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 Tuesday, August 19, 1919, at 3:30 p.m.
America, United States of
- Hon. F. L. Polk.
- Mr. L. Harrison.
- The Rt. Hon. A. J. Balfour.
- Mr. H. Norman.
- Sir George Clerk.
- M. Pichon.
- M. Berthelot.
- M. de St. Quentin.
- M. Tittoni.
- M. Paterno.
- M. Matsui.
- M. Kawai.
- America, United States of
|America, United States of||Colonel U. S. Grant.|
|British Empire||Lieut. Commander Bell.|
|France||Captain A. Portier.|
|Italy||Lt. Colonel Jones.|
1. During the discussion of this question the following were present: General Weygand, Mr. J. F. Dulles, M. Castoldi and Captain Le Vavasseur. Functions of Editing Committee With Regard to the Peace Treaty With Austria
Mr. Balfour said that he felt compelled to ask the Council to reconsider the decision that it had taken at its previous Meeting. (See H. D. 32, Minute 4.1) Some time before, the question had arisen, as to whether the Co-ordinating Committee should deal direct with all reports, which the various Technical Committees might prepare, on the subject of Austrian Notes; and whether, after dealing with them, they should send a unified report on the subject to the Council. (See H. D. 27, Minute 3.2) The decision arrived at had been, that the duties of the Co-ordinating Committee should be modified in that sense. But, in order to effect this, it would be necessary to give the Committee in question greater latitude. M. Pichon and M. Tittoni had, on the other hand, desired to restrict the functions of the [Page 714] Co-ordinating Committee, and to prevent it from dealing with any questions of principle. The ill consequences of these limitations could now be foreseen. In the case of the German Treaty, all reports of Committees had gone, in the first instance, to the Council of Four, who had examined them almost word for word at a great expenditure of trouble; and had then sent them back to the Co-ordinating Committee, for the preparation of a unified report in which the decisions of the Council of Four were incorporated. He had hoped, by proposing that the Co-ordinating Committee should deal direct with the reports of the Committees, that the present Council might be spared a lot of work. In order to effect this, however, the Coordinating Committee must be given greater latitude than the decision arrived at on the previous day permitted. He would like to point out that a great number of replies from the Austrian Delegation had not been submitted to any Committee at all. He would like to know the reason for this; and further wished to be informed to what particular body the questions raised by the Austrian Delegation were being referred. The existing decision would have, as a result, that the Co-ordinating Committee would actually be prevented from considering the Austrian notes. In this case it would be necessary for him, as a representative of Great Britain, to work through all the controversial points raised by the Austrians, in collaboration with his experts, and, after bringing all relevant questions before the notice of the Council, to send back the result to the Co-ordinating Committee. Such a procedure would take a great deal of time, and would be a strain on the temper of the Council. He asked, therefore, whether it would not be better to relax the restrictions imposed by the decision of the previous day, and to allow the Co-ordinating Committee to survey the Austrian notes, and the Austrian Peace Treaty, as a whole, and to report to the Council. He did not think it would be proper to allow it to be said that the Austrian Delegation had never had its case properly heard, or to permit it to be thought, that the immense operation of liquidating the Austrian Empire had been effected without a due consideration of all the problems involved. He therefore hoped that the previous decision might be modified.
M. Tittoni asked whether it was correct to say that the Austrian notes had not been fully examined, or that certain points in them had not been referred to any Committee.
M. Pichon replied that he did not think the statement was correct, and that, in his opinion, every question raised by the Austrian Delegation had been referred to a competent Committee.
Mr. Balfour replied that this was not the opinion of his experts.
M. Berthelot, confirming M. Pichon’s previous statement, said that only one question raised by the Austrian Delegation had not been considered. [Page 715] The question in point was, whether the Austrian State was to be considered as a New State, similar to Poland, Czecho-Slovakia, or Jugo-Slavia, or as an enemy State similar to Germany. The British Delegates had considered that Austria should be regarded as a New State; but the Council had already decided in an opposite sense, and their view had been strongly supported by President Wilson. It was most important that this decision should be upheld, since any withdrawal from the standpoint adopted would involve recasting the Peace Treaty with Austria.
M. Tittoni said that if it were really thought that Austria was not an Enemy State, the Italians would not have fought for over three and a half years, with a loss of over half a million dead, against a mere phantom.
(At this point M. Cambon and members of the Editing Committee entered the room; and M. Pichon laid the question raised by Mr. Balfour before them.)
M. Cambon said that he did not know of any question raised by the Austrian notes having failed to receive consideration; since the whole duties of the Co-ordinating Committee consisted in dealing with the reports of the Technical Committees, to which the notes in question were referred. The procedure of his Committee had been as follows. He had read a draft covering note to the general reply to be given to the Austrians in which he summarized the remarks and criticisms raised by the Committee to whom the notes had been referred. In his note, he had insisted upon one point which was, that the Council should exercise to the full its rights against Austria, which had been the author of the war, by the fact that it had sent its ultimatum to Serbia; and had, moreover, before any declaration of war, performed belligerent acts against France and Belgium. When he had finished reading his draft covering letter, M. Headlam-Morley had read an alternative covering note, conceived in a totally different sense; and had argued therein, that Austria should be considered as a New State, and not as an Enemy one. But the question so raised had been decided previously in the sense that Austria must be regarded as the direct legitimate heir of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire. With regard to all other clauses in the Peace Treaty with Austria, dealing with economic, military and political questions, they had been adequately discussed by the Technical Committees. The one point raised by Mr. Headlam-Morley could not be dealt with in that way, since it was purely political and must be left to the Council to reconsider, if necessary.
Mr. Headlam-Morley drew attention to the words in the preamble of the Peace Treaty with Austria stating that Austria was to be “recognized as a new and independent State under the name of the Republic of Austria”.[Page 716]
M. Tittoni replied that this was only intended to imply that Austria was a New State, insofar as her old frontiers and status had been altered. The question now before the Council was whether it ought to regard the old State of Austria as no longer existing in any form; in which case all possibility of reparation, or of fixing responsibilities, would absolutely disappear.
M. Pichon said that President Wilson had urged that Austria should be regarded as a new and an enemy state, and the Council of Four had adopted his point of view. If the Peace Treaty with Austria were to be discussed under this new point of view, each separate clause that it contained would have to be reconsidered.
Mr. Balfour said that the discussion had departed from the lines which he had originally intended for it. M. Tittoni and M. Pichon had explained with much fervour and eloquence that Austria must be regarded as guilty for the outbreak of war, and for a great deal of the suffering inflicted upon France and Italy; they had further shown that she could not be regarded in the same light as Jugo-Slavia or Czecho-Slovakia. He had never wished to dispute this, for it had always been perfectly clear to him, that an absolute distinction existed between the Governments of Vienna and those of the other States formed on the ruins of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire. He had wished to draw the attention of the Conference to a new problem, deserving special consideration; the problem in question being, how the present Austrian Government was to be treated with regard to the Peace Treaty presented to it, and to the observations that it was making thereon. If M. Pichon and M. Tittoni thought that the Council should consider every problem raised by the Austrian Delegation, he had no objection to acceding to their wishes. He would, on the other hand, have preferred that the very highly qualified Committee presided over by M. Jules Cambon, should have, in the first place, considered the Austrian replies. If the decision taken on the day before were upheld, he would be obliged to examine the Peace Treaty, and the Austrian notes upon it, word by word, in company with his experts. He thought that it would be unfortunate to compel members of the Council to concentrate their attention on these points of detail, in view of the enormous responsibilities that they were called upon to bear.
M. Tittoni thanked Mr. Balfour for his explanation, and said that the discussion had now been limited to a mere question of procedure. The Committees had examined the Austrian counter proposals, and the Council must now discuss their reports. Mr. Balfour proposed to save time, by an alteration in procedure, which would turn the Co-ordinating Committee into a sort of delegation of the Council. If time would really be saved by this, he would be the first to agree to it, but he did not think that it would have that result. He thought, [Page 717] on the contrary, that it would introduce a new complication, because whatever the Co-ordination Committee might report, the Council would certainly have to reconsider it. When the questions raised came before the Council, he would certainly reserve to himself full liberty of discussion, in spite of anything the Co-ordinating Committee might have said.
By adopting Mr. Balfour’s procedure, three separate discussions would become inevitable:—
- The Austrian counter proposals would be discussed in the technical Committees;
- The Reports of the technical Committees would be discussed in the Co-ordinating Committee;
- The Co-ordinating Committee’s Report would be discussed in the Council.
But if the Council were first to consider the Committee’s reports, and then send back its decisions to the Co-ordinating Committee, the procedure would be shortened by one set of discussions.
M. Cambon said that he agreed with M. Tittoni when he said that a fresh complication would be introduced by the adoption of Mr. Balfour’s proposal. At the same time M. Tittoni had not shown all the steps through which the discussion of questions raised by the Austrian counter-proposals had to pass. The Co-ordinating Committee had been nominated in order to bring unity into the divergent questions brought before the Council by the counter-proposals of Enemy States. The Committee thought it ought to carry its work through as rapidly as possible, and for this reason, it had asked for assistance from the Drafting Committee on that morning. If it were decided that the functions of the Committee were to be fundamentally altered, it would be necessary for the Committee in question to refer back all questions previously decided to experts and to the Drafting Committee. This would mean a delay of 15 days or more, which would be of no benefit to the Peace Conference. For this reason, it would be best to limit the functions of the Co-ordinating Committee in the manner laid down in the previous decision of the Council. Any member of the Committee, or the Committee as a whole, would always be in a position to draw the attention of the Council to special points worthy of its consideration. A short time previously, the report of the Aeronautic Committee had been under discussion, and it had been noted that the report in question contained certain expressions on the subject of the Austrian Government, not couched in a very diplomatic form. The Co-ordinating Committee, however, had no intention of submitting points of this nature to the Council. The duty of the Committee was obviously to co-ordinate all the questions raised, and submit them to the Council in the form of a single report.[Page 718]
Mr. Polk remarked that points on which the Co-ordinating Committee had been unanimous need not further be discussed.
M. Pichon said that when the Peace Treaty with Austria had been drawn up, all questions had been thoroughly examined by competent technical Committees, whose reports were to be placed before the Council of Five, who, after discussion, had sent the reports in question, together with their own decisions to the Drafting Committee. The clauses, as drawn up by the Drafting Committee, by virtue of this procedure had been re-submitted to the Council, who had transmitted them to the Austrian Delegation. The Austrian Delegates then made counter proposals, which were sent to experts, on whose reports decisions were made. The decisions and reports were sent to the Co-ordinating Committee, which re-submitted them to the Council. M. Cambon had therefore accurately described the manner in which the Co-ordinating Committee was intended to work. The Co-ordinating Committee could not be regarded as a Court of Appeal for the Technical Committees, since the members of the Committee were Delegates and not Technical experts. If the Council should decide that the Co-ordinating Committee should make decisions on the reports of the Committees, it would be doing no more than making a nontechnical body decide over the Heads of Experts. Everybody wished to make the procedure of the Council as rapid as possible. This would be best effected by keeping the Co-ordinating Committee strictly to its co-ordinating functions. Mr. Balfour’s wishes would be fully met by instructing the Co-ordinating Committee to draw special attention to points demanding consideration from the Council.
M. Cambon said that he thought it important to adhere to the procedure outlined by M. Pichon. If the Co-ordinating Committee were to be called upon to discuss questions of principle, it would of necessity, be obliged to call in experts to assist it. This would indefinitely lengthen both its own labours, and those of the Conference. The consequences of the alternative proposals of M. Pichon and Mr. Balfour had been very clearly exemplified by the questions arising out of Mr. Headlam-Morley’s letter and his own. Mr. Headlam-Morley had explained that, if his own letter were adopted, the Peace Treaty with Austria would have to be re-modelled almost in its entirety, whilst, if M. Cambon’s draft reply were agreed to, no important changes in the Treaty would be necessary. The Conference had drawn up a Peace Treaty largely on the basis of reports of technical Committees. Doubtless the Treaty in question was open to criticism, but it would be even more so, if it were known that a non-technical committee had been given a power of decision over the reports of experts.
Mr. Headlam-Morley said that he believed that it had been stated that he wished to re-draft the whole Treaty with Austria. He wished to deny any such wish on his part most emphatically. It had been [Page 719] his privilege to be a member of several Committees whose duty it was to consider questions arising out of the Peace Treaty with Austria, and out of the Austrian counter-proposals. It had been his own opinion, and that of his colleagues on the Committees to which he referred, that the Peace Treaty with Austria could not stand in its present form. This was so far accepted that M. Laroche’s Committee was largely re-modelling the provisions of the Austrian Treaty. To give one example, the original clauses on the subject of nationalities had been found to be inapplicable. The Austrian objection to the original articles had been supported by his Italian colleagues, and by the Czecho-Slovak delegates. The result was that they were now being re-drafted. This alteration in the original draft Treaty was not made in deference to the opinions of anybody so insignificant as himself, but merely because investigation had shown that the Treaty required recasting. In the case of the Peace Treaty with Germany, the Council of Four had closely studied all problems arising out of the German counter-proposals. The procedure had now been altered, and the replies were being sent, in the first place, to the Co-ordinating Committees, which had, in consequence, been compelled to recognize an alteration in its own functions. In the case in question, the work of considering counter-proposals was much more difficult. The German counter-proposals had raised problems referring to the cessation of a state of war. In the present instance, the Peace Conference was concerned with the liquidation of an entire Empire, and all observations on the problems raised involved a proportionately higher degree of complication. The Co-ordinating Committee was therefore called upon to examine answers to the Austrian Delegation, not only with a view to seeing that they were coherent, but also with the object of relieving the Council of some of its duties. The decision arrived at on the previous day prevented the Committee from duly fulfilling some of the duties that it was called upon to perform.
M. Pichon said that the Co-ordinating Committee was left free to draw the Council’s attention to certain important points, but was not allowed to discuss questions of principle.
Mr. Polk then submitted a draft proposal.
M. Tittoni then proposed a modification to the draft proposal in the sense that the Co-ordinating Committee should not, as a whole, draw attention to alterations in principle, but that its individual members should be allowed to do so.
(After some further discussion, it was agreed that the Editing Committee should:—
- Co-ordinate the various replies to the Austrians, making only verbal changes, and
- Submit to the Supreme Council Annexes pointing out all questions [Page 720] where one or more of the representatives of the Co-ordinating Committee thought that changes in substance should be made.)
2. At this point the Experts of the Editing Committee left the room, and the Naval Experts, with M. Seydoux entered.
Blockade of Russia M. Seydoux read and commented on the report contained in Appendix “A”. He further read a telegram, received from Sweden (see Appendix “B”).
Mr. Dulles called attention to two points of practical interest: first, as prompt action was necessary, because the Russian ports would be closed in about three months by ice, it was undesirable to undertake anything which would require prolonged negotiations with the neutral States; such as getting their consent to the stopping and searching of their ships by the Allied Navies. Moreover, this was not necessary since, if they agreed not to give clearance papers to ships for Russian ports, any vessels found on their way to such ports would either be without clearance papers, or would have falsified them. Secondly, he noticed that, among the measures suggested, was the establishment of censorship over postal and telegraphic communications. As the United States had no agency for carrying out such a censorship, and no such agency could be re-established without the action of Congress: in asking this of the neutral States, the Allied and Associated Powers would be requesting them to do something which one of them would not be prepared to do.
M. Seydoux said that he proposed that in the Note which should be sent to the neutral Powers, they should be asked to refuse clearance papers to vessels proceeding to Bolshevik Russia, passports to individuals with the same destination, and banking facilities for operations of trade. They should further be invited to exercise censorship over mails and telegrams to Russia, as far as it was in their power to do so.
Mr. Polk said that Admiral Knapp had drawn attention to the desirability of asking neutral countries to exercise censorship only over their own mails and telegrams.
Mr. Balfour said that he thought it important that all action proposed under the resolution should be taken in the name of the Allied and Associated Powers.
M. Seydoux then asked what measures should be taken with the Germans.
M. Pichon said that, in his opinion, the German Government should be asked to take measures similar to those that neutral countries were to be invited to carry out.
M. Tittoni said that it should be pointed out to the German Government that the measures proposed were in its own interests. It should be invited to carry them out for this reason, despite the fact [Page 721] that the provisions of the Peace Treaty gave the Allied and Associated Powers no right of dictating.
(It was decided to send a Note to the German Government and to neutral States in the name of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers, asking:—
- that clearance papers should be refused to vessels intending to proceed to ports in Bolshevik Russia;
- that an equivalent embargo should be placed upon goods intended to be transmitted by land to Russian destination;
- that passports should be refused to individuals desirous of traveling to or from Bolshevik Russia;
- that banks should be prohibited from dealing with the affairs of, or transacting business with Bolshevik Russia;
- that as far as possible, acceptance of mails and telegraphic communications destined for, or coming from, Bolshevik Russia should be refused;
and informing them:
- That the Allied and Associated Powers had the intention of putting into force, in their own countries, measures similar to those that Neutral Governments were now invited to adopt;
- That ships of the Allied Navies, enforcing the intended embargo on the ports of Bolshevik Russia, would act under the authority of the Allied and Associated Governments.)
3. The resolution submitted to the Supreme Council by the British Delegation (see Annex “C”) was adopted. Liechtenstein and Vorarlberg
4. M. Pichon circulated a telegram on the situation in Silesia. (See annex “D”.)
Silesia Mr. Polk drew the attention of the Council to a further telegram received from the United States Minister at Warsaw. (See Annex “E”.)
General Weygand read a telegram that he had drafted for communication to General Dupont (see Annex “F”) and stated that he wished to make certain remarks upon it. In the first place, he desired to draw the attention of the Council to the fact that the negotiations, which it was intended that General Dupont should open, would not compel the German Government in any way. General Dupont was only President of the Armistice Commission at Berlin, and could only deal with the German President of the Armistice Commission. The German Minister for Foreign Affairs had begun to bring the German Armistice Commission under his own orders. It was therefore evident, that the German Government would have opportunities for delay in considering General Dupont’s proposals, and would be able to gain time by its procrastinations; it might, therefore, carry out severe measures of repression against the Poles in the meantime. He [Page 722] asked whether a more speedy method of communication to the German Government could not be devised. The telegrams communicated to the Council showed that they were faced with an insurrection in Silesia. They were, therefore, called upon, not to maintain order in that country but to restore it. The Military Representative of the Supreme War Council at Versailles had decided, previously, that one division would be sufficient for maintaining order in Silesia; but this decision had been on the supposition that the country in question would be in a state of tranquillity. One division would certainly not suffice to maintain order in a populous district of 360,000 inhabitants, in a state of insurrection. The original figure must therefore be revised, and he reminded the Council that one inter-allied division had been raised with difficulty. Allied troops in Silesia must obviously be supported by some Government, and the only Government which would give them the support required, was the Government at Berlin. In order to avoid placing the troops under the orders of the German Government, he had proposed to send the Allied High Commission to Upper Silesia, in anticipation of the actual provisions of the Peace Treaty. The difficulties of maintaining troops in such a country were very great. He proposed, by way of lessening them, to ask the German Government to anticipate the provisions of the Treaty, only with regard to the disturbed parts of Upper Silesia. The Area in question was not great, and consisted only of one-third of the entire plebiscite district.
Mr. Balfour said that whilst Great Britain had no diplomatic representative at Berlin, he did not know that this was the case of the other Allied Powers.
M. Tittoni answered that the Italians were represented in Berlin by a Civil Commissioner who would not, however, have any diplomatic attributions until the ratification of the Peace Treaty.
General Weygand said that he proposed that the Germans should be dealt with through their Delegation at Versailles. He had negotiated with the German representatives and had found them fairly reasonable, more particularly Von Lersner.
M. Pichon said that it would be necessary to hand a written note to the German representatives.
M. Berthelot said that it was, on the whole, better to negotiate by means of written communications in such cases. Notes were clearer and more concise than conversations. He pointed out, however, that Von Lersner could only be used as a medium of transmission.
M. Pichon then said that he thought it might, after all be better to deal with the Germans through General Dupont.
General Weygand said that General Dupont could exercise no coercion upon the German Government, and negotiations through him would be lengthy. He gave as an example, the length of time necessary to obtain Von der Goltz’ recall.[Page 723]
M. Pichon remarked that if it were true that the German Government had promoted the strikes in Upper Silesia, they would obviously show no energy in re-establishing order there.
Mr. Balfour said that General Weygand had not referred to a suggestion of the previous day, which was that Germany should be threatened with the loss of the coal from Silesian coal fields. If the Government at Berlin could be shown to have stirred up strife, the Allied Governments would be justified in exerting all their efforts to prevent the export of coal to Germany until the requirements of other Allies had been satisfied. Such a measure would be equitable, and possibly effective.
M. Tittoni said that the information submitted to the Council at its present meeting, and on the previous day, had differed in one point. The Council had first been informed that the German Government had incited revolution in Silesia. They were now told that it had provoked insurrections against itself. The Allies should be careful not to allow the German Government the right of conducting repressive measures in the name of the Council.
Mr. Balfour agreed with M. Tittoni.
General Weygand said that the Polish Delegation had drawn attention to the same point.
Mr. Balfour proposed that the Reparation Commission which was now in direct touch with the German Delegation at Versailles, had opened negotiations with the Government at Berlin. He asked whether it would not be possible to employ Mr. Hoover. He enjoyed a special position, which gave him the right to go anywhere in Central Europe. Mr. Hoover, though not an accredited diplomatic officer of any of the Allied and Associated Governments or of the American Delegation, was certainly capable of acting in the name of the Council. Would it not be possible to ask him to go and interview the Government at Berlin and to advise the Council on the result of his conversation.
Mr. Polk remarked that Mr. Hoover was now on his way back from Warsaw, and could not be stopped.
M. Pichon suggested that M. Loucheur should be asked to attend the meeting of the Council on the following day.
Mr. Polk said that, in consequence of the strike in Upper Silesia, all train services in Austria were to be stopped. The train from Vienna had been held up on the night before.
M. Berthelot remarked that information from Polish sources was often exaggerated, and suggested that a delay of 24 hours would not spoil the decision of the Council.
M. Pichon suggested that Paragraph (c) of General Weygand’s draft telegram should be omitted. He further suggested that General Dupont should be asked to give the Council an accurate report [Page 724] of the situation of affairs in Germany, and that he should suggest what measures he thought the Council might suitably take.
M. Tittoni suggested that General Dupont should give what information he could as to the action that the German Government proposed to take.
General Weygand said that General Dupont might be informed, purely for his own information, that the Allied and Associated Governments were considering the possibility of anticipating certain provisions in the Peace Treaty with Germany.
Mr. Balfour asked whether it would be wise to inform General Dupont of all the measures that the Council has proposed to take, and to draw his attention to the dangers that it foresaw from allowing German intervention.
M. Pichon said that he thought it would be wise to do so; providing that information of this sort was purely for General Dupont’s personal guidance.
M. Tittoni asked whether General Dupont could be asked to consult with the local strike leaders in the affected districts in Silesia, and whether he could get information from them as to the possibility of a resumption of regular work.
Mr. Balfour asked Mr. Polk to communicate with Mr. Hoover.
(It was decided:—
- that General Weygand should re-draft a telegram to General Dupont, incorporating the wishes of the Council, as expressed in the previous discussion;
- that M. Loucheur and Mr. Hoover should attend at the Council after their return.
The Meeting then adjourned.
Villa Majestic, Paris, 19 August, 1919.[Page 728]