Paris Peace Conf. 180.03501/72
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, October 18, 1919, at 10:30 a.m.
America, United States of
- Hon. F. L. Polk
- Mr. L. Harrison
- Sir Eyre Crowe
- Mr. H. Norman
- M. Clemenceau
- M. Pichon
- M. Dutasta
- M. Berthelot
- M. de St. Quentin
- M. Tittoni
- M. Paterno
- M. Barone Russo
- M. Matsui
- M. Kawai
- America, United States of
|America, United States of||Capt. G. A. Gordon.|
|British Empire||Capt. G. Lothian Small.|
The following were also present for the items in which they were concerned:
America, United States of
- Mr. E. L. Dresel
- Dr. J. B. Scott
- Capt. B. Winthrop.
- Gen. Sackville-West
- Mr. A. Leeper
- Mr. Shearman
- Mr. C. Tufton
- Marshal Foch
- M. Tardieu
- Gen. Weygand
- M. Laroche
- M. Fromageot
- M. Aubert
- M. Escoffier
- Gen. Cavallero
- M. Bicci-Busatti
- M. Vannutelli-Key
- M. Pilotti
- M. Shigemitsu
1. (The Council had before it a report presented by the Special Commission charged with determining the Composition of Interallied Forces of Occupation (See appendix “A”).) Composition of Interallied Forces of Occupation Provided For by the Treaty With Germany
General Weygand read and commented upon the report. He called the attention of the Council to the reservations formulated by the Italian Military Representative and by the British Delegation. The Italian Military Representative felt that he ought to affirm again that his Government had only authorized the participation of three battalions destined for Upper Silesia. In the table prepared by the Commission the provision had been made for the employment of seven Italian battalions. He felt that he should add that in former Conferences the Italian Military Delegate had always expressed the same opinion on this point.
M. Tittoni pointed out that in fact he had always stated that his Government could only send three battalions.
M. Clemenceau observed that this decision meant imposing a heavy burden on the French. He took the liberty of insisting that M. Tittoni should reconsider the matter. It seemed to him that Italy, not being threatened on any frontier, could do at least something more. If she should persist in her refusal she would put the French in a most unfair situation.
M. Tittoni reserved the right to reconsider the question.
General Weygand added that the British Delegation had made two reservations: it had first been decided that Memel should be occupied by a British battalion and an American battalion; according to the revised table which the Council had before it the American battalion was to be sent to Upper Silesia to reinforce the United States forces there and was replaced at Memel by a French battalion. The British Delegate accepted this change on condition that the command should be held by a British officer.
Sir Eyre Crowe said that this request was based on the same reasons which the British had always advanced. It was purely a question of organization and administration.
M. Clemenceau said that France had no objection to the command at Memel being held by a British Officer.
General Weygand explained that the British Delegation also asked that all British troops forming part of the forces of occupation at [Page 685] Dantzig, Marienwerder, Allenstein and Memel, should be treated as a single unit from an administrative point of view, although they were placed under different commands.
M. Clemenceau said that he could not see anything unreasonable in this request.
General Weygand stated that no formal reservation had been made with respect to the American troops: but according to his conversations with General Bliss it seemed to him that one point still remained to be settled, namely, would the American Government authorize to the use of its troops before the ratification of the Treaty by the Senate?
Mr. Polk observed that a cable had been sent on this subject and a reply was expected. All he could say for the moment was that the troops were on the way and were first to be sent to Coblenz. He wished to draw the Council’s attention to another point. The Commission expressed the desire that in each zone of occupation the Presidency of the Interallied Commission and the command of the troops of occupation should be invested in individuals of the same nationality. Would it not be preferable with respect to the Interallied Commission that the Presidency would not be permanent but should rather be held in rotation by each nation represented.
Sir Eyre Crowe thought that this was scarcely practicable.
General Weygand observed that some Commissions, such as the one in Upper Silesia, would have a rather long life—perhaps from eight to twenty months—while others would only exist for from three to six months. Under these conditions he did not think a system of alternation was feasible.
M. Clemenceau said that as far as he was concerned he attached so much importance to good feeling between Allies that he was quite willing to accede to Mr. Polk’s suggestion.
Mr. Polk said that he in no way insisted upon this, he was merely making a suggestion.
Sir Eyre Crowe thought that each Interallied Commission might be left free to elect its own President.
General Weygand pointed out that this question was distinct from that of the command of the military forces, which would be determined before the departure of the troops in conformity with the Commission’s recommendations. He wished finally to call the Council’s attention to a desire expressed by the Commission: It wished the departure of the Interallied Commissions and of the forces of occupation to be determined in such a way, and the date of the coming into force of the Treaty to be settled in such a fashion, that the Commissions and forces of occupation would arrive at their appointed destinations at the moment of the coming into force of the Treaty. The [Page 686] Commission also wished the German Government to be advised beforehand of the date determined for the entry into force of the Treaty and its coincidence with the arrival of the Commissions and troops of occupation so that the German Government might take the necessary measures.
M. Clemenceatt agreed.
General Wetgand stated that the Allied General Staffs should therefore agree on the date when the troops could arrive at their appointed destinations: that would be date upon which, as far as military questions were concerned, the Treaty could come into force. He would inform the Council of this date.
It was decided:
- to accept the recommendations of the special Commission relative to the composition of Interallied forces of occupation (See Appendix “A”), with the reservation that the definite approval of the Italian Government should be obtained;
- that the command of the various forces of occupation should be exercised according to the recommendations of the Commission, and that, at Memel, a British officer should be in command;
- that although the British troops forming part of the forces of occupation at Dantzig, Marienwerder, Allenstein and Memel would be placed under different commands, they should, from an administrative point of view, be treated as a single unit;
- that the departure of the Commissions and of the forces of occupation should be regulated in such a way, and that the date of the entrance into force of the Treaty should be fixed in such a manner, that both the Commissions and the forces of occupation should arrive at their appointed destinations at the moment of the entrance into force of the treaty of Peace;
- that Marshal Foch, after agreeing with the Allied General Staffs, should inform the Supreme Council of the date from which they consider it possible for the Treaty to enter into force;
- that the German Government should be notified in advance of the date fixed for the entry into force of the Treaty and of its coincidence with the arrival of the Commissions and the forces of occupation, so that it might take all necessary measures within the proper time, and, especially to fix the date of evacuation of the districts in question by its own forces;
- That the Interallied Commissions sent into the zones of occupation should choose their own presidents, without it being necessary for them to be of the same nationality as the Commanding Officers in the corresponding zones of occupation.
2. (The examination of this draft note was adjourned to the following session.) Draft Note to the Serb-Croat-Slovene Government
3. M. Berthelot said that a telegram had just been received from the Interallied Mission at Budapest (See appendix “B”), stating that the Mission had learned by a private telegram of the sending of [Page 687] Sir George Clerk to Budapest. The Mission asked that it receive official confirmation thereof and that Sir George Clerk’s Mission might be defined. He submitted a draft telegram (See appendix “C”) which would officially notify the Generals of Sir George Clerk’s arrival and would define the Mission with which he was entrusted. Sir George Clerk’s Mission to Budapest
Sir Eyre Crowe thought that in order to make the matter even more definite there should be added at the end of the first paragraph a sentence specifying that Sir George Clerk represented the Supreme Council in all political questions.
M. Tittoni said that he had no objection to this draft on the condition that it was well understood that the Generals were in no way superseded; it should be clear that Sir George Clerk had a special mission and the Generals should retain jurisdiction over all military questions.
M. Berthelot proposed that the following sentence should be added at the end of the first paragraph, “He will represent the Supreme Council in all political questions, the Generals retaining jurisdiction over military questions.”
It was decided:
- to approve the draft telegram (See Appendix “C”) to be sent to the Allied Generals at Budapest;
- to add to the end of the first paragraph of this draft telegram the following sentence;
“He will represent the Supreme Council in all political questions, the Military Mission retaining jurisdiction over military questions.”
4. (The Council had before it a note from the drafting Committee dated October 16th, 1919, (See Appendix “D”).) Italian Proposal To Insert Certain Articles in the Treaty of Peace With Hungary
M. Fromageot read and commented on the note of the Drafting Committee. With respect to page 3, Section C in this report:
Mr. Polk raised the following questions: he asked if the question of restoration to Italy of rolling stock belonging to Italian Railroads was not within the jurisdiction of the Reparation Commission.
M. Fromageot said this was not a question of reparations for war damages: it concerned in fact rolling stock which was on Austro-Hungarian territory at the outbreak of war and had been seized there.
Mr. Polk, as a matter of information, asked if any disposition of this nature was provided for in the Treaty with respect to Austrian or Hungarian rolling stock which at the outbreak of war might have been on Italian territory.
M. Fromageot stated that there was not.[Page 688]
It was decided:
In conformity with the recommendations of the Drafting Committee (See Appendix “D”) to insert in the Treaty of Peace with Hungary the following articles:
- “Article A.—Hungary renounces, in all that concerns her, in favor of Italy, all rights and titles to which she might lay claim over territories of the former Austro-Hungarian Monarchy recognized as forming part of Italy according to Article 36, paragraph 1, of the Treaty of Peace concluded September 10th, 1919 between the Allied and Associated Powers and Austria.
- Article B.—No payment is due on the part of Italy by reason of her taking possession of the Palazzo Venezia at Rome.
- Article C.—Hungary will restore to Italy, within three months, all the rolling stock belonging to Italian railroads which, prior to the outbreak of war, has been transported into Austria and are at present in Hungary.
- Article D.—In derogation of Article 269, Part X, (Economic Clauses), persons having their customary residence in the territories of the former Austro-Hungarian Monarchy now transferred to Italy pursuant to Article 36, paragraph 1, of the Treaty of Peace with Austria, and who, during the war, were without the territories of the former Austro-Hungarian Monarchy or had been imprisoned, interned or evacuated, will benefit fully by the provisions of Articles 252 and 253, Part X, (Economic Clauses).
- Article E.—Judgments rendered in civil and commercial causes since August 4th, 1914, by courts of territories transferred to Italy, pursuant to Article 36, paragraph 1, of the Treaty of Peace with Austria, between inhabitants of the said territories and nationals of the former kingdom of Hungary, will only become executory after an exequatur rendered by the new corresponding court of the territories in question.
All judgments rendered since August 4th, 1914, by the judicial authorities of the former Austro-Hungarian Monarchy against Italian nationals or against those who shall acquire Italian nationality, pursuant to the Treaty of Peace with Austria, for political crimes or misdemeanors, will be deemed null and void.”
5. (The Council had before it a note of the Drafting Committee dated October 17th, 1919 (See Appendix “E”).)
M. Fromageot read and commented on the note of the Drafting Committee. With respect to the eventual convocation of the Council of the League of Nations the following questions were raised: Putting into Force of the Treaty with Germany
Mr. Polk asked if all the Powers which, when they should have ratified the Treaty of Peace would be represented in the Council of the League of Nations, would have to be represented at the first meeting of the Council? President Wilson had made it known that he was prepared to call a meeting of the Council for the three Powers which had ratified the Treaty, and he wished to know if the other powers had now to designate their representatives.[Page 689]
M. Fromageot explained that they did not have to, but that they could do so. This obligation would only arise for those Powers after they had ratified the Treaty. Nothing in the Treaty made the coming into force or the ratification thereof a condition precedent to these designations.
Mr. Polk wished to know if this applied, for instance to Spain.
M. Fromageot answered that Spain could designate its representative; that it was known, moreover, that she was ready to do so.
Sir Eyre Crowe wished to know if the Treaty specified any quorum necessary to validate the meetings of the League of Nations. Would the absence of one of the members invalidate the Council’s decision?
Mr. Polk said that he did not think so.
M. Tardieu said that there was no such provision in the Treaty.
Mr. Polk asked if the Drafting Committee could prepare for Monday’s meeting a draft form of convocation to be sent out by President Wilson to call the meeting of the Council.
M. Fromageot resumed his commentaries on the note of the Drafting Committee.
M. Tardieu explained that the second part of the Drafting Committee’s note had to some extent duplicated the work of the Committee on the Execution of the Treaty. This latter Committee, pursuant to the instructions it had received from the Supreme Council,1 had drawn up a list of the Commission[s] to be formed, and had indicated what Powers had designated their representatives on these Commissions and what Powers had not yet done so.
M. Clemenceau stated that this latter report should be distributed and examined prior to the meeting of Thursday, October 23d: at this time each Power should designate the Commissioners which it had not yet named.
It was decided:
that the Drafting Committee should submit to the Supreme Council at its next meeting:
- the draft of a letter by which President Wilson should convoke the Council of the League of Nations for the day of the entry into force of the Treaty;
- the draft of a letter from the Supreme Council to each of the Powers represented in the Council of the League of Nations inviting them to designate forthwith their representatives on this Council, as France and Italy had already done.
6. (The Council had before it two draft protocols prepared by the Drafting Committee concerning, first, the deposit of ratifications of the Treaty of Peace signed between the Allied and Associated Powers and Germany, of the Protocols signed on the same day by the said Powers, and of the [Page 690] arrangement of the same date between the United States, Belgium, the British Empire, France and Germany relative to the occupation of the Rhineland (See Appendix “F”); secondly, the deposit of ratifications of the Treaty signed June 28th, 1919, between the principal Allied and Associated Powers and Poland (See Appendix “G”).) Protocols for the Deposit of Ratifications
M. Fromageot pointed out that it was necessary to make a separate procès-verbal for each group of ratifications. It had likewise seemed important to the Committee that the hour of the signature should appear on the Procès-Verbaux. Indeed, that was an important point for the agents who would then be on the spot and who should be informed in advance or, at least, by telegram, of the hour the Treaty would come into force. In these protocols Germany for the last time signed in the last place: once this act had been accomplished she would sign in her alphabetical order. He drew the Council’s attention to the great importance of having Czechoslovakia ratify the Treaty of Versailles before it should come into force. Czecho-Slovakia would be the only non-ratifying country having a common frontier with Germany. A situation might thus arise which might create difficulties with respect to the operation of the Delimitation Commission provided for by Article 83 of the Treaty.
It was decided:
to approve the draft procès-verbaux of Deposits of Ratifications prepared by the Drafting Committee with respect, first, to the deposit of ratifications of the Treaty of Peace with Germany, as well as of the Protocol signed on the same day by the said Powers, and of the Arrangement of the same date between the United States, Belgium, the British Empire, France and Germany, concerning the Rhine-land (See Appendix “F”); secondly, to the deposit of ratifications of the Treaty with Poland (See Appendix “G”).
7. (The Council had before it a note from the French Delegation (See appendix “H”) and a note of the Drafting Committee dated October 16th, 1919 (See Appendix “I”).) Operation of the Plebiscite and Delimitation Commissions in the Absence of American Representatives
M. Fromageot read and commented upon the note of the Drafting Committee. He explained that the question raised by M. Von Lersner only concerned the Delimitation and Plebiscite Commissions, but it was insidious, because the same argument might apply to far more important Commissions such as the Reparation Commission. If Germany might maintain that the Reparation Commission could only operate if a given power were represented thereon, a very dangerous situation would arise. Consequently the Drafting Committee recommended that all Commissions should be considered regularly constituted as soon as the Powers which had ratified the Treaty—and which consequently would then be obliged to be represented on these Commissions—and [Page 691] the Powers which had agreed to send representatives before having ratified, should be represented. The latter Powers would be in a situation analogous to that of the Powers which were not parties to the Treaty but which, nevertheless, were by the Treaty accorded the right of designating representatives on different Commissions, such, for instance, as Holland and the Scandinavian States.
Mr. Polk said that he had no objection to make to this solution but he wondered if the Germans could raise any.
M. Fromageot replied that they would have no valid ground for contesting the vote of a member of a Commission designated by a Power which had not yet ratified the Treaty; when once the Treaty had come into force, the Commissions were composed of the representatives of the Powers specified in the Treaty. The Treaty nowhere provided that the representatives on the Commissions should be the representatives of Powers which had ratified.
M. Tittoni inquired if ratification and the right of being represented on Commissions should be considered in law as two distinct matters? He wished to know if the right of representation existed even in the absence of ratification, or was the foregoing only a provisional solution?
M. Fromageot replied that the Drafting Committee considered the right of representation to be in law independent of ratification: the right of representation existed irrespective of ratification, whereas, on the other hand, the duty of being represented arose from ratification. But there was a second delicate point: what would happen if the Powers which had not ratified did not designate representatives? It seemed to the Drafting Committee that even in this case the decisions of the Commissions would be valid; if, in that event, the votes should be equal, the vote of the President of the Commission would be controlling as provided for in article 437 of the Treaty.
M. Clemenceau thought that the question had not been raised and wondered if the Germans would seek to raise trouble on this point.
M. Tittoni thought that if M. Fromageot’s argument were legally sound, the reply to his question was impliedly contained therein: with regard to the Powers which had ratified, and which thereby came under the obligation of naming representatives on the Commissions, there was no doubt that they must send representatives in order to validate the decisions of these Commissions; on the other hand, if the Powers which merely had the option of naming representatives did not make use thereof, that fact would in no wise affect the validity of the decisions of the Commissions, and the latter could operate legally.
M. Clemenceau inquired whether Germany should be informed of the foregoing point of view before she had raised any question with respect thereto.[Page 692]
M. Fromageot saw no necessity of replying and thought that there was nothing to be gained by divulging these arguments.
M. Tittoni expressed the desire that M. Fromageot should give the Council a confidential report containing the legal development of this argument.
M. Clemenceau thought that this would be a purely academic document, but he had no objection to M. Fromageot giving it to M. Tittoni.
M. Fromageot inquired whether his Committee should reply on the first point to M. Von Lersner?
M. Clemenceau said that it should send a note to M. Dutasta.
M. Dutasta remarked that M. Von Lersner made no secret of the fact that public opinion in Germany would be greatly disturbed if America were not represented on the different Commissions until the Senate had ratified the Treaty.
Mr. Polk doubted whether, under M. Fromageot’s plan, America would be represented.
M. Clemenceau stated that he recalled distinctly that President Wilson, after some hesitation, had agreed that the United States would be represented on the Reparation Commission.2
Mr. Polk pointed out that this was only unofficial. Prior to ratification the United States was not authorized to be officially represented; he very much doubted whether, in view of the political situation, the United States would insist as a matter of right on having official representation on these Commissions prior to ratification. If Mr. Wilson spoke of American representation on the Reparation Commission he only meant representation after ratification.
M. Clemenceau agreed.
(It was decided:
A—(1) to approve the principles contained in the note of the Drafting Committee relative to the question put by Baron von Lersner (See Appendix “I”);
(2) that the Drafting Committee should send to the Secretary General of the Conference a note refuting the argument presented by Baron von Lersner in the course of his interview with M. Dutasta.)
8. M. Tardieu read the text of a resolution adopted by the Council on October 15th (See H. D. 70).3 The reply to the first two paragraphs of this resolution was contained in M. Fromageot’s report; there remained the last question: what was the value of the means of action placed at the disposal of the Allied and Associated Powers by the Treaty of Peace compared with those available by virtue of the Armistice? Under the Armistice the available means were: Measures To Be Taken Immediately Upon the Coming Into Force of the Treaty [Page 693]
- the occupation of the left bank of the Rhine and the bridgeheads;
- the right of occupying that portion of the neutral zone from north of Cologne to the Dutch frontier;
- the occupation of the bridgehead at Kehl (measures to that effect had been taken);
- resumption of hostilities after forty-eight hours notice;
- the maintenance of the blockade;
- the retention of prisoners of war.
The coming into force of the Treaty would deprive us of the possibility of resuming hostilities; it deprived us of the weapon of blockade insofar as general measures were concerned, since the American Government did not seem disposed to admit the principle of a pacific blockade; finally, we lost the right of occupying the neutral zone to the north of Cologne. With the Treaty in force, if Germany committed hostile acts, the Covenant of the League of Nations would come into play. If, on the other hand, Germany limited itself to acts of passive resistance, Articles 12 to 18 of the Covenant would come into operation and the Council of the League of Nations would take such measures as it deemed fit. Finally, the occupation of the bridgeheads gave us another means of action. The Treaty of Peace likewise allowed us, which was not true of the Armistice, to disarm Germany and to stop the manufactures and the recruiting which she was carrying on at the present moment. He added that whatever judgment might be passed on the reply of the Committee on the Execution of the Treaty, its value was only relative, for the period of decision was necessarily a very short one.
Sir Eyre Crowe wished to know what the attitude would be with respect to the clauses of the Armistice which had not been fulfilled. Could their fulfilment be exacted?
M. Tardieu replied that the Committee on the Execution of the Treaty had not considered this question. He, personally, was of the opinion that if the Treaty should be put into force without previously demanding the fulfilment of these clauses there would be no ground for such a demand after the Treaty’s coming into force. If it were desired that certain clauses should be fulfilled by Germany a demand to that effect should be made before the Treaty came into force.
M. Clemenceau inquired what causes Sir Eyre Crowe had in mind.
Sir Eyre Crowe replied that he was thinking of the evacuation of the Baltic Provinces.
M. Tardieu said that if the fulfillment of the Armistice clauses which had not been carried out was desired, the only efficacious means of action should be used, namely, an advance into Germany.[Page 694]
Sir Eyre Crowe observed that this would be rather difficult after the Treaty had been ratified.
M. Clemenceau asked the Drafting Committee to submit at the next meeting of the Council a report on this question, having especially in mind the situation in the Baltic Provinces.
(It was decided:
- that the Drafting Committee should present to the Supreme Council at its next meeting a report as to whether, after the coming into force of the Treaty, the Allied and Associated Powers would have the right to demand the fulfilment of Clauses of the Armistice which had not been executed, in particular, the evacuation of the Baltic Provinces;
- that the Drafting Committee should point out in its report the affirmative means of action of which the Allied and Associated Governments might avail themselves in order to insure the fulfilment of these clauses after the coming into force of the Treaty.)
9. M. Tardieu said that at its meeting of July 28th4 the Council had approved a recommendation of the Committee on the Execution of the Treaty and had decided to create a Committee to coordinate questions relative to the interpretation and the execution of the clauses of the Treaty with Germany. Up to present moment the British Empire and Japan had alone designated their representatives on this Committee. It would be well for the United States, France and Italy to designate their representatives on this Committee. Appointment of the Commission for the Execution of the Treaty After It Comes Into Force
M. Tittoni proposed that the Powers should have the right to designate an alternate delegate in case their principal delegate should not be able to sit.
(It was decided:
- that the United States, France and Italy should as soon as possible designate their representatives on the Committee for the coordination of questions concerning the interpretation and execution of the clauses of the Treaty with Germany;
- that the Principal Allied and Associated Powers might designate alternate delegates who, if necessary, should replace their delegates on this Committee.)
10. Sir Eyre Crowe pointed out that the allowance for members of the Commissions of Control and of Delimitation had been fixed, but that nothing had been decided for the members of the Plebiscite Commissions. He suggested that the question should be referred to a special Committee. Allowances for Members of the Plebiscite Commissions[Page 695]
(It was decided:
that a subcommittee of the Committee on the execution of the Treaty should determine the allowances to be granted to the personnel of the Plebiscite Commissions, after having consulted representatives of these Commissions.)
11. Marshal Foch stated that the reply of the German Government to the last Note of the Allied and Associated Powers relative to the evacuation of the Baltic Provinces5 had just reached him, and that it would be sent that day to the various delegations. The German Government accepted the sending of an Allied General Officer as had been proposed in the Note of the Allied and Associated Powers. In view of the great importance of hastening in every way the evacuation of the Baltic Provinces, he recommended that the Council should at once designate this General Officer, and he proposed the name of General Mangin. Evacuation of the Baltic Provinces
(It was decided:
that General Mangin should be charged by the Allied and Associated Powers with the duty,
- of ascertaining from the German Government the measures taken by it with a view to regulating the conditions of evacuation, and of proposing to that Government the measures which he himself should deem proper;
- of exercising on the spot an effective control over the execution of these measures.)
(The meeting then adjourned.)