Paris Peace Conf. 180.03501/59
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 Tuesday, September 23, 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. Dutasta
- 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|
|British Empire||Captain Hinchley-Cooke|
The following were also present for the items in which they were concerned:
- America, United States of
- Mr. A. W. Dulles
- British Empire
- Mr. Carr
- Hon. H. Nicolson
- Lt. Col. Kisch
- M. Cambon
- M. Laroche
- General Le Rond
- M. Hermite
- Colonel Roye
- M. Galli
- M. Brambilla.
1. Mr. Polk said that he wished to draw the attention of the Council to a matter of extreme importance before the order of the day should be taken up. German Tank Ships
At the time of the Armistice the German Government had been in possession of fourteen oil tank [Page 324] ships which had not been disposed of under the terms of the armistice. At a conference in Brussels in March, 1919, the Germans had asked to be allowed to retain these ships on account of the pressing need for oil existing in their country. It had been agreed that they should be allowed to keep them. Simultaneously the Supreme [Economic?] Council had agreed that Germany should be allowed to receive shipments of oil and for that purpose to retain the fourteen ships. Later, when the question of the reparations to be made for the scuttling of the German fleet at Scapa Flow had arisen, the question of the fourteen ships had again been raised. At this time also the Germans were allowed to retain them. These ships had been prepared for use and were to be sent to the United States for transport of oil, the delivery of which had been contracted for and partly paid. On August 15th Admiral Charlton, President of the Interallied Naval Armistice Commission, had directed that these ships be delivered to the Firth of Forth to be placed under the jurisdiction of the Interallied Maritime Transport Council. Some time about September first the American representative on the Interallied Naval Armistice Commission had protested against this delivery, and the question had been raised at a meeting of the Interallied Maritime Transport Council. The American representative had urged that the Supreme Council of the Allied and Associated Powers was alone competent to deal with this question, but his protests had not been heeded. At the meeting of the Supreme Economic Council held at Brussels on September 20th the question of the disposition of these ships had been raised. He had sent a telegram to the Council, asking them to delay action on the matter, but this wire had not been received and presumably had been lost in transmission.
The Supreme Economic Council, on which the United States was not represented, had upheld the decision of the Interallied Maritime Transport Council and had ordered the ships to be delivered to the Firth of Forth. The American Government believed that this constituted a breach of the agreement made with Germany and, furthermore, that neither the Interallied Maritime Transport Council nor the Supreme Economic Council had jurisdiction in the matter. The Supreme Council alone was the body competent to decide on the disposition of the ships and he urged that instructions be given that the order of the Supreme Economic Council be held in abeyance pending the decision on the question by the Supreme Council.
M. Berthelot said that he had been present on the previous evening at a meeting which had taken place at M. Clemenceau’s room, at which M. Berenger, who was one of the representatives of the French Government at the meeting in Brussels on September 20th, had made a report on the matters discussed at this meeting. In the light of [Page 325] M. Berenger’s statements it was clear that he was not aware of the points which had been raised by Mr. Polk. He had gathered the impression from the conversation that there was disagreement between the British and French Governments on the subject of the disposition of the tank ships, but he wished to add that he was not cognizant of the matter which Mr. Polk had presented to the Council.
Mr. Polk said that it was necessary to stop delivery of these ships being made from Hamburg until the Council had arrived at a decision in the matter.
Sir Eyre Crowe said that he was not familiar with all the aspects of the question, and that he would have to consult his government.
Mr. Polk said that an order of the Supreme Economic Council had actually been given in the matter and that it would be necessary to suspend the execution of this order until a decision had been reached.
Mr. Berthelot said that he believed the action would be taken in London, and it was therefore necessary to advise the authorities in that place.
Sir Eyre Crowe said that the matter seemed to him slightly involved. There had been so many bodies which had dealt with this question that it was not exactly clear to which body the order should be sent.
Mr. Polk said that to make sure the order should be sent to every body which had dealt with the question.
M. Pichon said that he was in favor of having the order for the delivery of the ships held in suspense until the matter had been decided upon by the Supreme Council. He pointed out, however, that the holding up of this order did not affect the question of the final distribution of the ships.
Mr. Polk said that this was also his understanding of the matter. The United States had not been represented on the Supreme Economic Council. The Interallied Maritime Transport Council had felt that it had no authority to order the delivery of the ships and had consequently referred the matter to the Supreme Economic Council, despite the protest made by the United States. The Economic Council had taken jurisdiction of the matter and had given the orders for the delivery of the ships to the Firth of Forth. It was to this body that the resolution of the Council should be sent without delay.
Sir Eyre Crowe said that he would notify the authorities in London in any case.
(It was decided that the fourteen oil tank ships, which Germany had been allowed to retain at the time of the armistice, should not be delivered to the Allies until such time as the Supreme Council has agreed upon their ultimate disposition.)
(It was further decided that the Supreme Economic Council, which had given the orders for the delivery of the ships in question, should be [Page 326] instructed to take immediately the necessary steps to cancel these orders.)
2. Sir Eyre Crowe said that in paragraph three of the resolution, taken by the Supreme Council on the previous day, (H. D. 58 Minute 2),1 thought that a slight error had occurred. This paragraph, which read as follows: Question of Teschen
“That the members of the Interallied Commission, charged with organizing the plebiscite, should not be chosen from among the members of the Interallied Commission now at Teschen.”
had appeared in the report submitted by the joint Czecho-Slovak Polish Commission as a mere expression of opinion of that body.
He did not understand that the Commission had taken a definite resolution on this point and he did not wish to criticise it as a decision. He was not in a position to agree that it should be carried out, but would be obliged to refer to his government. It was possible that sufficient personnel might not be found to send a different British representation for the Plebiscite Commission than that of the Interallied Commission now at Teschen. He thought it would be well for each government to have free hand in the matter of this resolution.
Mr. Laroche said that at the meeting of the Joint Czecho-Slovak and Polish Commission on September 10th Colonel Kisch, the British representative had suggested that the Interallied Commission actually at Teschen should be reinforced with additional members for the purpose of supervising the plebiscite.
He, Mr. Laroche, had answered that the Commission now at Teschen should be completely withdrawn and a new Commission sent there for the purpose of the plebiscite. His reasons in so urging were that the commission at present in Teschen had been there for such a long time, and had been so mixed up in local quarrels and difficulties that it was possible it would not have sufficient prestige to carry into effect its orders regarding the plebiscite. Colonel Kisch had agreed with this opinion. This agreement had enabled Mr. Cambon to state that even though no decision had been taken by the Commission on the point, this body was strongly in favor of the paragraph referred to by Sir Eyre Crowe.
Mr. Cambon said that he was all the more determined to maintain his recommendation of the previous day for the reason that two letters had been received in the interval; one was from Mr. Paderewski and the other from Mr. Benes. Mr. Benes had said that the Czecho-Slovak Government could not agree to the continuation in power of the present Commission at Teschen, because of the numerous complaints which had been received against that body, as well as [Page 327] the complaints which it had made against the local authorities. It was highly desirable that a new Commission should be installed for the purpose of the plebiscite. Mr. Paderewski, in a letter written to Mr. Clemenceau, had spoken of the warlike atmosphere which existed throughout Upper Silesia and which necessitated a military intervention. He earnestly requested the immediate organization of a commission to carry out the plebiscite in that region, and further stated that such a body should send an appreciable number of officers ahead as an advance detachment. In this instance both the Czecho-Slovaks and Poles were in accord, and the Council should conform to their desires and send a new Commission there immediately.
Mr. Pichon said he understood that Sir Eyre Crowe would recommend this proposition to his government.
Mr. Polk said that, in order to spare the feelings of the present members of the Commission in Teschen, it would be as well that the matter should appear in the form of a recommendation of the Czecho-Slovak–Polish Commission, rather than a resolution of the Council.
(It was decided that the third paragraph of the resolution taken by the Council on the previous day (H. D. 58, Minute 2) be amended to read as follows:
“3. That it was preferable that the members of the Interallied Commission charged with organizing the plebiscite should not be chosen from among the members of the Interallied Commission now at Teschen.”)
3. M. Pichon said that the Council had neglected at its last session to decide upon the entertainment allowances to be granted to the head of the Interallied Military Commission of Control and to the heads of the Subcommissions thereof. Allowances for Officers of the Interallied Commission of Control
Colonel Roye said that General Nollet proposed to grant an entertainment allowance of 5,000 marks per month to each of the general officers acting as presidents of the Sub-commissions. This would insure to these officers a financial situation slightly inferior to that enjoyed by General Dupont, who had been Chief of the French Military Mission in Berlin during the armistice. General Nollet had not made any proposal in regard his own remuneration.
M. Pichon suggested that General Nollet should receive the same allowances as General Dupont had been granted.
Colonel Roye pointed out that this would not be feasible, as General Nollet would have four hundred officers under his orders as compared with twenty-five who had been under the command of General Dupont. He proposed 10,000 marks a month for General Nollet.[Page 328]
M. Pichon suggested that these figures might be accepted, subject to a revision to be made every three months.
Mr. Polk directed the attention of the Council to the fact that the United States was not voting in this matter, as it had no representation on the Interallied Commissions of Control.
It was decided:
- that the following monthly entertainment allowances be made to
the President of the Interallied Military Commission of Control
in Germany and to the Presidents of the Subcommissions thereof,
- for the President of the Commission, 10,000 marks
- for the Presidents of the Subcommissions, 5,000 marks
- that these allowances, as well as those of the remainder of the personnel of the Commissions, should be revised every three months, according to the economic conditions of the cost of living in Germany.
4. M. Pichon said that each delegation had received copies of the telegrams sent by Sir George Clerk and that it might be well to await the return of the latter to Paris before discussing the information contained in his telegrams. Situation in Hungary. Telegrams From Sir George Clerk
(The Council had before it telegrams from Sir George Clerk, dated Sept. 16th and 19th. See Appendices “A”, “B”, “C”.)
M. Berthelot said that he had been instructed by M. Clemenceau to inform the Council that he, M. Clemenceau, considered M. Bratiano’s answer, as expressed in Sir George Clerk’s telegrams, as conciliatory. This opinion was further strengthened by the fact that the Roumanian Government had made several proposals seeking to conciliate their position with the demands made by the Council. Colonel Antonesco had arrived in Paris to settle the military questions with the Council. In addition, M. Bratiano had stated that he was prepared to release the material for the reconstruction of the bridge across the Save River, which he had held up pending the return by the Serbians of the material which they had removed from the Banat. Furthermore, in order to avoid being charged with stirring up Bolshevism in Hungary, and for the purpose of assisting the Hungarians to form a police force, the Roumanian Government was prepared, on withdrawing its forces from Hungary, to leave one division in Budapest under the command of the senior Allied General in that city. This measure would be for the purpose of maintaining order until the Hungarians were in a situation to guarantee it. Lastly, M. Bratiano was prepared to furnish a list of the requisitions made by the Roumanians in Hungary and agreed that these should be thrown into the general pool for the purpose of the reparations to all the Allies.[Page 329]
In view of the conciliatory nature of these proposals, M. Clemenceau had believed that the delivery of arms and munitions to the Roumanian Government, agreed upon with the French in 1917, which had been temporarily held up, should be resumed. He had accordingly given orders that these shipments be resumed.
Mr. Polk said that he was somewhat surprised that M. Clemenceau had taken this responsibility alone, as the decision to stop all shipments of material to Roumania had been taken by the Five Powers constituting the Council.
M. Berthelot said that he had not understood that the Council had reached a decision on this matter. He believed that M. Clemenceau had simply made an offer to suspend the French shipments, which were being made in execution of a contract entered into in 1917, and that this offer had been accepted by the Council. In addition, M. Bratiano had given the impression that France alone had suspended its shipments, for the British Government was actually negotiating with the Roumanians for the delivery of naval material and the transport of Roumanian material from Archangel. Italy was also in the process of establishing an economic agreement with Roumania.
Mr. Polk said that on August 25 (see H. D. 38, Minute 3)2 the Council had taken a formal resolution to suspend shipments of material of all kind to the Roumanian Government.
Sir Eyre Crowe said that Sir George Clerk had telegraphed to the effect that the shipments of British war material to Rumania had been stopped by virtue of the resolution of the Council referred to by Mr. Polk. The former had recommended, however, that, if the answer of the Rumanian Government was considered satisfactory by the Council the embargo on the shipments should be raised.
Mr. Berthelot admitted that there had been a resolution which had slipped his memory for the time being, and that this placed a different aspect on the situation.
Mr. Pichon suggested that the Council would do well to await the arrival of Sir George Clerk.
Mr. Polk agreed with Mr. Pichon, but drew attention again to the fact that the French Government had issued orders to recommence its shipments. He said that this placed him in an embarrassing position as he had stopped all American shipments immediately after the resolution referred to had been passed. It was extremely necessary for all the Allies to act together in this matter. Mr. Bratiano and his representatives had promised much, but up to the present had done nothing. In the communication made to Sir George Clerk on the subject of requisitions, the Rumanians had distinctly reserved [Page 330] everything which they had taken during the fighting. This reservation might be extended to include everything which they had removed from Budapest. They also said that they would retain all material which had formerly belonged to them. The Allied Generals in Budapest were in an undignified position, and he could not agree with his colleagues that the Rumanian answer was conciliatory.
Sir Eyre Crowe said it would be well to adjourn the matter pending the return of Sir George Clerk. He had received information by telegram to the effect that the Rumanians had made exorbitant requisitions in Hungary and that the actual situation in Budapest was very different from that which the Rumanians themselves described.
Mr. Berthelot said that it would not be difficult to suspend the order given by the French Government to continue the shipments to Rumania.
Mr. Polk said it would be better that this should be done.
(It was decided that the resolution of the Council of August 25, (H. D. 38, Minute 3) be upheld, and that no shipments of material to Rumania should be authorized at the present time.
It was further decided to adjourn the discussion of the question of Rumania until the arrival of Sir George Clerk from Bucharest.)
5. (At this point Mr. Paderewski entered the room.)
Mr. Paderewski said that the Polish Government had studied the question of Eastern Galicia, on which the Council had deliberated. In this matter it had been guided not only reasons of State, but also by the sincere desire to ascertain in what measure the provisions of the Polish Commission had carried out the wishes of the Supreme Council. He had consulted the Parliamentary Commissions of the Polish National Assembly, and numerous delegates from the people of all parts of the country, and also the Ruthenians, and he was sorry to inform the Council that the results had not been satisfactory. Galicia was one of the regions which had been greatly devastated, and more civilians had been killed therein than in any other country. Since the armistice a civil war had deluged Poland with blood and the Ukrainians, led by the Germans, had carried havoc into the country. At the moment when the Allies were silencing the German guns on the Western Front, the Germans had been in process of devastating Poland and Galicia. Hearing of Mr. Paderewski on Question of Eastern Galicia
Moved by the sufferings of these people the Peace Conference had endeavored to establish order, security, and justice in Galicia, and had, therefore wished to grant autonomy to that country. He pointed out, however, that Poland itself had already granted autonomy to Galicia, by virtue of the Polish Diet. As this was the [Page 331] case, and the province in question had been completely restored to order Poland was at a loss to understand the decision taken by the Peace Conference.3
It was not easy for him to translate the feelings of a multitude of people, but intense pain had been caused to Poland by the rigor of the Council’s decision to cut out of its body politic a province which had been a part of Poland since the 14th Century. He realized that his country was too weak to enforce its historic rights. Poland once extended from the Baltic to the Danube, from the Elbe to the Dnieper, but it was not the wish of that country to claim Moravia “and Slovakia from its good neighbors the Czecho-Slovaks.
Poland’s rights to Galicia were not based upon past history, but upon the present and future. It was not a correct statement that only the urban population in Eastern Galicia was Polish and that the rural population was Ruthene. The population of the rural districts was largely Polish and in certain regions the proportion was as high as 50 per cent. At the time of the Austrian domination, 85 per cent of the direct taxes in Eastern Galicia had been paid by Poles. Poland, while not basing its claims on the past, was obliged to insist upon the present, as its national existence was at stake.
The city of Danzig, and the railway line leading from Warsaw there, an essential outlet for the Polish State, had been denied to Poland on the question of nationality because the population was largely German. On the other hand in Upper Silesia, on the request of the Germans a defeated enemy power, a plebiscite had been granted—in a region which was essentially Polish, as admitted by the Germans themselves. And now Poland was faced with the loss of Lemberg, the population of which was 85 per cent Polish, for the temporary regime proposed for Galicia meant a certain loss of that country.
This temporary regime proposed by the Council brought joy to the hearts of the Germans. Instead of law and order existing in the country, its results would be continual conflicts of all kinds. A permanent electoral campaign would be carried on. German Agents, the very men who had killed Polish women and children, would constitute the members of the Galician Diet. The temporary regime furthermore, from an economic point of view, would prevent the exploitation of Polish resources in Galicia, especially in the oil districts where much Allied capital had been invested. It would be Poland’s duty to furnish the help necessary for the reconstruction of the country. If at the end of the temporary period provided for Galicia be snatched from Poland, from What source would Poland draw its reimbursement?[Page 332]
He further pointed out that neither Admiral Koltchak, as representing Russia, nor General Petlioura, as representing the Ukraine, disputed Poland’s just claims to Eastern Galicia. He had only heard of the proposed Treaty by rumors as he had not seen the proposed text of the document. He believed, however, that it comprised three clauses which were extremely prejudicial to Polish Interests.
These were: First, the entrusting of the agrarian reform to the Galician diet; Second, the fact that Galicia was not to be represented in the Polish diet; and lastly that the inhabitants of Galicia were not to be submitted to the compulsory military service of Poland.
On the first point he said that the Polish Government alone should be entrusted with the agrarian reforms in Galicia, as otherwise the Galician diet, inspired by German influence, would only look to the despoiling of their Polish neighbors.
On the second point he felt that it was impossible that two million Poles living in Eastern Galicia should not have a voice in the Diet at Warsaw.
As regards military service it would not be just to accord the Galicians all the rights and privileges of the Polish government without subjecting them to its obligations.
The general scheme of the Treaty seemed to him to be to detach Galicia from Poland at the earliest possible moment. The temporary regime provided for meant the loss of Lemberg and all Eastern Galicia, a loss which Poland could not endure and survive. Poland would never forgive its delegates to the Conference should it lose Eastern Galicia. It was obliged to defend this territory as it would defend its own body. Galicia had given poets, heroes and statesmen to Poland. He entreated the Council not to impose on Poland the temporary regime for Eastern Galicia provided by the Treaty. He asked that the treaty be not upheld, if the Council desired to see a firm allied state in Central Europe.
In conclusion he asked that Galicia be granted to Poland and promised that the latter would govern it in the interests of humanity and justice, and that no complaints except from the German interests, would be heard.
6. Mr. Polk suggested that the Council was not making much progress with the agenda at each of its meetings. He therefore suggested that the meetings should take place earlier in the day, or twice a day, or that Committees may be made use of to a greater extent. In addition, he proposed that where unanimity had been reached upon a question in the discussions of any Commission, this matter be placed at the head of the agenda each day and the reading of the report of the Commission be omitted. Work of the Council[Page 333]
M. Pichon said that he and M. Clemenceau would be unable to attend meetings of the Council in the afternoon as they were both engaged at the French Chamber.
After some further discussion, it was decided:
- that the meetings of the Council should take place at 10:30 o’clock each morning.
- that matters upon which unanimous decisions had been reached at the Commission hearings, should be placed at the head of the agenda for each day and the reading of the Commission’s report thereon be omitted.
(The meeting then adjourned.)
- Ante, p. 300.↩
- Vol. vii, p. 836.↩
- HD–57, minute 3, and appendix C thereto, pp. 270 and 280.↩
- Appendix E to HD–47, p. 111.↩
- Appendix O to HD–23, vol. vii, p. 517; appendix A to HD–24, ibid., p. 541: HD–25, ibid., p. 555; appendix B to HD–26, ibid., p. 615; HD–30, ibid., p. 682; appendix C to HD–31, ibid., p. 691; appendix A to HD–37, ibid., p. 819: appendix OtoHD–38, ibid., p. 857.↩