Paris Peace Conf. 180.03501/53
Notes of a Meeting of the Heads of Delegations of the Five Great Powers Held in M. Clemenceau’s Room at the War Office, Paris, on Monday, 15 September, 1919, at 10:30 a.m.
- United States of America
- Hon. F. L. Polk.
- Mr. L. Harrison.
- British Empire
- Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd George, O. M. M. P.
- Sir. M. Hankey, G. C. B.
- M. Clemenceau.
- M. de St-Quentin.
- M. Tittoni.
- M. Paterno
- M. Matsui.
- M. Kawai.
- United States of America
The following were also present for the items in which they were concerned:—
- M. Tardieu.
- Marshal Foch.
- General Weygand.
1. M. Clemenceau said he had received information that the Emir Feisal was due to arrive at Marseilles on the 16th instant, and he had given strict injunctions that the Emir Feisal was to be taken straight through to London. The French Officer who was attached to him would leave him at Calais. Emir Feisal’s Journey
Mr. Lloyd George asked if M. Clemenceau would not like to see the Emir Feisal on his way through Paris?
M. Clemenceau said he had understood that Mr. Lloyd George wished to see the Emir Feisal at once without his staying in Paris en route, and that was why he had given instructions.
Mr. Lloyd George said that there had been some misunderstanding. He had only asked M. Clemenceau to expedite the Emir Feisal’s journey because he had heard that there was a strike at Marseilles which might delay him. He had not the smallest objection to his staying in Paris on his way, and he would be very glad if the Emir saw M. Clemenceau. He said that he, himself, had received a telegram from Port Said to the effect that the Emir Feisal had sailed [Page 201] on Saturday, and that it was believed he had gone to Malta in H. M. S. Speedy, but he was not certain as to whether it was the Speedy or a French ship.
M. Clemenceau stated that he had no information in this regard and added that in accordance with the orders already issued, Emir Feisal would proceed to Calais. M. Clemenceau then drew attention to the Agenda which had been circulated.
2. M. Clemenceau said that the first question on the Agenda was the Conditions of Peace with Bulgaria. This, however, could not be dealt with until M. Tardieu was present.
(A message was sent to M. Tardieu, asking him to attend.) Conditions of Peace with Bulgaria
3. (The Conference had before them a telegram from the Inter-Allied Military Mission at Budapest, referring to the interference they were meeting with from the Roumanian Authorities, insisting on the embarrassing situation in which they were placed, and asking tor instructions as to what action they were to take (Appendix “A”).) Demand for instructions From the Inter-Allied Military Mission at Budapest
This was read by the Interpreter in English.
M. Clemenceau said that if his recollection was correct, the four Generals had been sent to Budapest in order to find out what was going on there. They had nothing to do with the form of Government in Hungary. They had received written instructions,1 and this was a matter which could be easily ascertained. So far as he could remember, however, the questions now raised by the Generals had no relation to their original instructions, and he thought they called for no answer.
Mr. Lloyd George asked how it was possible to deal with the Roumanians until a despatch was received from Sir George Clerk, who had been sent to Bucharest. He himself was inclined to suspect the Roumanians of delaying Sir George Clerk’s telegrams.
M. Clemenceau said that the only information he had received about Sir George Clerk was that he would like to get back home. He understood, however, that the Roumanians were taking matters into their own hands in Hungary.
Mr. Lloyd George said that according to the information he had received that morning, the Roumanians were looting the telephone receivers out of private houses. The Mission had actually seized 4,000 private telephone receivers.
Mr. Polk said he had received a telegram to the effect that the Hungarians apprehended that the intention of the Roumanians was to leave Hungary suddenly in order to create such a situation as would [Page 202] necessitate a speedy return. They had sent a detachment to guard the Depot of Stores left behind by Mackensen. The American General at Budapest reported that his personal relations with the Roumanian authorities had improved.
M. Clemenceau said he did not see how the Allies could send a reply to the Commission’s telegram.
Mr. Lloyd George said they could not send a reply till they received Sir George Clerk’s report.
Mr. Polk suggested that the question as to what could be done for the provision of some forces for the maintenance of order in Hungary should be referred to the Military Representatives at Versailles, in order, if the Roumanians withdrew, to prevent the re-establishment of Bolshevism in Hungary.
Mr. Lloyd George said it was not the concern of the Allies what action was taken in Hungary to prevent Bolshevism. That was the task of the Hungarians themselves. Each nation ought to deal with its own problem in this respect.
Mr. Polk said that the Allies had a certain responsibility in the matter. The Hungarians had not been permitted to form a gendarmerie, hence, if the Roumanians withdrew in a spirit of spite, the Allies could not divest themselves of all responsibility for what happened in Hungary. If not Versailles, someone else ought to consider this problem.
M. Tittoni said that he did not think the Allies ought to interfere in the internal affairs of Hungary, but they had an interest in securing a stable government. He suggested the desirability that the Allied Mission of Generals, who appeared to be popular in Hungary, without undue interference, should exercise their moral influence to assist in the formation of a coalition government and of a local gendarmerie.
Mr. Lloyd George at this point intervened to say that he was only in Paris for one day. He had not had an opportunity to study the questions on the Agenda paper, and did not feel competent to deal with them. Mr. Balfour had left behind him people who were competent to discuss these matters, for example, Sir Eyre Crowe. He thought that the Agenda should be left for these persons to clear up. He himself could render little assistance in these questions. On the other hand, there were two or three matters which he desired to discuss. He would be very grateful if his colleagues would agree to postpone the Agenda, and to discuss certain questions that he wished to raise. As a matter of personal convenience, he asked them to do this.
M. Clemenceau asked if there was any objection.
Mr. Polk said that he would like to be in a position to hand the Bulgarians their Treaty to-morrow.[Page 203]
M. Clemenceau said it would be desirable to do this, but that the rest of the Agenda might be postponed.
4. Mr. Lloyd George said that the first question he wished to raise was that of the future of the Conference. It was impossible for the Conference to continue in perpetuity governing Europe. The British Government had a special difficulty in the matter. Mr. Balfour could not remain any longer. Lord Milner would shortly be going to Egypt. Lord Curzon was incessantly engaged at the British Foreign Office, where there was a great deal to do, and Mr. Bonar Law had the House of Commons to look after. He could not find any Minister whom he could spare, who would be able to speak the mind of the British Government on questions of policy. There were one or two large questions which the Conference ought to clear up. After that, they would only have to deal with the Treaty with Turkey. He feared that this could not be settled finally for some months. At present the Conference was held up in the matter until President Wilson was able to declare the position of America in regard to Mandates. Until he did so, what useful purpose could be served by discussing the Treaty with Turkey? He did not know when we should be in a position to discuss it, but, in his view, it might not be until the end of November. Future of the Conference
Mr. Polk interjected that he thought the American position would be cleared up by the end of October. A Resolution had already been tabled in Congress in regard to the Armenian Mandate.
(At this point M. Tardieu entered, and explained that the Commission over which he presided was not yet quite ready to discuss questions raised by the Greek and Roumanian Delegations in regard to the Conditions of Peace with Bulgaria.
Consequently, M. Clemenceau decided that the whole of the Agenda should be remitted until the following day.
M. Tardieu withdrew.
The discussion on the future of the Conference was then continued.)
Mr. Lloyd George said he thought that Mr. Polk was rather sanguine. President Wilson had hoped that he would be able to announce the American position on Mandates in August or September. He felt, therefore, that the Conference could not found its procedure on the assumption that the American position in regard to Turkish mandates would be cleared by October. In any case the Conference have to be reconstituted in November or later for the consideration of the Turkish Treaty. He did not think the Conference could be kept in continuous session until then. (a) Turkey[Page 204]
Secondly, what was now important was to make provisional arrangements as regards the garrisons to be maintained in Turkey, and he would refer to this question later.
In addition, there was the question of Russia. In regard to this, he had two questions to raise. The first was as to whether M. Paderewski should be encouraged in the project he had formed for sending 500,000 men to Moscow. He himself had spent two hours with M. Paderewski on the previous day. M. Paderewski’s attitude had been perfectly reasonable. He had said that if the Allied and Associated Powers wished the Poles to advance on Moscow, he was prepared to do it. The cost, however, would amount to Marks 30,000,000. a day. Later, he had said he could do it for £600,000 sterling a day, but this would really mean £1,000,000 sterling a day. Who would be willing to pay this? In addition to the sum required for maintaining the Poles, Denikin had another 500,000 men. Would these also have to be paid for, and if so, by whom? (b) Russia
The second question in regard to Russia arose in connection with the Baltic Provinces. As far as he could gather, Esthonia wanted independence, and did not much mind about Bolshevism. Apparently, they were at present contemplating discussing peace with the Bolshevists. As regards Latvia and Lithuania, however, the Germans had been ordered by the Allies to quit, and had not moved. One set of people said that the Germans were a great force with which to meet Bolshevism. M. Paderewski, however, had said that to utilise the Germans was playing with fire. If Germans were employed, they would assuredly get hold of Russia. He himself did not feel sure that the Allied representatives in the Baltic Provinces, who included a British General, were sufficiently alive to the danger of using the Germans against the Bolshevists. Hence, two problems arose:—
- Were any further steps to be taken for supplying arms and money to the anti-Bolshevist forces in Russia, and
- Were the Allies to use the Germans against the Bolshevists?
In regard to the second point, if the Allies were not prepared to use the Germans, they ought to tell them to clear out. M. Paderewski’s information was that the Germans had hundreds of thousands of men in the Baltic Provinces. They were constantly sending them officers and N. C. O’s. M. Paderewski also said that the German War Office was equipping those troops. His (Mr. Lloyd George’s) view was that the Germans ought to be cleared out.
M. Clemenceau interjected that he was in full agreement.
Mr. Lloyd George continuing, said that he was anti-Bolshevist, but he did not want it to be the Germans who cleared the Bolshevists [Page 205] out. He also said that the Germans were giving land to German soldiers in the Baltic provinces and attracting volunteers there in large numbers by these means. Hence, he would ask the Conference to decide that the Germans should be cleared out of the Baltic provinces. He believed they had a right to do so.
M. Clemenceau said that they had not the right until the Treaty was signed.
Mr. Lloyd George said they had a right under the Armistice.
M. Clemenceau said that this could easily be ascertained.
Mr. Lloyd George said that another question that the Conference ought to clear up was the situation in the Adriatic. (c) Adriatic
M. Clemenceau said that he and M. Tittoni were quite ready to discuss this, and would have a proposal to make. (d) League of Nations
Mr. Lloyd George said yet another question was the first meeting of the League of Nations.
Finally he wished to raise the question of the trial of the ex-Kaiser and of the German Officers, for he felt that the Allies ought to be in a position to take action immediately the Treaty was ratified. (e) Trial of ex-Kaiser and Officers
5. Mr. Lloyd George said that as regards Turkey it was impossible at the present moment to discuss the question of mandates. All that could be discussed usefully was the arrangements for the military occupation of the various spheres. He had discussed this matter with M. Clemenceau on Saturday, September 13th, and had handed to him an Aide Memoire, which he would now place before the Conference. (Appendix “B”.) Syria and Cilicia
(The Aide Memoire was handed round.)
Mr. Lloyd George then gave a summary of what was contained in the Aide Memoire. He referred first to the final paragraph, in which it is stated, that the French Government having accepted responsibility for the protection of the Armenian people, the British Government will consent to the immediate despatch of French troops via Alexandretta and Mersina, for this purpose. Field Marshal Allenby had seen General Weygand on this subject on Saturday. The withdrawal of British troops from Cilicia was to take place immediately. The British troops would also be withdrawn from Syria, beginning on November 1st. Under the Sykes-Picot Agreement,2 Damascus, Horns, Hama and Aleppo had been included within the boundaries of the Arab State. He therefore, proposed that the British troops should hand the garrisons of these towns over to the Emir Feisal. In [Page 206] other parts of Syria, west of the Sykes-Picot line, the garrisons would be handed over to French troops. In the first instance, British troops would be withdrawn to the line which the British Government conceived to be the boundary between Syria and Mesopotamia, and Syria and Palestine respectively. This would be the provisional boundary line. As regards the permanent line, if the British could not come to an agreement with the French Government and with Feisal, they were prepared to submit the question to the arbitration of someone nominated by President Wilson, if the President would accept this charge. The Aide Memoire also contained an arrangement as regards a railway outside the British zone, but this was a matter which would have to be settled as part of the permanent arrangements.
He had taken on himself the responsibility of sending for the Emir Feisal to Europe, because the British Government had entered into certain engagements with King Hussein, on the strength of which, the latter had given strong support to our forces. In consequence of these engagements, the Arabs had greatly harassed the Turks, and had kept some thirty or forty thousand of them constantly occupied and given us very material assistance in conquering the country. The Arabs had fulfilled their engagements and we were bound to fulfil ours. There was a suggestion in the French press, that the British Government had not told the French Government of their engagements with the Arabs. Consequently, he had promised M. Clemenceau on Saturday to hand him a document clearing up this point.
(At this point, Mr. Lloyd George handed M. Clemenceau a document, prepared in the British Foreign Office, on the question of whether the French Government had been notified of the engagements made by the British Government with King Hussein.)
Mr. Lloyd George, continuing, said that the Sykes-Picot agreement had also been based on the engagements of the British Government with the Arabs. In fact, the Emir Feisal declared that by the Sykes-Picot Agreement, the British Government had given away something which was promised to him, but the British Government could not accept this view, and felt certain they could convince the Emir Feisal on the matter. In their communications with King Hussein, they had always made it clear that in their view, the country west of Damascus, Horns. Hama, and Aleppo was not Arab in character. He hoped to be able to make it clear to the Emir Feisal that this point had been explained fully to the Emir’s father in the letters sent to him by the British Government. In any case, it had been necessary to summon the Emir Feisal to Europe, in order to make the same declaration to him as to the French Government, as regards the withdrawal of the British forces.[Page 207]
M. Clemenceau said that the solution of the Turkish problem must be considered as a whole, otherwise great difficulties would be encountered. On the first point mentioned by Mr. Lloyd George, President Wilson had always thought he would be ready to announce the American attitude as regards mandates by the end of September or in October. In his personal opinion, however, a matter of six weeks would make no material difference. He, himself, had read Mr. Lloyd George’s Aide Memoire and was preparing a reply. He had, however, of course, not yet had time to read the document handed to him that morning, in regard to the declaration to the Arabs and the notification to the French Government thereon. In his view, the question of an Arab Empire raised great difficulties, and the Governments concerned must take time to consider it. He desired to state that he reserved the right to discuss more fully Mr. Lloyd George’s Aide Memoire. The pressing question today, on which he wished to have an answer from Mr. Lloyd George, was as to whether the occupation by French troops of Syria and Cilicia would be considered as not merely as part of the agreement suggested in the Aide Memoire, but as a definite acceptation of the agreement. It would not be possible for him to promise things he could not carry out. If Mr. Lloyd George was unable to come to France later to discuss the question, then he himself would be prepared to go to London. Until this later discussion, he could accept no condition in the Aide Memoire, other than the occupation by French troops. As for the question of sending French troops to Armenia, this was a very serious and grave responsibility for France to take. He offered to send French troops to Armenia because the Armenians were threatened with massacre, in order to render a service to the Conference. This offer, however, could not constitute a provision of an agreement since France was not desirous of going to Armenia and it would involve an enormous burden. For the moment, he merely wished to put this question:
“Does the sending of troops by France to Syria and Cilicia mean that he accepted the whole agreement?”
If it was so, he could not undertake to send troops.
(The answers to M. Clemenceau’s questions, summarised below, were mainly interjected by Mr. Lloyd George, during the interpretation of M. Clemenceau’s remarks.)
Mr. Lloyd George said that M. Clemenceau would not be committed to the whole agreement by sending troops. It was the intention of the British Government to withdraw their troops from Syria and Cilicia in any event. The only point was, that in the Syrian portion, the British Government would, in accordance with their engagements, hand over their posts to French troops.
M. Clemenceau observed that it was no advantage for France to go to Armenia, which would cost them a great deal of money.[Page 208]
Mr. Lloyd George said that Field Marshal Allenby had informed him that the mere presence of troops in the places now occupied, had a good effect in averting massacres in Armenia.
Mr. Polk observed that the present discussion was merely an exchange of views between his British and French colleagues. It was understood that the question would be debated hereafter as a whole.
Mr. Lloyd George said that, nevertheless, in loyalty, he had felt it necessary to notify the Conference, otherwise it might be said in the newspapers, that these arrangements were being made behind the backs of his colleagues.
M. Clemenceau said he was in agreement that Mr. Lloyd George was right to notify the Conference. In consequence, of Mr. Lloyd George’s remarks, he would agree to replace the British troops in Syria and Cilicia by French troops, but as regards the rest of the Aide Memoire, he must reserve his opinion. When the question of the future of Turkey was considered as a whole, it might be possible to grant what could not be granted when the question of Syria was considered in isolation. He would always be ready to go to London.
Mr. Lloyd George suggested that the French military authorities should make the necessary arrangements with Field Marshal Allenby, who was now in Paris, for replacing the British garrisons within the zone proposed. He wished to be perfectly clear that M. Clemenceau had accepted that France should occupy Syria and Cilicia.
M. Clemenceau said that French garrisons would take the places evacuated by the British.
Mr. Lloyd George said that was what he had understood. This was a purely provisional arrangement for the military occupation.
M. Clemenceau said that as the British left the French would take their places. The matter did not really affect the Conference.
Mr. Lloyd George said that it did not prejudice the settlement of mandates or boundaries.
(M. Clemenceau instructed an Officer of his Staff to summon Marshal Foch and General Weygand to meet him at 3 p.m. to take his instructions on this question.)
For Conclusions, see Summary at the end.3
6. Mr. Lloyd George said that the question of Russia, to which he had already referred, was very important.
M. Clemenceau said that he could not see how we could accede to M. Paderewski’s proposals. Russia
Mr Lloyd George said that M. Paderewski had stated that, if the Allied and Associated Powers did not want him to adopt the course he proposed, neither did he desire it. He, himself, suggested that [Page 209] M. Paderewski should be told that the Powers did not desire him to act. Otherwise, he might be requiring pecuniary support.
M. Tittoni wished to be informed on two points. First, was M. Paderewski certain that Polish troops could reach Moscow, and, second, did he merely want facilities for raising money or did he want the Allies to finance the whole expedition?
M. Clemenceau said that the worst thing to do was to attempt to conquer Russia by means of the Poles. If British or French forces were operating, it was known that they were merely acting in the interests of Europe, but, if Polish troops were employed, it would rally the whole of Russia against them.
(At this point, it was agreed to summon M. Paderewski, Marshal Foch and General Weygand.)
Mr. Polk said that there was an American interest in this. The Poles were in a serious economic position. The United States were prepared to help them to some extent, but were not ready to find money to enable them to wage war.
Mr. Lloyd George, replying to M. Tittoni’s questions, said that M. Paderewski would require the Allied and Associated Powers to find the whole of the money. M. Paderewski was convinced he could capture Moscow. They all said that, but the question arose as to what would happen after Moscow was captured.
(The question of Russia was adjourned until the arrival of Marshal Foch and General Weygand.)
7. M. Clemenceau said that he did not agree with Mr. Lloyd George about the future of the Peace Conference. Personally, he would be most happy to be able to leave these questions alone, but there were imminent several large questions. For example, the question as to whether Austria was to be allowed to join herself to Germany. Future of the Peace Conference. (Continued)
Mr. Lloyd George said he was under the impression that Germany had given in.
M. Clemenceau said she had not given in yet. In addition to this, there was the question of Silesia and that of the Baltic Provinces. Without a properly qualified British representative, the Conference could not sit. He suggested that Mr. Lloyd George should leave someone in Paris who should telegraph for instructions.
Mr. Lloyd George said it was a matter of great difficulty. He had contemplated leaving Sir Eyre Crowe or possibly even Lord Milner. There was a great difference between Sir Eyre Crowe and Lord Milner. It was one thing to have a man who would merely telegraph for instructions, such as Sir Eyre Crowe. A representative of this type would not have the same authority as Mr. Balfour. The difficulty was that the British Government had no one to spare of the calibre of Mr. Balfour.[Page 210]
M. Clemenceau asked what he was to do if the Germans made some proposal requiring immediate decision?
Mr. Lloyd George said it would be arranged through the Foreign Offices.
M. Clemenceau said that this was a very slow procedure.
Mr. Lloyd George said that the Conference was not a very rapid method of procedure.
Mr. Polk said that, as regards the German-Austrian question, and the Silesian question, he thought no decision could be reached for ten days or so. Then would come the signature of the Bulgarian Treaty, and, later, the Hungarian Treaty. He agreed with Mr. Lloyd George that it might be better to postpone the Turkish Treaty. For the next ten days, however, when these great questions would be arising, he thought Great Britain ought to have a plenipotentiary in Paris. It would make a very bad effect in Europe if it was thought that the Conference was constantly waiting on the decision of Great Britain.
M. Tittoni said that he had believed himself to be of the same view as Mr. Polk, but he was not sure that this was the case. He thought it desirable to postpone the Conference for ten or fifteen days, in order to enable Great Britain to send representatives with full Powers.
Mr. Polk said that the present moment was precisely the one at which it was impossible to suspend the Conference.
Mr. Lloyd George said it was best to speak frankly on this matter. It was no use for one or two Powers to be represented by persons with complete authority and others by persons who were only able to take decisions ad referendum. He could not send anyone with full authority. For six months he had been away in England, which was a country that required a good deal of governing, and he could not stay here himself. Nevertheless, if he left a representative, a decision could always be obtained from him on any point within twenty-four hours even, by telegraph or even by telephone. He presumed that even Mr. Polk could not take decisions on all questions. At any rate, he was not in the same position as President Wilson had been.
M. Tittoni said that he, himself, had full powers.
Mr. Lloyd George, continuing, said that the Conference was of no use unless all its members met on equal terms. He proposed to leave Sir Eyre Crowe here to clear up the outstanding questions of detail, but any great questions such as, for example, one raising the possibility of a march into Germany—could clearly not be left for Sir Eyre Crowe to settle. He could only settle details when the policy had been decided. In the question of Austria, for example, [Page 211] Sir Eyre Crowe could not take a decision, and would have to refer to the Cabinet. That was not a proper Conference, when only some members could take full responsibility.
Mr. Polk said he agreed to some extent. He thought the Conference ought to take up no new questions. His point, however, was that, for a week or ten days, he would like to keep up the appearance of the Conference or the effect throughout Europe would be very bad.
M. Clemenceau urged Mr. Lloyd George to ask Lord Milner to stay.
Mr. Lloyd George undertook to discuss the matter with Lord Milner.
(At this point, Marshal Foch and General Weygand entered. M. Paderewski, who had also been telephoned for, could not be found.)
8. M. Clemenceau explained to Marshal Foch that M. Paderewski had made a proposal for the employment of five hundred thousand Poles to march on Moscow at a cost of 30,000,000 Mks. a day. Mr. Polk and he, himself, thought that the result would be to set the whole of Russia against the Allies. The Conference, however, wished to know Marshal Foch’s view. Russia. (continued)
Marshal Foch said that the Conference was face to face with a very dangerous proposal from several points of view. If it were a question of action by a great State fully settled, the matter would be different, but this was not the case with Poland, consequently, he did not think he could advise action by the Poles.
Mr. Lloyd George said that the second question arose in connection with the Baltic Provinces. Germany was gathering a very big force there. Although ordered to leave, the Germans were increasing their forces. General von der Goltz had now returned there. German soldiers were being attracted there by promises of land, amounting to a regular German colonization. He understood that, under the terms of the Armistice, the Allied and Associated Powers had the right to compel the Germans to leave. He wanted to know, whether, in Marshal Foch’s view, first, the Allies had the right to demand the withdrawal of the Germans, and, secondly, whether the time had come to insist on their withdrawal.
Marshal Foch said that, under the terms of the Armistice, the Allied and Associated Powers had the right to demand the German retirement from the Baltic Provinces. As to the means of compelling them to do so, a difficult question arose. Of course, starting from the basis of the Armistice, it would be possible to exert pressure on Germany from the Rhine, from Poland, or from both simultaneously. It was a matter of combining the two operations, and this wanted thinking out. In addition, there was the blockade.[Page 212]
Mr. Lloyd George asked whether, in Marshal Foch’s view, the time had come to take some action.
Marshal Foch said that the longer it was put off the harder it would be. Consequently, the sooner action was taken the better.
M. Clemenceau reminded Marshal Foch that the question of an advance on the Rhine had been discussed in connection with the Austrian question. Did Marshal Foch think this method more efficacious than the sending of troops to disembark in the Baltic?
Marshal Foch said that the latter proposal was out of the question.
M. Clemenceau summed up Marshal Foch’s recommendation as being to restore the Blockade and take action on the Rhine in combination with action in Poland.
Marshal Foch said that the Allies might also cease returning their prisoners or threaten to do so.
M. Clemenceau said that the result of the discussion was that Marshal Foch regarded it as possible to undertake operations to compel the Germans to withdraw from the Baltic Provinces.
Marshal Foch said that was so.
Mr. Lloyd George strongly urged Marshal Foch to consider the question of clearing the Germans from the Baltic Provinces, and, subject to what the Marshal might say, he pressed that the Conference should make a demand as soon as possible. The presence of Germans in large numbers in the Baltic provinces was a real danger to the peace of Europe.
General Weygand said that the answer of the German Government to Marshal Foch’s demand for the evacuation of the Baltic Provinces had been received. The point of view of the German Government was that they had given orders but their troops refused to obey. In fact, they said they had no authority. Starting from that basis, it might be a good plan to send some important person, whether military or civilian, to the Baltic Provinces to see that the evacuation took place, and it might also be necessary to send reinforcements to replace the Germans and make a barrier against Bolshevism.
Mr. Lloyd George suggested that the Poles might possibly be more profitably employed in this manner than by marching on Moscow.
Mr. Polk said that the presence of Polish troops might not prove acceptable to the Lithuanians.
Marshal Foch said that the true role for Poland was to provide a barrier on the one side against Bolshevism, and, on the other side, against Germany.
Mr. Lloyd George asked if Marshal Foch could give a considered view on this question by 4 p.m. in the afternoon.
Marshal Foch agreed to do so.[Page 213]
Mr. Lloyd George suggested that Marshal Foch should see M. Paderewski.
Marshal Foch agreed to do so.
M. Tittoni said that General Dupont should be asked if the German reply was genuine or merely play-acting. The second suggestion he had to make was that enquiries should be made of General Gough.
Mr. Lloyd George said that General Gough was now back in England and would not be returning to the Baltic.
M. Tittoni asked if there was anyone else there whom the Allies could consult on the subject. He would like to ask for information on the spot as to whether, after the withdrawal of the Germans, it would be necessary for the Poles to take their place in order to prevent the advance of the Bolsheviks.
Mr. Lloyd George said that this raised a question as to whether the Bolsheviks were worse than the Germans. He thought that the Bolsheviks would disappear, but the Germans would not.
M. Tittoni said that the only point he wished to know was whether it was necessary for the Poles to go to the Baltic Provinces.
(Marshal Foch and General Weygand withdrew)
9. Mr. Lloyd George said he had received a letter from M. Clemenceau suggesting a meeting of the League of Nations at Washington in November. He felt very doubtful about this. He, personally, could not attend, although this was not very material. But by November, Peace would not have been made with Turkey, and probably the question of Mandates would not have been settled. The League of Nations (Continued)
M. Clemenceau said that the point was that certain questions had to be settled by the League of Nations within fifteen days of the ratification of the Peace Treaty.
Mr. Polk said that there were two or three questions which had to be settled by the Council of the League of Nations within 15 days of the signature of the Treaty, and the President of the United States of America was directed by the Treaty to call the first meeting of the Council. His proposal would be that the President should summon a meeting of the Council to take place in London or Paris, as soon as three of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers had ratified the Treaty, even though a representative of the United States could not attend; and that the sole object of this meeting should be to examine the questions which require action by the Council of the League within a short period after the coming into force of the Treaty. He did not know if the President would accept this, but he was prepared to recommend it to him.
M. Clemenceau and M. Tittoni accepted Mr. Polk’s suggestion, which was adopted.[Page 214]
M. Clemenceau asked what about the Labour Conference.
Mr. Polk said that that would take place anyhow.
10. Mr. Lloyd George said that he supposed that on the ratification of the Treaty of Peace with Germany, the Allied and Associated Powers would send their joint demand to the Dutch Government for the surrender of the Kaiser. Trial of the Kaiser.
M. Tittoni said that he wished to notify the Conference merely for information, that the Italian Chamber had nominated a Committee of 44 to study the Treaty of Peace with Germany. It had been decided by 20 votes against 3 socialist votes that the Treaty should be ratified, but it had been agreed that the provisions for the trial of the Kaiser did not rest on a legal basis, because the crime had been defined after the event, and the tribunal had been designated by the persons who were charging the accused. This information was only of moral value, as the Treaty would be approved.
11. Mr. Lloyd George said that as regards the trial of officers, he was in favour of meeting the views of the German Government, that the numbers to be tried should be limited. The first British list had consisted of hundreds, and he believed the same was true of the French list. He only wanted to make an example. To try very large numbers, would be to create great difficulties for the German Government, which he believed to be better than either a Bolshevist Government or a Militarist Government. The Trial of Officers
M. Clemenceau said he agreed the trial should merely be a symbol.
12. M. Clemenceau said that since Mr. Lloyd George had left the Conference, he had given much thought to this matter, and had come to the conclusion that the best way to meet everyone’s wishes was to hand Fiume City over to the Italians, leaving the port and railway to the League of Nations, and the remainder of the Hinterland to the Yugo-Slavs. He had talked the matter over with M. Tittoni, and thought it best to propose that he and Mr. Lloyd George should send a proposition on these lines to President Wilson. Fiume
Mr. Polk pointed out that a new scheme had been sent only the previous week to President Wilson, and no answer had yet been returned.
M. Tittoni said that there were two alternatives. Rither that Fiume should be a Free Town or that a Free City should be created, or that Fiume should be given to Italy, the port and railway going to the League of Nations, and the remainder of the hinterland to the Yugo-Slavs. The Italian Government were most anxious to settle the [Page 215] question, but they did not wish a wound to be inflicted on the Italian people. This was for Italy a moral reason of the first order in favour of the new plan. Italy could not think of detaching herself from her Allies. There was no question of this; and agreement must be reached. That was why he had come to this agreement with M. Clemenceau.
Mr. Polk said he had sent a definite proposal to President Wilson and it was not possible now to change. He believed the new proposal had been made before, but had been refused both by America and Great Britain.
Mr. Lloyd George said that the proposal had never been put quite in the present form. Fiume, including the port and certain islands, had always been demanded by the Italians. From a private conversation he had had with M. Patchitch, he thought it possible that the new proposal might be more acceptable to him than any other. He himself would agree to anything which was acceptable both to President Wilson and the Italians. The question was not one which ought to split the nations in two. It was really too trivial. The difficulty was that it had become a “flag” to the Italians and Mr. Polk said that the recent revolution at Fiume had made it very difficult to settle on these lines.
M. Tittoni said that the revolution would first have to be suppressed.
Mr. Lloyd George suggested that Mr. Polk should telegraph to President Wilson to the effect that this new proposal had been made. Of course it was difficult to explain the matter in a telegram, as one could explain it in conversation. But he thought it was worth while to send the new proposal.
Mr. Polk said he must know exactly what the plan was.
M. Clemenceau said that, broadly speaking it was that the town of Fiume, with the river as boundary, should become Italian; that the port and railway should be handed over to the League of Nations; and that the Hinterland should go to Yugo-Slavia, and no islands would be handed over to Italy.
M. Tittoni said that the only islands to be handed to Italy were Lussin, Lissa and Pelagosa.
Mr. Polk said that the Italian occupation of Lussin and the mainland would give Italy a strangle-hold.
M. Tittoni said that this region would be neutralised.
(After some discussion it was agreed that M. Tittoni should put the project in writing before the afternoon meeting.)
(The Conference adjourned until 4.0 p.m.)
- Appendix B to HD–24, vol. vii, p. 542.↩
- Agreement between Great Britain and France, May 9–16, 1916, Current History, vol. xi, pt. ii, No. 3 (March 1920), p. 499.↩
- No summary accompanies file copy of minutes.↩
- Translation from the French supplied by the editors.↩
- Handed by Mr. Lloyd George to M. Clemenceau and placed before the Conference.↩
- Described in IC–163A, vol. v, p. 1.↩