Paris Peace Conf. 180.03501/23

HD–23

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, August 4, 1919, at 3:30 p.m.

  • Present
    • America, United States of
      • Hon. F. L. Polk.
    • Secretary
      • M. L. Harrison.
    • British Empire
      • The Rt. Hon. A. J. Balfour.
    • Secretaries
      • Mr. H. Norman.
      • Sir Ian Malcolm.
    • France
      • M. Clemenceau.
      • M. Pichon.
    • Secretaries
      • M. Dutasta.
      • M. Berthelot.
      • M. de St. Quentin.
    • Italy
      • M. Tittoni.
    • Secretary
      • M. Paterno.
    • Japan
      • M. Matsui.
    • Secretary
      • M. Kawai.
Joint Secretariat
America, United States of Capt. P. Chapin.
British Empire. Capt. E. Abraham.
France Capt. A. Portier.
Italy Lt. Col. A. Jones.
Interpreter—Prof. P. J. Mantoux.

1. (Marshal Foch, General Weygand, Mr. Hoover and Mr. Waterlow entered the room.)

Situation in Hungary Mr. Hoover said that the situation had changed since since he last attended the Council. The Roumanians were now entering Budapest. What he proposed was a relaxation of the Blockade, the opening of the Danube and the supply of foodstuffs to Hungary from the Banat. He thought action should be taken without delay. The new Government though very radical, represented the Trade Unions. He thought Trade Unionism was an instrument that should be used to upset Bolshevism. If this were a correct estimate the present Hungarian Government should be encouraged, as a very important reaction, even on Russia, might result. A member of the Food Administration in Vienna held the opinion that the new Government might take in a certain number of peasants. This might lead to a really representative Government.

Mr. Balfour asked whether Mr. Hoover had read the telegram sent [Page 505]by the Council.1 He thought the conclusion of that telegram contained a policy very similar to that Mr. Hoover recommended.

Mr. Hoover said he had read the telegram. The only thing that it did not mention was relaxation of the Blockade, the opening of the Danube and the supply of food from the Banat. He thought these measures represented the practical application of the policy outlined in the telegram, and that instructions to that effect should be given at once. As long as the Council was able to threaten a reimposition of the Blockade, it would be able to control the situation. A week or two of relaxation would not give the Hungarian Government such economic strength as to make it independent. If the Government by then had not shown itself satisfactory by fulfilling all the conditions of the Armistice, by demobilizing and by doing what the Council wished, the Blockade could be reimposed. If, on the other hand, action were not taken at once the opportunity would be lost.

Mr. Balfour said he thought that the Council should both re-open the Danube and declare that it would close it again if it so wished.

Marshal Foch said that he had no objection to raise.

M. Tittoni agreed but he thought that it should be made clear that the Hungarians must conform to the Armistice.

M. Clemenceau suggested that Mr. Hoover should furnish a draft.

Mr. Hoover then suggested a draft, which after some amendments suggested by M. Tittoni, was adopted in the following form:—

“It is agreed that instructions should be sent to the representatives of the various Allied Governments at Vienna and to the Blockade Commission in that area and to the Danube River Commission and to General Franchet d’Esperey that the Blockade on Hungary shall be lifted at once and that the Danube shall be opened and shall remain opened so long as the present Hungarian Government gives practical evidence of its intention to comply promptly with the conditions of the Armistice.”

Mr. Hoover continuing said that there was a surplus of food in the Banat. The Council had tried to supply Vienna from this surplus. The Serbians, however, had stopped the exit of the supplies. The Banat was now the only source from which Budapest could be fed. One of the reasons for the obstacles raised was that German agents were offering bigger prices for the food than could be afforded by the Allies. The result of all this was that the relief of Vienna and Budapest was jeopardised. He asked whether the Council would be ready to address a request to the Government of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes not to hamper the export of food stuffs from the Banat.

Mr. Balfour said that Mr. Hoover put the blame in one sentence on the Serbian Government for the stoppage of relief from the Banat, [Page 506]and in another said that the reason was that German Agents outbid everyone else. If the latter were the case, he could not understand why the Serbian Government was to blame. No Government could make a merchant sell cheap if he could sell dear.

Mr. Hoover said that the explanation was a very long story. The Economic Council had negotiated the cession of an iron bridge to the Serbians in exchange for food stuffs. The Serbian Government had put an embargo on all food exports from the Banat. By means of this, the Serbian Government entirely controlled the direction taken by food exports. The intervention of the Germans had only complicated the question. The main element, however, remained the control of the Serbian Government. There were in the Banat 500,000 or 600,000 tons of food; the only source of supply from which Vienna and Budapest could be fed. He had prepared a draft to be addressed to the Serbian Government which might perhaps be too strong, but which might form the basis of the re-draft. He then read the following draft:—

“The Council is informed by the Supreme Economic Council and by its various Allied representatives that there is a very considerable surplus of foodstuffs now lying in the Banat and surrounding counties and that with the impending favourable harvest in Greater Serbia there is now no reason for the reservation of these supplies from general distribution through Central Europe. The continuation of provisioning of Vienna is absolutely dependent upon the free shipment of these supplies to that city and the recent over-turn of Government in Budapest makes it of prime interest to the Allies and to all hope of stability in Central Europe that the City of Budapest should be given every facility for the purchase and export of foodstuffs from these counties.

Therefore, the Council wishes to urge upon the Serbian Government in the strongest terms that not only will the greatest contribution be made by Serbia towards the re-establishment of order and stability in the countries adjacent to her borders, but that the dictates of humanity demand that no obstruction of any character shall be placed in the way of food exports from the Banat to the surrounding counties and that, in fact, the Serbian Government is requested to join with the Allies and through their various agencies in promoting the export and distribution of these supplies. The Council hopes for an early and favourable reply to this representation, the importance of which it cannot over-emphasize, and it trusts that the Serbian Government will realise that unless the Allies can receive co-operation in the labors they have undertaken for the restoration of stability in Central Europe that it is impossible that the Allied Governments should continue the economic support which they have given and expect to continue giving to the Greater Serbian Government.”

M. Clemenceau said that before pursuing this question any further, he wished to inform his colleagues of two communications he had received—the first from Lt. Col. Romanelli (Appendix “A”) and the second from the new Hungarian Government (Appendix “B”).

[Page 507]

Under these conditions, M. Clemenceau said that he approved Mr. Hoover’s policy.

M. Pichon said that he thought it was overstepping the mark to threaten Serbia. The measures taken by the Serbian Government had been in accordance with the views of the Council at the time. The Government had acted in good faith. The Serbs were now to be asked to adopt another policy. This was not a sufficient reason for addressing any threats to them.

Mr. Hoover said that he did not agree that the Serbian Government had acted in good faith. In respect of Vienna, the Serbian Government had refused to supply certain goods which had already been paid for. He agreed, however, that it might be as well npt to threaten the Serbians.

M. Clemenceau suggested that a re-draft of Mr. Hoover’s proposal should be made. He asked M. Berthelot to make a draft.

Mr. Polk said that the latest news received was to the effect that the Roumanian advance guard had reached Budapest and that the Trade Union Government feared an occupation of the City by the Roumanians and a further invasion by the Czecho-Slovaks. These fears would doubtless rouse nationalist feelings. At two o’clock the news was that 600 Roumanian cavalrymen were to the west of Budapest, where they had cut all communications with Vienna. Looting was said to have begun in the suburbs. To avoid worse trouble the Hungarians suggested that an inter-allied police force should be sent immediately to Budapest.

Mr. Balfour asked what the Council could do to enforce good behaviour on the Romanians.

Marshal Foch said that he did not know.

M. Tittoni said that the Roumanians had been invited to go to Budapest together with the Serbs and the Czecho-Slovaks. All they had done was to go there by themselves.

M. Clemenceau said that as the Council could neither blame the Roumanians nor praise them, it was perhaps best to say nothing.

M. Tittoni said that he advocated sending an Allied Mission.

Mr. Polk said that he agreed to this. He also thought it was essential that the Roumanians should withdraw from Budapest.

Mr. Balfour said that if the Roumanians insisted on going forward and occupying Budapest the result would be the fall of the present Government in Hungary and an outbreak of nationalist feeling. He could not see what the Roumanians could gain either for themselves or for the common cause by persisting in their present course. Their only excuse previously for not withdrawing was that they feared an attack by the Hungarians, this they had no reason to fear now. The Hungarians had said that they would observe the Armistice; the Council was therefore bound to give them an opportunity of proving [Page 508]that they meant what they said. It was not giving them a fair chance to send Roumanians to plunder the suburbs of Budapest.

Marshal Foch said that an inter-Allied character could be given to the occupation of Budapest either by sending allied regiments as suggested by the Hungarian Government, or by sending Missions of Allied Officers. The former, under the circumstances, it was not easy to realize. On the other hand it was possible that the Roumanian Government might wish to settle the whole situation by itself.

M. Clemenceau said that the Roumanian Government would then be solving the Council’s problems; if so the Council would settle theirs without them.

Mr. Polk said that the Roumanians had not shown all the respect for the Conference that was desirable. They were not likely to treat the Hungarians in accordance with the laws of war. If the Council allowed Budapest to be looted, the effect on Russia would be instantaneous. The whole effect of the overthrow of Bela Kun would be lost. Any Occupation of the city was dangerous. He asked whether the Roumanians could not be required to remain outside.

Mr. Balfour asked whether the Roumanian army was not under the command of General Franchet d’Esperey.

Marshal Foch said that it was not.

M. Pichon said that he had sent a telegram on the previous night to the French Minister at Bukarest, requesting him to ask the Roumanian Government to stop the advance of Roumanian troops immediately on the positions then occupied. He had further asked the French Minister to inform him of the result of his démarche.

Marshal Foch said that the first thing that must be done was to disarm Hungary. The only guarantee of disarmament was the occupation of the country. This occupation must be effected with the available troops.

M. Clemenceau asked whose the available troops were.

Marshal Foch replied that they were Roumanian or Czech troops.

M. Tittoni said that the worst possible results would be obtained by sending Czech troops into Hungary. The Hungarians detested the Czechs even more than the Roumanians. He thought an Allied Mission, if sent at once, could judge on the spot what measures should be taken and would be able to exercise sufficient moral influence to have them carried out.

Mr. Polk said that the occupation of Budapest would make it impossible for the Hungarians to surrender their arms. National feeling would prohibit this unless the Hungarians could rely on Allied protection. An Allied Officer (not American) had heard a Roumanian General say that he expected to plunder Budapest. If this were to happen the Allies would be responsible should they take no steps to protest against the entry of the Roumanians.

[Page 509]

Marshal Foch said that he would agree to M. Tittoni’s suggestion that a Mission composed of Allied Generals with an escort of one company from each Power should be sent to Budapest. This Mission could take charge of affairs and reduce the Roumanian occupation to the strict minimum necessary. The President of the Mission could be chosen by the Great Powers.

Mr. Polk agreed that this was desirable. He thought action should be taken at once. In addition to this the Roumanians should be warned that no abuses would be tolerated. He had already that morning sent word to the Roumanian Delegation in Paris that if any incident occurred in Budapest likely to rouse American public opinion against them, the consequence must be that the Roumanian Government could not rely on any further help from America in the future. He asked whether the Allied military Mission would have control over the Roumanian army.

M. Clemenceau said that it would only have a moral influence over it.

M. Tittoni said that the Mission should have the right to tell the Roumanians to withdraw if this appeared necessary.

M. Pichon said that the sending of the Mission re-established the situation existing before the establishment of the Bela Kun Government. There had then been a military Mission in charge of the execution of the Armistice.

Mr. Polk said he thought it would be necessary to obtain from the Roumanian Government an agreement to accept the decisions of the Mission. The Mission would have no authority unless the Governments concerned were notified.

Mr. Balfour said that he agreed to the despatch of a Mission provided it were endowed with all the authority the Conference could confer. Further, he thought that the American member might be empowered to make the economic threat mentioned by Mr. Polk. He suggested sending for M. Misu2 and requesting him to telegraph to Bukarest that any excesses committed in Budapest during this needless occupation would have the most disastrous results. The Hungarian Government having promised to accept the Armistice it was for the Conference to see that it did so. He would suggest, like Mr. Polk, that the Roumanians should occupy high ground outside Budapest, and Stop there. He would like to ask Marshal Foch whether if they did so, they would safely control the situation.

M. Clemenceau observed that there was a hill in Budapest but that all the surrounding country was flat plain.

Mr. Balfour asked whether an army in the vicinity could be itself safe and also able to control the situation.

[Page 510]

Marshal Foch said that it depended on the size of the army.

Mr. Polk asked whether the Allies could not make the same sort of economic threat as he had made on behalf of the United States. He further observed that it would be difficult for the moment to promise an American company as escort. He would however endeavour to find the men.

Mr. Balfour said that he did not think that he could promise any British troops. Admiral Troubridge,3 however, had suggested going up the Danube with a Monitor.

M. Clemenceau said that the Mission must have written instructions. These instructions he hoped Mr. Balfour would draft as regards their political side. Marshal Foch might then add the military instructions. At the same time a telegram could be sent to Bukarest, stating that the Council considered the Roumanians responsible for any disturbances that might take place in Budapest and that unless they conformed to the wishes of the Conference the economic consequences to themselves would be to their detriment.

M. Pichon said that he thought it was undesirable to threaten the Roumanians. Even though they were not obeying orders they were helping the Allied cause. They did not deserve to be treated like enemies.

M. Tittoni agreed. It was possible he thought, that the withdrawal of the Roumanians might not be desired by the Mission. He thought they should be informed that a Mission was being sent under the authority of the Conference and that the Conference expected the Roumanian Government to order their Generals to obey the instructions given by this Mission.

M. Clemenceau asked if Mr. Balfour would make a draft at once.

M. Pichon said that the same communication should be made to the Czecho-Slovak and Serbian Governments. They would be pleased at receiving it and re-assured that Roumania was not to be allowed undue expansion.

Mr. Polk said he had no objection. The American Delegation would like to go further and say that the Conference would hold the Roumanians responsible for any untoward incidents that might take place. On this condition he was ready to waive the economic threat.

(After some further discussion a draft prepared by Mr. Balfour to be addressed to the Roumanian Government and one prepared by M. Berthelot to be addressed to the Serbian Government were accepted (see Annex C and D).

(It was also agreed that the telegram addressed to the Roumanian Government should be communicated to the Serbian and Czechoslovak Governments.)

[Page 511]

(It was decided to proceed at once to the nomination of a Mission of Allied Generals to be sent to Budapest accompanied by a small escort of Allied troops.)

(It was agreed that written instructions should be given them to be prepared by Mr. Balfour and Marshal Foch.)

(Mr. Hoover withdrew and Count Wrangel, Count Ehrensvärd and Capt. Akerblom entered the room.)

Hearing of Swedish Point of View on the Subject of the Aaland islands Count Ehrensvärd then read a document (Appendix E).

M. Clemenceau thanked the Swedish Representatives who then withdrew.

(It was then resolved at Mr. Polk’s suggestion that the question of the Swedish claims to the Aaland Islands as embodied in the declaration read by Count Ehrensvärd, be referred to the Baltic Commission for examination and report.)

3. (The Military Representatives, General Baird, Colonel Mougin and Colonel Georges entered the room.)

Hearing of General Baird on Situation in Bulgaria General Baird said that it was doubtless the intention if the Great Powers to make a lasting peace in the Balkans. He assumed that was their first intention. The punishment of Bulgaria was their second purpose. It was therefore necessary so [sic] to punish Bulgaria so as not to jeopardise a lasting peace. The most contentious questions in the Balkans were territorial questions. As regards Bulgaria there were two such questions which might be said to be analogous to that [of] Alsace Lorraine. There was even possibly a third in Thrace. It was the question of Macedonia and the question of the Dobruja that had brought Bulgaria into the war against the Allies. Proof of this could be found in the fact that while the Bulgarian attitude was still undecided, the Allies had urged the Serbians and Roumanians to make concessions in these very areas in order that the Bulgarians should be inclined to take the Allied side. What held at that time probably held now. If the Powers took no heed in this they would have to face the consequences. The Roumanians had taken the Dobruja for strategic reasons, and also to penalise the Bulgarians. Their strategic reason need not prevail. The Bulgarian forces at the present time could be reduced to any extent desired, and it could also be laid down that no Bulgarian troops should be sent beyond a line from Varna to Ruschuk. The Roumanians freely admitted that the Southern Dobruja was Bulgarian in population; but no Roumanian statesman would offer to return it, lest he be reproached for alienating his country’s possessions. It was therefore necessary to exert pressure on the Roumanians, if a lasting bone of contention was to be removed. It would be easier for the Roumanians to yield to Allied injunctions [Page 512]than to offer the country themselves. Macedonia had been taken by the Serbians in 1913 because they were in effective occupation; secondly on grounds of compensation, seeing that they had not obtained access to the Adriatic; thirdly to maintain a balance of power.

Mr. Balfour asked whether Serbia had not claimed the country on the ground that it was peopled by populations of Serbian blood.

General Baird replied that in 1912 Serbia had admitted the country was not Serbian. Only one portion of it known as the “contested area” had been reserved for arbitration by the Czar of Russia. If the main purpose was to establish peace and not to punish Bulgaria, some other solution of the Macedonian problem must be found. No one could expect that Bulgaria after the war should be rewarded by an accession of territory. Macedonia was neither Greek nor Serbian, it was Bulgarian. Nevertheless it did not desire to be, and need not be placed under Bulgarian Government. The situation was now very different from that in 1912. Serbia had obtained her compensation towards the west, and there was no fear that Bulgaria would now become the most powerful military state in the Balkans. Very much the same might be said about the Greek claims to Thrace. In the opinion of all the Allied Officers in Sofia, there would be a repetition of the Smyrna episodes if Bulgarian Thrace were given to Greece. The population was principally Pomak, and the next most important element in it was Bulgar. He heard from General Bridges4 that General Franchet d’Esperey was opposed to the cession of Thrace to Greece. General Milne was also opposed to it as well as all the Allied Generals. The Greeks would not be able to administer the country. In addition, some of the Pomaks had appealed to General Franchet d’Esperey not to be put under the Greeks. He thought that should the Dobrudja be returned to Bulgaria, the Roumanians would never go to war to get it back, because the Roumanian people would feel no enthusiasm on the subject. He thought the same applied to Macedonia and Thrace. Neither the Serbs nor the Greeks would willingly wage a war to regain those areas. On the other hand the Bulgarians would go to war whole-heartedly to regain them if they were taken from them. As to the present situation, he thought a wrong impression prevailed in Paris that Bulgaria had been turbulent since the armistice. Bulgaria complied with every demand made. Her army had been reduced below the figures required by the armistice. The armistice allowed an army of 4,000 officers and 80,000 other ranks. The Bulgarian army really numbered 3,500 officers and 55,000 [Page 513]other ranks. There were 8 infantry divisions instead of 10, and in each of them one class was serving instead of two. Bulgaria had attempted to do nothing against the interests of the Allies. Moreover, the Allies had no troops, and, if a national rising were provoked, it would be impossible to stop it. There would, moreover, be no Bulgarian Government to appeal to.

M. Clemenceau asked Marshal Foch whether the armistice enabled Bulgaria to maintain 10 divisions.

Marshal Foch said that the Bulgarians had not been asked to reduce the number of their divisions, but to keep only 3 of them mobilised.

General Baird said the Bulgarians had not even kept 3 mobilised. He observed that the Bulgarians could be very heavily fined in money, cattle and corn. Moreover, the Allies could administer and develop certain state resources such as railways and mines, and thus obtain what they required without touching territory and incurring the permanent hostility of the Bulgarians and a readiness on their part to take the side of any possible enemy of the Entente. He suggested that the same kind of peace as the British Government had made with the Boers should be made with the Bulgarians. It would be better to have the Bulgarians on our side next time than against us.

Mr. Balfour said that it might comfort General Baird to know that inside the Conference there had never been any idea of subordinating everything to a desire to punish the Bulgarians.

M. Clemenceau thanked General Baird, who then withdrew.

M. Clemenceau then asked Colonel Mougin to give an account of the present military situation of Bulgaria.

Colonel Mougin said that the clauses of the armistice had been carried out by the Bulgarians as regards the number of their troops. It might be possible, with tact, to induce the Bulgarians to disarm still further. This would be advantageous, seeing that if they disliked the treaty, they would only find weak Allied forces opposed to them. The bulk of the available Allied force would be French. It might not be numerous enough to cope with the situation. It would certainly not be adequate should a popular rising occur. It must be remembered that in these parts every man had a rifle, and since the war a great many had machine guns. The question then was whether the Greeks could be depended on. He thought not. Of their 11 divisions, 5 were in Smyrna. Their policy in that region was such that they would require a large number of troops to enforce it. Of the remainder, the bulk must be kept in Macedonia, which was not Greek, but either Bulgarian or Mohammedan. Thrace also, if [Page 514]Greece should have it, could only be held by force. Unless the Allies supplied the force, Greece would have to do so. It followed that Greek troops could not be relied on to cope with the Bulgarians should they rise. This would not lighten the task of the French troops, which would also have to cope with difficulties of transport. The troops at General Franchet d’Esperey’s disposal might, if he were warned in time, be able to keep the railways, the stores of ammunition, and the arsenals, but it must also be borne in mind that the Turks would take sides in favour of the Bulgarians as a consequence of what had happened in Smyrna. They were now less anti-Bulgarian than anti-Greek. In a word, throughout Thrace the majority was Mussulman. The Turkish peasants might be armed by the Bulgarians, and all would make common cause against the Greeks. His personal opinion was that the Allies were in a fair way to making permanent enemies of the Turks, who lately had been friendly.

Mr. Balfour asked what Colonel Mougin had meant by tactful methods of reducing Bulgarian armaments.

Colonel Mougin said that he thought that the methods might be left to General Franchet d’Esperey. All the Council need do was to tell him what was desired.

(Colonel Mougin then withdrew).

M. Clemenceau said that he was not sure that the discussion could be pursued with advantage. In any case, it must be understood that French troops would not fight alone against the Bulgarians in the interests of Greece. The Greeks had gone to Smyrna, with the result known. They would also have trouble in Macedonia. They courted further trouble by claiming Thrace. He was quite prepared to give them Thrace, but not to meet the trouble for them.

M. Tittoni said that the Italian battalion was there for the purpose of bringing about peace, not for war.

M. Clemenceau said that the same applied to the 15,000 French troops.

Marshal Foch said that whatever form the treaty took, it was unlikely to be entirely to the taste of the Bulgarians. The question then arose: what could the Allies do? There were a few French troops under General Franchet d’Esperey. In front of them was the Bulgarian army and its store of arms. General Franchet d’Esperey might perhaps prevail on the Bulgarians to yield some of these arms. That would be so much to the good, but it must be done at once, because the process of demobilization would reduce his troops to a negligible quantity in a month. He therefore proposed to tell General Franchet d’Esperey to get possession of the Bulgarian guns. The Allies would [Page 515]be more able to cope with the situation when the treaty was signed. At that time only the small states—Greece and Serbia, and, possibly, Roumania, would be able to furnish the police force. They would only be able to secure the execution of the Treaty if the Bulgarians had been disarmed before-hand. He therefore concluded that General Franchet d’Esperey should be ordered to disarm the Bulgarians as far as possible.

Mr. Polk asked whether the Allies were entitled under the armistice to give him this order.

M. Clemenceau said that no such order could be given to the Bulgarians. They might or might not comply with General Franchet d’Esperey’s request. He was inclined to ask Marshal Foch to do as he suggested under the reservation that the use of the French divisions remained at the disposal of the French Government.

Marshal Foch read a draft telegram he proposed to send to General Franchet d’Esperey.

M. Clemenceau suggested that it be made quite clear to General Franchet d’Esperey that he must obtain his results by diplomacy, and not by giving orders to the Bulgarians, who were entitled under the armistice to disregard them.

Mr. Balfour thought it most unlikely that the Bulgarians would agree, but, if the Military Authorities thought there was some hope, he was quite ready to try.

(After some further discussion, the telegram annexed as Appendix “F” was adopted, subject to final consideration at the next Meeting.)

M. Tittoni suggested the holding of a plebiscite in Thrace.

M. Clemenceau observed that as the population was predominantly Mussulman, the result would be a foregone conclusion.

M. Pichon suggested the country should be given to the League of Nations.

4. The following nominations were made:— Appointment of Allied Commissioners for Negotiation Between the German and Polish Governments

For France General Dupont.
For Great Britain General Malcolm.
For Italy General Bencivenga.

(The Meeting then adjourned).

Villa Majestic, Paris, August 5, 1919.

[Page 516]

Appendix A to HD–23

[Message From the Commander of the Italian Military Mission at Budapest (Romanelli)]

[Translation]5

No. IW 136

To His Excellency Clemenceau, President of the Paris Peace Conference.

In acknowledging receipt of your telegram6 I have the honor to inform you that the new Hungarian Government is quite ready to fulfill, within the briefest delay possible, the conditions of the Armistice. To this end, considering the interior difficulties arising out of the crisis recently surmounted, the government officially requests me to ask the aid of the Allied and Associated Powers in fulfilling the terms of the Armistice by sending one regiment of troops of each of the Entente nations without it appearing to be an intervention, but rather a step to permit the free manifestation of the will of the country.

Lieutenant Colonel
Romanelli

Appendix B to HD–23

[Telegram From the Hungarian Provisional Government]

[Translation]7

August 3, 1919—11:45 p.m.

Official Telegram

General of the Army of Hungary to the Minister of War, Paris.

No. 22

Priority—Operations—Very urgent—No. 1527/2 NK

Declaration of the Government of Budapest

To the Hungarian People:

The Entente Powers have sent us an ultimatum; they demand that the government based on the principle of the Soviets be replaced by another government. It is on this condition that they consent to enter upon peace negotiations. The Government of the Republic of [Page 517]Socialist Councils of Hungary realized that, at the present time, a tenacious resistance against the Entente Powers would lead only to bloodshed. It is therefore [apparent omission] of its functions authorized by the Central Council of Workers. A new government formed of the chiefs of the armed and disciplined Syndicates of Hungary has taken over the provisional government of the country. This new Government rests upon the strength of the conscious and organized workers; its object is to maintain order and to enter into negotiations with the Entente. We have no reason to lose courage; we still hold the Tisza front firmly. In the interior we still have need of a disciplined perseverance. The new Government likes to believe that the organized workers will not tolerate further any abuses either on the part of counter-revolutionaries or on the part of pillagers. It wishes absolutely to protect the people of Hungary against the spectre and the ravages of the white terror and destruction of the populace. Knowing that the masses of the workers stand in serried ranks behind it, the Government appeals to the people of Hungary to await events with discipline and to give absolute obedience to the orders of the Government. Everyone should remain in his place; the Workers’ Councils and other authorities should rigorously carry out their duties. The Government will strike with all its power those who disturb order or discipline. It has confided the maintenance of order and discipline to the Minister of War, Joseph Aubrich.

Those who refused to obey the orders of the new Government will find themselves in opposition to the will of the organized workers. Only order and discipline can save the people of Hungary from destruction.

Budapest, August 1, 1919.

Appendix “C” to HD–23

Telegram To Be Sent to the Roumanian Government

The Conference have received assurances from the New Government of Hungary that they are prepared to disarm in accordance with the terms of the Armistice and are anxious to work in harmony with the Allied and Associated Powers. Under these circumstances the Conference have resolved to send a Mission of Allied Generals to Budapest to see that these promises are fulfilled. The Roumanian Government are requested to give orders to the General Commanding their troops in Hungary to conform to the policy laid by the Mission which represents the Conference and will act by its authority.

The Conference do not conceal from the Roumanian Government their great anxiety lest some untoward incident in Budapest or elsewhere [Page 518]in Hungary, should mar the success of the Roumanian Army. Any such incident might destroy the prospects of a speedy peace in Central Europe; cause infinite sufferings to its population; and indefinitely postpone the hopes of its Economic reconstruction. Those whose unconsidered action was the occasion of so great a calamity would not easily be forgiven and could no longer count on the goodwill of the Peoples of the Entente, whose assistance and co-operation are so necessary, if the disasters which have overtaken European civilisation are to be speedily remedied.

Appendix D to HD–23

[Telegram Addressed to the French Minister in Belgrade]

[Translation]8

I request you to make the following communication to the Serbian Government, in behalf of the President of the Peace Conference:

“The Supreme Council is informed of the presence in the Banat of considerable quantities of food in excess of the requirements of Serbia, and of the embargo put by the Serbian authorities on the export of this excess food.

By reason of the vital necessity represented by the food supply of the city of Vienna and the formation at Budapest, in the place of the Communist Government, of a socialist Government, which declared itself ready to carry out the conditions of the armistice and to act in the direction of the decision of the Allies, the Supreme Council is of the opinion that it is a humanitarian duty for the Serb Government to raise the embargo.

It requests it formally to give the necessary orders to have the hundreds of thousands of tons immobilized in the Banat distributed, in agreement with the technical agents of the Allies to insure the life and the food supply of the inhabitants of Vienna and Budapest.”

Appendix E to HD–23

[Swedish Declaration on the Question of the Aland Islands]

[Translation]9

Mr. President, Gentlemen: Called by the Peace Conference to set forth before it the Swedish point of view on the subject of the question [Page 519]of the Aland Islands, the Delegation has the honor to make the following observations.

As you know, gentlemen, the inhabitants of the Aland Islands have expressed by a plebiscite, on two occasions, their ardent desire for the union of their islands to their former native land. They are joined to Sweden by bonds of race, language, sentiments and by an uninterrupted historical association which only ended about 100 years ago.

The Swedish Government had hopes that the Finnish Government, which in the claim of independence for Finland based itself upon the sacred right of peoples to self-determination, would also respect the principle in what concerned the will of the Alanders, spontaneously and unanimously manifested, to unite with their mother country. To this end it opened negotiations at Helsingfors aiming to have the question of the future status of the Aland Islands submitted to a plebiscite taken in the Islands under the necessary guarantees and with decisive force for Sweden as well as for Finland.

These negotiations have, until now, had no result. For this reason the Swedish Government has felt obligated to appeal to the high jurisdiction of the Peace Conference to settle a question which has its origin directly in the war and which, in its opinion, should be solved at the same time as the pacification of the remainder of our continent. If, in comparison to the other grave questions which occupy the Conference, it is of secondary interest, it is, nevertheless, of the greatest importance for the tranquillity of the north of Europe and for equilibrium in the Baltic Basin.

Before taking up the political side of the question, we shall give a few brief statements of a geographic and historic order concerning these islands.

The Aland Archipelago is situated in the Baltic Sea between the Swedish and Finnish coasts. The most important part of the archipelago is formed by the principal island, “Firm Land of Aland” as the inhabitants call it in addition to which there are two islands of a certain importance. As for the rest, the archipelago is composed of innumerable islands, isles and reefs, situated between the principal island and the “Skiftet” which separates them from the Finnish archipelago of Abo.

The principal island is about 40 kms. distant from the Swedish coast, whereas it is about 80 kms. removed from the Finnish coast. The distance from Stockholm is about 65 kms., as a crow flies.

The principal island, where about four-fifths of the total population reside, is unquestionably situated much nearer to Sweden. On the other hand, the Finns like to assert that, geographically, the archipelago is to be considered as a prolongation of the Finnish continent. It may be remarked that there is, to the south, an open passage between [Page 520]Finland and the Aland Islands, about 30 kms. in width, called “The Skiftet”. This passage, since the most remote times, has formed the frontier between Sweden and the Finnish provinces. We must add that to the north the Skiftet narrows until, for a limited distance, it is reduced to from 5 to 10 kms. in width. The isles and rocks located along this course which are marked on the map are, in general, inhabited [uninhabited].

Economically, the islands have always had much closer relations with Sweden; the explanation of this is that navigation is much easier with Sweden than with the Finnish coast, barred as it is by innumerable islands and reefs.

The total number of inhabitants of the Aland Islands is approximately 25,000, of which only 21,000 reside on the islands, the others being absent for different reasons. The principal occupations of the inhabitants are agriculture, fishing and navigation.

Since time immemorial, Aland has belonged to Sweden. The first inhabitants of the archipelago were Swedes as archaeological excavations point out as do also the names of all the localities. Long before the conquest of Finland by the Swedes, the Aland formed part of Sweden.

In fact, it was only during the twelfth century that the Swedes commenced to make conquests in the country today known under the generic name of Finland and, little by little, all this country was conquered, colonized and christianized by Sweden. As is known, Finland is today inhabited, among a population of about 3,300,000, by 340,000 of Swedish descendants [descent], race and language. The majority of the Swedes inhabit the coast, concentrated especially in two different parts: one to the north of the Gulf of Bothnia, the other in the province of Nyland, north of the Gulf of Finland. On the other hand, the Finnish coasts opposite the Aland Islands are, to a large extent, inhabited by the Finns.

The Finns, in general, have attached great importance to the fact that during the Swedish domination, which lasted until 1809, the Aland was administered in common with the Finnish provinces belonging to the Crown of Sweden, and have wished to see there a proof of the intimate relations existing between Finland and the Aland Islands. The facts, however, are as follows:

During the whole Swedish domination, Finland was only a generic term to distinguish the possessions bounded by the gulfs of Finland and of Bothnia. Finland enjoyed no autonomy and had no independent popular representation. It was represented, like the other Swedish provinces, in the Swedish Riksdag. It was administered in the same way as the other Swedish possessions.

In fact, Finland as a political conception never existed prior to 1809, the period in which Emperor Alexander I, in order to facilitate [Page 521]the union of Finland to the Russian Empire, granted it broad autonomy.

A glance at the map will be sufficient to explain why the Aland Islands were placed under the administration of the Governor residing at Abo (in Finland). The fact of this administrative arrangement in no way implies a proof that, historically, Aland belonged to Finland. It was reasons of a practical nature especially which dictated the administrative regime adopted. The provincial governors had at that time, among their attributions, the duty of making frequent voyages of inspection in their provinces; as the Governor of Abo was often called to Stockholm by the Central Government, it was easy for him, and entirely natural, that in going to Stockholm or in returning, he should inspect the islands situated along his course, whereas the governors residing in Sweden would have been obliged to undertake a special trip for this purpose, at a time when voyages were rather difficult.

Since 1634, the year when an administrative regime in the modern sense of the word, was for the first time introduced in Sweden, until 1808, the Aland was always administered by the Government of Abo, but in spite of this, in certain connections, the Aland was always considered as a special province, and its fiscal administration was always controlled directly from Stockholm.

We should like to draw the attention of the Conference to the fact that, in spite of the administrative union of the Aland with Finland, the Swedish and foreign geographical maps, of the 17th and 18th centuries and as late as 1799, make a distinction between Sweden and the Aland, on one hand, and Finland on the other. The Aland is almost always shown under the same color as Sweden, Finland under a different one.

The Aland Islands shared the lot of the Finnish provinces when, by the Treaty of 1809,10 Sweden was obliged to cede to Russia certain Finnish governments, as well as the Aland Islands. It was in vain that the Swedish Delegates insisted upon the fact that the Aland had never been anything other than a Swedish province and that the loss of Finland should not entail that of the archipelago. The Russian commissioners replied: “We are not concerned with the old Swedish frontiers, but with the new Russian frontiers.”

To sum up, we should like to establish the following facts in the historical part of our exposé: the Aland has always belonged to Sweden. Finland was conquered by the Swedes in former times; the fact that the Aland was, in general, administered by a governor residing in Finland, is of no importance, since Finland had no special situation in the Kingdom of Sweden. On the contrary, the idea was [Page 522]always maintained that the Aland formed a part of Sweden itself, which by the cession of the Islands in 1809 underwent a painful amputation.

From the point of view of the Swedish Royal Government, the historical part is, however, of secondary importance. The main interest is concentrated around the desire of the Aland inhabitants. They should possess the same rights of self-determination as all other civilized peoples.

Immediately after the first Russian revolution, in March 1917, and even before Finland, as a result of the Bolshevist revolution of the same year, had separated itself from the Russian Empire by proclaiming its independence, a movement had arisen in the Aland Islands with a view to preparing the way for their union to Sweden. As early as August 20, 1917, the delegates of the different communes composing the Aland Islands assembled and thus formed a representation of the entire archipelago. (These delegates being assured that public opinion was decidedly in favor of the reunion of the islands with Sweden.) The Assembly resolved to bring to the knowledge of the King and of the Swedish Riksdag, by a delegation elected for this purpose, the ardent desire of the Alanders to see their islands united with Sweden. A committee of Alanders was formed to organize a sort of referendum which was to show the popular will. In this first plebiscite, every man and woman over 21 years of age and residing in the Islands, took part. For climatic reasons and because of the severity of the winter, three communes consisting of very distant islands were unable to take part in this referendum. The plebiscite which took place in the month of December 1917 had the result that over 7,000 persons signed a petition to the King and to the people of Sweden. This figure of 7,000 represents a practically unanimous vote. The three communes which had not been able to take part in the first referendum, later organized a separate plebiscite, the result of which was identical with the popular plebiscite in the other parts of the archipelago.

It may be remarked that this movement was absolutely spontaneous. At this period, considering the state of war in which the Russian Empire still found itself, means of communication between the Aland Islands and Sweden were almost completely interrupted. The movement which took place in the Islands came almost as a surprise for Sweden. It must be recalled, moreover, that it was just at the moment when Finland, taking its lot in its own hands and going on the principle of nationalities, separated itself from the Russian Empire, that the Aland Islands asserted the same principle in order to demand, not their independence, but their union to Sweden.

[Page 523]

In order to once more manifest how strong was their desire to be united with Sweden, the inhabitants of Aland organized on June 20 of this year, a second plebiscite which resulted in 9,733 persons, that is 96.4% of the population, requesting union with Sweden.

We believe, gentlemen, that the case which we have the honor to present before you is unique among all the territorial questions which you have to decide, in the sense that you have before you a wish expressed by a people in a manner as unanimous as it is spontaneous.

On what can the Finnish Government base its refusal to recognize the value of the Aland manifestation?

Many times, and especially in its note of June 6, 1919, to the Swedish Government, the Finnish Government has sought to attribute the unrest felt by the Alanders, and which undoubtedly existed, to the last phase of the world war.

During the war, a number of Russian troops were stationed in Aland; by their unbridled violence and their immoderate demands—this description is taken textually from the Finnish note—they made the Alanders feel heavily the burden of the war. We do not know whether the Russians committed excesses prior to the month of August 1917, the date when the separatist movement of the Alanders was born. At this time and until the moment when the Bolshevist revolution was approaching, the Russian troops in Aland were still well disciplined. But, in any event, the Aland population, by the second plebiscite which was taken with the well defined purpose of serving as a reply to the Finnish note of June 6, 1919, showed well that it was not for fortuitous reasons or under the impulse of the moment, but by a deeply founded desire in the popular soul that the Alanders claimed their right to return to the bosom of the mother country.

The Finnish Government also asserted another reason to oppose the desires of the Alanders. As is known, Finland is a state of mixed population, the great majority of which is of Finnish race and approximately 10% of Swedish race. The Alanders are now contested the right of deciding their lot separately from their co-nationals living on the Finnish continent. At the same time, it is maintained that the Alanders have full rights to make use of their Swedish language and that they do not suffer the lot of so many other nationalities which live under an odious oppression.

We take the liberty of opposing the following points to this method of reasoning:

In the first place, Aland undoubtedly forms a geographic unit inhabited by a people of exclusively Swedish race, who maintain economic relations with Sweden rather than with Finland. As [Page 524]we have just remarked, the remainder of the Swedish population in Finland is scattered over the Finnish continent. It would be difficult to mark clearly and impartially the boundaries between the two races. (Each attempt to this end would give rise to contests.) Furthermore, the economic interests of the inhabitants of the continent are closely connected with the lot of Finland itself. No reasonable person could think of dividing continental Finland according to its ethnographic elements.

Then, as we have just said, Aland has always been inhabited by a Swedish population, whereas the Swedes inhabiting the Finnish continent, at least the great majority of them, are descendants of the Swedish colonists adopted by their new country. It is very natural that the Alanders, in spite of a separation of over a century should have kept their Swedish mentality and aspirations intact. We ask the Peace Conference whether the circumstance that there is in Finland a population speaking the same language as the Alanders, but, very naturally joined to Finland by bonds which do not exist for the Alanders, should have an influence upon the right of the latter to dispose of their lot.

Until now we have only spoken of the desire of the Alanders, sustained by the Swedish Government for self-determination, as well as the opposition raised by the Finnish Government. This might cause the belief that it is only a question concerning the two governments, Swedish and Finnish, that is at stake. This would be a great error. It is a question, in fact, of a European problem. Europe, moreover, has already recognized it. By the Treaty of Paris of 1856,11 Russia was forbidden the right of fortifying the Aland Islands, given their great strategic importance. This treaty conforms but little to the new situation in the Baltic Sea provoked by the events of the war. There is imperative need of replacing it by another arrangement serving the same purpose; the Baltic Commission recognized this in proposing to neutralize the Islands under the guarantee of the League of Nations. But, according to the opinion of the King’s Government, the question of the neutralization of the Islands and that of sovereignty cannot be advantageously separated. It must be remembered that the great war gave rise directly to this latter question. Without the war, the Finns could not have proclaimed their independence, nor the Alanders their desire to be united with Sweden. Consequently, the Peace Conference, which seems to be called to decide all international questions having their origin in the war, must also take up this one. The question arose naturally, it cannot be abandoned without a solution.

However, it would appear that the Baltic Commission has found [Page 525]an objection to the immediate solution of the question in the fact that it also pertains to Russia and that it would be desirable to settle it with the aid of this Power. If it were only a question of a delay of short duration, the question might perhaps be postponed, without too much harm. But, as it appears possible that a rather long period of time will have to elapse before the reconstruction of Russia is an accomplished fact, the King’s Government feels obliged to call the attention of the Peace Conference to the serious inconveniences which would result from the adjournment “in infinitum” of the question of the Aland Islands. These inconveniences would be especially serious if the Conference were to place the solution in the hands of the League of Nations. This decision would, no doubt, occasion very great delay. It must not be lost sight of that this question has remained in suspense for two years and that, despite the calm and collected attitude observed until now by the inhabitants, the possibility of an aggravation of the situation must be counted upon in the event of a decision too long postponed.

It is difficult to conceive that the question of the sovereignty of the Aland Islands can form a question of vital interest for Russia. The Government of Admiral Koltchak, which de facto has recognized the independence of Finland can scarcely claim sovereignty over the Aland Islands, which, once Finland is independent, will have no direct relation with the Russian Empire.

The Delegation does not think that there can be any serious objections on the part of those who have or will have the right to speak in the name of Russia, against a plebiscite, the object of which would be, first, to settle the question of the Aland Islands between Sweden and Finland.

As for the neutralization of the Islands, it is evident that Russia, in its capacity as a Baltic power, has great interests to safeguard in these parts. Since the Islands form an excellent naval base, their possession, in any hands in which they might be, might furnish reason for serious fears on the part of the other Baltic Powers, or at least become the subject of considerable inconveniences. Now, the Swedish Government does not want to oppose their neutralization under sufficient guarantee. Thus, would be removed all the objections which might be made by its neighbors against the transfer of the sovereignty over these islands to the Crown of Sweden. On the other hand, the King’s Government must bring out the primordial interests which Sweden possesses in the Aland question, in view of the proximity of these islands to the Swedish capital. We have already mentioned that the distance between Stockholm and the islands is only 65 kms. No other Baltic Power has an interest equal to that of Sweden in connection with their military importance.

[Page 526]

It seems certain that the task of supervising the strict observance of the neutrality of the islands would fall upon Sweden. Following, for over a century, a policy of unchangeable neutrality, which has become traditional with it, we believe that it is better adapted than any power to whom this role might be entrusted.

The Delegation hopes, by these observations, to have presented the facts necessary to serve as a basis for the solution of the question.

In ending our exposé, Mr. President and Gentlemen, permit us to express our sincere gratitude to the Conference, for having given us this opportunity of developing the Swedish point of view before it.

Paris, August 4, 1919.

Appendix F to HD–23

[Translation12]

commander-in-chief of the allied armies general staff, 3rd section general headquarters

Draft

Code Telegram

From: Marshal Foch, Commander in Chief of the Allied Armies

To: The General Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Army of the Orient, at Constantinople

First: From recent information that you have furnished, we gather that Bulgaria has at her disposition, under the control of the Allies, a very important quantity of war material, notably in guns, machine guns, rifles, artillery and infantry ammunition.

She would, therefore, if she remobilized, be able to form, if not a mobile army, at least very solid groups of resistance, capable of opposing by force the carrying out of the conditions of the Peace Treaty.

Second: Under these conditions, and to do away with this dangerous possibility, it is absolutely necessary to profit without delay by the present condition of our strength to obtain from Bulgaria military conditions that will make it impossible for her to take up arms again, if it came to that.

There is no question of an order to be imposed on Bulgaria, by invoking the armistice conditions already executed by her, but of obtaining conditions motivated by the present state of affairs.

Third: Following out this idea, the measures to be taken should aim at:

a)
The immediate surrender to the Allies, and the deposit outside of Bulgarian territory, of the rifles, machine guns and breech [Page 527]blocks of guns, which are now in the various depots of material or which have been liberated by the dissolution of the units mentioned in Paragraph (0) [sic] above;
b)
Cessation of the manufacture of all war material, seizure of the arsenals and control of the product of private metallurgic factories and establishments;
c)
Reduction of the mobilized Bulgarian forces to the units sufficient to maintain order;
d)
Limitation of the maximum effective to be maintained under arms as consequence of the reduction above mentioned;
e)
Dissolution, in a time limit to be fixed, of all the other units, depots and mobilizing centers.

These measures are enumerated in the order of their importance.

Fourth: I beg you to declare immediately your opinion on the possibilities and time limits of the execution of the measures above mentioned. Please indicate, moreover, any supplementary propositions you may have to make on this subject yourself.

  1. Appendix B to HD–22, p. 490.
  2. Nicolas Misu, Roumanian plenipotentiary to the Peace Conference.
  3. Admiral Sir Ernest C. T. Troubridge, British Admiral commanding on the Danube.
  4. Lt. Gen. Sir George Tom Bridges, head of the British Mission with the Allied Armies of the East.
  5. The translation of the text of this telegram is that quoted in the telegram of August 7, 1919, from the American Mission at Paris to the Secretary of State (Paris Peace Conf. 180.03501/23).
  6. Appendix B to HD–22, p. 490.
  7. Translation from the French supplied by the editors.
  8. The translation is that found under Paris Peace Conf. 180.03502/16.
  9. The translation is that found under Paris Peace Conf. 860D.014/56.
  10. British and Foreign State Papers, vol, i, p. 338.
  11. British and Foreign State Papers, vol. xlvi, p. 23.
  12. The translation is that found under Paris Peace Conf. 180.03502/16.