Paris Peace Conf. 180.03401/81

CF–81

Notes of a Meeting of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers Held at Mr. Lloyd George’s Residence, 23 Rue Nitot, Paris, on Sunday, June 22, 1919, at 9 p.m.

  • Present
    • America, United States of
      • President Wilson.
    • British Empire
      • The Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd George, O. M., M. P.
      • The Rt Hon. A. J. Balfour, M. P.
    • France
      • M. Clemenceau.
    • Italy
      • M. Sonnino.
    • Japan
      • Baron Makino.
Secretaries— { Sir Maurice Hankey, K. C. B.
Count Aldrovandi.
Captain A. Portier.
Interpreter—Prof. P. J. Mantoux.

M. Sonnino accepted the draft reply.

Baron Makino, after reading both documents, accepted the draft reply, which was signed by M. Clemenceau, and transmitted.

(The letter was then signed by M. Clemenceau, and dispatched by Colonel Henri to Versailles.) The Following German Notes of June 22nd, No. 67, No. 68, No. 76, and the Important Note No. 70, Which Had Arrived Only Two Hours Before From Versailles (Appendix I)

(It was agreed to publish the letter and the reply in the morning newspapers of Monday, June 23rd.)

2. Mr. Balfour said that he had prepared a draft letter to the Germans, but had sent it to Mr. Hurst to check certain points of law and fact. A Draft Reply Prepared by President Wilson, and Agreed to by M. Clemenceau and Mr. Lloyd George (Appendix II)

(It was agreed to postpone consideration of this matter until the following morning.) The Sinking of Ships in the Orkneys

Appendix I to CF–81

[The President of the German Delegation (Von Haniel) to the President of the Peace Conference (Clemenceau)]

WCP–1047

Translation

No. 67

Sir: The President of the Imperial Ministry has instructed me by telegraph to inform Your Excellency as follows:— [Page 608]

“After the Cabinet had handed in its resignation which was accepted by the President of the Empire, the President of the Empire formed a new Cabinet, which is composed as follows:

President of the Imperial Ministry Bauer.
Imperial Minister of Finance and representative of the Minister President } Erzberger
Imperial Minister for Foreign Affairs Hermann Müller.
Imperial Minister of the Interior Dr. David.
Imperial Minister of Commerce Wissell.
Imperial Minister of Labour Schlicke.
Imperial Minister of Food Schmidt.
Imperial Minister of Defence Noske.
Imperial Minister of Posts Giesberts.
Imperial Minister of the Treasury Mayer-Kaufbeuren
entrusted with the formation of an Imperial Ministry of Communications and the carrying on of the business of the Imperial Ministry of the Colonies. } Dr. Bell.

The new Imperial Ministry will appear on the 22nd June before the National Assembly in order to demand of it the vote of confidence prescribed by the Constitution.

Weimar, June 21, 1919.

(Signed) Bauer.”

I have, etc.

Von Haniel

WCP–1049

Translation

No. 68

Sir: I have the honour to transmit to Your Excellency herewith copies of two telegrams sent to me from Weimar:

1. In alteration of the full powers of the 27th April last I hereby call upon you and empower you to hand in the answer of the Imperial Government to the Note of the President of the Peace Conference of the 16th instant, to afford explanation thereon, to receive counter-explanations and to conduct negotiations. Written full powers follow. Weimar, June 21st, 1919.

(Sd) Ebert, President of the Empire
Counter-signed. Bauer, President of the Imperial Ministry

2. In the name of the Empire.

In alteration of the full powers of the 27th April last the Envoy Haniel von Haimhausen is hereby called upon and empowered to hand over the Reply of the Imperial Government to the Note of the President of the Peace Conference of the 16th instant, to afford explanations to receive counter-explanations and to conduct negotiations. Weimar, June 21st, 1919.

(Sd) Ebert, President of the Empire
(Counter-signed). Bauer, President of the Imperial Ministry

I shall not fail to forward to Your Excellency the full Powers upon receipt thereof.

I have [etc.]

Von Haniel
[Page 609]

WCP–1046

Translation of German Note

No. 70

Mr. President: The Imperial Minister of Foreign Affairs has instructed me to communicate the following to Your Excellency:—

“The Government of the German Republic has, from the moment when the Peace Conditions of the Allied and Associated Governments were made known to it, left no doubt to subsist as to the fact that the Government in harmony with the whole German people, must regard these conditions as being in sharp contrast with the principle which was accepted by the Allied and Associated Powers on the one hand, and Germany on the other hand, as being binding in accordance with the laws of nations for the peace before the conclusion of the armistice.

“Relying upon this principle of justice which was agreed upon between the parties to the negotiations, and assisted by a clear exposition of conditions in Germany, the Government has left no stone unturned in order to arrive at direct verbal exchange of opinions, and thus to obtain some mitigation of the unbearably harsh conditions which might render it possible for the Government of the German Republic to sign the Treaty of Peace without reservations, and to guarantee its execution.

“These endeavours of the Government of the German Republic, which were undertaken in the interest of the peace of the world, and the reconciliation of peoples, have failed owing to rigorous insistence on the conditions of peace. Far-reaching counter-proposals of the German Delegation have only in certain points received any acceptance. The concessions made only reduce the severity of the conditions in a small degree. The Allied and Associated Governments have in an ultimatum which expires on June 23rd, confronted the Government of the German Republic, with the decision either to sign the Treaty of Peace presented by them or to refuse to sign. In the latter case a completely defenceless people has been threatened with the forcible imposition of the conditions of peace already presented and with the increase of the heavy burdens.

“The German people does not wish for the resumption of the bloody war, it honestly wishes for a lasting peace. In view of the attitude of the Allied and Associated Governments, the German people has no other force in its hands save to appeal to the eternally inalienable right to an independent life which belongs to the German people as to all peoples. The Government of the German Republic can lend no support to this sacred right of the German people by the application of force. The Government can only hope for support through the conscience of mankind. No people, including those of the Allied and Associated Powers, could expect the German people to agree with thorough conviction to an instrument of peace, whereby living members of the very body of the German people are to be cut off without consultation of the population concerned, whereby the dignity of the German State is to be permanently impaired, and whereby unendurable [Page 610] economic and financial burdens are to be laid upon the German people.

“The German Government has received passionate expressions of opinion from the population in the districts to be cut off in the East, to the effect that they (the population) will oppose themselves to the separation of these districts which have for the greater part been German for many centuries by all means they possess. The German Government therefore finds itself compelled to decline all responsibility for any difficulties which may arise from the resistance of the inhabitants against their separation from Germany.

“If the Government of the German Republic is nevertheless ready to sign the conditions of the Allies with the above-mentioned reservation, yet this is not done of its free will. The Government of the German Republic solemnly declares that its attitude is to be understood in the sense that it yields to force, being resolved to spare the German people, whose sufferings are unspeakable, a new war, the shattering of its national unity by further occupation of German territories, terrible famine for women and children, and mercilessly prolonged retention of the prisoners of war. The German people expects in view of the grievous burdens which it is to take upon itself that all German military and civilian prisoners beginning on July 1, and thereafter in uninterrupted succession, and within a short period shall be restored. Germany gave back her enemies’ prisoners of war within two months.

“The Government of the German Republic engages to fulfil the conditions of peace imposed upon Germany. It desires, however, in this solemn moment to express itself with unreserved clearness, in order to meet in advance any accusation of untruthfulness that may now or later be made against Germany. The conditions imposed exceed the measure of that which Germany can in fact perform. The Government of the German Republic therefore feels itself bound to announce that it makes all reservations and declines all responsibility as regards the consequences which may be threatened against Germany when, as is bound to happen the impossibility of carrying out the conditions comes to light even though German capacity to fulfil is stretched to the utmost.

“Germany further lays the greatest emphasis on the declaration that she cannot accept article 231 of the Treaty of Peace which requires Germany to admit herself to be the sole and only author of the war, and does not cover this article by her signature. It consequently follows without further argument that Germany must also decline to recognise that the burdens should be placed upon her on the score of the responsibility for the war which has unjustly been laid at her door.

“Likewise, it is equally impossible for a German to reconcile it with his dignity and honour to accept and execute Articles 227 to 230, by which Germany is required to give up to the Allied and Associated Powers for trial individuals among the German people who are accused by the Allied and Associated Powers of the breach of international laws and of committing acts contrary to the customs of war.

“Further, the Government of the German Republic makes a distinct protest against the taking away of all the colonial possessions [Page 611] of Germany, and against the reasons given therefor which permanently deny to Germany fitness for colonial activity, although the contrary is clearly established and irrefutable evidence to this effect is contained in the observations of the German Peace Delegation on the conditions of Peace.

“The Government of the German Republic assumes that it is in accordance with the desires of the Allied and Associated Governments that it has spoken openly, both as regards what concerns its goodwill and also as regards its reservations. Therefore, in view of the condition of constraint into which the German people are forced by the requirements of the Allies—a condition of constraint such as has never been inflicted on any people in any manner more crushing and more disastrous in its consequences—and relying on the express undertaking of the Allied and Associated Governments in their memorandum of June 16, 1919, the German Government believes itself to be entitled to address the following modest request to the Allied and Associated Governments in the expectation that the Allied and Associated Governments will consider the following declaration as an integral portion of the Treaty:—

‘Within two years counting from the day when the Treaty is signed, the Allied and Associated Governments will submit the present Treaty to the High Council of the Powers, as constituted by the League of Nations according to Article 4, for the purpose of subsequent examination. Before this High Council the German plenipotentiaries are to enjoy the same rights and privileges as the representatives of the other contracting Powers of the present Treaty. This Council shall decide in regard to those conditions of the present Treaty which impair the rights of self-determination of the German people, and also in regard to the stipulation whereby the free economic development of Germany on a footing of equal rights is impeded.’

“The Government of the German Republic accordingly gives the declaration of its consent, as required by the Note of June 16th, 1919, in the following form:—

‘The Government of the German Republic is ready to sign the Treaty of Peace without, however, recognising thereby that the German people was the author of the War, and without undertaking any responsibility for delivering persons in accordance with Articles 227 to 230 of the Treaty of Peace.’

Weimar, June 21st, 1919.

(Signed) Bauer, President of the Imperial Ministry.”

Accept [etc.]

Von Haniel

WCP–1048

Translation

No 76

Sir: In continuation of my Note No. 70 of to-day’s date, I have the honour to inform Your Excellency on behalf of the German Government that the National Assembly at to-day’s plenary meeting passed a vote of confidence in the new Imperial Ministry by 236 votes to 89, with 68 abstentions.

I have [etc.]

Von Haniel
[Page 612]

Appendix II to CF–81

WCP–1051

Reply to German Note of 22nd June, 1919 1

(See WCP–1046)

(Approved by the Council of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers on June 22nd, 1919)

The Allied and Associated Powers have considered the Note of the German Delegation of even date and in view of the shortness of the time remaining feel it their duty to reply at once. Of the time within which the German Government must make their final decision as to the signature of the Treaty less than 24 hours remain. The Allied and Associated Governments have given the fullest consideration to all of the representations hitherto made by the German Government with regard to the Treaty, have replied with complete frankness and have made such concessions as they thought it just to make; and the present Note of the German Delegation presents no arguments or considerations not already examined. The Allied and Associated Powers therefore feel constrained to say that the time for discussion has passed. They can accept or acknowledge no qualification or reservation and must require of the German representatives an unequivocal decision as to their purpose to sign and accept as a whole or not to sign and accept, the Treaty as finally formulated.

After the signature the Allied and Associated Powers must hold Germany responsible for the execution of every stipulation of the Treaty.

  1. Note No. 70, p. 609.