Paris Peace Conf. 180.03401/74
Notes of a Meeting Held at President Wilson’s House in the Place des Etats-Unis, Paris, on Tuesday, June 17, 1919, at 4 p.m.
- United States of America.
- President Wilson.
- British Empire
- The Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd George, M. P.
- M. Clemenceau.
- M. Sonnino.
- H. E. Baron Makino.
- United States of America.
|Sir Maurice Hankey, K. C. B.||}||Secretaries.|
|M. di Martino.|
|Prof. P. J. Mantoux.—Interpreter.|
1. (It was agreed that the Convention in regard to the Rhine should be published.) Publication of the Rhine Convention
2. The Council had before them a Draft Treaty with Poland submitted by the Committee on New States. (Appendix I.)*
Mr. Lloyd George suggested that the Council ought to hear a long memorandum he had received from M. Paderewski on the subject. Draft Treaty With Poland Submitted by the Committee on New States; M. Paderewski’s Letter
President Wilson then read M. Paderewski’s memorandum. (Appendix II.)
After the reading of the memorandum, Mr. Lloyd George said that this was a fundamental challenge to the whole of the policy of the Allied and Associated Powers in regard to Small States. He did not feel himself competent to examine it in detail and suggested it should be referred to the Committee on New States.
President Wilson said that the point about the memorandum which struck him was the statement that we were claiming more for the Germans in Poland than for the Poles in Germany. This was a serious indictment. He recalled that some years ago, the United States had denounced a Treaty with Russia at considerable inconvenience, because of the ill-treatment by Russia of Jews who were citizens of the United States. They had taken this action on the ground not that Jews had been maltreated but that American Jews were being maltreated, that is to say, distinctions were being made between American [Page 530] citizens which were not recognised in the United States. Here, there was a danger of imparting to the Jews a corporate capacity.
Mr. Lloyd George said there was also something in the contention that a separate organisation for Jewish schools would tend to create a separate nation of the Jews in Poland rather than unity. This would lend itself to German intrigue.
President Wilson then put the other side of the question. There was no doubt that Roumania had done disgraceful things to the Jews in spite of the provisions of the Treaty of Berlin. If the minorities could be ill-treated without provision for appeal, they would derive no advantage from the Treaty. Roumania had broken the Treaty of Berlin in this respect again and again with impunity. Hence, it was necessary to provide for some appeal. In reply to M. Sonnino, he said that, if these provisions were adopted, Jews in the United States would be able to bring sufficient influence to bear to call the attention of the Council of the League of Nations to the matter. What these people feared was interference with their internal affairs.
Mr. Lloyd George pointed out that Poland and Czecho-Slovakia had been called into existence by the Great Powers and could not live without these Powers. Consequently, they were not quite in the position of the old established States.
(After some further discussion, it was agreed to refer M. Paderewski’s memorandum to the Committee on New States to consider the objections raised to their Treaty and to see whether some of these objections could not be met.)
3. The attention of the Council was drawn to the alternative drafts put forward in regard to Article 13 of the draft treaty with Poland.
(It was agreed that States only, and not individuals should have the right of appeal to the Permanent with Poland Court of International Justice, and consequently that the draft proposed by the French, British and Japanese Delegations should be adopted.) Articles 13 of the Draft Treaty With Poland
4. M. Sonnino suggested that the Memorandum in Appendix III, Farther Questions which he read, should be referred to the Committee New states. Further Questions Referred to the Committee on New States
(This was agreed to.)
5. The Council had before them a note from the Supreme Economic Council1 raising the question as to whether, after the acceptance of the conditions of peace by Germany, measures are still to be taken to prevent commodities from reaching Bolshevik Russia or Hungary. Blockade on Hungary and Bolshevik Russia
President Wilson pointed out that a legal blockade could not be established after peace had been made.[Page 531]
Mr. Lloyd George pointed out that Germany would receive all the hides and flax of Russia which were important to all the nations of Europe. This raised the question as to whether the whole of the commerce of Russia was to be left to German exploitation. If he were quite convinced, which he was not, that the Bolsheviks could be crushed in the present year, he might be willing to make a special effort. This led to a discussion on the subject of the prospects of the Bolsheviks, in the course of which President Wilson read a note from General Bliss pointing out that Koltchak’s troops had evacuated 15,000 square miles and were steadily retreating from the line of the Volga. That the fall of Petrograd was not imminent since the Esthonians refused to advance until they were recognised. There had been an uprising on Koltchak’s lines of communication. In Eastern Siberia, Koltchak depended upon Horvat2 and Semen-off,3 while in Central Siberia he depended on Allied troops.
President Wilson then read Para. 7 of the note from the Supreme Economic Council, in which was recommended the abstention from any positive measures or public announcement indicating a resumption of trade with Russia.
Mr. Lloyd George said the real difficulty was how to answer a question in Parliament or an interpellation in the Chamber. How was a question to be answered “Is it permissible to trade with Russia?” Was he to reply “Yes” or “No” to that question.
President Wilson asked if Great Britain was at war with Bolshevik Russia.
Mr. Lloyd George replied that hostilities were going on at Archangel.
President Wilson said that this did not constitute a legal state of war, since there had been no formal declaration of war. Consequently, there was no legal basis for a blockade. His reply to such a question would be that there was no legal warrant for estranging trade, and that the signature of Peace removed the legal basis.
Mr. Lloyd George compared the decision to what had occurred in past days between Great Britain and Spain, when we had attacked Spanish colonies and seized their ships, while keeping our ambassador at the Court of Madrid. What would his reply be if he was asked whether British subjects could buy flax and sell boots? If he replied “No”, then the Germans would get the trade.
President Wilson said his reply would be that there was no legal basis for preventing it, but that traders would do it at their risk.[Page 532]
Sir Maurice Hankey asked what answer he was to give to the note from the Supreme Economic Council.
Mr. Lloyd George said that an answer must be given. The question arose as to whether a blockade should be maintained in the Baltic. It was necessary to prevent the smuggling of arms from Germany to Bolshevik Russia by sea. It would be difficult for the Germans to send war material across Poland and the Baltic provinces, but it would not be so difficult to send it by sea.
(After some further discussion it was agreed that the answer should be in the following sense—
After the acceptance of the conditions of peace by Germany, measures are not still to be taken to prevent commodities from reaching Bolshevik Russia or Hungary, but the recommendation of the Supreme Economic Council is approved, that there should be an abstention from any positive measures or public announcement indicating a resumption of such trade. The Supreme Economic Council should be asked, however, to examine as to whether, consistently with this decision, means could be found for preventing war material from being carried by sea from Germany to Bolshevik Russia.)
6. Arising out of the previous discussion of the subject of the Blockade,
President Wilson said that Mr. Hoover had reported to him that the Allied Maritime Transport Council had issued an order that all Allied ships on completing discharge of cargo should leave German ports, and that no more ships of the Allied and Associated Powers should proceed to German ports. One result had been that several United States’ ships had been detained in British ports. These ships were carrying foodstuffs, not for Germany’s use, but for Poland and Czecho-Slovakia. It had never been found possible to build up ten days’ reserve in Czecho-Slovakia, and the stoppage of these ships was a very serious matter. He himself had advised Mr. Hoover to demand the immediate release of these ships, as his Government were prepared to run the risk of their being held up in German ports. The action that had been taken by the Allied Maritime Transport Council really amounted to a reimposition of the Blockade, notwithstanding that it had been decided that the blockade was not to be imposed unless and until a further order was given. United States Shipping Detained in Great Britain
Mr. Lloyd George said he had only heard of the matter for the first time this afternoon. He understood, however, that the Allied Maritime Transport Council was an Inter-Allied body, and that this decision had been taken for the purpose of avoiding the seizure of Allied shipping in German ports, and that the United States representative had been present and had agreed in the decision.[Page 533]
President Wilson said he had just ascertained from Mr. Hoover that the United States representative had stated he could not acquiesce without Mr. Hoover’s instructions.
Mr. Lloyd George said that he could not understand this action being taken unless at least the United States representative had said he could only agree subject to confirmation.
President Wilson pointed out that this action had been taken a week before the Germans had to state whether they would sign.
Mr. Lloyd George said that unless ample warning had been given there would not have been time to extricate the ships, since it would take them some time to discharge. He understood that Lord Robert Cecil was the Chairman of this Committee.
Sir Maurice Hankey said he believed the action had been taken by the Executive of the Allied Maritime Transport Council, and not by the Council itself.
President Wilson said it was no good the Council taking decisions in regard to the Blockade, when these subordinate bodies took action without their authority. He had told Mr. Hoover that he was to protest against the detention of the American ships, as he was not willing to impose privation on the population of Czecho-Slovakia and Poland.
M. Clemenceau said that the Allied Maritime Transport Council appeared to have acted outside its authority, but nevertheless he could not consider it as altogether unfortunate.
Mr. Lloyd George agreed that the threat of the Blockade might provide an additional inducement for the Germans to sign, and he undertook to make immediate enquiries and to take the necessary action for the release of the United States ships.
Note: Mr. Lloyd George immediately after the Meeting instructed his private secretary to telephone to London to order the release of the United States’ ships.
7. The Council had before them a Note from the Superior Blockade Council on the suggested agreement by Austria regarding trade with Hungary and Germany. (Appendix IV).
(It was agreed that no decision in regard to this could be taken without further explanation of what was intended.) Proposed Agreement by Austria Regarding Trade With Hungary and Germany
8. M. Sonnino said that the Austrian Delegation was already beginning to send in Notes, and this raised the question of the machinery of the Peace Conference for dealing with them.
(It was agreed that the Notes should be referred Delegation to the same Commissions as had been established to deal with Notes from the German Delegation.) Method of Dealing With Replies From the Austrian Delegation[Page 534]
9. M. Sonnino raised the question of the position of the military officers of the Allied and Associated Powers, who had been sent to Klagenfurt. He understood that the Yugo-Slavs had, notwithstanding the communications from the Allied and Associated Powers, pushed on and compelled the Austrians to accept an armistice, under the terms of which they had to evacuate Klagenfurt. The four military officers had found the Yugo-Slavs in possession of Klagenfurt. They had no authority to order them to go out. The Yugo-Slavs were there and would probably refuse to go unless these officers were given general authority to insist upon the execution of the orders of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers. If this were not done, it would be very little use arranging for the Plebiscite. Carinthia: The Armistice
President Wilson said that personally he was of opinion that both forces ought to withdraw. The military officers ought not to be told until the Governments had been communicated with. He suggested that a communication should be made, both to the Government of the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, and to the Austrians, informing them that they were expected to withdraw from the territory in question, the boundaries of which should be stated.
The question having been raised as to who should keep order in the withdrawal of the above forces,
Mr. Lloyd George said it would be no use to put in Italian troops to keep order, as the Jugo-Slavs would oppose them.
M. Sonnino said that Italy had no desire for a permanent occupation of the Klagenfurt region.
President Wilson suggested that the maintenance of order should be left to the local police forces.
(It was agreed that the Council of Foreign Ministers should be asked to formulate a demand to the Government of the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, and to the Austrian Government, informing them that the forces of both States should be withdrawn from the Klagenfurt area, the boundaries of which should be described in the despatch. A copy of the despatch should be sent to the military officers on the spot of the Allied and Associated Powers.)
10. President Wilson said that on enquiry he found that it was very difficult for him to send United States troops to occupy Upper Silesia during the plebiscite. Once peace was declared the United States troops had to be with-drawn. Upper Silesia: Occupation During the Plebiscite
Villa Majestic, Paris, 17 June, 1919.[Page 535]
[The draft treaty with Poland which was to form appendix I to CF–74 does riot accompany the minutes of this meeting.]
- Will be forwarded later. [Footnote in the original. The text of the draft treaty referred to does not accompany the minutes of this meeting.]↩
- The text of this note does not accompany the minutes of this meeting.↩
- Gen. Dmitri L. Horvat, Russian Governor and General Manager of the Chinese Eastern Railway; High Commissioner of the Kolchak government for the Far East.↩
- Gen. Gregory Semenoff, Ataman of the Far Eastern Cossacks.↩