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.

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

Appendix A to HD–17


committee on the execution of the clauses of the treaty

Note for the Supreme Council

The Committee on the Execution of the Clauses of the Treaty has been presented by the American representative on this Committee [Page 363] with a draft proposal for the creation of a Committee to be entrusted after the coming into force of the treaty with Germany, with the coordination of questions concerning the interpretation and execution of the clauses of this treaty.

The Committee devoted three sessions to the examination of this draft proposal, and the following text was finally adopted unanimously.

Draft Recommendation

The questions concerning the interpretation and the execution of the treaty with Germany—with the exception of those confided by it either to the League of Nations, or to the Commissions on Reparations, on Military, Naval and Air Control, and on the Left Bank of the Rhine or to other permanent organs of the same nature—should be studied and followed up by a special committee whose seat shall be at Paris, but which could, if it judged opportune because of the nature of certain questions, sit also at other capitals.
Each of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers shall make known as soon as possible the name of the delegate, diplomatic or other, authorized to represent it in the Committee. The delegates may be assisted by technical advisers chosen according to the nature of the questions to be considered.
The Committee shall have for its mission to furnish to the governments to whom shall belong the right of decision, common and coordinated bases of information and interpretation, as well as to make to them in case of need all proposals relating to the object defined in paragraph 1.
The relations of the Committee with the governments and with the commissions sent to the field in execution of the treaty will be regulated as follows:
The commissions in the field shall furnish directly to the Committee a regular report of all current questions of execution decided by them and by the local German authorities or others with whom they shall be in relation;
When the said current matters of execution, without raising questions of principle, shall give rise to disagreement in the field, the members of the Committee will be authorized by their respective government to send instructions directly to the Commissions, and to send copies of these instructions directly to the Allied and Associated Governments and also at the same time to the representatives of the said Governments at Berlin;
When questions of principle shall arise, the Committee, after an examination in common, shall propose solutions to the governments who shall notify the commissions in the field as well as the diplomatic representatives of the Allied and Associated Governments at Berlin of the decisions and measures of execution. Copies of these decisions shall be sent to the Committee for its information.
The Allied and Associated Governments shall determine, in due time, the relations which should exist between the Committee and the Secretariat General of the League of Nations, in order that all measures for the execution of the treaty shall conform to the principles and ideals which are at the basis of the League.
When and as the other treaties are signed, an organization, to be composed eventually of the same persons, could be entrusted with overseeing their execution under the same conditions.

Appendix B to HD–17

Joint Note by the Admirals for the Council of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers

The Admirals met this morning to consider the three questions on which the Council desire their advice, viz:—

The disposal of—

the German surface warships, both those remaining at Scapa and the additional ships to be surrendered under Article 185 of the Peace Treaty;
the warships of the late Austro-Hungarian navy, including submarines;
the surrendered German submarines.

2. After reviewing the discussions which have taken place and the reports which they have made from time to time on the above points in connection with the preparation of the Naval Clauses for the Treaties of Peace, the Admirals were unanimously of opinion that they could offer no further advice or formulate any recommendations until they were in possession of the decision of the Council on the point of principle involved, which is a political one, viz:—

Are these vessels to be—
sunk, or
broken up, or
distributed without restriction as to their ultimate disposal?
If they are to be distributed—
is the distribution to be confined to the Allied and Associated Powers whose navies have taken a prominent part in the war; or
are the smaller of the Allied Powers who possess navies and new States with maritime frontiers to participate? Claims have been made by Belgium, Brazil, China and Portugal, and also by Finland, Poland, and Yugo-Slavia.
On receipt of the Council’s decision, plans to give effect to it can be formulated.

[Page 365]

3. Briefly stated, the Naval recommendations are as follows:—

surface ships

United States To be sunk or broken up, with a preference for sinking.
British Empire To be broken up.
Italy To be broken up; but if an exception is made and vessels are allotted to any of the Allied Powers, as part of its fleet, the Italian navy should receive its due proportion.
Japan To be sunk or broken up; with the same reservation as made in the case of Italy.
France Opposed to both sinking and breaking up; considers the vessels should be distributed among the Allied and Associated Powers.


United States } Unanimous in recommending that all the submarines, submarine salvage vessels and docks broken up.
British Empire
France Opposed to breaking up; considers the submarines should be distributed among the Allied and Associated Powers.

The situation as regards the German submarines was fully explained in the Admirals’ report of 7 May, a copy of which is attached for convenience of reference.

The United States of America
The British Empire

Disposal of German Submarines (I. C. 176 E9)

The Admirals of the Allied and Associated Powers in Paris have read the Notes of the Meeting of the First Delegates of the Peace Conference held at President Wilson’s residence on 25 April and have given further consideration to the question of the disposal of the German submarines.

2. The Admirals representing the United States of America, the British Empire, Italy and Japan are unanimous in recommending [Page 366] that all the submarines, submarine salvage vessels and docks surrendered by Germany, be broken up.

A draft formula for an agreement between the Allied and Associated Powers themselves, to give effect to this recommendation, is attached (Annex A.). It differs but little from the paragraph on the subject embodied in the first draft of the Naval Clauses submitted to the Supreme Council on 7 February10 and nothing has occurred in the meantime to cause the four Admirals to modify their views.

Whatever be the future as regards submarine warfare, they see no necessity for increasing submarine armaments by distributing the German submarines at a moment when the menace of the German fleet has been removed and a general reduction of armaments is desired.

They are further of opinion that the destruction of all German submarines is called for on moral grounds, as a mark of the repugnance felt by the rest of the world to the manner in which Germany used her submarines in the war.

3. Admiral de Bon does not agree with the views expressed above and has prepared an alternative formula (Annex B.). In his opinion, the two questions, viz., the destruction of the submarines and the future of submarine warfare, cannot be separated.

4. A statement showing numerically the present position as regards the German submarines is also attached (Annex C.)

(Signed by) For
Admiral Benson United States of America
Rear-Admiral Hope British Empire
Vice-Admiral de Bon France
Rear-Admiral Grassi Italy
Rear-Admiral Takeshita Japan

Note: Annex B. is not attached as the formula embodied in it is not in agreement with the present Naval view of France, viz., that all the submarines should be distributed amongst the Allied and Associated Powers.

[Page 367]

Annex A

Disposal of German Submarines

Agreement Between the Five Allied and Associated Powers

(Draft Proposed by the Admirals Representing the United States of America, British Empire, Italy and Japan)

All the German submarines, submarine salvage vessels and docks for submarines, surrendered to the Allies shall be broken up.

The breaking-up of the German submarines appropriated for propaganda purposes in the countries of the Allied and Associated Powers shall be commenced not later than 31st October, 1919, which date shall be extended to 31 December, 1919, in the case of those allotted to Japan.

The breaking-up of the remainder now in the ports of Great Britain and France, or en route thereto, shall be commenced forthwith.

Articles, machinery and material arising from the breaking-up of these vessels may not be used except for purely industrial or commercial purposes. They may not be sold or disposed of to foreign countries.

The proceeds of the breaking-up of these vessels shall be divided among the Allied and Associated Powers on a scale to be subsequently settled.

Annex C

Surrendered German Submarines

(Omitting those in the Black Sea)

(Subject to verification as to the numbers in the various categories.)

In or on passage to Allied ports of Incomplete thro’ lack of engines, &c. or sunk on passage Serviceable
Operated at sea during the war Took no part in the war Total
(a) (b) (c) (d) (e)
Great Britain 19 16 14 49
France 17 21 8 46
United States 4 2 6
Italy 4 6 10
3 4 7
Total 36 48 34 118
Sold and being broken up in England 54
[Page 368]

Allied Submarine Losses During the War

Country Number lost Percentage of total allied losses
Great Britain 55 71. 5
France 14 18
Italy 8 10. 5
United State
Other Allies
Total 77 100. 0
  1. Georges Leygues, French Minister of the Navy.
  2. IC–176 E, minute 2, vol. v, p. 238, and CF–91, minute 2, vol. vi, p. 656.
  3. Annex I to appendix G to HD–21, p. 473.
  4. Foreign Relations, 1878, p. 895.
  5. HD–8, minute 3 (b), p. 160.
  6. Translation from the French supplied by the editors.
  7. vol. v, p. 235.
  8. Appendix D to BC–26, vol. iii, p. 938.