Paris Peace Conf. 180.03401/76

CF–76

Notes of a Meeting Held at President Wilson’s House in the Place des Etats-Unis, Paris, on Saturday, June 21, 1919, at 11 a.m.

  • Present
    • United States of America
      • President Wilson.
    • British Empire
      • The Rt. Hon. A. J. Balfour, O. M., M. P.
    • France
      • M. Clemenceau.
    • Italy
      • M. Sonnino.
    • Japan
      • Viscount Chinda.
Sir Maurice Hankey, K. C. B. } Secretaries.
M. di Martino.
Prof. P. J. Mantoux.—Interpreter.

A large number of experts were present for a portion of the meeting in connection with the different aspects of the German Note. Among them were the following, but it is regretted that the list is probably incomplete:—

  • United States of America
    • Mr. Norman H. Davis.
    • Mr. J. F. Dulles.
    • Mr. B. M. Baruch.
    • Mr. T. W. Lamont.
    • Mr. M. O. Hudson.
    • Mr. J. Brown Scott.
    • Dr. Taussig.
  • British Empire
    • Lord Sumner.
    • Sir Eyre Crowe, K. C. B., K. C. M. G.
    • Mr. C. J. B. Hurst, C. B., K. C.
    • Mr. J. W. Headlam-Morley.
    • Mr. H. Fountain, C. B., C. M. G.
    • Mr. W. Carter.
  • France
    • M. Klotz.
    • M. Loucheur.
    • M. Clementel.
    • General Le Rond.
    • M. Fromageot.
    • M. Jouasset.
    • M. Cheysson.
  • Italy
    • M. Crespi.
    • M. Ricci-Busatti.
  • Japan
    • M. Adatci.
    • M. Nagoki [Nagaoka?].

1. The Council had before them a Note from the German Delegation, dated June 20th, 1919. (Appendix I.)

On the previous day, M. Clemenceau, with his colleagues’ approval, had instructed the various Com-of June 20th missions to prepare draft replies on the various points raised in the German Note. Reply to German Note of June 20th

2. M. Klotz handed in a draft reply which had been approved by all the experts on the Reparations Commission.

This draft reply was read and approved, subject to some minor alterations. (Appendix II.) Reply in Regard to Reparation

[Page 559]

3. M. Klotz then handed in a draft reply in regard to Financial Matters.

This reply was read by the Interpreter in English and approved without alteration. (Appendix III.) Reply in Regard to Financial Matters

4. M. Clementel handed in a draft reply which had been prepared by the “Economic Commission.

A translation of this was read by the Interpreter. (See Appendix IV.) Reply on Economic Questions

In the course of the discussion on this letter, a point was raised in regard to the powers of the Council of the League of Nations as affecting the period of some of the provisions of the Treaty, namely, as to whether the operation of these parts of the Treaty would continue until put an end to by a decision of the Council of the League of Nations, or as to whether they would cease unless the Council of the League of Nations decided to terminate them. This point was referred back to the Economic Commission to re-draft its letter.

(M. Clementel and other Economic Experts then withdrew to re-draft this passage in their letter.)

(For draft as finally approved, see Appendix V.)

5. At this point, the question was first raised as to the general character of the reply to be given to the German note.

Mr. Balfour pointed out that the Germans in their Character of letter made two complaints. The first was that there were two treaties, one which had been handed to them originally and a second one which accompanied the reply to the German counter-proposals, and which had been amended in manuscript by the Drafting Committee but also included certain alterations in the print. Their second point was as to whether M. Clemenceau’s letter1 commenting on their counter-proposals was binding on the Allies. This appeared to be a question of international law, which should be referred to the lawyers members of the Drafting Committee who were in the adjoining room. The question on which their opinion was required was as to whether this note had the same binding effect as a protocol attached to the Treaty. General Character of the Reply

(President Wilson then left the room to consult the Drafting Committee.)

President Wilson, on his return, said that the opinion of the Drafting Committee was that M. Clemenceau’s letter as an interpretation of the Treaty was binding in the sense that it could not be controverted in an arbitral court. In explaining how the Treaty was to be carried out, it expressed the limitation of the powers to be exercised and this [Page 560]constituted an undertaking binding, as he understood it, in honour but not in law. Mr. Hurst had suggested that it would be very easy to prepare a protocol to be attached to the Treaty, summarising the points which should be binding in a legal sense.

M. Clemenceau suggested that the text of the letter and memorandum in reply to the German counter-proposals should be added as a protocol to the Treaty.

President Wilson suggested that it would be a sufficient answer to the Germans to inform them that an answer would be given in the shape of a protocol attached to the Treaty.

Mr. Balfour said that he was advised by Mr. Hurst that it would be a bad precedent to put the whole of the letters and memoranda, prepared in reply to the German counter-proposals, in the Treaty of Peace. This would be very liable to raise all sorts of difficulties of interpretation, since the letters were not couched in legal language. It would be better to summarize the substantive results of the letters and memoranda in the form of a protocol.

(There was prolonged discussion on this question, which was reverted to and taken up again at frequent intervals. A considerable number of experts, including the Drafting Committee, were invited to express their views. Eventually, the Drafting Committee were instructed to prepare the following documents:—

1.
A reply to the German Note based on the material prepared by the various Commissions.
2.
A protocol for inclusion in the Treaty of Peace containing assurances to the Germans on the various points raised in their letter; these assurances to be extracted as far as possible from the actual text of the Reply of the Allied and Associated Powers to the Observations of the German Delegation on the Conditions of Peace.)

6. In the course of the discussion referred to above, a draft reply to the Germans on the subject of Heligoland was approved.

(Only one manuscript copy was available and the Secretary was unable to obtain a copy. It will be found included in the Drafting Committee’s document.3) Heligoland

7. In the course of the discussion referred to above, a draft reply presented by Viscount Chinda on the subject of Shantung was shantnns approved. Shantung

(Here again, only a single manuscript copy was available and the Secretary was unable to obtain a copy. It will appear in the Drafting Committee’s document.3)

[Page 561]

(The meeting was adjourned to enable the Drafting Committee to prepare the documents referred to in Minute 5.)

8. In the course of the discussion referred to above President Wilson read the attached memorandum from Mr. Lansing, dated June 20th (Appendix VI). Responsibilities

He drew attention to Mr. Lansing’s comment that the list of individuals to be handed over to justice could not be properly completed within the period of one month from the coming into force of the Treaty. He feared, however, that if a mistake had been made, it was too late to correct it.

(This view was generally accepted.)

(The Council then adjourned to President Wilson’s Library.)

Appendix I [to CF–76]4

WCP–1033

To Monsieur Clemenceau.

Sir: In the name of the German Delegation I have the honour to submit to the Allied & Associated Governments the Note contained in the attached Annex.

I have [etc.]

Haniel

Enclosure to Above

Sir: On examining the four documents forwarded on the 16th inst., to the Commissary General of the Delegation5 it appears that a certain number of concessions are announced in the covering letter and in the Memorandum which do not appear in the text as modified by hand. Among the most important contradictions of this nature the German Delegation has collected the following:—

1.
It is said on page 7.6 of the Memorandum that directly Germany is admitted into the League of Nations she shall enjoy the advantages [Page 562]resulting from the provisions relative to freedom of commerce and transit. On the other hand it is stated on page 42.7 of the Memorandum that for a minimum duration of five years, unilateral conditions regarding commercial intercourse will be imposed upon Germany.
2.
It is stated on page 11.8 of the Memorandum that France takes to herself the Public Debt of Alsace-Lorraine.
3.
It is stated on page 14.9 that for the plebiscite in Upper Silesia a “Commission Independante” (in French in the text) will be established, whereas, according to the new Draft Conditions, that Commission will be appointed by the Allied & Associated Governments alone.
4.
It is stated on page 16.10 in regard to the territory of Memel that the cession of that territory will take place by means of transfer to the Allied & Associated Powers because the status of the Lithuanian territories has not yet been established. According to this stipulation Lithuania should be considered as the State which will finally acquire that territory.
5.
According to page 17.11 of the Memorandum, the Commission set up for Heligoland by the Allied & Associated Governments is to decide what Works shall be maintained for the protection of the Island.
6.
On page 21.12 of the Memorandum it is promised that the Railways and the German Mines of Shantung shall not be considered as property of the German State if the Germans can prove that private property is concerned.
7.
On page 31.13 of the Memorandum it is stated that the Allied & Associated Governments are prepared to submit, within one month of the coming into force of the Peace Treaty, a final list of those Germans who must be handed over to their adversaries.
8.
On page 33.14 it is stipulated that the Reparation Commission cannot require the divulgation of Trade Secrets and similar confidential data. It is furthermore stipulated that it will have no executive powers within the territory of Germany, and that it is not to interfere in the direction or control of German Establishments.
9.
On page 34.15 and the following pages of the Memorandum special procedure is provided to establish and cover the reparations demanded of Germany.
10.
On page 36.16 of the Memorandum facilities are promised for Germany to import food supplies and raw material.
11.
Page 38.17 of the Memorandum indicates among the cases in which authorisation to export gold will be considered, cases in which the Reichsbank has furnished guarantees which it cannot furnish by any other means.
12.
On page 53.18 of the Memorandum the assurance is given that persons named by the Allied & Associated Governments who have committed punishable offences in the liquidation of German property will be proceeded against in accordance with penal law.

It is the duty of the German Delegation to render an exact account to its Government and to the National Assembly: it is therefore necessary that it should know absolutely to what degree its adversaries will give binding force to these concessions; it begs Your Excellency to confirm in writing that the contents of the covering letter and of the Memorandum dealing with the points mentioned above constitute an integral part of the New Peace Proposals of the Allied & Associated Governments. In such case it would be sufficient to establish this fact in a final protocol on the text of which the Contracting Parties would have previously to come to an agreement. A doubt was also raised in regard to a second point when the documents were examined. The printed copy of the Draft Peace Treaty handed to us19 differs not only in manuscript corrections and additions from the printed copy which the President of the German Delegation received on the 7th May from the Secretary General of the Peace Conference.

Owing to the exceptional amount of labour imposed on the Delegation by the short time allowed for examination of the documents, it has not yet been able to compare word by word the printed copy of the 7th May with the one and only copy which a great number of persons have constantly to use. I am therefore obliged to reserve to the Delegation the right to make subsequent communications on this subject. For the moment I draw attention to the following differences:—

1.
On page 103.20 of the copy which was most recently transmitted, paragraph 2. contains a third sentence beginning with these words: “Each Government” (Chacun des Gouvernements); this sentence is missing from the copies previously transmitted.
2.
On page 104.21 the English text of paragraph 12. differs in different copies: the paragraph of the previous copies is only one sentence, whereas the copy transmitted in the 1st instance is divided [Page 564]into two sentences, of which the second begins by these words: “The Commission shall in general …”.

Naturally the German Delegation cannot consider as authoritative modifications in the text which are not made by hand, or which are not evidently in the nature of additions, unless the Allied & Associated Governments confirm the fact that these differences are not due to the erroneous use of a false printed copy, but that they answer to a deliberate intention. In the latter case the Delegation requests that all differences of such a character should be notified to it before the expiration of the time allowed to it to take a decision.

For these reasons, which it is easy to understand, the Delegation must consider it to be of the greatest importance that it should receive a reply by return messenger if possible.

I have [etc.]

Brockdorff Rantzau

Appendix II to CF–76

[Translation]22

(Approved by the Council of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers on June 21st, 1919)

The President of the Commission on Reparations to the Secretary General of the Peace Conference

You have kindly forwarded to me a note from the German Delegation under date of June 20, 1919,23 concerning contradictions alleged to exist between the text of the reply made on the 16th of June by the Allied and Associated Powers to the German counter proposals and the manuscript corrections on the copy of the Conditions of Peace sent on same day to the German Delegation.

I have the honor to inform you of the opinion of the Reparations Commission on this matter which was discussed by it this morning.

The questions raised under numbers 8, 9, and 10 of the new German note are the only ones which relate to reparations. The passages in the reply of June 16 under these numbers have exclusively for their object either the interpretation of certain provisions of the treaty or the explanation of certain procedures for its execution; but it should not be said that there is intended on pages 34 and following “a special procedure to fix and cover the reparations exacted from Germany”: this is only the interpretation of a procedure already adopted in the treaty. It is thus natural that the reply is not to be interpreted as a modification of the Conditions of Peace. [Page 565]It is only in the instructions which will be eventually addressed to the Commission on Reparations that the assurances given by the Allied and Associated Governments will be expressed.

On the other hand it does not seem necessary to add to the treaty a final protocol, since the reply of the 16th of June signed by the President of the Peace Conference in the name of the Allied and Associated Powers fully binds these latter.

  • L. L. Klotz
  • G. C.
  • W. W.
  • A. J. B.
  • S. S.

Appendix III to CF–76

[Translation]24

(Approved by the Council of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers on June 21st, 1919)

The President of the Financial Commission to the President of the Peace Conference

You have kindly forwarded to me a copy of the letter of the German Delegation dated June 2025 relative to a certain number of discrepancies between the reply of the Allied and Associated Powers and the Conditions of Peace.

I have the honor to inform you that in the opinion of the Financial Commission the observations Nos. 2 and 11 which concern the financial clauses of the treaty are not well founded.

Observation No. 2. The memorandum declares on page 11 that “concerning the local debt of Alsace-Lorraine and that of the public establishments of Alsace-Lorraine before August 1, 1914, the Allied and Associated Powers have always been in agreement that France should take over this as a charge”.

Article 55 together with article 255 of the treaty relates to the public debts of “the German Empire and the German States” and no clause exempts France from payment of the local debt of Alsace-Lorraine. There is, therefore, no discrepancy between the memorandum and the treaty.

Observation No. 11. The memorandum provides that the Reparations Commission will be “competent to grant to the Reichsbank, [Page 566]whenever it shall deem it suitable, the right to export gold in cases of pledges which this bank has made and which it could not fulfill by other means”.

This statement is in complete accord with the provisions appearing in article 248 of the treaty according to which “up to May 1, 1921 the German Government shall not export or dispose of, and shall forbid the exportation or disposal of, gold without the previous approval of the Allied and Associated Powers acting through the Reparations Commission”.

Thus no modification of the text of the treaty is necessary to insure agreement between the reply of the Allied and Associated Governments and the Conditions of Peace relating to the Financial clauses.

For the President of the Financial Commission:
  • Cl. Sergent
  • W. W.
  • S. S.
  • G. C.
  • A. J. B.

Appendix IV to CF–76

Rough Translation of Original French Draft Read by M. Clémentel this Morning (not adopted)

Note in Reply to Paragraph 1 of the Letter Addressed to the President of the Peace Conference by the German Delegation on 20th June, 191927

The declarations submitted in the Memorandum on Page 7, on the one hand, and on Pages 42 and 43 on the other hand, are mutually complementary.

The Covenant of the League of Nations declares that the members of the League will take all necessary measures to secure and maintain freedom of communications and of transit, in addition to equitable treatment for the commerce of all the members of the League, and Germany will certainly benefit by these measures, as soon as she is admitted into the League, in so far as the special conditions of the transition period permit. These special conditions are set out on Page 42 and explain the refusal to Germany of reciprocity for clauses 264–267, 323 and 327 during a period of at least five years.

The provisions of these clauses are reparation measures, as was expressly laid down in the Memorandum, and Germany’s admission [Page 567]to the League of Nations will not relax in the slightest degree her obligation to carry out these measures.

If the period of five years, during which these clauses shall not be reciprocal in effect, was considered as the minimum, and if provision was made in certain cases for a prolongation of the period by the League of Nations, this is still in conformity with the spirit and the letter of the Covenant of the League of Nations, which provides (Article 23, paragraph e, already mentioned) that the special necessities of the regions devastated during the war of 1914–1918 shall be borne in mind.

The reciprocity claimed by Germany may, indeed, be granted within a shorter period by those States which have suffered least from the war, while certain countries devastated by Germany must retain for a longer time that liberty of action which is for them a vital necessity, as the Memorandum has expressly laid down, until the economic inferiority resulting from the German aggression has been made good.

The League of Nations has the responsibility for not prolonging this unilateral treatment any longer than is necessary.

Appendix V to CF–76

Reply to Paragraph 1 of German Note of 20th June28

(as finally approved)

The statements made in the memorandum on Page 7 on the one hand, and on Pages 42 and 43 on the other, are not inconsistent, but complementary.

The Covenant of the League of Nations states that the members of the League will take measures to secure and maintain freedom of communications and of transit, and equitable treatment for the commerce of all its members. Germany, on her admission to the League, will share in the benefits of these provisions, in common with other countries. However, during the period of transition following peace, regard must be had to the special conditions which are explained on page 42 of the memorandum. The obligations imposed upon Germany as there stated, are in the nature of measures of reparation, and their maintenance throughout the period of five years, so far from being inconsistent with the principle of equitable treatment, is designed to give effect to that principle.

The discretion left with the League of Nations by Articles 280 and [Page 568]378 will be exercised in accordance with the same principle, and in conformity with the spirit and the text of the Covenant of the League.

  • Clementel
  • B. M. Baruch
  • Crespi
  • H. Fountain

Appendix VI to CF–76

Memorandum Prepared by Mr. Lansing, June 20, 1919

In the reply of the Allied and Associated Powers to the observations of the German Delegation on the conditions of Peace, the section on “Penalties” concludes with the following statement:

“The Allied and Associated Powers add that they are prepared to submit a final list of those who must be handed over to justice within one month of the coming into force of the Treaty”.

The German Peace Delegation in a communication dated June 19th,31 states that a certain number of concessions which are contained in the above mentioned memorandum, do not appear in the original conditions of peace and calls special attention to the paragraph quoted above asking to be informed of the effect of these conditions.

The paragraph regarding the submission of a final list of persons to be handed over to justice was not inserted at the instance of the Commission on Responsibilities, and accordingly the Commission does not feel in a position to answer the enquiry of the German Delegation on this matter. In submitting the question to the Council of Four, the Commission on Responsibilities ventures to point out that certain of the Allied and Associated Governments represented on the Commission on responsibilities may find that the list of individuals which they desire to submit cannot be properly completed within the period of one month of the coming into force of the Treaty as stipulated in the paragraph dealing with this matter.

  1. The reference is to the letter, signed by M. Clemenceau, handed to the German delegation on June 16, 1919, together with its accompanying memorandum, p. 926.
  2. For final text of Allied reply of June 21, see appendix I to CF–80, p. 601.
  3. For final text of Allied reply of June 21, see appendix I to CF–80, p. 601.
  4. The document is headed “Translation from the French.”
  5. The four documents transmitted to the German delegation on June 16, 1919, were as follows: (1) A covering letter signed by the President of the Peace Conference, M. Clemenceau, p. 926; (2) a detailed memorandum comprising the reply of the Allied and Associated Powers to the remarks of the German Delegation on the Conditions of Peace, p. 935; (3) a copy of the treaty with certain alterations made by hand in red ink; (4) the declaration by the Governments of the United States, Great Britain, and France in regard to the occupation of the Rhine provinces, p. 522.
  6. Part I, section II.
  7. Part X, section I.
  8. Parts II and III, section V.
  9. Parts II and III, section VII.
  10. Parts II and III, section X.
  11. Parts II and III, section XIII.
  12. Part IV, section V.
  13. Part VII, section II.
  14. Part VIII, 9th paragraph.
  15. Part VIII, 11th and following paragraphs.
  16. Part VIII, antepenultimate paragraph.
  17. Part IX.
  18. Part X (section VI, penultimate paragraph).
  19. See footnote 5, p. 561.
  20. The reference is to paragraph 2 of annex II to part VIII of the final text of the treaty.
  21. The reference is to paragraph 12 of annex II to part VIII of the final text of the treaty.
  22. Translation from the French supplied by the editors.
  23. Appendix I, supra.
  24. Translation from the French supplied by the editors.
  25. Appendix I, p. 561.
  26. Appendix I, p. 561.
  27. Appendix I, p. 561.
  28. Appendix I, p. 561.