to entrust to her the responsibility for the training and education of their inhabitants.

For these reasons the Allied and Associated Powers are satisfied that their territorial proposals are in accord both with the agreed basis of peace and are necessary to the future peace of Europe. They are therefore not prepared to modify them except in the respects laid down.

III

Arising out of the territorial settlement are the proposals in regard to international control of rivers. It is clearly in accord with the agreed basis of the peace that inland states should have secure access to the sea along rivers which are navigable to their territory. In the case therefore of four international rivers, the Allied and Associated Powers propose to place these waterways under control of international [Page 337]boards. They believe that this arrangement is vital to the free life of the inland states. They do not think that it is any derogation of the rights of the other riparian states. If viewed according to the discredited doctrine that every state is engaged in a desperate struggle for ascendency over its neighbours, no doubt such an arrangement may be an impediment to the artificial strangling of a rival. But if it be the ideal that nations are to co-operate in the ways of commerce and peace, it is natural and right. The provisions for the presence of representatives of the League of Nations on the boards is security that the river boards will consider the interests of all. A number of modifications however have been made in the original proposals, the details of which will be found in the attached memorandum.16

IV. Economic and Financial

Under the heading of economic and financial clauses the German Delegation appear to have seriously misinterpreted the proposals of the Allied and Associated Powers. There is no intention on the part of the Allied and Associated Powers to strangle Germany or to prevent her from resuming her proper place in international trade and commerce. Provided that she abides by the Treaty of Peace, and provided also that she abandons those aggressive and exclusive traditions which have been apparent in her business no less than her political methods the Allied and Associated Powers intend that Germany shall have fair treatment in the purchase of raw materials and the sale of goods, subject to those temporary provisions already mentioned in the interests of the nations ravaged and artificially weakened by German action. It is their desire that the passions engendered by the war should die as soon as possible, and that all nations should share equally in the prosperity which comes from the honest supply of each others needs. They wish that Germany shall enjoy this prosperity like the rest, though much of the fruit of it must necessarily go for many years to come, in making reparation to her neighbours for the damage she has done. In order to make their intention clear, a number of modifications have been made in the financial and economic clauses of the Treaty, details of which will be found in the memorandum attached.16 But the principles upon which the Treaty is drawn must stand.

Reparation

The German Delegation have greatly misinterpreted the Reparation proposal of the Treaty. They confine the amounts payable by Germany to certain specific categories clearly justified by the terms of the armistice. They do not provide for that interference in the [Page 338]internal life of Germany by the Reparation Commission which is alleged. They are designed to make the payment of that reparation which Germany must make as easy and convenient to both parties as possible and they will be interpreted in that sense. The Allied and Associated Powers therefore are not prepared to modify them.

But they recognise with the German Delegation, the advantage of arriving as soon as possible at the fixed and definite sum which shall be payable by Germany and accepted by the Allies. It is not possible to fix this sum to-day, for the extent of damage and the cost of repair has not yet been ascertained. They are therefore willing to accord to Germany all necessary and reasonable facilities to enable her to survey the devastated and damaged regions, and to make proposals thereafter within four months of the signing of the Treaty for a settlement of the claims under each of the categories of damage for which she is liable. If within the following two months an agreement can be reached, the exact liability of Germany will have been ascertained. If agreement has not been reached by then, the arrangement as provided in the Treaty will be executed. Full details will be found in the annexed memorandum.18

League of Nations

The Allied and Associated Powers have given careful consideration to the request of the German Delegation that Germany should be admitted to the League of Nations as one of the conditions of peace. They regret that they cannot accede to this request. The German revolution was postponed to the last moments of the war and there is as yet no guarantee that it represents a permanent change. In the present temper of international feeling, it is impossible to expect the free nations of the world to sit down immediately in equal association with those by whom they have been so grievously wronged. To attempt this too soon would delay and not hasten that process of appeasement which all desire. But the Allied and Associated Powers believe that if the German people prove by their acts that they intend to fulfill the conditions of the peace, and that they have abandoned for ever those aggressive and estranging policies which caused the war, and have now become a people with whom it is possible to live in neighbourly good fellowship, the memories of the past years will speedily fade, and it will be possible within a reasonable time to complete the League of Nations by the admission of Germany thereto. It is their earnest hope that this may be the case. They believe that the prospects of the world depend upon the close and friendly cooperation of all nations in adjusting international questions and promoting [Page 339]the welfare and progress of mankind. But the early entry of Germany into the League must depend principally upon the action of the German people themselves.

Conclusion

In conclusion the Allied and Associated Powers must make it clear that this letter and the memorandum attached constitute their last word. They have examined the German observations and counter proposals with earnest attention and care. They have, in consequence, made important modifications in the Draft Treaty. But in its fundamental outlines they stand by the Treaty. They believe that it is not only a just settlement of the great war, but that it provides the basis upon which the peoples of Europe can live together in friendship and equality. At the same time it creates the machinery for the peaceful adjustment of all international problems by discussion and consent, and whereby the settlement of 1919 itself can be modified from time to time to suit new facts and new conditions as they arise. It is frankly not based upon a general condonation of the events of 1914–1918. It would not be a peace of justice if it were. But it represents a sincere and deliberate attempt to establish “that reign of law, based upon the consent of the governed, and sustained by the organised opinion of mankind” which was the agreed basis of the peace.

As such it must be accepted or rejected as it now stands. The Allied and Associated Powers therefore require a declaration from the German Delegation within five days as to whether they are prepared to sign the Treaty as now amended. If they are willing to do so, arrangements will be made for the immediate signature of the Peace of Versailles. If they refuse the armistice will terminate and the Allied and Associated Powers will take such steps as they think needful to enforce their terms.

Villa Majestic, Paris, June 12, 1919.

Appendix III to CF–61

WCP–970

The League of Nations: Proposed Reply to the German Proposals

1.
It has never been the intention of the Allied and Associated Powers that Germany should be indefinitely excluded from the League of Nations. On the contrary, it is their hope that the League will as soon as possible include all nations that can be trusted to carry out the obligations accepted by Members of the League. As soon as they are satisfied that Germany possesses a stable government which has given clear proofs of its intention to observe its international obligations [Page 340]arising out of the Treaty of Peace and to take the necessary steps towards disarmament, the principal Allied and Associated Powers are prepared to support Germany’s candidature for admission to the League, and they see no reason, provided these necessary steps are taken, why Germany should not become a Member of the League in the early future.
2.
The Allied and Associated Powers do not consider that an addition to the Covenant in the sense of the German proposals regarding economic questions is necessary. They would point out that the Covenant already provides that “subject to and in accordance with the provisions of international conventions existing or hereafter to be agreed upon, the Members of the League . . . . will make provision to secure and maintain freedom of communications and of transit, and equitable treatment for the commerce of all Members of the League”, and that a General Convention with regard to Transit questions is now being prepared. So soon as Germany is admitted to the League, she will enjoy the benefits of these provisions.
3.
The Allied and Associated Powers are prepared to accord to Germany guarantees, under the protection of the League of Nations, for the educational, religious and cultural rights of German Minorities in territories hitherto forming part of the German Empire. They take note of the statement of the German Delegates that Germany is determined to treat foreign minorities within her territory according to the same principles.
4.
The Allied and Associated Powers have already pointed out to the German Delegates that the Covenant of the League of Nations provides for “the reduction of national armaments to the lowest point consistent with national safety and the enforcement by common action of international obligations”. They recognise that the acceptance by Germany of the terms laid down for her own disarmament will facilitate and hasten the accomplishment of a general reduction of armaments; they intend to open negotiations immediately with a view to the eventual adoption of a scheme of such general reduction, and they hope that substantial progress will have been made when the Assembly of the League meets for the first time, as is intended, in October of the present year. The actual execution of any scheme that may be adopted must depend largely on the satisfactory fulfillment by Germany of the disarmament terms of the present Treaty.
[Page 341]

Appendix IV to CF–61

WCP–970 (revised)

The League of Nations.—Reply to the German Proposals

(Approved by the Council of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers on 12th June, 1919)

1. The pact of the League of Nations constitutes for the Allied and Associated Powers the base of the Treaty of Peace. They have weighed with care all its terms. They are convinced that it brings into the relations of peoples, for the benefit of justice and of peace, an element of progress which the future will confirm and develop.

The Allied and Associated Powers have never, as the text itself of the Treaty proves, had the intention of indefinitely excluding Germany or any other power from the League. They have taken measures accordingly which apply as a whole to the states which are not members and which fix the conditions for their subsequent admission.

Every country whose government shall have clearly proved its stability, as well as its desire to observe its International obligations—particularly those obligations which result from the Treaty of Peace—will find the Principal Allied and Associated Powers disposed to support its demand for admission to the League.

In that which especially concerns Germany it goes without saying, that the events of the last five years are not of a nature to justify, at the present time, an exception to the general rule which has just been mentioned. Its case demands a definite test. The length of this delay will depend on the acts of the German Government, and it is within the choice of that Government, by its attitude towards the Treaty of Peace, to shorten the period of waiting which the Allied and Associated Governments may consider it necessary to fix, without any intention of prolonging it unduly.

They see no reason, provided these necessary conditions are assured, why Germany should not become a member of the League in the early future.

2. The Allied and Associated Powers do not consider that an addition to the Covenant in the sense of the German proposals regarding economic questions is necessary. They would point out that the Covenant already provides that “subject to and in accordance with the provisions of international conventions existing or hereafter to be agreed upon, the Members of the League . . . . . will make provision to secure and maintain freedom of communications and of transit, and equitable treatment for the commerce of all Members of the League”, and that a General Convention with regard to Transit questions is now being prepared. So soon as Germany is admitted to the League, she will enjoy the benefits of those provisions.

[Page 342]

3. The Allied and Associated Powers are prepared to accord to Germany guarantees, under the protection of the League of Nations, for the educational, religious and cultural rights of German Minorities in territories hitherto forming part of the German Empire. They take note of the statement of the German Delegates that Germany is determined to treat foreign minorities within her territory according to the same principles.

4. The Allied and Associated Powers have already pointed out to the German Delegates that the Covenant of the League of Nations provides for “the reduction of national armaments to the lowest point consistent with national safety and the enforcement by common action of international obligations”. They recognise that the acceptance by Germany of the terms laid down for her own disarmament will facilitate and hasten the accomplishment of a general reduction of armaments; they intend to open negotiations immediately with a view to the eventual adoption of a scheme of such general reduction. It goes without saying that the realisation of this programme will depend in large part on the satisfactory carrying out by Germany of its own engagements.

Appendix V to CF–61

WCP–963

period of occupation of germany

(Note by Mr. Barnes)

I had no opportunity this afternoon of raising the question of the army of occupation and I desire to do so by way of memorandum. I see no reason for 15 years’ occupation of German territory and I want to say that in my opinion it is:—

(1)
Contrary to our understanding prior to coming to Paris. On the 3rd December last Marshal Foch said that after the signature of peace occupation might have to be continued for one year. When asked by the Prime Minister whether this estimate took into account an occupation of German provinces with a view to the collection of an indemnity, he said he was not considering that. His proposal was for one year. In laying down the terms of reference to the Committee appointed on the 24th December [sic] to consider reparation,19 the Prime Minister made the condition that an army of occupation in Germany was not to be involved for its collection. Why then are we being committed to this 15 years instead of the one year?
(2)
Quite unnecessary. Germany is under obligation if the peace terms are signed to disband her army and demolish her fortifications within a few months. I can understand the need for an army of occupation till these things are done, but after that, I can see no reason for it at all, and I have heard no reason put forward. Since we came here an undertaking has been given to France that in the event of unprovoked aggression upon her, America and Great Britain will assist her to resist. Why both the undertaking and the occupation I am quite at a loss to understand. It is scarcely conceivable that Germany could be in a position to make war upon France in the next 15 years. But, that the armies should be on the spot, ready to carry out the undertaking, would seem to me to be the only justification—or rather the only explanation—for the army of occupation.
(3)
Not only useless but also dangerous. An army of occupation is sure to provoke hostile feelings on the part of the population among whom it is quartered, and hostile feelings may readily pass into hostile actions. The French soldiery are probably the least suitable persons in the world to occupy German territory because of the bitterness between the two races. An army of occupation in these circumstances is calculated to make that provocation certain against the consequences of which we, in common with America, may be called upon to guard France.

And over and above these three points there might be added the question of expense. It is now to be limited, as I understand, to 12 millions yearly, and so far as that goes I admit it is an improvement upon what had been put forward. Provision is also made—so far as it can be made—against military law being applied to the civilian population and that I also admit is a very wholesome alteration upon the terms as first crudely put forward. But I see no reason for a lengthy occupation at all.

G. N. B[arnes]

Appendix VI

WCP–952

Draft Reply

No. 7.

Territory of the Saar Basin

The question of the territory of the Saar Basin has already been the subject of an exchange of notes with the German Delegation.20 The fresh observations contained in the German communication seem [Page 344]to show such a misconception of the spirit and object of this section of the Treaty that it appears useless further to discuss them.

The object and will of the Allies have twice been stated: first, in the Treaty itself in which it is said (Articles 45 & 46) that Germany accepts the provisions in question “as compensation for the destruction of the coal mines in the north of France and as part payment towards the total reparation due from Germany for the damage resulting from the war . . . . . . . and in order to assure the rights and welfare of the population:” and again, in the Note of May 24th,21 which said “The Allied and Associated Governments have chosen this particular form of reparation because it was felt that the destruction of the mines in the north of France was an act of such a nature that a definite and exemplary retribution should be exacted; this object would not be obtained by the mere supply of a specified or unspecified amount of coal. This scheme therefore, in its general provisions, must be maintained, and to this the Allied and Associated Powers are not prepared to agree to any alternative.”

On the other hand, the German Delegation declares that “the German Government refuses to carry out any reparation which would have the character of a punishment.” The German conception of justice seems then to exclude a notion which is nevertheless essential to any just settlement and a necessary base of any eventual reconciliation.

The Allied and Associated Powers, in deciding the form of reparation to be exacted, have wished to choose one which, by its exceptional nature, should constitute, it is true for a short time only, a clear and visible symbol. They have at the same time meant to secure in the case of this reparation a pledge which can at once be taken and which avoids the risks emphasized by the German Empire itself.

On the other hand, they have taken the greatest care to protect the inhabitants of the region itself from any material or moral injury. The interests of these people have been scrupulously respected in every particular and their condition has been improved.

The frontiers of the district have been determined just so as to affect with the least possible degree, existing administrative units and the every day life of this population whose character is so complex. Care has been taken expressly to maintain the administrative system in its entirety as regards civil and criminal jurisdiction and taxation. The people keep their local assemblies, their religious liberties, their schools and the use of their language. All existing safeguards are maintained in favour of the workers and the new laws will conform to the principles [Page 345]adopted by the League of Nations. It is true that the Governmental Commission to which belongs the supreme authority, will not be directly responsible to a parliamentary assembly, but it by no means follows that it is an arbitrary government, nor (as the German note suggests) that it is the French Government which will be in power. The Commission will be responsible to the League of Nations, an arrangement which will afford ample safeguards against any abuse of the power entrusted to it; it will, besides, be obliged to take the opinion of the elected representatives of the district before making any change in the laws or imposing any new tax. The revenue from taxation is to be entirely devoted to payment of local expenses and, for the first time since the annexation of this district to Prussia and Bavaria, which was carried out by force, the people will have a government on the spot which knows no other liability or interest than the care for their well being. The Allied and Associated Powers are entirely confident that the inhabitants of the district will have no reason to consider the new administration to be more distant than was that of Berlin and Munich.

Appendix VII to CF–61

WCP–952 (Revise)

territory of the saar basin

Reply Approved by the Council of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers on 12 June, 1919

The Saar Valley has already been the subject of an exchange of notes with the German Delegation. The new observations contained in the German communication seem to show so complete a misapprehension of the spirit and purpose of this section of the Treaty that further discussion appears to be useless.

The purpose and decision of the Allies have twice been stated, first in the text of the Treaty itself, in which (Articles 45 and 46) Germany is to accept the provisions in question “as compensation for the destruction of the coal-mines in the North of France and as part payment towards the total reparation due from Germany for the damage resulting from the war, and … in order to assure the rights and welfare of the population”; and secondly, in the note of May 24th, “The Allied and Associated Governments have chosen this particular form of reparation because it was felt that the destruction of the mines in the North of France was an act of such a nature that a definite and exemplary retribution should be exacted; this object would not be obtained by the mere supply of a specified or [Page 346]unspecified amount of coal. This scheme, therefore, in its general provisions, must be maintained, and on this the Allied and Associated Powers are not prepared to agree to any alternative”.

The German Delegation, on the other hand, declares that “the German Government refuses to carry out any reparation which will have the character of a punishment”. The German idea of justice appears then to be one which excludes a conception which is essential to any just settlement and a necessary basis for reconcilation.

It has been the desire of the Allied and Associated Powers in determining upon the form of reparation to be imposed to choose one which, by its exceptional nature, will be for a limited period a definite and visible symbol. At the same time, they intended, by assuring themselves of the immediate possession of a security for reparation, to escape the risks to which the German memoir itself has drawn attention.

On the other hand they have exercised the greatest care in order to avoid inflicting on the inhabitants of the district itself any material or moral injury. In every point their interests have been most scrupulously guarded, and in fact their condition has been improved.

The frontiers of the district have been precisely determined so as to secure the least possible interference with the present administrative units or with the daily vocations of this complex population. It is expressly provided that the whole system of administration of criminal and civil law and of taxation shall be maintained. The inhabitants are to retain their local assemblies, their religious liberties, their schools and the use of their language. All existing guarantees in favour of the working population are maintained, and the new order will be in accordance with the principles adopted by the League of Nations. It is true that the Governing Commission, with which the final control rests, will not be directly responsible to a Parliamentary Assembly, but it will be responsible to the League of Nations and not to the French Government. The arrangement made will afford an ample guarantee against the misuse of the power which is entrusted to it; but, in addition, the Governing Commission is required to take the advice of the elected representatives of the district before any change in the laws can be made or any new tax imposed. The whole revenue derived from taxation will be devoted to local purposes and for the first time since the forcible annexation of this district to Prussia and to Bavaria, the people will live under a Government resident on the spot which will have no occupation and no interest except their welfare. The Allied and Associated Powers have full confidence that the inhabitants of the district will have no reason to regard the new administration under which they will be placed as [Page 347]one more remote than was the administration which was conducted from Berlin and Munich.

The German Note constantly overlooks the fact that the whole arrangement is temporary, and that at the end of 15 years the inhabitants will have a full and free right to choose the sovereignty under which they are to live.

  1. This draft, as altered in the course of the discussion, appears as appendix II, p. 330.
  2. Appendix I to CF–37, p. 73.
  3. See appendix II to CF–60, p. 321.
  4. This document does not accompany the minutes of this meeting.
  5. The text of the report does not accompany the minutes of this meeting.
  6. The underlined words are printed in italics.
  7. The text of this report does not accompany the minutes.
  8. Post, p. 795.
  9. Foreign Relations, 1918, supp. 1, vol. i, p. 316.
  10. The Times (London), December 15, 1917, p. 7.
  11. Address of M. Clemenceau to the French Senate, September 17, 1918. For French text, see Journal officiel de la République française, Débats, Sénat, September 18, 1918, p. 603.
  12. Address of Premier Orlando to the Italian Chamber of Deputies. For Italian text, see Italy, Atti parlamentari, Camera dei deputati, Legislatura XXIV, 1a Sessione, Discussion. October 3, 1918, p. 17073.
  13. The text of this memorandum does not accompany the draft letter in the minutes.
  14. The table does not appear in the draft letter.
  15. The text of this appendix does not accompany the draft letter in the minutes.
  16. The memorandum does not accompany the draft letter in the minutes.
  17. The memorandum does not accompany the draft letter in the minutes.
  18. The memorandum does not accompany the draft letter in the minutes.
  19. Apparently a reference to a committee with members from Great Britain and the Dominions appointed by Lloyd George to study the question of reparations and Germany’s capacity to pay. See Lloyd George, The Truth About the Peace Treaties (London, V. Gollancz. Ltd., 1938), vol. i, pp. 458 ff.
  20. Appendices II and III to CF–23, vol. v, pp. 817 and 820; and appendix to CF–29, ibid., p. 915.
  21. Appendix to CF–29, vol. v, p. 915.