Paris Peace Conf. 180.03501/52 HD–52
Notes of a Meeting of the Heads of Delegations of the Fire Great Powers Held in M. Pichon’s Room at the Quai d’Orsay, Paris, on Thursday, September 11, 1919, at 11 a.m.
America, United States of
- Hon. F. L. Polk.
- Mr. L. Harrison.
- Rt. Hon. A. J. Balfour.
- Mr. H. Norman.
- Mr. P. Kerr.
- M. Clemenceau.
- M. Pichon.
- M. Dutasta.
- M. Berthelot.
- M. de St. Quentin.
- M. Scialoja.
- M. Paterno.
- M. Barone Russo.
- M. Matsui.
- M. Kawai.
- America, United States of
|America, United States of||Mr. C. Russell.|
|British Empire||Capt. E. Abraham.|
|France||Capt. A. Portier.|
The following were also present for the items in which they were concerned:
America, United States of
- Dr. Scott.
- Mr. Gibson.
- Mr. A. Dulles.
- Rt. Hon. G. N. Barnes.
- Mr. C. J. B. Hurst.
- Colonel Kisch.
- Mr. Hodgson.
- M. J. Cambon.
- M. Colliard.
- M. Fromageot.
- M. Laroche.
- M. Ricci-Busatti.
- M. Stranieri.
- M. Brambilla.
- M. di Palma.
1. Mr. Balfour said that he wished to draw the attention of the Council to an urgent matter. He did not suggest the matter should be discussed immediately, nor did he wish himself make any statement on the subject. He wished to hand in a document which he had himself received on the previous day from General Seely.1 This document gave an alarming account of the development of aircraft industry in Germany. Internal civil aviation was being developed on an immense scale and German companies were buying up old army aeroplanes. The first difficulty which arose in this connection was whether those aeroplanes belonged to the Allies or to the purchasing companies. There was the additional risk that under the guise of civil aviation Germany was merely creating a strong offensive force, more especially as civil aviation was being heavily subsidised by the Government. He suggested that the French General Staff should study this matter and in the hope that this would be done, he begged to hand the document to the Chairman. (Appendix “A”.) It was also worth noticing that German aircraft industry had already obtained a footing in neutral markets and it was certain that the foundation of German air power was the development of the aircraft industry. It appeared that the best military brains of Germany were being employed in the construction of aeroplanes. Aircraft industry in Germany
M. Clemenceau said that he would have the matter examined by the French General Staff.
(It was agreed that the question of aircraft construction in Germany should be reported on by Allied experts, and again brought up before the Council.)
2. (The Members of the Drafting Committee entered the room.)
Mr. Hurst read the draft contained as Appendix “B”.
M. Clemenceau said that he had one observation Reply to Note of to make. In the proposals made on the previous day, it had been suggested that the German Government should be given 15 days to obtain from the Legislative Assembly a repudiation of the Articles infringing the conditions of the Treaty. He did not lay any particular stress on the period of 15 days, but he thought some fixed period should be laid down. If the German Delegation protested that the period allowed them as too short, and asked for an extension, he would agree to it, but he did not think it proper to leave it to them to estimate the period themselves. Reply to Note of German Delegation Relating to Article 61 of the German Constitution
Mr. Hurst asked whether M. Clemenceau referred to a period for the signature of the instrument itself.[Page 184]
M. Clemenceau said that he referred to the ratification of the instrument by the German National Assembly.
Mr. Balfour observed that the German Government was asked to undertake and present the instrument to the Assembly at its next Meeting.
M. Clemenceau said that he would prefer, instead of the words “when it next assembles”, to say “within 15 days after the coming into force of the Treaty”, that was to say, upon ratification by three of the Great Powers.
Mr. Polk asked how soon the German Delegation was to sign the proposed declaration.
(It was decided to introduce into the text, the word “forthwith” in this connection.)
M. Clemenceau observed that the German Delegation must have time, if they required it, to telegraph to Berlin. He also informed his colleagues of a telegram received that morning to the effect that the National Assembly was being summoned at Weimar to reconsider the provisions of the Constitution complained of. This was not official news, but informal information he had received.
(After a few slight verbal alterations, the draft reply and declaration as contained in Appendix “B”, were accepted.)
3. (The Members of the Commissions on Polish and Czecho-Slovak Affairs entered the Room.)
M. Cambon said that in accordance with the directions of the Council on the previous day, the two Commissions had met in the afternoon. The majority maintained their original opinions. He then read and explained the report of the Meeting contained in Appendix “C”. Question of Teschen
Mr. Balfour said that he feared the result of the plebiscite in Teschen would be to deprive Czecho-Slovakia not of 40% of the coal, but of 100%. The territory was Polish and the Commission had attributed it to Czecho-Slovakia, because of the railway running through it connecting Bohemia and Slovakia. This railway would almost certainly become Polish property. Surely this was far more contrary to the interest of the Czecho-Slovaks than anything the Commission had proposed. Nevertheless, as M. Benes appeared to accept a plebiscite, it must be assumed that he knew his own business best.
M. Cambon said that neither M. Benes nor M. Dmowski could be brought to accept either of the lines suggested in the Commission. Both, however, agreed to accept the plebiscite.
M. Scialoja said that it was impossible for the Council to refuse the plebiscite if both claimants agreed to it.[Page 185]
(It was then agreed that a plebiscite should be held in the Duchy of Teschen and in the districts of Spisz and Orava in accordance with the proposals of the Joint Commissions (Appendix “C”) The detailed organization of this plebiscite was referred for examination and report to the Joint Commission.)
4. (At this point, the members of the Labour Commission entered the room.)
M. Clemenceau said that, on the previous day, he had come to an agreement with Mr. Barnes. It had been agreed that the Congress should be left free to invite the attendance of the German and Austrian Delegates or not. As it was practically a foregone conclusion that the Congress would invite them to attend, the French Government would facilitate the granting of passports in anticipation to the Germans or Austrians, who might be delegated to go to Washington. Admission of German & Austrian Delegates to the Labour Congress at Washington
Mr. Barnes said that he had received information that President Wilson was willing to invite the German and Austrian Delegates to Washington.
Mr. Polk said that this was not quite correct. The President said that he was willing that the Labour Congress should decide whether or not the German and Austrian Delegates should be admitted. He, himself, as Head of the American Delegation, had undertaken that no passport difficulties would be made on the American side, to prevent the Germans and Austrians from going to Washington, in the hope of being admitted to the Labour Congress.
Mr. Barnes said that he was not sure that these arrangements would be satisfactory to the Germans and Austrians.
M. Clemenceau said that they should take what was being done as a sign of goodwill. He was himself making a step in the direction of conciliation, since, in the Council of Four, he had decided adversely.2 Now that Peace was signed, he was ready to yield to some extent. He had been assured by the French Labour Representatives that they would be satisfied with the very thing he was now offering.
M. Scialoja said that Italian labour opinion required an implicit invitation to the Germans and Austrians. Otherwise, Italian working men would not attend the Congress. There were two distinct questions involved. The first was admission to the Congress and the second was admission to the International Organisation of Labour. As to the second, it must be left to the Congress to decide and each State could give its representatives instructions. The first, however, which involved the right to be heard in the Congress, could only be decided by the Council.[Page 186]
M. Clemenceau said that nothing would ever prevail upon him to extend an invitation on behalf of the Council to German and Austrian Delegates to attend the Labour Congress. He would not submit to pressure from Italian socialism, which had been consistently against the war and pro-German.
Mr. Barnes observed that the Council had already decided that Germany would be admitted to the second meeting of the Labour Congress. Consequently, Germany would, ipso facto, be let into the International Labour Organisation.
M. Clemenceau said that that was no doubt the case. What he refused to do was to invite them, in the name of the Council, to attend the Congress at Washington. He was prepared to leave the question to the Congress.
Mr. Balfour said that he was of the same opinion, but he would ask Mr. Barnes whether the abstention of the Italian Socialists would have any effect on Labour Organisations in other countries.
Mr. Barnes said that it would have a certain effect. He had tried to anticipate it by telling British Labour Organisations that the admission of the Germans and Austrians depended upon the representation of Labour and Socialism in the Congress. This would be an inducement to Labour and Socialist representatives to attend the Congress.
Mr. Polk said that he did not think the question was one the Council should decide.
M. Scialoja said that he was not a defender of the Socialists. There were in Italy, as in other countries, moderate and extreme Socialists. The Italian Government wished to support the former rather than the latter. He thought that public opinion should be made to feel that the Council was not opposing moderate demands.
M. Clemenceau said that the Congress would almost certainly invite the Germans and Austrians to attend, and he would himself state in the Chamber of Deputies that the decision taken was taken in a conciliatory spirit.
(It was decided that the question of the admission of German and Austrian Delegates to the forthcoming Labour Congress at Washington should be left to the decision of that Congress. In the meantime, the Allied and Associated Governments would put no obstacles in the way of German or Austrian Delegates desirous of proceeding to Washington, in anticipation of a decision in their favour.)
5. Mr. Barnes said that confirmation by the Council was asked for a resolution passed by the Labour Committee on the 4th June, 1919, [Page 187] (See Appendix “B”, to H. D. 413). In spite of a Rights & decision taken some two or three months earlier, the principle embodied in this resolution had not found a place in the Treaty with Austria. The Italian Delegation had therefore suggested that a resolution be adopted by the Labour Commission. The resolution had been taken and it was hoped that the Council would endorse it. Rights & Privileges of Allied workpeople Admitted to Enemy Territories and Vica Versa
Mr. Polk said that, as the proposal involved questions of law, he was not prepared to state off-hand the attitude of the American Delegation.
M. Clemenceau said that German workmen at present engaged to work on the devastated districts of France, brought with them their own rights and privileges.
Mr. Balfour asked whether foreign workmen going to England were also to have their own rights.
Mr. Barnes said that the case did not arise in England, as a foreign workman was granted British rights even to the extent, after a certain period, of receiving a share in the National Health and Unemployment Insurances and Old Age Pensions.
Mr. Polk said that he could not, for the time being, express an opinion, but he had no objection to the principle.
Mr. Barnes observed that it was only the principle of reciprocity that was involved. It did not become binding on any given State, unless that State made individual agreements with another State.
M. Clemenceau said that he was ready to vote the resolution.
(Subject to an announcement, at a future date, of the views of the American Delegation, the resolution passed by the Labour Committee on June 4th (See Appendix “B”, H. D. 41,) was accepted as a general principle of the Conference.)
6. M. Dutasta said that the Drafting Committee requested instructions as to the language in which the Air Convention should be drafted. Should it be, like previous Conventions, in French, English and Italian, the French text prevailing in case of divergence, or in French and English, each having equal authority, as in the case of the Conventions signed at Versailles? Language of Air Convention
M. Scialoja said that, as the Convention was very important for Italy, he desired an Italian text.
(After some discussion, it was decided that the Air Convention should be drawn up in English, French and Italian, the text in the two former languages having equal authority.)[Page 188]
7. After some discussion, it was agreed:—
That the Bulgarian Delegation should be invited to receive the Treaty in the Salle de L’Horloge, at the Quai d’Orsay, and that the Greek and Roumanian observations just received should be discussed at the next meeting of the Council. Presentation of the Treaty to the Bulgarian Delegation
8. M. Clemenceau said that he had received a letter from M. Pachitch (Appendix “D”) stating that as the Government had resigned, the Delegation was bound to wait or authority before signing the Treaty of Peace with the Austrian Republic. Signature of the Austrian Treaty by Representatives of the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes
9. Mr. Polk drew attention to a telegram received from Budapest (see Appendix “E”).
M. Clemenceau said that he was not at all disposed to offer the Hungarian Government financial credits, nor was he prepared to see the Government of the country handed over to the Allied Generals at Budapest. He agreed, however, that it was desirable to send the Mission instructions. Instructions to Inter-Allied Mission at Budapest
It was decided that the question of sending further instructions to the Inter-Allied Mission at Budapest should be placed on the Agenda.
Mr. Polk observed that Roumanians were under the impression that the United States alone, among the Allied and Associated Powers, raised objections against their conduct in Hungary. This impression had not been set right by Allied representatives on the spot. It was desirable that the Roumanian Government should be informed that the Council had acted only upon information received from the Inter-Allied representatives.
M. Pichon observed that as M. Clemenceau signed all the telegrams sent in the name of the Council, France was incurring a great deal of unpopularity in Bucharest, where it was supposed that France was particularly antagonistic to Roumanian ambitions. It had therefore been pointed out to the Roumanian Government that these telegrams emanated from the Council of the Five Principal Allied and Associated Powers and not from M. Clemenceau as French Prime Minister.
Mr. Polk said that he thought it was the people on the spot who had created the impression that America alone was responsible for Roumanian troubles.
The Meeting then adjourned.
- Maj. Gen. J. E. B. Seely, British Under Secretary of State for the Royal Air Force.↩
- CF–16, minute 14, vol. v, p. 681.↩
- Vol. vii, p. 963.↩
- President of the Inter-Allied Aeronautical Commission of Control.↩
- Appendix A to HD–45, p. 62.↩
- Appendix B to HD–49, p. 138.↩
- The English text filed under Paris Peace Conf. 181.213302/5 has been substituted for the French text which accompanies the minutes as annex C to HD–52.↩
- HD–51, minute 3, p. 174.↩
- Appendix C to HD–46, p. 87.↩
- Translation from the French supplied by the editors.↩