Paris Peace Conf. 180.03401/73½


Notes of a Meeting Held at Mr. Lloyd George’s Residence, 23 Rue Nitot, Paris, on Tuesday, June 17, 1919, at 3 p.m.

  • Present
    • United States of America
      • President Wilson.
    • British Empire
      • The Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd George, M. P.
    • France
      • M. Clemenceau.
Sir Maurice Hankey, K. C. B.—Secretary.
Prof. P. J. Mantoux.—Interpreter.

1. Mr. Lloyd George showed to his two colleagues a memorandum written by General Sir Henry Wilson.

M. Clemenceau said that he had seen Marshal Petain in the morning. He had told him exactly what had occurred with Marshal Foch on the previous day. Marshal Petain had said he was not surprised. Marshal Foch had communicated to Marshal Petain part of his plan and Marshal Petain thought it rather rash in parts. Of course, M. Clemenceau commented, their natures were quite different. Marshal Petain was wise, prudent, square and rather on the cautious side. He recalled that, when Marshal Foch had been appointed, Marshal Petain had advised him to insist on seeing his plans before they were carried out, but when he had shown to Marshal Petain a year ago the plan that Marshal Foch worked out for a continued offensive against the Germans, he had replied that it was a very fine thing, and that with Marshal Foch’s initiative and drive it ought to work out. Marshal Petain’s view on the present situation was that Marshal Foch’s plan should be executed, but with prudence, but, in making this observation, he had remarked that he only knew the French Army’s part in the plan and did not know the part of the British and American Armies. Action in the Event of the Germans Refusing To Sign

Mr. Lloyd George and President Wilson said that neither did they.

M. Clemenceau said he had then asked Marshal Petain to return to Chantilly, where he had a first rate Chief of the General Staff, and study the plan with great care as far as he knew it and then come back to report to him. Later in the day, he, himself, had received Marshal Foch’s plan.

Marshal Foch’s plan was then read aloud. (Appendix I.)

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After the reading of the plan, President Wilson said that it left the Council exactly where they were yesterday, with the substitution of an armistice for the previously proposed separatist policy. An armistice was not the business of the Governments but of the military authorities.

M. Clemenceau agreed, and did not think the Council could take any part in it. He remarked that, when Marshal Foch had been told yesterday that Mr. Lloyd George and President Wilson would, if it were essential, ask their Legislatures for more troops, Marshal Foch had not replied. He was particularly anxious not to have any trouble with Marshal Foch before the Germans had given their reply and hence he saw no need to rush matters. He asked if, in the meanwhile, the British Navy could prepare to do something against Dantzig.

Mr. Lloyd George said that he had already enquired into this when there was a question of landing the Poles there, and he had been told that it was heavily fortified and that the ships could do nothing. He suggested that orders to Marshal Foch should be carefully prepared and signed by the Council of Five, instructing him that his objective in the event of the Germans refusing to sign was Berlin and the object to get peace signed. It should be stated that the aim of the Allied and Associated Powers is to get peace signed, and that the centre of Government was to be the military objective. Copies should be given to General Pershing and General Robertson. He suggested that someone with a military mind should prepare it, in order that it might be framed like a military order with an unmistakable meaning, such as Marshal Foch would understand.

M. Clemenceau undertook to prepare a document and to let his colleagues have it on Thursday night.

2. In reply to a question by Mr. Lloyd George, President Wilson said that if the Germans signed the peace he proposed to return to the United States as soon as possible, in order to Movements get the Treaty through the Senate. President Wilson’s Movements

Mr. Lloyd George said he had received a well considered memorandum from a Member of the British Delegation Staff, urging that the Austrian Treaty should be amended with the object of detaching Austria from Germany. He undertook to give a copy to President Wilson. The Detachment of Austria From Germany

Villa Majestic, Paris, 17 June, 1919.

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Appendix I to CF–73B


Note From Marshal Foch

No. 3025

Renewal of the Offensive:

The offensive of the Allied Armies is ready to start again on the day prescribed by the Governments: the armies, ready a first time for May 20th, have been prepared again as a consequence of the orders given by Marshal Foch June 14th, and confirmed the 16th. The operations, except for an order of the Governments to the contrary, will commence the day they have indicated, June 23rd, 7 p.m.

This offensive will be undertaken and followed according to the program studied by the Commanders in Chief of the Allied Armies on April 24th, disclosed to the Heads of Governments May 10th, and ordered for the Commanders in Chief by this joint directory on May 20th, that is to say, in the direction of Weimar and Berlin, in order to force the German Government to sign the peace.

It is difficult to foresee at what point of this movement we shall obtain peace, and whether it will be necessary or not to go to Berlin to overthrow the German Government.

But, it is certain that as fast as our advance forward proceeds, it will be burdened by an occupation in the rear, all the more difficult because the populations passed through, having recovered their masculine character, are, if not strongly held in check, able to form important centers of conflict, insurrection, or simply of strikes of an embarrassing nature, to weaken and even to stop the advance of Allied Armies or to interfere with their communications.* It is naturally impossible to estimate the magnitude of the difficulties that we shall encounter and accordingly the cost of occupation which they will require of us. But, forthwith, it is important to lessen as many as possible of these costs—with the consequence that it is necessary, in order to lighten our burden from the weight of the populations, that we be able, on the way, to bring to peace: the Grand Duchy of Baden, Württemberg, Bavaria.

This result should be obtained by the maneuver indicated in paragraph 2 of the plan described above: “Employ force in the valley of the Main in order to separate northern Germany from southern Germany.” [Page 526] It is to exploit completely the strategic action of separation by:

A separation maneuver which, with successive armistices, stops hostilities in the conquered zones;
And, equally, a military action of reduction and of occupation of southern Germany based on French forces marching from the Black Forest and Italian forces marching from the Inn.

This preoccupation with realizing materially the results to be obtained implies neither irresolution nor tardiness in the march toward the final objective. The commander wishes simply, as such is his duty, not to neglect any trump nor to permit any cause of weakness behind him.

Finally, in assembling the military operations to be brought against Germany, there is reason for counting very highly upon our Czech and Polish allies, it being a question whether to have the Czech forces intervene offensively in German territory or support the Polish Army in the conflict which seems to be ready for it.

Delivering the blow, as rapidly as possible, in the valley of the Main assures our communications by railroad with Czechoslovakia and Poland. It unites into a single theater of operations the concert of countries which are able to move against Germany. It renders possible, against the heart of Germany, a concentric action, well integrated, coordinated, and supported—and moreover the revictualling of these countries, a portion of which is done at present by the railway lines which the renewal of hostilities will close for us.

In conclusion, the advance, in leaving the Rhine, with the forces which are at our disposal, will offer much more of a chance of arriving at its destination, Berlin, if we shall have detached as quickly as possible from the German bloc the southern constituencies; if we shall have, with this objective, forced the southern states out of the war by successive armistices, which I request the Governments henceforth to envisage; if we shall have extended a hand by the Main, to the Czechs and Poles, with the purpose of an advance ultimately converging upon Berlin.

As it appears:

  • The commencement of our offensive is assured;
  • Its outcome cannot be guaranteed a priori.

It will be greatly facilitated by the conditions enumerated above.

I have the honor of requesting the Governments to try to consider these seriously and to inform me if they share this point of view.

F. Foch
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No. 2583

Instructions Only for the High Command

I. The German Government refusing to sign the preliminaries of peace, it is necessary, in order to break its resistance and to impose on them the peace, to aim at this resistance where it exists, Weimar, Berlin, with military means indisputably superior.

For this objective:

Move in the direction of Weimar, Berlin, centers of German resistance, the forces of the Allied Armies, the greatest strength possible starting from the nearest points, Mayence, Coblenz, Cologne, by the shortest route.

II. Thus organized and launched in this direction, with its flanks well covered by the Main on the south, the Lippe on the north, the forces of the Allied Armies will realize already in the course of the movement results of a nature to weaken the German State:

In reducing decidedly its territory to the South, for the attack in the valley of the Main will separate northern Germany from southern Germany;

In reducing considerably its economic means in the north by the occupation of the basin of the Ruhr.

III. Perhaps the German Government, thus deprived of an important part of its means of resistance, will be willing to submit without more delay to the conditions of the entente.

In this case the Allied Armies, if they are halted, will remain always covered on their flanks by the Main on the south, the Lippe on the north.

IV. Having the Allied forces on a war footing permits the execution of this plan of operations. They comprise from the beginning:

37 divisions of infantry and 5 divisions of cavalry*

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of which it would be sufficient to maintain in place for the occupation of the Rhenish country about:

6 divisions of infantry

which would leave available for the first operations:

31 divisions of infantry and 5 divisions of cavalry.


A French force 12 divisions of infantry 2 divisions of cavalry Operating south of the general line: Coblenz, Limburg, Giessen, Risenach.
A United States force 2 United States divisions of infantry. 1 French division of cavalry. Operating north of and including the line mentioned above and south of the line: Remagen, Siegen, Brilon Beverungen.
A British force 6 divisions of infantry 1 British division of cavalry. Operating north of and including the line mentioned above and south of the line Dusseldorf (to the Belgians), the road Dusseldorf-Ratingen, Ruffrath [Richarth?], Hattingen, Witten, Hörde, Unna, Dinker, Lippborg, this route entirely to the Belgians.
A Franco-Belgian force. 3 Belgian divisions of infantry. 1 Belgian division of cavalry. Operating between the last line mentioned above and the Lippe.
2 French divisions ol infantry.
in general reserve (6 divisions of infantry) at the disposition of the Commander in Chief of the Allied Armies. 3 French divisions of infantry. In the region of Mainz.
2 British divisions of infantry. In the region of Cologne.
1 French division of infantry. In the region of Neuss.
31 divisions of infantry 5 divisions of cavalry

Copies for: General Headquarters by Commander Les Cannes.
General Pershing, by Cycliste.
General { Michel
Gillain by Belgian Mission.
General Robertson by General Grant.
General Fayolle by General Paquette.
  1. Translation from the French supplied by the editors.
  2. Service by the railroads is necessarily dependent upon German personnel. [Footnote in the original.]
  3. Belgian forces 6 divisions of infantry and 1 division of cavalry
    British forces 10 1
    United States forces 3
    French forces 18 3
    37 5

    [Footnote in the original.]

  4. 3 Belgian divisions of infantry
    2 British divisions of infantry
    1 United States division of infantry
    6 divisions of infantry

    The French forces of occupation being taken from outside of the units indicated above.

    [Footnote in the original.]