Paris Peace Conf. 180.03501/30

HD–30

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 Wednesday, 13 August, 1919, at 3:30 p.m.

  • Present
    • America, United States of
      • Hon. F. L. Polk.
    • Secretary
      • Mr. L. Harrison.
    • British Empire
      • The Rt. Hon. A. J. Balfour.
    • Secretaries
      • Mr. H. Norman.
      • Sir G. Clerk.
    • 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 Colonel U. S. Grant.
British Empire Captain E. Abraham.
France M. de Percin.
Italy Lt.-Col. A. Jones.
  • Interpreter—M. Meyer.
  • The following also attended:
    • General Weygand
    • General Sackville-West.
    • M. Shigemitsu.

1. The following telegrams were before the Meeting:—

“Budapest Aug. 12, 1919. Situation in Hungary

Supreme Council Peace Conference, Paris.

At the meeting today August 12th the Roumanian plenipotentiary several times stated that the Roumanian Government cannot accept orders from the Commission of Inter-Allied generals but can only enter into agreements with them for the solution of the difficulties which may come under discussion. The three generals namely American, British and Italian, who compose the commission at present (General Graziani arrived this evening but has not yet been interviewed) are of unanimous opinion that the instruction received from the Supreme Council at Paris should be interpreted as orders which the commission should give to the Roumanian army in Hungary and which the latter is obliged to carry out in order that the required solution may be arrived at (for example paragraph one sub-paragraph [Page 678]C and E and paragraph three sub-paragraph B1). The commission urgently requests a prompt reply whether its interpretation of the instructions is correct and if it can act accordingly that is to say that it can refuse to continue discussion with the Roumanian plenipotentiary if the latter insists in his refusal to accept the instructions as orders.

Inter-Allied Mission.”

“Budapest Aug. 12, 1919.

Supreme Council Peace Conference, Paris.

The Interallied Military Mission had a full day’s session this date during which a conference was had with M. Constantin Diamandy, the Roumanian plenipotentiary to the Peace Conference. M. Diamandy stated he was authorised to transact business with the Mission. He was furnished a part copy in French of the instructions to the Mission and asked whether or not his Government would abide by same. He replied he could not give an answer without first conferring with General Mardarescu, who is expected any moment to arrive and assume command of the Roumanian forces. He stated that the Roumanian Government was deeply hurt at press notices to the effect that the succession of the Archduke Joseph’s Government was in any way due to Roumanian influence.

It was represented to him that the food situation was serious and that famine and riots would result in case this situation was not alleviated. The Commission while disassociating itself from all responsibility for the present deplorable condition in Budapest, suggested that he immediately arrange to prevent the requisitioning by Roumanians for supplies within a prescribed zone surrounding the city of Budapest and that the Roumanians remove no more rolling stock. He stated that he would give the matter his immediate attention and became very angry when it was intimated that the Roumanian Government might be considered as responsible for any famine or suffering in Budapest under present conditions.

He was asked to state what portions of the Mission’s instructions the Roumanian Government could immediately accept and became angry, stating that Roumania was not a conquered nation, that it was coordinate with the other Allies and that he would receive orders from nobody except from his Government. He finally subsided. The Mission then insisted [upon] the urgency of the case but he would not commit himself as to when he would give an answer but stated he would confer with General Mardarescu and they may see the Commission tomorrow August 13th. He was asked if the Roumanian Government had within the past day or so delivered another ultimatum to Hungary and replied in effect that he was sure it had not, because such paper would naturally and properly have been presented by him, and he is ignorant of existence of an ultimatum, the Archduke yesterday and today gave Commission details of a plot intended evidently to demoralise his Government. He stated that the three Hungarian liaison officers attached to Holban’s headquarters had dictated to them a document by a Monsieur Ardeli, formerly Ambassador from Roumania during Tisza Government. The document contained the following terms amongst others. The Banat is claimed by the Roumanians, Bekesaka must belong to Roumania. Roumania has six [Page 679]hundred thousand men under arms. The military power of Entente is nil and they have labour difficulties. Various other inducements are offered if there is a Hungarian-Roumanian union against Slav danger. If terms not accepted Roumanians will sweep Hungary like Mackensen and leave it to its destiny. This document after being signed by one of the liaison officers but not by Ardeli, was presented to Prime Minister. Today the three officers again presented themselves to Government and informed it that if terms were not immediately accepted Roumanians would leave the country taking with it the Government, sweep it bare and stir up labour troubles. The above is Archduke story, he was much agitated on these occasions and appealed to Commission for advice. The first ultimatum, as he termed it, is in our possession signed by one of the liaison officers who, the Archduke states, has been with him throughout the war. The plot is obviously childish but it succeeded in frightening the Government. We have told the Archduke to take no notice.

Inter-Allied Military Mission.”

Mr. Balfour observed that the first telegram asked for precise instructions on a definite point. The Inter-Allied Mission wished to know whether it was authorised to give orders to the Roumanian Army in Hungary. Technically he supposed that the Allied Generals in Budapest had no authority to give orders to the Roumanian Commander in the manner in which a superior officer gave orders to a junior officer, but that the Commission of Generals were entitled to deliver to the Roumanian Commander the views of the Allied and Associated Powers merely as a message from the Conference. The Generals could say that they conveyed these views to the Roumanian command, indicating that the Roumanian Government, should it mean to remain within the Alliance, would doubtless give the requisite orders to carry out the intentions of the Conference. Should the Roumanian Government decline to do so, it would shoulder the consequences of breaking the Alliance. It was obvious, in that case, that the Conference would have no further authority over Roumania once she had left the Alliance.

M. Clemenceau said that he thought the Allied Generals were wrong in holding conversation with the Government of the Archduke Joseph. This Government was a reactionary Government and the public of the Entente countries would not allow any backing of such a Government. There were therefore two questions. One was the question to which Mr. Balfour had given, in his opinion, the right answer, namely, could the Allied Generals in Budapest give orders to the Roumanian Army? The second was whether they should have relations with the present reactionary Hungarian Government? He thought the answer in this case was in the negative.

Mr. Polk said that there was no evidence that the Generals had, on their own initiative, sought out the Archduke’s Government.

[Page 680]

M. Clemenceau said that the telegrams indicated that the Generals were holding conversations with that Government.

Mr. Balfour pointed out that in the instructions sent to the Generals they were asked to get into touch with the Hungarian Government (see H. D. 27, Minute 22).

Mr. Polk observed that there was a difference between obtaining information from a Government and having relations with it implying its recognition. The Generals must obviously take steps to obtain information. He agreed that the Generals should take no action likely to commit the Allied and Associated Powers; but to prohibit their communicating with the de facto Government in Budapest would be to tie their hands.

M. Clemenceau said that he thought the Conference must be careful to avoid the appearance of backing a reactionary Hungarian Government against the Roumanians.

Mr. Polk observed that the Roumanians had established this government.

Mr. Balfour asked whether M. Clemenceau was aware of the report to this effect.

M. Clemenceau said that according to the telegram M. Diamandy denied it.

Mr. Polk said that a warning might be sent to the Generals that they must avoid committing the Conference, but the question arose, who was to carry out the terms of the Armistice? Was the Conference to wait for another government to be formed?

M. Clemenceau said that at all events the Conference should have the minimum of relations with the present Government.

M. Tittoni said that this minimum should be at least enough to ensure the execution of the Armistice.

M. Clemenceau said that the following dilemma then arose. The Conference would tell the present Government to carry out the original Armistice but the Roumanians had another Armistice competing with the former; thus the Conference would be standing behind the Hungarian Government as against the Roumanians.

M. Tittoni said that it was, of course, understood that the Roumanian Armistice gave way to the previous one.

M. Clemenceau said that the present Government in Hungary might not last; if so the Conference would be backing an ephemeral administration against the Roumanians. This would make things too easy for the Roumanians.

Mr. Balfour then proposed a draft of instructions to be sent to the Allied Commission in Budapest.

After some discussion the draft was finally adopted in the following form:— [Page 681]

“We quite recognise that you cannot avoid having relations with any de facto government holding power in Budapest. You will however bear in mind that according to our information the Government of the Archduke Joseph has as yet little authority and has not so far been accepted by the country. We are most desirous of dealing directly with any genuine Hungarian Government in order to settle terms of peace and resume normal economic relations. But we must not be committed to any administration which has not authority to speak for the Hungarian people. While it will therefore be your duty to listen to anything the Government has to say, you must remember that it has not yet been accepted by those for whom it professes to speak.”

M. Clemenceau said that M. Berthelot had had an interview with M. Antonescu. The latter had received a personal telegram from M. Bratiano.

M. Berthelot said that the telegram alluded to was not the official answer of the Roumanian Government. This was to be sent to M. Misu who would communicate it to the Conference. What M. Antonescu had been told in the telegram was that the Roumanians had in no manner assisted in the establishment of the re-actionary Government of Archduke Joseph. As to the requisitions imposed on Hungary, they were regarded as legitimate as they did not exceed what the Hungarians had taken in Roumania in cattle and railway material. In other words, the Roumanians were merely recouping themselves for their losses.

Mr. Balfour said that as M. Clemenceau would not be present on the following day, he wished to ask him whether he would authorise his colleagues to reply to the Roumanian Government on this point should its official communication be of the same nature as that made to M. Antonescu.

M. Berthelot said that M. Antonescu had told him that the Roumanian generals had made a mistake in requesting from the Hungarians a fixed percentage of their cattle, railway stock, etc., but he thought they were right in requiring from the Hungarians an equivalent for what the Hungarians had taken from the Roumanians.

Mr. Balfour said that it would be necessary to make the Roumanians understand that they were in the wrong in doing this.

M. Clemenceau said that France had lost hundreds of thousands of heads of cattle. France had only recuperated from Germany 94,000. France had submitted to the decisions of the Conference. The victory of the Allies had found Roumania bound by the Peace of Bukarest, in other words at the feet of Germany. As a result of the victory of the Allies, Roumania was doubling her territory. She now wished to lay her hands on goods which belonged to the Alliance as a whole. If France and Italy had behaved like this, there could [Page 682]have been no peace. France and Italy had obtained far less than their demands and far less than they had lost.

Mr. Polk said that this was the first open defiance of the authority of the Conference. The Council was on its trial. Should this defiance be tolerated, it would form a bad example for other small Powers and ultimately for Germany. He was authorized to say for President Wilson that if the Roumanians continued in their present course, he would not look favourably on any of their claims. He added that he had information that the Roumanians were taking steps to hold elections in Bessarabia although the disposal of the province had not yet been settled.

Mr. Balfour asked whether M. Clemenceau would authorise the Council, if the Roumanian official answer proved to be what was anticipated, to tell the Roumanian Government that its action could not be tolerated and that if the Roumanians wished to remain in the Alliance, they must alter their policy.

M. Clemenceau said that he thought the expression “tolerated” too stiff. He would prefer to say “accepted”.

Mr. Balfour asked in what manner pressure could be exercised over the Roumanians.

Mr. Polk asked whether Roumania would not obtain Transylvania in virtue of the Treaty with Hungary. He also added that the partition of the Banat was not satisfactory to the Serbians.

M. Tittoni observed that the misconduct of the Roumanians was no adequate reason for rewarding the Serbs. He wished to make reservations on this matter.

(It was decided that on the receipt of the formal answer of the Roumanian Government, action should be taken in accordance with the above discussion, even in M. Clemenceau’s absence.

After a short discussion, it was decided to send a further dispatch to the Allied generals at Budapest and to communicate this dispatch to the Roumanian Government at Bukarest. The following is the text of the dispatch:—

“The Commission of Allied Generals is invested with the authority conferred on it by the Supreme Council. It is not qualified from a military point of view to give direct orders to the Roumanian generals but it is qualified to communicate to them the views of the Allied Powers.

“If the Roumanian Government means not to break away from the Allied Powers, it will give its generals necessary orders to conform to the decisions of the Conference.

“The Conference cannot believe that the Roumanian Government will by refusing to conform to the views of the Allied Powers, take a decision so serious in its consequences.”)

The Meeting then adjourned.

Villa Majestic, Paris, 13 August, 1919.

  1. Appendix B to HD–24. p. 542.
  2. Ante, p. 620.