Paris Peace Conf. 180.03501/57
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, September 19, 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. Pichon.
- M. Berthelot.
- M. de St. Quentin.
- M. Scialoja.
- M. Barone Russo.
- M. Matsui.
- M. Kawai.
- America, United States of
|America, United States of||Captain Chapin.|
The following were also present for the items in which they were concerned:
- America, United States of
- Hon. H. Gibson.
- Mr. A. W. Dulles.
- British Empire
- General Sackville-West.
- Colonel Kisch.
- M. Tardieu.
- M. Loucheur.
- M. Cambon.
- General Le Bond.
- Colonel Castoldi.
- M. Galli
- M. Brambilla.
1. Mr. Polk asked whether any news had recently been received from the Military Mission in Hungary.
M. Pichon said that he had received a telegram from sir George Clerk dated September 12–13. (See Appendix A.) Several cypher telegrams had also arrived but had not yet been decoded. In view of this fact he proposed that the question be adjourned until the meeting of the Council on Monday. Situation in Hungary[Page 270]
Mr. Polk said that he was in favor of M. Pichon’s proposal because he had received word from General Bandholtz to the effect that the latter was in process of organizing a police force for Budapest and hoped to conclude the negotiations on that day. Undoubtedly information on this subject would be available by Monday.
(It was decided to adjourn the discussion on this question until Monday, September 22nd.)
2. (At this point M. Tardieu entered the room.)
M. Tardieu stated that, in accordance with the resolution taken by the Council on the previous day,1 he had received from Messrs. Dulles and Nicolson a paper indicating a line of demarcation of the zones Western Thrace. (See Appendix B.) This note, to which a map had been annexed, he was not able to accept, for he had understood that the region of Gumuldjina was to have been incorporated in the area in question. Occupation of Troops Western Thrace by the Allied Troops
Mr. Polk said that he had no fundamental objection to the eventual attribution of this territory to Greece, but that he could not consent to its occupation at the present time by Greek troops.
(After a short discussion it was decided to delay action on the resolution taken by the Council on September 18th and to further study the question of the occupation of Thrace by the Allied troops at a future meeting of the Council.)
(M. Tardieu then withdrew.)
3. M. Cambon read from and commented upon Report No. 5, transmitted to the Council by the Commission on Polish Affairs, on the subject of the status of Eastern Galicia. (See Appendix C.) Status of Eastern Galicia
Sir Eyre Crowe said that in view of the fact that Poland, within its present boundaries, did not comprise all the territories which it possessed prior to its partition, he believed that it would be preferable to omit the second paragraph of the Preamble, which read as follows: (a) Preamble
“Seeing that Eastern Galicia formed part of the former Kingdom of Poland until the partition of the latter.’
(It was decided to delete the following paragraph from the text of the Preamble to the Treaty:
“Seeing that Eastern Galicia formed part of the former Kingdom of Poland until the partition of the latter.”)
M. Cambon said that the Commission had been unanimous upon the draft of Articles 1 to 11 (inclusive) of the Treaty. Articles 1 to 11, (inclusive)[Page 271]
(It was decided to accept the first eleven articles as drafted by the Polish Commission for insertion in the proposed Treaty, regarding Eastern Galicia.)
M. Cambon read the text of Article 12 as proposed by the Polish Commission, together with the additional paragraph to this article proposed by the British delegation. (c) Article 12
Mr. Polk said that he wished to ask M. Cambon a question regarding this article. In the first phrase the following clause appeared, “The Diet of Eastern Galicia shall legislate on the following matters.” He wanted to know whether, in the opinion of the Commission, this gave the Galician Diet the exclusive power to legislate upon the subjects enumerated in the article in question.
M. Cambon said that such was the intention of the Commission.
M. Pichon added that the Diet would have complete sovereignty for the questions involved.
M. Cambon said that the Commission had been unanimous upon all the paragraphs in question. Nevertheless, the British delegation had asked that the following clause be added to the text: “Agrarian legislation passed by the Polish Diet shall only become applicable to Eastern Galicia if and when it is confirmed by the Eastern Galician Diet.”
He added that agreement had not been reached upon this clause. The American, French, Italian and Japanese delegations had been opposed to inserting it and the British delegation had insisted upon its being put in. The Council was therefore obliged to decide the question.
On July 6th the Polish Diet had passed an agrarian reform law of extreme importance which marked the beginning of the social transformation in Poland. By the provisions of this law the State became the owner of all forests in Poland. The Agrarian organization of the Polish Republic was to be based primarily on the peasants’ farms, the creation of new farms by colonization and the enlarging of those actually in existence. The State was to decide upon the division of the land and in this process was to create large reserves by the following means:
- From lands of which it was the owner;
- Lands belonging to members of old reigning families or to branches of the latter;
- Domains of the Russian Peasants’ Bank and of the Prussian Colonization Commission;
- Domains of the Bishoprics, Congregations, Convents, Monasteries or other public institutions;
- Domains formerly belonging to congregations, but not yet partitioned;
- Lands acquired through speculation and belonging to persons who had been convicted of having participated therein.
The six categories of lands above mentioned were to furnish the basis upon which the distribution should first be made. Thereafter the distribution was to continue by withdrawing land from each large owner. Eight of ownership was to be limited, no one individual to be allowed to possess a farm larger than 180 hectares. In certain regions, however, where the interests of agriculture might make it necessary, this maximum area could be increased to 400 hectares.
He pointed out that these were the principles of reform which had been imposed upon the party of the Right, which represented the large landed proprietors. The latter did not appear to have accepted their defeat and were already preparing to contest viciously the passage of each of the organic laws necessary to effectuate this scheme. He added, for the information of the Council, that the above law had only received a majority of two votes.
It appeared that the above provisions, which were very broad and diametrically opposed to the ideas regarding private property which had been held up to the present time, were not considered liberal enough by the majority of the Galicians. However, that may be, the question is to know whether these provisions can be applied “hic et nunc” to Galicia by the Polish administration or, whether, at the time a Diet shall be constituted in Galicia, the latter should give its opinion upon the application of this legislation or itself enact a special law. The British delegation Relieved that it was necessary for the Galician Diet to be called upon to give its opinion. The other delegations thought that this Agrarian law gave sufficiently favorable terms and adequately upheld the rights of private property owners vis-a-vis to [sic] the peasant class.
Sir Eyre Crowe said that the question was in reality a larger one than the mere enforcement of a particular law, the merits of which he did not wish to pass upon at the present time.
The main idea which had guided the Council in all its discussions on the autonomy of Eastern Galicia had been that a people was being dealt with who had retained marked sympathy for certain of its neighbors, more particularly Russia. It had always been the desire of the Council to look to the future with the possibility that this people might wish to ally itself with a regenerated Russia or any Ukrainian state which might be formed. It had been desired to allow the separation to be made from Poland, if such state of affairs became possible, and consequently the autonomy of the country was preferable to a mandate over it entrusted to the Poles. He thought that a line should be drawn between those matters on which uniformity of legislation could [Page 273] be obtained without difficulty and issues on which the people of Eastern Galicia should be permitted to legislate alone. Uniformity on agrarian questions was difficult to attain. No obstacle should be placed in the way of an ultimate union of Eastern Galicia with Russia, and it therefore should not be made impossible for this province to separate itself from Poland. He did not wish to argue in favor of such a separation, but believed that the door should be left open for a move in the direction of Russia. By so doing the Powers would give Galicia a free hand and would avoid creating difficulties, of which agrarian legislation might well be one.
He pointed out that the Council might be guided by England’s experience in relation to Ireland, in which country agrarian questions had always been the most difficult of solution. England had never imposed its agrarian legislation on Ireland and was thankful that the same had not been done, England could never be charged with having forced its own system of laws on the Irish. The United States furnished another example of a country for whose well being uniformity of laws was not necessary.
He did not wish to criticize the law in question, but pointed out that no guarantee existed against its repeal. The Poles might be tempted to enact legislative measures hostile to the interests of the Galician people, and it was for that reason that he believed all laws of an agrarian nature should be submitted to the approval of the Galician Diet. The most simple method to obtain this result would be to add agrarian questions to the list of matters within the jurisdiction of the Diet of Eastern Galicia, which are set out in Article 12. Great danger would be run through the imposition of legislation purely Polish in character because many of the large property holdings in Galicia were actually in the hands of Poles and the temptation to impose a system favorable to their interests would be very great.
M. Cambon said that he would like to refer to Article 16 for discussion with Article 12, for the two stood together and a decision of the Council on one would have its effect on the other. He then read the two texts proposed for Article 16 and pointed out that this Article in substance brought up the question as to whether or not Eastern Galicia was to be allowed representation in the Diet of Warsaw.
He was fundamentally opposed to the British proposal for the reason that, whether it was desirable or not, the fact that the government of the Galician state was entrusted to Poland placed in the hands of the Polish Government representation of Eastern Galicia abroad. All questions of general administration would be settled at Warsaw. It was therefore necessary that Eastern Galicia be permitted to take part in all questions of high policy in the Polish Diet. The Diet of [Page 274] Galicia could deal with the other matters as indicated in Article 12. It was therefore necessary not to state in the decision that representation of Galicia with Poland should be disregarded.
With reference to the agrarian legislation, he pointed out that this question was bound up with the decision which would be taken on Article 16, for if the Council granted Galicia representation in the Polish Diet her representatives in this body could make themselves heard to good effect.
Mr. Scialoja said that, although the Italian representative on the Polish Commission had supported the majority opinion, he thought it would be well to make a slight change. He did not favor the addition proposed by the British delegation however, but inclined to the second proposal made by Sir Eyre Crowe, namely, to insert agrarian legislation in the list of matters included in Article 12. If such a change were not made Eastern Galicia might be deprived of all rights of enactment of agrarian laws, should she refuse to accept the legislation of the Polish Diet. According to M. Cambon’s statements, it was probable that the Galicians would go further in the matter than the Poles had already done. This meant that they were not satisfied with matters as they stood and it would therefore do them an injury to crystalize the present situation and prevent them from improving it.
Sir Eyre Crowe said that he agreed with M. Cambon in believing that Articles 12 and 16 were closely allied. All the points raised by the British delegation were intimately connected one with another, and the same arguments as had been brought forward for agrarian questions prevailed in regard to compulsory military service. He wished, however, to further discuss the representation in the Polish Diet. Assuming that this representation existed, the danger might arise that certain Polish members of the Diet would wish to impose on the Galicians an agrarian scheme favorable to Polish interests. The Galician representatives, being in a minority, could not effectively block the measure. In cases where matters of general interest arose it was probable that Galicians and Poles might vote on the same side, but in cases of special legislation the Galician minority would be absolutely powerless. If this argument were true, the Commission was correct in saying that the question of representation had a direct bearing on Article 12. He further wished to call attention to the meaning of Article 13, and the right of temporary veto accorded to the Governor therein. This article provided sufficient guarantees to prevent the legislation of the Galician Diet affecting Poland adversely.
M. Pichon asked whether Mr. Paderewski had not stated that Poland could not accept the Treaty under these conditions.
General Le Rond said that the Sub-Commission had heard the Polish delegation on the subject four times. In the first place, Mr. [Page 275] Paderewski, later Mr. Dmowski, and later Mr. Dabsky, the author of the Polish agrarian law had appeared before it. Mr. Daiko, representing the Ruthenians, had also appeared before the Commission. This body was therefore entirely alive to all the difficulties which Sir Eyre Crowe had brought up and to all the arguments in answer thereto.
The Agrarian reform was based on a general banking scheme which was to be uniform throughout the country. It appeared difficult to organize a similar system within a country so limited as Galicia, and of such a small population. The reform was also based upon a system of local committees, giving guarantees to the people analogous to those existing in Posnania and other provinces. The points raised by the British delegation were irreconcilable with the solutions proposed by the majority. The representatives of the Polish Government had stated that they could not accept a Treaty in which their government would be deprived of the right to dictate agrarian reform.
Sir Eyre Crowe replied that there was much to be said for the arguments presented by General Le Bond, but he did not believe that they went to the root of the matter. He was fully alive to the difficulties from a practical point of view which would result from allowing Galicia to legislate independently, in the event that she should exercise her rights in a manner which did not meet with the approval of the Polish Diet. He believed that the people themselves would be competent to avoid all complications of this nature and they might even declare themselves favorable to uniformity of legislation. It did not devolve upon the Council, however, to force them to such uniformity. Furthermore, Galicia was not such a small country as General Le Bond had given the impression, for it contained practically four and one-half million inhabitants. There would, consequently, be no insurmountable difficulties in establishing an agrarian system for this country even though certain complications might arise from the banking point of view. The argument put forward by General Le Bond did not therefore seem to him of sufficient weight to overthrow his proposal of granting the Galicians a voice in the legislation.
Mr. Polk said that he was greatly influenced by the arguments put forward by Sir Eyre Crowe. He wished to submit a proposal which had just been made by Mr. Gibson, which might help the situation to a certain degree. This would consist in adding the following clause to the addition proposed by the British delegation: “In case of a rejection of the Polish law by the Galician Diet, the latter will have the right to legislate on this question.” This solution would have the advantage of permitting the Galician Diet to adopt the Polish legislation should this body so desire.
M. Cambon pointed out that it was perhaps unwise to anticipate a refusal and base the Galician right of legislation upon this. He [Page 276] suggested that it would be sufficient to provide: “The Galician Diet shall give its opinion on the possibility of applying Polish law.” In this way the body would of necessity be consulted.
Sir Eyre Crowe said that Mr. Cambon’s proposal appeared rather vague and would open the way to misunderstandings, while clearness in the matter was greatly to be desired. The danger might be that the Poles could say that they had asked the opinion of the Galician Diet, that the latter had not agreed, and nevertheless it made no difference to them.
M. Pichon suggested that the agrarian laws might be settled by agreement between the two Diets.
Sir Eyre Crowe pointed out that the fact remained that Article 13 gave the Polish Governor an absolute right of veto.
Mr. Polk said that he approved the second British solution, namely, the insertion of agrarian questions in Article 12. The difficulty could be covered by adding that, if the Galician Diet had not legislated on the matter within a given period, the Polish law would apply.
Mr. Scialoja said that it might be also added to the laws of Article 13, which are subject to an absolute veto of the Governor.
M. Cambon drew the attention of the Council to the fact that the agrarian law might lead to disturbances within the country, and that the Polish Government might charge the Allies with turning over to them the administration of a country without granting them the means of handling disturbances which might arise through the application of agrarian laws. The majority of large estates in Galicia were in the hands of the Poles. These estates were to be partitioned in favor of Ruthenes. This was a fruitful source of conflicts between different interests and of dangers which might easily lead to a revolution. He thought, therefore, that the Polish Government should be left the means of exercising its authority. Too much importance should not be given to these details, however, as the system which was being inaugurated was only temporary.
M. Pichon said that he had a proposal which he believed would settle the matter. This was to adopt the proposition presented by Sir Eyre Crowe, and add the following paragraph thereto:
“In case of persistent dispute between the two Diets, the question will be brought before the Council of the League of Nations.”
Sir Eyre Crowe said that this proposal would, in effect, permit the League of Nations to enact the agrarian laws.
M. Pichon said that the Covenant of the League contemplated arbitration as one of the essential roles of that body.
Sir Eyre Crowe said that the League of Nations would therefore be called upon to decide between two bodies of law. To bring this [Page 277] about it was necessary that the Galician Diet should be given a legislative power by the Treaty.
After a short discussion, it was decided:
- that legislation on agrarian questions should be included within mthe competence of the Galician Diet, and inserted in Article 12 of the proposed Treaty;
- that agrarian legislation should be included among the laws over which the Polish Governor has the right of veto (Article 13), but that if the Governor’s veto be maintained for more than one year the question should be automatically brought before the Council of the League of Nations for decision.
- It was further decided that the above resolution should be referred to the Commission on Polish Affairs for insertion of its provisions in the Treaty.
These two articles were accepted without change. (d) Article 14 and 16
M. Cambon read and commented upon Article 16. He said that the organization provided for therein, which was to protect the rights of Galicia, would lack a proper foundation if Galicia were not represented in the body of the Polish Diet. It should be understood that the Galician representative would take no part in the matters which were exclusively Polish. (e) Article 16
Sir Eyre Crowe said that he recognized the weight of the arguments put forward by M. Cambon, but that he did not wish to express an opinion as to the root of the matter. He wished particularly to remark that the question had been the object of much academic discussion up to the present time, and that the idea involved had rarely been applied from a practical point of view. Under the former German Constitution Bavaria was granted special rights, but in practice it had been found impossible to prevent the Bavarian representatives from taking part in the body of the Reichstag, in the discussion of matters which were entirely foreign to the special interests of Bavaria. The question of knowing whether States with partial autonomy could obtain representation in a larger Parliament was one of the most contentious which could be found, and had given rise to much discussion and often contradictory conclusions on the part of men of high intelligence in all countries of the world. Mr. Balfour, who had special experience of Government in Ireland, had more than once called attention to the grave difficulty of finding a satisfactory solution of this question. Several bills proposed on the Home Rule question had broken down precisely on the point of the Irish representation in the British Parliament. It was, therefore, very natural that his Government should feel a certain hesitancy in imposing a fixed and definite scheme on another people in a matter which is so much a matter of controversy. The British Delegation felt that a solution along the lines proposed by Mr. Cambon might perhaps be reached. He did [Page 278] not wish to criticise it, nor to exclude the possibility of its eventual adoption, but he did not wish to force it at the outset on the people concerned. It was within the province of these people to decide the question in the last analysis.
Mr. Polk said that the British proposal contemplated the intervention of the League of Nations if desired by “both parties”. He wished to suggest for consideration of the Council, a substitution of the words “either party” for the words “both parties”. He wished also to propose for the consideration of the Council that Galicia be granted two or more representatives in the Polish Diet, until such time as a definite decision in the matter might be arrived at. These representatives might have a consultative voice, with the right to take part in the discussion of matters concerning Eastern Galicia but would not be accorded a vote. Representation of this kind would be similar to that enjoyed by the Territories in the United States, as distinguished from the active and voting representation of the States. This proposal was a temporary measure solely and he thought the Council might deliberate profitably thereon.
The discussion of Article 16 was then adjourned.
(At this point M. Loucheur entered the room.)
4. M. Pichon said that a letter had been received from the Austrian Delegation with regard to the shortage of coal in Austria. (See Appendix “D”.)
M. Loucheur said that he wished to inform the Council at once that he had not waited for the ratification of the Treaty before giving orders to increase the coal supply in Austria as soon as possible. He had personally given orders in this matter but he could not guarantee that he would be completely successful, for the shortage of coal in Central Europe was so great that the industries of Czecho-Slovakia were likewise threatened. He suggested that he might draft a letter to the Austrian Delegation informing them of the steps which have been taken. Coal supply of Austria
It was decided that M. Loucheur should submit to the Council a draft letter to the Austrian Delegation, informing the latter of the steps which have been taken to offset as far as possible the coal shortage existing in Austria.
(M. Loucheur then left the room.)
5. Mr. Polk said that he was not ready to discuss this matter because there were certain differences of opinion existing thereon among the military representatives.
(It was decided to adjourn the discussion of this question until Monday, September 22.) Allowances for Officers of the Commissions of Control
The Meeting then adjourned.
Hotel de Crillon, Paris, September 19, 1919.[Page 279] [Page 280]