Paris Peace Conf. 180.03501/40


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, 27 August, 1919, at 11 a.m.

  • Present
    • America, United States of
      • Hon. F. L. Polk.
    • Secretary
      • Mr. L. Harrison.
    • British Empire
      • Rt. Hon. A. J. Balfour.
    • Secretaries
      • Mr. H. Norman.
      • Sir G. Clerk.
    • France
      • M. Clemenceau.
      • M. Pichon.
    • Secretaries
      • M. Dutasta.
      • M. Berthelot.
      • M. de Saint-Quentin.
    • Italy
      • M. Tittoni.
    • Secretary
      • M. Paterno.
    • Japan
      • M. Matsui.
    • Secretary
      • M. Kawai.
Joint Secretariat
America, United States of Col. U. S. Grant.
British Empire Capt. E. Abraham.
France Capt. A. Portier.
Italy Lt-Colonel A. Jones.
  • Interpreter—M. Meyer.
  • The following also attended for the items with which they were concerned:—
    • United States of America
      • General Tasker H. Bliss.
      • Professor Coolidge.
      • Professor Johnstone.
      • Mr. Woolsey.
      • Mr. Nielsen.
    • France
      • M. Clémentel.
      • M. Loucheur.
      • M. Jules Cambon.
      • General Le Bond.
      • M. Aubert.
      • M. Hermitte.
      • M. Serruys.
      • M. Laroche.
    • British Empire
      • Major General Sir C. J. Sackville-West.
      • Mr. J. W. Headlam-Morley.
      • Mr. H. Nicolson.
      • Mr. A. Leeper.
    • Italy
      • Count Vannutelli-Rey.
      • M. d’Ameglio.
      • M. di Palma.

1. Economic clauses in Treaty With Austria (Reference H. D. 39, Minute 3 (i) Economic Clasuses Part1) M. Clemenceau said that the second proposal of the British Delegation aimed at including in the Treaty no clause imposing on [Page 942] Austrian Nationals any disadvantage in the settlement of private debts, contracts, etc., in a word, in the whole sphere of properties, rights and interests. The Economic Commission had first of all worked on the principle that the stipulations in the Austrian Treaty were to be similar to those of the German Treaty. This principle was subsequently modified very thoroughly. The Commission in Article 261 had provided for the liquidation of Austrian properties under the control of the Reparations Commission in the case of States, heirs of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, not participating in reparations. A special Committee composed of Colonel Peel, M. Loucheur, M. Crespi and Mr. Norman Davis, had, on the instructions of the Council, changed these dispositions. The result was that Austrian properties would not be liquidated; in consequence, the Economic Commission, in the draft reply prepared for the Austrian Delegation, had laid down as far as possible, that equality and reciprocity should prevail in the settlement of properties, rights and interests between Austrian Nationals and the previous subjects of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. The British proposal, however, went much further, and suggested that Austria should have the benefit of all agreements which might hereafter be made between the various States inheriting from the Austrian Empire. So complete an assimilation appeared to him unjustified for the following reasons:—

Austria had taken certain measures contrary to the interests of the territories now transferred, and it was necessary to annul these measures.
The States receiving portions of former Austro-Hungarian territory and the transferred territories themselves had always protested most vigorously against any such assimilation, even in the limited form suggested by the Economic Commission.
Without going so far as complete assimilation, the Economic Commission had given Austria all guarantees required by justice for the liquidation of the past state of things for which she was responsible.

It was merely a question of re-drafting to make it clear that the proposal of the Editing Committee meant:—

That Sections 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7, did not apply to transferred territories.
That Section 8 applied only to them.

The principle of complete assimilation of Austria to the new States or to the inheriting States was a non-economic matter. It was a political question which could only be decided by the Supreme Council. He thought, moreover, that it would require the assent of the States concerned. The Economic Commission could only discuss this matter with them if instructed to do so by the Council.

[Page 943]

Mr. Balfour asked whether the proposals referred to applied only in the Economic sphere.

M. Clementel replied in the affirmative.

Mr. Balfour said that on the previous day it had been decided that economic advantages should be limited to Austria, Czecho-Slovakia and Hungary.

M. Clementel said that the proposal before the meeting went further. It amounted to this—that any agreement of an economic nature concluded between any of the new States and any other, must ipso facto apply to Austria. This would produce an exceptionally privileged situation for Austria. The new States, moreover, had already protested against even the amount of assimilation hitherto accorded to Austria. The Economic Commission could go no further than it had gone. The question in its present stage was a political question which must be determined by the Council. He thought that the proposal of the British Delegation was not economically sound, and he could not, without calling a new meeting of the Economic Commission, accept it on their behalf.

Mr. Headlam-Morley said that it appeared to him to be a wrong interpretation of the British proposals that Austria must be held to be party to any Convention between the new States. He had meant to refer only to the negotiations conducted by the Committee on political clauses. These negotiations applied to specific problems. The present situation made it necessary to liquidate certain questions by special pacts. It was for the purpose of these pacts that he pleaded that Austria should be placed on an equal footing with the other States. He thought that M. Laroche, who was Chairman of the Committee, would be able to state the position to the satisfaction of the Council.

M. Clementel said that from the economic point of view, he was convinced that the Economic Commission had done all that was possible, short of establishing complete assimilation. For instance, in the Treaty with Germany, all pre-war contracts were annulled unless some special public interest demanded the contrary. In the Treaty with Austria, all pre-war contracts were maintained unless some special public interest demanded the contrary. In any case, he thought the change proposed by Mr. Headlam-Morley could not be made without consulting the small States.

M. Laroche said that the question had not the scope attributed to it by M. Clementel. It had been agreed on the previous day in the Committee on Political Clauses, not to demand the insertion of any special clause in the Treaty with Austria itself. The Committee would propose to the Council that Austria and Hungary should be asked to adhere to certain Conventions to be negotiated between the New States. There were for instance Conventions necessary to regulate [Page 944] the payment of civilian, Military and clerical pensions. These matters could be dealt with outside the Treaty of Peace with Austria.

Mr. Balfour asked whether M. Clementel maintained any objection to this, and whether he thought it would require reconsultation of the new states.

M. Clementel thought this proposal would raise no difficulty.

M. Laroche said that the new States would inevitably [have?] to be consulted, as they had to be parties to the Conventions suggested.

M. Clementel said the only thing to which he objected was any assertion of complete assimilation between Austria and the other new States.

Mr. Balfour said that he understood the policy of the Council was to give all that could be given to Austria without any ostentatious declaration, likely to offend Czecho-Slovakia.

(It was decided that it was unnecessary to insert any new Article in the Treaty of Peace with Austria. It would be clearly explained in the answer to the Austrian Delegation that Sections, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 of the Economic Clauses did not apply to the relations between Austrian subjects and the former subjects of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. On the other hand it should be clearly explained that Section 8 of the Economic Clauses only referred to the relations between persons of these two categories.

It was further decided that Austria would be required in the Treaty of Peace to adhere to special Conventions with the new States, now being prepared by the Committee on Political Clauses.)

2. M. Loucheur said that the Austrian Delegation asked that a special clause be inserted in the Treaties with Poland and Czecho-Slovakia, requiring these States to supply Austria with the same amount of coal that Austria received from the areas ceded to those States before the dismemberment of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. Czechoslovakia and Poland were unwilling to acquiesce, because they wished to be able to control the export of coal in such a manner as to exercise pressure on Austria and obtain from her equivalent advantages. For instance, Czecho-Slovakia would require magnesia from Austria. He therefore proposed a series of articles providing for an exchange of raw material between Poland, Czecho-Slovakia, and Austria, and as an interim measure for the control of these exchanges by the Separations Commission. (For these Clauses see Appendix “A”)Supply of Coal to Austria by Czecho-Slovakia and Poland

Mr. Balfour asked whether the proposals stipulated for absolute quantities. If they did, difficulties might ensue. The quantities should, he thought, be proportional and not absolute, otherwise a State might be bound by the Treaty to furnish the greater part of its production, irrespective of home needs, to its neighbours.

[Page 945]

M. Loucheur explained that this difficulty had been foreseen, and was carefully guarded against in the clauses he proposed.

Mr. Balfour said that he was satisfied with this explanation.

(It was decided that the clauses proposed by M. Loucheur (Appendix A) should be inserted in the Treaty of Peace with Austria.)

3. M. Tittoni said that the Treaty provided that certain railways between Austria and Italy should be built by the latter. Projects for these railways had been previously completed by the Austrians. He asked that they be required in the Treaty to supply both plans and estimates to the Italian Government. Col de Reschen and Pas de Predil Railway

(It was agreed that an article to this effect should be drafted by M. Tittoni for insertion in the Treaty.)

M. Tittoni offered the draft contained in Appendix B.

4. M. Loucheur said that, in consultation with Mr. Hoover, he had prepared a telegram to be addressed to General Dupont in accord ance with the decision taken on the previous day. Situation in Upper Silesia

(See H. D. 39, Minute 1.2)

M. Loucheur read the telegram annexed in Appendix C.

(This draft was accepted.).

5. Mr. Polk asked whether the telegram sent on the previous Saturday (H. D. 37, Minute I, Appendix A3) could be given to the Press. He added that the smaller Powers had been making enquiries. Publication of Telegram in Answer to Roumanian Government, Despatched 23rd August, 1919

(It was decided that the telegram accepted for despatch to the Roumanian Government on Saturday, 23rd August. 1919, 23rd August, 1919, Minute 1, (H. D. 37, Minute 1, Appendix A), should be published in the Press.)

6. Mr. Polk said that the situation was just about as Mr. Balfour had stated at a previous meeting (H. D. 37, Minute 34). M. Clemenceau had suggested that the German prisoners of war in the hands of the American and British Armies should be turned over in some manner to the French Authorities. At the meeting of the Special Committee of General Officers, both Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson and General Pershing had felt that they were not authorised to turn over their prisoners to the French Authorities. They did not consider themselves qualified to decide the legal and political questions involved. The British Government was anxious to return these prisoners to Germany, and their [Page 946] Secretary of State for War had urged it very strongly. The situation was the same for the Americans. If the repatriation of these prisoners were begun now, three to four months would be necessary to complete it. It was the desire of the American Government to act in this matter in full agreement with the French Government. If repatriation could be begun immediately, he thought it would be most desirable to do so, as these prisoners were a great expense and were accomplishing nothing. Because of the time it would take to complete it, the repatriation would not embarrass the French Government in their desire to retain the prisoners in their hands until after the ratification of the Treaty. He thought that even if the repatriation were started now by the British and American Authorities, it could not be completed before the French would have made all arrangements necessary for the labour they desired. German Prisoners of War

Mr. Balfour said that he would like to corroborate the last part of Mr. Polk’s statement. On the previous occasion when he had spoken on this matter, he had not realised how slow the process of repatriation would be. It was now August 27th. The Treaty, he thought, would be ratified by three Powers by about the 15th of September. In other words, in less than three weeks. On the 15th September, therefore, repatriation would have to begin in accordance with the terms of the Treaty. Retention of the prisoners during these three weeks would cost the American and British Governments £150,000 a day. The number that could be repatriated was only 2,000 a day overland, and no more could be sent home until shipping could be provided to assist in the process. In the three weeks, therefore, no very considerable diminution of the prisoners held in France would take place. Meanwhile, it was difficult to ask the British and American taxpayers to continue spending so much on practically useless prisoners. He hoped, therefore, that the French Government would accede to the very modest request he had to make. He believed that no detriment would be caused to France thereby.

M. Clemenceau said that he made no comment on the internal political reasons which actuated his colleagues. On the question of legal right, he was prepared to bring forward the action of the Belgians, who had handed over prisoners to France. He was bound, however, to acquiesce in what he was asked to do by his British and American colleagues. He confessed that he did it with regret, because the retention of the prisoners represented the only hold the Allies now possessed over Germany. The insertion of the Article in the German Constitution regarding Austria showed how necessary it was to preserve some means of pressure on Germany. There had been an agreement between himself, Mr. Lloyd George and President Wilson to use the prisoners as a means of inducing Germany to hand over persons [Page 947] guilty of breaches of the laws of war.5 If the British and American Governments had made up their minds, he would ask that a Repatriation Committee should be formed, representing all the Powers, in order that there should be no appearance of dissension on this point. The German Delegation would be told that for reasons of their own, the Allies proposed to begin repatriating prisoners without waiting for the ratification of the Treaty. He would ask Mr. Balfour to explain this in suitable words.

Mr. Balfour said that he agreed it was desirable to keep a hold over Germany. He would point out that the proposal he had made did not diminish this hold in any appreciable degree. As to the proposal just made by M. Clemenceau, he entirely agreed that it was very desirable that all the Powers should appear to be acting in harmony. Unless there were any practical objection, he would welcome the proposal.

Mr. Polk said that he also assented to it.

M. Clemenceau said that the hold over Germany would ultimately be represented by the prisoners held by the French Army.

M. Matsui observed that a Commission to deal with prisoners was provided for in the Treaty. He questioned whether it was desirable to set up a new Commission. It might be preferable to set the Commission provided for in the Treaty to work at once.

M. Clemenceau read Article 215. He pointed out that a German member was provided for.

Mr. Balfour asked whether it was absolutely necessary to have a German representative on the Commission.

M. Clemenceau said he thought perhaps not, as the Treaty was not yet ratified.

M. Matsui said that a Commission on Prisoners of War already existed. It had, he understood, prepared a provisional scheme for repatriation. Could this Commission be empowered to proceed with the repatriation suggested? Japan, he added, had some prisoners. She had been feeding them for a long time, and was anxious to repatriate them. Repatriation from Japan would be a long process. Japan, therefore, would gladly associate herself with any measures taken to that end.

(It was decided:—

That an Inter-Allied Commission of one military and one civil member from each of the five Powers be set up at once to begin repatriation of German prisoners, starting with prisoners held by the British and American Armies.
That Mr. Balfour should draft a letter to the German Delegation, explaining the reasons for anticipating the Treaty in this matter, [Page 948] and making it clear that this was a gratuitous act of humanity, and that the execution of the project would depend on the good behaviour of Germany.
That the nominations should be made at the following meeting.)

7. M. Tardieu read and explained the Report contained in Appendix “D”.

Plebiscite in Styria M. Tittoni said that the Council had decided to divide the Klagenfurt area for plebiscite purposes. He could not see why it should decline to do likewise in Styria. Moreover, the Council had already decided on a plebiscite in this area. (See H. D. 38, Minute 6 (a)6 and H. D. 39, Minute 3 (a).7) Why should this decision be reversed? The land in question was not Italian, and he had no direct interest in its fate. It was of the utmost importance, however, that the Austrians should sign the Treaty. The Austrian Cabinet depended on a majority, in which there were 28 Styrian Deputies. Should these Deputies receive no satisfaction, they might not support the Government in signing the Treaty. This would produce a most perilous situation. He did not know whether M. Clemenceau was ready to occupy Austria with French troops, but he must declare that Italy would find it extremely difficult to do so.

M. Tardieu said that in analogous cases, the Council had not decided in favour of a plebiscite. There was no strong motive for holding one in Styria. There were in the area, 75,000 Slovenes against 18,000 Germans.

M. Tittoni said that in that case the result need not be feared. In order to upset the decision taken 24 hours earlier, very strong reasons should be alleged. He knew of no such reasons.

Mr. Balfour said that he understood the previous resolution to have been to the effect that a plebiscite should be held in the district of Marburg. The limits of this district had not been settled. The question had been referred to the experts in order that they should examine it and make a report.

M. Tittoni said that the Minutes of the meeting (H. D. 38, Minute 6 (a)) stated that the Austrian demand was accepted, although he had himself proposed the line of the Drave as the limit of the plebiscite area.

Mr. Polk said that his understanding was that the line proposed by the Austrian Delegation had been more or less accepted. He had not understood that so large an addition as was proposed by the British and French Members of the Commission was to be made. The question was whether the delimitation of the area was to be influenced by the Austrians or by the Jugo-Slav requests. If the area were made large, the result was a foregone conclusion in favour of the Jugo-Slavs. In [Page 949] that case, he thought it would be preferable to attribute the territory to the Jugo-Slavs outright.

M. Tardieu said that the Commission was not in a position to make a unanimous report. It could only place the divergent views of the Delegates before the Council. The line proposed by the Austrians was clearly to the detriment of the Jugo-Slavs. The latter had had good reason to suppose that the country was theirs. If the settlement was now to be altered entirely at the instance of the Austrians, they would reasonably think themselves aggrieved. Four unanimous decisions had been taken. In any case, the Slovenes were treated very hardly by the Treaty. The last decision of the Council would make their case worse. Marburg was the economic and intellectual centre of Southern Styria. It had even been admitted to be so by the previous Austrian administration. In his view, the Jugo-Slav position should be maintained as he regarded it as entirely right.

Mr. Balfour asked M. Tardieu whether his Committee had enquired whether the area under consideration was economically connected with Marburg, as M. Tittoni denied this.

M. Tittoni gave certain figures about the traffic from Marburg. On the Marburg-Villach line there were 32,373 departures and 32,349 arrivals. On the Marburg-Gratz line there were 30,742 departures and 49,230 arrivals. On the Marburg-Laibach line there were 26,834 departures and 34,462 arrivals. On the Marburg-Agram line there were 1,975 departures and 2,299 arrivals. From those figures it clearly appeared that the traffic of Marburg was towards the north. The southern area was, moreover, divided from it by a mountain range.

M. Tardieu said these figures were well known to the Committee. They were the result of the deliberate economic policy of the Austrian administration. The natural market of Marburg was to the south. In spite of all their efforts, the Austrians had had to abandon the idea of administering Southern Styria, except from Marburg. The Italians had good reason to know what the methods of the Austrians were, as they had experienced them at Trieste.

M. Tittoni said that the comparison was not quite correct. The Italian population had never been sufficiently represented in the Austrian Parliament to obtain any concessions in its favour. The Slovenes, on the other hand, like the Poles, had been strong enough to produce a balance of parties. They had, therefore, received some consideration.

M. Tardieu said that he did not wish to question the decision made on the previous day, but he thought it was paying the Austrians an undue compliment to accept their line exactly as they proposed it. The Jugo-Slavs had asked for consultation of the population throughout. This had been refused and the Conference was now asked to impose [Page 950] on them a plebiscite in an area in which they did not expect it, and in a form which would annoy them without reason.

M. Tittoni said that he was willing to extend the plebiscite area to the limits of the judicial district of Marburg, in order to meet the views of the French and British Delegates.

M. Tardieu said that he thought this would produce very little effect on the position.

M. Pichon observed that the Jugo-Slavs had been in occupation of the area for the last nine months. They could not be evicted without certain trouble.

Mr. Polk asked whether this occupation was under the authority of the Conference, or whether the Jugo-Slavs had just taken possession on their own initiative.

M. Pichon said that no formal authorization had been given, but that no protest had been made.

Mr. Balfour then suggested that in order to reach some decision, the whole notion of a plebiscite should be dropped.

M. Clemenceau said that he agreed.

M. Tittoni said that he would prefer to hold a plebiscite in the extended area.

Mr. Polk said that he would rather abandon the plebiscite altogether than adopt a compromise which, he thought, would satisfy neither party.

M. Tittoni said his main desire was that the Treaty should be signed, because should the Austrians refuse to sign it, he did not know what the Conference could do.

(After some further discussion, the American, British, French and Japanese Delegations agreed to abandon entirely the idea of a plebiscite in Styria, and to stand by the territorial settlement made in the Treaty handed to the Austrian Delegation.

M. Tittoni reserved his agreement and said that he would communicate his conclusion to the Secretary-General in the course of the afternoon.)

(The Meeting then adjourned.)

Villa Majestic, Paris, 27 August, 1919.

Appendix A to HD–40


Supplies of Coal for Austria

  • Art. 1. Czechoslovakia and Poland undertake that for a period of 15 years from the coming into force of the present treaty they will [Page 951] not impose on the exportation to Austria of the products of coal mines in their territories any export duties or other charges or restrictions on exportation different from or more onerous than those imposed on such exportation to any other country.
  • Art. 2. Special agreements shall be made between Czechoslovakia and Poland and Austria as to the supply of coal and of raw materials reciprocally.
  • Art. 3. Pending the conclusion of such agreements, but in any case for at least three years from the coming into force of the present treaty, Czechoslovakia and Poland undertake that no export duty or other restrictions of any kind shall be imposed on the export to Austria of coal or lignite up to a reasonable quantity to be fixed, failing agreement between the states concerned, by the Reparation Commission. In fixing this quantity the Reparation Commission shall take into account all the circumstances, including the quantities both of coal and of lignite supplied before the war to present Austrian territory from Upper Silesia and from the territory of the former Austrian Empire transferred to Czechoslovakia and Poland in accordance with the present treaty, and the quantities now available for export from those countries. Austria shall in return furnish to Czechoslovakia and Poland supplies of the raw materials referred to in article (2) in accordance with the decisions of the Reparation Commission.
  • Art. 4. Czechoslovakia and Poland further undertake during the same period to take such steps as may be necessary to ensure that any such products shall be available for sale to purchasers in Austria on terms as favorable as are applicable to like products sold under similar conditions to purchasers in Czechoslovakia or Poland respectively or in any other country.
  • Art. 5. In case of disagreement in the execution or interpretation of any of the above provisions the Reparation Commission shall decide.

Appendix B to HD–40


Draft Article Submitted by M. Tittoni

Austria shall hand over to Italy gratuitously the surveys, with annexes, for the construction of the following railway lines:

  • The line from Tarvis to Trieste by Raibl, Plezzo, Caporetto, Canale andGorizia;
  • The local line from S. Lucia de Tolmino to Caporetto;
  • The line from Tarvis to Plezzo (new scheme);
  • The Reschen line (Landeek-Mals connection).

[Page 952]

Appendix C to HD–40


The President of the Peace Conference to General Dupont, Berlin

The Conference has decided that the commission of three generals which Colonel Goodyear is to join as the American representative should go immediately to Upper Silesia there to execute the mission indicated in my telegram 4040. The representatives of the German Government at Versailles were notified concerning this trip several days ago and they have stated that their Government would facilitate it. An accurate account is to be rendered of the situation and measures proposed to us tending to restore calm within the shortest possible period while taking the political situation into account. Please communicate this decision of the Conference to your colleagues and report its execution to me.


Appendix D to HD–40


Report of the Commission on Roumanian and Yugoslav Affairs Regarding the Plebiscite in Styria


1. On the Matter of the Plebiscite Zone.

A. The British and French delegations consider that the line proposed by the Austrian delegation is inacceptable as having been drawn artificially by the Austrians with a purely political aim and as destroying the economic unity of the Marburg basin.

They ask, accordingly, for the inclusion of the Pettau and Lütten-berg districts in the Styria plebiscite zone.

They further consider that the Drauburg region which, according to its present administrative boundaries, is attached to Carinthia, should vote with zone A in Carinthia.

B. The American and Italian delegations are willing to accept the line proposed by the Austrian delegation as it is, in accordance with the decision of the Supreme Council.

At the most, they would agree to taking the administrative boundary of the judicial districts (Gerichtsbezirke) of Marburg and Radkersburg.

[Page 953]

They are opposed to the inclusion of the Pettau and Lüttenberg districts in the Styria plebiscite zone, because such a provision would destroy the balance of the vote in favor of the Yugoslavs and would impose a plebiscite on populations which do not desire one and for whom no one has requested any.

For the same reason, the Italian delegation opposes attaching the Drauburg region to zone A in Carinthia. It further considers that the boundaries of this latter zone, having already been fixed by the Supreme Council, cannot be touched.

2. On the Methods of the Plebiscite.

The four delegations proposed:

A. Interallied supervision of the plebiscite: The Interallied Commission for the plebiscite in Carinthia will exercise its supervision in Styria under the same conditions as for zone A of Carinthia.

B. Occupation and administration of the plebiscite zone: They will take place under the same conditions as for zone A of Carinthia, that is, occupation by Yugoslav troops and administration according to the general rules of the legislation of the Serb-Croat-Slovene state.

The troops must be limited to the number necessary for the preservation of order, they must be replaced as rapidly as possible by a police force enlisted on the spot.

C. Voting: Will take place as a unit for the whole of the zone of Styria.

D. Date of the plebiscite: Same day as for zone A of Carinthia; that is, three months after the coming into effect of the treaty.

E. Right of suffrage: Will be granted under the same conditions as for the plebiscite in Carinthia.


The British and French delegates consider it their duty respectfully to point out to the Supreme Council that in their opinion whatever may be the limits of the zone which will be applied, the plebiscite has serious disadvantages.

The Yugoslav delegation requested a general plebiscite (the Banat, Bacska, Baranya, Prekomourie, Styria, Carinthia, Istria, and Dalmatia). An agreement was reached to limit the plebiscite to Carinthia. It is scarcely fair to put aside the agreement in question, at the request of the Austrians, merely for the Marburg region.
From the statistical point of view, except for the city of Marburg, there is a very heavy Slovene majority in the area under consideration (Marburg District without the city, 75,000 Slovenes and 18,000 Germans according to Austrian statistics). Austrian publications dated 1919 recognize that the Austrian line formerly adopted was in conformity with the location of the nationalities.
From the economic point of view, there is an evident bond between the Marburg area and all the Yugoslav railways. Artificial measures taken by Austria used to seek to turn this traffic towards the north.
The Yugoslavs have occupied this territory [9?] months with the authorization of the Allied and Associated Powers. Contrary to what happened in the case of Klagenfurt, no objection was ever made by the Conference. The Yugoslavs accordingly had the right to consider—and the treaty delivered to Austria confirmed that opinion—that this area was not disputed. The measure taken will thus certainly provoke violent unrest, which will not favor the policy of appeasement which the Conference is pursuing in Central Europe.
The Slovenes (1,500,000 souls) are in a bad situation as a result of the treaty. Nearly one-third oi this race is placed under foreign domination. 370,000 Yugoslavs (225,000 of whom are Slovenes) are kept in Italian territory. The plebiscite such as is now proposed by the Austrian delegation will aggravate the conditions of the Slovene race and run the risk of making its claims more violent in the countries in which the treaty has included it.
The British and French delegations recall that the plebiscite was discarded:
Unanimously by the Commission on Yugoslav Matters.
Unanimously by the Central Territorial Commission on its first examination.
Unanimously by the Supreme Council before the treaty was delivered to the Austrians.
Unanimously by the Central Territorial Commission at the time of the preparation of a reply to Austria.
Accordingly, the two delegations consider the plebiscite contemplated to be dangerous.


Countering the observations submitted to the Supreme Council by the British and French delegations, the American and Italian delegations believe that they in turn should point out:

The fact that the Yugoslavs requested the plebiscite for the Banat, Bacska, Baranya etc. has nothing to do with the conclusion of the treaty with Austria. When the time comes to discuss the treaties between Yugoslav and the other states, other plebiscites may be proposed if necessary. As to the unrest which it is feared will arise, it already exists (recent happenings at Marburg prove that) under the Yugoslav military system. Actual conditions are certainly not ideal but the disadvantages are all on the side of the Austrians.
While not disputing the existence of an absolute majority of Slovenes in the country districts of Marburg and Radkersburg, there is nevertheless sufficient basis for believing that many of these Slav peasants prefer to be again attached to Austria because of the economic interests which closely tie these regions to those of Klagenfurt and Gratz.
Three-quarters of the Marburg traffic is in the direction of Austria, as official statistics prove.
The decision suggested by four delegations in the Coordinating Committee on replies to the Austrian counterproposals, and subsequently adopted by the Supreme Council, that the Austrian request for plebiscites in the Marburg and Radkersburg districts be granted, cannot be weakened by the anticipation of certain temporary unrest, which in any case is principally provoked by the Yugoslav military occupation, as has been said above.
The fact that the Slovene nation is scattered over various geographic regions and even regions with contrary interests (Valleys of the Isonzo, the Save, Drave, etc.) does not justify the necessity of its unity against which three very strong geographic and economic interests are opposed.
The decisions against the plebiscite, cited by the British and French delegations, were all previous to the study of the Austrians’ counterproposals by the Coordinating Committee on which four delegations suggested the plebiscite, and by the Supreme Council which approved that stipulation.
In any case, the plebiscite will give the Slovenes of Marburg and Radkersburg a means of freely expressing their opinion.

  1. Ante, p. 934.
  2. Ante, p. 927.
  3. Ante, pp. 811, 819.
  4. Ante, p. 813.
  5. For previous discussions of this subject, see IC–177C, vol. v, p. 337; CF–92, minute 4, and CF–99, minute 5, vol. vi, pp. 670 and 755.
  6. Ante, p. 840.
  7. Ante, p. 931.
  8. Translation from the French supplied by the Translating Bureau of the Department of State.
  9. Translation from the French supplied by the Translating Bureau of the Department of State.
  10. Translation from the French supplied by the Translating Bureau of the Department of State.
  11. Translation from the French supplied by the Translating Bureau of the Department of State.