Paris Peace Conf. 180.03401/34
Notes of a Meeting Held at President Wilson’s House in the Place des Etats-Unis, Paris, on Monday, May 26, 1919, at 4:15 p.m.
United States of America
- President Wilson.
- The Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd George, M. P.
- M. Clemenceau.
- M. Orlando
Members of the Committee on New States
- Dr. Miller
- Mr. Hudson
- Mr. Headlam-Morley.
- Mr. Carr
- M. Berthelot
- M. Kammerer
- M. di Martino
- United States of America
|Sir Maurice Hankey, K. C. B.||}||Secretaries.|
|M. P. J. Mantoux, Interpreter.|
1. The Council had before them the draft articles prepared by the Committee on New States for inclusion in the treaties with Austria and with Hungary. (Appendix I.) Committee on New States. Draft Articles for Inclusion in the Treaties With Hungary
It was pointed out that the clauses were the same as those already approved for Poland, except that the special clauses relating to the Jews were not included. These were believed to be unnecessary in the case of Austria, where the situation was different in that respect to the situation in Poland.
President Wilson raised the question whether it would not be better to include these clauses, even if unnecessary, in the Treaty with Austria to avoid giving offence to Poland, but did not press the point.
Mr. Headlam-Morley asked whether Austria was regarded as a new State or as an old State, the inheritor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Some parts of the Treaty appeared to have been drafted on the former hypothesis, some on the latter. It was dangerous to treat Austria as possessing the rights formerly belonging to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He produced a Memorandum and some draft articles which he had prepared on the subject.
Mr. Lloyd George thought that there was a good deal in this idea, and proposed that the point should be examined by the Drafting Committee.[Page 46]
M. Orlando said that the question would require careful consideration and that at first sight he was not favourably impressed by the suggestion. He thought it was creating a new precedent.
M. Clemenceau entirely supported M. Orlando.
President Wilson thought that M. Orlando had not entirely realised the difficulty. The Austro-Hungarian Empire was in an entirely special position.
(It was decided to refer this point to the Drafting Committee who should be authorised either to deal with the matter themselves or to take such advice as might seem to them requisite.)
(The draft clauses relating to minorities were approved).
2. President Wilson said he had received no reply yet from the Luxembourg Government, but he read a press announcement according to which the reply was that the Luxembourg Government was ready to send a deputation to Paris, and would like to know on which day it would be received. Luxembourg
(It was agreed that the Deputation should be heard on Wednesday afternoon, May 28th.)
3. Sir Maurice Hankey said he had consulted the British member of the Drafting Committee, and that the whole Drafting Committee had considered subsequently the question of the date on which the Treaty of Peace could be handed to the Austrians, omitting the Military terms and the Reparation clauses. The Drafting Committee had expressed doubt as to whether the Treaty could possibly be ready by Saturday next. One reason for this was that the printing of the Treaty in the Italian as well as in the French and English languages increased the length of time required by the printers. Date of Handing the Treaty of Peace to the Austrian Delegates
Mr. Lloyd George suggested that it might be presented in typewritten form.
(It was agreed to discuss the matter with the Drafting Committee on the following day).
4. Sir Maurice Hankey handed round a draft reply which he had prepared under instructions from the Council.Certain amendments were suggested and Sir Maurice Hankey was asked to prepare a fresh draft. Reply to the Letter From the Austrian Delegation
5. M. Orlando raised as a point of urgency the fighting which was continuing between the Austrians and Slovenes. He said that the Austrian Delegation at St. Germain had made an appeal to the Allied and Associated Powers to intervene. Southern Boundaries of Austria. Carinthia. The Fighting Between the Austrians and Slovenes
(After a considerable discussion, in the course of which the appointment of an Armistice Commission was proposed and rejected, it was agreed that the best plan would be [Page 47] to settle the frontiers of Austria first, and then insist on the withdrawal of both forces behind those frontiers.
It was therefore decided to meet the Foreign Ministers and the Expert Commission which had considered this question on the following afternoon.
Sir Maurice Hankey was instructed to circulate a document communicated by M. Pachitch.1)
6. Sir Maurice Hankey handed round a copy of a letter addressed by the Ukrainian Delegation to General Botha, together with General Botha’s reply (Appendix II). Polish-Ukrainian Armistice
(It was agreed that this question should not be discussed until M. Paderewski’s arrival.)
7. M. Clemenceau said he wished to make a last appeal to his Italian colleague. The situation had fortunately not as yet reached the worst point of gravity. Nevertheless, it was necessary to present the terms to the Austrians very shortly, and consequently it was impossible to leave them much longer at St. Germain without a conversation. Yesterday he had seen M. Orlando, and had explained to him the gravity of the present situation for France as well as for Italy. M. Orlando with his usual open-mindedness, had said that some proposal must be made. First, however, some definite conversations must take place. He did not want to anticipate M. Orlando’s proposals, but he hoped that some proposal would be made to get out of the difficulty. It would be an immeasurable relief, even if an unsatisfactory solution could be reached, and this relief would extend not only to Governments, but to peoples. If M. Orlando was not prepared to propose anything today, he hoped he would do so as early as possible. Italian Claims
M. Orlando said that, as he had remarked this morning, it would be a veritable liberation to get a solution, and he was fully in accord with M. Clemenceau on this, and he thanked him for raising the question. M. Clemenceau had stated his own sentiments perfectly. M. Clemenceau asked what was the decision of Italy? When this question had been discussed here between April 15th and April 20th, a marked difference had been shown between the maximum demands of Italy and the common views of all the Allied and Associated Powers. On April 20th he himself had said that, given the situation in which Italy had to renounce everything outside the Treaty of London, he would insist on adherence to the Treaty of London with all that it involved. He recognised, however, that this would divide him and his Allies from President Wilson, for the Allies stated that they would adhere to the Treaty [Page 48] although they were not perhaps in accord with it. But President Wilson said that he was not in accord with it and not bound by it. Thus, a difference would be created between the United States on one hand, and France and Great Britain on the other, and this was very undesirable. From the Italian point of view, what he desired was some transaction which would involve an agreement, but, failing that, he must claim the Treaty, however undesirable. He would seek every way of conciliation. For example, there had been the proposals of Mr. Lloyd George between April 20th and 23rd. Later, there had been the discussions between Col. House and Mr. Miller and himself. He desired ardently to get out of the difficulty with the agreement of everyone. But, if not, he must demand the Treaty of London.
President Wilson said that he feared they were somewhat in danger of getting into a cul de sac. He wanted very earnestly to point out to his Italian colleague the situation as it presented itself to him as a whole. We could not move in two opposite directions at once, and yet the Italians appeared to be trying to do so. The Treaty of London was made in circumstances which had now altogether altered. He was not referring now to the fact of the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but to the partnership of the world in the development of peace, and the attention which had been directed by plain work-a-day people to this partnership as a basis of peace. When the Treaty of London had been entered into, there had only been a partnership between a few Great Powers—Russia, France, Great Britain, with Belgium and Serbia, against Germany, Austria and Turkey. As Belgian and Serbian soil had been violated, the only voluntary partners were France, Great Britain and Russia. He understood that these Powers had wished to induce Italy to become a partner, and for this reason had entered into the Treaty of London. At that time the world had not perceived that the war was a matter of common concern. He knew this because his own people had gone through this phase. He himself, probably before most of his people, saw the effect that the war was going to have on the future destinies and political development of the world. Slowly, at first very slowly, the world had seen that something was being done which cut at the roots of individual liberty and action. When that was realised, there was a common impulse to unite against the Central Empires. Thus, there came into the war many peoples whose interest was absolutely separate from any territorial question that was European in character. They came in for motives that had no connection with territory or any advantage. They sought only the emancipation of the world from an intolerable threat. Then there came new ideas, and the people of the world began to perceive [Page 49] that they had a common purpose. They realised that it was not only Belgium and Serbia, but all the small States that were threatened. Next there was a realisation of the rights of minorities and small groups of all kinds. The light broadened out into a perception of the final settlement that was at hand. It was about this time that he himself had made his address to Congress on the results of the war. His own address had taken place, he thought, three days after Mr. Lloyd George’s address to the House of Parliament. The only difference between the two addresses was that he summed up his in 14 points. Both his speech and that of the Prime Minister of Great Britain contained the same line of thought and ideas. They stated in their speeches what was coming into the consciousness of the world. When the Armistice was reached, his own statements had been accepted as the basis not only of the Armistice, but also of the peace. These ideas had by this time taken possession of all the world, and even the Orient was beginning to share them. Then came the League of Nations as a practical thing,—up to then, it had been regarded as of academic interest—and the nations of the world desired to achieve peace on that basis; hence, when the Peace conference began, the whole platform of the Peace had been laid down. This platform had no relation to the ideas which belonged to the old order in European politics, namely, that the stronger Powers could dispose of the weaker. Great Britain and France had no right because they were strong to hand over peoples who were weak. The new conception did not admit of this. If these principles were insisted on, they would violate the new principles. There would then be a reaction among the small nations that would go to the very heart of the Peace of the world: for all these small nations, when they saw other nations handed over, would say, “Our turn will come next.” One of the reasons for which the United States people had gone to war was that they were told that the old-fashioned methods were dead. Hence, if Italy insisted on the Treaty of London, she would strike at the roots of the new system and undermine the new order. The United States would be asked under the Covenant of the League of Nations to guarantee the boundaries of Italy, and they could not do so if this Treaty were insisted on. There was one question which would not be susceptible of solution. If Italy insisted on the Treaty of London, as M. Clemenceau had pointed out, we could not ask Yugoslavia to reduce her army below the point necessary to maintain her safety against Italy. Yugo-Slavia would never do it. It would be impossible to use force against her—against the very power whose violation had caused the outbreak of the present war. This process could not be repeated to accomplish the ends the Italians had in [Page 50] view. If he was to be the spokesman and the spiritual representative of his people, he could not consent to any people being handed over without their consent. But he could consent to any people being handed over who stated that they wished to be. He was willing that Italy should have any part on the eastward slope of the Istrian Peninsula whose population would vote to be attached to Italy. Only he could not assent to any population being attached that did not so vote. He wanted to point out to M. Orlando that Great Britain and France could not hand over any part of Yugoslavia to Italy, and that it could not be a legal transaction, except in accordance with the general peace: that is to say, only in the event of all parties being in agreement. It was constantly urged in the Italian Press and by Italian spokesmen that they did not want to abandon the Italians on the other side of the Adriatic. Was it not possible to obtain all she desired by means of a plebiscite? There would be no risk to Italy to leave the operation of a plebiscite to be carried out under the League of Nations. Italy herself would be a member of the League of Nations, and there would be no possibility of her being treated unfairly. If Italy did not take advantage of this, she would be establishing her enemies on her eastern borders. Thus there would be a beginning again of the evils that had arisen in the Balkans. Beyond the boundaries of Italy would be the Yugoslavs with their eyes turned towards the population which had been placed under Italy by the powerful Western nations. It was impossible for Italy to adopt both methods. Either she must abandon the new methods altogether, or else she must wholly abandon the old methods and enter into the new world with the new methods under conditions more hopeful for peace than had ever before prevailed.
M. Orlando said he had no difficulty in recognising that President Wilson’s speech was perfectly logical, provided that his hypotheses were correct. What he disputed, however, was the correctness of these hypotheses. He could not admit that the Treaty of London was a violation of the principles of justice and right. The Treaty of London had merely anticipated the boundaries which would have to be drawn. All through the present Conference terrible problems had presented themselves, involving ethnical, geographical, strategical and other considerations, and in every case great difficulties had had to be surmounted in order to reach a solution. The Treaty of London had merely anticipated these difficulties. The Treaty of London was indeed a compromise transaction. It was a compromise because of the renunciation by Italy of Fiume and half of Dalmatia. including the Italian towns of Spalato and Trau. It was a compromise because of the admixture of races. Hence, he could not [Page 51] admit the premise of President Wilson that the Treaty of London was, without discussion, a violation of right and justice. Whether it was good or bad, it was a compromise. Experience showed that for Italy it was a bad compromise, because Italy did not get satisfaction on Fiume. He deeply regretted this, but accepted it in a spirit of compromise. However, if the Treaty was not acceptable another solution must be sought. He much regretted that he could not possibly accept a plebiscite. His first reason for rejecting it was that it would prolong the present state of anxiety in Italy. His second objection was the complexity of the problems. He could not deny, for example, that on the eastern slope of the Istrian Alps, the majority of the inhabitants were Slavs. Consequently, a plebiscite would not give the right result to Italy. But in this case he had to seek a different principle from the ethnographical principle, namely, that the line of the Alps was the defence of his country. His third reason—and he did not wish to make comparisons detrimental to other peoples—was that there was a different state of culture in Jugo-Slavia from Italy, because there was a different state of civilisation. It was quite true that Italian military authorities had, in many places, got on perfectly well with the inhabitants. But, nevertheless, in these conditions he could not count with any confidence on the sincerity of the plebiscite. These were the three reasons why he could not accept the proposal for a plebiscite. He was ready to try and find a solution, but he could not see one at present. His conclusion unfortunately, therefore, was that an impasse had been reached. In these circumstances, what course was open to him? He had only his Treaty to make an appeal to. He was not a Shylock, demanding his pound of flesh from the Jugo-Slavs. Great Britain and France had given their adhesion to this arrangement. He could not say he was satisfied with the Treaty and he regretted profoundly the difficulty it had created with the United States. But as no other way could be found out, he was bound to adhere to this attitude.
President Wilson said that he did not characterise the Treaty in the manner M. Orlando had suggested, but only as inconsistent with the new order of settlements, namely, that the ethnical principle should be adopted except where other paramount considerations, such as the existence of the Alps, were introduced. If there was no doubt the principle of self-determination should be followed. He reminded M. Orlando that, in the case of the Polish corridor, where very strong strategical considerations had applied, this territory had not been assigned to Poland, because there had been a solid German block, notwithstanding that the essential railway connecting Poland with the sea ran through this corridor. We had not even felt at liberty [Page 52] to assign the Port of Dantzig itself to Poland. Moreover, he did not contemplate a plebiscite without effective supervision. If any plebiscite took place it would be carefully observed and overlooked, and no plebiscite under coercion would be accepted. In the most friendly way he wished to ask whether if he, himself, stated his reasons publicly and made the proposal he had made this afternoon, that is, that the territory between the line of the crest of the Istrian Peninsula and the line of the Treaty of London should be granted a plebiscite, would M. Orlando feel equally at liberty and justified in publicly stating his objections?
M. Orlando said that he first wished to dissipate a misunderstanding. When he had spoken of the intimidation of the Slavs, he had not spoken of anything which was likely to occur before or during a plebiscite. He spoke rather of the fears and apprehensions for the future, which would deter people from voting for Italy. Consequently, a genuine vote would not be obtained. It was not at the moment of the plebiscite that he anticipated constraint but in the future. So far as concerned Poland whatever the result of the plebiscite, some 1,700,000 Germans would be assigned to Poland. If the whole of the Italian claims were granted and the Austrian figures, notoriously inaccurate as they were, were taken as true, not half this number of aliens would be assigned to Italy. As regards President Wilson’s last question, he would naturally try and avoid any public statement, particularly at the present time when attempts were being made to reach a solution, but, if President Wilson should make such a public statement, he would reply as he had replied to-day and would give the same arguments.
President Wilson said that he hoped that before M. Orlando reached a final conclusion, he would consult with his colleagues. He hoped he would remember the difficulty of carrying out the Treaty of London, even if it were correct to. He had joined in creating a machine and method that could not be used for that purpose. He hoped that he would discuss the question again and that he was not tired of trying to find some new course.
M. Orlando said that he could reply at once that whenever conciliation was proposed, he would not refuse. He, therefore, accepted President Wilson’s request.
M. Clemenceau said that what struck him was that M. Orlando never made a proposal. From the beginning of these discussions he had never once made any definite proposal. He had made a claim to Fiume. He had applied the principle of self-determination to Fiume. But when he came to discuss Dalmatia he had dropped the principle. There was another contradiction in his method. He had claimed the Treaty of London as regards Dalmatia, but when it came [Page 53] to Fiume he had proposed to break the Treaty of London. Yet another argument was that, as President Wilson said, the Treaty of London was not really a solution. Supposing that France and Great Britain gave Italy the Treaty of London. It would not result in peace, and consequently did not provide a solution. Hence, the only solution put forward was not a solution. Hence, he felt that it was necessary for the methods to be changed. It might be a good plan to have a Committee of four people to examine every suggestion. If a conclusion was not reached, the Council would be the laughing stock of the world, and a position of real danger would be reached. The only solution proposed was one that would put the world in anarchy, and he hoped that when that happened nobody could say it was his fault. He could not agree to a solution that was nothing at all but a continuation of war. Hence, he demanded that the discussion should be continued. At bottom, he was in favour of the maintenance of the Treaty of London. What President Wilson had said about the change of mind of the peoples of the world which had occurred during the war was a very serious consideration. In the earlier parts of the war, people had talked about seizure of territory, but afterwards had come the idea of the liberties of peoples and the building up of new relations. The Italians must recognise this. He was not speaking against the Italian people, but he felt it was time the Italians examined these aspects of the matter, and this was a subject to which he would call his Italian colleagues’ attention.
M. Orlando said he was quite agreed to a continuation of the discussion.
M. Clemenceau again insisted that M. Orlando never made a proposal. To-day, all he could suggest was the Treaty of London, but this meant anarchy and the continuation of war. He asked M. Orlando to make proposals.
M. Orlando undertook to do so.
8. The Articles for inclusion in the Treaties of Peace with Austria committee on New and Hungary, approved earlier in the afternoon, were initialled by the Four Heads of Governments. Committee on New States; Articles in the Treaties of Peace With Austria & Hungary
(Sir Maurice Hankey was instructed to forward them to the Drafting Committee).
9. The Economic Clauses for insertion in the Treaties of Peace with Austria and Hungary, approved on the 24th inst.,2 were initialled by the Four Heads of Governments. Economic Clauses in the Treaties of Peace With Austria & Hungary
(Sir Maurice Hankey was instructed to forward them to the Drafting Committee).[Page 54]
10. The alterations in the Covenant of the League of Nations, approved at the morning meeting,3 (addition of Air to Naval and Military Clauses) were initialled by the League of Nations Four Heads of Governments. Alterations in the Covenant of the League of Nations
(Sir Maurice Hankey was instructed to forward them to the Drafting Committee.)
- This document does not accompany the minutes.↩
- See CF–30, minute 1 and appendix, pp. 1–4 and 5–14.↩
- See CF–32, p. 25.↩
- The text of the draft articles to be inserted in the treaty with Austria does not accompany the minutes.↩
- Vol. v, pp. 775 and 859.↩
- For text, see appendix IV to CF–22, ibid., pp. 783 and 789.↩