Paris Peace Conf. 180.03401/92


Notes of a Meeting Held at President Wilson’s House in the Place des Etats-Unis, Paris, on Wednesday, June 25, 1919, at 4 p.m.

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

1. (M. Dutasta, Secretary-General of the Peace Conference, was introduced.)

M. Dutasta said that he had seen von Haniel, who told him he had telegraphed twice to Berlin asking who the German representatives would be and when they were due to arrive, but had received no answer. Von Haniel had added that the German Government had removed from Weimar to Berlin and that their first Cabinet Council in Berlin was to be held this morning. On the conclusion of that, he expected an answer. M. Dutasta had asked him to communicate again and he had promised to do so immediately. According to von Haniel, the German Government was encountering great difficulty in finding persons ready to sign the Treaty. He had made von Haniel understand that an answer was expected this evening, or tomorrow at the latest. Date of Signature of the Treaty of Peace

M. Clemenceau instructed M. Dutasta to proceed to Versailles tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. unless he had heard in the meanwhile from Colonel Henri.

2. M. Mantoux said that M. Tardieu was in attendance to obtain a decision of principle on a point connected with the desire of the French Government to be allowed to buy or to borrow United States ships for communication with the French Colonies, for which France had a great insufficiency of shipping. Shipping for the French Colonies

[Page 670]

M. Clemenceau said the question should first be sent to experts.

(It was agreed, on President Wilson’s suggestion:—That M. Tardieu should arrange for a joint memorandum to be prepared by the experts of the Allied and Associated Powers.)

3. M. Clemenceau, in reply to Mr. Lloyd George, said it was his intention to hand the Treaty of Peace to Parliament as soon as possible after the signature. He would not make any explanatory speech and the next step would be for the examination of the Treaty by the Commissions of the Chamber and Senate. He did not expect to make his own statement until after the various Commissions had reported, perhaps not for three weeks. Ratification of the Treaty of Peace

President Wilson said that he, himself, would leave Paris immediately after the signature of the Treaty. As soon as he arrived in the United States, he would take the Treaty to Congress.

M. Clemenceau thought there were advantages in President Wilson making the first speech on the subject.

President Wilson said that, in his country, questions would then be asked as to why other Governments had done nothing.

Mr. Lloyd George said that he could fit in his speech about the same time as President Wilson’s, although he was anxious to be away for the second and third weeks after his arrival in England.

M. Sonnino said that the responsibility would be with the new Italian Government, but he thought there was little doubt they would proceed as rapidly as possible. In view of the necessity of reports by Commissions, probably a fortnight or so would elapse before the Treaty could be ratified.

4. Mr. Lloyd George brought forward a proposal he had received from Sir Ernest Pollock, the English Solicitor-General, suggesting that, in the light of the experience gained at Scapa Flow and the burning of French flags, steps should be taken to make the execution of Clauses 214 to 224 (Repatriation of Prisoners) and Clauses 227 to 230 (Penalties) interdependent. (Appendix I.) Penalties and Prisoners

(It was generally agreed that this suggestion was a useful one and should be taken note of, but that no immediate decision should be taken for its adoption.)

5. Mr. Lloyd George suggested to his colleagues that the Trial of the Kaiser should take place in some Allied country removed from those where resentment at the Kaiser was naturally the most acute. He suggested that either Great Britain or the United States of America would be the most advantageous from this point of view. Trial of the Kaiser

President Wilson suggested that the Trial of the Kaiser should not take place in any great city.

[Page 671]

M. Clemenceau said he would like to consult his colleagues on the subject and would give a reply on the following day.

6. Mr. Lloyd George read the attached note from Admiral Hope regarding the disposition of surrendered German and Austrian surface ships and submarines. (Appendix II.)

Sir Maurice Hankey pointed out that a report had already been furnished by the Allied Admirals in regard to submarines, Admiral De Bon having made a minority report. The Disposal of the German Ships and Submarines

(It was agreed that:—The Allied Admirals should be asked to prepare a report advising the Council of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers as to what course they now recommended on all three heads.)

7. M. Clemenceau adverted to the point he had raised at the morning meeting, namely, that France should be compensated for the loss she had incurred by the sinking of German ships at Scapa Flow, by being given some of the remaining German merchant ships and particularly oil tankers. Possible Surrender of Further German Merchant Ships

(It was agreed:—That a Commission, composed as follows:—

  • Mr. Baruch for the United States of America,
  • Mr. Hipwood (or representative) for the British Empire,
  • M. Monet (or representative) for France,
  • M. Crespi (or representative) for Italy, and
  • A Japanese representative to be nominated by Baron Makino,

should meet to consider the possibility of exacting from Germany some reparation for the sinking of warships at Scapa Flow in the form of further merchant ships, special consideration being given to the case of oil tank vessels.)

8. President Wilson read the following questions presented by the Superior Blockade Council:—

Does the Supreme Council, in view of the authorisation given by the Weimar Assembly to the German Delegates, desire that all restrictions upon trade with Germany shall be rescinded immediately upon the signatures of the Treaty of Peace by the German Delegation?Questions From the Superior Blockade Council
If not, upon what date shall these restrictions be rescinded?
When is the German Delegation expected to sign? If the Supreme Council desires that the blockade restrictions shall be raised upon the signature of the Treaty by the German Delegates and if the signature is likely to take place on Saturday, it is desirable that the Blockade Council should be so informed today. At least two days are required in which to terminate the present restrictions.

At M. Clemenceau’s request the following note prepared by M. Mantoux, was read:—

“Provision ought to be made for the eventuality of the German Government signing the Treaty of Peace, but delaying its ratification [Page 672] in the hope to embarrass the Allies and to take advantage of any incidents that might arise.

In 1871, it was stipulated by Art. 3 of the Preliminaries of Peace that the German troops were to evacuate Paris and the forts on the left bank of the Seine immediately after the act of ratification. Much to the surprise of the Germans, the Preliminaries which had been signed on February 26th, 1871, were ratified by the Bordeaux Assembly as soon as March 1st, and the exchange of ratifications took place at Versailles the day after. Paris was evacuated at once, after less than two days of occupation, and the triumphal entry of William I, which had been prepared for March 3rd, was cancelled.

It may be useful today to remind the Germans of the fact that the blockade shall cease at the same moment as the state of war, and that legally what brings the state of war to an end is the exchange of ratifications. But for the sake of humanity, the Allied and Associated Governments may concede that as soon as they have been officially notified the ratification of the treaty by the National Assembly of Germany the blockade shall be raised.

Such a declaration would encourage Germany to ratify the Treaty without delay, without fixing a narrow time limit to the debates in the representative Assemblies of the Allied and Associated countries.”

Mr. Lloyd George said that this seemed reasonable.

President Wilson reminded his colleagues of his reluctance to make women and children suffer for matters over which they exercised no influence. Nevertheless, the course proposed seemed the best in the circumstances.

M. Clemenceau said that in the Rhine provinces there was little hardship.

President Wilson said that in the interior of Germany Mr. Hoover reported great shortage.

(It was agreed:—That the Blockade should cease on the same date as the ratification of the Treaty of Peace, as provided for at the end of the Treaty.)

9. Mr. Lloyd George suggested that a special Committee should be set up to consider the working out of the various measures for putting the Treaty of Peace with Germany into effect.

(The proposal was accepted in principle, and it was agreed that the members should be designated on the following day.) Measures for Putting Into Effect the Execution of the Treaty

10. With reference to C. F. 83, Minute 3,1 the Council had before them a report by the Commission on Baltic affairs on the question submitted to it by the Council on the 23rd June, as to the effect which the evacuation of the Baltic Provinces by Germany would have on the food supplies in this region, in the event of the removal of the rolling stock by the Germans. (Appendix III.) Effect of the Evacuation of the Baltic Provinces by Germany on the Food Supplies in This Region

[Page 673]

President Wilson after reading the report aloud, suggested that the second proposal of the Commission should be adopted, but he considered that the first proposal to take advantage of Article 375 of the Treaty of Peace with Germany was not feasible. He suggested that Marshal Foch should be asked to take the necessary action through the Armistice Commission.

(It was agreed that a copy of the Memorandum by the Baltic Commission should be sent to Marshal Foch, who should be asked to demand from the Germans that when evacuating the Baltic provinces they should leave behind the German railway material now in these provinces as part of the railway material which Germany was bound to deliver to the Allies in accordance with the terms of Clause VII of the Armistice of November 11, 1918, and which has not yet been delivered. The railway material so left would legally be the property of the Allied and Associated Powers and not of the Baltic States.

It was further agreed that it was to the interest of the Allied Powers to secure the restoration as soon as possible in the Baltic provinces of the Russian gauge on the railways in view of the closer economic connections of these provinces with Russia than with Germany.)

11. The Council had before them a report from the Commission on Baltic Affairs, covering the recommendation made by the United States, British and French representatives at Libau. (Appendix IV.)

President Wilson, after reading the Report and enclosure aloud, remarked that the programme unhappily was not one that was practicable. Report From the Commission on Baltic Affairs on Recommendation From United States, British & French Representatives at Libau

Mr. Lloyd George commented on the fact that peoples fighting for their liberties wanted to have even their soldiers paid by the Allies.

President Wilson said that probably they had no resources for paying them themselves.

Mr. Lloyd George read a telegram from the British Commission at Helsingfors in regard to the complicated position that had arisen involving fighting between Esthonians and Latvians.

(In the course of a short discussion it was pointed out:—

That a military mission of the Allied & Associated Powers under General Gough, has already been sent to the Baltic Provinces.
That Marshal Foch has already ordered the Germans to evacuate the Baltic provinces under the terms of the Armistice of November 11, 1918.
That the Council has sanctioned supplies being given to the Baltic provinces, and that General Gough has been asked to advise as to what these supplies should consist of, as a preliminary to arrangements being made as to who was to give the supplies.

[Page 674]

It was agreed that no further financial assistance to the Baltic provinces could be at present given.)

12. Following on the remarks he had made at the morning meeting, C.F. 91, Minute 2,2

Mr. Lloyd George proposed the text of a note to the German Delegation in regard to their intrigues on the Eastern frontier.

After the note had been read and a few suggestions made, it was approved and signed by M. Clemenceau on behalf of the Allied and Associated Powers in the attached form. (Appendix V.) Note to the German Delegation in Regard to the German Intrigues on the Eastern Frontier

(It was agreed that the letter and the enclosure should be published.)

13. Mr. Lloyd George said that the present military position in Russia was that Koltchak’s thrust, intended eventually to reach Moscow, had failed. The intention had been as a first step to unite at Kotlas with the forces based at Archangel. The Bolshevists there had driven Koltchak’s army back. Meanwhile, in the south Denikin had inflicted a severe defeat on Koltchak [sic]. The Don Cossacks had risen, and had taken 50,000 prisoners and 300 guns from the Bolshevists, and were now just outside Tsaritzen. Hence the latest information was that Koltchak was doing badly but that Denikin had routed his adversaries. Russia. Latest Military Information

14. Mr. Lloyd George said he had received a note from Mr. Churchill (Appendix VI) submitting a proposal for cooperation of the Czechoslovak troops in Siberia with the right wing of Admiral Koltchak’s army, and requesting that the matter might be dealt with as one of extreme urgency.

(It was agreed that the question should be referred to the military representatives of the Supreme War Council at Versailles, a Japanese and a Czecho-Slovak military representative being added for the purpose.) Siberia: Co-operation of Czecho-Slovak Troops With the Right Wing of Admiral Koltchak’s Army

15. M. Clemenceau said that he had received a letter from the Chinese Delegation stating that they would sign the Treaty of Peace with Germany, with a reservation relating to Shantung. He had replied that they must either sign the with the intention of abiding by it or not sign. They were just as much bound to honour their signature as the Germans were. Reservation of the Treaty of Peace by the Chinese Delegation

President Wilson said that Mr. Lansing had spoken to him of this, and had said that any sovereign Power could make reservations in signing.

M. Clemenceau reminded President Wilson that when the Roumanian [Page 675] and the Serb-Croat-Slovene Delegations had spoken of signing with reservations, they had been asked to say what they intended by this. A Treaty which was signed with reservations was not a Treaty.

Mr. Lloyd George pointed out that the Italians had said they made certain reservations, but they would sign the German Treaty without any reservation.

Baron Makino said that the Japanese Delegation had objected to many of the decisions of Commissions, but had bowed to the decision of the majority. The Treaty would have no effect if anyone could make reservations.

President Wilson suggested that someone should be asked to enquire from the Chinese Delegation what was reserved and what was intended by their reservation. If it was merely a protest, they were entitled to make this. He understood the Chinese Delegation were acting under specific instructions from their Government.

M. Clemenceau instructed Captain Portier to ask M. Pichon to see a representative of the Chinese Delegation and to enquire the subjects on which they were making reservations, and whether their reservation amounted to more than a protest.

(Captain Portier telephoned this decision immediately to the Quai d’Orsay.)

16. Mr. Lloyd George asked that the question of Turkey might be considered. President Wilson would shortly be leaving. It was unreasonable to maintain a state of war with Turkey for the next two months. Would it not be possible, he asked, to agree on some Peace Terms which would put Turkey out of her misery, outlining the frontiers of Turkey, but leaving the final dispositions of the territory that had not to remain Turkish until it was known whether the United States would accept a mandate. Turkey

President Wilson agreed that the final dispositions of Turkey ought not to be left for two months. His colleagues knew his mind on the subject, and could discuss the future arrangements of Turkey. He suggested that the portions which Turkey was to lose might be cut off and the Treaty might provide that she should accept the dispositions of the Allied and Associated Powers in regard to them, just as had been done in the case of Austria.

M. Clemenceau pointed out that this involved the question of Constantinople.

President Wilson said that the amputations would involve Mesopotamia, Syria and Armenia. The Allied troops would remain there to keep order until the final settlement between the Allied and Associated Powers.

Mr. Lloyd George asked what would be done about Armenia. There were no Allied troops there. Turkey at present had some [Page 676] responsibility for the maintenance of order. If Armenia was cut off from Turkey, the Turkish troops would be withdrawn, and the Armenians would be left at the mercy of the Kurds. It would involve putting in some garrisons.

M. Clemenceau asked what would be done about the Italians in Asia-Minor.

President Wilson said that this would not concern the Turks. He thought some formula might be worked out.

Mr. Lloyd George said that the district in question either belonged to the Turks or it did not. If it did, the Turk would say: “What are the Italians doing here?”, and the Allies could only reply that the Italian occupation had been made without their knowledge or consent.

M. Sonnino demurred to this statement.

President Wilson said that his proposal in regard to Turkey would be to cut off all that Turkey was to give up; and to oblige Turkey to accept any conditions with regard to over-sight or direction which the Allied and Associated Governments might agree to. His present view was that a mandate over Turkey would be a mistake, but he thought some Power ought to have a firm hand. Constantinople and the Straits should be left as a neutral strip for the present, and it was already in Allied occupation. He would make the Sultan and his Government move out of Constantinople and he would say what was ceded to the Allied and Associated Powers. He was only arguing now as to what could be legally settled as a basis for a Treaty, and he was not attempting to decide an ultimate settlement. He only proposed an arrangement similar to what was being made in the case of Austria.

Mr. Lloyd George pointed out that this involved the question of whether the Turk was to go out of Constantinople.

President Wilson said that so far as his judgment was concerned, that was decided. He had studied the question of the Turks in Europe for a long time, and every year confirmed his opinion that they ought to be cleared out.

17. Mr. Lloyd George said he had received a telegram from Feisal in regard to the United States Mission complaining of a breach of faith that the Commission was not an Allied Commission. Feisal had interpreted a telegram that General Allenby had sent him, as suggesting that Great Britain would take a mandate for Syria if no other Power would do so. At his request, Mr. Balfour had drafted a telegram to General Allenby stating in the most specific terms that in no circumstances would Great Britain take this mandate, and calling his attention to Mr. Lloyd George’s [Page 677] statement on this subject made at an earlier Meeting3 in General Allenby’s presence. Syria

18. President Wilson said that the hour was approaching when some demand would have to be made to Holland in regard to the surrender of the Kaiser. He was anxious that the demand should be made in such a form as would relieve Holland of any appearance of breach of hospitality. Holland and the Delivery of the Kasier

Mr. Lloyd George pointed out that a new principle was involved in this Treaty. A great crime had been perpetrated against the nations of the world. It had taken five years to bring this question to fruition, and the Allies could not afford to allow Holland to stand in the way.

President Wilson agreed that Holland was morally obliged to surrender the Kaiser, but he wished to make it as easy for her as possible.

M. Clemenceau said he would be surprised if Holland objected.

(It was agreed that Mr. Lansing, who had acted as Chairman on the Commission on Responsibilities, should be asked to draft for the consideration of the Council, a despatch to the Dutch Government. President Wilson undertook to inform Mr. Lansing.)

19. The Council took formal note of the attached Note prepared for them by the Drafting Committee. (Appendix VII.) Presentation of Corrections to the Treaty of Peace With Germany

20. The Council approved the attached Note to the Polish Government submitted by the Council of Foreign Ministers, (Appendix VIII).

(The following Note was signed by the four Heads of Governments:— Galicia: Authorisation to the Polish Republic To Extend Their Operations

“25 Juin, 1919.

Gouvernement Polonais, Varsovie.

En vue de garantir les personnes et les biens de la population paisible de Galicie orientale contre les dangers que leur font courir les bandes bolchévistes, le Conseil Suprême des Puissances alliées et associées a décidé d’autoriser les forces de la République Polonaise à poursuivre leurs opérations jusqu’à la rivière Zbruck.

Cette autorisation ne préjuge en rien les décisions que le Conseil Suprême prendre ultérieurement pour régler le statut politique de la Galicie.”4

[Page 678]

The Note was signed by the representatives of the Five Powers, and was communicated by Captain Portier to a messenger who had brought it from the Council of Foreign Ministers.)

21. With reference to C. F. 83, Minute 1,5 the Council agreed that the final text of the Note to the Turkish Government, together with the document read by the Turkish Delegation to the Council of Ten,6 should be published after it had been sent to the Turks. (Appendix IX.) Note to the Turkish Government

22. The Council had before them the Note from the Turkish Delegation dated June 23rd, which was read aloud by President Wilson (Appendix X).

(It was generally agreed that the document was not a very serious one.) Note From the Turkish Delegation

Mr. Lloyd George asked that before a reply was sent, a full discussion on the Turkish question should take place. It would be a great advantage if a short, sharp Peace with Turkey could be decided on while the Turkish Delegation were still in Paris.

M. Clemenceau said he was not very hopeful of reaching a result.

(The proposal was agreed to.)

23. (It was agreed that, if possible, the questions of Reparation and Finance in the Austrian Treaty, which were at Reparation and present the result of negotiation with the New States formerly forming part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, should be considered on the morrow.) Austrian Treaty. Reparation and Finance

24. The Council had before them a draft letter to the German Delegation prepared by Mr. Balfour and M. Loucheur, with the assistance of M. Fromageot and Mr. Hurst. Sinking of German ships

(The letter was approved with the substitution in the seventh paragraph of the word “justification” for the word “explanation” (Appendix XI).

(It was agreed that the letter should be sent to the Germans immediately, and published in the newspapers on Thursday, June 26th.)

25. Mr. Lloyd George insisted on the importance of settling the form of the Mandates.

President Wilson agreed, but said he wished to read the question up. Mandates

Villa Majestic, Paris, June 25, 1919.

[Page 679]

Appendix I to CF–92

[Memorandum by the British Solicitor General (Pollock)]


In view of the sinking of the German Warships at Scapa Flow, may I venture to suggest that some guarantees for the observance of Articles 227–230 shall be taken?

Clause 228, provides for the delivery of the persons wanted for trial on the charges of having committed violations of the Laws and Customs of War. Clause 230. provides for the delivery of all documents and information of every kind necessary for completing and proving the charges brought against such offenders.

No time limit is fixed by these clauses for compliance with them. But the implication is that compliance is to be made forthwith upon demand made.

It may be noted that Article 228. provides inter alia:—

“The German Government shall hand over to the Allied and Associated Powers, or to such one of them as shall so request, all persons accused of having committed an act in violation of the laws and customs of war”, etc.

A joint application by all the Allied and Associated Powers together is therefore unnecessary, even though desirable.

By Articles 214–224. of the Treaty, provision is made for the delivery of the German prisoners of war. Article 215 provides for a Commission to arrange, and provide, for the repatriation of the German Prisoners who are to be sent back in vessels provided by the German Government.

The Germans have endeavoured, in expressed terms, to resist the delivery of any Germans for trial; and their attitude has indicated that if it is possible to escape this duty they will do so.

May I venture to suggest, that in the light of the experience gained at Scapa Flow and the burning of the French flags, steps should be taken to make the execution of clauses 214–224 (Repatriation of Prisoners) and clauses 227–230 (Responsibilities) interdependent?

Ernest M. Pollock

[Page 680]

Appendix II to CF–92

[Rear Admiral G. Hope of the British Admiralty to the British Prime Minister (Lloyd George)]

Prime Minister:

Besides a decision as to the disposal of the remaining German ships at Scapa Flow, decisions are required as to the disposal of the following:—

Additional German ships to be surrendered in accordance with Article 185 of the Peace Treaty, viz.,
  • 8 battleships,
  • 8 light-cruisers,
  • 42 destroyers,
  • 50 torpedo boats.
Ships belonging to the late Austrian navy.
Surrendered German submarines.

(The Admirals have submitted a report on this.)

G. Hope


Appendix III to CF–92

Report of the Commission on Baltic Affairs

The Commission on Baltic Affairs has considered the question submitted to it by the Council of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers on the 23rd June7 on the effect which the evacuation of the Baltic Provinces by Germany would have on the food supplies in this region in the event of the removal of the rolling stock by the Germans.

The Commission are unanimous in the opinion that it is indispensable to prevent this removal. There does not, however, appear to be in the text of the Armistice any article specially applicable to this case. The Commission considers that advantage might usefully be taken of Article 375 of the Treaty of Peace with Germany. They consider that from the moment at which Germany has declared her intention of signing the Treaty the Allied Powers are in a position at once to inform her of their intention to make use of this Article in order to secure the movements of troops, transport and material and the supply of relief in the Baltic Provinces.

[Page 681]

The result of such a notification will be that in the event of Germany removing rolling stock, even if the ratification of the Treaty is postponed for some days, this removal will forthwith constitute a formal violation of the Treaty comparable to certain other actions of the Germans, such as the destruction of the German Fleet at Scapa Flow, and of the flags to be surrendered to France. Germany could be called to account for this violation of the Treaty. In order to facilitate the retention of the material, which is of great importance, the possibility might be considered of reckoning this material as part of that which Germany was bound to deliver to the Allies in accordance with the clauses of the Armistice and which has not yet been delivered. In this way the material would be delivered in the east instead of the west and would be at once available on the spot. It should at the same time be noted that legally this material would be the property of the Allies and not of the Baltic States.

The Commission further consider that it is to the interest of the Allied Powers to secure the restoration as soon as possible in the Baltic Provinces of the Russian gauge on the railways in view of the closer economic connextions of these provinces with Russia than with Germany.

For this reason the proposed solution would be provisional and would not exclude the speedy and final restoration to the Allied and Associated Powers of the material left in this district.

Appendix IV to CF–92

Recommendation by Commission on Baltic Affairs

The Commission on Baltic Affairs submits herewith to the Supreme Council of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers the text of a recommendation made by the French, British and American representatives at Libau, and communicated to the Commission by the American representative who has been sent from Libau as spokesman of the Allied representatives.

The supreme importance for a future peace of Europe that Germany should not obtain a permanent hold on the Baltic provinces through which she would open the door to getting a predominant influence in Russia appears to the Commission to be beyond question. It is proved by various papers communicated to the Commission and by information received from the representatives of the Allied and Associated Governments on the spot that this is clearly the ultimate aim of her present policy and actions in the Baltic Provinces. On the other hand, the Bolshevik danger is equally serious. In these circumstances [Page 682] the Commission, while feeling that the enclosed recommendation, which includes the suggestion of a credit, is beyond their competence, feel it their duty to draw the earnest attention of the Council to the situation as explained therein, and to endorse the view expressed as to the necessity of providing immediate financial assistance if any policy is to be adopted which can give any hope of eradicating German domination in the Baltic Provinces, and meet the danger of Bolshevism breaking through to the Baltic and Scandinavia.


[Recommendation by the French, British, and American Representatives at Libau]

In view of the extremely critical position in the Baltic Provinces, the British and American Political representatives, with the British and French Commodores here, have to-day agreed on the following statement—

“No question is more vital than the arrest of the movement of Prussia towards the North and East. At the same time the Bolshevik danger must not be under-estimated. The greatest immediate danger lies in the clash north of Riga, between troops, especially Letts, moving South from Esthonia and Germans and Baits moving North from Riga. Provided that the Associated Governments are in a position to enforce their demands, the Germans should be required, under penalty, of which the execution should immediately follow upon non-compliance, to refrain absolutely from advancing further northwards in the district north of Riga. In the absence of the Allied Military Mission, we feel otherwise unable to recommend the exact measures by which the advance of Prussian forces in the Baltic Provinces should be checked and their withdrawal secured.

“The first need of the situation is the arrival of the Allied Military Mission. It is, however, requested that the political representatives of America, France and Great Britain in the Baltic Provinces may be authorised to make a united statement immediately. It is suggested that the statement should as nearly as possible take the following form:—

“‘An Inter-Allied Military Mission, under command of a British General, will reach the Baltic Provinces immediately. Arms, equipment, instructors and pay will be provided for local forces, and for volunteers who may be raised from external sources, in so far as this may be determined by the head of the military mission, to be necessary for the protection of the Provinces against Bolshevism or for other purposes of defence. The local distribution of such supplies will depend upon the loyal acceptance by the forces named of the general direction of the head of the Inter-Allied Military Mission in their [Page 683] fight against Bolshevism, their methods of recruitment and their relations between each other and with the German and Polish forces.

“‘A loan will be granted immediately to Lithuania and Esthonia respectively for civil purposes, on condition that the provisional Governments concerned will undertake to lay before the political representatives of the Associated Governments in their countries, their proposals for the use of the money thus raised, and that no such proposal is carried out without their approval. On such an arrangement being concluded the blockade of Lithuania would be raised. It is intended that this loan should in particular be used for the provision of the materials required for the restoration of industry and agriculture and the reduction of unemployment. A loan on similar terms will be granted to Latvia as soon as a provisional coalition Government has been formed, which, in the opinion of the political representatives of the Associated Governments in Latvia, is truly representative of the inhabitants of the country. On such an arrangement being concluded, the blockade of Latvia will also be raised’”.

This statement was agreed to by:—

  • Commodore Duff, E. N. Senior British Naval Officer, Libau.
  • Commodore Brisson, Senior French Naval Officer in the Baltic.
  • Lt. Colonel Warwick Greene, U. S. A. Chief of American Mission.
  • Lt. Colonel Tallents, Chief of British Economic Mission.

Libau, June 7, 1919.

Appendix V to CF–92

Letter From the Allied and Associated Powers to the German Delegates

M. le President: The Allied and Associated Powers feel it necessary to direct the attention of the German Government to the fact that the Polish authorities have come into possession of the attached official German despatch8 which states that while the German Government mean to sign the Peace, they intend to give unofficial support by all the means in their power to local movements of resistance to the establishment of Polish authority in the territories allotted to Poland in Posen, and in East and West Prussia, and to the occupation of Upper Silesia by the Allied and Associated Powers. In view of this information the Allied and Associated Powers think it necessary to inform the German Government that they will hold them strictly responsible for seeing that, at the time indicated in the Treaty, all troops and all officials indicated by the Allied Commission, are withdrawn, and that in the event of local disturbances in resistance to the Treaty no support or assistance to the insurgents is allowed to pass across the new frontier into Poland.

G. Clemenceau

[Page 684]

Appendix VI to CF–92

Memorandum by Mr. Winston Churchill

The recent reverses sustained by Admiral Koltchak’s forces have led to the consideration of the various means which might be employed with a view to restoring the situation on the front held by the Siberian armies. One possible course is the re-employment on the front of a portion of the Czecho-Slovak troops now distributed along the Trans-Siberian Railway.

As the result of an interchange of views between the Secretary of State for War and Dr. Benes, the following definite proposal is put forward for consideration, and attention is drawn to the fact that should the plan be approved, it is necessary that orders for its execution should be issued with the least possible delay, so that the project can be carried through to completion before the port of Archangel becomes ice-bound.

II. The scheme is as follows:—

The Allied and Associated Governments should inform the Government of the Czecho-Slovak Republic that they are prepared to accept responsibility for the repatriation of all the Czecho-Slovak troops now in Siberia on the following basis:—

30,000 men should take part in an operation on the right wing of Admiral Koltchak’s army with a view to establishing a junction with the Archangel forces by advancing via Viatka and Kotlas to Archangel, whence they will be repatriated before the end of the current year.
The remainder of the Czecho-Slovak troops to be moved gradually to Vladivostok and to be embarked for Europe early in 1920, the 5,000 men already at Vladivostok to be shipped as soon as possible.

III. Action on the above lines offers several very considerable advantages:—

The effecting of a junction between Admiral Koltchak’s armies and the Archangel forces during the period when it is anticipated that the British will be in occupation of Kotlas.
The consequential establishment of the Russian forces and Government in North Russia on a self-supporting basis after the withdrawal of the Allied units.
The relief of the dangerous situation now developing in Central Siberia through the presence of the discontented Czecho-Slovak troops.
The strengthening of the Czecho-Slovak Government at Prague by the return of the troops from Siberia.

IV. Dr. Benes has been consulted with regard to the proposal and believes that his government would view it favourably provided that they were furnished with definite assurances as to the time and method of repatriating all the Czecho-Slovak troops now in Siberia.

[Page 685]

V. It is necessary to take into account the fact that the morale of these troops has been seriously impaired by their long stay in Siberia, and it is clear that the project can only be proceeded with on the assumption that the prospect of repatriation will restore the morale of the elements destined for Archangel sufficiently to enable them to take part in operations against the Bolsheviks.

VI. It should be recognised from the outset that, owing to the lateness of the season, there is ground for doubt as to whether the Czechoslovak troops advancing by Viatka are likely to reach Archangel in time for repatriation before the winter 1919, as is shown by the following rough estimates of time and space:—

It is estimated that 30,000 troops could not be concentrated in the region of Perm before the middle of August.

The distance from Perm to Viatka as the crow flies is 250 miles, and as it is probable that the troops would have to fight their way throughout this distance, the operation would almost certainly not be completed under five weeks, even making full allowances for the nature of the fighting likely to occur.

From Viatka to Kotlas is another 220 miles, and although it is possible that very little opposition would be met with between these two places, the railway would almost certainly be destroyed by the Bolsheviks, and at least three weeks should be allowed for the completion of this part of the movement.

Thus, assuming that all went well, the Czecho-Slovaks would reach the Dvina at Kotlas about the middle of October. The port of Archangel is closed by ice about the middle of November, but in ordinary seasons can be kept open by ice-breakers for another month.

It will be seen from the above that the possibility of the troops reaching Archangel too late for repatriation before the winter must be faced, but this consideration is out-weighed by the great advantages which are offered by the proposal as set forth in Paragraph 3.

VII. If the proposal is accepted by the Allied and Associated Powers, action appears to be necessary as follows:—

To obtain the consent of the Czecho-Slovak Government, and that that Government should transmit the necessary orders to the Czecho-Slovak troops in Siberia, explaining clearly what is proposed, in the manner best calculated to secure their immediate compliance.
That the French Government should make the necessary communication to General Janin,9 who should arrange for
Admiral Koltchak to organise an advance on Viatka of the right flank of General Gayda’s10 army after being re-inforced by the Czecho-Slovaks, who, after reaching Viatka, would be pushed through to Kotlas and thence to Archangel.
Sanction to be communicated to General Ironside11 for the occupation of Kotlas by British and Russian troops during July and August so as to relieve pressure on General Gayda and stretch out a hand towards the returning Czecho-Slovak troops.
An agreement to be reached between the Powers concerned as to the taking over of the sector of the Siberian railway at present guarded by the Czecho-Slovaks by either Japanese or American forces or by both conjointly.
Great Britain to provide ships at Archangel during October and November for all Czecho-Slovak troops returning via Archangel.
The United States to arrange for the repatriation of the remainder from Vladivostok, such repatriation to begin at the earliest possible date.

As soon as the approval of the Czecho-Slovak Government is obtained as in (a), steps should be taken simultaneously to give effect to the remaining items indicated above.

June 24, 1919.

Appendix VII to CF–92

Note for the Supreme Council

By the decisions of the Supreme Council dated the 24th May, 1919,12 the Drafting Committee received instructions to collect all the “errata” in the German Treaty and prepare a global list for communication at a later date to the German Delegation.

The Drafting Committee has the honour to inform the Supreme Council that such list has been sent to the German Delegation today with the annexed covering note.

The Drafting Committee takes the opportunity to inform the Supreme Council that before printing off the signature copy, a final revision of the text has been made so as to eliminate so far as possible the risk of divergence. This revision has entailed three complete readings of the Treaty with a minute comparison of the French and English texts.

Henri Fromageot


Copy of the Note to the German Delegation

The preparation of the printed copy of the Treaty of Peace and of the documents intended to be signed by the plenipotentiaries has [Page 687] brought to light various mistakes and errors in the printing: lists of these are attached thereto and the corrections have been made accordingly.

Appendix VIII to CF–92

Note by Mr. Balfour

The question referred to the Foreign Ministers by the “Four”, on the subject of Eastern Galicia, differs in some very important respects from other problems connected with the frontier arrangements in Eastern Europe.

We have got, if possible, to find a plan which will:—

Satisfy the immediate Military necessity of resisting the Bolshevist invasion of Galicia; and
Avoid compromising the future interests of the Ruthenian majority who now inhabit Eastern Galicia.

These two objects seem at first sight inconsistent, for the only troops which we have at our disposal for resisting the Bolshevists in this region are the Poles; and if the Poles are given complete Military freedom—as from a military point of view they certainly ought to be—their occupation of the country may compromise the political future of this district. The Ruthenian majority is backward, illiterate, and at present quite incapable of standing alone. The urban and educated classes are largely Polish, and when not Polish are Jewish. The whole country is utterly disorganised. There is, or was, (for some slight improvement seems to have taken place), a most embittered feeling between the Poles and the Ruthenians, and it is manifestly impossible at the moment to determine the character of public opinion by a plebiscite, or other similar methods. If the Polish Military occupation be pertinent [permanent], it is hard to see how this state of things will find a remedy.

The best suggestion I can make is the following:—Appoint as soon as may be a High Commissioner for Eastern Galicia under the League of Nations, as proposed in plan II. a. of the Report of the Polish Commission. He must be instructed, while the Bolshevist peril lasts, to work in harmony with the Poles, and to facilitate the use of Polish troops as Military necessity may require.

The Poles, on the other hand, must be informed that their Military occupation of Eastern Galicia is a temporary one, and can only be allowed to last as long as the needs of common defence against the invading Bolshevism renders this proceeding necessary, and that of this the High Commissioner must be the judge. The Ruthenians must be told that, though the Poles are temporarily in occupation of their [Page 688] country, they are acting under the directions of the League of Nations, and that the Ruthenians will be given a full opportunity of determining by plebiscite, within limits to be fixed by the League of Nations, what their future status is to be.

This opportunity will be given them as soon as tranquillity is restored, and there is some chance of a fair vote being taken.

I do not know whether the Poles would accept this plan, though I think they might be induced to do so. Its advantages are that:—

It provides for the defence of Galicia against the Bolshevists, which seems all important, both in the interests of the Ruthenians themselves, and of the security of Eastern Europe.
It combines with this [a] policy of self-determination, to be exercised as soon as circumstances permit.

No other plan that I have been able to think of combines those two advantages, both of which seem essential to any satisfactory policy for dealing with this embarrassing problem.

A. J. B[alfour]

Appendix IX to CF–92


(Revised) 23.6.19.

(2nd Revise 24.6.19)

Answer to the Turkzsh Delegates

(Approved by the Council of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers on 23rd June, 1919.)

The Council of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers have read with the most careful attention the Memorandum presented to them by Your Excellency on June 17th,13 and, in accordance with the promise then made, desire now to offer the following observations upon it.

In your recital of the political intrigues which accompanied Turkey’s entry into the war, and of the tragedies which followed it, Your Excellency makes no attempt to excuse or qualify the crimes of which the Turkish Government was then guilty. It is admitted directly, or by implication, that Turkey had no cause of quarrel with the Entente Powers; that she acted as the subservient tool of Germany; that the war, begun without excuse and conducted without mercy was accompanied by massacres whose calculated atrocity equals or exceeds anything in recorded history. But it is argued that these crimes were committed by a Turkish Government for whose misdeeds the Turkish people were not responsible; that there was in them no element of religious fanaticism; that Moslems suffered from them not less than [Page 689] Christians; that they were entirely out of harmony with the Turkish tradition, as historically exhibited in the treatment by Turkey of subject races; that the maintenance of the Turkish Empire is necessary for the religious equilibrium of the world; so that policy, not less than justice, requires that its territories should be restored undiminished, as they existed when war broke out.

The Council can neither accept this conclusion, nor the arguments by which it is supported. They do not indeed doubt that the present Government of Turkey profoundly disapproves of the policy pursued by its predecessors. Even if considerations of morality did not weigh with it, (as doubtless they do), considerations of expediency would be conclusive. As individuals its members have every motive as well as every right, to repudiate the actions which have proved so disastrous to their country. But, speaking generally, a nation must be judged by the Government which rules it, which directs its foreign policy, which controls its armies; nor can Turkey claim any relief from the legitimate consequences of this doctrine merely because her affairs, at a most critical moment in her history, had fallen into the hands of men who, utterly devoid of principle or pity, could not even command success.

It seems, however, that the claim for complete territorial restoration put forward in the Memorandum is not based merely on the plea that Turkey should not be required to suffer for the sins of her Ministers. It has a deeper ground. It appeals to the history of Turkish rule in the past, and to the condition of affairs in the Moslem world.

Now the Council is anxious not to enter into unnecessary controversy, or to inflict needless pain on Your Excellency and the Delegates who accompany you. It wishes well to the Turkish people, and admires their excellent qualities. But it cannot admit that among these qualities are to be counted capacity to rule over alien races. The experiment has been tried too long and too often for there to be the least doubt as to its result. History tells us of many Turkish successes and many Turkish defeats:—of nations conquered and nations freed. The Memorandum itself refers to the reductions that have taken place in the territories recently under Ottoman sovereignty. Yet in all these changes there is no case to be found, either in Europe or Asia or Africa, in which the establishment of Turkish rule in any country has not been followed by a diminution of material prosperity and a fall in the level of culture; nor is there any case to be found in which the withdrawal of Turkish rule has not been followed by a growth in material prosperity and a rise in the level of culture. Neither among the Christians of Europe, nor among the Moslems of Syria, Arabia and Africa, has the Turk done other than destroy wherever he has conquered; never has he shown himself able to develop in peace what he has won by war. Not in this direction do his talents lie.

[Page 690]

The obvious conclusion from these facts would seem to be that, since Turkey has, without the least excuse or provocation, deliberately attacked the Entente Powers and been defeated, she has thrown upon the victors the heavy duty of determining the destiny of the various populations in her heterogenous Empire. This duty the Council of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers desire to carry out, as far as may be in accordance with the wishes and permanent interests of the populations themselves. But the Council observe with regret that the Memorandum introduces in this connection a wholly different order of considerations based on supposed religious rivalries. The Turkish Empire, is, it seems, to be preserved unchanged, not so much because this would be to the advantage either of the Moslems or of the Christians within its borders, but because its maintenance is demanded by the religious sentiment of men who never felt the Turkish yoke, or have forgotten how heavily it weighs on those who are compelled to bear it.

But surely there never was a sentiment less justified by facts. The whole course of the War exposes its hollowness. What religious issue is raised by a struggle in which Protestant Germany, Roman Catholic Austria, Orthodox Bulgaria and Moslem Turkey, banded themselves together to plunder their neighbours? The only flavour of deliberate fanaticism perceptible in these transactions was the massacre of Christian Armenians by order of the Turkish Government. But Your Excellency has pointed out that, at the very same time and by the very same authority, unoffending Moslems were being slaughtered in circumstances sufficiently horrible and in numbers sufficiently large, to mitigate, if not wholly to remove, any suspicion of religious partiality.

During the War, then, there was little evidence of sectarian animosity on the part of any of the Governments, and no evidence whatever so far as the Entente Powers were concerned. Nor has anything since occurred to modify this judgment. Every man’s conscience has been respected; places of sacred memory have been carefully guarded; the States and peoples who were Mohammedan before the War are Mohammedan still. Nothing touching religion has been altered, except the security with which it may be practised: and this, wherever Allied control exists, has certainly been altered for the better.

If it be replied that the diminution in the territories of a historic Moslem State must injure the Moslem cause in all lands, we respectfully suggest that in our opinion this is an error. To thinking Moslems throughout the world, the modern history of the Government enthroned at Constantinople can be no source of pleasure or pride. For reasons we have already indicated, the Turk was there attempting a task for which he had little aptitude, and in which he has consequently had little success. Set him to work in happier circumstances; let his [Page 691] energies find their chief exercise in surroundings more congenial to his genius, under new conditions less complicated and difficult, with an evil tradition of corruption and intrigue severed, perhaps forgotten, why should he not add lustre to his country, and thus indirectly to his religion, by other qualities than that courage and discipline which he has always so conspicuously displayed?

Unless we are mistaken, Your Excellency should understand our hopes. In an impressive passage of Your Memorandum, you declare it to be your country’s mission to devote itself to “an intensive economic and intellectual culture.” No change could be more startling or impressive; none could be more beneficial. If Your Excellency is able to initiate this great process of development in men of Turkish race, You will deserve, and will certainly receive, all the assistance we are able to give You.

Appendix X to CF–92


memorandum concerning the new organisation of the ottoman empire

[Note From the Turkish Delegation to the President of the Peace Conference (Clemenceau)]


Sirs: I have the honour to transmit to Your Excellency herewith a memorandum concerning the new organisation of the Ottoman Empire. This is the memorandum the despatch of which I announced at the meeting of the Supreme Council of Peace on the 17th June.14

The preparation of a document of this importance having necessitated lengthy labour, I beg Your Excellency to excuse me for the delay in forwarding it to you.

I have [etc.]

Hamad Ferid

The Ottoman Delegation, in accordance with the desire expressed by Their Excellencies, the Allied Plenipotentiaries, at the interview which it had the honour to have with them on the 17th June, begs leave to set forth as follows the views of the Imperial Ottoman Government as regards the new organisation of the Empire:

Although the Political and Economic situation of Turkey and her time-honoured relations of friendship with the Western Powers, made it incumbent on her to observe towards them an attitude of [Page 692] friendly neutrality, she was, owing to unfortunate circumstances and in spite of the manifest opposition of the national will, dragged into a fatal war.

It would be idle to dwell at length on the misdeeds committed during these last four years, which brought sufferings upon the Mussulman population quite as much as upon the Christians.

Turkey has a glorious history and a glorious past. She has given proof of power not only on the field of battle but also in manifestations of an intellectual order, and the mere organisation of an Empire which was one of the most vast in the world, proves, above all, a very pronounced political sense. The Ottoman Empire was never, in spite of affirmations of certain peoples interested in her downfall, a curse or a cyclone, such as were the Empires of Genghis and of Tamerlan. Its political organisation was at one moment able to assure a peaceful existence for some hundred millions of subjects established on different continents and of distinct races and religions. The Patriarchates, Communities and Sects had, in matters of faith, broad religious autonomy thanks to a wise and tolerant administration.

On the day that the Turks recognised the advantages of European civilisation, they did not hesitate to adopt a series of reforms; they were helped with much interest in this assimilation of modern civilization, which worked so well, that in less than a quarter of a century Turkey was received into the European concert. The Turks, who still remember the brilliant position which they thereby attained, only desire to begin again their forward march towards improvement with the help of the Great Powers of the West.

Having set forth what occurred in the past, the Ottoman Delegation comes to questions affecting the present and declares, in the first instance, that although the question which concerns Turkey presents three different points, it is in regard to its solution indivisible.

These points are the following:—

Thrace in Europe.
The Turkish parts of Asia.

The Ottoman Delegation has therefore the honour to submit to the Peace Conference the following considerations:

1. Thrace.

In order to ensure a durable peace in this part of Europe, it is desirable to lay down a frontier line which will prevent the town of Adrianople, on which depends the security of the capital, from being easily attacked. The districts situated to the north and west of the vilayet of Adrianople, including Western Thrace, where the Turks are in great majority, should, by virtue of President Wilson’s principles, as well as for economic reasons, come within the limits of that [Page 693] vilayet. This problem was examined at length in 1878 at Berlin by the Delegates of Great Britain and Russia, who found no other solution than that of adopting a frontier line beginning at Zeitun-Burun, on the Black Sea, running into the interior by way of Demir-Halny to Mustafa-Pasha, and from there to Kara-Balkan. From Keucheva the frontier should follow the river Kara-Su, which flows into the Aegean Sea to the east of Kavalla, exactly opposite the island of Thasos.

2. Asia Minor.

In Asia the Turkish lands are bounded on the north by the Black Sea, on the East by the Turco-Russian and Turco-Persian frontiers as they were before the war, including on the south the vilayets of Mosul and Diarbekir, as well as a part of the province of Aleppo as far as the Mediterranean.

3. The islands near the coast, which belong to Asia Minor from an historical and economic point of view, should remain under Ottoman sovereignty with a great measure of autonomy, in order that it may be possible to prevent smuggling and ensure the safety of the coast.

4. Armenia. If the Armenian republic established at Erivan is recognised by the Powers of the Entente, the Ottoman Delegation will consent to discuss ad referendum the frontier line which is to separate the new republic from the Ottoman State. The Imperial Government would grant to the Armenians who wish to expatriate themselves in order to establish themselves in the new republic, all facilities in its power. As regards these who might wish to remain in Turkey and who are scattered in Thrace, the Caucasus and elsewhere, they would enjoy, like the other minorities, free cultural, moral and economic development.

5. Arabia.

The Arab provinces lying to the south of the Turkish countries, and including Syria, Palestine, the Hedjaz, the Asyr, the Yemen, Irak, and all the other regions which were recognised as forming an integral part of the Ottoman Empire before the war, would have a large measure of administrative autonomy, under the sovereignty of His Imperial Majesty the Sultan. Representatives of His Imperial Majesty the Sultan would be appointed at the Holy Places (Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem), and will have a guard of honour of limited numbers.

The hallowed custom of sending every year the sacred caravan (surre) to the Holy Places shall be maintained with its usual ceremonies and in its usual form, as the despatch of this caravan is one of the ancient prerogatives of the Khalifate.

The distribution of the revenues of the pious foundations (vakfs) shall continue without hindrance as in the past. These vakfs were founded partly by the Ottoman Sultan and partly by private individuals, [Page 694] and have always been administered by the Khalifate. This system shall be maintained in its entirety.

The Governor of each autonomous province shall be appointed by His Imperial Majesty the Sultan, except in the Hedjaz, to which may be granted a special organisation in agreement with the Power most directly interested in it. In all the Arab countries the Ottoman flag shall fly on the territory of the emaret (principality) or autonomous province. Justice shall be done in the name of His Imperial Majesty, the Sultan, and the coinage shall bear his name Tughra.

6. Egypt and Cyprus.

The Ottoman Government is quite willing to enter into negotiations at the proper moment with the Government of His Britannic Majesty with a view to define clearly the political status of Egypt and of the island of Cyprus.

The Ottoman Government, having stated above its opinion as regards the new organisation of the Empire, reserves the right also of communicating subsequently to the Peace Conference its point of view regarding financial, economic and juridical questions.

It is understood that as soon as this organisation is settled, the Inter-Allied forces of occupation shall be withdrawn from Ottoman territory in a short time which shall be settled by agreement unless their provisional retention is necessary in some parts of Arabia.

Nobody in Turkey is unaware of the gravity of the moment. The ideas of the Ottoman people are however well defined:—

It will not accept the dismemberment of the Empire or its division under different mandates. No government may oppose the will of the people, among whom are counted populations from beyond the Taurus and even Nomads of the Desert, who will not separate themselves from that Ottoman unity which has been established and hallowed for so many centuries.

From the manifestations of a great number of patriotic Committees formed in the provinces, and from the great meetings held at Constantinople (in which hundreds of thousands of citizens took part on every occasion) and from the language of the telegrams which the Government daily receives from all classes of the population, there emanates but one constant thought: unity and independence.

Trusting in the sentiments of justice of the Peace Conference the Ottoman people does not despair of reaching a solution in conformity with its legitimate aspirations and one fitted to ensure in the East that durable peace which is so greatly needed.

[Page 695]

Appendix XI to CF–92


Letter From the Allied and Associated Powers to the German Delegation

Monsieur le President: The terms of the Armistice signed by Germany on the 11th November, 1918, provided as follows:—

“Article XXIII. The German surface warships which shall be specified by the Allies and the United States shall forthwith be disarmed and thereafter interned in neutral ports, or, failing them, in the Allied ports designated by the Allies and the United States. They shall there remain under the supervision of the Allies and the United States, only care and maintenance parties being left on board.”

On June 21, the German warships which had been handed over to the Allied and Associated Powers and were at anchor in the roadstead at Scapa Flow, with the German care and maintenance parties on board as provided in the Armistice, were sunk by these parties under the orders of the German Admiral in command.

According to the information which has been collected and transmitted by the British Admiralty the German admiral in command of these parties of the German naval forces has alleged that he acted in the belief that the Armistice expired on June 21st at mid-day, and consequently in his opinion the destruction in question was no violation of its terms.

In law, Germany by signing the terms of Article 23 set out above entered into an undertaking that the ships handed over by her should remain in the ports indicated by the Allied and Associated Powers and that care and maintenance parties should be left on board with such instructions and under such orders as would ensure that the Armistice should be observed.

The sinking of these ships instead of their preservation as had been provided for, and in breach of the undertaking embodied in Article 31 of the Armistice against all acts of destruction, constituted at once a violation of the Armistice, the destruction of the pledge handed over, and an act of gross bad faith towards the Allied and Associated Powers.

The Admiral in command of the care and maintenance parties belonging to the German Naval forces has, while recognising that the act was a breach of the Armistice, attempted to justify it by alleging his belief that the Armistice had come to an end.

This alleged justification is not well founded as, under the communication addressed to the German Delegation by the Allied and Associated Powers on the 16th June, 1919,16 the Armistice would [Page 696] only terminate on refusal to sign the peace, or, if no answer were returned, on the 23rd June at 7 o’clock.

According to International Law, as embodied particularly in Articles 40 and 41 of the Regulations annexed to the Fourth Hague Convention of 1907, every serious violation of the Armistice by one of the parties gives the other party the right to denounce it and even in case of urgency to recommence hostilities at once. A violation of the terms of the Armistice by individuals acting on their own initiative only confers the right of demanding the punishment of the offenders and, if necessary, indemnity for the losses sustained. It will therefore be open to the Allied and Associated Powers to bring before military tribunals the persons responsible for these acts of destruction so that the appropriate penalties may be imposed. Furthermore, the incident gives the Allied and Associated Powers a right to reparation for the loss caused and in consequence a right to proceed to such further measures as the said Powers may deem appropriate.

Lastly, the sinking of the German fleet is not only a violation of the Armistice, but can only be regarded by the Allied and Associated Powers as a deliberate breach in advance of the conditions of peace communicated to Germany and now accepted by her. Furthermore, the incident is not an isolated act. The burning or permission for the burning of the French flags which Germany was to restore, constitutes another deliberate breach in advance of these same conditions.

In consequence, the Allied and Associated Powers declare that they take note of these signal acts of bad faith, and that when the investigations have been completed into all the circumstances, they will exact the necessary reparation. It is evident that any repetition of acts like these must have a very unfortunate effect upon the future operation of the Treaty which the Germans are about to sign. They have made complaint of the 15 years’ period of occupation which the Treaty contemplates. They have made complaint that admission to the League of Nations may be too long deferred. How can Germany put forward such claims if she encourages or permits deliberate violations of her written engagements? She cannot complain should the Allies use to the full the powers conferred on them by Treaty, particularly by Article 429, if she on her side deliberately violates its provisions.

G. Clemenceau
  1. Ante, p. 621.
  2. Ante, p. 656.
  3. IC–163A, vol. v, p. 1.
  4. The following translation is that appearing in S-H Bulletin No. 422 (Paris Peace Conf. 184.611/466):

    “June 25, 1919.

    Polish Government, Warsaw.

    With a view to protecting the persons and the property of the peaceful population of Eastern Galicia against the dangers to which they are exposed by the Bolshevist bands, the Supreme Council of the Allied and Associated Powers decided to authorize the forces of the Polish Republic to pursue their operations as far as the river Zbruck.

    This authorization does not, in any way, affect the decisions to be taken later by the Supreme Council for the settlement of the political status of Galicia.”

  5. Ante, p. 617.
  6. See BC–62, vol. iv, p. 509.
  7. CF–83, p. 621.
  8. The text of the document in question does not accompany the minutes.
  9. Gen. Maurice Janin, of the French Army; supreme commander of the Czechoslovak Army in Siberia.
  10. Gen. G. B. Gayda, Czechoslovak officer, in command of a division of the Czechoslovak Army in Siberia.
  11. Maj. Gen. William Edmund Ironside, of the British Army, commanding the Allied forces in North Russia.
  12. CF–30, p. 5.
  13. BC–62, vol. iv, p. 509.
  14. See BC–62, vol. iv, p. 509.
  15. Post, p. 926.