Paris Peace Conf. 180.03501/42


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 Friday, August 29, 1919, at 11 a.m.

  • Present
    • United States of America
      • Hon. F. L. Polk.
    • Secretary
      • Mr. L. Harrison.
    • British Empire
      • Rt. Hon. A. J. Balfour.
    • Secretaries
      • Mr. H. Norman.
      • Sir George Clerk.
    • France
      • M. Clemenceau.
      • M. Pichon.
    • Secretaries
      • M. Dutasta.
      • M. Berthelot.
      • M. de Saint-Quentin
    • Italy
      • M. Tittoni.
    • Secretary
      • H. Paterno.
    • Japan
      • M. Matsui.
    • Secretary
      • M. Kawai.
Joint Secretariat
United States of America Mr. C. Russell.
British Empire Capt. E. Abraham.
France M. de Percin.
Italy Lt-Colonel Jones.
Interpreter—M. Meyer

The following also attended for the questions with which they were concerned:

  • United States of America
    • Professor Coolidge.
    • Professor Johnson.
    • Mr. Woolsey.
    • Mr. Scott.
  • British Empire
    • Mr. J. W. Headlam-Morley.
    • Mr. H. Nicolson.
    • Captain C. T. M. Fuller, R. N.
  • France
    • M. Tardieu.
    • M. Loucheur.
    • M. Jules Cambon.
    • M. Seydoux.
    • M. Laroche.
    • General Le Rond.
    • M. Hermitte.
    • M. Massigli.
    • Commdt. Levavasseur.
  • Italy
    • Count Vannutelli-Rey.
    • M. Brambilla
    • M. di Palma.

[Page 2]

1. M. Tardieu said that on the previous day he had received from M. Tittoni a new proposal. There was no further question of a Plebiscite except in a small, area near, Radkersburg. M. Clemenceau asked why M. Tittoni wished to hold a Plebiscite there. Plebiscite in the Marburg Area

M. Tittoni replied that his main object was to get an Austrian signature to the Treaty. What he proposed was a considerable reduction to the Austrian demands, but the area was entirely German, and though the district of Marburg would remain Jugo Slav, he thought it was desirable to give the Austrians satisfaction somewhere. One of the reasons for holding a plebiscite in this area was that the Chief of the Christian Social Party which supported the State had been returned for Radkersburg.

M. Tardieu said that without expressing any opinion on the reason alleged by M. Tittoni, he thought the area of Radkersburg ought to be attached to Prekumarie. Should the Plebiscite go in favour of Austria, the resulting frontier would be a bad one.

M. Clemenceau asked General Le Rond to state what, from a geographical point of view, would be the result.

General Le Rond said that it had been recognised long ago that the population in this area was mainly German, and in making a frontier, it was not possible to take any account of every little variation in the character of the population. This was all the less necessary as a considerable number of Slovene villages had been left within Austria. If the Plebiscite suggested by M. Tittoni turned out in favour of the Austrians, the frontier in this area would be geographically unsound, cutting valleys in a capricious manner and leaving Radkersburg almost on the boundary line. Should the vote be in favour of the Jugo Slavs, which was unlikely, the frontier would be the same as that proposed by the Commission. In the area in question, there were about 10,000 Austrians. The number of Slovenes left outside Jugo Slavia could be counted in hundreds of thousands. If the question of the Austrians in this area were raised, the question of the Slovenes left outside Jugo Slavia would also have to be raised.

Mr. Balfour asked whether the Austrians would still demand a Plebiscite in this region if a Plebiscite in the Slovene area left to them were required.

Mr. Polk observed that the Slovenes left outside Jugo Slavia would remain in Hungary and not in Austria. Austria would therefore raise no objection.

M. Tittoni said that if the line of the Drave had been accepted, it would have yielded a more logical frontier than any other line. He pointed out further that the area in question was included in an [Page 3] administrative boundary. The geographical objections therefore, did not appear strong, as the frontier adopted by the Commission was not itself a good geographical line.

General Le Rond said that the line proposed by the Commission followed the crest of the Hills.

M. Tittoni said that for so small a matter, he did not wish to risk a refusal of the Austrian signature.

M. Clemenceau said that he thought there was no great need to fear the refusal of signature.

Mr. Balfour then suggested that the River Mur be taken as the frontier line and that no Plebiscite should be held at all. Radkersburg would then remain Austrian.

“It was then decided that no Plebiscite should be held in Styria, and that the River Mur should be accepted as the frontier between Austria and the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes in this area.

“Radkersburg would be attributed to Austria, and Marburg to the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.”

2. M. Cambon said that the proposal referred to the Editing Committee by the Council on the previous day (H. D. 41, Paragraph 7, Appendix B)1 had been examined. In the opinion of the Editing Committee, the Council had refused to recognise the principle involved, in the Treaty with Germany. The Committee therefore regarded it a mistake to record in the Treaty with Austria anything so diametrically different from the treatment accorded to Germany. For his part, he would suggest, should the Council adopt the proposal, that it be communicated to Austria in the form of a special additional document. The British Delegate on the Editing Committee regarded the question as one of general interest concerning all countries, including neutral countries. He thought, therefore, that it should be referred to the League of Nations. Part 13 of the Proposed Answer to the Austrian Delegation Regarding Labour Clauses

M. Tittoni said that he favoured the suggestion made by M. Cambon that the agreement be made additional to the Treaty.

M. Clemenceau said that he would prefer that nothing should be said in the Treaty.

Mr. Polk suggested that the proposal be referred to the International Labour Congress2 in Washington.

(It was then decided that no mention be made in the Treaty with Austria of the rights and privileges of Allied workpeople admitted to enemy territories and vice versa, but that the resolution passed by the Labour Committee on June 4th, 1919, (Appendix B to H. D. 41) [Page 4] should be referred to the International Labour Congress in Washington.)

3. M. Clemenceau said that the Council had previously decided that German Labour Delegates should be admitted to the next meeting of the International Labour Congress,3 after that to be held in Washington. The same principle should presumably apply to the Austrians. The labour organisations in various Allied and Neutral countries, notably in France, were, however, asking that the German labour delegates be admitted at once. His proposal was that the question of their admission or non-admission be left to the discretion of the Congress itself. Admission of Austrian and German Labour Delegates to International Labour Congress in Washington

Mr. Balfour said that he understood the proposal to be that the International Labour Congress should meet according to the constitution at present laid down for it, and that it should then decide whether or not German and Austrian delegates should be heard.

M. Clemenceau said that was his intention.

M. Tittoni said that the Italian C. G. T.4 declared it would not send representatives to Washington and would not recognise the International Labour Congress or its decisions unless the German delegates were admitted. No International Labour legislation could be enforced in Italy against the will of Italian labour. He believed the same conditions existed in France.

M. Clemenceau said that he was not intimidated by threats. The French Labour Party had spoken to him very much in the same manner, but he thought his proposal was sufficient to meet the situation.

Mr. Balfour said that M. Clemenceau’s proposal appeared to him to be very reasonable, though it was a modification of a previous decision. As he had no expert on labour matters whom he could consult, he would like to postpone giving his assent until he had had time to obtain the views of the British Minister specially concerned with this subject. In referring the matter to him, he would express his personal agreement with M. Clemenceau’s views.

Mr. Polk said that he was in a similar situation to Mr. Balfour and would take up the matter with his Government.

M. Tittoni said that there was one practical difficulty in M. Clemenceau’s scheme. Should the Congress decide to give a hearing to the Germans and Austrians, they would require a month to get to Washington.

M. Clemenceau said that he had been assured that the Germans and Austrians would go to Washington in expectation of a favourable decision, should the Council adopt the proposal he had made.

[Page 5]

(It was decided to postpone the decision on the question of the admission of German and Austrian Labour Delegates to the International Labour Congress at Washington, until Mr. Balfour and Mr. Polk had consulted their respective Governments.)

4. M. Clemenceau said that he had received a disquieting telegram from Colonel Haskell, the Allied High Commissioner in Armenia. (The telegram contained in Appendix “A” was then read.) He added that he had ordered a note to be circulated to his colleagues to the effect that he was ready to send 12,000 men to Cilicia. This force would be able to occupy the points mentioned by Colonel Haskell. It would be necessary to utilise the Bagdad railway as a means of supplying this force. (The note contained in Appendix “B” was then read.) Situation in Armenia

Mr. Polk asked whether the army referred to by Colonel Haskell was not one that was accessible from the Black Sea.

M. Berthelot said that it was also accessible from Cilicia, as the roads were good and suitable for motor lorries. It would be possible, he considered, to send supplies into Armenia from Mersina and Alexandretta. An agreement for the use of the railway would, however, be necessary.

Mr. Balfour asked whether this had been studied by the French General Staff.

M. Clemenceau said that the note was a result of a study by the Staff.

(It was decided to postpone the consideration of the Note contained in Appendix “B” till the following day.)

(It was decided to postpone the consideration of the new English draft covering letter until the following day, and in to connection with it, to discuss the question whether or not Austria was a New State.) Covering Letter to Reply to Austrian Delegation

6. M. Berthelot said that Article 61 of the new German Constitution was to the following effect: Article No. 61 of the New German Constitution. (Reference HD–41, Minute 3)5

“Each land has at least one vote in the Reichsrat. In the case of the greater lands, one vote is assigned to a million inhabitants. An excess which is at least equal to the population of the smallest land is reckoned as a complete million, No land can be represented by more than two-fifths of the total votes.

German Austria, after its junction with the German Reich, receives the right of participation in the Reichsrat with the number of votes corresponding to its population. Till then, the representatives of German Austria have a consultative Voice.

[Page 6]

The number of votes is fixed anew by the Reichsrat after each general census.”

Article 61 appeared to be out of harmony with Article 80 of the Treaty of Peace. The American Delegation, however, questioned whether Article 178 of the new German Constitution did not dispel the apparent contradiction. Article 178 was to the effect that no provision in the Constitution could be held to modify the Treaty of Peace signed at Versailles. The question had been submitted to the legal advisers, who thought that Article 178 rendered Article 61, in so far as it conflicted with the stipulations of the Treaty, null and void. This appeared to furnish an additional reason for asking the German Government to cancel Article 61. The Council should therefore decide whether, and in what form, the protest should be made to the German Government. It should also decide whether M. Tardieu’s proposal should be carried out, namely, to insert a counter-part of Article 80 in the Treaty with Austria.

Mr. Balfour said that he understood the question raised by Article 61 of the new German Constitution had been referred to the Drafting Committee, and that agreement had not yet been reached within the Committee. He thought, therefore, that it would be better to await its recommendations. He thought that the first of the problems alluded to by M. Berthelot was the more important. He did not think it mattered much whether anything was inserted in the Treaty with Austria.

(It was decided to postpone the question raised by Article 61 of the new German Constitution to the following day, in order to obtain the views of the Drafting Committee.)

7. M. Tittoni said that he understood the Drafting Committee wanted confirmation of the decision taken by the Council on August 27th (H. D. 40, para. 3),6 regarding the plans for the Col de Reschen and Pas de Predil Railway. Col de Reschen and Pas de Predil Railway

M. Fromageot (who entered the room at this moment with the members of the Drafting Committee), said the only question in doubt was whether the draft contained in Appendix “B” to H. D. 407 had been accepted by the Council.

(It was decided to accept the draft contained in Appendix “B” to H. D. 40.)

8. M. Berthelot explained that the people of Vorarlberg had expressed a desire to join the Swiss Federation. The Austrian Delegation as might have been expected, had protested. The Swiss Federal Council, meanwhile, had not adopted [Page 7] any resolution in favour of union with Vorarlberg. The Federal Council hesitated because the inclusion of this district would upset the present balance of power between the German and French cantons. The Conference, therefore, had before it only an appeal from the Vorarlberg. It could take no decision until it had before it a proposal from the Swiss Government. The Question of Vorarlberg

Mr. Balfour said he quite agreed that this was a matter that could not be settled without the Swiss. The only question left to the Council was to know whether the door should be left open for the Swiss to invite Vorarlberg to join them. He thought it might be better to leave the whole question alone.

M. Berthelot said that the following was the proposal of the Central Territorial Committee for insertion in the Treaty.

“23 aout, 1919.

En présence des manifestations des habitants du Vorarlberg en faveur d’un rattachement de leur territoire à la Suisse, la République d’Autriche, au cas où la Suisse elle-même, déclarerait formellement qu’elle accepte un tel rattachement, s’engage à reconnaître la décision du Conseil de la Société des Nations devant qui le cas devrait être porté.”8

Mr. Balfour asked whether the petition received from the Vorarlberg represented the majority of the population.

M. Laroche said that two unofficial plebiscites had been held, and they yielded the result of 4 to 1 in favour of union with Switzerland. The second had been even more decisive than the first.

M. Tittoni said that he would suggest reference to a regular plebiscite.

M. Clemenceau said that he would prefer to take no action. The matter had not been brought officially to the cognisance of the Conference. There was in Switzerland a balance of power between the German and French elements. The Swiss Government was satisfactory from an international point of view. It might cease to be so if its German population were increased.

M. Laroche observed that it was for this reason that the Committee recommended that a formal declaration by Switzerland should be obtained.

M. Clemenceau observed that so far Switzerland had asked for nothing.

Mr. Balfour said that he was also in favour of not adding to the German majority in Switzerland.

[Page 8]

M. Pichon observed that the problem was complicated by a financial question. Switzerland would only accept Vorarlberg if the area were relieved of its share of the Austrian debt. The hope of escape from this burden was one of the determining motives in the result of the plebiscites.

M. Tardieu said that there was also a political reason against inserting anything in the Treaty regarding Vorarlberg. The Conference was attempting to meet the Austrians as far as possible. The Austrian Delegation would be greatly offended at any Article tending to deprive it of Vorarlberg. The Conference had received expressions of opinion from Dutch Limburg in favour of union with Belgium. No notice had been taken. He thought the question should be left for the League of Nations to consider at a later date.

(It was decided that no action need be taken on the subject of the union of Vorarlberg with Switzerland.)

9. M. Clemenceau said that the conclusions of the report had been accepted by the Council (H. D. 39, Para. 2).9 He observed that he had taken action and fulfilled his part of the undertaking. He had given orders that the French troops in Fiume should be replaced by others. As to the suppression of the French base, this could not be undertaken immediately, as the base must be maintained while there were French troops. In the meantime, however, there had been a recrudescence of unpleasant incidents. He thought it was necessary that General Grazioli should be recalled forthwith, and that Italy should take as prompt action as he had taken himself, otherwise further bloodshed would occur, as threatening posters were appearing in Fiume, directed against both the French and the British. Report of Inter-Allied Commission on the Incidents it Fiume

M. Tittoni undertook to act and to fulfil all the undertakings of the Italian Government.

M. Clemenceau said that he took note of this declaration.

10. M. Seydoux explained that the Note10 prepared by the Eastern Blockade Committee for the Council, and considered by the latter on the 23rd August (H. D. 37. Minute 6)11 had been reconsidered in order to meet the views of the American Delegation. Certain modifications had been made, but the Blockade Committee thought it absolutely necessary to maintain a sentence to the effect that any action taken by a warship of an Allied or Associated Power should be understood to be taken in the name of all the Allied and Associated Powers. Without such a stipulation, it would be impossible for the ships in the Baltic to take any action at all. Blockade of soviet Russia

[Page 9]

Mr. Polk observed that there appeared to be no amendment in that case of the previous provisional decision. What was proposed was equivalent to a blockade.

M. Seydoux said that it was not blockade, because merchant shipping could not be captured, but could only be turned back.

Mr. Polk said he regretted that he could not agree. The phrase M. Seydoux attached such importance to represented a blockade. The American Government had always held very strong views on this subject. He thought, however, that some compromise might be possible. According to M. Seydoux, a neutral ship, attempting to trade with Bolshevik Russia, could not be captured, but could be turned back. Should the neutral ship refuse to turn back and should its papers be in order, Allied ships would not be entitled to take any action at all. What he suggested was,

“that vessels of the Allied and Associated Powers should, in the name of those Powers as a whole, be authorised to prevent any vessel not provided with legal clearance for a Bolshevist Russian port, or any vessels whose papers are falsified, from proceeding to a Bolshevist destination.”

Mr. Balfour asked what the United States Government would do if an American trader asked for clearance papers for a cargo to Petrograd.

Mr. Polk said that the United States Government would refuse clearance.

Mr. Balfour said the British Government would do the same.

Mr. Polk pointed out that stopping a neutral ship at sea if it carried regular papers, was nothing less than blockade.

Mr. Balfour said that the United States Government made a distinction between fighting Russia and being at war with Russia.

Mr. Polk observed that the British Government made the same distinction.

Mr. Balfour said that according to International lawyers, it was impossible to be at war with any Government unless that Government were recognised. He did not, himself, attach much value to the opinion of international lawyers.

M. Seydoux said that it was known that several Swedish ships were ready to sail with cargoes for Petrograd. If the American proposal were adopted, the Allied Navies would not be able to intercept them.

Mr. Polk asked how the Navies could stop them at present.

M. Seydoux said that hitherto no such shipments had gone to Petrograd. He suggested that the British Admiralty Notice No. 1298 of the 18th July, warning shipping against entering the zone in which [Page 10] operations were taking place, should be re-affirmed in the “Journal Officiel” of the various Allied Governments.

Mr. Polk said that he would try and find some formula to which the American Government could consent.

(The question was then adjourned.)

11. Mr. Polk asked whether Treaties with the new States were to be between the New State on the one hand, and all the Allied and Associated Powers on the other, or between the New State on the one hand, and the Five Principal Allied and Associated Powers on the other. Treaties with New States

(It was decided that the Treaties with the New States should be between the New State on the one hand, and the Five Principal Allied and Associated Powers on the other.)

(The Meeting then adjourned.)

Appendix A to HD–42

[Telegram From the Allied High Commissioner to Armenia (Haskell) to the President of the Peace Conference (Clemenceau)]

I have personally investigated conditions in Armenia and find the horrible situation beyond description. Relief can and will reach the destitute in time to prevent starvation providing you support me with troops. Cavalry most suitable if available. The equivalent of an American reinforced infantry brigade will save situation in Russian Armenia. Tartars attacking on east and south with Tartar uprisings increasing daily throughout interior. Arrival of even one regiment might decide fate of our Armenian allies who may be exterminated at any time unless troops are rushed. British now leaving Caucasus and have already refused even temporarily to use any of their troops in Armenia stating that orders from above forbid their stationing of any British troops in Armenian territory. If British policy forbids protection of Armenians indicated by above conditions, this must be changed or other troops must be found and their arrival expedited. British troops now here are principally Indian. Please acknowledge receipt this telegram.

W. M. N. Haskell
, Col., G. S., U.S.A.
Allied High Commissioner to Armenia.
[Page 11]

Appendix B to HD–42

french delegation

Protection of the Armenians

In pursuance of the decision of the Conference of August 25,13 the possibility of sending a small expeditionary contingent for the protection of the Armenians has been examined by the French Government, and the following conclusions have been reached:

(1) The French Government recognizes the possibility of constituting an expeditionary force of some 12,000 men of all arms, to be taken for the most part from the army of General Franchet d’Esperey, upon completion of the reconstitution of that army, that is, after September 10.

The operation would be carried out by taking as point of debarkation the ports of Cilicia, where two French bases would be created (at Mersina and Alexandretta).

In order to gain time, however, it would be necessary to reserve the maritime route for the transport of troops; material and horses would be transported by rail through Haidar-Pasha, Konia, Adana; an understanding to that effect would be concluded with the railway company for control of the transportation.

(2) The occupying force would ensure its own food supply first by the railways from Mersina and Alexandretta, and beyond these by means of motor trucks for which the good state of the roads in Armenia permit a wide use.

The supply of the bases could be assured out of our own resources as for the French troops in the Levant, provided the English continue to assure us a supply of refrigerated meat.

(3) To recapitulate, the operation contemplated is possible after September 10 without serious difficulties, on condition that an understanding be reached regarding transport and supply.

  1. Vol. vii, pp. 960, 963.
  2. Officially known as the International Labor Conference.
  3. CF–16, minute 4, vol. v, p. 681.
  4. Confédération générale du travail.
  5. Vol. vii, p. 957.
  6. Vol. vii, p. 945.
  7. Ibid., p. 951.
  8. “August 23, 1919. In view of the manifestations of the inhabitants of Vorarlberg in favor of the union of their territory to Switzerland, the Republic of Austria, in case Switzerland should formally declare that she accepts such a union, undertakes to recognize the decision of the Council of the League of Nations to which the case should be presented.” [Translation by the editors.]
  9. Vol. vii, p. 929.
  10. Appendix D to HD–37, ibid., p. 823.
  11. Ibid., p. 817.
  12. Translation from the French supplied by the editors.
  13. HD–38, minute 5, vol. vii, p. 839.