Paris Peace Conf. 180.03501/43
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 Saturday, August 30, 1919, at 11 a.m.
United States of America
- Hon. F. L. Polk.
- Mr. L. Harrison.
- Rt. Hon. A. J. Balfour.
- Mr. H. Norman.
- Sir George Clerk.
- M. Clemenceau.
- M. Pichon.
- M. Dutasta.
- M. Berthelot.
- M. de Saint-Quentin.
- M. Tittoni.
- M. Paterno.
- M. Matsui.
- M. Kawai.
- United States of America
|United States of America||Capt. Chapin.|
|British Empire||Lt-Commander Bell.|
|France||M. de Percin.|
The following also attended for the items with which they were concerned.
United States of America
- Dr. James Brown Scott.
- Mr. Woolsey.
- Mr. C. J. B. Hurst.
- Mr. J. W. Headlam-Morley.
- Major-General Sir C. J. Sackville-West.
- Mr. H. Nicolson.
- Mr. A. Leeper.
- M. Tardieu.
- M. Cambon.
- M. Laroche.
- M. Fromageot.
- M. Hermitte.
- M. Massigli.
- M. Kammerer.
- Count Vannutelli-Rey.
- M. Galli.
- M. Castoldi.
- M. Ricci-Busatti.
1. M. Cambon read aloud the French text of the draft covering letter, in reply to the Austrian counter-proposals, prepared by Mr. Philip Kerr. On concluding, he remarked that the letter now before the Council was longer than the former communication drafted by the Editing Committee. He further remarked, that, in Mr. Philip Kerr’s draft covering letter, no mention was made of the fact that the Allied and Associated Powers had decided to call the new Austrian State the Austrian Republic, and to avoid all mention of the expression “German Austria”. The Covering Letter in Reply to the Austrian Counter proposals. (See Appendix A)
M. Tittoni said that it had been decided that the expression “Republic of Austria” should be employed in all official communications addressed to that Country. He did not think that it was within the power of the Council to do more. (See H. D. 29, Minute 4.)1
M. Clemenceau said that he agreed with M. Tittoni.
M. Cambon read the passage in the original covering letter drafted by the Editing Committee, dealing explicitly with the point in question (see H. D. 38, Appendix “F”).2
Mr. Balfour said that he wished to make a general comparison between the former document, prepared by the Editing Committee, and the one now before the Council. He accepted M. Cambon’s statement that the new draft covering letter was longer than the former. He also agreed with him that the new letter omitted certain points which had been dealt with by the Editing Committee. With regard to the manner in which the Austrian Government should henceforth be addressed, the Council had always referred to the “Austrian Republic” in all official documents, and it was not possible to do more than this. Neither the Council nor the League of Nations could prevent any Country from conferring upon itself any title that it might desire to be known by. The original document drawn up by the Editing Committee was an extremely able one and a proof of this statement consisted in the fact that the new draft before the Council was based entirely upon the old covering letter, to which it owed everything. None the less, he preferred the new version to the old. What was desired was a document drafted in such a form, that it should be read widely in Allied, and in enemy, countries. This document should, moreover, express in the clearest and most forcible terms, the main contention of the Allied and Associated Governments, which was that the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy had largely caused the war and that the Austrian Republic was the direct successor of the old Kingdom. He thought that this main argument was expressed with greater force in the new document. If, however, [Page 14] the Council desired to adhere to the former draft covering letter drawn up by the Editing Committee, he would point out that it had not been the work of a single mind; that, in consequence, it contained a certain number of repetitions; and that it insisted on details, which, though important to the Allied Governments, and possibly to Austria, would not excite the interest of the ordinary public.
He thought that in the new document, Italy’s case had been better stated. Attention was drawn to the selfish and unscrupulous manner in which the old Austro-Hungarian Monarchy had always tried to arrange her frontiers with Italy in such a way that she would have that country at her mercy. He did not think that too much emphasis could be given to this. In favouring the acceptance of the new document before the Council, he based his preference on the conviction that it would be more accessible to the mind of the ordinary public throughout the world.
Mr. Polk said that there was no great choice between either draft. On the whole, however, he was ready to agree with Mr. Balfour to accept the one prepared by Mr. Philip Kerr, but drew attention to the fact that a few changes would be necessary in it.
M. Tittoni said that the new document before the Council had been very well drawn up, and that it possessed the qualities ascribed to it by Mr. Balfour. He therefore accepted it.
M. Matsui said that he accepted the English draft.
M. Cambon drew attention to the fact that in the old draft letter drawn up by the Editing Committee, the question of a possible union between Germany and Austria was dealt with. It was not mentioned in the new document.
M. Clemenceau said that the question of the future relations between Germany and Austria would be discussed.
M. Cambon drew attention to the American proposal contained in Appendix F of H. D. 38.3 This proposal pointed out that the original covering letter was not in agreement with the preamble of the Peace Treaty on the subject of the present status of Austria.
Mr. Polk, in further explanation, stated that in the preamble of the Peace Treaty the words “Austria is recognised as a new and independent State under the name of the Republic of Austria” appeared. In the original covering letter, Austria had been treated as the successor of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. He suggested that the matter could be settled by deleting from the preamble of the Treaty the phrase above quoted. In addition to this, the word “Austria” on page 8 of the preamble, should be replaced by the expression “Republic of Austria”.[Page 15]
Mr. Balfour remarked that the words “Austria is recognised as a new and independent State” had been inserted by President Wilson, who would not, he thought, raise any objection to their suppression.
Mr. Polk said that the manner in which Austria was referred to in the preamble had an important bearing upon the future obligations of the new Republic. The phrase in question affected the Peace Treaty; the covering letter was not concerned with it.
M. Tittoni remarked that in the new document before the Council, the “tyranny” of the old Austro-Hungarian Monarchy was emphasised in one place and the “centralization” of that Government in another. He thought that the last expression weakened the first.
Mr. Balfour said that the centralization of the former Austro-Hungarian Monarchy had been drawn attention to, in order to show the Austrian people how much the dominant position of Vienna, in former days, stood to their prejudice at present.
Mr. Polk said that on page 7 of the English Draft, the words “Committees who reported on the question” should be replaced by the word “Conference”. He also said that the resolution passed on the previous day, with regard to Radkersburg, made it necessary to amend the statement on the subject of the Austro-Hungarian frontiers.
M. Tardieu said that a small sub-Committee of the Reparations Commission had been of the opinion that a special clause (see Appendix “B”) should be inserted in the draft letter.
Mr. Balfour said that he thought such a clause ought to be put in a separate document.
(After some discussion, it was agreed the proposed special clause should be added to the covering letter, in some way, possibly, as a footnote.)
It was decided:—
- That the covering letter prepared by Mr. Philip Kerr, and
submitted to the Council, should be accepted as a whole, but
that the following modifications4 should be introduced:—5
- Page 7 (English Text) Paragraph 4. Lines 8 & 9, the words “Committees who reported on the question”, should be replaced by the word “Conference”.
- That the statements in Paragraph 4, Page 7 (English Text) on the subject of the Austrian frontiers, should be amended in [Page 16] conformity with the resolution taken on the previous day with regard to Radkersburg and Marburg (See H. D. 42, Minute L)6
- That the draft resolution passed by the Sub-Committee of the Reparation Commission (See Appendix “B”) should be added to the covering letter in the form of a foot-note, or in some other suitable manner.
- It was also decided that the following changes should be made
in the preamble of the Peace Treaty with Austria:—
- On Page 8, Line 11 from the bottom, the word “Austria” should be replaced by the words “Republic of Austria”.
- On Page 8, Lines 5 & 6 from the bottom the words “Austria is recognised as a new and independent State under the name of the Republic of Austria”, should be deleted.)
2. The Council took note of the reply of the Drafting Committee to the question put before it by the Council on the 27th [28th] August.
(See H. D. 39, Minute 4,7 and See Appendix “C”.)
M. Clemenceau said that he could not agree with the reply of the Drafting Committee. In his opinion, Article 61 of the new German Constitution not only violated the Treaty of Versailles, but called for the collaboration of the Austrian Republic in that very violation. The situation caused was a serious one, and must be faced. In his opinion, the attention of the German Government should be called to this act of violation and should be forced to give a reply. He thought that the Drafting Committee’s argument was an extremely clever one, but the assent of the German Government to that argument must be obtained. International lawyers were notorious for their differences of opinion. One lawyer would assert that an object-was red, another that it was blue, whilst a third would be equally certain that it had no color at all. These differences of opinion, though entertaining, were not a suitable basis for measures affecting the peace of Europe. Article in the German Constitution Violating the Peace Treaty With Germany. (Reference HD–42, Minute 6)8
Mr. Balfour said that there were two questions before the Council. Firstly, the insertion of a clause in the Peace Treaty with Austria, with a view to counteracting the provisions of Article 61 of the new German Constitution; and, secondly, the action which should be taken with regard to Germany in view of her violation of the Peace Treaty of Versailles. He would like to know the opinion of the lawyers of the Drafting Committee upon the legal side of the question.
Dr. Scott said that, in his opinion, the insertion of Article 61 in the German Constitution showed that the German Government had wilfully, deliberately, and without cause, broken the pact into which she had entered at Versailles.[Page 17]
M. Clemenceau said that it might be sufficient to make the Austrian Government undertake not to be a party to the German Government’s manoeuvre.
(It was agreed that a special clause should be inserted in the Peace Treaty with Austria.)
Mr. Balfour said that he agreed with M. Clemenceau, but that he would like to hear a concise statement of the problem in international law raised by Article 61. He believed that the Drafting Committee had not been unanimous in its opinion on the subject.
M. Fromageot said that he thought that the new German Constitution violated the Peace Treaty, and added, that the advice to the Council, in the form submitted, had been unanimously accepted by the Drafting Committee.
M. Clemenceau said that he had news, in the form of a letter, which he had not yet circulated to the Council, that the attitude of the German Government was quite unsatisfactory. They were opposing Allied action in Silesia and his latest information was to the effect, that one army corps would now be necessary for that country. All this only constituted an extra proof of the bad faith of the German people, and its Government.
Mr. Hurst said that there had been a difference of opinion in the Drafting Committee as to the extent to which the Peace Treaty of Versailles had been violated, although all were agreed that it had been violated in a certain degree. The point at issue was as follows. Article 80 of the Peace Treaty with Germany contained two references to the independence of Austria. In the first, Germany was called upon “to respect strictly the independence of Austria.” In the second, she agreed that “this independence shall be inalienable.” Undoubtedly Article 61 of the German Constitution violated the letter of the Peace of Versailles, but it was in the form of an invitation to Austria to join Germany. A country’s independence was recognised by abstaining from all acts of coercion against it; and an invitation, which was the very reverse of a coercive measure, could hardly be said to threaten the independence of a sovereign State.
M. Tardieu said that Mr. Hurst’s argument was to the effect that Article 61 of the German Constitution exerted no pressure against Austria. The Peace Treaty of Versailles, however, stipulated that nothing should be done to interfere with Austrian independence. As an act prejudicial to that independence had been taken, the question of whether there had, or had not, been direct pressure, could be laid to one side.
M. Clemenceau said that he thought a letter should be sent on the subject to the German Government, which should be called upon to reply.[Page 18]
M. Tardieu said that the action of the German Government had been taken by the Legislative Authorities. In previous cases (Slesvig, etc.) the Executive Authorities had been concerned. In either case, the Council could act.
M. Clemenceau said that the Council was called upon to take a political and not a legal decision; and suggested that Mr. Balfour, who was a moderate man, should draft the communication to be sent to the German Government.
Mr. Balfour said that he did not think that moderation was the exact quality required, and he thought that M. Berthelot, who was not a moderate man, ought to draft the letter.
M. Tittoni remarked that the cases of Austria and of Germany was not quite analogous. Germany must be called upon to perform her Treaty engagements. He did not know whether Austria could be called upon to settle, finally, her future condition, at the dictation of the Council.
M. Pichon said that in the draft Article for insertion in the Peace Treaty with Austria (See Appendix “C”), the manner in which the future independence of Austria was to be assured by the League of Nations was clearly provided for.
(It was agreed:—
- that the draft Article regarding the independence of Austria (See Appendix “C”) should be accepted and inserted in the Austrian Peace Treaty;
- that M. Berthelot should draft a letter for transmission to the German Government on the subject of Article 61 of the new German Constitution and should submit his draft to the Council at its next meeting.)
3. The Council took note of the Drafting Committee’s report on the draft articles to be inserted in the Peace Treaty with Austria, for the settlement of differences between States called upon by that Treaty to conclude special Conventions. (See Annex “D”.)
(After some discussion, it was decided that the draft articles for insertion in the Peace Treaty with Austria—See Annex “D”—should be accepted.) Draft Articles for the Treaty With Austria for the Settlement of Differences Between States Called Upon by the Treaty To Conclude Special Conventions
4. The Council took note of a document drawing attention to the divergences between the French and English texts of the Covenant of the League of Nations. (See Annex “E”.) Languages of the Peace Treaty
Mr. Balfour proposed the following draft resolution:—
“The present Treaty in French, in English and in Italian shall be ratified. In case of divergence, the French text shall prevail, except in Parts I and XIII, where the French and English texts shall be of equal force.”
He said that in bringing forward this resolution, he desired to make it quite clear, that he did not wish it to be thought, that he was provoking a competition for priority between the French and English languages:
(After some discussion, it was agreed:—
- That in the case of divergence between the French, English and Italian texts of the Peace Treaty with Austria, the French text should prevail, except in parts I and XIII, where the French and English texts should be of equal force.
- That the Drafting Committee should insert an Article in the Peace Treaty with Austria in conformity with the aforesaid resolution.)
5. The Council took note of a communication from M. Pachitch, on behalf of the Yugo-Slav State, to the effect that the Yugo-Slav Government could not undertake to sign the Peace Treaty with Austria, until the special Treaty between themselves and the Allied & Associated Govts., provided for in Article 59 of the Peace Treaty with Austria, had been communicated to them. Proposed Treaty Between the Principal Allied and Associated Powers and the Yugo-Slav State
(It was agreed that the consideration of this question should be adjourned to the Meeting of the Council on Monday, September 1st, 1919.)
(The Meeting then adjourned.)
- Vol. vii, p. 672.↩
- Ibid., pp. 859, 860.↩
- Vol. vii, pp. 859, 912.↩
- Modification (a) has already been made in the copy of the draft letter which accompanies the minutes as appendix A.↩
- In Resolutions
Adopted by the Supreme Council, August 30, 1919
(Paris Peace Conf. 180.03502/43), this paragraph reads as
“It was agreed that the covering letter prepared by Mr. Philip Kerr and submitted to the Council should be accepted as a whole, but that the following modifications should be introduced therein by Mr. Philip Kerr, who should transmit his text to the Editing Committee:”
- Ante, p. 2.↩
- Vol. vii, p. 937.↩
- Ante, p. 5.↩
- This clause is misplaced and apparently is a typographical error. The final text of the letter, as printed in Senate Document No. 121, 66th Cong., 1st sess., p. 7, reads as follows: “The League of Nations to which the Allied and Associated Powers hope the Republic of Austria may be admitted at an early date is not only the protectress of the rights and liberties of Austria; it will protect not merely the rights of all the signatories of the Treaty; it institutes at the same time the organism by grace of which all arrangements may be made to intervene, in calm and legality, which events or new circumstances may render necessary in course of the settlement of the peace.”↩
- Translation from the French supplied by the editors.↩
- Translation from the French supplied by the editors.↩
- HD–41, minute 3, vol. vii, p. 957.↩
- Translation from the French supplied by the editors.↩
- HD–36, minute 3, vol. vii, p. 789.↩