Paris Peace Conf. 180.03501/77
Notes of a Meeting of the Heads of Delegations of the Five Great Powers Held in M. Pichon’s Room, Quai d’Orsay, Paris, on Tuesday, October 28, 1919, at 10:30 a.m.
- America, United States of
- Hon. F. L. Polk.
- Mr. L. Harrison.
- British Empire
- Sir Eyre Crowe.
- Mr. H. Norman.
- M. Clemenceau.
- M. Pichon.
- M. Berthelot.
- M. de Saint-Quentin.
- M. Tittoni.
- 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
- General Tasker H. Bliss
- Brig. Gen. Cheney.
- Rear-Admiral McCully, U. S. N.
- British Empire
- General Sackville-West
- Commandant Lucas
- General Groves
- Colonel Kisch
- Captain Fuller
- Marshal Foch
- General Weygand
- General Niessel
- M. Laroche
- M. Kammerer
- Commandant Le Vavasseur
- Captain de corvette Fahre
- Captain Roper
- General Cavallero
- C. Amiral Grassi
- Lieut-Col. Scelzo
- Capt. de corvette Ruspoli
- M. Shigemitsu.
1. (The Council had before it a letter from Marshal Foch, dated October 15th, 1919, to M. Clemenceau, with annexed note (See Appendix “A”).)
Mr. Polk observed that he only received the letter and note in question late the night before. Constitution of Inter-Allied Military Organization for the Execution of the Clauses of the Treaty With Germany
M. Clemenceau asked if he desired to adjourn the consideration of this question?
Mr. Polk thought that it would be useful to discuss the questions involved although he did not think that any conclusions could be reached at that meeting.
M. Clemenceau inquired if Sir Eyre Crowe was in the same situation, and briefly summarized the letter and note, adding that he intended to appoint Marshal Foch as the French Representative on the Inter-Allied Military Organization which it was intended to constitute and he thought that he should have the presidency thereof.
Sir Eyre Crowe said that he had hurriedly read the letter and note in question but he had not been aware that this point was on the agenda for that day. He was not clear as to the exact machinery which it was proposed to set up. There were already in existence Commissions of Control which would supervise in Germany the execution of the Treaty, and on these Commissions representation of all the Allied and Associated Powers was provided for.
M. Clemenceau pointed out that the proposed Military Organization was not an ordinary Commission. It was rather a question of creating an Inter-Allied Military Organization with executive functions. After the Treaty came into force Marshal Foch, as Commander in Chief of the Allied Forces, would no longer have any command to exercise. He proposed to transfer those powers to the Council existing at Versailles and to endow it with executive functions.
Sir Eyre Crowe asked if it was not desired to retain an Inter-Allied command.
M. Clemenceau replied that it was, but that it would be in a different form.
Sir Eyre Crowe said that there was already in existence a Council sitting at Versailles which, however, had no executive powers but purely advisory ones. He felt that he would have to refer the question of the organization now proposed to his Government. Command of the troops of occupation on the Rhine was already settled, the command being vested in the Commanding Officer of the French troops of occupation on the Rhine, and he thought it was unnecessary to create another intermediate body exercising functions of command.
Marshal Foch pointed out that the troops of occupation on the Rhine were not the only ones concerned. He was now asking to be relieved as Commander-in-Chief of the Allied forces. It was however [Page 785] necessary to ensure the execution of the clauses of the Treaty. It was true that in large part this was already confided to the Commissions of Control in Germany, but for various reasons a central organization like that at Versailles was necessary, with an Inter-Allied staff: First, it was necessary to have a central organization in order to give directions to the various Commissions of Control which otherwise would deal with their respective Governments, so that confusion and disorder would necessarily ensue. For the same reasons a central organization was necessary in view of the different conditions applying to the Inter-Allied troops of occupation, inasmuch as they were to be stationed in different localities, were of different composition and were subject to different conditions of administration. If it became necessary to proceed to affirmative measures on the Rhine, for instance, it would be necessary to have a medium for reaching an agreement with Belgium with respect to the cooperation of her troops. In like manner if it were also desired to take similar measures on the eastern frontier the same necessity existed for coming to an understanding with Poland and Czecho-Slovakia. For the foregoing reasons it was necessary to have an Inter-Allied staff. The Council at Versailles did not at present have executive powers, but in February and March, 1918, with Mr. Lloyd-George’s consent, the Executive War Board sitting at Versailles had been invested with executive as well as consultative powers. He proposed the retention of the present Council of Versailles with the added attribution of extensive executive powers, otherwise the proper execution of the various military measures would become impossible.
Sir Eyre Crowe observed that his delegation had already discussed this matter and that, although differing on certain points, it had come to a similar conclusion. The necessity for a centralized organization with executive powers was fully realized. He thought that the Council already existing at Versailles was sufficient but that it should remain under the orders of the Supreme Council.
M. Clemenceau replied that of course this would be so.
Mr. Polk suggested that the Conference might no longer be in session at the time referred to.
M. Clemenceau observed that this was true but that the necessity of consulting the respective Governments would still exist and that, therefore, a central body with executive power became more necessary than ever. If the various decisions of the Allied and Associated Powers were to be communicated to their respective military commanders much confusion would inevitably result: it would be preferable to have these orders transmitted by a central body sitting at Versailles which would include representatives of the Governments concerned.[Page 786]
Sir Eyre Crowe observed that a Committee for the coordination of questions concerning the interpretation and execution of the clauses of the Treaty with Germany had already been decided upon.1
Mr. Polk thought that the idea was that such a Committee would have no other powers than the winding up of the work of the Conference: it had not been contemplated that this Committee of Coordination should resolve itself into a continuation of the Conference.
M. Clemenceau remarked that for whoever knew the Germans it was unquestionably true that if we did not see to the proper execution of the clauses of the Treaty they would never be executed.
Mr. Polk inquired whether it would be equally necessary to have some central body of Naval control.
M. Clemenceau replied that he did not see why not; that he should like that to come about.
Sir Eyre Crowe said that he thought that the Committee of Coordination which had been decided upon was essential: moreover, that as it could transmit orders from the various Governments concerned to their Naval and Military Representatives it, in his opinion, was sufficient.
M. Tittoni in summarizing what Sir Eyre Crowe had said, took it that he meant that the existing Council at Versailles should be maintained and that it should have the same relations towards the proposed Committee of Coordination as it now occupied with respect to the Supreme Council.
M. Clemenceau observed that the Versailles Council had no executive powers at all.
Marshal Foch added that he himself now had all executive power.
M. Tittoni thought that the Council of Versailles should exist under the presidency of Marshal Foch with executive powers, receiving its orders from the Committee of Coordination in the same manner as it now received such orders from the Supreme Council.
M. Clemenceau explained that the Supreme Council or the Committee of Coordination was always to retain the power of decision; that the military organization proposed was to be endowed with full executive powers for carrying out the orders of the Supreme Council or of the Committee of Coordination. He thought it was necessary to have Marshal Foch at the head of this proposed military organization at Versailles inasmuch as in view of his great prestige, as well as his ability, it would never do for the Germans to think that they were finally rid of him.
Mr. Polk inquired if it was Marshal Foch’s idea that the Interallied troops of occupation in Dantzig, Silesia, and other regions would all be under the supreme command of the organization at Versailles with its Interallied General Staff.[Page 787]
M. Clemenceau replied that this the case. He thought that the questions involved were now clearly understood by everyone and he suggested that their decision be postponed to a future meeting.
(This was agreed to.)
2. (The Council had before it telegrams from Sir Edward Grey to Lord Curzon and from Lord Curzon to Sir Eyre Crowe, both dated October 25th, 1919 (See appendix “B”).)
Sir Eyre Crowe read and commented on the telegrams in question. Communication From the British Delegates to the International Labor Conference at Washington Urging the Ratification of the Treaty With Germany
M. Clemenceau observed that a great many other important questions were awaiting upon the possibility of setting a definite date for the coming into force of the Treaty, which, needless to say, would be done as soon as possible.
3. (The Council had before it draft instructions to the Inter-Allied Commission charged with examining into the evacuation of the Baltic Provinces (See appendix “C”).) Draft Instructions to the Inter-Allied Commission Charged With Examining Into the Evacuation of the Baltic Provinces
M. Clemenceau explained that in the place of General Mangin, General Niessel had been appointed to the Presidency of this Commission: the General had lived for a long while in Russia and was familiar with the Russian tongue.
Mr. Polk suggested that the representatives named on this Commission meet and discuss the draft instructions to General Niessel and report back to the Conference.
M. Clemenceau said that they could meet immediately in another room.
General Niessel remarked that as he had had a conversation with the British Representative, General Turner, the day before, he could speak for him at this meeting.
(At this point the military representatives on this Commission left the room.)
M. Tittoni observed that the draft instructions brought up a great many political questions also.
M. Clemenceau suggested that these be discussed immediately.
M. Berthelot then began to read Section 5 of the draft instructions.
M. Tittoni, with respect to the last paragraph of Section 5, suggested that the wording used implied that the Commission would be superior and in fact replace the local de facto governments, thus assuming responsibilities which properly attached to them. He thought that this clause should be so altered that it would be clear that these de facto, governments were to be consulted by the Commission. He suggested that the clause be made to read: “The local governments, in agreement with the Commission, will take, etc.”[Page 788]
M. Berthelot observed that this change could easily be made: it was clear that the Commission could not replace these de facto governments.
Mr. Polk, with respect to the first paragraph of Section 5, inquired whether the recognition of the Governments of Latvia, Esthonia and Lithuania was implied.
M. Berthelot said that it was not, that it was only a question of dealing with these de facto governments.
Mr. Polk observed that he had asked the question because the United States had not yet recognized these Governments.
Sir Eyre Crowe, with respect to the last paragraph of Section 6, inquired whether it was contemplated that the President of this Commission would surely be the representative of the Allied and Associated Powers at Petrograd.
M. Berthelot said that this was not exactly the meaning: what was meant was that the President of this Commission might eventually be designated by the Conference as representative in Petrograd of the Allied and Associated Powers.
M. Tittoni thought it would be better to provide that this Commission might eventually represent the Allied and Associated Powers at Petrograd, rather than that the President thereof should be such representative.
Mr. Polk wished to raise the point whether there was not great danger of this Commission doing much more than it had been meant to do. The primary intention was to constitute a commission which should see to it that the Germans were driven out of the Baltic Provinces. Under the instructions now presented the Commission was apt to engage the Allied and Associated Powers in a large number of delicate questions.
M. Berthelot replied that it was difficult to separate the questions. The Germans were in those regions in all conditions and guises and for that reason it was necessary to provide for a great number of contingencies and to enable the Commission to treat with all the local authorities. It had been attempted to formulate a clear and continuous policy with respect to the Baltic Provinces; this was a thing which heretofore had been lacking and had frequently been a cause of reproach.
Mr. Polk agreed that a clear and continuous policy was certainly necessary, but queried whether this was the time to begin to formulate one. He found this difficulty: if this Commission was to extend its activities beyond driving the Germans out of the Baltic Provinces he would have to refer the matter to his Government, inasmuch as many questions would be involved which he had always maintained must be settled directly by the Government of the United States and not here [Page 789] in Paris by the Council. Especially with reference to Russian questions had he always maintained this point of view.
Sir Eyre Crowe agreed with Mr. Polk. He added that the Allies had had a representative in these regions, namely General Gough. He felt that this present Commission was being vested with powers which were formerly held by General Gough. It was a new question for him and he would have to refer the matter to his Government.
M. Berthelot had not thought that this was a new question to the British Delegation because General March, who had succeeded General Gough, had told the French Military Representative at Riga that he understood that his mission was being terminated on account of the organization of the present Commission.
Sir Eyre Crowe remarked that his Government had appointed General Hicking with detailed instructions.
M. Berthelot thought that this was a different matter, inasmuch as General Hicking’s purely British mission was only to operate in case of the eventual taking of Petrograd.
Sir Eyre Crowe said that however that might be, he felt that the scope of this Commission was being unduly extended. He did not wish to be in the position of supporting a Commission whose powers might conflict with the instructions already given to General Hicking’s mission.
M. Tittoni said that to his mind the only way of settling the conditions of anarchy existing in these regions was to send a Commission with powers substantially similar to those embodied in the draft instructions. He was in favor of sending this Commission now.
M. Berthelot pointed out that inasmuch as no troops were assigned to this Commission it must be given other means of making its decisions and authority respected. Unless it clearly represented the Council it would only obtain vague promises at Berlin, and on the spot it would, as had happened before, merely be laughed at by the Germans.
M. Clemenceau hoped that the American and British representatives would consult their Governments as soon as possible.
Mr. Polk replied that he would of course do so, but he thought he should point out that he did not believe that his Government would be disposed to have a military Commission handle matters of this kind, which were, rather, diplomatic in their scope and nature.
M. Clemenceau said that in such a delicate question all Governments should take their share of the responsibility. If this Commission did not have a very great moral authority it would be able to accomplish nothing. It was also very necessary not to engage in any undertaking of this kind with such inadequate means, or under such conditions, that it could not be carried to a successful conclusion. He was in favor of granting to this Commission powers substantially [Page 790] as laid down in the draft instructions. But, at any rate, even if some modifications were to be made, the instructions finally given to General Niessel must be absolutely clear.
Mr. Polk agreed that the instructions to the Commission should be absolutely clear and added that in Russian and Baltic Provinces questions the Allied and Associated Powers had heretofore not been in sufficient agreement and had hesitated unduly. For instance, it would be very advantageous to settle at once, if possible, the questions of the recognition of Admiral Rolchak’s government and of the provisional governments of the Baltic Provinces. He wished again, however, to reiterate that he did not feel that these questions should be raised in connection with the instructions to this present Commission.
M. Berthelot pointed out that the draft instructions did not involve recognition. He again recalled that the Council had already sent various ultimata in vain. If this Mission were despatched with no other power than to order the Germans to evacuate the Baltic Provinces failure was bound to result. Another alternative was presented: the Germans could be told that if they did not evacuate, the Allied and Associated Powers would refuse to ratify the Treaty, but this was entirely a different question.
Mr. Polk agreed but felt that there was some confusion as to the matters being discussed. The Germans asked that a Commission should be sent to the Baltic Provinces to assist in the evacuation of their troops, and this had been accepted. He agreed entirely that the Commission should have ample power, but he did not see that that had any connection with giving instructions as to what would happen after the capture of Petrograd. It might be advisable to contemplate such a contingency but he doubted if his Government would consent to the matter being handled by the sending of this Commission.
M. Berthelot pointed out that Bermondt2 had announced that he intended to enter Petrograd at the same time as General Yudenitch; it was for this reason that he had first wished to occupy Riga. Moreover, Bermondt had certain relations with elements of Yudenitch’s army. Therefore it was difficult to separate these questions. Even if there were to be modifications with respect ta details he hoped that the main principle could be agreed upon.
M. Clemenceau suggested that the Delegations should consult with their Governments at once.
Mr. Polk thought that perhaps after studying the draft instructions it might not be necessary for him to consult his Government [Page 791] on certain points, but he doubted whether points such as the relations to be established with Esthonia could be settled in this manner.
General Weygand called the attention of the Council to a telegram received from General Dupont desiring that the Commission be sent as soon as possible, for two reasons: first, the question was raised as to whether the evacuation should take place via the ports of Memel and Königsberg, and this necessarily involved many complicated questions of detail which could only be settled on the spot: secondly, Noske3 had made it known that if the blockade continued until the completion of evacuation the supply of iron ore for the Silesian mines would be cut off and some 200,000 men would be thrown out of work. The conclusion necessarily was that this Commission should be sent at the very earliest moment possible. (At this point the Military Representatives on this Commission re-entered the room.)
M. Clemenceau asked if the Military representatives were unanimous in their conclusions?
General Niessel said that two or three points still remained to be cleared up. It was proposed to add to Section 3, paragraph C. the following clause: “The German Government will give to the Commission and its Agents complete authorization to circulate in all the territory occupied by German troops”. (This was agreed to.)
General Niessel desired to add to the first paragraph of Section 4 the following clause: “German diplomatic and civil officials shall leave the Baltic Provinces at the same time as the troops”.
Sir Eyre Crowe inquired whether there was any basis of right for this action. He maintained that under the terms of the Armistice there existed a perfect right to compel the evacuation of the troops but he doubted whether there were any legal grounds for compelling the withdrawal of diplomatic and civil officials.
General Niessel said that this additional clause was suggested by reason of the request of the British Representative at Riga, who felt that these diplomatic and civil officials should be compelled to leave at once.
M. Tittoni pointed out that this was equivalent to forbidding Germany to have any diplomatic relations with the de facto governments of the Baltic Provinces and he inquired whether the Council wished to go that far.
Sir Eyre Crowe explained that the British Representative at Riga had made the request in question on account of the excessive number of German diplomatic and civil officials now in those regions. However, that might be, the question remained whether there were any legal grounds for this action and he wished to ask what would happen if [Page 792] the Germans would simply refuse to recognize the right to demand the withdrawal of these diplomatic and civil officials.
Marshal Foch suggested that to the clause proposed by General Niessel there be added the following words: “with the exception of those recognized by the de facto governments of Esthonia, Latvia and Lithuania”. (This was agreed to.)
General Niessel also desired to add the following clause at the end of Section 9: “The Allied Navies will supply the Commission with all transportation necessary and will ensure transmission of the Commission’s telegrams”.
Sir Eyre Crowe felt that he would have to refer this to the British Naval Advisers. As a general observation he inquired whether an agreement could not be reached on military matters leaving the political questions for further consideration.
General Niessel explained that unless adequate naval transportation were assured the Commission could not reach the necessary localities nor function properly. If the Commission had to travel through regions in revolt it would surely fail at the very outset.
Sir Eyre Crowe inquired if this transportation in any wise referred to troop transportation.
General Niessel explained that it did not.
(It was agreed to accept the clause proposed by General Niessel to be added to Section 9.)
General Niessel commenting upon Section 10 of the draft instructions, thought it should be made clear that the Commission was to be superior to all military missions in the regions in question, including a British military mission under Colonel Tallents.
Sir Eyre Crowe pointed out that Colonel Tallents, a retired Colonel, represented the civil power; it would obviously be impossible to subordinate a civil mission to a military mission.
General Niessel observed that he did not desire such subordination if the scope of Colonel Tallents’ mission was clearly indicated.
Sir Eyre Crowe pointed out that this mission was accredited to the d’facto government of Lithuania and was a diplomatic mission.
General Niessel said that this was satisfactory to him and that he therefore would not suggest adding anything to Section 10.
Sir Eyre Crowe, referring to the same Section 10, inquired where General Niessel intended to establish his headquarters.
General Niessel explained that he could not determine that point until he reached Berlin. His headquarters would have to be established at the spot where he could obtain the best local assistance against the Germans.
Sir Eyre Crowe observed that the provision as to the location of headquarters was so indefinite that he feared that it might possibly [Page 793] be situated at Dantzig, which of course, would lead to fatal complications.
General Niessel replied that there was no danger of that. He wished to know what provision had been made relative to money to be furnished the Commission.
M. Clemenceau remarked that the Council would settle that question.
General Niessel said that the Commission would need some money immediately. For instance part of its duty was to bring about the dissolution of Bermondt’s Germano-Russian Corps. If it succeeded in this it doubtless would have to incur large expenditures by way of payments relative to present members of that corps. If the de facto governments of the Baltic Provinces should be asked to incur extra expenditures on this account it was important that they should be assured of reimbursement by the Allied and Associated Powers.
Mr. Polk thought that this matter could be discussed later.
M. Clemenceau agreed.
General Niessel pointed out that Bermondt had close relations with the Germans, and at the same time was corresponding with Yudenitch. He wished to know whether he should utterly refuse to deal with Bermondt, or whether he should act towards him in such a manner that it might later be possible to make use of him.
M. Tittoni thought that the Commission should be authorized to use its entire discretion.
General Niessel then brought up the question of the supply of war matériel. He pointed out that it was most essential for the organization of any strong local force in the Baltic Provinces to have an ample and regular supply of materiel. The lack thereof had already proved most embarrassing to General Gough, and he felt that he could not succeed any better unless he were assured of adequate supplies.
Mr. Polk wished again to revert to the difficulty he had formerly felt. It might perhaps be advisable to broaden the powers of the Commission, but it had not been contemplated that a mission with the powers now contained in the draft instructions should be organized; for instance, powers to deal with questions of supplies, representation in the future, etc.
General Niessel again pointed out that the Germans could understand nothing but force, and the only available forces were the local ones in the Baltic Provinces. If these forces were properly armed and equipped the Germans, if necessary, could be thrown out of the Baltic Provinces by force.
Mr. Polk observed that what he had in mind in his preceding remarks was the relations with Bermondt which had been discussed.[Page 794]
M. Clemenceau thought this question should be reserved for future discussion.
General Niessel observed that a most important point was the attitude to be taken with respect to the German Government. He wished to know the Supreme Council’s views with respect to the attitude to be taken if the evacuation were not properly carried out.
M. Clemenceau said that General Niessel should always insist with the utmost firmness on the proper execution of the measures for evacuation, but that he should avoid going into any further detail. He suggested that the proposals relative to military action contained in the draft instructions be adopted and that the discussion of all political questions involved in the said draft instructions should be adjourned until such time as the various delegations could refer these questions to their respective Governments and receive answers which could be agreed upon. The instructions could then be sent on to the Commission.
General Niessel remarked that the Commission could not leave before the end of the week.
Sir Eyre Crowe observed that possibly the Commission could then get its instructions before it left.
(It was agreed to accept M. Clemenceau’s suggestion.)
(It was decided:
to adopt the following Sections of the Draft instructions to the Interallied Commission charged with the examination of the evacuation of the Baltic Provinces,—Sections I to IV inclusive, Section IX, and Section X, with the following corrections:
- at the end of Section III, paragraph C, the following words should be added: “The German Government will give to the Commission and its Agents complete authorization to circulate in all the territory occupied by German troops.”
- at the end of the first paragraph, Section IV, the following words should be added: “German diplomatic and civil officials shall leave the Baltic Provinces at the same time as the troops, with the exception of those recognized by the de facto governments of Esthonia, Latvia and Lithuania.”
- at the end of Section IX the following words should be added: “The Allied Navies will supply the Commission with all transportation necessary and will assure the transmission of the Commission’s telegrams.”
It was further decided:
that the Commission should leave as soon as possible and perform the duties entrusted to it without awaiting the instructions as to political questions which would be forwarded to the Commission after discussion and decision thereupon by the Council at a future date.)
(The Meeting then adjourned.)
Hotel de Crillon, Paris, October 28, 1919.[Page 795]