Paris Peace Conf. 180.03501/55
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 Wednesday, September 17, 1919, at 11 a.m.
- America, United States of
- Hon. F. L. Polk.
- Mr. L. Harrison.
- British Empire
- Sir Eyre Crowe.
- Mr. H. Norman.
- M. Clemenceau.
- M. Pichon.
- M. Dutasta.
- M. Berthelot.
- M. de St. Quentin.
- M. Scialoja.
- M. Barone Russo.
- M. Matsui.
- M. Kawai.
- America, United States of
|America, United States of||Capt. Chapin.|
|France||Cmdt. A. Portier.|
The following were also present for the items in which they were concerned:
- America, United States of
- Mr. A. W. Dulles.
- Mr. B. L. Dresel.
- Mr. F. K. Nielsen.
- British Empire
- Mr. Nicolson.
- Mr. Waley.
- M. Tardieu.
- Marshal Foch.
- General Weygand.
- General Le Bond.
- M. Laroche.
- M. Kammerer.
- M. Jouasset.
- M. Serruys.
- M. Dell’Abbadessa.
- M. Galli.
- Colonel Castoldi.
- M. Pilotti.
1. M. Clemenceau said that he had requested Marshal Foch to be present at this meeting of the Council for the purpose of further studying the question of the evacuation of the Baltic provinces by the German troops. He had received a letter from Mr. Polk regarding this matter. (The letter contained in Appendix “A” was then read to the Council.) He would like to know what answer had been given by Mr. Lloyd George in the course of his conversation with Mr. Polk. Evacuation of the Baltic Provinces by the German Armies
Mr. Polk stated that he did not like to quote the words of another person, but that he understood Mr. Lloyd George to say that he preferred to let matters stand as they were. Mr. Lloyd George had thought that the question should not be brought up again until the Germans had indicated a refusal to carry out the withdrawal, should they so refuse. He had answered Mr. Lloyd George that he believed the question should be brought up at once, and for this reason had written the letter to M. Clemenceau, which had just been read.
M. Clemenceau suggested that Marshal Foch might read the instructions which he proposed to send to General Henrys.
Marshal Foch said that he had sent the instructions to General Henrys in accordance with the decision reached by the Council.1 He had told him that the principle of an ultimatum to Germany had been decided upon, but that his opinion was asked before the same should be transmitted to Germany.
Mr. Polk asked whether it was agreed that the Council should take no decision until the receipt of the answer from General Henrys.
Marshal Foch stated that his instructions to General Henrys had been based on the fact that the principle of an ultimatum had been decided upon. If this ultimatum was now considered as conditional, it would be necessary for him to modify the instructions which he had sent.
Mr. Polk pointed out that he was not opposed to an ultimatum, but wished solely to formulate objections to the use of the Polish troops.
Marshal Foch said that the sending of an ultimatum without deciding upon the means to carry it into execution would be a useless procedure. He had made a study of this question and believed that the Polish troops constituted the only force which could be used. If the Council were of the opinion that no use could be made of these troops, it was unnecessary to send an ultimatum.
Mr. Polk stated that the feeling of the American Delegation on this question was that the use of Polish troops against Germany in the Baltic provinces would be to cause hostilities, which had been suppressed in Upper Silesia with great difficulty, to spring up again. A [Page 232] military operation of this character would certainly lead to war between Germany and Poland. It was extremely necessary to maintain the situation in Upper Silesia in a calm state, in order not to increase the actual difficulties of the coal shortage. After the Treaty had been ratified by three great Powers, Upper Silesia would be occupied by Interallied troops. When this occupation became a fact, and when no further disorders in the coal districts were likely, the Council might then decide to use the Polish forces. He was not opposed to their eventual use, should the need arise.
M. Clemenceau said that in view of Mr. Polk’s statement he believed the best course at present was to adjourn the discussion and to take the question up again when Upper Silesia should be occupied by the Interallied troops.
Mr. Polk said that the matter seemed to him particularly serious. The Council was obliged to decide whether it was preferable to allow the Germans to remain in Lithuania for the moment, or drive them therefrom even at the risk of shutting down the production of coal in Upper Silesia. He had talked with Mr. Loucheur and with Mr. Hoover, who had both stated that the cutting off of the coal supply would have very serious consequences. He had talked with Mr. Tittoni on the previous evening regarding the matter and the latter had agreed with him that an unnecessary risk would be run through this operation.
Marshal Foch pointed out that the Conference alone was capable of choosing between these two political courses of action.
M. Clemenceau said that he personally regretted that this operation, which he believed excellent, should not take place. In the face of the opposition of the American Delegation, however, the matter must be suspended, for it was exceedingly dangerous to commence it without being sure of carrying it to a successful completion.
Marshal Foch said that on three separate occasions threats had been sent which had not been followed up.
Mr. Polk said that the gravity of the situation in Silesia appeared worthy of considerable thought and should compel the Council to hesitate.
M. Clemenceau said that he would hesitate if he believed that the proposed action in the Baltic provinces would have an effect on the situation in Silesia, but he was not of this opinion.
Mr. Polk answered that he had recently interviewed the different American representatives, who had arrived from Poland, Silesia and the Baltic provinces, namely, Mr. Gibson, Colonel Goodyear and Colonel Greene. These gentlemen were all of the opinion that the coal situation would be seriously aggravated and threatened should the proposed action be taken. He had also seen Mr. Paderewski and [Page 233] had asked him whether he was ready to bear the expenses of the operation in question. Mr. Paderewski had replied that France was to bear the expense. He had then informed Mr. Paderewski that the United States would not incur any obligations therein. He believed, however, that it would be well to ask General Henrys what his opinion in the matter might be.
Marshal Foch said that General Henrys could only report on one element of the problem, namely, the condition and state of the Polish Army. It should not be lost sight of, however, that the Council, in insisting upon the evacuation of the Baltic provinces, was simply carrying into effect one of the clauses of the Treaty. The Allied and Associated Powers should stand together on this matter. It should be understood that the Polish Army would be in charge of the operation, but it would be supported both by the Czecho-Slovak troops and the Allied detachments on the Rhine. General Henrys would answer that he could not defeat Germany with the Polish forces alone—more particularly should Germany be able to concentrate all her troops against Poland.
M. Clemenceau said that the Poles had notified the Council that they possessed an army of 450,000 men.
Marshal Foch pointed out that these figures were accurate but that this force would not be sufficient to defeat Germany and that the Allies would risk seeing Poland severely dealt with, which was obviously not a situation to be desired.
Mr. Polk said that he had no objections to the sending of an ultimatum, but only to the use of Polish troops. He believed that another method of pressure to compel the execution of the ultimatum could be found, either from an economic standpoint through the Economic Council, or by the retention of prisoners of war. He did not think that the risk of starting a new war between Poland and Germany should be run, because no one of the Powers was at present disposed to render financial aid to Poland. On the other hand, economic pressure might be exceedingly effective. For example, the Germans at the present time are in the process of borrowing money from the United States through the agency of private banks. The Council might put a stop to this procedure. The recent example of Rumania, who had acted as an agent of the Allied and Associated Powers, seemed to him extremely unsatisfactory and should not lead the Council to stir up a similar operation elsewhere. He suggested therefore that an ultimatum might be sent, making use of economic pressure.
M. Tardieu said that the retention of the prisoners of war constituted an excellent means of pressure as well, for their immediate [Page 234] repatriation was necessary to the internal political situation of Germany.
M. Clemenceau proposed that Marshal Foch should read the text of an ultimatum which he had prepared, and that if such text were satisfactory to the Council, it might be modified in the way suggested by Mr. Polk.
Marshal Foch then read his proposed letter to the German Government (see Appendix “B”).
Mr. Polk stated that he found this text satisfactory.
Sir Eyre Crowe asked whether the steps which had been discussed as a method of pressure would be sufficient to bring about the execution of the matters covered in the note.
M. Clemenceau said that Mr. Polk was favorable to an economic means of pressure, such as a blockade.
Mr. Polk said that he was particularly anxious not to commit the Council at the present time to the use of the Polish Army. He did not wish to intimate that this Army might not be made use of at some future time, but he wished to leave the decision of this question open.
Marshal Foch said that on three different occasions ultimatums couched in mild language had been sent to the German Government on the following dates: June 18, August 1 and August 24.
Mr. Polk remarked that as the Council had already sent three ultimatums a fourth was scarcely necessary. The best method of procedure would be to notify Mr. von Lersner that the Council insisted upon the carrying out of the Armistice in question, and that in case of refusal certain measures, such as blockade, other means of exerting economic pressure, retention of prisoners of war, and, as a last resort, the use of the Polish Army, had been decided upon.
M. Clemenceau said that this notice should be in writing.
General Weygand said that he was prepared to draft the text of such a letter, as he was familiar with the question. An answer had been received from the Germans to the effect that they were willing to evacuate the territory in question but that they could not enforce the execution of their orders.
(It was decided that General Weygand should submit to the Council at its next meeting, a draft letter to the German Delegation demanding the withdrawal of the German forces from the Baltic provinces. This letter should draw attention to the means of exercising pressure on the German Government proposed by Mr. Polk, viz., blockade and other economic pressure, retention of prisoners of war, and possible use of the Polish forces.)
(Marshal Foch and General Weygand then withdrew.)[Page 235]
2. Upon the proposal of Mr. Scialoja the resolution taken on September 11 (H. D. 52, minute 6)2 regarding the languages used for the convention on Aerial Navigation was modified to read as follows: Languages To Be Used in the Convention on Aerial Navigation
“It was decided that the Convention on Aerial Navigation should be drafted in English, French and Italian, each text to be of equal authority.”
3. (At this point the members of the Central Territorial Commission entered the room.)
M. Tardieu stated that the Greek Delegation had sent a letter to the Central Territorial Commission on September 13 relative to certain points with regard to the territorial clauses of the Bulgarian Treaty (see appendix C). The Central Territorial Commission had been of the opinion: Peace Conditions With Bulgarian. (a) TerritorialClauses
- That the request put forward by the Greek Delegation is ethno-graphically just.
- That the line proposed by the Greek Delegation should, from a geographical point of view, be modified in accordance with the red line on the map annexed to the commission’s report.
The Italian delegate, in view of the principle put forward by the Greek Delegation, suggested a change in the line of Western Thrace to the advantage of Bulgaria.
The American delegate, while not denying the weight of the opinions of the other delegations, drew attention to the inconvenience which would result from changing a line already unanimously decided upon and it further did not believe itself to be in a position to advance an opinion without a more careful study of the whole question.
Mr. Polk said that he had certain objections to formulate. President Wilson, before his departure, had personally proposed a line of demarkation. He had already agreed to a considerable modification of this line and did not feel that he had authority to make a further change therein. He pointed out that he had already consented to the taking of certain territories in the region of Adrianople from Bulgaria, although there was a large population of Bulgarians in such territories. He could do nothing further along these lines and in addition felt that the proposed change, even though ethno-graphically just, was unsound from a geographic point of view.
(It was decided to reject the proposal of the Greek Delegation with regard to a further modification of the frontiers of Bulgaria in Western Thrace.) (See appendix “C”)[Page 236]
M. Tardieu said that he wished to draw the attention of the Council to the necessity of asking the Bulgarians to withdraw their troops from Western Thrace as they were still occupying that region as well as the Stroumitza salient. This occupation might last for a long time, as the Bulgarian delegation had requested a period of twenty to twenty-five days in which to prepare their answer to the Peace Conditions of the Allies. The Bulgarian occupation compelled the Allies to maintain troops in the neighborhood which were not absolutely necessary. He suggested that the Bulgarians might be told that the Allies were likely to grant them the delay requested, on condition that they would evacuate the territories in question immediately. Evacuation of Western Thrace by the Bulgarian Troops
Mr. Polk asked what forces would relieve the Bulgarian troops.
M. Tardieu answered that the military experts believed that three battalions only would be necessary to maintain order in Thrace. This force was already on the ground and there was in addition a division in Sofia which could profitably be recalled. He pointed out that there was no question of inserting a clause in the Bulgarian Treaty regarding this matter.
Mr. Polk said that as the matter had no place in the Bulgarian Peace Treaty he proposed the consideration of the Treaty itself be terminated and the proposition of M. Tardieu be adjourned to the following day.
(This proposal was accepted.)
(Mr. Tardieu then withdrew and Mr. Kammerer entered the room.)
M. Kammerer said that the Greek Delegation had, on September 15 sent to the Secretary General some additional remarks relative to the political clauses in the Treaty of Peace with Bulgaria. (See appendix “D”.) The Committee on New States Article 56 had prepared a report on the matter which had been submitted to the various delegations (see appendix E). (b) Political Clauses. Article 56
(It was decided to accept the following clause proposed by the Greek delegation for insertion in Article 56, with regard to the protection of minorities and voluntary emigration:
Article 56, paragraph 2: “Bulgaria undertakes to recognize the provisions which the Allied and Associated Powers shall deem opportune relative to reciprocal and voluntary emigration of ethnic minorities.”
M. Kammerer continuing said that the Greek Delegation had also asked that a paragraph be added to Article 50 dealing with the protection of minorities. (See Appendix D.) The Committee on New States believed that the Treaty should be limited to general provisions with regard to the different religious sects, and therefore that by accepting the addition proposed by the Greek delegation the risk would be incurred of entering [Page 237] into details and thereby creating a precedent. For this reason the Committee on New States had recommended that the Council reject the Greek proposal. Article 50
(It was decided to reject the paragraph proposed by the Greek delegation for insertion in Article 50 of the Bulgarian Peace Treaty.)
M. Laroche said that the Greek Delegation had proposed a change in Article 44 of the Bulgarian Peace Treaty (See appendix F). By this proposal the Greek Delegation asked solely that it be treated in the same manner as the Slav [Serb]-Croat-Slovene State, and it had appeared difficult to refuse the addition requested. The Drafting Committee upon being consulted had approved of the text drawn by the Greeks. Article 44
(After a short discussion it was decided to insert the following paragraph in Article 44 of the Peace Treaty with Bulgaria, in accordance with the request of the Greek Delegation:
“Bulgarian nationals, however, who became resident in this territory after October 18, 1912, will not acquire Greek nationality without a permit from Greece.”)
M. Kammerer said that the Greek Delegation had formulated certain objections with regard to Article 46 by which Article Greece agreed to execute a special treaty for the protection of minorities. The refusal to execute the article was based on the fact that no additional territory was given to Greece by the Bulgarian treaty. The committee on New States was of the opinion that this point was well taken and therefore proposed that Greece, while agreeing to sign the clause of the Bulgarian treaty obligating her to execute the minorities treaty, should not be compelled to sign the latter treaty until such time as she should be assured of the grant of new territories. Article 46
(It was decided that a letter should be sent by the President of the Peace Conference to the Greek Delegation requesting the latter to accept Article 46 of the Bulgarian Peace Treaty and notifying them that the special treaty provided for in this article would not be submitted for signature until such time as the Conference should be able to make known to the Greeks the territory which might be attributed to them.)
M. Kammerer said that the Greeks had in addition raised certain objections with regard to the signature of special clauses in the treaty with Greece. The Committee on New States had rejected all the Greek proposals with the exception of that dealing with the option of nationalities. Should the Council accept the proposal of the Committee a simple modification of Article 3 of the proposed treaty with Greece would give effect to the objection. Special Treaty With Greece[Page 238]
(It was decided that Article 3 of the proposed treaty between the principal Allied and Associated Powers and Greece should be so modified as that the first paragraph should read as follows:
“Greece recognizes as Greek nationals with full rights and without any formalities Bulgarian, Turk (or Albanian) nationals domiciled at the date of the entry into force of the present treaty, on territory transferred to Greece since January 1, 1913.[”])
(At this point Mr. Laroche and Mr. Kammerer withdrew, and Mr. Jouasset entered the room.)
Mr. Jouasset said that the Greek Delegation had formulated certain objections relative to the reparations clauses in the Treaty of Peace with Bulgaria (See Appendix “F”). The Commission on the Reparation of Damages had studied these criticisms and had submitted its report in the matter to the Secretary General. (See Appendix “G.”) (c) Reparation Clauses
It was decided to accept the proposal of the Reparations Commission with regard to Article 121, the sixth paragraph of which should be amended to read as follows: Article 121
“These sums shall be remitted through the Interallied Commission referred to in Article 130 of this part to the Reparation Commission created by the Treaty of Peace with Germany of June 28, 1919, such as it is constituted by the Treaty with Austria of September 10, 1919, (Part VIII, Annex II, Paragraph 2); This Commission is referred to hereinafter as the Reparations Commission. It will assure the effecting of payments in conformity with the arrangements already made.”
After a short discussion it was decided to accept the proposal of the Delivery of Reparations Commission and to add the following additional paragraph to Article 127: Delivery of Livestock by Bulgaria
“In addition to the deliveries mentioned above, the Interallied Commission shall have the authority? should they recognize it as possible, to attribute to Greece, Roumania and the Serb-Croat-Slovene State during the two years which shall follow the entry into force of the present Treaty, such quantities of livestock as may appear to them justified; the value of these deliveries shall be placed to the credit of Bulgaria.”
Mr. Jouasset then read that portion of the report of the Commission on Reparations dealing with this question. (See Appendix “G”, Paragraph II.) He said that the French Delegation had made a proposal which, after liquidation of the debts and credits of Bulgaria to Germany, gave the Reparations Commission the right to decide whether the remainder of the Bulgarian debt should be demanded or whether Bulgaria should be granted certain terms or intervals of payment, or a complete remission of the debt. Such a formula would be simple and would not commit anyone to a fixed course of action in the future. It [Page 239] would have the further advantage of giving satisfaction to the five small States and of nullifying any pretext which the latter might have to refuse advance payments accorded them by the Allies. On the other hand, if a part of the debt were remitted in the first instance to Bulgaria, an enemy Power, the small States might take advantage of this precedent and refuse to settle their debts to the Allies. Debts of Bulgaria With Relation to Germany, Austria, etc.
Sir Eyee Crowe said that the debt of Bulgaria in relation to Germany and Austria should not be compared to the debt of the different small States with relation to the Principal Allied and Associated Powers. The British Delegation was of the opinion that changes in the text of the Treaty would constitute a sign of weakness and that the most simple course to pursue was to uphold the text in its present form.
Mr. Polk said that it was certain that Bulgaria could not pay more than it was actually called upon. To make a change in the article in question would be to raise false hopes in the minds of the small Powers, that they might obtain something which they were certain not to receive. He therefore believed that the text as drafted should be upheld.
Mr. Scialoja said that the French proposal simply transferred the difficulty to the Reparations Commission. This would lead to a delay of three months, during which time Bulgaria would not be able to obtain the credit which she needed. It was to be feared that in addition she would dispute certain of her debts, and such a loss of time might even result in the enhancement of the payment of such sums as she indisputably owed for the purpose of reparations.
(After a short further discussion, it was decided to make no change in the text of Article 124 of the Treaty of Peace with Bulgaria.)
(At this point Mr. Kammerer and Mr. Jouasset withdrew, and Mr. Serruys entered the room.)
Mr. Serruys said that the Roumanian Delegation had presented three proposals regarding Articles 171, 175 and 177 of the Treaty of Peace with Bulgaria. (See Appendix “H”.) The Economic Commission had studied these proposals and had submitted a report thereon to the Secretary General indicating its opinion. (See Appendix “I”.) (d) Economic Clauses
(After a short discussion, it was decided to accept the report submitted by the Economic Commission:
- Article 171: The English text of Article 171 being the only one which is accurate, it was decided to revise the French and Italian texts to conform therewith.
- Article 175: It was decided to maintain the text of this Article without change. The benefit of capitulations in Bulgaria in favor of Japan is upheld but is not to be extended to all the Allied and Associated Powers.
- Article 177: The Roumanian proposal was rejected and the Article maintained without change.)
4. On the proposal of M. Clemenceau, it was decided that the text of the conditions of the Peace with Bulgaria should be presented to the Bulgarian Delegation at the meeting of the Supreme Council on Friday, September 19, 1919, at 11:00 o’clock, in the Salle de l’Horloge, Quai d’Orsay. Presentation of the Treaty of Peace to the Bulgarian Delegation
The Meeting then adjourned.
- HD–54, minute 1, p. 218.↩
- Ante, p. 187.↩
- Translation from the French supplied by the editors.↩
- Notes of June 18, No. 3039; of August 1, No. 3637; and of August 24, No. 4050. [Footnote in the original.]↩
- No. 5 does not accompany the minutes.↩
- Translation from the French supplied by the editors.↩
- HD–47, minute 4, and appendix F. pp. 101, 114.↩
- British and Foreign State Papers, vol. cvii, p. 658.↩
- The annexes do not accompany the appendix. For the text of the Greek letter, see appendix F, supra.↩
- HD–46, minute 6, p. 82.↩
- Appendix H, supra.↩