Paris Peace Conf. 180.03501/47
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 Thursday, September 4, 1919, at 11 a.m.
America, United States of
- 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.
- America, United States of
|America, United States of||Captain Chapin.|
|British Empire||Commander Bell.|
|France||M. de Percin.|
The following were also present for the items in which they were concerned:
America, United States of
- Mr. Coolidge.
- Dr. Lord.
- Mr. A. W. Dulles.
- Mr. Leeper.
- Mr. Carr.
- Colonel Kisch.
- M. Cambon.
- General Desticker.
- General Le Rond.
- M. Laroche.
- M. Kammerer.
- M. Hermite.
- Colonel Castoldi.
- Comm. Stranieri.
- M. Brambilla.
- Barone Russo.
1. M. Clemenceau drew the Council’s attention to the objections of the German Government to the advanced Commissions of Control being sent at once. (See H. D. 36.8 and Appx. G.[J],1 (and also see Appendix A.) He added that in his opinion it would be better to postpone sending out the advance Commissions of Control for a certain time. This was the opinion of General Nollet, although Marshal Foch was of another opinion. In conclusion, he drew the attention of the Council to the fact that the Allied and Associated Powers had no positive right to send out these advance Commissions of Control if the Germans now objected. Allied Commissions of control in Germany
General Desticker said that the despatch of the full personnel of the Commissions of Control depended upon the date of the complete ratification of the Peace Treaty of Versailles. Marshal Foch had been of the opinion that an advance detachment of the Inter-Allied Commissions should be sent forward at least ten days before the full Commissions arrived. This preliminary measure was necessary in order to prepare the work with which the Commissions would be concerned later on. The whole question, therefore, hinged upon the probable date of the final ratification of the Peace Treaty with Germany.
M. Clemenceau said that Marshal Foch had thought that the Peace Treaty would be ratified by three Great Powers by 15th September.
M. Tittoni said that as far as Italy was concerned that would not be possible.
Mr. Balfour then suggested that the German objections appeared to be based on the very large number of officers who were to be sent under present proposals. Would it not be possible to adhere to Marshal Foch’s proposal, and, at the same time, reduce the number of Commissions despatched, by making one nation responsible for one particular department, another nation for another branch, and so on. The large number of the personnel was due to the fact that each Department contained Inter-Allied Representatives.
General Desticker said that he did not think that Mr. Balfour’s proposal was practicable, and thought that it would be better to delay sending out the Commissions of Control for a few days in order to adhere to the original programme.
Mr. Polk drew attention to the fact that the United States could not, for the moment, be represented upon the Commissions of Control.
(After some further discussion it was decided that no advance Delegation of the Inter-Allied Commissions of Control should be sent to Germany for the present.)[Page 98]
2. (It was agreed that the Austrian request for a prolongation of two days of the time allowed for the consideration of the Allied, reply (see Appendix B.) should be granted.) Demand of the Austrian Delegation for prolongation of the Time Allowed for the consideration of the Allied Reply
3. The Council took note of M. Misu’s letter (see Appendix C.) to the President of the Peace Conference, stating that the telegrams of the Council to the Rumanian Government had, to a large extent, not been received in Bucharest. Rumanian Affairs
M. Clemenceau said that the situation was rather changed by virtue of M. Bratiano’s plea. He had hardly credited it at first, but had, later on, come to the conclusion that there might be a certain degree of truth in the statement made.
M. Tittoni said that M. Bratiano’s statements were to a certain extent borne out by notices appearing in the French press, to the effect that wireless telegraphic communication from Paris was somewhat interrupted.
Mr. Polk said he understood that the French Minister at Bucharest had acknowledged the receipt of the dispatches for transmission to the Rumanian Government by telegram.
M. Berthelot said that this was not the case. The French Minister had not acknowledged the receipt of the dispatches under discussion, nor had he stated that they had been communicated by him to the Rumanians. In confirmation of this he drew the attention of the Council to the fact that a batch of telegrams received that morning by the French Foreign Office, from Bucharest, made no reference to the previous communications of the Council.
Mr. Balfour said that he did not understand how the nonreceipt by the Rumanian Government of previous dispatches of the Council could be explained in any credible manner.
Mr. Polk said that the Queen of Rumania had written a letter to Mr. Hoover, wherein she protested in the strongest terms against the United States’ attitude towards her country. This was surely evidence that the Council’s dispatches had been received.
M. Pichon said that the information on which the Queen of Rumania’s letter had been based, might have been obtained from the public press.
M. Tittoni said that it would possibly be better to make use of the military organisation for the transmission of telegrams. He drew the Council’s attention to the fact, that, according to Mr. Misu’s letter (See Appendix C.), the Rumanian Government was now considering the possibility of withdrawing their armies from Hungary. This was the first occasion on which they had made any statement of the kind.[Page 99]
Mr. Polk then read a letter from an American officer, who had had an interview with one of the Rumanian authorities in Bucharest. The conversation recorded in the letter was to the effect, that the Rumanians had occupied Budapest, and intended to stay there; that they intended to settle, and manage, their own affairs in their own way; that they had received an insulting letter from the Council, which they had answered in the most suitable way, by ignoring it; and that the Rumanians had nothing to fear from the Allies, who did not intend to follow their menaces, up by effective action. This, letter showed clearly that the Rumanians were conscious that they were treating the Council with contempt, and that they intended to continue to do so.
M. Pichon drew the Council’s attention to a telegram received that morning from M. de Saint Aulaire,2 and remarked that the information it contained somewhat contradicted that received by Mr. Polk. (See Appendix D.)
Mr. Polk, commenting upon the telegram circulated by M. Pichon, said he thought it was the most amazing attempt to avoid the real issue that he had ever read. In view of the act that the Allied generals in Budapest had been urging the Rumanian Government to form a gendarmerie for the maintenance of order, and had been positively opposed by them in any such measure, the statement contained in the telegram from M. de St. Aulaire that the Rumanians were anxious to restore order, was little short of ridiculous.
Mr. Balfour said that he found it very difficult to believe, that the Rumanian Government was not playing with the Conference. The Roumanian authorities at Budapest, and the Roumanian representatives in the Allied capitals, knew by the papers, and from the Allied Generals at Budapest, what were the wishes of the Council. The Military Representatives at Budapest, in particular, had continually explained the wishes of the Council. It was folly to suppose that communications made to the Rumanians at Budapest were not sent on to the Central Government at Bucharest. The present complaint of the Rumanian Government, that they were in ignorance of the real wishes of the Conference, seemed well nigh incredible. He had not had time to weigh the evidence in support of their plea carefully; but it seemed to him that their present arguments were only advanced as part of an elaborate scheme of ignoring the wishes of the Allies, and of acting in whatever manner they themselves thought best. There was a remarkable agreement between the conversation of the American officer, communicated to the Council through Mr. Polk’s kindness, and the actual facts of the case. He [Page 100]was far more inclined to believe the statements made by the Rumanian official to Mr. Polk’s correspondent, than he was to give credence to Mr. Bratiano’s assurances, that the Rumanian Government was still waiting for the instructions of the Council.
Mr. Polk then communicated a further extract from the same letter, in which his correspondent stated that he had been informed by the Rumanian official, that the Allies had made a peace which was unfair to small nations; and that the Rumanians, therefore, intended to take the matter into their own hands, and to settle the matter equitably in their section of the world.
M. Tittoni said that the difficulties were increased by the fact that there was no properly constituted government at Budapest; if there had been one it would have been possible to collaborate with it, in setting up a force sufficient to maintain order, and, when this had been done, to ask the Rumanians to go.
Mr. Polk said that M. Tittoni did not seem to have realised the exact nature of the difficulty. The Allied generals at Budapest had frequently urged the Rumanians to allow the Hungarians to form a police force. The Rumanians had positively obstructed any such measure. The Rumanian authorities had been asked, by the Council, not to devastate Hungary. The Council had been told in reply, that it was incumbent upon Rumania to get back the material taken from her at an earlier period of the war. The requisitions far exceeded anything that might have [been?] done under such a plea. About 4,000 sealed cars had gone across the Rumanian frontiers from Hungary, carrying everything that could possibly be requisitioned. He felt very strongly in the matter for a particular reason. There was, at the present moment, an American general officer in Budapest, who was being flouted by the Rumanian authorities. The situation was, therefore, so humiliating, that he felt the President ought to be advised to withdraw the United States general officer from Budapest.
M. Clemenceau said that he agreed, in the main, with Mr. Polk, but thought it was difficult to act as though the Council were absolutely certain that the Roumanian Authorities were acting in bad faith.
Mr. Balfour said, that, although some doubt might exist as to whether the Roumanian Government had received the telegrams of the Council, it was none the less certain that they were fully aware of the policy of the Allies.
Mr. Polk said that a despatch had been agreed upon at the Meeting of the Council on the 23rd August (see H. D. 37, Minute 1);3 it had been published in the papers in Paris on the 26th August, and [Page 101]transmitted to the Generals in Budapest on the 27th. It must, therefore, have been sent on to Bucharest. If the Roumanian representative at each of the Allied capitals were summoned to the Foreign Office, and told that the Council was in earnest, he was certain that the situation in Roumania would improve. All information received through the United States Secret Service was to the effect, that the opinion prevailed among the Roumanian Authorities, that the Council was not serious in its intentions.
Mr. Balfour then read the letter which he had drafted for communication to the Roumanian Government at Bucharest (See Appendix “E”).
M. Tittoni said that the letter had been very well drafted. He suggested that in the first sentence of the second paragraph the words “rightly” or “wrongly” (not now shown in Appendix “E”) should be deleted. The sentence as corrected would be a more impartial expression of opinion.
A long discussion then followed as to the method of communicating the letter to the Roumanian Government and
(It was decided that the letter drafted by Mr. Balfour should be taken by Sir George Clerk personally to Bucharest, and be presented by him to the Roumanian Government.)
(It was further decided that Sir George Clerk should also take copies of all telegrams previously sent by the Conference to the Roumanian Government4 and should communicate them with the aforesaid letter.)
4. M. Berthelot commented on the report contained in Appendix “F” on the subject of the immigration clauses for insertion in the Peace Treaty with Bulgaria. He said, in conclusion, that, in his opinion, M. Venizelos’ proposals were too complicated to be put into effect, and that it would be better for the States affected to set up mixed Commissions to settle the matter between themselves. He did not think that any clause ought to go into the Bulgarian Treaty. Clauses Relative to Immigration for Insertion in the Treaty of Peace With Bulgaria
Mr. Coolidge said that the opinions expressed by M. Berthelot were not those incorporated in the report of the Commission on New States.
M. Berthelot said that the original report of the Commission on New States had been made more than a month previously. It was too late for the Council to enter into negotiations with the States [Page 102]concerned, as proposed by M. Venizelos. In the meanwhile, the Drafting Committee were asking that a decision should be given, since they could not carry on with the work of drafting the Bulgarian Treaty unless the point was settled.
(After some further discussion, it was agreed:—
- That no clause on the subject of reciprocal immigration in the Balkans should be insetted in the Peace Treaty with Bulgaria.
- That the report of the Commission on New States (see Appendix “F”) should be accepted, and that this Commission should be authorised to consult with M. Venizelos as to the best method of putting his proposals into effect.
5. At this point, Dr. Benes and MM. Paderewski and Dmowski entered the Council.
M. Benes explained the question of Teschen to the Council with the aid of maps. He said that the problem should be looked at from four points of view, namely, the ethnographical, the historical, the economic and the political. Question of Teschen
According to the latest statistics, there were in the Teschen area, 230,000 Poles, 150,000 Czechs, and 60,000 Germans. This Polish majority was questioned by the Czechs, who doubted the accuracy of the statistics. Owing to the policy of the old Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, the resistance of the Czechs to Austrian rule had been combated by every administrative measure that could be brought against them; and in consequence, the Austrian policy had been systematically to weaken any ethnographical statistics favourable to the Czecho-Slovak population. This could be seen from the fact that the figures given varied from one census to another. The German and Polish elements were generally grouped together; because these two sections of the population were always able to agree in their opposition to the Czechs. There were, in the mining district of the Teschen area, a large percentage of workmen, who were not, properly speaking, inhabitants of Teschen. The Austrian Authorities had assisted the Polish agitation in Teschen since the year 1873, when the centralising tendencies of the Viennese government began to be put into effect. Since that date, Polish schools had multiplied, and a continuous effort had been made to replace the local Czech, administration by Polish or German Authorities. The result of all this had been that the statistics of the Polish population had increased, but the Czecho-Slovak Government thought that false classifications had deliberately been introduced into the data on which the statistics were based. The population in Teschen did not speak the proper Polish language, but a dialectic mixture of Czecho-Slovak and Polish. It was even declared [Page 103]that there were no villages in which separate Polish and Czech inhabitants lived side by side. There were, none the less, centres where the Czecho-Polish dialect was universally spoken. This showed that the population of Teschen, from an ethnographical point of view, was in a transitional state. There was further to be taken into consideration the tendency of the population towards a particular form of culture, and it was certain that the tendency of the population in the area was towards the adoption of Czech customs. All these facts combined to show that the Austrian, statistics could not be trusted, or at least, that they presented only one side of the question. The Czech Government maintained that there were not more than 45 per cent of Poles in the Teschen area. (a) Ethnographical Considerations
The situation of Czecho-Slovakia in the past, was of importance. That country had always identified itself with the ancient Kingdom of Bohemia, formed out of Moravia, Bohemia, and that Potion of Silesia which included Teschen. The strife of the sixteenth century had almost exterminated the Bohemian population. A revival of Bohemian national sentiment had occurred later, but the moral sentiment sustaining it had been based upon the historical status of the Bohemian Kingdom, and the national unity of that country. Basing itself upon these feelings, Bohemia had always resisted the attempts of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy to force their country into a Central European Federation. They had never, in the past, abandoned their standpoint that the old Kingdom constituted a historic unit, and ought never to be divided. This sentiment was very deep, and existed at the present moment; the population could not understand the projected division of Teschen, at a moment when the ethnographical problem had not been finally resolved. (b) Historical Considerations
The coal question affected Czecho-Slovakia very deeply. There were large masses of coal in Poland, and in those parts of Upper Silesia which would undoubtedly be ceded to that country. Statistics showed that the total capacity of the Polish coalpits amounted to 86 billion tons; the pits in Czecho-Slovakia, including Teschen, only had a capacity of 9 billion tons. Czecho-Slovakia was essentially an industrial country. It had produced 70 per cent of the metal work of the old Austro-Hungarian Kingdom, 93 per cent of the sugar products of that country, and had worked a preponderating proportion of the blast furnaces employed in Austro-Hungarian industries. All this showed how much the Czecho-Slovak State was dependent upon a continuous supply of coal, and how little they were asking for themselves. The mines in Czecho-Slovakia were only capable of supplying the needs of the country for 250 years. Poland imported very [Page 104]little coal from Teschen, and statistics showed that in the past, only 25 trucks were sent into Poland every day. The industrial character of Czecho-Slovakia obliged her to import coal from Silesia. (c) Economic Considerations
Mr. Polk then asked whether some of the coal imported by Czechoslovakia did not go to Austria.
Mr. Balfour also asked whether M. Benes’ figures included the importation of lignite.
M. Benes, replying to Mr. Polk, said that a certain quantity of coal was transmitted to Austria through Czecho-Slovakia, but that two-thirds of the total importation remained in the last named country.
Replying to Mr. Balfour, he said that there was enough lignite in Czecho-Slovakia for the domestic needs of the country.
Passing to the Railway question, he drew the attention of the Council to the fact that the most important railway line, maintaining communication between Slovakia and the disputed coal districts, ran through Teschen. This railway was absolutely necessary for the transport of the products of Czecho-Slovakia. (M. Benes here illustrated his statement by a reference to a diagrammatic map, showing the great proportion of Czecho-Slovakian goods carried over the Oderberg-Kaschau line.) It was impossible for the new Czechoslovak Republic to build a new railway line on its own resources.
If the supply of coal upon which Czecho-Slovakia depended so greatly were taken from her, that country would have to rely upon Poland for the essential elements of her existence. Czecho-Slovakia was a more industrial country than Poland. Her sugar industries, her metallurgical works, and her blast furnaces could only be developed and continued by having a continuous supply of coal. If a decision were made unfavourable to Czecho-Slovakia, it would cause a great revulsion of feeling in that country. He had been surprised how deeply Czech feeling had been roused by the question. During the long negotiations of the past months, he had done everything in his power to calm the population of his country, but he had only been able to do so because his countrymen were hoping for a solution favourable to themselves. They now saw themselves faced with the possibility of a situation arising in which they would be deprived of these things which were necessary for the reconstruction of their country. He had always attempted to advocate moderate views, but he doubted whether his influence would prevail over the growing excitement in his country. (d) Political Considerations
He would like to draw attention to the economic effects of diplomatic friction between his country and Poland. In a period of strained relations, Poland would only have to hold up the railway traffic into Czecho-Slovakia, to paralyse that country in 24 hours. [Page 105]He would like the Polish representatives to understand that Czechoslovakia was not demanding rights over Polish populations, but merely putting forward a claim for things necessary for her very life. Czecho-Slovakia was surrounded by countries in a state of ferment, and the supply of materials necessary for her reconstruction was an absolute necessity to her, if she were to remain free of the existing political confusion in Central Europe. He had desired to see his country reconstituted on a firm economic basis as rapidly as possible, in order that he might make it a sort of rallying point for the political aims of western European policy. By doing so, he had hoped that her neighbours would gather round her, and that the western Powers would find a support for their policies in Czecho-Slovakia. Poland was necessarily involved in the politics of Eastern Europe. She was faced with all the difficulties of the Russian situation, in which she would be involved for a long time to come. For this reason, Poland would require the collaboration of Czecho-Slovakia, but this could not be given if the last named country were deprived of Teschen, which was regarded as essential to her economic existence. During the war, the Czech population had adhered to their wish for the integrity of their country. They had had the deepest faith in the policy of the Entente. He feared that if a decision unfavourable to Czechoslovakia were given on the Teschen question, there would be a deep and general reversion of feeling. He feared that the proposed solution of the Teschen question would give rise to a deeply hostile feeling towards Poland, which might be seen from the fact that the Radical Parties in Czecho-Slovakia were now adopting an inimical attitude towards Poland. In order to counteract this unfortunate sentiment amongst his countrymen, he had proposed a compromise, which he had hoped would satisfy both Poland and Czecho-Slovakia. He had originally suggested that the line of the Vistula should be the boundary between the two countries. It had been pointed out to him that larger concessions were necessary, and he had endeavoured, with success, to make popular opinion in his country, favour the concession of the whole of the Bielitz district to Poland. His own opinions had been regarded as heretical by his countrymen: notwithstanding this, he had accepted a solution, which he hoped would have satisfied both Poland and Czecho-Slovakia. More than this, he had always wished to advance conciliatory proposals in the case of Glatz. He had accepted a frontier between his country and Hungary, which placed 132,000 more Slovaks under Hungarian rule than there were Hungarians under Czech administration. He was now faced by a frontier line, proposed by the Joint Polish and Czecho-Slovak Committees, which divided the mining district into [Page 106]two portions. Such a solution could not possibly be accepted. The artificial nature of the division proposed, could be seen by the well known fact that there was constant communication between the districts which it was proposed to separate: large numbers of workmen were continually moving from one area to another, and back. The new frontier line would interrupt free communication with Slovakia, and would oblige the Czech Government to construct a special railway line, which would practically run through one continuous tunnel. The German population were all in favour of maintaining the economic unity of the Teschen area. He did not wish to lay emphasis on this argument, which none the less, could not be completely neglected. He had recently received a Delegation, largely composed of miners and workmen, from the Teschen district. On the news being received that the Teschen Basin was going to be divided, large numbers of Polish workmen had protested against such a measure. It was to be noted, that many of the Delegates belonged to political parties quite averse to chauvinistic feeling (Socialists, Socialist Democrats, etc). None the less, they had expressed themselves strongly on the point, and had stated that they feared for the future. He did not think he was exaggerating when he said that this population now so profoundly disturbed, would act against the wishes both of the Polish and of the Czecho-Slovak Governments, and deal with the problem by independent action on their own account. At the present moment, strikes of a political character were occurring, in which Polish workmen were taking part. He had tried to keep the population quiet, but he had begun to feel that a conciliatory policy on his part was more and more difficult in face of a general movement of protest and indignation. Teschen would always be of secondary importance to Poland. The Poles had complained that an economic argument was being brought against their ethnographical claims. The Poles, themselves, had not hesitated to do the same when they thought that such arguments would be favourable to them. He desired, in conclusion, to ask the Conference to consider with the utmost care, all the arguments that he had brought forward, to weigh the grave political consequences which might follow a decision contrary to the wishes of the Czecho-Slovak population, and to take into account the immense sacrifices which Czecho-Slovakia had made in supporting the Entente throughout the war.
(It was agreed that the Polish Delegates should be heard on the following day, and the meeting then adjourned.)
vii, pp. 792, 806.↩
- French Minister at Bucharest.↩
vii, p. 811.↩
- Appendix C to HD–23,
ibid., p. 517; appendix A to HD–24, ibid., p. 541; HD–25, ibid., p. 555; appendix B to HD–26, ibid., p. 615; HD–30, ibid., p. 682; appendix G to HD–31, ibid., p. 691; appendix A to HD–37, ibid., p. 819; appendix C to HD–38, ibid., p. 857.↩
- Translation from the French supplied by the editors.↩
- HD–36, minute 8, and appendix J,
vii, pp. 792, 806.↩
- Translation from the French supplied by the editors.↩
- Appendix A to HD–43, p. 19.↩
- Translation from the French supplied by the editors.↩
- Translation from the French supplied by the editors.↩