Notes of a Meeting of the Heads of Delegations of the Five Great Powers Held in M. Pichon’s Room at the Quai d’Orsay, Paris, on Tuesday, July 15, 1919, at 3:30 p.m.
- America, United States of
- Hon. H. White.
- Mr. L. Harrison.
- British Empire
- The Rt. Hon. A. J. Balfour, O.M., M.P.
- Mr. H. Norman.
- M. Clemenceau.
- M. Dutasta.
- Capt. de St. Quentin.
- M. Tittoni.
- M. Paterno.
- M. Matsui.
- M. Kawai.
- America, United States of
|America, United States of||Lieut. Burden.|
|British Empire||Capt. E. Abraham.|
|France||Capt. A. Portier.|
|Interpreter—Prof. P. J. Mantoux.|
1. M. Clemenceau said that he had received a communication from Bela Kun, which was a reply to that sent him on behalf of the Council according to the decision taken on July 12th. (See H. D. Minute 5 .)1Correspondence With Bela Knn
M. Mantoux read the communication from Bela Kun. (Appendix “A”.)
M. Clemenceau expressed the opinion that Bela Kun had right on his side. He had been told that, if his troops evacuated Czechoslovakia, the Roumanians would be ordered to evacuate the part of Hungary they had invaded, but they had not done so. Mr. Balfour had since informed the Council that the Roumanians could not safely carry out the order. It was a pity this point of view had not been explained before the order was made. Nevertheless, whatever reasons the Roumanians might allege, if the Conference did not order them to withdraw and could not enforce the order, the Council would be in a bad position.[Page 130]
Mr. Balfour admitted there was force in M. Clemenceau’s remarks. He believed that the Council of Four would not have taken the decision it took on June 12th,2 to arrange an Armistice involving the withdrawal of the Roumanians, had they known that the Hungarians were breaking the most essential terms of the original Armistice. This had not been known until both President Wilson and Mr. Lloyd George had left Paris. M. Clemenceau had not been aware of it, as he had expressed doubt when the matter was first brought to his notice. No doubt the Council was in an unsatisfactory position, but it would be in a worse [one?] if it were to order the Roumanians to withdraw. M. Bratiano, in his farewell visit, had expressed himself very firmly and concisely. He said that the Powers had no authority to demand of Roumania a retreat which they could not protect. Unless the Powers could guarantee the safe withdrawal of the Roumanian troops and the secure holding of another line of defence against a superior enemy, it would be unfair to enforce the demand on Roumania. According to the military advice he had received, in view of the increase of the Hungarian army, Roumanian national existence might be at stake if this were done. In his communication, Bela Kun alleged breaches of the Armistice by the Czecho-Slovaks and by the Roumanians. It was the business of the military authorities to see that the Armistice was carried out. He thought that the military authorities had not treated the politicians very well, as they had not kept them informed of the breaches of the Armistice whether by one side or by the other. He would, therefore, propose to send Bela Kun’s letter to Marshal Foch before any reply was made, and to ask the latter for a report regarding the way in which both the Hungarians and our own Allies had respected or broken the Armistice. He thought it might be possible to reply that, when the Council had addressed Bela Kun in June, it was not aware that Hungary was breaking the Armistice in doubling her army. If, however, the Hungarians now agreed to respect the terms of the Armistice, the Council would obtain the withdrawal of the Roumanians. It might further be stated that the frontier between Hungary and Roumania had already been fixed by the Peace Conference and that no amount of local fighting would alter this decision to Hungary’s advantage or detriment. He wished to draw attention to a communication he had had from General Greenland, to the effect that the Hungarian population on the eastern side of the Theiss were greatly alarmed at the prospect of the Roumanians withdrawing, lest they be left thereby to the tender mercies of Bela Kun.
(It was decided to refer the communication received from Bela Kun to Marshal Foch for a full report on the observances and non-observances [Page 131]of the original Armistice Conditions by all parties concerned.)
2. At M. Clemenceau’s request, M. Mantoux read a lengthy document (Appendix “B”), which it was decided should be circulated and discussed at a future meeting. Armistice on Esthonian Front
3. The Council had before it a Joint Note by the Allied Blockade Committee and the Eastern Blockade Committee (W. C. P. 1133) and a Note by the British Delegation (W. C. P. 1133.A.) (Both of these documents are contained in Appendix “C”.)Question of Blockade in the Baltic
(At this point, Sir W. Mitchell Thomson, Mr. Waterlow, Captain Fuller, M. Seydoux and Mr. J. F. Dulles entered the room.3)
M. Clemenceau said that the Council was considerably embarrassed in dealing with this question. He read paragraph 7 of the Joint Note.
M. Seydoux said that the question had been raised by the Supreme Economic Council, which had received in reply a communication of the decision taken on June 17th by the Council of Four, in the following terms:—
“After the acceptance of the Conditions of Peace by Germany, measures are not still to be taken to prevent commodities from reaching Bolshevist Russia or Hungary. On the recommendation of the Supreme Economic Council it was approved that there should be an abstinence from any positive measures or public announcement indicating the resumption of such trade. The Supreme Economic Council is asked, however, to examine whether, consistently with this decision, means could be found for preventing war material from being carried by sea from Germany to Bolshevist Russia.”
This decision was communicated by Sir Maurice Hankey in a letter to Mr. McCormick.4 (Appendix “D”.)
Sweden had now opened the question and it was necessary to find some solution. The solution suggested was contained in the terms of the last clause of paragraph 7 of the Joint Note. This applied only to the Baltic. In the Black Sea, the position was less acute. There were few countries anxious or able to import much into Russia. In Petrograd, however, the situation was critical. It is but a few hours’ steam from Stockholm and Copenhagen. The means suggested were, he admitted, opportunist methods, based on the fact that naval hostilities were taking place in the Baltic. It might be possible without declaring a blockade, which was legally impossible, to proceed on the [Page 132]ground of these hostilities to enforce an embargo which should only be raised at the discretion of the Allied Powers. There was, however, another way out. The Allied and Associated Powers had offered help to Admiral Koltchak5 on certain terms. If this help was to be given to him, it must be given at all points. If neutrals were to be allowed to furnish supplies to the Bolsheviks whom he was fighting, Allied assistance elsewhere would be neutralised. The neutrals might therefore be told that the Allied and Associated Powers would consider it an unfriendly act on their part should they send supplies to Bolsheviks. This could now be stated with more confidence since help had been promised to Admiral Koltchak. He suggested that the Council adopt one or other of the two plans proposed.
Mr. Balfour said that M. Seydoux’s statement was very clear. The question was an extremely embarrassing one. The Council was being hampered at every turn by difficult questions of international law, both in relation to new States and to unrecognised or de facto Governments. There were two areas to be considered, first the gulf of Finland, and second the Black Sea. The White Sea was already provided for. Trade with the Baltic States of Finland, Latvia etc., need cause no concern because trade with them would not lead to the percolation into Soviet Russia of any arms or ammunition. Of the two doors into Soviet Russia, one would be closed by ice at the end of November. Until that date, the means of stopping trade from passing through it, which had been suggested amounted to this—that neutral States be informed that the Allied and Associated Powers were not making a formal blockade on Soviet Russia; but, seeing that active hostilities were in progress in the Gulf of Finland, they must insist on the right of turning back trading vessels from the zone of operations. The waters in question were mined, and operations must for success be provided with secrecy. He did not suggest that trading vessels should be subject to capture, sunk or proceeded against in Prize Courts; only that they should be sent back to their port of origin. This course was no doubt open to objection, but less so, he thought, than any other, and it seemed the best that could be done to carry out the policy laid down by the Council of Four. As to the Black Sea, he understood there was a proposal to recognise a blockade to be declared by Koltchak and Denekin.6 These methods he would be inclined to accept.
M. Clemenceau said that as temporary expedients the proposals put forth by M. Seydoux might be adopted.
M. Seydoux said it must be clearly understood that no legal right could be appealed to. In order to endow Koltchak and Denekin with [Page 133]some powers to enforce the blockade, he suggested that they might be supplied with a Destroyer or two by the Allied Powers.
M. Tittoni said that the proposals were expedients, but as he could see no better, he would accept them.
Mr. White said that all that had been suggested amounted to a pacific blockade. The American Government was extremely sensitive regarding matters of this kind. Without special instructions he would hesitate to accept any proposal tending to stop traffic on the High Seas in time of Peace.
Mr. Balfour said that in his view, what was proposed was not quite a pacific blockade. The régime in the Gulf of Finland was not peace. Even though it might not legally be war, active hostilities were being waged. As the Soviet Government had not been recognised these hostilities could not lawfully be considered war, since it appeared that war could only be waged against a recognised Government. The military operations going on had an object accepted by all the Allied and Associated Governments, namely, to preserve the small border Republics which had sprung up in the north-west of Russia. Commerce, therefore, should not be allowed to interfere with these operations. He thought the suggestion made in the last paragraph of the Addendum by the British Delegation to the Joint Note might be adopted.
M. Tittoni observed that the Powers could not escape the anomaly of assisting Koltchak in one quarter, and allowing his enemies to be assisted in another.
M. Clemenceau observed that President Wilson had offered his help to Koltchak.
Mr. White said that he was willing to send a cable message to Washington, explaining the views of his colleagues, but he could not accept them without reference to his Government. Theoretically there was peace with Russia. He would ask whether he might join in the proposal before the Council which he understood his Colleagues all accepted.
Mr. Balfour said that he fully understood Mr. White’s position, but the question addressed to the British Government by the Swedes had to be answered. He did not know how long the answer could be postponed.
M. Clemenceau suggested that Mr. White inform the Council of the views of his Government within two days.
Mr. Dulles said that it would be necessary to explain to President Wilson why the question was re-opened. At the time when the Council of Four had made its decision, it was well aware that the present situation was bound to come about. The question had been considered first in the Blockade Council, then in the Supreme Economic [Page 134]Council, and lastly, in the Council of the Heads of Governments. No aspect of the situation, therefore, had been lost sight of and the very contingency now being discussed was that in view when Sir Maurice Hankey sent his Note to the Supreme Economic Council. It would, therefore, be necessary to inform President Wilson of whatever new circumstance might exist which justified the re-opening of the question.
Mr. Balfour said that it was no doubt quite accurate to say that the Council of the Heads of Governments had decided that nothing could be done, and it was doubtless reasonable to say that President Wilson must be informed of the reason why the present Council desired a different decision. He would point out that, in the decision of the Council of Four, Hungary was coupled with Russia. Nevertheless, a blockade on Hungary had been imposed. At the time of the latter, there was some hope that Petrograd would fall; this would have removed all necessity for a blockade. It might, further, be pointed out that the Soviet Government was conducting active hostilities against the small Baltic States. Should the Powers not protect the latter, the Soviet Government could land troops in the rear of their forces and destroy them. Hence it was necessary for the Powers to maintain maritime control of the Baltic. This could not be done without active operations, as the Soviet had ships and showed fight. It was impossible to carry on naval operations in narrow waters and to allow merchant shipping to go through with food and arms. The removal of the blockade was, therefore, inconsistent with the conduct of the policy unanimously favoured by the Powers.
Mr. Dulles observed that the blockade on Hungary was maintained because the Powers were still at war with Hungary. They had never been at war with Russia.
(It was agreed that Mr. Dulles should draft a telegram to be sent in the name of the Council to President Wilson explaining the reasons for maintaining in the Baltic and the Black Sea an embargo on merchant shipping trading with Soviet Russia.
It was further agreed that the subject should again be put on the Agenda on the 17th instant.)
4. M. Clemenceau said that he had received a communication stating that the Belgian and Dutch Governments had nominated their representatives for the Commission which was to revise the Treaties of 1839.6a It was, therefore, desirable to summon the Commission. The Belgian Government asked that the first meeting should be fixed for Tuesday, July 29th, as the two Belgian representatives, M. Orts, Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and M. Segers, Minister of State, were detained in Brussels until the 28th, for the festivals in honour [Page 135]of the President of the Republic. The British and Italian representatives on the Commission had already been nominated. The American and French remained to be appointed. On behalf of France, M. Clemenceau nominated M. Laroche—on behalf of the United States of America, Mr. White nominated Mr. Hudson. Revision of Treaties of 1839
(It was agreed that the first meeting should take place on 29th July, at 10.30 a.m. at the Quai d’Orsay.)
5. The Council had before it the report of the Military Representatives at Versailles. (Appendix “E”)Allied Army of Occupation in Silesia During Plebiscite
(At this point, the Military Representatives and their Chiefs of the Staff, entered the room.)
Mr. Balfour said that he had read the report. The only difficulty he found was in finding 13,000 men.
M. Clemenceau said that he had none to offer. He counted on Mr. Balfour.
Mr. Balfour said he had none to offer. He counted on General Bliss.
General Bliss said that it was not beyond the limits of possibility that Allied troops might be entirely dispensed with. The Inter-Allied Commission which was to conduct the plebiscite, was to spend six months studying the country. It would be able to report whether order could be maintained without armed forces. It had been provided that there should be neither German nor Polish troops in the area. He suggested, therefore, that the Commission, together with its staff, which would be numerous, should go to the country and report later whether it required an Allied force or not.
Mr. Balfour quoted paragraph “D” of the general consideration set forth in the report and pointed out that it seemed to have been the intention that the Commission should have an Allied force until local police could be organised. If, however, General Bliss considered that the risk of doing without an Allied force could be taken, he would not insist on a pedantic adherence to the original intention.
General Buss said that the plebiscite was not to take place until six months after the coming into force of the Treaty. This would give the Commission plenty of time to find out whether an armed force could or could not be dispensed with.
M. Clemenceau asked what would happen should the Commission find that they required troops.
Mr. Balfour drew attention to the provision excluding any participation of the Germans in the forces of occupation. He asked whether this should be held to apply to police forces.
General Bliss thought that it did not apply to police forces.
Mr. Balfour asked when the Commission was to proceed to Silesia. He also asked whether members had been nominated.[Page 136]
Mr. White said that he understood the Commission was to proceed to Silesia 15 days after the coming into force of the Treaty. As to nomination, so far as the United States were concerned, no American member could be appointed until the American Senate had ratified the Treaty.
M. Clemenceau said that he was informed that the Commission to supervise the execution of the clauses of the Treaty had examined this question and that it could furnish a report at the next meeting.
(The question was therefore postponed till the following day.)
6. The Council had before it a Report from the Military Representatives of the Supreme War Council. (Appendix E [E bis].)
Occupation of Bulgraia by Great Britain, Great Britain France, and Italy in Equal Proportions M. Clemenceau observed that in spite of the platonic recommendations of the Military Representatives, it appeared from the footnote that Italy would contribute one battalion, Great Britain 40 men, America none, while Trance had in the area two divisions, two-thirds of which he proposed to demobilise. The only way out of the difficulty that he could think of was to ask the Italians who were on good terms with the Bulgarians to stand surety for their good behaviour.
M. Tittoni said that he was not aware of any special intimacy between Italy and Bulgaria.
M. Clemenceau said he could show M. Tittoni evidence to that effect. He made no complaint, in fact he would be glad if Italian policy could produce in Bulgaria the results desired by the Conference. The only end in view was to make the Bulgarians behave peacefully towards the Greeks.
M. Tittoni said that Italian policy was to conform with the policy of the Allies.
M. Clemenceau said that he had dreamt that Italy was inaugurating a new policy, and was now seeking to make friends with her neighbours in the Adriatic, applying in case of misunderstanding to her Allies for arbitration, which would be most willingly undertaken.
M. Tittoni said that he was quite willing to conform with M. Clemenceau’s dream.
M. Clemenceau said that if an agreement between the Bulgarians and the Greeks could be arranged through Italy it would be a great service to the Allied cause. The Bulgarians had been summoned to be in Paris on the 25th. There remained only ten days. If in this period M. Tittoni could give the Allies a foretaste of the new policy, the situation on the arrival of the Bulgarians would be much easier.
M. Tittoni said he would be very pleased to do his best.[Page 137]
M. Clemenceau suggested that M. Tittoni should have private conversations on behalf of the Council with M. Venizelos.
Mr. Balfour asked to what extent disarmament had proceeded in Bulgaria.
M. Clemenceau said that he thought the situation unsatisfactory. He did not think that General Franchet d’Esperey7 had controlled events very successfully according to the instructions given him. He had the impression that the Bulgarians meant to resort to force should they be dissatisfied with their new frontiers. He was asking General Franchet d’Esperey’s opinion on Bulgaria and its present condition from the military point of view. If, meanwhile, M. Tittoni would have a talk with M. Venizelos, good results might be obtained.
Mr. Balfour said that he presumed that M. Tittoni’s conversation with M. Venizelos would be on the basis of what had been decided at the Conference.
M. Clemenceau said that it must undoubtedly be on the basis that the Entente was victorious, and that Bulgaria had been defeated.
M. Tittoni asked that he might be supplied with the requisite information by his colleagues.
Mr. Balfour enquired whether the intention was that M. Tittoni should discuss frontiers with M. Venizelos.
M. Clemenceau said he suggested no plan whatever. He left the whole matter to M. Tittoni’s ingenuity. He had heard among other things that Greece thought of giving Bulgaria a share in the port of Kavalla. If so this was a good beginning which deserved encouragement.
(M. Tittoni agreed to engage in conversation with M. Venizelos, and report the results obtained daily to the Council.
It was further decided that General Franchet d’Esperey should furnish as soon as possible all available information regarding the military situation of Bulgaria.)
7. The Council had before it a Report from the Military Representatives of the Supreme War Council. (Appendix “F.”)Assistance To Be Given to Poland in the Area Ceded by Germany
M. Clemenceau asked General Belin what the conclusion of the Report was.
General Belin said that it was proposed that the Frontier Delimitation Commission should begin to function at once instead of waiting for the time appointed, namely, 15 days after the coming into force of the Treaty.
M. Clemenceau said that he did not think there was any authority to set the Commission at work before its time. This could only be done by agreement with the Germans. Should they refuse the Council [Page 138]could do nothing. It was important not to exceed Treaty rights. In this connection he wished to inform the Council that the Germans had approached him with a request for permission to occupy Frankfurt with troops by reason of disturbances expected there. On the strength of the Treaty he had refused this request. It was therefore hardly possible to ask Germany for favours. He suggested that the Report expected from the Commission to supervise the execution of the Treaty be awaited.
(It was therefore decided to postpone the consideration of this question till the following day, when the Report of the Commission to Supervise the Execution of the Treaty would be heard.)
8. M. Clemenceau said he wished to read a despatch he had received from General Franchet d’Esperey. (Appendix G.)Action of the Italians in Bulgria
M. Tittoni said he would immediately make an enquiry into the allegations made in this despatch.
9. M. Clemenceau caused a letter from M. Venizelos to be read. (See Appendix H.)
Letter from M. Venizeols Concerning Asia-Minor M. Tittoni said that he denied in a most formal manner the allegations made in this letter. Greek troops were refusing to obey the orders of the British Admiral on the ground that they were receiving direct instructions from the Peace Conference sent to them by M. Venizelos. It would be necessary for the Conference to settle this matter. The British Admiral’s powers would have to be increased. The Italian Commander was in complete accord with the British Commodore at Smyrna. He had himself summoned General Bongiovanni8 and given him personal instructions that no further Italian troops should be landed, and that no new localities should be occupied. He was, moreover, to act only in concert with the British Admiral. It was necessary to enforce a similar line of conduct on the Greeks. The Turks at present believed that they were being invaded by the Greeks, and that they must fight them. The Greeks must conform to a common plan, and must realise that they formed part of the forces of the Allied Powers. The Greeks must therefore first halt on their present positions.
Mr. Balfour suggested that M. Venizelos be asked to attend the Council in order to give a frank explanation of what was going on. He would like to ask the Military Experts what they thought of the allegation made in the letter read by M. Clemenceau that there were 300,000 well-armed Turkish troops in the field. The British Military Experts were of the opinion that this was far from the mark.[Page 139]
General Belin replied that he thought that these figures very much exaggerated. He agreed that there were perhaps some 60,000 men in all Anatolia.
(It was agreed that M. Venizelos should be invited to attend the Council on the following day to discuss the situation in Asia-Minor.)
(The meeting then adjourned.)
Villa Majestic, Paris, July 15, 1919.[Page 144] [Page 149]
- Ante, p. 120.↩
- CF–62, minute 8,
vi, p. 351.↩
- Sir William Mitchell Thomson, British representative, Superior Blockade Council and Supreme Economic Council; Sydney Philip Waterlow, British representative, Committee on Blockade of the East; Capt Cyril Thomas Fuller, head of Naval Section, British Delegation; Charles L. A. J. Seydoux, French representative, Superior Blockade Council, Committee on Blockade of the East, and Supreme Economic Council; and John Foster Dulles, United States representative, Supreme Economic Council.↩
- Vance C. McCormick, United States representative and chairman of the Superior Blockade Council; also chairman of the Supreme Economic Council.↩
- Admiral Alexander Vasilevich Kolchak, proclaimed on November 18, 1918, at Omsk, Supreme Governor of Russia.↩
- Gen. Anton Ivanovich Deniken, commander in chief of the armed forces of South Russia.↩
- British and Foreign State Papers, vol. xxxvii, p. 1370.↩
- Commander in chief of the Allied Armies in the East.↩
- Gen. Luigi Bongiovanni, commander of the Italian forces in Asia Minor.↩
- Translation is that filed under Paris Peace Conf. 180.03501/7.↩
- Appendix B to HD–6, p. 125.↩
- HD–6, minute 6, p. 120.↩
ii, p. 183.↩
- Appendix V
(A), V (B), and V (F) to CF–65,
vi, pp. 411, 412, and 416.↩
- Translation from the French supplied by the editors.↩
- Omission indicated in the original French.↩
- Omission indicated in the original French.↩
- Gen. Rudiger von der Goltz, commander of the German Armies in the Baltic Provinces.↩
- Omission indicated in the original French.↩
- Karlis Ulmannis, Latvian Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture and Supplies.↩
- This document was referred
to in the meeting of the Council of Four on June 17, 1919, 4
p.m., but it does not accompany the minutes of the meeting.
See CF–74, minute 5,
vi, p. 530.↩
- See appendix D to HD–7, p. 144.↩
- CF–74, minute 5,
vi, p. 530.↩
- Appendix IV to CF–74,
vi, p. 541.↩
- CF–93, minute 21,
vi, p. 703.↩
- This report appears to have been inadvertently omitted from the present set of minutes. A copy in French was found under file No. 874.00/131.↩
- Translation supplied by the editors.↩
- HD–3, minute 12, p. 65.↩
Although entirely in agreement with the principle of an equal inter-Allied contribution, the British Military Representative considers himself obliged to make the following reservation: The British Ministry of War has already laid down that the only force which it could furnish would be one platoon (1 officer and about 40 men).
The Italian Military Representative believes himself obliged to’ declare that, so far as the assistance to be given by the Italian Army is concerned, this could not exceed one infantry battalion—which is in line with communications previously made. [Footnote in the original.]↩
- The American Military Representative makes the following reservation: Since the United States is not concerned with this question, the American Military Representative has no objection to any of the solutions reached by the Military Representatives in the interest of the powers concerned—it being well understood that the United States will not be bound to any participation. [Footnote in the original.]↩
- CF–93, minute 21, and CF–96, minute 5,
vi, pp. 703 and 726.↩
- See CF–57, minute 6,
vi, p. 295.↩
- Translation from the French supplied by the editors.↩
- See HD–8, minute 1, p. 154.↩
- Translation from the French supplied by the editors.↩