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, July 28, 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.
- Sir Ian Malcolm, K. C. M. G.
- M. Clemenceau.
- M. Pichon.
- M. Berthelot.
- M. de St. Quentin.
- M. Tittoni.
- M. Paterno.
- M. Vannutelli.
- Baron Makino.
- M. Kawai.
- America, United States of
|America, United States of||Capt. Chapin.|
|British Empire||Lt. Commander Bell.|
|France||Capt. A. Portier.|
|Interpreter—Prof. P. J. Mantoux.|
1. At this moment M. Tardieu entered the room.
Appointment Committee to Co-ordinate of German Peace Treaty M. Tardieu stated that the question of setting up the Committee for co-ordinating the clauses of the Peace Treaty with Germany had been submitted to the Committee for supervising the execution of the Peace Treaty, by the American representative. After three meetings, the Committee had adopted a plan which was set out in Annex “A”.
Mr. Balfour stated that the proposal was to the effect that a Committee should be set up in Paris to supervise the execution of the Peace Treaty, and to co-ordinate its provisions. Would not there then be some confusion between this new Committee and the League of Nations? There would be a Permanent Committee at Geneva and another Permanent Committee at Paris; this might lead to disputes.
M. Tardieu replied that Mr. Balfour’s question had been answered in Paragraph 1 of the Report. The manner in which the functions [Page 357] of the Committee had been limited was clearly expressed; and there was therefore no risk of overlapping. In addition to this, paragraph 5 of the Report stated that the Allied and Associated Governments would determine what the relations between the two bodies in question should be.
Mr. Balfour replied that he was entirely satisfied; but that he would like to raise another, not very important question. Did the Council see any objection to the members of the Paris Committee being ambassadors.
M. Tardieu replied that paragraph 2 of the Report answered the question. It had been thought that there was nothing to prevent ambassadors being appointed as representatives to the Committee, but, on the other hand there was no need specially to recommend that ambassadors should be appointed.
(It was agreed that the Report of the Committee for supervising the execution of the Peace Treaty, with regard to setting up a Coordinating Committee to deal with questions of interpretation and execution should be adopted.)
2. M. Leygues1 and the Naval experts entered the room.
Disposal of the tro-Hungarian Fleets M. Clemenceau stated that the Naval experts had met to discuss the question, without being able to come to an agreement except on one point, which was, that, before they could deal with their side of the matter, a decision with regard to their general policy in the matter must be taken by the Governments concerned.
Admiral Ronarc’h stated that the admirals had met several times without coming to an agreement and that their remarks on the differences of opinion between the Admiralties of the countries concerned could be seen in the Report submitted to the Conference (see Annex B).
M. Clemenceau stated that he did not see how the question of whether the vessels should be destroyed, sunk, or distributed, could again be raised. It had already been discussed by the Council of Four,2 and, finally, in reply to the French request, it had been decided that the vessels should be distributed; and that each recipient country should put the vessels allotted to it to what use it chose. There could be no doubt on the question, because, when the Scapa Flow incident occurred, Mr. Lloyd George had expressed his regret for what had happened, in view of the fact that France was to receive a certain number of the vessels sunk. He had again renewed his promise, and had given a list of vessels that might finally be given to France by way of compensation. The Scapa Flow incident had added itself to [Page 358] the question of disposal. The German vessels had been placed under the guard of the British Admiralty. He did not wish to be critical; but simply to draw attention to the fact, that a report on the whole question had been promised to the Supreme Council, and that the report in question had not yet been tendered. He had intended, at the time, to send a French Admiral over, but, since Mr. Lloyd George had not received the suggestion favourably, he had not insisted. The responsibility rested with the British Admiralty, and it was therefore necessary that a report should be submitted to the Council, in order that responsibility for the affair might be determined. The German Admiral was going to be tried by a British court martial; but it should not be forgotten that the Admiral in question was at the time Commander-in-Chief of the German Fleet; and that he had admitted to having given orders to sink it. The German Government was therefore clearly responsible, and the Allies had a right to demand reparation. Mr. Lloyd George had stated that reparation would be given, but, after enquiring, he had not appeared to think this possible. An argument had been brought forward, to the effect that the provisions of the Armistice did not establish sufficient control over the German vessels; Mr. Lloyd George had further recalled Marshal Foch’s opinion against surrendering these vessels. Before discussing the question of distributing the German fleet, it was necessary to know where the fleet in question actually was: one portion was at the bottom of the sea in Scapa Flow, another, smaller, portion was possibly afloat in the same locality; finally, there were vessels in German ports. How could the Admirals have given any other reply? They could only do what they had done, and draw attention to the fact that no political decision had been taken. This was the essence of the question, and before pursuing the discussion further, he wished to know the opinion of his colleagues.
Mr. Balfour stated that the remarks of the President of the Council raised three points. Firstly, he had alluded to a declaration of Mr. Lloyd George in favour of distributing the Fleet.
M. Clemenceau stated that the question had been twice discussed, and that finally, President Wilson and Mr. Lloyd George had acceded to French wishes by accepting the principle that the Fleet should be distributed.
Mr. Baufour said that the Council of Four had agreed that the distribution should be made between the Allied Powers, but that he was not aware of the exact basis of this distribution. He asked whether it had been decided, for example, to make an equal division of all surface vessels of the same class, or whether compensations in another form were to accompany the distribution.[Page 359]
M. Tittoni stated, that, inasmuch as the principle of distribution had been determined upon, it was necessary to know the manner in which it was to be carried out.
M. Clemenceau answered that the principle of distribution had alone been discussed, and not the details of this distribution.
Mr. Balfour asked whether the matters included in the minutes of April 25th represented a definite decision taken by France.
M. Clemenceau replied that he was quite ready to re-discuss the question for the fourth or fifth time. He wished to draw attention, however, to the fact, that, as Mr. Lloyd George had proposed to hand over to the French a certain number of vessels whose names were given, this in itself proved his admission of the principle of distribution had [sic].
Baron Makino stated that he could remember this statement.
Mr. Balfour stated that it was very important to know what had been decided upon by the Council of Four, in order that the question should not continually recur. He did not think, that, as a matter of principle, it was advisable to re-open matters already discussed and decided upon by that body.
M. Clemenceau answered that he could not entirely accept Mr. Balfour’s statement of principle. It was contradicted by the fact that a decision had been made to occupy the Rhine territory for fifteen years. Notwithstanding this, six days before the Treaty had been signed, Mr. Lloyd George had re-opened the question and it had been re-discussed. He was nevertheless in agreement with Mr. Balfour. It was necessary to see exactly what had been said and to consult the minutes drawn up by the secretariat. In addition to this, the report promised on the Scapa Flow incident should be forthcoming.
Mr. Balfour stated that he saw no objection to a report being made.
M. Clemenceau stated that the British Admiralty was not of that opinion.
Mr. White stated that the question was new to him, and that it was necessary for him to examine carefully the minutes of proceedings, in order that he might know what President Wilson had thought.
M. Clemenceau stated that they were therefore in agreement on the two points previously raised by him.
M. Tittoni stated that the principle of distribution was agreed upon; but the manner in which it was to be carried out had yet to be decided.
M. Clemenceau stated that the last point had never been discussed; and that Mr. Lloyd George and President Wilson had only agreed to the principle. He further drew attention to the fact that he had raised the question of German responsibility.[Page 360]
Mr. Balfour stated that he did not doubt that such a responsibility existed, but even if established, what advantages would accrue?
(It was agreed that the secretariat should examine the minutes of proceedings in order to report on all that had been said in the Council of Four with regard to the distribution of the German Fleet. It was further decided that Mr. Balfour should ask the British Government for the report on the Scapa Flow incident).
M. Leygues and the Naval Advisers then left the room.
3. M. Tardieu read Article 65 of the Treaty of Peace with Germany, which read as follows:—
“Within a period of three weeks after the coming into force of the present Treaty, the port of Strasburg and the port of Kehl shall be constituted, for a period of seven years, a single unit from the point of view of exploitation. Nomination of a Director for the Port of Kehl
Nomination of a Director for the Port of Kehl
The administration of this single unit will be carried on by a manager named by the Central Rhine Commission, which shall also have power to remove him.
This manager shall be of French nationality …
Pending appointment of the first manager by the Central Rhine Commission, a provisional manager, who shall be of French nationality may be appointed by the Principal Allied and Associated Powers, subject to the foregoing provisions …”
He pointed out that the French Delegation requested the Supreme Council to appoint the temporary Director provided for under the above Article, and that the Delegation had proposed to the Council the name of M. Detousse, Ingénieur des Fonts et chaussées.
Mr. White pointed out that under the terms of the Treaty, the Allied Governments themselves were called upon to ratify the appointment.
(It was decided that the nomination of M. Detousse as Temporary Director of the port of Kehl, and of the port of Strasburg, should be submitted by each respective Delegation to their Governments for approval.)
4. M. Tardieu stated that the Jugo-Slav Delegation had addressed several Notes to the Council on the subject of their claims to certain territories.
Report of the Commission of Roumanian and Jugo-Slav Affairs Regarding the Demands of the Jugo-Slavs in the Banat Balfour stated, that before pursuing this discussion, he wished to remark that he preferred not to take up the Jugo-Slav claims, during such time as the Serbians refused to respect the decisions taken by the Council with regard to Klagenfurt.
M. Tardieu remarked that as the claims were rejected in the proposed replies, these letters were in line with Mr. Balfour’s remarks.
M. Tittoni said that he considered it useless to discuss the question, as the Council’s decisions were not being respected.[Page 361]
M. Tardieu answered that the proposals themselves might be considered, because they did not grant the Serbians claims.
M. Clemenceau stated that the entire discussion was put aside by Mr. Balfour’s remarks, with whom the Council agreed.
M. Tardieu stated that since the questions could not be further discussed, despite the fact that the claims put forward had been rejected, the Council would presumably be less inclined to discuss points upon which concessions had been made. There remained a question of Ada-Kalessi Island which did not concern Jugo-Slavia. In a telegram dated 11th July3 General Franchet d’Esperey had reported that the Roumanians and Jugo-Slavs both laid claim to Ada-Kalessi Island, which lay in the Danube opposite Orsova, and which, after being left to Turkey by virtue of the Berlin Treaty of 1878,4 had been occupied by Austria-Hungary in 1908. In view of the fact that the Ada-Kalessi Island had been occupied by Austria-Hungary the Committee, proposed that it should be given to Roumania, which country had received the Austro-Hungarian territories of Transylvania adjacent to the Danube. The Committee required that the stipulations of Article 52 of the Berlin Treaty, with regard to the prohibition of Military works on the Island should be upheld.
(It was agreed that the Ada-Kalessi Island should be granted to Roumania, and that the clauses of Article 52 of the Berlin Treaty, as detailed above, should be upheld.
It was further decided that M. Clemenceau, as President of the Peace Conference, should inform the Jugo-Slav Delegation, that, in view of the Serbian refusal to recognise decisions of the Supreme Council with regard to Klagenfurt, it was impossible to proceed further with the latest claims presented by their Delegation.)
5. M. Tardieu stated that the Secretary-General had informed Marshal Foch of the decision taken by the Council on the 16th July,5 to the effect that French troops should not be sent to Schleswig, since the means of their transport were not yet ready. Marshal Foch had now reported that the decision in question arose out of a misunderstanding. The French battalion for Schleswig had been formed, and was now ready to start at four days’ notice. Marshal Foch further reported that he had informed the British Admiralty to the above effect. Inter-Allied Forces for the Plebiscite Zone in Schleswig
Mr. Balfour said that the decision that French troops should not participate had been taken, simply because it had been wrongly supposed that they were not ready. Since this was not the case it would be advantageous if the French flag were represented.[Page 362]
(It was decided that the French battalion now ready should participate in the military occupation of Schleswig; and that the British Admiralty should give Marshal Foch the four days’ notice in advance which was to precede the despatch of the battalion.)
6. Mr. White stated that an Austrian Note with regard to the minority clauses of the Peace Treaty had been presented. He suggested that it should be transmitted to the Committee on New States for report. Austrian Proposals With Regard to the Clauses in the Peace Treaty on the Subject of Minorities
Mr. Balfour said he believed that certain clauses on the subject of minorities had already been sent to another Committee. Would it not be preferable to submit the Austrian proposals to this latter Committee in order to avoid confusion?
M. Berthelot stated that the question of minorities should have been the exclusive object of study of the Minorities Committee. Other questions, involving problems of finance and transportation, had however been submitted to it.
M. Clemenceau drew attention to the fact that the note accompanying the presentation of the Austrian Peace Treaty states clearly, that, as the text of the Treaty represented decisions finally arrived at, it would not be possible to reply to notes that had been received in the past, or would be received in the future, from the Austrian Delegation. It therefore seemed impossible to discuss the question raised by Mr. White.
(It was decided that the Austrian proposals with regard to minorities should not be examined by the Council, in view of the letter accompanying the presentation of the Peace Treaty, wherein it was stated that no further replies would be given to Austrian notes.)
Villa Majestic, Paris, 28 July, 1919.[Page 367]
- Georges Leygues, French Minister of the Navy.↩
- IC–176 E, minute 2, vol. v, p. 238, and CF–91, minute 2, vol. vi, p. 656.↩
- Annex I to appendix G to HD–21, p. 473.↩
- Foreign Relations, 1878, p. 895.↩
- HD–8, minute 3 (b), p. 160.↩
- Translation from the French supplied by the editors.↩
- vol. v, p. 235.↩
- Appendix D to BC–26, vol. iii, p. 938.↩