Paris Peace Conf. 180.03401/93½


Notes of a Meeting Held at Mr. Lloyd George’s Residence, 23 Rue Nitot, Paris, on Thursday, June 26, 1919, at 4 p.m.

  • Present
    • America, United States of
      • President Wilson.
    • Great Britain
      • Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd George, M. P.
    • France
      • M. Clemenceau.
Sir Maurice Hankey, K. C. B. } secretaries
Captain Portier.
Professor P. J. Mantoux—Interpreter.

1. M. Clemenceau said that M. Wellington Koo had informed him that the Chinese Delegation would make a protest in order to satisfy public opinion in China. This would be done only in the hope that later on the clauses in the Treaty relating to Shantung would be revised. He wished to ask his Colleagues whether they thought the protest should be made before or after the signature of the Treaty. For his part, he would prefer that it should be after. Chinese Protest

Mr. Lloyd George agreed.

M. Clemenceau pointed out that otherwise Roumania might be encouraged to follow suit.

Mr. Lloyd George said that it might even set a bad example to the Germans.

(It was agreed that M. Clemenceau should ask M. Pichon to request the Chinese Government to make their formal protest at the very last possible moment.)

2. With reference to C. F. 93, Minute 6,1 the attached telegram drafted by Mr. Balfour was agreed to. (Appendix I.)

(M. Clemenceau undertook to despatch it to the Dutch Government on behalf of the Conference. Holland and the Delivery of the ex-Kaiser

3. M. Clemenceau said that he had allocated 15 places in the Hall at Versailles for French soldiers, who had specially distinguished themselves in the war, to witness the signature of the Treaty of Peace, and he would be glad to offer the same facilities to the British and American Governments. Opportunity for Soldiers To Witness the Signature of the Peace Treaty

Mr. Lloyd George and President Wilson thanked M. Clemenceau for his offer, which they accepted.

[Page 711]

Mk. Lloyd George asked what reply was to be given to the Turks.

President Wilson observed that Mr. Balfour had already made a reply. Turkish Missions

Mr. Lloyd George said that this was not his meaning. He wished to know whether the Turks were to be allowed to go or whether they were to be asked to meet the Representatives of the Powers, or should they be sent a letter suggesting that they should go home and return later on when summoned.

President Wilson expressed the opinion that it would be better to let them go. They had exhibited complete absence of common sense and a total misunderstanding of the West. They had imagined that the Conference knew no history and was ready to swallow enormous falsehoods.

Mr. Lloyd George observed that this was Turkish Diplomacy.

President Wilson remarked that no promise had been made to reply to what they might say.

M. Clemenceau agreed that they had only asked for a hearing.

President Wilson said that the Conference had given them sufficient attention. They had been treated favourably. They had been asked to come to the Conference and all they had wished to say had been listened to. They had been better treated in this respect than the Austrians.

Mr. Lloyd George said that the question he had alluded to on the previous day was whether it was expedient to try and make Peace with Turkey without coming to a decision on the question of Mandates.

President Wilson said that he had reflected on this subject. It might be possible to tell the Turks that they must abandon their possessions in Europe and in certain specified territories in Asia, or else they might be told “Your territory will be bounded as follows—Turkey must renounce all rights over territories outside this boundary and accept in advance the disposal of these areas to be made by the Allied and Associated Powers.” Furthermore, “Turkey must accept in certain Departments of State—Finance, Police, supervision of the Coasts, the assistance of a Power, hereafter to be designated.” This appeared to him to be practicable and settlement of all other questions could be adjourned.

Mr. Lloyd George said that this proposal was practicable if it be decided at once to take Constantinople from the Turks.

President Wilson observed that Constantinople was not a Turkish City; other races there were in the majority.

Mr. Lloyd George said this amounted to a final expulsion of the Turks from Europe.

M. Clemenceau said that he had an objection to make. If this solution were proposed to the Turks, they would refuse and would remain [Page 712] where they were. There was nothing ready to enforce immediate execution. What could the Allied and Associated Powers do? The whole of this question could only be settled at one time. For his part he agreed that Constantinople should not remain Turkish. The capture of Constantinople by the Turks had been, when it occurred, a very great event which had shaken up all Europe. Since then Europe had made every effort to maintain the Turks there.

President Wilson said doubtless because no successor could be found for them.

Mr. Lloyd George said it was chiefly by reason of the fear of Russia.

M. Clemenceau asked what immediate solution was in view. Constantinople had been offered to President Wilson, but he did not seem anxious to accept it.

President Wilson said he would take the proposal to the Powers but from [for?] the situation brought about by Italian action. The Italians had continued to land troops in Asia Minor. M. Tittoni no doubt would cause these troops to advance still further. Conflicts were to be feared. What Italy aimed at was to obtain a position such that she could not be evicted without hostilities. Should she continue this Policy, she would place herself outside the law. A great Nation which behaved in this manner lost all its rights. The problem of Asia! Minor would be easily settled if Italy were not concerned.

Mr. Lloyd George thought it would be safer to say that Asia Minor would be “easier to settle”.

M. Clemenceau agreed and pointed out that there would still be ticklish problems. He reminded the meeting that the Indian Mohammedans had protested against any division of Turkish Asia.

Mr. Lloyd George said that they meant Anatolia.

M. Clemenceau pointed out that the Greeks were in Smyrna and were extending up to Aidin. This was part of Anatolia. There was a considerable Turkish population in Smyrna itself. He was making no protest, merely drawing attention to facts. As to the Italians, they had seized ports and had stayed there in spite of clear warnings, they had advanced inland and were continuing to penetrate. He did not think that they would withdraw if asked to by the Council. Mr. Tittoni now said “Smyrna was promised to us.” This meant “Italy is a great nation which might perhaps make concessions. It will not leave Smyrna to others except for compensations”. He asked what was to be done.

President Wilson expressed the opinion that the Italian Government would not last. It would come to Paris and make claims which would not be accepted. These claims would be categorically refused and the Italian Government would be forced to withdraw.

M. Clemenceau said that he was inclined to refuse discussion of Asiatic questions with the Italians for the present. He would say [Page 713] to them “We are now making Peace with Austria and we canot allow negotiations to be suspended. The first question we must settle is that of the Adriatic.”

President Wilson said that he agreed.

M. Clemenceau said that any haste in dealing with the Turkish question would be dangerous. For instance, there was the French view. France had a disagreement with Great Britain. He did not wish to raise this question until Peace with Germany had been signed. Fortunately, public opinion was not for the time being exerting any pressure. This was a piece of good luck. If, unfortunately, this question got entangled with European questions, he was much afraid of what might be said and done by certain persons devoid of self control. If the Conference could reach satisfactory solutions of more important problems, public opinion would be greatly appeased and subsequent discussions would be rendered easier.

President Wilson said that for the time being all he proposed was to fix the frontiers of Turkey.

M. Clemenceau said that was all that could be done and that as no immediate means of execution existed, the result would be deplorable.

Mr. Lloyd George said that the Italian danger in Asia Minor was a matter of deep concern to him. The Italians were advancing straight before them and seizing in the interior everything that suited them. Great Britain had no ambition in this region, but he feared what the effect might be in Mussulman Countries. This concerned Great Britain in Egypt and in India and France in North Africa. M. Tittoni said that what Italy desired in Asia was mining concessions, but the Italians were now seizing everything that might be of use to them.

President Wilson observed that what they wanted was things it would be impossible for them to obtain under a mandate.

Mr. Lloyd George observed that Italy alone among the Powers had not demobilised. She was afraid to do so out of fear of internal disorder. She had her troops and she was sending them to Asia Minor, to the Caucasus, and wherever she wished.

President Wilson said that he had reason to anticipate a period of famine in the Caucasus, when British troops were withdrawn, by reason of a momentary influx of population. This was a problem to which his attention has been drawn and which must be borne in mind. As to the Italians, he thought they should be asked clearly to state whether they remained in the Entente or not. If they did, they must take part with their Allies in the negotiations with Turkey and do nothing independently.

[Page 714]

Mr. Lloyd George pointed out that even according to the agreement of Saint Jean de Maurienne, the Italians had no right to the forcible occupation of all the places they had seized.

President Wilson said that he could not go back and tell the United States Senate “Here is a Treaty re-establishing Peace”, if Italy were left a free hand. It would be on the contrary a Treaty preparing war and could not be guaranteed by the Powers.

M. Clemenceau said that as far as he was concerned, he would put the question to the Italians as clearly as possible. Fiume was at the present time administered in the name of the King of Italy. The local Government had lately asked the French General to expel the Serbians. The General had refused. The Italians had then expelled them themselves. The town was surrounded by barbed wire. This was a state of war. Was this the intention of the Treaty of London? The Italians were breaking their word there and everywhere else.

President Wilson said that they justified their presence in Fiume on the pretext that the Armistice granted them the right of advancing to re-establish order.

M. Clemenceau said that they had gone so far in the last few days as to ask France for a small bit of French territory in the County of Nice to improve their frontier which according to them was illdrawn.

Mr. Lloyd George observed that this was madness.

Appendix to CF–93A

Telegram to the Dutch Government

The Allied and Associated Powers desire in the interests of Peace to call the attention of the Dutch Government to the position of the German ex-Kaiser and the German ex-Crown Prince who, early in last November sought safety in Dutch territory.

The Allied and Associated Governments have heard with great surprise that the titular Crown Prince, who is a German combatant officer of high rank, has been permitted in violation of the laws of war to escape from the neutral country in which he was interned. They trust that no similar breach of international obligation will be permitted in the far more important case of the ex-Kaiser. He is not only a German officer who has fled to neutral territory, he is also the potentate whom all the world outside Germany deems guilty of bringing on the great war and of pursuing it by methods of deliberate barbarism. According to the Treaty of Peace which is about to be signed with Germany his conduct will be judicially arraigned. But [Page 715] he still represents the military party whose influence has ruined his country and brought infinite suffering on the human race. His escape would raise their credit and revive their waning hopes. It would threaten the peace so hardly achieved and even now not finally secured. To permit it would be an international crime, which could not be forgiven those who have contributed to it by their carelessness or their connivance.

The Allied and Associated Powers are confident that these considerations will commend themselves to the Dutch Government. But they desire to add that should that Government feel that in existing circumstances the safe custody of the ex-Kaiser involves responsibilities heavier than any which it is prepared to bear, the Allied and Associated Governments are willing to undertake the duty and so relieve a neutral State of a thankless task which it never sought but which it is under grave obligation to carry out.

  1. Ante, p. 699.