Paris Peace Conf. 180.03401/63
Notes of a Meeting Held at President Wilson’s House in the Place des Etats-Unis, Paris, on Friday, June 13, 1919, 11 a.m.
- United States of America
- President Wilson.
- British Empire
- The Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd George, M. P.
- M. Clemenceau.
- M. Sonnino.
- Baron Makino.
- United States of America
|Sir Maurice Hankey, K. C. B.||}||Secretaries.|
|M. di Martino|
|Prof. P. J. Mantoux—Interpreter.|
1. Referring to the reply to the German Note on the subject of the League of Nations approved on the previous day,1 M. Clemenceau said he thought a mistake had been made in stating that the Allied and Associated Powers saw no reason why Germany should not become a member of the League “in the early future”. League of Nations: Reply to the German Note
Mr. Lloyd George and President Wilson confirmed the Secretary’s record that this had been approved, and insisted that there was no object in inserting the sentence without these words. After rereading the whole passage, M. Clemenceau withdrew his objections.
2. (It was agreed to receive the Turkish Delegation in a formal manner in one of the large rooms at the Quai d’Orsay, on Tuesday, June 17th, at 11 a.m.)
(Sir Maurice Hankey was instructed to ask the Secretary General to prepare a letter to the Turkish Delegation for M. Clemenceau’s signature and for despatch, notifying them of this decision and asking them to be prepared to make a statement on that occasion of anything which they had to say.) Turkish Delegation[Page 371]
3. The Council had before them a Note from the Superior Blockade Council, dated June 11th, 1919. (Appendix I.)
Mr. Lloyd George advocated a renewal of the blockade in the event of the Germans refusing to sign as if this were known in Germany beforehand, it would have a great effect. Blockade Action in the Germans Refusing To Sign
President Wilson said he was opposed to the imposition of a blockade. A military occupation was justified, but he did not believe in starving women and children. It was the last resort and should not be taken at first.
M. Clemenceau considered that the sea blockade would not be very effective so long as the land frontiers with neutral States were open.
Mr. Lloyd George pointed out that the neutrals had at present no supplies to spare, consequently everything depended upon an effective sea blockade.
M. Clemenceau said in that case he was in favour of it in the interests of humanity, to prevent a prolongation of the interval between breaking off negotiations, and signing the Peace. If the German people knew that the blockade were being prepared it would stop the whole business.
Mr. Lloyd George said he was apprehensive of difficulties that would arise from the military occupation.
President Wilson pointed out that in any case the Allies controlled practically all the food supplies of the world, and would not sell them to Germany if they would not sign. In any case therefore privation would begin at once. The imposition of the blockade would shock the sense of mankind. A military occupation was the regular and habitual way of dealing with a situation of this kind. Germany had disregarded all methods of humanity, but this did not justify the Allies in doing so. He did not anticipate any actual fighting.
Mr. Lloyd George said that every military man would confirm that but for the contributory action of the Blockade the war might still be continuing. The German Army was still in occupation of Allied territory when it had capitulated. The reason was that the effect of the blockade on the German people was so great that they could not stand it any longer.
President Wilson said that if actual hostilities began again, the blockade might be justified, but Marshal Foch had assured the Council that there was not likely to be any military resistance.
Mr. Lloyd George did not anticipate organised military resistance but he thought there might be a great deal of unorganised resistance.
M. Clemenceau pointed out that the Germans were a submissive people. They were not like the English or French, who in such a case would make great trouble.[Page 372]
President Wilson said that starvation would only bring about Bolshevism and chaos.
Mr. Lloyd George said that the mere noise of preparing a blockade would do more to make the Germans sign than the military occupation. There were important elements in the population such as the rich industries and the wealthier classes of Berlin who would probably welcome an occupation as a means of ensuring order. The mere threat of a blockade, however, would terrify the whole population.
President Wilson did not want to threaten without carrying out the threat.
Mr. Lloyd George said that while he fully appreciated the President’s motives and regarded the blockade as a horrible thing, yet he thought it necessary to shorten the agony. He felt sure that in the end we should be driven to the blockade.
M. Clemenceau said that if the blockade were not adopted it would cause the deaths of many Allied soldiers.
President Wilson said he must refuse to co-operate in the blockade until military co-operation had been tried. His instinct on this matter was overwhelming. He noted that the Blockade Council had already brought the various parts of the blockade to the most advanced state of readiness. He wished to know what more they required.
Sir Maurice Hankey said that the British Member of the Blockade Council had informed him that there were certain steps involving expenditure which the Blockade Council did not feel justified in insisting on without a decision of this Council. For example—the bottoms of a number of Destroyers had to be cleaned and crews had to be kept in a state of mobilisation. The Destroyers were required for the blockade of the Baltic which was a new service which it had never been possible to undertake during the war.
Mr. Lloyd George suggested the desirability of some Destroyers appearing in the Baltic in order to give the Germans the impression that preparations were being made. He wanted the Germans to sign without the necessity of the Allies striking a blow.
(It was agreed that the Blockade Council should make every preparation for the re-imposition of the blockade, but that its actual enforcement should not be undertaken, even in the event of a refusal by the Germans to sign the Treaty of Peace, without a decision from the Council of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers. No actual threat should be made public that the blockade was to be re-imposed, but short of this steps should be taken to give the public impression that preparations were in hand. If practicable these steps should include the despatch of Destroyers to show this in the Baltic.)[Page 373]
4. Mr. Lloyd George read the following note from Admiral Hope:—
“Referring to the Naval action to be taken in the event of the Germans refusing to sign the Peace Treaty, the Admiralty are anxious to know, as soon as possible, in order that the necessary preparations may be made, whether the Supreme Council approves in principle the following measures suggested by the Admirals in their joint Report of 10th April1a:— Naval Action in Event of the Germans Refusing To Sign
- Officers and men of the ships interned at Scapa to be made prisoners of war.
- The interned ships at Scapa to be seized.
- All fishing by German vessels to be prohibited.
- All German vessels found at sea, either with or without permits, to be seized.
It would also greatly assist the Admiralty if the Council’s decision as to the blockade could be made known so that any necessary Naval dispositions could be arranged in good time.”
(It was agreed that the British Admiralty should make the necessary preparations for carrying out (a), (b), (c), and (d), above.)
5. The Council had before them a report by the Military Representatives at Versailles with whom are associated Naval Representatives (Appendix II). Baltic Provinces
Mr. Lloyd George said that he had discussed the question with General Sackville-West and he found his view to be that the evacuation by the Germans should be a comprehensive one. If the attempt was made to specify in detail the actual places to be evacuated, misunderstandings were liable to occur owing to the fact that many places had the same name, and some places had several names which would facilitate evasion by the Germans. His opinion was that the Germans ought to be ordered to clear out of the Baltic Provinces altogether under Article 12 of the Armistice terms. It would be very dangerous if the present German Ministry went out of Office and Haase came in, as then there would be a German force in the Baltic Provinces under the direction of a Bolshevik Government.
President Wilson and M. Clemenceau agreed with Mr. Lloyd George.
There was some discussion as to the proposal of the Military Representatives that sums of money should be made available for the Baltic Provinces, but it was generally agreed that this was unnecessary for equipment, arms, ammunition, clothing and supplies were given.
After a short discussion, it was agreed that the following action should be taken:—
- Marshal Foch should order the Germans [Page 374]
- To stop all future advance northwards towards Esthonia.
- To evacuate Libau and Windau at once, and to complete the evacuation of all territory which, before the war, formed part of Russia, with the least possible delay, in accordance with Article 12 of the Armistice Terms.
- That the local national forces in the Baltic Provinces should be supported with equipment, arms, ammunition, clothing, and supplies generally.
- That the Military Representatives at Versailles should advise as to what supplies should be sent and by whom.
M. Clemenceau undertook to give the necessary instructions to Marshal Foch.
6. The alteration to the Czecho-Slovak frontier contained in the report of the Council of Foreign Ministers dated June 12th. (Appendix C. F. 62, Minute 82) and approved on the previous afternoon, was initialled by the five Heads of States. Alteration to Czecho-Slovak Frontier
Sir Maurice Hankey was instructed to forward it to the Drafting Committee for their information.