Paris Peace Conf. 180.03401/85


Notes of a Meeting Held at President Wilson’s House in the Place des Etats-Unis, Paris, on Monday, June 23, 1919, at 12:10 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, O. M., M. P.
    • France
      • M. Clemenceau
    • Italy
      • M. Sonnino
    • Japan
      • Baron Makino
Secretaries { Sir Maurice Hankey, K. C. B.
Count Aldrovandi.
Interpreter—Prof. P. J. Mantoux.

1. The Council had before them the draft, prepared by the Committee on New States, of the Covering Letter to be addressed to M. Paderewski in transmitting to him the Treaty to be signed by Poland, under Article 93 of the Treaty Letter Thereto; Peace with Germany, which had been prepared in accordance with a decision taken on June 21st, C. F. 77, minute 1,1 (Appendix I). The Polish Treaty and the Covering Letter Thereto; (Mr. Headlam-Morley and Mr. Hudson Were Present During This Discussion)

Mr. Lloyd George raised the question of the language to be employed in the Jewish schools in Poland. He thought that M. Paderewski’s criticisms in this respect had force. In the United States of America or in Great Britain, for example, the religious idiosyncracies of particular sects were given some latitude, but were fitted into the educational system of the country. It was a question, however, whether the Jews ought to be allowed separate schools in Poland.

Mr. Headlam-Morley said that under the stipulations of the Treaty, the schools for Jews in the Polish State were to be administered by Committees of Jews.

Mr. Lloyd George asked if that gave them more power than under the system in force in the United Kingdom, where Roman Catholics and Jews supervised their schools, but the general system and curriculum was a part of the education of the country and under the State.

Mr. Headlam-Morley said that the system in the Treaty had been deliberately arranged so that the education should remain under the [Page 625] Polish State, though the management of the schools would be under persons of the Jewish faith. This point was explained in the covering letter.

Mr. Hudson said that the principles adopted in the Treaty were very elastic so as to leave the schools under the general control of the State.

Mr. Lloyd George asked who would arrange the curriculum.

Mr. Headlam-Morley said that the State would be in a position to lay it down.

Mr. Lloyd George said that this was not M. Paderewski’s reading of the Treaty.

Mr. Hudson suggested that the draft letter might be amplified to make it quite clear to M. Paderewski.

Mr. Headlam-Morley said he had suggested that the word “persons” should be substituted for “Committees” in regard to the schools, the object being that people were apt to be frightened by the use of the word “Committee”. His colleagues, however, had not agreed in this. In their latest draft, the Commission had cut out all reference to a Central Polish Committee, and had substituted the word “Committees”.

Mr. Balfour pointed out that in the United Kingdom a Roman Catholic school was a local Roman Catholic school. No such provision was made here. Under this Treaty there might be a great Central Jewish Committee in Warsaw.

Mr. Headlam-Morley said that alterations had been inserted to meet this.

Mr. Balfour suggested that in Article 10 the word “local” should be added before “Committee”.

(This was agreed to.)

Mr. Lloyd George asked if it should not be made clear that Yiddish should not be taught. There was no objection to Hebrew, which was a recognised language, but he did not think that Yiddish ought to be taught.

President Wilson pointed out that Yiddish was a spoken language in many parts of the world, including the United States. The Polish Government ought not to be in a different position towards it from other countries.

Mr. Headlam-Morley said that the Commission were informed that in the case of very small children, no other language but Yiddish could be used. They spoke Yiddish in their homes, and, when they first came to the school, they knew no other language. It ought not to be used, however, when the children were older.

Mr. Lloyd George asked what was done in New York? President Wilson said that teachers were appointed, who understood Yiddish, and they gave their instruction in Yiddish.

[Page 626]

Mr. Lloyd George said that there was all the difference between giving instruction in Yiddish and teaching the Yiddish language. Every effort ought to be made to merge the Jews of Poland in Polish nationality, just as the Jews in Great Britian or France became merged in British or French nationality. He was told there was an active movement to keep the Jews not merely as a separate religion, but as a separate race.

President Wilson pointed out that in this case we were not dealing with Great Britain or France or the United States, where the Jewish population knew that they were governed on the same principles as the other subjects of the State. If the Polish State would adopt the same principles, it would help matters.

Mr. Headlam-Morley said that in Poland there was an extremely aggressive Jewish national movement.

Mr. Lloyd George read the following resolution, which had been adopted on Saturday (C. F. 77, Minute 1):—2

“The Commission was also authorised to consider the nature of alterations required in the draft Treaty with Poland, in order to provide that in all except the primary schools, Jewish children should be instructed in the Polish and not in the Yiddish language, thereby avoiding the risk of encouraging the use of Yiddish as one of the national languages for a part of the population of Poland.”

He thought that that went rather too far, as it suggested that the children would be taught Yiddish in the primary schools.

President Wilson read the following extract from Article 9 of the draft Polish Treaty:—

“Poland will provide in the public educational establishments in towns and districts, in which a considerable proportion of Polish nationals of other than Polish speech are residents, reasonable facilities for ensuring that instruction shall be given to the children of such Polish nationals in their own language.”

He proposed to add after the word “public” the word “primary”.

Mr. Headlam-Morley pointed out that that would enable the Germans to be instructed in the German language. The majority of the Committee, he said, thought that the decision on Saturday applied only to Yiddish children. Germans in the transferred districts could be taught in the German language, but they would have no Committee as the Jews would have. In the case of the Jews, Yiddish might be used in the primary schools as a medium of instruction, but not in secondary schools. The majority of the Committee thought that it was not fair to ask the Polish Government to devote funds for secondary instruction in the Yiddish language. The American Delegation, however, had dissented from this view.

[Page 627]

President Wilson read the following extract from a memorandum giving the view of the American Delegation:—

“2. In pursuance of his suggestion to the Supreme Council on Saturday, Mr. Headlam-Morley wants to add to Article 10, concerning the Jews’ control of their own schools, a statement that

‘Nothing in this article shall prevent the Polish Government from making obligatory the use of Polish as the ordinary medium of instruction in the higher schools.’

This addition goes beyond my understanding of his suggestion on Saturday. It is strongly opposed by the American Jews here. I have opposed it for the following reasons:

It would encourage the Poles to forbid Yiddish instruction in Jewish superior schools, thereby greatly diminishing the value of Article 10.
Since the Jewish schools are to be “subject to the general control of the State”, the Polish Government is not forbidden by the articles as they stand to regulate the languages to be used in them.
The articles as they stand leave the Polish Government free to require that all college and university instruction should be in Polish.
The unity of the Polish State, so far as languages in schools are concerned, is already sufficiently protected by the provision that the teaching of Polish may be made obligatory.”

It was not a question, he said, of whether children should be taught Polish, but whether it should be used as the sole medium of instruction in all the primary schools.

Mr. Headlam-Morley said that the view of the majority of the Commission was that as the children came from homes where Yiddish only was spoken, it must be the medium of instruction in the first instance.

M. Sonnino asked why the teaching of Yiddish should be prohibited.

Mr. Headlam-Morley said it was not prohibited. The only question was how much the Polish Government was to be forced to do in the way of providing facilities for the use of Yiddish in the schools.

Mr. Lloyd George said that he was not in favour of imposing as an international obligation on the Polish Government the teaching of Yiddish. He would only assent to its use as a medium of instruction in primary schools.

M. Sonnino asked whether, supposing Poland prohibited the teaching of Yiddish, would not this be inflicting the hardship which it was desired to avoid? The Jews would then either have to teach Yiddish at home, or maintain special schools for it.

Mr. Headlam-Morley said that the Jewish movement in Poland was not with the object of promoting a religious movement, but a separate Jewish nationalism. A Jewish friend of his, who had just returned from Poland, had told him that there was an increasing use of Yiddish in the streets.

[Page 628]

(After some further discussion, it was agreed:—

With regard to the use of languages other than Polish, the Polish Government should be given a free hand in all schools except primary schools. But, in those cases where there was a considerable minority, as provided in Article 9 and 10 of the draft Treaty with Poland, of children of Polish citizens speaking a language other than Polish, facilities should be given for them to receive instruction in the primary schools through the medium of their own language. The Commission on New States were authorised, in conjunction with the Drafting Committee, to make the necessary modifications in the draft Treaty with Poland.
The draft letter to the Polish Delegation submitted by the Committee was approved, subject to a re-drafting of the passage dealing with schools, in accordance with the above decision.)

2. Mr. Balfour urged that the term “persons of Jewish faith” should be used instead of Jews in the Treaty with Poland. He was strongly in favour of only giving privileges to Jews on the ground that they were of Jewish religion and not because they were of Jewish faith [sic]. Political and Religious Use of the Term “Jew”

M. Sonnino pointed out that if a Jew became a Christian, he would then not receive the protection.

(Mr. Headlam-Morley and Mr. Hudson withdrew.)

(M. Tardieu, Captain Johnson, Mr. Leeper,3 Colonel Pariani4 and Captain de St. Quentin5 were introduced.)

3. M. Tardieu explained a difficulty that had arisen in the Commission on Roumanian and Yugo-Slav Affairs in regard to the reference that had been given to it on June 21st.6 In the Treaty with Austria, certain frontiers had been drawn subject to a reservation that the Principal Allied and Associated Powers reserve the right to define the plebiscite area in the Klagenfurt district. The frontiers given to Austria in the Treaty included a small section of the district now proposed for the Klagenfurt plebiscite. The Italian Delegation urged that the frontiers granted to Austria should be maintained, and that the portion affected should be excluded from the plebiscite district. The majority of the Commission, however, maintained that the right to draw the plebiscite area justified the Allied and Associated Powers in including the whole area as now proposed. Klagenfurt

M. Sonnino urged that Austria had provisionally been given a certain line, with a possible expectation of obtaining something [Page 629] more. It was not fair to Austria to alter this line. The implication to the Austrians was that for the moment they must content themselves with that line with a possibility of getting something more.

M. Tardieu pointed out that the ultimate result might be a considerable improvement in the situation from Austria’s point of view.

(After some discussion, it was agreed that no change should be made in the plebiscite area as already drawn.)

Appendix I to CF–85


Draft of the Covering Letter To Be Addressed to M. Paderewski in Transmitting to Him the Treaty To Be Signed by Poland Under Article 93 of the Treaty of Peace With Germany

Sir: On behalf of the Supreme Council of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers, I have the honour to communicate to you herewith in its final form the text of the Treaty which, in accordance with Article 93 of the Treaty of Peace with Germany, Poland will be asked to sign on the occasion of the confirmation of her recognition as an independent state and of the transference to her of the territories included in the former German Empire which are assigned to her by the said Treaty. The principal provisions were communicated to the Polish Delegation in Paris on the … May, and were subsequently communicated direct to the Polish Government through the French Minister at Warsaw. The Council have since had the advantage of the suggestions which you were good enough to convey to them in your Memorandum of June 16 [15],7 and as the results of a study of these suggestions, modifications have been introduced in the text of the Treaty. The Council believe that it will be found that by these modifications the principal points to which attention was drawn in your Memorandum have, in so far as they relate to specific provisions of the Treaty, been adequately covered.

In formally communicating to you the final decision of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers in this matter, I should desire to take this opportunity of explaining in a more formal manner than has hitherto been done the considerations by which the Principal Allied and Associated Powers have been guided in dealing with this matter.

[Page 630]

1. In the first place, I would point out that this Treaty does not constitute any fresh departure. It has for long been the established procedure of the public law of Europe that when a State is created, or even when large accessions of territory are made to an established State, the joint and formal recognition by the Great Powers should be accompanied by the requirement that such State should, in the form of a binding international Convention undertake to comply with certain principles of government. This principle, for which there are numerous other precedents, received the most explicit sanction when at the last great Assembly of European Powers, the Congress of Berlin, the sovereignty and independence of Serbia, Montenegro and Rumania was recognised. It is desirable to recall the words used on this occasion by the British, French, Italian and German Plenipotentiaries, as recorded in the Protocol of June 28, 1878:8

“Lord Salisbury recognises the independence of Serbia but is of opinion that it would be desirable to stipulate in the Principality the great principle of religious liberty.

. . . . . . .

“Mr. Waddington believes that it is important to take advantage of this solemn opportunity to cause the principles of religious liberty to be affirmed by the representatives of Europe. His Excellency adds that Serbia, who claims to enter the European family on the same basis as other States, must previously recognise the principles which are the basis of social organisation in all States of Europe and accept them as a necessary condition of the favour which she asks for.

. . . . . . .

“Prince Bismarck, associating himself with the French proposal declares that the assent of Germany is always assured to any motion favourable to religious liberty.

“Count de Launay says that in the name of Italy he desires to adhere to the principle of religious liberty which forms one of the essential bases of the institutions in his country and that he associates himself with the declarations made on this subject by Germany, France, and Great Britain.

“Count Andrassy expresses himself to the same effect, and the Ottoman Plenipotentiaries raise no objection.

“Prince Bismarck, after having summed up the results of the vote, declares that Germany admits the independence of Serbia, but on condition that religious liberty will be recognised in the Principality. His Serene Highness adds that the Drafting Committee, when they formulate this decision, will affirm the connection established by the Conference between the proclamation of Serbian independence and the recognition of religious liberty.”

2. The principal Allied and Associated Powers are of opinion that they would be false to the responsibility which rests upon them if [Page 631] on this occasion they departed from what has become an established tradition. In this connection I must also recall to your consideration the fact that it is to the endeavours and sacrifices of the Powers in whose name I am addressing you that the Polish nation owes the recovery of its independence. It is by their decision that Polish sovereignty is being re-established over the territories in question and that the inhabitants of these territories are being incorporated in the Polish nation. It is on the guarantee of these Powers that for the future Poland will to a large extent depend for the secure possession of these territories. There rests, therefore, upon these Powers an obligation, which they cannot evade, to secure in the most permanent and solemn form guarantees for certain essential rights, which will afford to the inhabitants the necessary protection whatever changes may take place in the internal constitution of the Polish State.

It is in accordance with this obligation in that clause 93 was inserted in the Treaty of Peace with Germany. This clause relates only to Poland, but a similar clause applies the same principles to Czechoslovakia, and other clauses have been inserted in the Treaty of Peace with Austria and will be inserted in those with Hungary and with Bulgaria, under which similar obligations will be undertaken by other States which under those treaties receive large accessions of territory.

The consideration of these facts will be sufficient to show that by the requirement addressed to Poland at the time when it receives, in the most solemn manner, the joint recognition of the re-establishment of its sovereignty and independence, and when large accessions of territory are being assigned to it, no doubt is thrown upon the sincerity of the desire of the Polish Government and the Polish nation to maintain the general principles of justice and liberty. Any such doubt would be far from the intention of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers.

3. It is indeed true that the new Treaty differs in form from earlier Conventions dealing with similar matters. The change of form is a necessary consequence and an essential part of the new system of international relations which is now being built up by the establishment of the League of Nations. Under the older system the guarantee for the execution of similar provisions was vested in the Great Powers. Experience has shown that this was in practice ineffective, and it was also open to the criticism that it might give to the Great Powers, either individually or in combination, a right to interfere in the internal constitution of the States affected which could be used for political purposes. Under the new system the guarantee is entrusted to the League of Nations. The clauses dealing with this guarantee have been carefully drafted so as to make it clear that Poland will not be in any way under the tutelage of those Powers who are signatories to the Treaty.

[Page 632]

I should desire moreover to point out to you that provision has been inserted in the Treaty by which disputes arising out of its provisions may be brought before the Court of the League of Nations. In this way differences which might arise will be removed from the political sphere and placed in the hands of a judicial court, and it is hoped that thereby an impartial decision will be facilitated, while at the same time any danger of political interference by the Powers in the internal affairs of Poland will be avoided.

4. The particular provisions to which Poland and the other States will be asked to adhere differ to some extent from those which were imposed on the new States at the Congress of Berlin. But the obligation imposed upon new States seeking recognition have at all times varied with the particular circumstances. The Kingdom of the United Netherlands in 1815 formally undertook precise obligations with regard to the Belgian provinces at that time annexed to the Kingdom which formed an important restriction on the unlimited exercise of its sovereignty; it was determined at the establishment of the Kingdom of Greece that the Government of that State should take a particular form, viz: it should be both monarchical and constitutional; when Thessaly was annexed to Greece, it was stipulated that the lives, property, honour, religion and customs of those of the inhabitants of the localities ceded to Greece who remained under the Hellenic administration should be scrupulously respected; and that they should enjoy exactly the same civil and political rights as Hellenic subjects of origin. In addition, very precise stipulation[s] were inserted safeguarding the interests of the Mohammedan population of these territories.

The situation with which the Powers have now to deal is new, and experience has shown that new provisions are necessary. The territories now being transferred both to Poland and to other States inevitably include a large population speaking languages and belonging to races different to that of the people with whom they will be incorporated. Unfortunately the races have been estranged by long years of bitter hostility. It is believed that these populations will be more easily reconciled to their new position if they know from the very beginning they have assured protection and adequate guarantees against any danger of unjust treatment or oppression. The very knowledge that this guarantee exists will, it is hoped, materially help the reconciliation which all desire, and will indeed do much to prevent the necessity of its enforcement.

5. To turn to the individual clauses of the present Treaty. Clauses 2–5 are designed to ensure that all the genuine residents in the territories now transferred to Polish sovereignty shall in fact be assured of the full privileges of citizenship. Article 6 guarantees to all inhabitants [Page 633] those elementary rights which are as a matter of fact secured in every civilised State. Articles 7 and 8, which are in accordance with precedent, provide against any discrimination against those Polish citizens who by their religion, their language or their race differ from the large mass of the Polish population. It is understood that far from raising any objection to the matter of these articles, the Polish Government have already of their own accord declared their firm intention of basing their institutions on the cardinal principles enunciated therein.

The following Articles are of rather a different nature in that they provide more special privileges to certain groups of these minorities. In the final revision of these Articles, the Powers have been impressed by the suggestions made in your Memorandum of June 16th [15th] and the articles have in consequence been subjected to some material modifications. In the final text of the Treaty it has been made clear that the special privileges accorded in Article 9 are extended to Polish citizens of German speech only in such parts of Poland as are, by the Treaty with Germany, transferred from Germany to Poland. Germans in other parts of Poland will be unable under this article to claim to avail themselves of these privileges. They will therefore in this matter be dependent solely on the generosity of the Polish Government and will in fact be in the same position as German citizens of Polish speech in Germany.

6. Clauses 10 and 12 deal specifically with the Jewish citizens of Poland. The information at the disposal of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers as to the existing relations between the Jews and the other Polish citizens unfortunately compels them to recognise that special protection is necessary for the former. These clauses have been limited to the minimum which seems necessary under the circumstances of the present day, viz: the provisions for the maintenance of Jewish schools and the protection of the Jews in the religious observance of their Sabbath. It is believed that they will not create any obstacle to the political unity of Poland; they do not constitute any recognition of the Jews as a separate political community within the Polish State. The educational provisions contain nothing beyond what is in fact provided in the educational institutions of many highly organised modern States. There is nothing inconsistent with the sovereignty of the State in recognising and supporting schools in which children shall be brought up in the religious influences to which they are accustomed in their home. Ample safeguards against any use of non-Polish languages to encourage a spirit of national separation have been provided in the express acknowledgment that the provisions of this Treaty do not prevent the Polish State from making instruction in the Polish language obligatory in all its schools and educational institutions.

[Page 634]

7. The economic clauses contained in Chapter II of the Treaty have been drafted with the view of facilitating the establishment of equitable commercial relations between independent Poland and the other Allied and Associated Powers. They include provisions for reciprocal diplomatic and consular representation, for freedom of transit and for the adhesion of the Polish Government to certain international conventions.

In these clauses the Principal Allied and Associated Powers have not been actuated by any desire to secure for themselves special commercial advantages. It will be observed that the rights accorded to them by these clauses are extended equally to all States who are members of the League of Nations. Some of the provisions are of a transitional character and have been introduced only with the necessary object of bridging over the short interval which must elapse before general regulations can be established by Poland herself or by commercial treaties or general conventions approved by the League of Nations.

In conclusion, I am to express on behalf of the Allied and Associated Powers the very sincere satisfaction which they feel at the re-establishment of Poland as an independent State. They cordially welcome the Polish nation on its re-entry into the family of nations. They recall the great services which the ancient kingdom of Poland rendered to Europe both in public affairs and by its contributions to the progress of civilisation which is the common work of all civilised nations. They believe that the voice of Poland will add to the wisdom of their common deliberations in the cause of peace and harmony and that its influence will be used to further the spirit of liberty and justice, both in internal and external affairs, and that thereby they will help in the work of reconciliation between the nations which, with the conclusion of peace, will be the common task of humanity.

The Treaty, by which Poland at the same time solemnly declares before the world her determination to maintain the principles of justice, liberty, and toleration, which were the guiding spirit of the ancient Kingdom of Poland, and receives in its most explicit and binding form the confirmation of her restoration to the family of independent Nations, will be signed by Poland and by the Principal Allied and Associated Powers on the occasion of, and at the same time as, the signature of the Treaty of Peace with Germany.

  1. Ante, p. 569.
  2. Ante, p. 569.
  3. French, American, and British representatives respectively on the Commission on Roumanian and Jugoslav Affairs.
  4. Italian technical expert assisting the Commission on Roumanian and Jugoslav Affairs.
  5. Of France, one of the secretaries of the Commission on Roumanian and Jugoslav Affairs.
  6. CF–79, p. 581
  7. Appendix II to CF–74, p. 535.
  8. British and Foreign State Papers, vol. lxix, p. 946.