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 Saturday, July 26, 1919, at 10:30 a.m.

  • Present
    • America, United States of
      • Hon. H. White.
    • Secretary
      • Mr. L. Harrison.
    • British Empire
      • The Rt. Hon. A. J. Balfour, O. M., M. P.
    • Secretaries
      • Mr. H. Norman.
      • Sir Ian Malcolm, K. C. M. G.
    • France
      • M. Clemenceau.
      • M. Pichon.
    • Secretaries
      • M. Dutasta.
      • M. Berthelot.
      • M. de St. Quentin.
    • Italy
      • M. Tittoni.
    • Secretary
      • M. Paterno.
    • Japan
      • Baron Makino.
    • Secretary
      • M. Kawai.
Joint Secretariat
America, United States of Capt. Chapin.
British Empire Lieut-Commander Bell.
France Capt. A. Portier.
Italy Colonel Jones.
Interpreter—Prof. P. J. Mantoux.

1. (At this point Marshal Foch, General Weygand, and the Military Representatives from Versailles entered the room.)

Polish and Lithuanian Dispute With Regard to Demarcation Line M. Clemenceau stated that, before passing to the subjects on the Agenda, he would ask Marshal Foch to explain the dispute that had now arisen between the Poles and the Lithuanians with regard to the line of demarcation that had been laid down by the Allied and Associated Powers.

Marshal Foch showed the demarcation line upon a map which he presented to the Council, and drew attention to the point at which the line in question had been violated. He pointed out that the question of the German evacuation of the territories under discussion was involved, and that, according to latest reports, General von der Goltz1 had begun a general withdrawal.

[Page 304]

M. Clemenceau stated that, as certain aspects of the problem were new to the Council, he would propose that the question should be adjourned until the afternoon’s meeting, and that M. Cambon2 should attend.

(It was therefore decided that the question should be re-discussed at the afternoon’s meeting and that M. Cambon should be present.)

2. M. Clemenceau read two telegrams, dated July 7th and 24th respectively, relative to a rupture of communications through Warsaw between Poland, Czecho-Slovakia and other countries, and asked Marshal Foch whether he was familiar with the details of this matter. Rupture of the Communications at Warsaw

Marshal Foch replied that the question had not been brought to his attention.

(It was therefore decided to adjourn the discussion of this question until the afternoon’s meeting, at which time Marshal Foch would have investigated the matter.)

3. (At this point Mr. Hoover and Mr. Coolidge entered the room.)

Marshal Foch referred the Council to his military report of July 17th.3 He reminded them, however, that the political side of the question still asserted itself, and that this could not be dealt with by him. Hungarian Affairs

M. Clemenceau drew attention to the fact that the question of General Boehm’s action had now arisen.

Marshal Foch replied that General Boehm’s proposals were of a purely political nature, and that the military situation had altered to a certain extent by reason of the Hungarian attack upon the Roumanian forces. These latter had been prepared, however, and were in a position to resist. The situation, therefore, was in the same posture as it had been when he reported on July 17th.

Mr. Balfour asked whether Marshal Foch knew anything about General Boehm.

M. Tittoni remarked that General Boehm was the Commander-in-Chief of the Hungarian Bolshevik forces.

Marshal Foch said that, according to his latest information, General Boehm had held a Lieutenant’s rank.

M. Pichon remarked that he was actually the Hungarian Minister at Vienna.

Mr. Balfour stated that, whilst the problem was both military and political, one side of it was half way between the two. Boehm stated that he had sufficient influence with the Hungarian Armies to crush Bela Kun and set up a Constituent Assembly without the Allies being [Page 305] called upon to strike a blow. This presented the question partly political and partly military. He would therefore like to know whether, in Marshal Foch’s opinion, Boehm had the degree of military influence that he claimed and what were the probabilities of his being successful.

Marshal Foch replied that he knew nothing about Boehm, nor of his military qualities. At the same time, the small countries surrounding Hungary, Czecho-Slovakia, Serbia and Roumania, would not keep a passive attitude for very long in the face of Hungarian aggression and would shortly take an initiative of some kind, since it was obvious that they could not keep their armies mobilised indefinitely.

M. Tittoni said he thought that the information received from Hungary during the past month gave a tolerable picture of the state of affairs in that country. It was clear that Bela Kun represented no more than a minority and that he had raised against himself internal and external enemies. It was even stated that 80 per cent, of the Bolshevik Armies in Hungary were hostile to him; if this were so, the offer of Boehm was only a manifestation of this discontent. Whatever was going to happen, it was evident that the Great Powers must lend some kind of assistance, either military or moral, since the reconstruction of Hungary from within was going to be a lengthy process. Two courses were now open. The first was to send out the Committee, as had been contemplated, and to support it with the promise of ultimate military force. The second course was to adopt immediately, and to put into effect, the military action proposed by Marshal Foch. All reports agreed in thinking that Austria would soon be affected by Bolshevism.

M. Pichon said that he agreed with M. Tittoni, but thought that the functions of the Committee must be kept distinct from the negotiations arising out of Boehm’s proposals.

M. Tittoni remarked that, when the Committee had been decided upon, it had been agreed, at the same time, that it should not enter into relations with Bela Kun.

M. Pichon stated that the telegrams from the Allied Ministers proved that Boehm’s proposals were being taken seriously. It was therefore for consideration whether the Committee should not, after all, be authorised to deal with him.

M. Tittoni stated that, if Boehm were actually in a position to overthrow Bela Kun, it was none the less certain that he required something from the Allied and Associated Governments. What was it, therefore, that he really wanted?

M. Clemenceau said that Boehm had asked for nothing except moral support.

Mr. White stated that, by sending out the Committee, it might appear that the Allied and Associated Governments wished to enter [Page 306] into negotiations either with Boehm or with Bela Kun; it was not desirable to give this impression. Mr. Hoover had a proposal to make which avoided this difficulty.

M. Mantoux then read aloud Mr. Hoover’s proposal.

Mr. Balfour then read a draft proposal of his own, stating that it had the fault of coming to no definite conclusion.

M. Clemenceau said that, as M. Tittoni had observed, the Council was not entirely clear as to the requests and proposals which Boehm had made to the Allied and Associated Powers.

Mr. Balfour remarked that both the military plans and the proposals of Boehm had for their object the expulsion of Bela Kun.

M. Tittoni then said that the following distinct questions should be put to the Allied representatives at Vienna:

Was Boehm in good faith, or was he merely acting as an agent of Bela Kun?
Was Boehm able to carry out his promises, or did he want assistance?
What did he require?

Mr. Hoover said he thought Boehm had definitely asked that the blockade should be raised, foodstuffs sent into the country and navigation on the Danube reopened, if he, on his part, established himself as a temporary dictator.

Mr. White confirmed Mr. Hoover’s point of view by reading a portion of Appendix A.

M. Pichon said that Boehm had made no demand, but had submitted proposals.

Mr. White stated that the Allied Representatives at Vienna evidently thought that Boehm was to be taken seriously.

Mr. Balfour summarised M. Tittoni’s questions, and stated that he thought they had been answered by the fact that our representatives at Vienna believed that Boehm was to be trusted, and was doing no more than asking for certain specific things.

M. Tittoni said that he was not of opinion that explicit answers had been given, and that more detailed replies should be obtained.

Mr. Balfour then asked Mr. Hoover if he were not justified in saying that the questions had really been answered.

Mr. Hoover replied that, in his opinion, it was dangerous for the Allied and Associated Governments to open negotiations with secret agents. Would it not be possible to make a public declaration of policy and to allow Boehm to make his own deductions from it? Such a declaration might take the form of a statement to the effect that economic assistance would be given to a properly constituted government, and that such a statement would not bind the Conference to subsequent military action.

[Page 307]

Mr. Balfour pointed out that the fact that Bela Kun had not carried out the Armistice and had made war against our Allies stood out. He remarked that he would conclude his proposals by saying that, if any responsible government should be set up in Hungary, economic aid would be furnished it by the Allied and Associated Powers. He asked, however, whether the conclusion of the Council was that whether military action should be taken or the situation allowed to remain in its present state. He asked, in conclusion, how the declaration could be made public.

M. Clemenceau replied that it could be published in the press.

Mr. White read from a telegram to the effect that Colonel Cunninghame had, on that day, interviewed Boehm, who would be ready to act in a month’s time and undertook to overthrow Bela Kun in 48 hours, but that Boehm could not act until he knew whether the Allies would approve of his plans.

M. Clemenceau remarked that the capture of Buda-Pest seemed to be an easy matter, but that the questions which would follow it were most difficult. For instance, if the Roumanians entered Buda-Pest, a very strong feeling would be excited amongst the Hungarians. He then asked Marshal Foch for his opinion on the actual situation of the Hungarian Army.

Marshal Foch replied that Hungary had actually not disarmed. The Army was still in the field and it mattered little whether its leader was Bela Kun or Boehm. Even though a political formula were adopted, as the basis of subsequent action, any person who received support from the Allies might subsequently adopt a new attitude with every prospect of success.

M. Clemenceau then asked how Hungary could be disarmed.

Marshal Foch replied that it could be done by laying down terms so severe that disarmament would be certain. The fact remained that, instead of the 6 divisions which had been allowed to the Hungarian Army, 12 were actually in the field.

Mr. Balfour then asked whether Marshal Foch believed that an effective disarmament of the Hungarian Army could take place without an occupation of a portion of their territory.

Marshal Foch answered that an ultimatum, backed by military force, could effect what was desired. The threat to attack must remain. He had already stated that the Allied Armies acting in Hungary must be commanded by a single General, who would possibly be a foreigner. Could not the civil government be instituted in the same way by the assistance of a Czecho-Slovak or Roumanian or other nominee? Some decision was none the less necessary.

Mr. Balfour pointed out that there was no inconsistency between the points of view of Mr. Hoover and Marshal Foch. In a public [Page 308] notification it could be stated why the Allies could not deal with Bela Kun, and what kind of person they would consent to deal with.

(It was therefore decided that Mr. Balfour and Mr. Hoover should confer in the preparation of a public notification to be sent to Hungary, and that it should be presented to the Council at the afternoon meeting.)

(4) M. Clemenceau asked Marshal Foch to explain his report to the Conference.

Army of Occupation on the Left Bank of the Rhine Marshal Foch then read the conclusions of his report (see Appendix B.) in which he had stated that the total strength of the Army of Occupation should be 6,500 Officers, 151,000 men and 35,000 horses. He stated that these figures had been reached in consultation with the Allied Military Representatives at Versailles. He had since received a letter from General Pershing in which the latter stated that the strength of the American Forces of Occupation would be approximately 6,800 men comprised of one regiment of infantry, one group of cavalry and certain auxiliary troops. He asked whether the proposals in his report were acceptable to the Council.

Mr. Balfour then asked whether the proportion and numbers of troops to be supplied by each of the Allies in the Army of Occupation had been definitely fixed; because he himself was not aware of this having been done.

General Weygand stated that the only question which had been discussed at Versailles was the total effective strength and not the proportion of the strength to be furnished by each Country.

General Thwaites remarked that the proportion to be furnished by Great Britain had not yet been considered by the War Office.

(After some discussion it was agreed that the proposals of Marshal Foch’s report on the subject of the total eventual effective strength of the Armies of Occupation upon the Rhine should be accepted. It was further decided that the question of the proportions in which this total strength was to be furnished by each of the Allies should not be discussed until the War Offices of the Countries concerned had been able to examine the question.)

(5) Marshal Foch submitted his reply (see Appendix C) to the question laid before him by the Council, with regard to the Allied Forces necessary in the plebiscite zone in Upper Silesia (see H. D. 12 para. 3).4 In commenting upon his reply, he drew attention to the fact that the Division required must be an Allied Division, and that each Ally must furnish an equal quota. He [Page 309] further drew attention to the fact that there was, a clause in the Peace Treaty providing for the armed Forces under consideration. Size of the Army of Occupation in the Plebiscite Zone of Upper Silesia

Mr. Balfour said that the question of employing British troops was most difficult and that the War Cabinet must be consulted.

M. Clemenceau remarked that the question had been decided by the Council of the Heads of Delegations in the sense that an Inter-Allied Division would be necessary. He read the previous decision on the subject (see H. D. 12 para. 3).

Mr. Balfour asked whether it had been decided that the Armies of Occupation on the Rhine should supply the troops.

Marshal Foch said that such a decision had been arrived at but insisted that the force must be made up by equal numbers of Allied troops.

Mr. White remarked that in his opinion the former resolution of the Council had been inconsistent in that it contemplated the use of the troops taken from the Army of Occupation alone, whereas the clause of the Treaty, referred to by Marshal Foch, stated that troops of all the Allies should be used. Italy, one of the Allied Powers, had no troops in the Army of Occupation.

The question of the length of time during which the Army of Occupation of the plebiscite zone would be necessary, was then raised and it was stated that whilst it might be six to eight months, the longest period contemplated was eighteen months.

Mr. White, further commenting upon the resolution of the Council, asked Marshal Foch whether the Division could be raised from the Armies of Occupation when they had been reduced to their ultimate strength of 150,000 men.

Marshal Foch said that the Division could be raised under those circumstances from the Army of Occupation, but that at the same time it was necessary to get it ready at once.

(Mr. Balfour again drew attention to the fact that it was necessary for him to refer the matter to Sir Henry Wilson5 and after a short discussion it was agreed that the question should be adjourned until Mr. Balfour should have consulted with the British War Office.)

(6) Mr. Balfour read aloud a draft of the telegram that he had prepared for President Wilson. (See Appendix D.) Blockade of Russia

(It was agreed that M. Clemenceau should communicate the despatch to the President of the United States.)

The Meeting then adjourned.

Villa Majestic, Paris, 25 July, 1919.

[Page 310]

Appendix A to HD–14

[Capt. Thomas T. C. Gregory of the American Belief Administration to the Director General of Relief (Hoover)]

Hoover Paris.

For Logan.6

Boehm one-time Commander-in-Chief Hungarian Armies, Socialist and most forceful figure in Hungarian Army, at present serving as Hungarian Minister at Vienna called on British Military representative to discover if Entente would be willing to resume relations with Hungarian people. On the 23rd a Conference of Entente representatives in Vienna took place and resulted in submitting to Boehm a plan of action for the overthrow of the present Bolshevik Government in Hungary and as a method which could set up a temporary Government that the Entente would be willing to support. The proposal was as follows:

  • First. That a dictatorship assuming complete powers of government should be composed of Haubrich, Agoston and Garami7 these names to be discussed.
  • Second. The present Communist Government of Bela Kun to be disbanded. Communism to be repudiated and Communist propaganda discontinued.
  • Third. Pending formation of Government representatives of all classes this dictatorship to continue.
  • Fourth. Immediate discontinuance of all terroristic confiscation and seizure.
  • Fifth. That an Entente Advisory body be immediately requested.
  • Sixth. That the Blockade be discontinued and that steps be undertaken at once by the Entente to furnish coal and food and to assist in freeing navigation of the Danube.
  • Seventh. No political prosecutions.
  • Eighth. Final decision of socialization to be left for the permanent Government.

Boehm considered this formula and accepted it provisionally pending discussion with his colleagues. Now that things have gone this far think it imperative that Entente representatives be instructed as to whether Entente approves principles in general to an end that in the case of its approval by Hungarian representatives also we may go ahead. It is (?) reported that there is about to be sent into Hungary a Military Mission composed of four Generals who will [Page 311] investigate the possibility of a solution for existing conditions. It is urged that if the Entente desires to approve the carrying out of the project above set forth that the departure of this Mission be deferred pending receipt of final conclusions from Boehm for if this is not done the status of the present Hungarian Government will again be fortified by the construction that the Entente intends recognition and the possibilities of success for Boehm would badly suffer.


Appendix B to HD–14

commander in chief of the allied armies general staff, first section allied general headquarters
No. 3352

Marshal Foch, Commander in Chief of the Allied Armies

To the President of the Council, President of the Peace Conference

The Military Representatives at Versailles, charged by the governments with the duty of drawing up proposals on the subject of the effective number of troops of occupation for the Rhine territories, have adopted the proposals previously established by the military members of the committee charged with the duty of studying the status of these Rhine territories.

These proposals permit 10 infantry divisions and 2 cavalry divisions, or a total effective of: 6,500 officers, 151,000 men, 35,000 horses.

If the governments ratify these proposals, the distribution among the Allied Armies could be as follows:

1 infantry division, Belgium 13,000 men.
1 infantry division, U. S. 13,000 men.
 Could be reduced to 1 regiment 3,000 men.
2 to 3 infantry divisions, British 26,000 to 39,000 men.
5 to 6 infantry divisions, French 65,000 to 78,000 men.
1 to 2 cavalry divisions, French 5,500 to 11,000 men.

In case the governments should decide to reduce the total effectives (150,000 men), the above distribution would be modified in a corresponding proportion.

I have the honor to request that you acquaint me with the decision of the governments at the earliest possible moment.

[Page 312]

Appendix C to HD–14

commander in chief of the allied armies general staff, first section allied general headquarters
No. 3521

Marshal Foch, Commander in Chief of the Allied Armies

To the President of the Council, President of the Peace Conference.

The Secretary General of the Peace Conference communicated to me the minutes of the session of July 21 in which the following resolution was adopted:

“It is decided that the report of the Military Representatives, as well as the proposal for levying the necessary troops from the armies of occupation of the Rhine, accepted this day in principle by the Supreme Council, shall be submitted to Marshal Foch, who shall make known his views as to the possibility of furnishing the division requested for Upper Silesia and its composition.”

It is difficult for me to reply, at the moment, to the question raised, because of my lack of knowledge on the subject of the strength of the effectives which will be fixed by the Allied Governments for the occupation troops in the Rhine districts, as well as the distribution of these effectives among the Allied Armies.

In my letters No. 3, 198 of July 2 and No. 3,352 of July 15, I requested that you intervene with the Allied Governments insisting upon the urgency of a decision.

In renewing this request, I am studying the eventual dispatch into Upper Silesia of a division to be formed of Allied elements and to be levied on the occupation troops in the Rhine districts.


Appendix D to HD–14

Proposed Telegram to President Wilson on the Subject of the Blockade of Russia 10

The British, French, Italian and Japanese Members of the Council of Five respectfully offer the following observations on the President’s telegram relating to neutral trade in the Gulf of Finland. They do not desire to express any opinion upon the statement of International Law laid down in the telegram. It may well be true that where there is no state of belligerency there can be no legal blockade; but they [Page 313] would point out that the situation in Russia and in the Gulf of Finland is at the present moment such as hardly to permit the rigid application of rules which in ordinary cases are quite uncontested. The language in which International Law is expressed is fitted to describe the relations between organised States, but is not so well fitted to deal with relations between organised States on the one hand, and unorganised chaos on the other. Russia, during this period of transition, is not a State, but a collection of “de facto” Governments at war with each other; and though it is quite true to say that the Allied and Associated Powers are not in a state of belligerency with Russia, it is also true that they are involved in Military operations with one of these “de facto” Governments, and that they are supplying arms and ammunition to the others.

It may not be proper to describe this condition of things as war, but it cannot be right to treat it as peace; nor can the international rules applicable to a state of peace be applied to it without qualification. The case is a special one, and must be specially treated.

We would venture to point out some of the ill consequences which in the present case would follow from neglecting this consideration.

Allied and Associated troops are defending themselves in circumstances of very great difficulty against Bolshevist attacks in Archangel. Yet we permit the Bolshevist troops who are making these attacks, to receive supplies which we could easily cut off. We are furnishing the Siberian Army of Koltchak with Military equipment; and at the same time we are permitting Military equipment to go to his enemies. We have gone far in the direction of recognising the Esthonians, and other non-Russian peoples, who are struggling to resist Bolshevist attacks; yet we leave neutral traders free to strengthen the Bolshevist Armies, and to convey unhindered information to a hostile. Navy as to the number and disposition of our own ships of war.

It may be urged, indeed, that to interfere with neutral commerce will not so much have the effect of hampering the Military operations of those who are engaged in attacking us and our friends, as in aggravating the miseries under which the innocent civil population is already suffering. So far as our information goes, however, this will not be the result. Every cargo successfully brought through the Gulf of Finland to Petrograd supplies a new instrument to the Bolshevists for adding recruits to their Army. None of it will reach anyone but soldiers and officials. Its distribution will be determined by considerations which are military and not philanthropic. It will not diminish the sufferings of humanity; it will add to them.

It has been suggested that it might be possible for the Four other Great Powers to maintain the control of imports into the Gulf of [Page 314] Finland without the participation of the United States. We feel, however, the strongest objection to adopting any policy not accepted by all the principal Allied and Associated Powers; and, even apart from this overwhelming consideration, we cannot ignore the fact that if in such circumstances an American ship were to enter the Gulf, an incident might easily occur whose consequences would be well-nigh intolerable.

It is for these reasons that we would most earnestly request the Government of the United States to reconsider their decision; and to concur in a policy which, as it seems to us, is of so special and exceptional a character as to be quite outside the ordinary rules laid down by International Law for the conduct of maritime blockade.

A. J. B[alfour]


  1. Gen. Rudiger von der Goltz, commander of the German Armies in the Baltic provinces.
  2. Jules Cambon, French representative and president, Commission on Polish Affairs.
  3. Appendix B to HD–9, p. 187.
  4. Ante, p. 236.
  5. Chief of the British Imperial General Staff and member of the War Cabinet since 1918.
  6. Col. James A. Logan, Jr., member of the American Relief Administration at Paris; United States representative, Relief Section of the Supreme Economic Council.
  7. Joseph H. Haubrich, Hungarian People’s Commissar of War; Peter Agoston, Hungarian People’s Commissar, member of the moderate wing of the Communist Party; and Ernest H. Garami, Hungarian Social-Democratic politician.
  8. Translation from the French supplied by the editors.
  9. Translation from the French supplied by the editors.
  10. Transmitted by the Commission to Negotiate Peace to the Secretary of State for the President in telegram No. 3354, July 27, 1919, Foreign Relations, 1919, Russia, p. 154.