Notes of a Meeting of the Heads of Delegations of the Five Great Powers Held in M. Pichon’s Room at the Quai d’Orsay, Paris, on Thursday, July 10, 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.
      • M. Pichon.
    • Italy
      • M. Crespi.
    • Japan
      • M. Matsui.
    • Secretaries
      • Mr. L. Harrison.
      • Mr. H. Norman.
      • M. Paterno.
      • M. Kawai.
Joint Secretariat
America, United States of Col. Grant.
British Empire Capt. E. Abraham.
France Capt. A. Portier.
Italy Lieut. Zanchi.
Interpreter—Prof. P. J. Mantoux.

1. M. Clemenceau said that he had a question to submit to his colleagues. In the Council of Four there had been a question, before President Wilson left, about the secrecy of the minutes of proceedings in the Council. President Wilson had taken the view that these Minutes could not be communicated. Mr. Lloyd George had not adopted a very firm attitude on the subject. He, (M. Clemenceau) had said that he would not be able to refuse them to a Parliamentary Committee. At the present moment the Parliamentary Committee was asking for the Proces-Verbaux of the Commission on the League of Nations. These proces-verbaux had been printed and kept secret. He thought there could be no objection to showing these documents to the Parliamentary Committee but this raised a question of the communication of other similar records. He would like to know from his Colleagues whether they would agree to the communication of records of discussions other than those of the Council of Four. Communication of Procesverbaux to French Parliamentary Committee

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Mr. Lansing said that personally he had no objection whatever but he did not know what the feelings of the President might be. He would like to have the opportunity of finding out.

M. Clemenceau asked whether he might give his Parliamentary Committee the Minutes of the League of Nations.

Mr. Lansing said that he did not feel sure.

Mr. Mantoux then gave an account of the conversation on this subject which had taken place in the Council of Four on the 28th of June, at the Senate, at Versailles.1

Mr. Balfour said that he could not believe that any harm would result from the communication of the record in question to a Committee of the French Chamber. This, however, might create a precedent which might be inconvenient. For instance, he questioned whether it would be desirable to communicate the records of the present Council.

M. Clemenceau said that that was not in question. The present Council was the successor of the Council of Four and these Minutes must remain secret. He referred for the present to the proceedings of commissions.

Mr. Balfour asked whether he proposed to communicate the proceedings of the Council of Ten.

M. Clemenceau replied in the negative.

Mr. Lansing said that even in respect to the deliberations of Committees embarrassing questions arose. For instance, concerning responsibilities there had been very frank discussions. It might be imprudent to communicate all that was consigned in the Minutes on that matter. President Wilson had been chairman of the Commission on the League of Nations and before the Minutes were communicated he ought to be consulted.

M. Clemenceau asked Mr. Lansing if he would consult President Wilson regarding the request he had made about the Minutes of the Commission on the League of Nations.

Mr. Lansing agreed to do so.

(At this point M. Loucheur2 entered the room.)

2. M. Loucheur said that he wished to submit a proposal regarding the Inter-Allied Commission to negotiate with Germany on the subject of the Rhineland agreement, slightly different from that put forward on the previous day by the British Delegation. He proposed the following:— Draft Resolution Relating to Negotiations With Germany on the Subject of the Rhineland Agreement

“An Inter-Allied Commission should be appointed to discuss with the Germans the details of the Convention in accordance with the terms of the letter addressed [Page 88] on the 27th June by M. Clemenceau to the German Delegation at Versailles3 The Commission shall be composed of one representative for Great Britain, for France, for the United States, and for Belgium. In case of need this Commission shall consult on military matters the Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Armies”.

(The above proposal was accepted.)

M. Loucheur further pointed out that the British Member, Mr. Wise, had been nominated. He would be glad to know the names of the other Commissioners.

M. Clemenceau nominated M. Loucheur for France.

Mr. Lansing said that he would notify the Secretariat later.

M. Loucheur asked that Belgium be approached through the Secretariat General.

(This was agreed to.)

M. Loucheur then withdrew.

3. M. Clemenceau said that according to news he had received the Poles had made an advance in Lithuania in defiance of the orders of the Conference. He thought that Marshal Foch should be requested on behalf of the Council to order the Poles to withdraw. Polish Advance in Lithuania

(It was agreed that the dispatch received by M. Clemenceau should be sent to Marshal Foch in order that the latter should take suitable action.)

4. M. Crespi said that on the previous day he had submitted three notes, one addressed to Bela Kun, another to various Governments, and a third to the Press.3a Mr. Lansing had objected to the first, and the other two had been sent back to the Financial Commission for re-drafting. He now submitted two re-drafts. Sale of Securities by the Government of Bela Kun

(After some discussion, the following drafts were adopted:—

1. According to information received, Bela Kun has ordered all Banks established in Hungarian territory to hold at his disposal all Joint Note kinds of securities deposited with them. It appears that steps are already being taken to enforce this order. Joint Note of the Principal Allied & Associated Governments to the Governments of the Allied, Associated & Neutral Powers and to the Goverments of the German Empire and of Austria

The Governments of the Allied and Associated Powers hereby declare that this action is nothing less Governments than robbery. They consider all these measures of confiscation as null and void.

The Governments of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers desire to draw the attention of the of Government of . . . . . . . . to the danger which may be incured to all countries by the constitution of a fund created for the purpose of a destructive propaganda in foreign countries.

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It appears to them that common action is required to defeat this policy and to protect depositors threatened with spoliation.

They therefore propose to the Government of . . . . . . to forbid or at all events to supervise the importation and negotiation of all securities coming from Hungary. It would also be useful to establish a control over all Hungarian securities.

Communication to the Press

2. According to information received, Bela Kun has ordered all Banks established in Hungarian territory to hold at his disposal all kinds of securities deposited with them. It appears that steps are already being taken to enforce this order.

The Governments of the Allied and Associated Powers consider this to be nothing less than robbery. They consider all these measures of confiscation as null and void.

They call the attention of the Governments of all the Associated and Allied and Neutral Powers and also the Governments of the German Empire and Austria to the danger which may arise for all countries from the constitution of funds for the purpose of supporting propaganda in foreign countries. They request that all those Governments will take the necessary steps to prevent the realisation or sale within their territories of the securities stolen by Bela Kun.

Mr. Lansing asked in relation to these proposals, whether the censorship on Hungarian Mails was to be maintained.

M. Clemenceau observed that as a state of war still existed with Hungary censorship would automatically remain in force.

M. Crespi said that he had just received from Austria a complaint that 15,000,000 kroner had been introduced into the country and that these were probably the product of sales of securities in Hungary.

5. (It was decided that all Commissions dealing with matters necessary for the Treaty with Bulgaria be asked to report not later than July 25th. It was further decided that the Bulgarian Government be asked to send a deputation to Paris on that date.)Treaty of Peace With Bulgaria

6. (At this stage General Naulin, General Summerall, General Thwaites (representing General Watts) General Cavallero (representing General di Robilant) entered the room.)Instructions to Representatives of the Inter-Allied Commission for Fiume

M. Clemenceau, addressing the Generals, said that they were being sent to Fiume to enquire into the events that had taken place there. They were requested to proceed to Fiume as quickly as possible and to devote all their efforts to discovering the truth about the incidents. Their enquiry was of the greatest importance to the maintenance of good relations among the Allies. The Italian member of the Commission, General di Robilant would join it on its way and the British Representative, General Watts would follow very shortly. The Commission should report to the Council and apply for assistance should it find any difficulty in carrying out its task.

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Mr. Lansing asked whether the instructions drafted on the 8th3b had been given to the Generals.

(It was agreed that these instructions should be given in writing to each member of the Commission.)

(The Generals then withdrew.)

7. (General Sykes, General Groves, Mr. Hurst, General Duval, General Cavallero, Rear Admiral Knapp entered the room.4)

Mr. Lansing said that the American Representatives had no authority to negotiate an agreement. Approval of Air Convention

Mr. Balfour suggested that Mr. Hurst be heard on the legal aspect of the question.

Mr. Hurst said that Article 319 of the Treaty of Peace with Germany foreshadowed an early acceptance of the air convention. He had been informed of the difficulty experienced by the American Delegation in agreeing to the convention. He pointed out that similar difficulties had arisen at the Hague in 1907, and the solution adopted then was to leave the question of signature open for eleven months. It would be easy in this instance to permit the postponement of signature until June 1920. This would give time for full discussion and would entail no alteration in the draft. It would also permit the fulfilment of what was provided for in the treaty with Germany.

Mr. Lansing said that he had made a similar proposal on the previous day but since then he had learned that the American experts had made certain reservations. On reference to America, should Congress uphold these reservations it would be impossible to get the American signature to the Convention in its present form. There had not yet been an opportunity to discuss the economic side of the Convention with the heads of American industry. There were questions of customs and patents which required to be examined. America might therefore be deprived of the possibility of adhering to a very important Convention. For this reason he did not think the method proposed by Mr. Hurst a suitable one.

Mr. Balfour said that he understood it would be in accordance with international practice to make reservations at the time of signature. The Convention in its present form had been largely assented to and it would be a great misfortune if nothing were done to carry out the arrangements foreshadowed in the Treaty. He thought, therefore, it might be possible to adopt the plan proposed by Mr. Hurst, providing [Page 91] that the deferred signatures might be accompanied by reservations to the substance. This could not be done in a Treaty of Peace but might be done in a Treaty of this kind. He hoped that this method might reconcile the two views.

Mr. Lansing said that the document before him appeared to be a report. He was prepared to accept the report with the reservations expressed by the American expert. What was being discussed was the proposed rules. These he could not accept.

Mr. Balfour remarked that if any change were made in the Convention he could not guarantee that the numerous Powers concerned in drawing it up would adhere to it in its new shape. The consent of each must be given on its own initiative.

Mr. Lansing said that he was not himself endowed with full powers to sign such a Convention. He asked Mr. Balfour if he was.

Mr. Balfour said that he believed that he was possessed of such powers.

Mr. Hurst suggested that the Drafting Committee be asked to prepare the Convention for signature. The question of full powers was one for each Government to determine. The treaty with Germany seemed to suppose that the Convention would be signed in a short time. The formula he had suggested would enable full powers to be issued and further consideration to be taken by any Government concerned.

General Duval pointed out that the project had been completely drafted with the exception of the preamble.

Mr. Lansing quoted Article 18 of the Convention as one of those to which he objected.

M. Clemenceau asked Mr. Lansing how long he thought it would take him to obtain the agreement of his Government should it be willing to accept the Convention.

Mr. Lansing replied that he thought this might be done in three weeks.

General Duval said he thought this delay would be regrettable. At the present time aircraft were confined within frontiers and it would be very discouraging to the industry to find the Convention had been postponed. The whole incentive to establishing longdistance commercial air navigation might disappear and each State might establish preferential rules in favour of its own nationals.

Mr. Lansing observed that the reservations made by the American Experts required discussion. He was prepared to discuss them on the following day. If agreement could be reached the process would be hastened. He did not like the disposition shown to press the American Delegation to accept what it did not approve.

Mr. Balfour said he sympathised with Mr. Lansing’s view but he would ask him in return to sympathise with the British and French [Page 92] view. In the United States it was possible to fly thousands of miles within one national territory. In Europe it was difficult to fly 500 miles without crossing a frontier. If commercial flying was to be of any value it was vital that frontiers should be crossed without difficulty. He would therefore ask Mr. Lansing to help in this matter in order that European material interests should not suffer.

Mr. Lansing said he understood the principal reason alleged for speedy signature was that the industry interested in flying should know exactly how it stood and so avoid loss on its enterprises. In this connection he asked whether the reservations made by the United States directly affected the question.

General Duval said he thought they did not.

Mr. Lansing suggested that while the United States Government were considering the Convention, European industry might be told that their Governments meant to sign the Convention.

M. Clemenceau suggested that the delay of three weeks proposed by Mr. Lansing be accepted.

Mr. Balfour said that though this represented a loss of three weeks of summer weather he would consent if this were likely to lead to an agreement.

(It was agreed that the subject be brought up again in three weeks.)5

Mr. Balfour said that the House of Commons was anxious to see this Convention. He would like to know whether his Colleagues had any objection to the Convention being shown.

(It was agreed that the proposed Convention might be published.6)

8. M. Crespi said that he had looked through the document handed to him by M. Clemenceau.6a This document declared that trains carrying military material for Czecho-Slovakia, Serbia, Roumania, Poland and the French Army in the East had been held up. It concluded, however, by stating that supplies for the French troops had passed unhampered. He wished to draw attention to this admission. The note made no mention of consignments of food. Presumably therefore food had been allowed to proceed. Difficulties, however, had arisen by reason of the state of things on the Eastern Frontier of Italy. There was considerable tension of feeling among the Jugo-Slavs and conflicts of patrols had been frequent. He had received news on the previous day of a fight between a Jugo-Slav patrol on the one hand and a patrol on the other composed of four [Page 93] Italians and one Frenchman which had resulted in the death of two Jugo-Slavs. The Italian Military authorities had discovered on a train declared to be a food train a wagon full of machine guns. Lately a whole train composed of 32 trucks had gone to Serbia carrying heavy bombing aeroplanes. Three trains of this character had been observed proceeding to Serbia. These were French trains and there were French soldiers on them. Report by M. Crepsi on the Stop-page of Supply Trains at Modane

Mr. Lansing asked whether there was anything improper in the dispatch of arms from one Ally to another. As far as he was concerned he was prepared to sell arms to the Serbians as Allies.

M. Crespi said that 14 tanks had also been dispatched in the same direction. The Italian Military Authorities thought that the Serbs were mobilising against Italy. He therefore proposed that the Inter-Allied Military Representatives at Versailles should lay down some limit to the armaments sent in that direction. He would like to know why it was necessary for Serbia to receive so much equipment. He therefore proposed that some supervision should be exercised by Marshal Foch and by the Military Advisers at Versailles.

Mr. Lansing asked whether M. Crespi proposed that the enquiry should extend to mobilisation on both sides of the Italian frontier.

M. Crespi replied that it was necessary for Italy to take precautions.

Mr. Lansing observed that the Serbs perhaps also thought alike.

M. Crespi said that he could prove that Italy was demobilising. Moreover she had demobilised two classes more than France. He had with him the decree ordering demobilisation.

Mr. Lansing asked how many Italian troops there were in Istria.

General Cavallero said that on the armistice frontier from the Tyrol to Istria there were from 700 to 800 thousand men. He did not know how many of these were concentrated in Istria. There might be 100 thousand. There was in addition perhaps half a million men in the interior. Italy had demobilised two and a half million men.

M. Clemenceau asked M. Crespi to furnish him with a reply in writing. He had been much struck by the assertion in M. Crespi’s remarks of a right to impede the passage of arms from one Ally to another.

(M. Crespi agreed to furnish the written reply on the following day.)

9. Mr. Balfour said that he had no time to consider this reply.

Mr. Lansing suggested that the Drafting Committee be asked to draft a reply in case the Council should decide to decide to ask one. Reply to German Note on the Subject of the Evacation of Poland7

(It was agreed that the Drafting Committee should be asked to put up a for consideration on the following day.)

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10. M. Tardieu gave an explanation of the report of the Commission (Appendix “A”). He pointed out that the American proposal involved reopening the question of the frontiers between Austria and Czecho-Slovakia. As there had been no agreement in the Commission, he begged leave to make a personal suggestion. He thought that Czechoslovakia could do without most of what had been conceded at Gmünd, and the bulk of the territory attributed to her at Feldsberg. Thus with a very slight alteration the historic frontier of Bohemia would be maintained. The very slight addition to this frontier, which he suggested, would be sufficient to safeguard the economic situation. In compensation for this, Czecho-Slovakia might be given the bridgehead of Pressburg. All needful precautions might be taken against the militarisation of the ground on the right bank of the Danube. In any case this strip was so shallow as to be militarily indefensible. Frontiers Between Austria and Hungary

Mr. Balfour thought that on the face of it there was much to recommend M. Tardieu’s proposal.

M. Tardieu added that the political effect in Czecho-Slovakia of altering the frontier announced on June 2nd, without any ostensible reason save counter-proposals from Austria, must be taken into consideration. It might encourage undesirable tendencies in the country.

Mr. Lansing said that this would appear to be an argument against any change. If so, it would apply to Pressburg as well.

M. Tardieu said that it was for this reason he proposed to neutralise the effect of altering the frontier between Austria and Czechoslovakia by offering the latter Pressburg as a compensation.

Mr. Lansing suggested that M. Tardieu should formulate his proposal and illustrate it by a line on the map on the following day in order that time should be given to consider the new proposal.

(This was agreed to.)

(The Meeting then adjourned.)

Villa Majestic, Paris, 10 July, 1919.

Appendix A to HD–4


Report of the Commission Instructed To Prepare the Reply to the Austrian Notes on the Territorial Clauses

I. Frontiers of Austria With Hungary

The Commission instructed to prepare the reply to the Austrian notes on the territorial questions expresses, after having heard Messrs. Kramar and Benes, the following opinion:

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1. The American, British, French, and Japanese delegations are of the opinion that the frontier should be fixed at the blue line drawn on the inclosed map.9

This new line will have as result:

On one hand, the attaching to Austria of about 260,000 Germans, as well as of a territory 40 per cent of whose food products have up to the present been consumed in lower Austria;

On the other hand, to leave in Hungarian territory, in conformity with the observations of Messrs. Kramar and Benes, the railroad from Presbourg to Agram by Szentjanos, Csorna, and Nagy-Kanisza, as the other railroad going from Presbourg south through Wiener-Neustadt is already in Austrian territory, and as the Czecho-Slovak Government requests that its two railroad outlets toward the Adriatic be not in the hands of a single state.

2. The Italian delegation, while recognizing the strength of the arguments which motivate the above conclusion, is of the opinion that the considerations of an ethnic, economic, and military nature by which it is inspired may find an adequate guarantee if there are imposed upon Hungary economic and other obligations of a nature to comply with the needs of Austria. With the exception of obligations of this sort, a change of sovereignty appears neither necessary nor desirable to the Italian delegation, whose opinion is that, considering the severe territorial conditions already imposed upon Hungary, it would not be desirable to exact of Hungary new territorial sacrifices.

3. Regarding the tracing of the above-mentioned line from north of Kittsee up to Presbourg, and the territory south of this latter city, including the suburb of the city, the station and the junction of the two railroads: Presbourg-Agram and Presbourg-Wiener-Neustadt;

The British, French, and Japanese delegations are of the opinion that the territory in question should be awarded to the Czechoslovak state.
The American delegation does not object to this on condition that satisfaction be given with respect to its observations concerning the frontier between Austria and Czechoslovakia (region of Feldsburg and Gmund).
The Italian delegation is hostile to every cession of territory, fearing the political repercussion of such a cession on relations between Hungary, Austria, and the Czecho-Slovak state, but it consents, either that the Czecho-Slovak state receive in Hungarian territory the control of the station and of the junction or that the territory under consideration be placed under the sovereignty of the League of Nations for a length of time to be determined.
The other delegations, without admitting the Italian point of view, would agree provided the said territory were not utilized for any military purpose.

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II. Frontier of Austria with the Czecho-Slovak State

The Commission charged with preparing the reply to the Austrian notes on territorial questions expresses, after hearing Messrs. Kramar and Benes, the following opinion:

1. The French and Japanese delegations recommend the maintenance of the line notified on June 2nd to the Austrian delegation.

2. The American delegation recommends that the historic frontier be adopted, with the single exception that the variations of the course of the Thaya and the Morava be taken into consideration.

3. The British delegation, which holds for the original line if no transaction should intervene, would agree if necessary to the American proposition, on condition however that the Czecho-Slovak state receive on the one hand the territory situated to the south of Presbourg on the right bank of the Danube, and on the other hand positive guarantees for the free use of the Thaya River and the Feldsberg Railroad.

In any case, the British delegation considers that the frontier should follow the mid channels of the Morava and Thaya as those two rivers are to be internationalized along this part of their course.

4. The Italian delegation, just as attached, in principle, to the maintenance of the original line, would accept if necessary modifications of detail in the region of Feldsberg but refuses to consider the cession of the bridgehead of Presbourg as compensation. It also agrees with the British delegation with regard to the determination of the frontier along the mid channels of the Morava and Thaya and concerning the internationalization of these rivers.

  1. CF–99, minute 3, vol. vi, p. 752.
  2. Louis Loucheur, French representative and president, Inter-Allied Commission on the Left Bank of the Rhine.
  3. For a description of this letter, see CF–96, minute 12, vol. vi, p. 730.
  4. Ante, pp. 7375.
  5. HD–2, p. 47.
  6. Maj. Gen. Sir Frederic Sykes, British representative, Aeronautical Commission; Brig. Gen. P. R. C. Groves, British representative, Aeronautical Commission; C. J. B. Hurst, British representative, Drafting Committee; Gen. Charles Duval, French representative, Aeronautical Commission; Gen. U. Cavallero, Italian military representative, Supreme War Council; and Rear Admiral H. S. Knapp, United States representative, Aeronautical Commission.
  7. See HD–51, minute 1, vol. viii, p. 173.
  8. For text of the aerial convention, signed at Paris, October 13, 1919, see Treaties, Conventions, etc., Between the United States of America and Other Powers, 1910–1923, (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1923), vol. iii, p. 3768.
  9. See HD–2, minute 4, p. 47.
  10. Appendix A to HD–5, p. 108.
  11. Translation from the French supplied by the editors.
  12. Map not reproduced.