Paris Peace Conf. 180.03501/16
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 Monday, 28 July, 1919, at 10:30 a.m.
America, United States of
- Hon. H. White.
- Mr. L. Harrison.
- The Rt. Hon. A. J. Balfour, O. M., M. P.
- Mr. H. Norman.
- Sir Ian Malcolm. M. P.
- M. Clemenceau.
- M. Pichon.
- M. Dutasta.
- M. Berthelot.
- M. de St. Quentin.
- M. Tittoni.
- M. Paterno.
- Baron Makino.
- M. Kawai.
- America, United States of
|America, United States of||Colonel U. S. Grant.|
|British Empire||Capt. E. Abraham.|
|France||Capt. A. Portier.|
|Italy||Lt. Colonel A. Jones.|
|Interpreter—Prof. P. J. Mantoux.|
1. M. Clemenceau said that as his colleagues knew, he had informed the Chamber of Deputies that he could not communicate to them the records of the proceedings of the Council of Four. This had been in accordance with the wishes of his colleagues. The Minutes of the Council of Four had been given to the members of the Council only. The present Council, it had been agreed, should proceed in the same manner. He now heard that the British Delegation wished to distribute the Minutes to as many as twelve experts or departments, while the French and other Secretariats were interpreting the order more strictly. He thought that the Minutes should only be sent to persons present in the Council. Distribution of Minutes of the Meetings of the Council
Mr. Balfour asked how many copies of the Minutes were sent to French experts or departments.
M. Clemenceau said that none were sent.
M. Tittoni said that he agreed with M. Clemenceau that the distribution should be very carefully restricted, and that only extracts be sent to the experts or departments concerned.[Page 343]
Mr. Balfour explained that a request had been made from London that various Departments should receive copies of the Minutes, as they concerned the work in which they were engaged. As his colleagues desired that the circulation should be restricted, he would reply that this could not be done.
(It was agreed that a strict interpretation of the Resolution adopted on the 5th [7th] July—See H. D. 1, Minute 111—should be adhered to.)
2. (At this point, M. Loucheur and Mr. Waterlow entered the room.)
M. Tittoni put forward the following proposal:— Italian Proposal for the Creation of Inter-Allied Organisation for the Distribution of Raw Materials
“In consideration of the fact that the persistent difficulties of provisioning Allied countries necessitate the continuation of a united and co-ordinated course of action in order to avoid the danger of famine.
It is resolved
that the Allied and Associated Powers shall form an organisation whose duty it will be to control and determine the respective requirements so far as concerns the most essential products (grain, coal, etc.) and to co-ordinate action so far as concerns purchases in the various producing countries and transport; and
It is also resolved
to refer the question to the Supreme Economic Council with a recommendation to the said Council to name a Commission which shall determine as speedily as possible the working details of the above-mentioned organisation and which shall render the said organisation effective.”
M. Loucheur said that the French Delegation had always supported the continuance of the Supreme Economic Council, in spite of British and American opposition. The British opposition had since been modified, as Mr. Lloyd George had come to see the importance of a common purchasing policy. The American Delegation, however, seemed still firmly opposed to the proposal.
Mr. White said that the United States were, in fact, quite unwilling to sanction the continuance of the Supreme Economic Council.
M. Tittoni said that the question he had raised was one of extreme importance for Italy. Italy was in distress. This distress was a consequence of the war and should be treated in the same manner as it would have been treated had it come about during the war. As long as the Government could keep the people fed and supplied with work, it could maintain order. Without these conditions, it could not. He felt it necessary to make this statement. If Italy were left without succour, he would decline all responsibility as regards the future.
Mr. White said that he expected Mr. Hoover back from Brest on the following day. In the meantime, he did not object to the reference [Page 344] of the question to the Supreme Economic Council, as it still existed.
M. Loucheur said that, quite apart from any questions of the official constitution of the Council he and his colleagues had agreed to meet to see what measures could be taken to assist an Ally in distress. There was still a small sub-Committee dealing with coal. He was himself Chairman of this Committee, and he was ready, should the Council desire it, to call the Committee together to study the question raised by M. Tittoni.
Mr. Balfour asked who the British Representative was.
M. Loucheur said that he would be able to inform Mr. Balfour later.
Mr. Balfour said that the question was not merely one of help from one country to another. It went deeper than that. The war was now over and new problems but equally difficult problems, had arisen. The situation resulting from the war had to be liquidated. The various Allied States were mutually indebted. Their only means of discharging their debts was by exports. Great Britain could only pay off her indebtedness by the production and exportation of coal. For coal was not only one of the principal British exports, but it was also the means necessary for every form of manufacture. The situation could not be solved, as during the war, by suppressing train services and doing away with superfluities. It went to the roots of the whole economic relations of all countries, not merely of the Allied countries between themselves. It was not simply a question of the rich helping the poor in any one particular commodity. It was for this reason that he had enquired who the British Representative on M. Loucheur’s Committee was. It was necessary that a matter of this sort should be dealt with by a first-class Minister, intimately acquainted with the whole economic and financial situation. He understood that the future Economic Council, if created, would include first-class Finance Ministers from each of the countries concerned.
M. Clemenceau said that the question, nevertheless, was one of life or death. Whether it be a peace question or a war question, it made little difference whether a man died by bullet wounds or by starvation. He, therefore, suggested that the matter be discussed on the following day, together with Mr. Hoover and M. Loucheur.
(This was agreed to.)
M. Loucheur asked if he was authorised to examine the situation in the meantime with the Italian experts.
M. Tittoni said that he would be able to furnish him with all the figures showing the stocks at present existing in Italy.
(M. Loucheur’s suggestion was approved.)[Page 345]
3. M. Loucheur said that, before he left, he would like to draw attention to an item on the Agenda which was a Report of the Commission on Ports, Waterways and Railways, affecting the distribution of rolling stock in Germany, Austria- ungary and Bulgaria. This rolling stock represented a security in the hands of the Allied and Associated Powers on the same footing as other possessions of the Enemy States. The Commissions mentioned in Article 371 and 372 of the Treaty with Germany should not, in his opinion, act independently of the Reparation Commission. He was in no manner opposed to the nomination of the Committee of Experts, as suggested, but he thought this Committee should work in conjunction with the Reparation Commission. Distribution of Rolling Stock in Germany, Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria
(Note was taken of M. Loucheur’s views on the subject, and the question of the appointment of a Committee of Experts was postponed for a future meeting.)
(M. Loucheur then withdrew.)
4. (At this point, M. Seydoux entered the room.)
Re-establishment of Postal Communication With Germany M. Clemenceau said that he understood that the United States of America and Great Britain had resumed postal relations with Germany without informing France.
Mr. Waterlow stated that a notification had been published in the British Press to the effect that postal relations might be resumed.
Mr. White said that, when it had been decided to put an end to the Blockade and to the Censorship, it had been understood that a resumption of postal relations followed automatically.
Mr. Balfour said that the main decision had been to put an end to the Blockade and to the Censorship and that the logical consequence of these decisions was the resumption of intercourse.
M. Clemenceau said that, nevertheless, no warning had been given to France. Further, until ratification, the Allied and Associated Powers were still in a state of war with Germany.
M. Seydoux said that the Supreme Economic Council had been asked to study the question of resuming postal relations. It was obvious that some letters must be allowed to pass, if the Blockade and Censorship came to an end. Technical experts had, therefore, prepared the document before the Council. At the very same time, he had read, in the “Daily Mail”, the notification alluded to by Mr. Waterlow and had since heard that the United States had taken similar action. He then read and commented on the following document:—
“The Special Committee charged by the Supreme Economic Council to study the question of the re-establishment of postal relations with Germany, has unanimously taken the following decisions:—which are [Page 346] submitted for the approval of the Supreme Council of the Heads of Governments.
- The Post Offices of the Allied and Associated countries are authorised to enter into direct relations with the German Post Office for the immediate re-establishment of postal relations both for ordinary and registered post, and for samples and parcels.
- The question of transport of postal matter by Germany will be examined by the German Delegation at Versailles together with the Allied and Associated Delegates.
- The telegraph offices of the Allied and Associated countries are authorised to enter into direct relations with the German telegraphic office for the provisional re-establishment of telegraphic and telephonic communication.
- The public will be notified as soon as possible that
postal and telegraphic relations with non-occupied Germany
will be re-opened under the following conditions:—
- Commercial correspondence can be sent sealed.
- Private correspondence can only be sent by postcard.
- The above-mentioned correspondence can be registered.
- Telegrams should be written en clair and only in the following languages: French, English, Italian or German.
- Each administration will later publish the conditions under which the telephone service will be re-started.
- The postal and telegraphic control services will be notified of the above decisions so that they may take any necessary measures.
- In submitting the above propositions to the Supreme Council of the Heads of Governments, the Special Committee recommends that the resolution of the Communications Section concerning the immediate re-establishment of international railway services with Germany may be adopted, in order to render the lifting of the blockade effective, and that this resolution be passed for action to the Governments concerned.”
M. Clemenceau asked why private correspondence was restricted to postcards.
M. Seydoux replied that the Censorship had asked for this.
Mr. White asked how it would be possible to distinguish between a commercial and a private letter. If all sealed letters were presumed to be commercial, anyone wishing to make a private communication would enclose it in a sealed letter.
(It was agreed that this Article be omitted.)
M. Clemenceau said that he considered the proposals excellent, but he noted that it was recommended that international railway services with Germany be started again. He thought this was going too fast, seeing that there was still a state of war. As to telegraphic and postal communications, there was nothing to be done, seeing that America and Great Britain had stolen a march on France.
Mr. Balfour said that he understood that France had allowed the resumption of commercial relations with Germany.[Page 347]
M. Clemenceau asked M. Seydoux if this was the case.
M. Seydoux said that, when the Blockade had been raised, it had been declared that trade could be re-established under certain conditions. Had this not been done, only the Neutrals would have profited by the cessation of the Blockade. All commercial regulations consonant with the state of war were maintained, but certain licensed exceptions were being made. General exceptions in favour of certain categories had been established.
M. Clemenceau said that a very curious situation appeared to result from this. The German Delegates were closely watched at Versailles by Colonel Henri’s Mission, yet French frontiers were going to be opened to German traders, who would therefore be able to come freely to Paris, while the only Germans prevented from doing so would be the official Delegates of the country.
M. Seydoux said that the passport regulations still existed.
Mr. Waterlow observed that there was no question of allowing Germans to come to England or British subjects to enter Germany. Only goods were allowed to pass.
M. Clemenceau said he understood the proposal was to allow free passage of letters, but not of persons.
Mr. Balfour said that there was a small matter in this connection which he must bring to the notice of the Council. If the Council agreed, he would ask Mr. Waterlow to state the case.
Mr. Waterlow said that, under Article 289 of the Treaty with Germany, bi-lateral agreements could be revived by a notification within 6 months of the coming into force of the Treaty. Among these bi-lateral agreements was one between Great Britain and Germany concerning the parcel post and money orders. Great Britain was in a different situation in these matters from the other Powers. The latter had been parties to a general International Convention. Great Britain had made separate agreements. The British Government now proposed to take steps, without further delay, to revive the agreement with Germany regarding the parcel post and the money order service in advance of the coming into force of the Peace Treaty. It was suggested that the agreement be revived by means of direct communication between the British Post Office and the German postal authorities. This was subject, of course, to the agreement of the Council, to whom it had been thought right to submit the question.
M. Seydoux said that, in regard to parcel post, he saw no objection, as the parcel post was a means of sending goods. This was consistent with the cessation of the Blockade and the resumption of commerce. But the money order service involved financial questions which he was not competent to judge.[Page 348]
Mr. Waterlow said that only small sums were involved, and the service would be revived subject to the proviso that no clause in the Peace Treaty was violated.
Mr. Balfour said that he did not wish to ask the Council to accept anything that was not clearly understood. He suggested that M. Seydoux should examine the question with the French financial experts and that the question be brought up again on the following day.
Baron Makino drew attention to the languages enumerated in paragraph 4 (d) of the Note read by M. Seydoux. He would like that “Japanese” be added to this list, unless there were objections to this course.
(No objection was raised, and this was agreed to.)
(It was then decided that the whole question, together with the subsidiary question of parcel post and money orders, raised by the British Delegation should be put on the Agenda for the following day.)
(The proposals of the Special Committee were modified in two respects, and were provisionally approved, as follows:—
“4. The public will be notified as soon as possible that postal and telegraphic relations with non-occupied Germany will be re-opened under the following conditions:—
- Commercial “and private” correspondence can be sent “closed”.
- The above-mentioned correspondence can be registered.
- Telegrams should be written en clair and only in the following languages: French, English, Italian, German “or Japanese.”
- Each administration will later publish the conditions under which telephone service will be re-started.”)
5. M. Clemenceau said that in this connection he wished to inform his colleagues that the process of demobilisation forced him to withdraw 45,000 men from the French Armée D’Orient. He was not able therefore to undertake the conquest of Hungary, as only three Brigades mixtes would be left. Blockade of Hungary
M. Tittoni observed that the Anti-Bolshevik Government at Szeged expected to conquer Hungary if supplied with arms and Munitions.
M. Clemenceau said that Anti-Bolshevik Governments had made similar statements before, but had never been successful.
M. Seydoux said that the Blockade of Hungary was a special case. Allied posts had been situated all round the circumference of Austria. Since peace had been made with Germany, the blockade along the Bavarian frontier had been raised, but it was maintained [Page 349] on the other frontiers. The blockade had been exercised by Inter-Allied agency. He had lately heard, however, that the American Government wished to recall its personnel. He also pointed out that the British Government had never sent any personnel with the exception of a single representative at Vienna. The work was disagreeable and unpopular, and it would be shared by France and Italy. It was evidently desirable that all the Allied and Associated Powers should play their part in this. Before addressing an urgent request to the British and American Delegations, the Blockade Committee had taken into consideration the stipulations which were to be required from the Austrian Delegates to the effect that Austria should undertake to maintain the blockade against Hungary (see Appendix “A”).
The Committee had therefore prepared the following Note:—
July 21, 1919.
“Question of the Blockade of Hungary
The Committee of the East considers it necessary to submit to the Supreme Council of Heads of Governments the question of the blockade of Hungary, the maintenance of which was decided upon by the latter on June 26 last.3
At the time when they sign the treaty of peace, the Austrian delegates should sign a declaration in the following sense:
‘Except in case of a contrary request presented by the Associated Governments of the United States, Great Britain, France, and Italy, the Government of Austria shall continue effectively to prohibit the importation, the exportation and the transit of all merchandise between Austria and Hungary, and to maintain these prohibitions until the moment of the formal acceptance by the Hungarian Government of the peace conditions which shall be proposed to, it by the Associated Governments.’
It seems to result from this declaration that, after the signature of the peace treaty, the Austrian Government alone shall have the responsibility of taking measures to maintain the blockade of Hungary on its border.
However, if the measures taken are not effective, the arms, munitions, and other materials of war still to be found in Austria in large quantities could pass into Hungary during the interval allowed by the treaty of peace for the delivery of this material to the Allies.
Under these conditions, the Committee on the Blockade of the East wishes to know:
- Whether the Austrian Government should be, from the signature by its delegates of the declaration presented above, placed in sole charge of maintaining the closure of the Hungarian border. In this case, the Allied military posts maintained on this border should be withdrawn from the date of the signature;
- If, on the contrary, the Austrian Government should be
assisted in its task by Inter-Allied cooperation, it is
important to know whether the Allied military posts on
the border should be maintained:
- either until the coming into force of the treaty,
- or until the expiration of the interval provided for the delivery of arms and munitions,
- or until the conclusion of peace with Hungary.
An immediate decision is necessary because the American delegate at Vienna has announced the intention of his Government to withdraw at the end of the present month its agents from the service of the Hungarian border, and the British Government has not yet sent its agents. At present the military posts on the Hungarian border are for the most part occupied by American personnel.”
In his opinion the best proposal was that Inter-Allied assistance be given to Austria. This would be welcomed by the Austrian Government, and the French Minister at Vienna had strongly supported the plan. The Austrian Government was weak, and if it was desired that the blockade should be maintained effectually against Hungary, it was desirable to reinforce the Austrian Government by Allied assistance.
M. Clemenceau asked how many men would be required to fulfil this plan.
M. Seydoux said that two officers and five or six men from each Nation would be enough.
There remained the question of the time for which this blockade should be maintained. Probably, he thought, it would have to be maintained until the conclusion of peace with Hungary.
M. Pichon said that the period might be shortened if General Boehm succeeded.
Mr. White said that he understood that the American Government maintained three posts, but had since ordered their withdrawal.
M. Seydoux replied that this was so.
Mr. Balfour said that Austria had been required to undertake the maintenance of the blockade against Hungary. He quite agreed that Austria must be assisted in doing so. If the Allies desired the blockade to be effective, it was manifest that they must assist in maintaining it. He thought that all the Allies should participate, and he undertook to try and induce the British Government to take their part.
Mr. White said that he would do likewise.
Mr. Balfour said that as to the time at which the blockade could cease, it might be decided to raise it as soon as Hungary showed signs of good conduct, and sent Delegates to negotiate Peace. This point, however, need not be settled at present, and might be allowed to depend on events.
(It was then decided that the Blockade of Hungary should be maintained until the Council should decide otherwise, and that the participation of the Four Powers should be arranged for to assist the Austrian Government in maintaining it.)
6. M. Seydoux read a note of the Supreme Economic Council (see Appendix “B”).[Page 351]
Question of Imports Into Serbia M. Clemenceau observed that in theory at least there was no blockade at Fiume. In practice, however, there was. The Italian Government, without justification, continually stopped trains.
M. Tittoni said that the question of transit was quite distinct. He had already sent a full explanation to M. Clemenceau, but no decision had yet been taken.
M. Clemenceau said that the French base at Fiume had been hampered many times in its operations.
M. Tittoni said that pending a final solution, orders had been given by him, that all trains should proceed without interference.
M. Berthelot said that a telegram had been received to the effect that the food situation in Serbia was very serious in consequence of the stoppage of goods from Fiume. Men, women and children had been dying of hunger whilst stores were accumulating in the port.
M. Tittoni said that he had sent telegraphic orders two days previously for the free passage of trains.
M. Clemenceau asked M. Tittoni whether he guaranteed that his orders would be carried out.
M. Tittoni replied that he did. He requested, however, that the situation be regulated speedily. As far as he knew, the goods in question were not landed on the quays in Fiume at all. They went by train and the railroad was open.
M. Berthelot said that, according to information he had received, the railroads were blocked with traffic. In consequence, disembarcation of goods at Fiume was asked for.
M. Clemenceau asked whether M. Tittoni recognised that the Serbians had a right to expedite goods through Fiume.
M. Tittoni said that it was not a question of transit through Fiume, but a question of establishing Serbian bases there. This would prejudice the question of Fiume and he was not prepared to accede to this.
M. Berthelot said that they would be satisfied if they obtained free passage either through the French base at Fiume, or through the Italian commissariat.
Mr. Balfour asked when the Council might have information that this was being carried out.
M. Tittoni said that he would give telegraphic orders that goods destined for Serbia through the port of Fiume should proceed immediately, and that the revictualling of Jugo-Slavia in food, clothes, petroleum and other goods at present waiting at Fiume, should not be hampered by the interruption of communication, as the forwarding of these goods was of vital importance for the army and population of Jugo-Slavia.[Page 352]
M. Tittoni agreed to the use by the Serbians of Fiume as a port of transit, provided the French base or the Italian commissariat be used exclusively. The choice of either should be left with the Serbians.
Note was taken of M. Tittoni’s declaration regarding the orders given by him two days previously for the resumption of transit by land.
M. Tittoni urged that a solution of this question be reached as early as possible.
[7.] (General Mance and Mr. Hudson entered the room.)
M. Berthelot read and explained the note attached in Appendix C.
Clauses for Insertion in the Treaty of Peace With Bulgaria on Ports, Waterways and Railways (It was agreed that there was no objection to the nomination of a French Member to the Commission.)
Tittoni said that he would express his view later.
Mr. Hudson said that final action on paragraph 24 should, he thought, be postponed until the settlement of the territorial question. He therefore asked that the question of the insertion of clauses regarding Ports, Waterways and Railways be deferred until the territorial solution had been arrived at.
Mr. Balfour said there was force in this proposal, but he would like to know when a decision on the territorial question could be expected. The Bulgarians had already arrived.
Mr. White said he had received a communication from President Wilson and therefore was able to discuss the question of Western Thrace. He would be ready to do so on the following day. In this connection, he wished to communicate the following document:—
“Regarding the events mentioned in the report of the British, French and Japanese members of the Central Bulgarian [Territorial?] Committee with respect to the alleged desire of the Mussulmans of Western Thrace that this territory be ceded by Bulgaria to Greece, the United States Chargé d’Affaires at Sofia, under date of the 24th instant, reports that the petition was prepared by one Mussulman deputy, who drew it up without the authority or knowledge of the other persons whose names were signed thereto. The Deputy in question has fled from Bulgaria and is believed to be in Italy or in Turkey. All the other Mussulman Deputies made an official denial before Parliament and also stated in a letter to the Prime Minister that they had not signed the petition and added that their views were entirely opposed to the sentiments expressed therein. In the opinion of the Chargé d’Affaires, the Mussulman population of Western Thrace, if forced to choose between Greek and Bulgarian rule, would greatly prefer here, as well as elsewhere, the latter, in spite of the fact that the Greeks have spent large sums in this district for purposes of propaganda. The Chargé d’Affaires concludes by saying that, in his opinion, an impartial investigation or a plebiscite would prove the foregoing beyond any question of doubt.”
Mr. White, continuing, said that the belief that the Mohammedan population of Western Thrace desired union with Greece had had considerable weight with the American Members of the Commission dealing with Greek Affairs. If this belief was as ill-founded as his later news implied, the situation was considerably modified.
M. Clemenceau asked Mr. White whether he was able to obtain the official denial of the Mohammedan Deputies referred to in the Note.
Mr. White said he would try to do so.
M. Clemenceau said that M. Venizelos must be heard on this subject, and he proposed, with Mr. White’s consent, to send him a copy of this Note.
(It was then agreed that M. Venizelos be invited to attend the Council at 5 p.m. on the following day, when the question of Western Thrace would be discussed.
It was further decided to postpone until the following meeting the discussion of the Clauses relating to Ports, Waterways and Railways, for settlement in conjunction with the territorial questions affecting Bulgaria.)
The Meeting then adjourned.
Villa Majestic, Paris, July 28, 1919.[Page 355]
- Ante, p. 41.↩
- Translation from the French supplied by the editors.↩
- CF–93, minute 8, vol. vi, p. 701.↩
- The Council of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers. Except for President Wilson, no head of a state served on this Council at any time. After the departure of President Wilson and Mr. Lloyd George this Council was known as the Council of Heads of Delegations.↩
- Note apparently transmitted by the French representative on the Supreme Economic Council (Seydoux).↩
- Translation from the French supplied by the editors.↩
- Translation from the French supplied by the editors.↩