Paris Peace Conf. 180.03501/62
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, September 27, 1919, at 10:30 a.m.
America, United States of
- Hon. F. L. Polk
- Mr. L. Harrison
- Sir Eyre Crowe
- Mr. H. Norman
- Hon. H. Nicolson
- 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||Mr. C. Russell|
|British Empire||Capt. Hinchley-Cooke|
The following were also present for the items in which they were concerned.
America, United States of
- Mr. J. B. Scott,
- Mr. E. L. Dresel.
- General Groves,
- General Sykes,
- General Sackville-West,
- Lieutenant-Colonel Kisch,
- Lieutenant-Commander Dunne,
- Mr. Ibbetson-James,
- Mr. Brigstocke.
- M. Claveille,
- M. Loucheur,
- M. Berenger,
- M. Laroche,
- Commander Levavasseur,
- M. Fromageot,
- Captain Roper.
- M. Galli,
- Admiral Orsini,
- Lieutenant-Colonel Guidoni,
- Lieutenant-Colonel Piccio.
- M. Ricci-Busatti.
- M. Nagaoka.
1. The Council had before it a note from the French Delegation of September 24th (See appendix “A”).
M. Loucheur said that he wished to make a brief summary of what had taken place. The Inter-Allied Maritime Transport Council had taken decisions in regard to the distribution of the German Oil Tank Ships which had, in accordance with the Brussels decision, been left temporarily to Germany. At a meeting which had taken place in London, it had been decided upon request of the American Delegate that the question should be referred for a definite decision to the Supreme Economic Council. The Council had met at Brussels on the 20th September. Unfortunately an incident had occurred which was the cause of the present discussion. A telegram sent to Brussels by the American Delegation had arrived in a mutilated condition. It was necessary to ask for a repetition which had arrived too late. When the Supreme Economic Council confirmed the resolution of the A. M. T. E. it believed that it was acting in full accord with the views of the American Delegation. He wished to call the attention of the Council to the following points: (1) The German Oil Tank Ships had been left to Germany only temporarily and the Inter-Allied Council at London was alone competent to decide as to their allocation. It was not a matter for the Committee on the Organization of the Reparations Commission. It was a question of a distribution made by virtue of the Armistice. The American Delegation held that it had been decided to leave these ships to Germany to assure the transport of oil. There was a disagreement on this point. The Ships had not been left indefinitely to Germany and the proof of this lay in the fact that, far from protesting against giving up the ships, the German Government had given orders for their delivery. (2) That the Standard Oil Company claimed that the ships belonged to it because the Company owned all the stock of the German Company which owned the ships in question. He wished to say with reference to this point that that was a question which could not be dealt with at the moment and was a matter for the Reparations Commission. German Oil Tank Ships
Mr. Polk said that he agreed that the question should not be discussed at present.
M. Loucheur said that his next point was: (3) That the ships ought not to lie idle. There was a shortage of tonnage from which all the world, including Germany, suffered. There was no doubt but that Germany needed oil and it was necessary to furnish it. The Standard Oil Company was prepared to furnish credit to Germany for oil and asked that the ships in question be placed at its disposal for the purpose of effecting the delivery. He wished to suggest, as his own opinion, the following:[Page 404]
The German ships in question would be turned over to the Powers in accordance with the decision of the A. M. T. E. They should immediately undertake a voyage to transport oil furnished by the Standard Oil Company to Germany with the understanding that the Standard Oil Company should open a credit of sufficient length of time to make it unnecessary to ask Germany at an early date to use part of its gold supply to pay for the oil.
Mr. Polk said that he would like to ask whether the decision taken in London provided for a definite or only temporary allocation of these ships.
M. Loucheur replied that it was only a question of temporary allocation.
M. Henry Berenger said that the distribution had been made in the following manner and that with the exception of the American Delegate there had been a unanimous opinion. The percentage of losses during the war had been taken into consideration and on this basis France had received 50 percent of the tonnage (30,000 tons dead weight and 23,000 tons gross weight), Italy 10,000 tons and Belgium 12,000 tons. It had been decided that Great Britain should receive three-quarters of the remainder, and America one-quarter. The reasons for this decision were as follows. Of the 47 German Oil Tank Ships existing at the outbreak of the war, 17 had taken refuge in American ports; 5 had been destroyed; 14 were discovered at Hamburg and 7 had not been found. The Shipping Board had opened an investigation to ascertain where these ships were. They were the ships which were to be divided between Great Britain and the United States and their value was considerable. The distribution had been made in accordance with the terms of the Armistice and were effective until the moment when, after the Treaty of Peace became effective, the Separations Commission should take definite steps as to the final division of the ships in question. Of the 14 ships found at Hamburg, only 11 were available. Of these 7 belonged to the Deutsch-Amerikanische Petroleum Gesellschaft, two to the Deutsche Erdoel Gesellschaft, and two to Messrs. Albrecht.
Mr. Polk asked whether the 11 ships would be used for a voyage to Germany.
M. Loucheur replied that they would, and that, if the question of making a second voyage should arise, it would be necessary for the Supreme Council to re-examine the question.
M. Henry Berenger said that M. Loucheur’s proposal was in conformity with the resolution taken by the A. M. T. E. He wished to make certain points clear, and to ask whether it was the Standard Oil Company alone which should furnish Germany with the oil which was needed. There were other American Companies. He asked [Page 405] whether a contract existed and whether part of the price had already been paid. Mr. Polk had said so a few days before and the New York Heraldhad published his statement. He also wished to ask whether the Standard Oil Company was prepared to make a long term credit. The representatives of that company, who had called upon him on the preceding day, had made no definite statement on that subject.
M. Loucheur said that he wished to point out that Germany could not dispose of her funds without the authorization of the Financial Commission. It was proposed to notify Germany that she should make contracts with whatever American company she wished to and it was the duty of the Financial Commission to examine the conditions of payment. It was there that the question of a long term credit would be passed upon.
Mr. Polk said that he was certain that no money had passed but he would ask for complete information and would be glad to furnish such information to the Council. He wished to ask under what conditions the ships would be navigated and by what crews they would be manned.
M. Loucheur replied that the ships would fly the flag of the nation to which they had been allocated temporarily and also the Inter-Allied flag.
M. Henry Berenger said that, so far as the officers and crews of these ships were concerned, it had been decided, and Germany had made no objections, that they should be manned by officers and crews of the Allied nations in question.
Mr. Polk said that, if he understood correctly, there was no question of the ships being allocated to the United States. The suggestion had been made that the United States guarantee their return. He was willing, if the Naval Armistice Commission desired it, to give an assurance on this subject. It was understood that the Standard Oil Company could not keep these ships which they claimed as their property.
Sir Eyre Crowe said that he considered it important that the Armistice Commission should be notified without delay and that a telegram should be transmitted to them on that day.
It was decided:
- that the provisional exemption of tankers granted at Brussels on the 14th March, 1919, should be cancelled. This cancellation should be without prejudice to any previous action taken by the A. N. A. C.;
- that the vessels should be delivered for temporary management to the Allied and Associated Governments according to the decision decided on by the A. M. T. E. on the 17th September, 1919, under the usual armistice terms which should in no way prejudice the final decision to be made by the Reparations Commission provided for by the Treaty of Versailles;
- that, should the German Government so desire, the said ships should be employed under the above terms for one voyage for the conveyance of oil to Germany; should a second voyage be asked for by the German Government, the matter would be again referred to the Supreme Council;
- that in consequence the said vessels should be sent forthwith to the Firth of Forth in compliance with the instructions of the A. N. A. C.
The Council also took note of Mr. Polk’s declaration to the effect that he was prepared
- to give assurance that no payment had as yet been made by Germany for the delivery of the oil in question and
- to furnish to the Naval Armistice Commission, if they should desire it, an assurance that the vessels in question would not be retained by the United States.
2. The Council had before it a note from the French Delegation of the 26th of September (see Appendix “B”). Authorization for German Ships To Proceed to Turkish Ports
M. Laroche read and explained the note presented by the French Delegation. The proposals contained in this note were adopted.
It was decided:
- that the German ships authorized by the Permanent Allied Naval Armistice Commission to proceed in Turkish waters and in the Black Sea could not make any movements other than those for which provision would be made in the laissez-passer:
- that upon approaching Turkish waters and in the Black Sea each of these ships should carry at least one representative of the Allied and Associated Powers;
- that they should in addition fly the Inter-Allied, blue, white and blue, flag;
It was also decided:
that this resolution should be communicated for action to the Permanent Allied Armistice Commission at London.
3. Mr. Polk brought to the attention of the Council the résumé of certain conversations which had taken place at Versailles between an American Representative and Baron von Lersner (see Appendix “C”). He wished to add that Baron von Lersner desired to emphasize the point that the Allied and Associated Governments should make a distinction between the German Government and the German people. They should make the threat to the German people in such a form as to make them understand the harm which their Government was doing in supporting the military party. Baron von Lersner said that the movement in the Baltic Provinces was clearly [Page 407] reactionary in character. He (Mr. Polk) desired to make it clear that the American Delegation did not agree with what Baron von Lersner had said. He (Mr. Polk) felt strongly that it was entirely possible for the German Government to stop rationing the army of General von der Goltz by closing the East Prussian frontier. Communication to the German Government Relative to the Evacuation of the Baltic Provinces
M. Berthelot said that there was serious grounds for doubting the good faith of the German Government in this matter.
M. Pichon said that on that very morning the newspapers had published a telegram from Berlin which contained a report from the German Conservative Press in regard to an exchange of letters between the British General Burt and General von der Goltz. General von der Goltz had used most insolent language to General Burt. He had threatened to break all relations with him and to expel British subjects from the territories under German occupation. He expressed the hope that the German Government would reply to the “injurious pretentions” which the Entente Mission thought themselves able to address to a German General in a foreign country, in a befitting manner.
Sir Eyre Crowe said that this letter only strengthened the opinion of his Government that it was necessary to take action as quickly as possible.
M. Fromageot read the draft note to the German Delegation prepared by the Drafting Committee in accordance with the resolution1 taken by the Council on the 25th of September (see Appendix “D”). He said that in the first paragraph on the 2nd page the Drafting Committee had substituted the words, “all troops” for the words, “these troops”, which appeared in the draft previously prepared by the British Delegation.2 The Committee had desired in this manner to refer to all German troops, no matter under what authority they were. They desired also to omit the last sentence of the third paragraph on the 2nd page, which actually dealt with a matter of interior arrangement. It was hardly necessary to notify the Germans of the instructions given to the Supreme Economic Council.
Mr. Polk said that America was not represented on the Supreme Economic Council and for this reason he wished to ask if the German demands in question were pending before the Committee on the Organization of the Reparations Commission.
M. Fromageot said that if there was any question the words “Supreme Economic Council” could be removed wherever they appeared.[Page 408]
Sir Eyre Crowe said that it had been decided to act immediately. The use of the future tense as in the words, “they will be forced”, tended to weaken the weight of the action.
M. Fromageot said that the Committee had had a scruple upon the subject. They remembered that the Allied and Associated Powers had promised Germany in July that the blockade would be raised after Germany had ratified the Treaty. The Committee had wished to use an expression which would show that they were not unmindful of the former engagement which had been taken and that they took recourse to these measures only because Germany had failed to live up to her obligations. It would be simpler to say, “they will take into consideration”, at the end of the paragraph; they would suppress the words “Supreme Economic Council” wherever they occurred.
Sir Eyre Crowe said that the Council had just decided to furnish oil if the supply of foodstuffs under discussion was to be stopped. It should be understood that the Supreme Council were in a position, if they considered it advisable, to cancel the decision which they had just taken.
M. Pichon said that the Council were in agreement on this point, but that he did not consider it advisable to notify the Armistice Commission of this reservation.
M. Fromageot said that in case the Council decided to hold up the repatriation of the German prisoners of war, the Committee had prepared a formula which could be inserted before the last paragraph on page two and which stated that the repatriation of German prisoners of war would be stopped from that day.
Sir Eyre Crowe said that he thought this formula was too definite. In spite of his repeated telegrams, he had so far not received instructions from his Government. When the subject had been previously discussed, the Council had spoken of a total or partial suspension of repatriation.
M. Pichon said that he thought it would be better to make no mention of prisoners of war.
M. Berthelot said that it was an efficacious means of pressure, even though it was somewhat objectionable.
Mr. Polk said that he thought it would be advisable to make some intimation on the subject through the Press.
Sir Eyre Crowe said that at the meeting at which Mr. Lloyd George had been present, it had been decided to send the ultimatum through the intermediary of Marshal Foch.5 Later they had thought of addressing the German Delegation.6 Now they had returned to [Page 409] the formula of the ultimatum. He thought it would produce a stronger effect if it was communicated to the German Government through the intermediary of Marshal Foch. From a technical point of view, he wished to say that all questions concerning the Armistice had been taken up with the German Government through the intermediary of Marshal Foch and in this particular case the question was one relating to the terms of the Armistice.
M. Fromageot said that the note of September 23rd [3rd?] had been addressed to Marshal Foch.
Mr. Polk said that he had no objections to this procedure.
Sir Eyre Crowe said that he suggested the advisability of making the note public.
M. Pichon said that the Press could be informed of the note on that day, and the terms could be published on the following Monday.
It was decided:
- to accept the draft note to the German Government respecting the evacuation of the Baltic Provinces prepared by the Drafting Committee with the modifications in text approved by the Council (see Appendix “E”).
- to transmit this note to the German Government through the intermediary of the Marshal, Commander in Chief of the Allied Armies;
- to notify the press of the transmission of this note and to make public the text on the 29th of September.
It was also decided:
that the Council, in conformity with the spirit of this note, should reserve the right to stop, if they should consider it advisable, the cargoes of oil, the delivery of which to Germany had been authorized by the Council.
4. M. Fromageot read and explained a note of the 18th of September addressed by the Drafting Committee to the Supreme Council on the subject of the Air Convention which had been adopted by the Supreme Council at its meeting of September 10th7 (See Appendix “F”) Note From the Drafting Committee Air Convention
The Proposals of the Committee were adopted except in regard to Article 18 respecting which the following discussion took place:
Sir Eyre Crowe said that the Article raised very delicate questions. If the Article were entirely suppressed the result might be that aircraft might, upon landing in a foreign country, be prevented from flying for an indefinite period, on the ground that some breach of patent had taken place. He wished to have it stated definitely that in a case of this kind the aircraft would not be detained.[Page 410]
M. Fromageot said that the same question had arisen in the Automobile Convention and at that time it was considered advisable to omit the Article. In point of fact there was no danger that aircraft would be detained for months. It would be sufficient to avoid detention to deposit a bond. It was possible to maintain the article under discussion, but there was no doubt that certain of the Powers would make reservations.
Captain Roper said that the French Delegation had made a reservation in respect of this Article for the purpose of protecting industrial property. They could not agree that a foreigner knowingly committing a breach of patent should land in France and leave without being disturbed. The detention of the aircraft in question appeared to be the only method of dealing with the situation, but in view of the fact that the Legal Advisers of the Conference were of the opinion that industrial property would be equally well protected if after their detention the deposit of a bond were called for, the French Delegation would withdraw their reservation against Article 18 upon condition that the last sentence, concerning suits to be brought in the country of origin against the aircraft, be eliminated.
Sir Eyre Crowe said that he was willing to accept the suppression of such a statement. He suggested that the Article be referred to the Drafting Committee which should endeavor to modify it, so that the right of detention or seizure should be limited by the right to set the aircraft free upon the deposit of a bond.
M. Pichon said that he would agree to this.
M. Matsui said that he was obliged to make a reservation. His Government was not yet in possession of the text of the Convention. A period of six months had been allowed in which each Power might say whether or not it agree.
Mr. Polk said that the United States had also made a reservation and understood that they would be given a period of six months in which to communicate their reply.
It was decided:
- that the Drafting Committee should be called upon to modify the text of Article 18 of the Convention Relative to Air Navigation in such a manner as to make it possible for aircraft to avoid detention for violation of patent by depositing a security.
- to accept, with reference to Articles 15, 22, 24, 34, and 36 the proposals of the Drafting Committee. (See Appendix “F”.)
5. M. Berthelot said that he was directed by M. Clemenceau to say that he considered it inadvisable to publish portions of the Conditions of Peace in their original text. He was not opposed to the publication of all of the text and of the notes which had been exchanged in the premises with the German Government. Publication of Documents Annexed to the Treaty of Peace With Germany[Page 411]
Sir Eyre Crowe said he agreed in principle, but the publication of the whole of the text might be somewhat expensive. He would refer the matter to his Government.
(The question was adjourned)
6. Sir Eyre Crowe read and commented upon a note from the British delegation, dated September 24th, proposing that an article be inserted in the Treaty of Peace with Hungary identical with Article 310 of the Treaty of Peace with Austria. This article provided for an understanding with the parties interested to enable a state to use sources of electric and hydraulic energy, which, by reason of the formation of new frontiers, were situated in the territory of another state. (See Annex “G”.) Insertion in the Treaty With Hungary of an Article Identical With Article 310 of the Treaty With Austria
(The British proposal was accepted.)
(It was decided:
to request the Drafting Committee to insert an article in the Treaty of Peace with Hungary identical with Article 310 of the Treaty of Peace with Austria.)
7. (The Council had before it a memorandum from Mr. Hoover asking that a Committee be formed to make arrangements for and undertake the repatriation of the German, Austrian and Hungarian prisoners in Siberia (See Annex “H”).) Creation of a Commission To Study the Repatriation of German, Austrian and Hungarian Prisoners in Siberia
M. Berthelot said that the Council would, without question, be unanimous in approving Mr. Hoover’s proposal. It was a question of humanity, but he felt that it should be understood that, before repatriating the Germans and others, it would be necessary to repatriate the fifty thousand Czechoslovak troops who were at present in Siberia.
Mr. Polk said he agreed with M. Berthelot. There were a number of difficult questions in connection with the repatriation of these prisoners, just as there were in the case of the Czecho-Slovak troops, but as the question of the repatriation of the latter was being considered at the present time, it would be possible to study at the same time the questions relating to the Germans and Austrians.
Sir Eyre Crowe said that he felt some doubt as to whether the nomination of a Commission would bring about practical results.
M. Pichon thought that there might be favorable results and that they would lead to a means of repatriating the Czecho-Slovak troops.
(It was decided:
that a Commission composed of one American, British, French, Italian and Japanese officer should be created to deal with the repatriation of German, Austrian and Hungarian prisoners in Siberia.
It was also decided:
that the repatriation of the Czecho-Slovak troops in Siberia should be effected before that of the German, Austrian and Hungarian prisoners.)
8. (The signature then took place of the decision previously taken by the Council for the organization of a plebiscite in the Duchy of Teschen and in the districts of Spisz and Orava.8 Signature of the Decision Taken by the Principal Allied Powers for the Organization of a Plebiscite at Teschen
The decision was signed by Mr. Polk, Sir Eyre Crowe, M. Pichon, M. Scialoja and M. Matsui.)
(The meeting then adjourned)[Page 421]
- HD–60, minute 7, p. 342.↩
- Appendix F to HD–60, p. 364.↩
- HD–54, minute 1, p. 218.↩
- HD–55, minute 1, p. 231; HD–56, minute ii, p. 256; HD–60, minute 7, p. 342.↩
- HD–51, minute 1, p. 173.↩
- HD–58, minute 2, p. 300.↩
- Martens, Nouveau recueil général de traités, 3 sér., tome xi, p. 232.↩
- Vol. ii, p. 11.↩
- Martens, Nouveau recueil général de traités, 3 sér., tome xi, p. 214.↩
- Does not accompany the appendix.↩
- Translation from the French supplied by the editors.↩
- HD–51, minute 1, p. 173.↩