Paris Peace Conf. 180.03501/26
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 Thursday, August 7, 1919, at 3:30 p.m.
- America, United States of
- Hon. F. L. Polk.
- Mr. L. Harrison.
- British Empire
- The Rt. Hon. A. J. Balfour.
- Mr. H. Norman.
- Sir George Clerk.
- M. Clemenceau.
- M. Pichon.
- M. Dutasta.
- M. Berthelot.
- M. de St. Quentin
- M. Tittoni.
- M. Paterno.
- M. Matsui.
- M. Kawai.
- America, United States of
|America, United States of||Capt. Chapin.|
|British Empire||Capt. E. Abraham.|
|France||Capt. A. Portier.|
|Italy||Lt-Col. A. Jones.|
|Interpreter—Prof. P. J. Mantoux.|
1. (M. Tardieu, M. Laroche, M. Aubert, Colonel Peel, Colonel Castoldi, Mr. Coolidge, M. Adatci, M. Kato, and M. Shigemitsu entered the room.) Situation in Hungary
M. Polk handed to M. Clemenceau a telegram, which M. Clemenceau asked M. Mantoux to read.
(The following telegram was read:—
Vienna, Aug. 7, 1919, 12 noon.
“Causey will stay Budapest until General Bandholtz arrives and you can phone him easily from Prague, situation in Pest more nasty than ever. You have already been told of changes and situation becoming very acute on account of stoppage of boats on river which were preparing to move this morning in accordance with James1 plans, also on account of cutting all lines of communication, including blowing up of railroad to Vienna, also manner of military occupation and treatment of inhabitants, their property and supplies. General Gorton, Causey, Romanelli and James went to Roumanian General with written protest against these things, acting under their authority given in the several different ways by the Entente. Roumanian General declined to permit them to read statement, acted very discourteously, and was told so. He declined [Page 604]to receive communication, stating that it should be sent to Roumanian General Headquarters, which of course is out of reach of communication, even if they knew where it was. He also stated he was acting under orders when he destroyed all communications out of city, which of course cuts off supplies coming in from country, of which there were eighty carloads vegetables in one lot. I plan to go to Buch tonight, meeting you there. I will arrive in time to have conference with General Bernhardt [Bandholtz?] there, who I understand leaves tonight. Will you tell him to be looking for me. There is nothing to be done with this situation except to settle whether Roumanians are going to loot this country under one guise or another and if France is going to back them; then to determine whether other members of Entente are going to have a voice in determining the future policy of Central Europe. It is just as difficult, perhaps even more so, to utilise Hungarian equipment of railways and Danube in this situation as it was under Bela Kun. There is no resistance their troops, no necessity for their occupying with the force they have, except for a misguided military policy or a selfish desire on their part which is not in accord with broad principles of reconstruction and future peace of this country and the world.”)
Mr. Polk said that as he had already informed M. Clemenceau, all supplies to Hungary had been stopped by Mr. Hoover, who did not propose to supply the Roumanian Government with food that was meant for the Hungarians. He also asked that the following telegrams be heard:—
A. R. A. Received Aug. 7, 1919.
2vn. rb 201
Budapest Aug. 6, 1919.
Supreme Council Paris.
As indicated in telegram sent by me earlier tonight the Archduke Joseph with three members of the new cabinet called on myself and the representatives of the Italian and American Governments to announce the partial selection of his cabinet and to state that he was forming a coalition government in line with the suggestions made by the Supreme Council in Paris.2 The Archduke is known as the Governor of the State. He was accompanied by Friedrich the Minister President: General Schnetzer Minister of war: General Tanczos Minister of Foreign Affairs: Bleyer Minister of nationalities; Caillery Minister of Health. The other ministry appointments to be made tomorrow to complete the cabinet will consist of two agrarians, one or two of the Szeged party and a social Democrat. The Minister President is a bourgeois. The Minister of War and the Minister of Foreign Affairs are both late Generals in the Austro-Hungarian army. The Minister of Nationalities is a university professor. The Minister of Health a physician. Other details will be wired later. General Gorton, Causey and Gordon [?] just reported from Budapest that Roumanians under the pretext of searching for arms are entering and pillaging a great many different houses in outlying districts as well as in town. The army is living on the country and taking for both animals and men.
A. R. A. Received August 7, 1919.
Ix rb. 75.
Budapest Aug. 6, 1919.
Supreme Council, Paris.
The Hungarian Gendarmerie arrested at sixthirty p.m. today the Social Democratic Government while the latter were holding a sitting at the National Palace. The coup d’état was carried out without any disorder. The Archduke Joseph is head of the new Government. General Schnetzer was sent here at ten o’clock tonight to impart this information and to state that policy and other details of new Government will be handed later tonight.
A. R. A. Received Aug. 7, 1919.
1vn rb 180
Budapest Aug. 7, 1919.
Supreme War Council, Paris.
The Roumanians have informed the Hungarian Government that as the latter have not accepted the terms of their armistice they intend to cross the Danube tomorrow, August seventh. I have ascertained that General Holban2a refused to [let?] appear in the press today the publication of M. Clemenceau’s telegram of fifth instant to the Hungarian Government.3 The Roumanians continue to perpetrate acts which are most discreditable to a power associated with the Entente. Harmless individuals are assaulted, food, live stock, agricultural implements, and rolling stock are requisitioned and sent to Roumania and through the purposeless blockade and destruction of railways, Budapest is on the verge of starvation. The latest act of wanton destruction is the demolition of the railway between Budapest and Vienna. Unless instant measures are taken to compel the Roumanians to evacuate Budapest and cease their predatory operations in Hungary, the confidence of the Hungarians in the good will of the Entente will be destroyed.
M. Clemenceau expressed the view that the Roumanian action could not be tolerated.
Mr. Polk said that in the opinion of the American Delegation, interference in the domestic affairs of Hungary would do more to encourage Bolshevism than any event in the last six months. Lenin would point to the example of what had taken place on the downfall of the Soviet Government in Hungary, in order to scare Russia and preserve his own regime. The setting up of a reactionary Government in Hungary in place of a moderate Socialist Government was a very threatening feature in the situation.
Mr. Balfour asked whether the Roumanian General committing these follies and wickednesses was the same that had put himself under Marshal Foch’s orders.
M. Clemenceau said that as the General was not named, it was impossible to know.
Mr. Polk said that one of the American Experts on the Economic Commission had prepared a memorandum showing in what way the [Page 606]armistice demanded by the Roumanians interfered with the Reparation terms of the Conference. (See Appendix “A”.)
M. Clemenceau said that an energetic telegram must be sent to the Roumanian Government.
Mr. Balfour entirely agreed. He added that the Commission of Generals should be informed of the message sent to Bucharest, and asked to communicate it to the Roumanian Government. If the Roumanians still persisted in going forward, it would be necessary to break off relations, or to do something very serious. He asked whether there was any economic weapon that could be brought to bear on Roumania.
Mr. Polk said that Roumania would soon be quite independent of the Allies in this respect for a short time. There was a good harvest about to be reaped, and abundant rolling stock was being stolen from Hungary, but, for the future Roumania would not be able to count on any assistance from the United States.
M. Tittoni said that on the previous day he had heard a rumour that the King of Roumania was to enter Budapest.
Mr. Balfour suggested that the telegram to be sent to Roumania should begin by a brief recital of the various things which had been required of the Roumanian Government by the Conference, and of the omissions by the Roumanian Government to fulfil these requests. This part, he thought, would be easy, as it amounted to a list of requests by the Conference and of disobediences by the Roumanians, but it was harder to discover exactly what threat should be added at the end. No opinion has as yet been expressed in the Council as to how far it was desirable or possible to go.
M. Clemenceau suggested that it be stated that Roumania had broken the Alliance and must suffer the consequences.
M. Pichon agreed that the Roumanians had proposed an armistice which was not in harmony with the armistice made by the Allies, and that they had set up a reactionary Government which was contrary to Allied policy.
Mr. Balfour asked whether the Council would agree to a threat of blockade by sea.
M. Clemenceau said that he would prefer to threaten Roumania for the time in general terms. He thought that the mere breach of the alliance would frighten her sufficiently.
Mr. Balfour said that the result of this action should be borne in mind. This would be the first public quarrel in the alliance. It was also taking place in a part of the world where the tension was very great. The fact must be faced that the consequences might be very serious.
M. Clemenceau said that the alternative was to submit to the insolent defiance of the Roumanians. He was not prepared to submit to [Page 607]it. He would rather leave his place in the Council. The Roumanians had always behaved like this, and deserved to be told that if they continued they would be regarded as having broken the alliance. They were in conflict with the Conference, and must suffer for it.
M. Tardieu enquired whether there really existed any alliance with Roumania. It had been declared at the Peace of Bucharest4 that the Roumanians had ceased to be Allies.
Mr. Polk said that even after this, when they desired to raise a loan in America, the Roumanians had declared themselves to be among the Allies. They could not be Allies only for financial purposes.
M. Tardieu suggested that the Roumanians be told that they must leave the Conference and suffer all the consequences of ceasing to belong to it. The Conference was a definite thing. The alliance was a vague thing. The Roumanians would be able to estimate advantages and disadvantages more clearly.
Mr. Balfour then undertook to draft a telegram. He said that what he was about to read should be prefaced by a recital of the various instances in which the Roumanian Government had refused to carry out the policy of the Conference. After some discussion the following draft was accepted as the conclusion of the telegram to be sent to the Roumanian Government:—
“The Conference in the face of these facts is compelled to believe that the Roumanian Government intends to defy the Conference and to sever themselves from the Allied and Associated Powers. If the Conference is mistaken in these views it desires that the Roumanian Government will give it an immediate contradiction not only in words but by acts which will prove to all the world that Roumania accepts and is prepared to carry out in good faith the policy which the Conference has thus laid down”.
(It was also agreed that the telegram should be transmitted to General Gorton at Buda Pesth for communication to his colleagues and to the Roumanian Commander.
The final draft prepared by M. Berthelot is annexed in Appendix “B”.)
2. M. Clemenceau asked M. Tardieu if he had anything new to say about Thrace. Bulgarian Frontiers
M. Tardieu said he had nothing to add to what he had said the day before.
Mr. Balfour said that he had had a talk with Mr. Polk. The original proposal of the Committee was strongly objected to by the American Delegation, which was supported by the Italian Delegation. He had himself on the previous day suggested a compromise which [Page 608]restored to Bulgaria a large population in Western Thrace, but gave the coast to Greece as a line of communication with Eastern Thrace. M. Venizelos had not liked this solution. As an alternative he had proposed that Thrace be made an autonomous State like Ruthenia under Greek sovereignty. This solution did not commend itself very much nor did it meet the American objection which he understood to be that Bulgaria could not now be deprived of access to the Aegean which had been given her before the war by a Treaty. The American Delegation believed that this was bound to lead to war very soon. They said they also thought it was useless to allege that Dedeagatch was an indifferent port not worth a quarrel. Whatever its merits the Bulgarians were attached to it, and it had a sentimental value about which there could be no argument. If peace in the Balkans were to be established, Dedeagatch must be left to Bulgaria. This he understood to be the American view. To meet this view a suggestion had been made that a corridor to the Aegean including Dedeagatch be given to Bulgaria under full sovereignty, the allotment of Thrace, both Eastern and Western, being left very much as the Committee had proposed. It had then been agreed between himself and Mr. Polk that the American and British experts should set to work on this suggestion to see if it could be geographically carried out. They were then to see M. Venizelos without committing either of their Principals or the Conference.
Mr. Polk said that one argument had weighed considerably with him. All military authorities said that the cession of Thrace to Greece meant war in the Balkans. They added that of the Balkan States Bulgaria was the best able to wage war. It was therefore imperative to find some compromise which had a chance of lasting at least for a while.
M. Tardieu said that he was not much in favour of the ‘corridor’ proposal. In another instance a ‘corridor’ had been proposed to link Czecho-Slovakia with Yugo-Slavia. This had been rejected by the Council as impracticable, though it would have been a matter of European interest and favourable to two of our Allies, as well as separating Austria from Hungary. As to the military opinion mentioned by Mr. Polk, he did not like to pit himself against the military authorities, but the Conference had been repeatedly told that all the enemy countries would go to war. Germany had not done so. He personally thought it most unlikely that Bulgaria would defy the Conference.
Mr. Polk pointed out that in the case of Germany the Allies were in possession of a good argument namely, Marshal Foch and his armies on the Rhine. No similar argument existed in Bulgaria.
M. Tardieu said that M. Venizelos had declared himself ready to [Page 609]cope with the situation. In any case he thought, as the corridor would include Dedeagatch, a Greek town, and other towns also Greek, that it should, like Dantzig, be made into the territory of a Free State.
M. Tittoni said that he had previously suggested an alteration of the line in Eastern Thrace; now Mr. Balfour suggested one in Western Thrace. He thought perhaps the two might be combined.
M. Tardieu said that if Western Thrace were not to be Greek there was no special reason why it should be Bulgarian. The population was Turkish.
Mr. Polk observed that the country was at the present time Bulgarian.
M. Tardieu said that Western Thrace was held by the Bulgarians just as Southern Dobrudja was held by the Roumanians. The American Delegation wished to take Southern Dobrudja from Roumania because it was Bulgarian and to give Bulgaria Western Thrace because it was Turkish.
Mr. Polk said that the question was whether Greece had a better claim to the country than Bulgaria. Secondly, if the transfer meant war was it advisable to make it?
M. Tardieu said he would agree if necessary not to give the country to Greece but he would not agree to give it to Bulgaria.
Mr. Polk observed that the American suggestion had been to attribute the country to an international state. This had been scoffed at.
M. Tardieu said that possibly a working arrangement might be made giving Dedeagatch as a commercial outlet to Bulgaria, under international administration as a free city. An international administrative commission would also control the railway leading to it. Thrace, both Eastern and Western, might be granted autonomous rights, similar to those granted to Ruthenia, under the sovereignty of Greece. It might even be possible to re-enforce the arrangement made for Ruthenia by an international commission. This scheme would take into consideration all the observations made, except that it would not permit direct access of Bulgaria to the Aegean, but he thought Bulgaria could do without this and the Allies had no real interest in furthering this desire. In any case he thought it was more inexpedient to work for the party of Constantine in Greece than to annoy the Bulgarians who, after what they had done, must expect severe treatment.
Mr. Polk agreed that it was desirable to uphold M. Venizelos. He had no desire to favour the Bulgarians but it was not always advantageous to give even a good boy all he wanted. In Western Thrace, the figures of the 1914 census showed 100,000 Bulgarians against 30,000 Greeks. It was true that this proportion had been different in [Page 610]1910 but present figures showed a great preponderance of Bulgarians. The American Delegation was convinced that to give this country to Greece was dangerous and would do no good. In Eastern Thrace, by changing the Enos-Midia line, it might be possible to give Greece a larger Greek population. The Greeks were more numerous towards Constantinople and less numerous towards Adrianople where the Bulgarian population was denser. He urged that 100,000 Bulgarians should not be placed under Greek rule. What had happened in Smyrna would happen again in Western Thrace. M. Venizelos had quoted a number of Bulgarian atrocities. Out of the Carnegie report5 an equal number of Greek atrocities could be cited. The Turks in Western Thrace spoke Bulgarian and preferred Bulgarian to Greek rule.
M. Tardieu said that his own experience had satisfied him that the inference from language to political preference was false.
Mr. Polk said that this might be so. Nevertheless, there still remained 100,000 Bulgarians as against 30,000 Greeks.
M. Clemenceau asked what Mr. Polk thought of the proposal to make Dedeagatch and the corridor a free city.
Mr. Polk said that this solution would still give the uplands of Thrace where the Bulgarian population was densest to Greece. The corridor was on the Eastern rim of Western Thrace.
M. Tardieu said that he saw no possibility of giving to Bulgaria, Greek or Turkish territory. The figures of the 1914 census did not deserve any attention. The reduction of the Greek population had been obtained by wholesale massacre. He could not admit that massacre created title.
Mr. Polk said that he had taken care to say that no title arose from massacre. What he had drawn attention to was the actual condition of the population.
M. Tardieu said that under a Greek or International Government, the Greeks would flock back to the country.
Mr. Polk said they would doubtless do so if the Bulgarians allowed them. That was the point. His instructions from President Wilson were very clear that a large Bulgarian population was not to be handed over to Greece.
M. Tardieu asked whether a commercial outlet for Bulgaria to Dedeagatch through an internationalised territory was consistent with Mr. Polk’s instructions.
Mr. Polk said that this might be consistent with the instructions. He was not quite certain, as there had been some confusion in the [Page 611]cable. What was quite positive was that the transference of a large population in Western Thrace to Greece was not approved.
M. Tardieu asked whether autonomy similar to that given to the Ruthenians or even reinforced by further guarantees would be accepted by the American Delegation.
Mr. Polk said that only international control would be accepted.
M. Tardieu asked if Mr. Polk would oppose the cession of any part of Western Thrace to Greece.
Mr. Polk said his instructions did not amount to this. He would be prepared to accept the compromise suggested by Mr. Balfour. The whole matter might, as Mr. Lansing had suggested, be referred to an International Commission.
Mr. Balfour pointed out that the present Council was, in itself, an International Commission. He thought that for the time, being, no further progress could be made in the discussion and suggested that the views of M. Venizelos on the various compromises should be obtained.
M. Tardieu said that he knew what M. Venizelos’ views were. He had seen him since his conversation with Mr. Balfour and Mr. Polk. M. Venizelos was not willing to give up the numerous Greeks of Eastern Thrace merely on account of a few thousand Bulgarians in Western Thrace.
M. Clemenceau asked whether Mr. Polk accepted autonomy for Thrace under Greek sovereignty.
Mr. Polk replied in the negative.
M. Clemenceau said that he did not think that the granting or the withholding of Dedeagatch from Bulgaria would put an end to conflict in the Balkans. On one thing he was determined—that no territorial reward should be given to Bulgaria.
(It was decided to adjourn the discussion.)
3. M. Tardieu said that a small piece of frontier remained unsettled. He alluded to the frontier between Roumania and the Ruthene territory attached to Czecho-Slovakia. The recommendations of the Committee on the Territorial Questions relating to Roumania and Yugo-Slavia were to be found in Report No. 1 of April 6th, 1919. Frontier Between Roumania and the Czech-Slovak State
(W. C. P. 656, Page 4 II—Conclusions, A. Northern Frontier (a) and (b)).
(It was then decided to accept the frontier between Roumania and the Czecho-Slovak State (Ruthene territory) as drawn by the Committee for the study of Roumanian and Yugo-Slav Affairs in Report No. 1 of April 6th, 1919, and to notify this line to the two Delegations concerned.)[Page 612]
4. M. Cambon said that the Czechs and Poles had not been able to reach a solution on the question of Teschen. M. Paderewski had suggested that the negotiations should be resumed in Paris. M. Benes, who felt that he would not be able to yield, had asked to be heard by the Council. The Council had already had discussions on the question of Teschen, and was doubtless unwilling to hear lengthy statements on the subject again. He therefore suggested that M. Benes and M. Paderewski be heard before a joint meeting of the Polish and Czecho-Slovak Committees. As neither side would yield, it was obviously to the advantage of both to have a solution imposed by the Conference. The joint meeting would then make a short report to the Council. Question of Teschen
(It was decided to accept M. Cambon’s proposal regarding the reference of the Teschen question to a joint meeting of the Polish and Czecho-Slovak Committees for speedy examination and report.)
(M. Cambon withdrew and Mr. Strachey7 entered the room.)
5. Mr. Strachey said that on May 7th the Supreme Council decided that the mandate for German East Africa should be given to Great Britain.8 This decision was published. M. Hymans thereupon addressed a protest to M. Clemenceau as he considered that the claims of Belgium to receive a mandate for the portion of the colony occupied by her troops should not have been overlooked. Lord Milner9 was asked by the Prime Minister to discuss the matter with M. Hymans. M. Hymans delegated M. Orts10 to represent him, and Lord Milner had meetings with M. Orts and also correspondence during the month of May. On the 1st June Lord Milner informed the Secretary of the British Empire Delegation that he had agreed with M. Orts to join with him in a proposal to the Supreme Council that Belgium should be allowed to retain, under mandate, a certain portion of the territory of German East Africa occupied by her troops. The limits of this territory so retained were marked on a map, a copy of which was submitted by Lord Milner. Lord Milner added: “It is clearly understood that in recommending this solution, which I am personally prepared to support, I have not in any way committed the Supreme Council”. The decision to create a special Commission to consider, among other things, the claims of Belgium in German East Africa, was taken on June 26th [27th].11 The Meeting of that Commission which heard the Belgian claims took place on July 17th, and the above-mentioned [Page 613]agreement between Lord Milner and M. Orts was communicated by Baron de Gaiffier d’Hestroy. Belgian Claims in East Africa
M. Clemenceau asked how much of German East Africa would thus pass under Belgian mandate.
Mr. Strachey replied that it would be about one-twentieth of the Colony and the most thickly populated part of it, containing about 2,500,000 people.
Mr. Balfour said that he supported the views of Lord Milner. He understood that there were some objections as Belgian administration, owing to its past achievements, did not inspire universal conviction.
Mr. Strachey said that this point had not been raised by the United States representative. A different point had been raised by him at the meeting of the Mandate Committee (see penultimate paragraph of Report of Committee on Belgian claims in East Africa—Appendix “C”).
M. Tittoni said that, in consideration of the great sacrifices made by Belgium during the war, this satisfaction could not be denied her. He was in favour of ratifying the agreements made between the British and Belgian Delegates.
M. Clemenceau agreed.
Mr. Polk asked if he might for the time being reserve his vote, as he wished to consult an American Expert who was not present. He would notify the Secretariat later.
(With the reservation that Mr. Polk would inform the Secretariat-General at a later date whether he was able to accept or not, the agreement annexed as Appendix “D” was accepted by the Council.)
(The Meeting then adjourned.)
Villa Majestic, Paris, August 7, 1919.[Page 616]
- Henry James, American representative on the Danube Commission.↩
- See HD–15, minute 2, p. 317.↩
- Commanding Roumanian forces occupying city of Budapest.↩
- Appendix A to HD–24, p. 541.↩
- Treaty between Roumania and the
Central Powers, signed at Bucharest, May 7, 1918,
Foreign Relations, 1918, supp. 1, vol. i, p. 771.↩
- Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Report of the International Commission to Inquire into the Causes and Conduct of the Balkan Wars (Washington, 1914).↩
- Charles Strachey, British Colonial Office representative at the Peace Conference.↩
- IC–181 G, minute
v, p. 507.↩
- British Secretary of State for Colonies.↩
- Belgian Minister at Paris.↩
- CF–96, minute 7, and CF–97, minute 7,
vi, pp. 727 and 741.↩
- Prepared by John Foster Dulles, United States representative, Commission on Reparation Clauses in the treaties with Austria, Hungary, and Bulgaria.↩
- Translation from the French supplied by the editors.↩
- See HD–23, minute 1, and HD–24, minute 2, pp. 504 and 528.↩
- Appendix A to HD–24, p. 541.↩
- See HD–25, minute 2, and appendix B, pp. 548 and 566.↩
- Translation from the French supplied by the editors.↩
- The map does not accompany the minutes.↩