Notes of a Meeting of the Heads of Delegations of the Five Great Powers Held in M. Pichon’s Room at the Quai d’Orsay, Paris, on Monday, July 7, 1919, at 3:30 p.m.

  • Present
    • America, United States of
      • Hon. R. Lansing.
    • British Empire
      • The Rt. Hon. A. J. Balfour.
    • France
      • M. Clemenceau.
    • Italy
      • M. Tittoni.
    • Japan
      • M. Matsui.
    • Secretaries
      • Mr. L. Harrison.
      • Mr. H. Norman.
      • M. Paterno.
      • M. Kawai.
Joint Secretariat
America, United States of Lieut. Burden.
British Empire Capt. E. Abraham.
France Capt. A. Portier.
Italy Lieut. Zanchi.
Interpreter—Prof. P. J. Mantoux.

1. M. Clemenceau said that before beginning the subjects on the Agenda he had a statement to make on what was going on in Italy. He did not wish to make difficulties worse, but situation was such that it was to be feared massacres might occur. He had received dispatches, which he could show his colleagues, regarding the position at Fiume. Disturbances had taken place there, caused it was alleged by the misconduct of a French soldier. This was the Italian account and he would not dispute it. It might be true, and in any case similar things had happened elsewhere without leading to any serious consequences. There had followed in the Italian press a virulent attack on France and on Great Britain, but especially on France, and it could readily be believed that it was inspired by German influence. The French Ambassador had made a protest to M. Nitti.1 M. Nitti had declared that he could not control the press. It was surprising that M. Nitti could not control the Italian [Page 33]press, seeing the power he had over the press outside his own country. At Fiume things had gone from bad to worse, and there was a movement tending to the expulsion of French and British troops. When the Allied Council had addressed a memorandum to M. Tittoni,2 President Wilson had wanted to ask the Italian Government to evacuate Fiume. He had begged President Wilson not to insist on this, as it appeared to him that all the Allies had an equal right to maintain troops there. As there were French and British troops in Fiume, it was only fair that Italian troops should be there, provided they remained as representatives of the Alliance. He recalled he said this in order to show that he was not anti-Italian. The latest news from Fiume was that the condition there was going from bad to worse. French fatigue parties passing through the streets had been attacked with grenades and revolvers. Attacks had been made on British troops, but not so openly. Isolated men had been maltreated. The Italian general said he could not put a stop to these disturbances as long as French and British troops remained in the town. This was not all. At Genoa French soldiers had been knifed, and similar things had happened in other Italian towns. French consuls at Milan and elsewhere had sent him newspaper cuttings threatening a renewal of the Sicilian Vespers.3 In addition to this there was evidence of Government action. Supply trains for Poland and Czecho-Slovakia were being detrained [detained?] at Modane on some futile pretext of paying customs dues. These supplies were urgently required and it was obvious that they were stopped by Government action. Further, the French Consul at Rhodes reported that, at the very time when the Peace Conference was asking M. Tittoni to withdraw Italian troops from Southern Asia Minor, 3,300 men had been sent two days ago to occupy a further point in Asia Minor. The French Ambassador in Rome, who had been most violently attacked had been told by General Albricci that these attacks would cease if better news came from Paris. This was an attempt to bring pressure on the Peace Conference. Against this attempt he now made the strongest protest. He would not deliberate under threats and he would not tolerate pressure of this kind. From an official person specially qualified, whose name he did not wish to give, but would if necessary, he learnt that Admiral Thaon di Revel4 had put a stop to mine-sweeping, and had ordered that new mines be kept in readiness in case of war with France. He was [Page 34]prepared to show this information, if they wished it, to Mr. Balfour and to Mr. Lansing. It was further hinted that this news should not be taken too seriously, but that it might be allowed to leak out in order to influence the Conference. He had hitherto resisted two things. First, abominable attacks by the Italian Press, and secondly, the temptation to make a reply to attacks in the French Press which was being manoeuvered on behalf of Italy against the French Government. He could, by making a public statement put a stop to all this but he had restrained himself in order not to make things worse. If these things did not cease however, he would be forced to answer. This would produce a disastrous diplomatic situation which he wished to avoid. It was for this reason that he addressed M. Tittoni in the Council. He wished to know what was at the bottom of all this. Why, when the Council was deliberating about Asia Minor, were fresh Italian troops sent there? Why was there no official protest by the Italian Government against the virulent Press campaign conducted against Fiume? He did not suggest the Italian Government should apply the censorship; but it could make a statement in refutation of what was alleged. In any case he would not be influenced by pressure. If he had to make a choice, he would [not?] allow French soldiers to be murdered in Fiume. He had ordered back French troops from Italy where they had once been welcome in times of stress, but were now no longer well received. Nothing, however, would stop him from keeping French troops in Fiume where they had a right to be. Situation in Italy

M. Tittoni said that he thought the Fiume incidents most deplorable. He was deeply concerned at the outbreak of dissensions among troops which had bled in the same cause. He also had received dispatches which he would not quote as they might give explanations of the origin of the outbreak not altogether in accord with those mentioned by M. Clemenceau. He thought there should be an enquiry into the incidents and suitable punishment for those responsible. At all costs friendship must be restored between the Allies. He suggested that an Inter-Allied Commission be appointed to enquire into the events at Fiume and that its findings should be awaited before any decision was taken.

M. Clemenceau asked whether the Commission would also enquire into what had taken place at Genoa.

M. Tittoni said that his proposal was confined to Fiume. The Italian Government had shown its anxiety to put matters right by sending General Caneva immediately to make an enquiry. General Caneva was an army commander, a senator and a man of judicial temper. He would certainly do his very best.

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M. Clemenceau interposed that no complaint was made against General Grazioli in person.5

M. Tittoni continuing said that as regards the events in Genoa an enquiry was taking place. He would inform the French Government of the result as soon as possible. Irresponsible acts should not be allowed to compromise the good relations of the Governments. It was essential that the Governments should remain closely united.

M. Clemenceau said that the French Consul at Milan reported danger of massacres.

M. Tittoni said that he was going there on the following day. This showed the importance he attached to the subject. During his absence M. Crespi6 would take his place. But he would beg the Council to await his return before dealing with questions specially concerning Italy. M. Clemenceau had spoken of threats aimed at the Conference. He felt bound to deny matters formally that there was any ground for such a belief. It would be puerile on the part of the Italian Government to attempt to coerce the Conference. Italy was represented by himself at the Conference and he trusted that the spirit of friendship and conciliation shown by him would be recognised. As to the statements attributed to General Albricci and to Admiral Thaon di Revel, he felt certain that whatever they might have said had been greatly distorted. He could, if necessary, ask these officers for explanations, but he was bound to say that he could not believe what was attributed to them. As to the Italian Press, it was certainly true that M. Nitti could not muzzle it. The same papers that attacked France were also conducting a most violent attack on him. Party feeling in Italy was very strong and the violence of expression in the Italian Press at the present time had never been equalled. As to the alleged influencing of the French Press, he felt bound to deny that anything of the sort was going on. Since joining the Delegation he had seen all that took place and could find no evidence to that effect. He was ready, however, to do anything that might satisfy M. Clemenceau. He would also point out that the censorship had just been abolished in Italy. As regards Asia Minor he was not aware of the events alleged. To make sure that no misunderstanding took place he had summoned General Bongiovanni7 to Paris in order to give him his instructions personally. These instructions would be entirely in accordance with the confidential interview he had had with his colleagues a few days ago. As to the transit of supply trains to Serbia he was informed that certain customs dues were legitimately required. These dues Serbia promised [Page 36]to pay but her present attitude made it reasonable to doubt whether she would pay. Not only food was being shipped, but arms and munitions as well. There was a report that the Serbians had asked the Czecho-Slovaks to join them in an attack upon Italy. He would at a later date give fuller information in writing on this subject to his colleagues.

M. Clemenceau said that he had no wish to continue the debate and that M. Tittoni’s proposal for an Inter-Allied Enquiry at Fiume gave him satisfaction for the moment, provided it be made at once.

Mr. Lansing said that he agreed. He thought it would be necessary to select a military man and he would like to consult General Bliss. He thought it would be better to select an officer from Headquarters rather than one serving on the spot.

Mr. Balfour said that he also was in favour of a Commission to enquire into the events at Fiume. It was the first duty of the Council to prevent the development of these unfortunate incidents into matters of international concern. He thought the method suggested by M. Tittoni a good one. He could not immediately nominate an officer and he was inclined to agree with Mr. Lansing that the best selection would be an officer not serving in Italy nor in the Adriatic. He would have to consult his military advisors. He felt it was scarcely necessary to say that he entirely agreed with his colleagues regarding the folly and wickedness of attempting to influence the decisions of the Conference by pressure from without. The effect would be exactly the reverse of that desired by anyone employing such methods.

Mr. Lansing said that he had a suggestion to make regarding the work of the Commission. It should not only make an enquiry, in order to determine the immediate responsibilities for what had occurred, but should also make recommendations regarding what should be done in the future. He could see no reason himself why the forces maintained by the Allies in Fiume should not be reduced to equal contingents of police.

M. Clemenceau suggested that each of the Delegations should designate their officers on the following day and give them their instructions.

Mr. Balfour said that he was not sure he could arrange to have the officer present on the following day.

Mr. Lansing expressed the same opinion.

M. Tittoni said that he agreed to the extension of the duties of the Commission suggested by Mr. Lansing, but he would stipulate that no suggestions be made to the Commissioners and that they be left to propose their own solutions.

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M. Clemenceau said that, to speak plainly, it could not be tolerated that Fiume should continue to be governed in the name of the King of Italy.

M. Tittoni said that this was not done by the Italian Authorities but by the local municipality.

(It was decided that an Inter-Allied Commission of military officers should be appointed to make an enquiry into the incidents at Fiume and to recommend means of improving the situation for the future

It was agreed that the American, British, French and Italian Delegations should nominate their respective commissioners on the following day and that these should receive collective instructions from the Council.)

The Members of the Drafting Committee entered the room.

2. M. Clemenceau asked M. Fromageot8 to tell the Council in what state the Austrian Treaty was. Date and Manner of Handing the Conditions of Peace to the Austrian Delegation

M. Fromageot said that the Treaty was ready, its articles and its pages numbered. It only required a last revision which could be completed by the following evening.

Mr. Balfour asked whether the question of frontiers was solved.

M. Fromageot said that all that had been sent to the Drafting Committee had been put into shape.

M. Clemenceau observed that the Council wished to know what was missing.

M. Fromageot replied that he was unable to answer this as he was not aware of the intentions of the Council.

M. Clemenceau said that he had hoped M. Fromageot would be able to tell him what the Council had omitted.

M. Fromageot said that Article 27 of the Treaty provided a frontier entirely surrounding Austria. On some points it was stipulated that the exact line should be fixed at a later time. The Drafting Committee at one time had been told that they would have to insert the frontiers of the neighbouring States. Later the Committee had been told to insert a clause requiring Austria to recognise such frontiers as might be laid down thereafter.

Mr. Lansing said he wished to know whether the Treaty in its present form was final.

M. Fromageot said he was unable to answer this question.

Mr. Balfour said that after examining Article 27 he observed that the old frontier between Austria and Hungary was maintained. He understood that the question of altering this frontier had been referred to a Commission. This Commission had not yet reported, and its conclusions therefore had not been accepted by the Council.

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Mr. Lansing said that certain portions of the Treaty had been handed to the Austrians. There remained other portions—Financial, Economic and the Reparation Clauses which had not been handed to them. He wished to know whether these were completed. If so, he suggested that these portions be sent to the Austrian Delegation.

M. Fromageot argued that for ease of reference it would be better to present the whole Treaty to the Austrians at one time with all the articles in due series.

(After some further discussion it was decided that the Commissions considering the boundaries of Austria should report to the Council on the 9th July, 1919.)

3. M. Fromageot pointed out that in all other cases of new frontiers a stipulation had been introduced appointing Boundary Commissions to establish the exact line on the ground. Only in the case of the frontier between Austria and Italy was there no such provision. Boundary Commission for Frontier Between Austria and Italy

M. Tittoni said that if the Article were left in its present state the inference would be that the line must be settled between the Italians and the Austrians. He further asked how many members were appointed to the other Boundary Commissions mentioned. He would prefer a small Commission. For instance, one of three, with one Italian, one Austrian and one other member.

M. Fromageot said that the numbers varied. They were either 7, 5, or 3. There were 3 for Dantzig and 5 for the Saar Valley.

(After some further discussion it was decided to insert in the Treaty of Peace with Austria a provision to establish a Boundary Commission of 5 members to draw the frontier between Austria and Italy.)

4. The Council had before it the following document:—

Participation of Finnish Troops in Advance on petrograd “The French Delegation have informed the Commission on Baltic Affairs of a telegram from the French High Commissioner in Siberia, from which it appears that Admiral Koltchak’s9 Government have asked the Allied Governments to support at Helsingfors the request which they have addressed to General Mannerheim10 to commence operations against Petrograd as soon as possible.

The Commission do not consider that they can recommend the Allied Governments to take the responsibility of involving the Finns in warlike operations whose chances of success it is difficult for them to judge at a distance. They feel, however, that the Finnish Government have been stopped several times in their desire to take action against [Page 39]the Bolsheviks of Petrograd by the fact that they do not know how any initiative of this kind would be viewed by the Allied Governments.

The Commission therefore think they can recommend the following suggestion to the Council of Ten:

A joint telegram should be addressed to the British, United States, Italian and French Chargés d’Affaires at Helsingfors requesting them to inform General Mannerheim’s Government that in case they felt able to grant the request to act made to them by Admiral Koltchak, the Allied Governments, without bringing any pressure on the Finnish Government, would have no objection to that operation.”

(It was agreed that a joint telegram to the above effect be drafted in the name of the Council by M. Pichon).

5. M. Clemenceau said that as President of the Peace Conference he had received from the Minister in Paris a request for a hearing regarding certain Norwegian claims relating:— Norwegian claims (a) Spitzbergen

to Spitzbergen
to the Northern frontier between Norway and Finland.
to reparation for Norwegian shipping sunk by the Germans during the war.

Mr. Lansing said that he would prefer to entrust the Spitzbergen question to a Sub-Commission rather than to refer it to the Baltic Commission. He recalled that in 1914 there had been a Commission in Christiania on this subject,10a whose labours had been interrupted by the outbreak of war. The matter was a complicated one, both from the political and from the economic aspect. The American representative at the Christiania Conference was happily now in Paris.

M. Clemenceau said that he accepted Mr. Lansing’s proposal.

M. Tittoni said that he was informed that there were extensive coal deposits in Spitzbergen. He asked that the coal situation in Italy be taken into consideration in any decision taken regarding these coal deposits. The future of Italy in respect to coal was very unpromising. Since the acquisition of the Saar Valley coal-field by France, France could obtain coal at 50 francs or 60 francs a ton. Coal in Italy cost 250 francs a ton. The prospect for Italian industries dependent on coal fuel was therefore hopeless unless this situation could be remedied.

(It was agreed to appoint a Sub-Commission consisting of one representative each of the United States of America, Great Britain, France and Italy to consider the claims of various Powers in Spitzbergen, and to make a report to the Council.

M. Pichon was asked to invite all the neutral Powers interested to present their views to the Commission.)

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(b) Frontier Between Norway & Finland (It was agreed that it would be difficult for the Peace Conference to intervene in a frontier question between two neutral States, and no decision for the time being was taken on this subject.)

(c) Norwegian Claim for Reparation Against Germany (It was decided to refer the Norwegian claims against Germany for damage to Norwegian shipping at sea to the Reparation Commission.)

6. M. Mantoux read the proposed reply. (Annexure A.)

Reply to Austrian Note on League of Nations M. Balfour thought that a somewhat over eager invitation was extended to Austria to come into the League.

M. Clemenceau said that he would consent to any alteration in wording Mr. Balfour would care to make.

Mr. Lansing expressed the view that it was perhaps desirable to encourage the Austrians, both by reason of the threat of Bolshevic Hungary at their very doors, and also in order to dispel their tendency to join Germany.

Mr. Balfour said that if soft words were likely to give the Austrians encouragement, which might be true, he would withdraw his criticism.

(The draft reply proposed by the Sub-Committee of the Commission on the League of Nations was approved.)

7. M. Tittoni expressed the view that commercial censorship was part and parcel of the blockade. It must, therefore, logically cease at the same time. It might be maintained by an arbitrary act, but could not be maintained legally. Removal of Commercial Censorship at the Same Time as Blockade on Germany

(It was agreed that the commercial censorship as being part of the measures constituting a blockade on Germany should be abolished at the same time as the blockade.)

8. (It was agreed that the Jugo-Slav Delegation should receive copies of the Austrian Notes and counter proposals concerning Jugo-Slavia.)Request of Jugo-Slav Delegation for Austrian Notes Concerning Jugo-Slavia

9. Mr. Lansing said that he had a proposal to make regarding the repatriation of certain Armenians, in order that they should be able to sow the next crop. (See Annexure B.)Repatriation of Certain Armenians

Mr. Balfour said that so far as he remembered, on previous day a Commissioner had been appointed for Armenia.11

Mr. Lansing observed that what was now proposed was different. It was necessary to bring exiled Armenian agriculturalists back to the country, and to dispossess the Turkish usurpers of their land. [Page 41]His proposal was that General Milne12 be consulted as to the possibility of doing this.

Mr. Balfour said that he would certainly agree to consulting General Milne as to the possibility of repatriating a certain number of Armenian refugees. He did not think, however, that he could accept the responsibility laid down in the second sentence of the proposal, namely, that their protection should devolve upon the British forces.

Mr. Lansing said that all he wished was that General Milne should report as to this also.

Mr. Balfour said he would agree if a slight modification of the text were made.

(It was then agreed that the British Government should consult General Milne as to the possibility of repatriating immediately a certain number of Armenian refugees, and as to the possibility of ensuring their protection by British forces until Armenia received a mandatory. In the meantime their food would be supplied as at present by the American Relief Organisation.)

10. Question of Direct Relations Between General Gough and the Germans Mr. Balfour said that he would like to draw attention to a matter which had not been put on the Agenda. General Gough13 represented the Allies in the Baltic Provinces. Orders had been given for the Germans to withdraw from the Baltic Provinces; this order they were carrying out but imperfectly. For instance they had been ordered to withdraw from Riga. They had removed five miles outside Riga and there halted. General Gough complained that he could only get into touch with the Germans by circuitous methods. He could not hasten the process of German evacuation very much. He asked whether he could be given authority to treat direct with the German Command on this matter.

Mr. Lansing said that he agreed in principle, but would like before giving an answer to consult his military advisers.

(It was agreed that this question be put on the Agenda for the next meeting.)

11. (It was decided that the proceedings of the Council be recorded by the Joint Secretariat, and that the procès-verbaux be distributed on the same scale as those of the Council of Heads of States.)Record of Proceedings of Council and Distribution of Minutes

(The Meeting then adjourned.)

Villa Majestic, Paris, July 7, 1919.

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Annexure “A” to HD–1


commission on the league of nations sub-committee

Draft Reply to the Austrian Note Concerning the League of Nations

The Principal Allied and Associated Powers note with satisfaction the adherence of the Austrian Delegation to the project of a League of Nations, and to the principles upon which such a League of Nations has been founded by the Covenant embodied in the Conditions of Peace. They are glad to know that the Austrian Government share their view that the establishment of such a League will conduce to the maintenance of peace in those parts of the world which hitherto have been centres of international friction and misunderstanding.
The Principal Allied and Associated Powers have taken into careful consideration the demand of the Austrian Delegation for the admission of their country as an original Member of the League of Nations. It has never been their intention to exclude Austria for any long period from the League; on the contrary, they wish to reiterate that it is their hope and conviction that the League will at the earliest possible date include all nations that can be trusted to carry out the obligations accepted by Members of the League. They must point out, however, that in urging the claim of Austria to Membership of the League as immediately necessary to the safety of their territory, the Austrian Delegation have used some arguments which appear to indicate that they have not fully appreciated the provisions of the Covenant. But they recognise nevertheless the strength of the claim put forward by the Austrian Delegation. They fully appreciate the evidence which, by the attitude which she has hitherto observed, Austria has given of her good intentions. They see no reason why she should not apply for admission to the League, in accordance with the provisions of Article I of the Covenant, at the earliest opportunity that may present itself after the ratification of the Treaty of Peace. As soon as they are assured that Austria possesses a responsible Government and that this Government has both the will and the power to fulfil its international obligations, they are prepared to support Austria’s candidature for admission to the League.
The Principal Allied and Associated Powers have carefully studied the interesting proposals with regard to the settlement of international disputes and the details of the organisation of a Permanent Court of International Justice put forward by Dr. Lammasch15 [Page 43]in Annexes A and B to the Austrian Note. They are impressed with the value of some of Dr. Lammasch’s suggestions; but while they consider the immediate establishment of a Permanent Court to be of the highest importance, they have not thought it possible or expedient to embody in the Covenant itself the detailed provisions required for its constitution. They will submit Annexes A and B of the Austrian Note for the consideration of the Council of the League when it undertakes the preparation of a plan for the establishment of a Permanent Court in accordance with Article 14 of the Covenant.
Furthermore, the Principal Allied and Associated Powers are not of opinion that an addition to the Covenant of the sort proposed in Annex C regarding Article XXIII (e) is at the present time necessary or possible. They would point out that Article XXIII stipulates that “freedom of transit and equitable treatment for the commerce of all Members of the League” shall be secured “subject to and in accordance with the provisions of international conventions existing or hereafter to be agreed upon”. They feel confident that when the Members of the League proceed to formulate the General International Convention foreseen in this Article, the proposals of the Austrian Delegation contained in Annex C will receive due consideration.

Annexure “B” to HD–1

To: The Commissioners.

From: W. H. Buckler.16

The question of Armenian Relief is now being dealt with as follows:
Colonel William N. Haskell17 is to be the local Commissioner in charge of food distribution and relief;
General Harbord18 is to proceed to Armenia to report on repatriation and general military and economic problems.
A further question is the feasibility of repatriating a certain number of refugees before September 1, so that they may sow their fields. This might possibly be accomplished through British officers on the spot, and the repatriation of even a few thousand men [Page 44]would materially reduce starvation next year. There will be no time for General Harbord to arrange for this before the winter begins.

Having consulted Mr. Vansittart of the British Delegation, I therefore recommend:

That the British authorities be requested to consult General Milne as to the possibility of immediately repatriating a certain number of Armenian refugees. Their protection, until Armenia receives a mandatory, would devolve upon the British forces, while their food would be supplied, as at present, by the American Belief Organisation.

  1. Francesco S. Nitti, President of the Council and Minister of Interior of Italy from June 23. 1919.
  2. See CF–96B and CF–99A, vol. vi, pp. 738 and 759.
  3. The great massacre of the French in Sicily by the natives in 1282, which began at Palermo on Easter Monday, at the hour of vespers. It was in revenge for the cruelties of the French under Charles of Anjou and resulted in the expulsion of the king from Sicily, and the introduction of Aragonese rule.
  4. Commander in chief of the Italian naval forces.
  5. Gen. Francesco Grazioli, commander of Italian forces at Fiume.
  6. Silvio Crespi, Italian plenipotentiary to the Peace Conference from June 23, 1919.
  7. Gen. Luigi Bongiovanni, commander of the Italian forces in Asia Minor.
  8. Henri Fromageot, of France, president of the Drafting Committee.
  9. Admiral Alexander Vasilevich Kolchak, on November 18, 1918, at Omsk, proclaimed Supreme Governor of Russia.
  10. Gen. Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim, Regent of Finland from December 12, 1918.
  11. See Foreign Relations, 1914, pp. 974 ff.
  12. Ante, p. 28.
  13. Gen. Sir George Francis Milne, commander of the British forces in the Near East.
  14. Lt. Gen. Sir Hubert Gough, of the British Army, chief of the Inter-Allied Mission to the Baltic States.
  15. Dr. Heinrich Lammasch, Austrian jurist; Austro-Hungarian Prime Minister, October 28 to November 13, 1918.
  16. Specialist on Asia Minor and the Caucasus in Russian Division of the American Commission to Negotiate Peace.
  17. Member of the American Relief Administration.
  18. Gen. James G. Harbord, Chief of Staff, American Expeditionary Forces.