Paris Peace Conf. 180.03401/94


Notes of a Meeting Held at President Wilson’s House in the Place des Etats-Unis, Paris, on June 27, 1919, at 11 a.m.

  • Present
    • America, United States of
      • President Wilson.
      • Mr. Baruch.
      • Mr. Lamont.
      • Mr. Norman Davis.
      • Mr. McCorniick.
      • Mr. Dulles.
    • Great Britain
      • Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd George, M. P.
      • Lord Sumner.
      • Lord Cunliffe.
      • Colonel Peel.
      • Mr. Dudley Ward.
      • Mr. Sutton.
    • France
      • M. Clemenceau.
      • M. Loucheur.
      • M. Jouasset.
      • M. Sergent.
      • M. Cheysson.
      • ? French Secretary.
    • Italy
      • Baron Sonnino.
      • M. Crespi.
      • M. d’Amelio.
    • Japan
      • Baron Makino.
Sir Maurice Hankey, K. C. B. } Secretaries.
Count Aldrovandi.
Professor P. J. Mantoux.—Interpreter.

The Council had under consideration the Report of those members of the Reparation Commission, who had been deputed to negotiate with Poland, Czecho-Slovakia, Serbia and Roumania with regard to the payment of contributions towards the cost of the war.

I. Colonel Peel explained that they had initiated negotiations on the basis of the instructions given at the last meeting of the Council on this subject.1 Taking the value of the Kroner at 25 per cent of its value had finally Suggested a total sum in respect of the four states amounting to 2 milliards Francs Swiss gold. Generally speaking these states were reluctant to undertake this liability though Czecho-Slovakia had undertaken to do so if the other three would consent. Serbia and Roumania had not absolutely declined but he doubted whether they were seriously willing to pay. He did not know what decision had been taken by the Polish representatives as they had not been present at the last discussion on the subject. He pointed out therefore that this liability must either be imposed on these States, or the sum might be discussed and proposals for its revision considered or the matter dropped altogether. Contribution to the Cost of War To Be Demanded From States Acquiring Formerly Austro-Hungarian Territory

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President Wilson asked what method it was proposed to adopt to impose this obligation on the States in question.

Mr. Dulles suggested that they should be told that in the event of a refusal they would again come under the terms of the Austrian Treaty and be liable to pay reparation.

Mr. Lloyd George agreed that this was the best method of dealing with them, and reminded the Council that, as he had pointed out before, with regard to Serbia and Roumania, a kind of book-keeping transaction could be conducted i. e. the amount of their contributions could be deducted from their claims to reparation.

M. Loucheur said that in his opinion to impose on these small Powers the sum of 1, 1½ or 2 milliards was to incur a great deal of odium for very little profit. His attitude might be different if substantial sums were in question. He reminded the Council of the burden of war expenses which would have to be borne by Serbia and Roumania. If, however, it was decided to impose this obligation on these States, he agreed that Mr. Dulles’ suggestion was the right one. He added that he had understood from a Roumanian Delegate on the previous day that these States were prepared to offer 1½ milliards.

M. Clemenceau said that he adhered to M. Loucheur’s opinion.

Mr. Lloyd George asked whether in effect M. Loucheur intended that Serbia and Roumania should present in full their reparation claims against Germany, while acquiring between them something like half the former Austrian Empire.

M. Clemenceau explained that he had not looked at the matter in this light. Serbia and Roumania would certainly have to diminish their claims against the reparation fund.

M. Loucheur thought that Mr. Lloyd George’s position was right but in view of what had been embodied in the German Treaty with regard to the principle of “solidarity” he did not think that his attitude could now be maintained.

Mr. Lloyd George said that he was not calling in question the principle of solidarity. His point was that the Reparation Commission must strike a balance in the case of Serbia and Roumania and deduct the amount of their contributions from their reparation claims.

M. Loucheur said that the negotiations which, as had been reported, had proved unacceptable to these smaller States, had been conducted on this basis. In any case the balance would be enormously in favour of Serbia and Roumania and he adhered to his opinion that the amount in question was not worth the trouble involved. The reparation claimed by these States would very likely amount to 20 milliards and contributions as suggested to 2 milliards only.

Mr. Lloyd George said that if this position was taken up with regard to Serbia and Roumania, the Czecho-Slovaks would, he supposed, [Page 718] agree to make a payment. He added that it was well known that in Czecho-Slovakia there were a very large number of rich Germans. He could not consent to a proposal which would relieve them of the burdens to be borne by men in similar positions in the Allied countries.

M. Loucheur suggested therefore that the total amount of contributions to be demanded should be 2 milliards of francs.

Mr. Lloyd George said that he would not express an opinion as to a figure and thought that it should be left to the Reparation Commission, when this came into being, to assess it.

Mr. Davis said that they had attempted, without success, to persuade these States to agree to this proceeding.

Colonel Peel suggested that the experts there present and previously delegated for these negotiations should have authority to settle a figure at once.

It was agreed:—

That Poland, Czecho-Slovakia, Serbia and Roumania should be called upon to accept liability for the payment of contributions in respect of the expenses of the liberation of formerly Austrian territory to be acquired by them.

That the amount of the contributions should be fixed by the experts of the Reparation Commission who would already be deputed to negotiate with them.

That if these States refused this settlement they should be liable for the payment of reparation under the Clauses of the Treaty with Austria.

II. The Council approved the following provision for insertion in the Financial Clauses of the Polish Treaty:—

Poland shall undertake responsibility for a part of the Russian Public Debt and of all other financial obligations of the Russian State as these shall be determined by a special Convention between the principal Allied and Associated Powers of the one part and Poland of the other. This Convention shall be drawn up by a Commission appointed by the said Powers. In case the Commission should not arrive at an agreement, the questions in dispute shall immediately be submitted to the League of Nations. Payment of Russian Public Debt

A copy of the above provision, initialled by Council of Five was handed to M. Cheysson for immediate communication to the Drafting Committee.

Baron Makino said that he initialled the document on the assumption that provision would be made for the representation of Japan when the matter in question was under consideration.

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III. The following addition to paragraph 3 of Section 3 of Annex II of the Reparation Clauses was initialled for insertion in the Treaty of Peace with Austria, to follow immediately after this clause, “the composition of this section . . . . . . claims”. Voting in Austrian Section of the Reparation Commission

When voting takes place the representatives of the United States of America, Great Britain, France and Italy shall each have two votes.

  1. See CF–72/1, p. 511.