Paris Peace Conf. 180.03501/94


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 Monday, November 17, 1919, at 10:30 a.m.

  • Present
    • America, United States of
      • Hon. F. L. Polk
    • Secretary
      • Mr. L. Harrison
    • British Empire
      • Sir Eyre Crowe
    • Secretary
      • Mr. H. Norman
    • France
      • M. Clemenceau
      • M. Pichon
    • Secretaries
      • M. Dutasta
      • M. Berthelot
      • M. Arnavon
    • Italy
      • M. de Martino
    • Secretary
      • M. Trombetti
    • Japan
      • M. Matsui
    • Secretary
      • M. Kawai
Joint Secretariat
America, United States of Capt. B. Winthrop
British Empire Capt. G. Lothian Small
France M. de Percin
Italy M. Zanchi
Interpreter—M. Mantoux

The following were also present for items in which they were concerned:

  • America, United States of
    • Mr. Ellis L. Dresel
    • Admiral McCully, U. S. N.
    • Captain Madison, U. S. N.
  • British Empire
    • Captain Fuller, R. N.
    • Commander MacNamara, R. N.
    • Commander Dunne, R. N.
    • Mr. A. Leeper
    • General Groves
  • France
    • M. Henry Berenger
    • M. Laroche
    • Ct. du Chayler
    • Ct. Levavasseur
  • Italy
    • Admiral Cagni
    • General Cavallero
    • M. D’Amelio
    • M. Vannutelli-Rey
    • Capt. de corvette Ruspoli
    • Comt. Ingianni
    • Comt. Rugin
  • Japan
    • M. Shigemitsu

[Page 188]

1. (The Council had before it a note from the French Delegation (See Appendix “A”), a historical résumé of the question by Captain Fuller (See Appendix “B”) and a new British proposal dated November 14th, 1919 (See Appendix “C”). Disposition of Enemy War Ships

Sir Eyre Crowe said he had asked the British naval representative to summarize the proposals made by the British Admiralty, which he hoped would be approved by the Council.

Captain Fuller read and commented upon the Historical Summary (See Appendix “B”) on the distribution of enemy war-ships, and upon the new British Proposal (See Appendix “C”).

M. Clemenceau wished to ask whether this proposition which had just been read was an entirely new one?

Sir Eyre Crowe replied that it was. The American and French Delegations had discussed this proposition but had not read the new text. The Italian naval expert had read the proposition and agreed with it.

M. Clemenceau said it was impossible for him to make up his mind on a proposition which was quite new to him; he should first have to discuss the proposition with his naval experts.

Mr. Polk asked Captain Fuller with reference to paragraph 3 what could prevent any country breaking up ships allotted.

Captain Fuller explained it was a question of labor and of shipyard facilities.

Mr. Polk also asked why battle-ships, etc., should be loaned for one year.

Captain Fuller replied this was for experimental and propaganda purposes. The percentages laid out in the proposition were based only on information in their hands; other countries could furnish their own figures and it would be possible to come to an agreement.

M. Clemenceau asked that the further examination of this question be postponed until the next day as he wished to examine the question closely with his naval experts.

(The question was adjourned until the next day).

2. Mr. Polk stated that in the discussion which had taken place at the meeting of November 14th (See H. D. 92)1 he had omitted to bring out an important point and wished to make the record complete. He had omitted in his discussion to go into the history of the question. Originally it had been agreed that all the German ships should be turned over to the Allies, who were to use them to furnish to Germany food which she needed, the charges to be attributed to the Reparation [Page 189] fund. At a meeting which had taken place at Brussels it had been voted that the 14 German oil tank ships should not be delivered. The Germans had asked to use these. At that time Messrs. Hoover and Davis had talked with their colleagues about the question of letting the Germans get oil; no record was made of these conversations, but the resolution read that temporarily the ships should be exempted from allocation. Since that time the American contention was that the Germans could operate the vessels under the Inter-Allied Flag and with an Inter-Allied representative on board, but it had been said that this could not be done. According to his information their records showed that exceptions had been made and that the Germans had operated certain ships with German crews on board, for instance: The Fritz von Straus from Hamburg to Hull, the Kehrweider and the Paul from Hamburg to New York, to obtain oil, also a number of other ships in the Baltic Sea, also certain ships used in the Mediterranean to repatriate German prisoners. In the discussion which followed the Scapa Flow sinking the question again came up; they maintained that it was not contrary to the Allies’ views to let the Germans operate these ships to bring oil to Germany. On July 13th the question was again discussed in the Reparation Commission; but on August 15th the President of the A. N. A. C.2 had cancelled the exemption without giving notice to the United States representative until the following day. The United States had always questioned that decision. The difficulty arose in this way: their understanding was, first, that the ships should be exempted to get oil and secondly that the ships could be operated by German crews under the Inter-Allied flag and with an Inter-Allied Representative on board. They held further that other German ships had been given a free sailing to Constantinople and other ports. They had taken this to constitute a precedent. German Oil Tank Ships

Sir Eyre Crowe said that it seemed to be a question of whether or not German crews should be used on these steamers. He confessed it puzzled him very much why the American Government insisted upon the use of German crews. He asked what inspired that policy.

Mr. Polk said that was the original American view and that contracts for transporting oil to Germany should be carried out.

Sir Eyre Crowe said that oil could reach Germany without using German crews; there must be another reason.

Mr. Polk said there was no mystery about this. It was simply the question of the disposal of the ships: they wanted to let the Germans have a temporary use of the ships until the permanent title was decided upon.

[Page 190]

Sir Eyre Crowe maintained that the United States’ position amounted to ignoring the unanimous decision of the Supreme Council which had attributed the temporary management to the Allies.3

Mr. Polk repeated the view of his Government that the question had been discussed and agreed upon at Brussels.

Sir Eyre Crowe felt that he must insist that at the time of the decision the Germans had made no demand for oil. The Allies did not take these ships simply because they had no need of them.

Mr. Polk regretted the unfortunate situation created by the lack of minutes; there were the recollections of Mr. Hoover on the one hand and those of his colleagues on the other.

Sir Eyre Crowe said that with regard to the precedents which Mr. Polk had cited, he wished to make the following remarks. First, in the Baltic, the Germans had long been allowed to navigate. As for the particular case of the Fritz von Straus, this was a ship of only 800 tons: There was very little interest to the Reparation Commission in this boat on account of its small tonnage. As to the other ships mentioned, it would be easy to ascertain the reason for their operation, and probably their small tonnage was again the reason. As for the German ships in the Mediterranean, that was a different question; the crews were Turkish and not German. The Supreme Council, as a matter of fact, had decided that the Allied Naval Armistice Commission was wrong and insisted on taking those crews off and putting on the Inter-Allied flag in place of the German.4 Under these conditions it appeared that the precedents cited by Mr. Polk did not carry much weight. He emphasized the fact that he had received formal instructions from his Government that these ships should not sail with a German crew. No other position could be taken by the British Government.

M. de Martino stated that he had no objection to the first trip being taken, even with German crews on board, provided that the final distribution of these ships should not be prejudiced by this trip, and as a matter of fact, the final distribution belonged to the Reparation Commission.

M. Clemenceau then read a telegram from Admiral Goette to A. N. A. C, dated November 15th, (See Appendix “D”), from which it appeared that the Germans had informed the Allies that steps were being taken for the delivery of these steamers. That appeared to him to be a decisive fact which did not leave them any choice. What impression would the Council give to the whole world if it were to let the Germans keep these ships at that time? There seemed to him to be two questions. First, there was the question of final ownership [Page 191] which the Council had agreed should be settled by the Reparation Commission. There remained the question of operating the ships. He did not quite understand the position of the United States. What objection did the Americans have to an Allied rather than a German crew? He personally saw a very grave political and moral objection to German crews being used which he thought was even more important than the economic objection. There had just occurred at Berlin demonstrations in favor of Hindenburg which were of a disquieting nature and had given a great deal of trouble to the German Government. These seemed to bear the marks of a Nationalist uprising. Therefore would it be opportune to let those ships sail with German crews and under the German flag? For himself, he had the greatest objections. There was no doubt whatsoever that the Principal Powers had pledged themselves to stand by the decisions of the Reparation Commission; that was full security for America. He therefore earnestly requested Mr. Polk to accept Sir Eyre Crowe’s proposal so as to not make the situation more difficult. It seemed to him all the more important to come to an agreement on this question as there were a number of vital matters to be settled with the Germans, such as the delivery of guilty individuals. Should the Germans be allowed to operate these ships there would be general stupefaction in France. He had often shown readiness to make concessions, but always on one condition that public opinion should understand them. This would not be the case in the present instance. He understood there might be some American emotion on the subject, but he felt sure that America would understand France’s position in the matter and he hoped that secondary considerations which moved American opinions would give way to the stronger, and, to his mind, more justified feeling of public opinion in France.

M. de Martino stated that in view of the strong case presented by M. Clemenceau he was ready to agree with his views.

Mr. Polk remarked that M. Clemenceau’s declarations carried much weight and he also saw that the use of the German flag at this time might be misconstrued in France. They maintained however, that an arrangement had been made which had not been carried out. He also wished to point out that his position with his Government made it difficult for him to give his entire approval to the Chairman’s views. As he understood the proposal which Sir Eyre Crowe had made at a preceding meeting, the 14 oil tank ships were to go to the Firth of Forth; 5 were to be operated, and 9 were to remain there until a compromise had been reached. He would recommend that proposal to his Government. He wished, however, to have the Council take note of the feeling in the United States on the question of the allocation of these vessels. He had not put up an imaginary case; they did not agree and [Page 192] had not accepted the present system of distribution. He referred to the last sentence of the telegram from the British Ministry of Shipping to the British Delegation and he wished to ask Sir Eyre Crowe whether this phrase did not sound like a threat.

Sir Eyre Crowe explained that the phrase occurred in an Interdepartmental telegram and represented simply the attitude of the Shipping Controller which was uncompromising.

Mr. Polk asked whether it was not advisable to instruct the Naval Armistice Commission that no disposition of these 9 oil tank ships be made at this time.

M. de Martino wished to ask what was to be done with the other 5?

M. Berenger replied that according to his information only 11 ships remained which therefore would leave only two for the Allies.

M. de Martino added that should this information be correct it would be very serious for Italy, as she had counted absolutely on sharing the 5 ships with France and Belgium to remedy the scarcity of oil fuel.

M. Berenger wished to point out how important it was to prevent a further waste of these tank ships considering the shortage of oil fuel in Europe. Mr. Dulles, an American representative on the Committee of Organization of the Reparation Commission, had written to M. Loucheur on August 28th protesting that such a waste of fuel oil should not be permitted. Since that time these ships which could carry 60,000 tons could have made two trips and thus been able to bring 120,000 tons of fuel oil which had been lost to the Allies and Germany as well. If Sir Eyre Crowe’s proposal were to be sustained by the Council, that would mean a continuation of this waste for three months or more as the Reparation Commission would not be taking a decision in the matter until then. The explanation of the Brussels meeting given by Mr. Polk could not be accepted. If Mr. Hoover had promised the Germans to give them exemption in favor of certain ships in order to get them oil, this was something that the Allies had never heard of and it did not figure in a single Allied record. On March 29th M. Clementel had written, as President of the Supreme Economic Council, a letter which clearly showed that the Germans at that time were not in need of fuel oil, and he was not aware that an agreement had been reached between Mr. Hoover and the Germans. The Germans had emphasized on July 30th for the first time their need for fuel oil, and the real reason for exempting those tank ships had been that at that time there was sufficient tonnage in the way of tank ships. He could not tell whether the rumor were true that there had been an agreement between Messrs. Hoover and Davis and the Germans, and that a part of the payment had been made by the latter without any knowledge of the Reparation Commission.

[Page 193]

Mr. Polk stated that there had been no secret agreement between Mr. Hoover and the Germans. He could assure the Council of that.

M. Clemenceau asked how it came that there should be at this time such a need for oil tonnage when a few months previous that tonnage had been sufficient?

M. Berenger explained that the use of fuel oil had been authorized recently by a law which had been passed by the French Parliament. This law had resulted in a great demand for fuel oil all the more as there was a great shortage of coal, and oil was needed for lighting, heating and transportation. He had asked the Standard Oil Company for tank ships and had been told that not a single one could be spared.

M. Clemenceau asked M. Berenger to let him have the exact figures of the needs of France and Italy in fuel oil.

M. Berenger said he would.

M. Clemenceau hoped that in the cable which Mr. Polk would send his Government submitting Sir Eyre Crowe’s proposal, he would also point out the needs of France and Italy, and ask it to take into consideration this aspect of the question.

Mr. Polk said he hoped they could reach a compromise on the distribution of those ships.

M. Berenger said that they had considered the question of using a part of these German oil tank ships after a first trip by the Standard Oil Company.

M. Clemenceau said he trusted Mr. Polk would explain the whole question to his Government with his customary liberality.

Sir Eyre Crowe remarked he had based his proposal on Mr. Polk’s hope of arriving early at an arrangement.

Mr. Polk agreed.

M. de Martino said he had just been informed that there actually were fourteen tank ships in German ports which would therefore leave five ships instead of the two which M. Berenger had previously spoken of.

M. Berenger said there were nine oil ships claimed by an American corporation. There were two boats according to his information at the disposition of the Allies.

M. Clemenceau said they would await the result of Mr. Polk’s cable for instructions.

Sir Eyre Crowe summed up that meanwhile they would instruct the Allied Naval Armistice Commission in the sense of his proposal.

It was decided:

to instruct the Allied Naval Armistice Commission to take delivery of the German oil tank steamers for the Firth of Forth;
to retain the nine oil tank steamers claimed by American interests without using them pending a further decision by the Council;
that the remaining ships be delivered for temporary management to the Allied and Associated Governments according to the decision taken by the Allied Maritime Transport Executive September 7th, 1919;
that Mr. Polk, while agreeing to the three above points, reserves to himself the right of again raising the question in the event of not obtaining his Government’s approval;
that Mr. Polk should call his Government’s attention to the very urgent needs of oil by France and Italy, which make necessary an immediate decision on the temporary allotment of the German oil tank ships.

3. (The Council had before it a telegram from Sir George Clerk dated November 13th (See Appendix “E”). Situation in Hungary

Sir Eyre Crowe read and commented upon Sir George Clerk’s telegram. This telegram showed that Friedrich was very obstinate and that the formation of a coalition cabinet met with great difficulties. Sir George Clerk had felt it necessary to inform Friedrich that his mission would come to an end if the present situation continued. He, Sir Eyre Crowe, had also read a telegram in the Morning Post that a coalition government had been formed at Budapest and would assume office. However, he had only seen this in the newspaper; and it seemed that Mr. Polk had received a telegram from General Bandholtz stating that the situation was still very acute at Budapest, and that Sir George Clerk had declared he would have to leave.

M. Berthelot alluded to declarations which the Hungarian War Minister had made on the entry of the National Hungarian Army in Budapest. These declarations were of a purely monarchist tendency and were clearly in favor of the return of Archduke Joseph.

Mr. Polk said that from a telegram he had just received from General Bandholtz, Admiral Horthy was making a number of arrests and that Sir George Clerk and the Inter-Allied Military Mission had threatened to withdraw if these arrests were continued.

M. Clemenceau thought it advisable to await further information before doing anything.

(The question was then adjourned.)

4. M. Clemenceau stated that M. Venizelos had made a protest against the declaration in the letter5 which the Supreme Council had recently sent to him to the effect that the occupation of Smyrna by the Greeks should have a temporary character. He would like the question brought up at the next meeting as he did not wish such a statement to go unchallenged. Occupation of Smyrna by the Greeks

[Page 195]

5. (The Council had before it a note from the British Delegation dated November 14, 1919 on the subject. (See Appendix “F”). Detention in the United States of Ex-German Passenger Vessels Allocated to Great Britain for Management

Sir Eyre Crowe said he felt all the more embarrassed at raising a subject which he knew was likewise embarrassing to his American colleague especially after the conciliatory spirit just shown by Mr. Polk; he was obliged, however, to bring it up according to the instructions he had received. He believed it was not claimed by anybody that the Shipping Board had any right to retain the ships in question, but unfortunately, perhaps on account of the President’s illness which gave opportunities of administrative independence, nobody seemed to be in a position to give the Shipping Board the necessary instructions. Possibly also the Board was confusing this question with that of the oil tank-ships and was adopting an attitude which seemed to him one of mere retaliation. The need for these ships was very acute. A very large number of passengers were awaiting transportation. Civilians, including business men, could not go to the East this year owing to the lack of passenger vessels. The vessels in question had enormous tonnage and included the Imperator, a ship of over 50,000 tons. These vessels had been temporarily allocated to the United States for the repatriation of its army. As it had been unanimously decided at a meeting of the Allied Maritime Transport Executive in July 1919 that all the Steamers under discussion should be allocated to Great Britain for management, British crews had been sent to New York to bring them back but the Shipping Board had refused to give them up. The State Department agreed with the British Government but said it had no authority over the Shipping Board. The British Government had instructed him to present this memorandum to the Supreme Council believing that a resolution of the Council would oblige the Shipping Board to deliver the vessels and that it might help the American Government to get over the difficulty.

Mr. Polk said that he could not quite agree with all Sir Eyre Crowe had said on the subject. It seemed impossible for the Council to arrive at a resolution, which required a unanimous vote, as he could hardly be expected to join in a formal request to his own government. He would, however, cable to Washington Sir Eyre Crowe’s proposal and state that such a resolution was before the Council.

It was decided:

that the American Delegation would cable to Washington the resolution proposed by the British Delegation to the effect that the Supreme Council address a formal request to the United States Government to hand over without delay, to properly appointed agents of the British Government, the passenger vessels illegally detained in United States ports.

[Page 196]

6. (The Council had before it the report of the Special Committee (See Appendix “G”). Report of the Special Committee on the Resumption of Diplomatic Relations With Germany

M. Laroche read and commented upon the report. He added that the paragraph on page 56 of the report relating to the credentials of the Ambassador should be modified in accordance with the present attitude of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers toward Germany.

Mr. Polk stated that the United States was not then in a position to send representatives, but he would make no objection to the report.

It was decided:

to accept the report as presented by the Special Committee, it being understood that the credentials of the Ambassador should be modified to agree with the attitude of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers toward Germany.

7. (The Council had before it a note of the Drafting Committee on the question (See Appendix “H”). Instructions to General Masterman Regarding the Disposal by Germany of Aeronautical Material

M. Berthelot read and commented upon the proposed instructions.

(After a short discussion

It was decided:

to accept the report of the Drafting Committee relative to instructions to be sent to General Masterman on the disposal by Germany of Aeronautical material.

8. (The Council had before it a note of the Drafting Committee on the subject (See Appendix “I”). Question of signature by Serb-Croat-Slovene State and Roumania of the Financial Arrangements of St. Germain

M. Berthelot read and commented upon this note.

(After a short discussion

It was decided:

to invite Roumania and the Serb-Croat-Slovene State to sign the two financial arrangements6a along with the Treaty with Austria and the Minorities Treaty.

9. (The Council had before it a note from the Austrian Delegation dated October 31st, 1919 (See Appendix “J”). Return of Austrian Prisoners From Serbia

(After a short discussion

It was decided:

to approve the request made by the Austrian Delegation regarding the return of Austrian prisoners from Serbia.

(The meeting then adjourned)

Hotel de Crillon, Paris, November 17, 1919.

[Page 197]

Appendix A to HD–94

Note From the French Delegation

Distribution of Enemy Battleships

The question of the distribution of the enemy battleships was several times discussed by the Supreme Council, without a decision being made. It was also the object of various Notes from the British, French and Italian Delegation. At last, the Naval representatives met a short time ago, and in four meetings examined the possible solutions.

It seems that differences which occurred between the Admirals, as well as the different points of view of the Allies, may now be conciliated by the Supreme Council, in order that, by mutual concessions, a definite solution of this controverted question may be reached.

- A -

The first question to be settled is that of the disposition of the ships: If the ships were to be finally broken up, it would have been absolutely useless to discuss their distribution to such a great length. The British Government, in its Note of October, indicated that it deemed that the ships should be broken up, but left to France and Italy the right to dispose of them, according to their wishes. The Japanese Government, on this point, as on the others, concurred in the British opinion. The Italian Government declared itself as willing to accept either of the solutions, but desires to be treated, in this matter, the same as on the others, like France. The American Government, although it maintained its point of view, according to which the ships ought to be sunk, gave to understand, in the course of a semi-official conversation by Mr. Polk, that the United States, although having decided to destroy all ships allotted to her, would not contest the right of France and Italy to dispose of them.

- B -

The second question is that of the basis of distribution of enemy ships. The French Government is willing to accept the British scheme of distribution of the ships, according to the proportion of the losses suffered in surface ships by the Allied and Associated States, this distribution being based upon the attribution of a number of ships equal in each category to the number of lost ships. The French Navy asks that not only the quantity but the quality of the enemy ships delivered, be taken into consideration, and thinks that the British and American Governments will not make any objections to replacing, in [Page 198] the French share, the ships in bad condition out of the salvaged scuttled ships at Scapa Flow, or of the German Fleet, by ships of a higher value, which might be comprised in their own share, since these ships are destined to be demolished. It seems that the British Government, allowing for mistakes, is willing to accept the French proposal combined with its own. Japan and England (?). The American Admiral suggested that the financial effort of each country be taken as a basis: This suggestion was the only one of its kind, because it appears inadmissible that the loss of ships be not taken into account, moreover, the number of millions spent does not represent the whole national effort of a country. The basis suggested by the Italian Admiral seems complicated: The distribution would be made according to the age and number of lost ships, the age being calculated by taking into account the useful tonnage, the real tonnage, maximum duration and the real age of the ship; as the method of calculation of these different values may vary according to the country, such a basis would run the risk of provoking endless discussion.

It is for the Supreme Council to make a decision: It seems that the simpler the method of distribution will be, the more chances it will have of being practical. It is to be noted that the British, Japanese and French proposals, concerning the dreadnoughts, cruisers and destroyers, are almost identical.

The British suggestion according to which the method of distribution does not attribute any battleships to the smaller Allied Powers, to the New States and neutrals, was unanimously admitted.

- C -

The third question is that raised by the request of France, for a certain number of surplus ships, as a compensation for the abandonment of its naval construction, for the benefit of the armament, not only of her troops but of those of her Allies. The suggestion was made to attribute to France, in addition, and for that reason, a certain number of the Allied cruisers demanded from Germany as penalty for the scuttling of the German fleet at Scapa Flow.

The French request was not admitted, so far, by the British Admiralty, which deems that the compensation, which it recognizes as legitimate, is represented by the right of disposing of the ships, instead of sinking them. The Italian Admiralty admits the French request for compensation only if she obtains an appreciably equal compensation, which is justified by the same reasons. The American Admiralty did not concur in the French request.

So stands the question of the distribution of enemy battleships. The various delegations seem to have received from their Governments the necessary authority to adjust the matter.

[Page 199]

Appendix B to HD–94

Enemy Surface Warships—Disposal and Distribution7

Historical Summary

1. The question had not been separately considered by the Supreme Council since 25th April,8 when the Peace Treaty with Germany was under discussion. No agreement was reached, and it was decided to leave the question open and merely demand the surrender of certain ships from the Germans in the Treaty. The Italian representative was not present at this meeting.

2. On 25th [27th] June, the Admirals agreed on a draft for submission to the Supreme Council in which they stated their opinion that they could do nothing more until answers to certain questions had been given by the Supreme Council.9 These were:—

Are the vessels to be:—
broken up—or
distributed without restriction as to their ultimate disposal.
If they are distributed:—
is the distribution to be confined to the Allied and Associated Powers whose Navies have taken a prominent part in the war,—or
are the smaller of the Allied Powers who possess Navies and the new states with maritime frontiers to participate.

The opinion of the Naval representatives in regard to the disposal of the ships were summarised as follows:—

U. S. A. to be sunk or broken up, with a preference for sinking.
British Empire to be broken up.
Italy to be broken up; but if an exception is made and the vessels are allotted to any of the Allied Powers the Italian Navy should receive its due proportion.
Japan to be sunk or broken up with the same reservation as is made in the case of Italy.
France opposed to both sinking and breaking up; considered vessels should be distributed amongst the Allied and Associated Powers.

To these questions no answer has ever been received from the Supreme Council.

[Page 200]

3. After the Scapa Flow sinkings, the matter was touched upon by the Council of Four on 24th and 25th June,10 and it appears from the notes made by Sir Maurice Hankey which however were not stenographic, that Mr. Lloyd George and President Wilson implied that they agreed that France was entitled to special consideration on account of her inability to continue her building, due to the pre-occupation of her naval arsenals with the manufacture of munitions for the war on land, and that Great Britain was willing to include the ships sunk at Scapa in her share and waive her rights regarding the ships remaining at Scapa.

4. Since this date there have been interchanges of letters etc., between some of the representatives of the Five Powers.

5. With a view to endeavouring to obtain a settlement, the British representative submitted a memorandum to the Supreme Council on 10th October.

The French submitted an answering memorandum on 15th October. And the Italians did the same on 22nd October. Summarized the views expressed are:—

Britain wishes all ships to be broken up, the proceeds to be divided in the scale of losses of warships. As a concession to the fact that France and Italy have been unable to build during the war, Britain is ready to agree that the share of these two powers may be embodied in their fleets.
Italy agrees with the British view; but calculating by the military value of the ships lost she considers that the shares proposed should be counted on their military value and not on numbers only as was proposed by the British.
France demands:—
Free Disposal of all enemy craft by beneficiary Powers.
Distribution to be effected on the principle of the assignment of an equal number of ships of the same category as those of the lost ships.
Manner of distribution to take into account not only the quantity, but quality of the enemy ships surrendered.
Assignment to France of an additional number of units, as compensation for having suspended naval construction for the purpose of equipping not only her own troops, but those of her Allies.

6. The U. S. A. and Japan have not submitted any memoranda to the Supreme Council, but have handed an expression of their views to the Naval Advisers. These are:— [Page 201]

U.S.A. First. All surrendered German and Austrian naval vessels to be sunk.
Second. All surrendered German and Austrian naval vessels to be destroyed by breaking up.
Third. If neither of these policies can be adopted, and distribution of the surrendered German and Austrian naval vessels becomes inevitable, then the United States will demand its share, based on total National Effort in war against Central Powers. The disposition of any such share awarded to the United States to rest with the United States.
Japan agrees with the British Memorandum; but on condition that it should be accepted by all the other powers represented and with the reservation that in the case of the principle of free disposal, as proposed by the French authorities, being accepted, it should likewise apply to Japan.

7. Since the above memoranda have been submitted, the Naval Advisers have had frequent meetings to consider the matter, but have been unable to arrive at unanimity regarding the disposal of ships, principally by reason of the fact that the Supreme Council have not given their decision on the points raised by the Admirals’ Meeting of 25th [27th] June. The British have now drafted a further proposal which it is hoped may bring about an agreement between the extreme views which have been expressed. This has not yet been considered by the Naval Advisers.

Appendix C to HD–94

British Proposal Regarding the Distribution of Enemy Surface Warships

In accordance with the preamble to the naval, military and air clauses of the Treaty of Peace with Germany, with the general spirit of that Treaty and of those concluded with the other enemy powers, all surface warships surrendered by enemy powers shall, with the exception of the few noted in paragraph 5 and 6 below, be broken up under the superintendence of an Inter-Allied Naval Commission.

2. The proceeds accruing from the breaking up of the warships shall be divided amongst the Allied and Associated Powers in accordance with the following computation of losses of surface warships sustained by these powers during the war:—

[Page 202]
Great Britain 70% Percentage to be amended to include compensation to—
France 10%
Italy 10% Greece who lost 1 T. B. D.
Japan 8% Rumania who lost 1 T. B.
U. S. A. 2% Portugal who lost 1 Gunboat

3. Enemy tonnage in the above proportions is to be allocated to each country for breaking up purposes by the Inter-Allied Naval Commission. Should any country be unable to break up its share, the Commission is to allocate it as necessary, preference being given to Allied countries.

4. As regards the sinking of the German ships at Scapa Flow, Great Britain has stated her willingness to bear the loss arising from that incident; but now that it is probable that compensation will be forthcoming from Germany in material which is not warship construction, Great Britain agrees that such compensation should be divided amongst the Allied and Associated Powers in a similar proportion to the proceeds of breaking up the enemy warships (paragraph 2, above).

5. In view of France and Italy being unable to build warships during the war, owing to their pre-occupation with the war on land, it is proposed that they should be granted the following compensation in warships surrendered from the enemy fleets for use with their fleets or any other purpose they may desire:—

France 5 Light Cruisers and 10 T. B. D’s.
Italy 5 Light Cruisers and 10 T. B. D’s.

6. It is further proposed that the Inter-Allied Naval Commission shall loan to each of the five Principal Allied and Associated Powers:—

  • 1 Battleship
  • 1 Light Cruiser
  • 3 T. B. D’s.

The duration of the loan to be one year, during which time these ships may be used for any purpose, except that of being embodied in the fleets of these powers. On the termination of one year after the arrival of these vessels in a port of the power to which they have been loaned, they must either be broken up under the superintendence of the Inter-Allied Naval Commission or sunk in deep water.

Appendix D to HD–94

[Telegrams Submitted to the Supreme Council by the British Delegation]

1. Telegram from PANAC to the British delegation at the Peace Conference (Nov. 15th, 1919).

Following has been received from Admiral Goette No. 1112 of Nov. 14th, begins:—Reference your Wireless Signal 1237 of 28th October, steps are being taken for the delivery of the tank steamers, ends.

[Page 203]

2. Telegram from the British Ministry of Shipping to the British delegation at the Peace Conference (Nov. 15th, 1919).

Message now received by PANAC from Goette that steps are being taken for delivery of tank steamers. Unless Supreme Council decides otherwise management arrangements previously made will be carried out on their arrival at Firth of Forth. So far as Shipping Controller is concerned no compromise in this matter can be considered.

Appendix E to HD–94

Telegram No. 7 From Sir George Clerk to the Supreme Council

[Same as appendix B to HD–93, printed on page 185.]

Appendix F to HD–94

Detention in the United States of Ex-German Passenger Vessels Allocated to Great Britain for Management

Memorandum by British Delegation

1. The following ex-German steamers were allocated for temporary management to the United States for the repatriation of their army by the Allied Maritime Transport Council at its fifth meeting in February, 1919:—

Name Gross Tonnage.
Imperator 52,117
Kaiserin Augusta Victoria 24,581
Prinz Friedrich Wilhelm 17,082
Mobile (ex Cleveland) 16,960
Zeppelin 15,200
Cap Finistere 14,503
Pretoria 13,234
Graf Waldersee 13,193

2. When these steamers were first obtained from Germany in March last, Great Britain, recognizing the vital need of the United States to repatriate their army, fully and frankly acquiesced in these steamers being managed and employed by them, though such action delayed seriously the completion of the British repatriation.

3. The U. S. Government, having subsequently intimated that their repatriation work was complete, and that the steamers were available for other purposes, it was unanimously decided at a meeting of the Allied Maritime Transport Executive in London on the 30th July, 1919, that all the above mentioned steamers should be allocated to Great Britain for management. Mr. Anderson, representing the U. S., was present at this meeting.

[Page 204]

4. Subsequently the French Government asked to be allowed to use some of these vessels. To meet this claim, an arrangement between the British and French Governments was arrived at, satisfactory to both parties.

5. The allocation of these steamers is only for temporary management, and does not in any way prejudice the final disposal of the steamers under the treaty of peace.

6. Great Britain’s need of these vessels is acute. She has to demobilise her army in India before Christmas. Civilians, including business men, cannot go to the East this year owing to the lack of passenger ships. The waiting list of such passengers to all parts is enormous. Over 25,000 South African passengers are awaiting transportation quite apart from British passengers requiring accommodation. The same, if not worse, applies to India and the East, also to Australia and Canada, Great Britain has to repatriate 400,000 soldiers on long distance work.

7. In the month of September, British crews were sent to New York to bring back the S. S. Imperator and all arrangements were concluded with the U. S. military and naval authorities to move her, but at the last moment the American Shipping Board interfered and refused to allow the vessel to be delivered to the British representatives, stating that their instructions were that the Imperator and the seven other vessels had been assigned to them. All arguments failed to induce them to admit that such was not the case.

8. The vessels are, consequently, lying idle, and His Majesty’s Government is incurring a cost of hundreds of pounds daily in feeding and housing these British crews, which were sent to America to bring these ships over.

9. Neither the U. S. Shipping Board nor the U. S. Government have the smallest conceivable right to detain these vessels.

10. The most pressing representations have been made by the British Ambassador at Washington to the U. S. State Department on several occasions, and the State Department admit that the ships ought to be handed over, but its efforts have failed to move the American Shipping Board.

11. Early in October, Sir Joseph Maclay, the British Shipping Controller, made a personal appeal to the Chairman of the American Shipping Board to release these vessels, but with no result.

12. A complete deadlock has been reached owing to the unjustified action of the Shipping Board.

13. In these circumstances the British Government requests the Supreme Council to address a formal request to the U. S. Government to hand over the above mentioned vessels to properly appointed agents of the British Government without delay.

[Page 205]

Appendix G to HD–94


Report Presented to the Supreme Council by the Commission Charged With the Study of the Questions Relative to Resumption of Diplomatic Relations With Germany

By a resolution under date of October 25, the Supreme Council decided:11 Mandate of the Commission

That the Allied and Associated Powers, when diplomatic relations are resumed with Germany, will be represented in Berlin by Chargés d’Affaires, and that they will ulteriorly agree upon the date when Ambassadors should be sent;
That those of the Allied and Associated Powers which were, before the war, diplomatically represented at Dresden or at Munich, may continue to be represented if they deem it advantageous;
That a special commission will be charged with the study of the procedure which should be followed in the resumption of diplomatic relations. This Commission will comprise, etc.

The Commission came to the following conclusion.

1st. In order to notify the German Government of the names of the Chargés d’Affaires, nominated by each one of the Allied and Associated Powers, it would be advisable to have resource to the intermediary of the neutral power, which was, during the war, entrusted with the protection of their interests in Germany. But it would only be a mere notification, not a request for acceptance. In fact, the Commission unanimously considered that it was not necessary to ask for the acceptance of the nomination of the Chargés d’Affaires, on account of the present conditions of our relations with Germany, and of the long interruption of diplomatic relations caused by the war. Conclusions of the Commission—2nd. Notification of the Names of the Chargés d’Affaires

The letter to the representative of the power charged with the protection of the interests of the country concerned, might be signed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and drawn up in the following terms:

Renewal of Diplomatic Relations with Germany.

Draft letter to representative at { London } of neutral Government
ment in charge of { British } interests in Germany.
[Page 206]

Your Excellency:—


The forthcoming entry into force of the Treaty of Versailles of June 28, 1919, will entail the renewal of diplomatic relations

between { the British Empire } and Germany.
the United States

I have the honour to inform Your Excellency / you that His Majesty the King / The President of the Republic / etc. has in these circumstances chosen Mr. . . . . . . . to carry out the functions of chargé d’affaires in Berlin.

I should be grateful to Your Excellency / you if you would request your Government to announce this appointment to the German Government on the day following that on which the minute recording the deposit of the ratifications of the Treaty of Versailles has been signed.

Your Excellency’s / Your Government should indicate to the German Government at the same time that Mr. . . . . . . . will be the bearer of a letter accrediting him in the above mentioned capacity / of a telegraphic communication stating that a letter accrediting him / in the above mentioned capacity is on its way.

I have the honour, etc. …

2nd.—The credentials which each of the Chargés d’Affaires will carry should, according to precedent, and to the principles of International law, be signed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Government concerned, and addressed to the German Minister for Foreign Affairs.* Credentials of the Chargés d’Affaires

It is proposed to draw it up as follows:

Renewal of Diplomatic Relations with Germany.

Letter of Credence
Chargé d’Affaires.

(To be addressed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, to the German Minister for Foreign Affairs.)

. . . . . . . 1919.

Monsieur le Ministre:—

{ His Majesty the King } desirous of renewing the diplomatic
The President of the Republic
[Page 207]
relations between { the British Empire } and
the United States

Germany, which were interrupted by the war, has chosen Mr. . . . . . . . to carry out the duties of chargé d’affaires of the__________ in Berlin pending the reestablishment of the Embassy / Legation.

I have the honour to inform Your Excellency of the appointment of Mr. . . . . . . . who will have the honour to convey to you in person the present letter, and I request that you will receive him and will assist him to carry out such instructions as I may have to transmit to him in the name of {His Majesty the Republic}.

I am, with great consideration, Sir,

The credentials ulteriorly intended for the Ambassador should be signed by a chief of State and addressed to the President of the German Republic. It might be drawn up in the following terms: 3rd. Credentials of the Ambassador

Renewal of Diplomatic Relations with Germany. Letter of credence for M. . . . . . . . Ambassador at Berlin.

{ His Majesty the King of Great Britain &c.
The President of the French Republic &c.

Desirous of reestablishing an Embassy in Berlin and of resuming thereby harmonious relations between {The British Empire / France, &c} and Germany, I have decided to accredit to Your Excellency in the capacity of Ambassador, M. . . . . . . .

The distinguished qualities of M. . . . . . . . are a sure guarantee of the zeal with which he will acquit himself of his important duties. With this conviction I request that you will receive him, and will give full credit to everything he may say on my behalf.

Given in . . . . . . . the . . . . . . day of . . . . . . 19 . .

These proposed letters do not follow closely the formulas usually employed; the Commission is of the opinion that the terms chosen are sufficiently clothed with the courtesy in use in international relations, and that it would be out of place and inopportune to employ at the present time towards Germany formulas containing assurances of friendship and confidence which are usually employed in credentials.

4. The Commission has unanimously expressed the opinion that the Representatives of the Powers should follow the accepted customs as regards official calls and receptions, while naturally abstaining from all relations with the missions of the other ex-enemy Powers, so long as the Treaties with their respective Governments will not have been ratified. 4. Relations With German Official Circles

[Page 208]

5. With a view to assuring as soon as possible the resumption of diplomatic relations with the Governments of Bavaria and Saxony, the Commission suggests the following procedure: the Chargés d’Affaires sent to Berlin would be bearers of letters addressed by their respective Ministers for Foreign Affairs to the Ministers, Presidents of Saxony and Bavaria, who also direct Foreign Affairs. These letters would be delivered by a special courier, who might be one of the secretaries belonging to the missions accredited to Berlin, these missions coming to an understanding among themselves as to the choice of this collective courier. 5. Diplomatic Representation at Dresden and at Munich

On the other hand, as the interpretation of the new German Constitution, as regards relations of the Free States with foreign Governments, presents a certain uncertainty, it is proper that we should not expose ourselves to see Bavaria or Saxony refuse to receive diplomats accredited to them. The Commission is of the opinion that the Allied Governments should limit themselves to informing the Ministers for Foreign Affairs for each State in question, that they “propose” to send a Representative to them.

Therefore, the Commission submits to the Supreme Council the following draft:

Renewal of Diplomatic Relations with Germany.

Draft of letter to be addressed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs to the Minister President of Bavaria in Munich / Saxony in Dresden.

(This letter to be sent simultaneously to Munich / Dresden by special courier from the diplomatic missions in Berlin of such of the Allied and Associated Powers who desire to renew separate relations with Bavaria. / Saxony.

The date on which the courier is sent to be agreed upon as [soon as] possible in Berlin between the Chargés d’Affaires of the Allied and Associated Powers.

The Courier to wait and bring back reply)


I have the honour to announce to Your Excellency that with a view to renewing the diplomatic relations

between { the British Empire } and Bravia / Saxony which were interrupted
the United States

by the war, His Majesty the King / The Government of the Republic, etc., proposes to send a chargé d’affaires to Munich, / Dresden whose name will be communicated to [Page 209] Your Excellency in due course. The chargé d’Affaires will superintend the work of the Legation until the arrival of the head of the mission.

I should be obliged if Your Excellency would be so good as to acknowledge the receipt of this communication.

I am, with great consideration, Sir,


In case of a favorable reply, the Chargé d’Affaires might immediately be appointed and replaced, if need be, by the titulary of the Legation, as soon as the interested power is represented in Berlin by an Ambassador.

6. The Mission [Commission?] finally considered what would be the composition [of?] Missions accredited to Berlin under the transitory regime preceding the arrival of the Ambassadors. In this order of things, it is of the opinion besides officials belonging to the diplomatic cadre, properly speaking, there would be no objection to immediately sending to Berlin agents whose mission would be of an economic character, such as commercial attachés. But, on the contrary, it appeared to them that the presence of military and naval attaches was not desirable at the present time. The existence of numerous commissions of control is, in fact, of a nature to diminish the importance of the task of these offices, whose presence might, on the other hand, be inaccurately interpreted as to mean a tribute of confidence toward the German Military authorities. The Military and Naval attachés should, therefore, be sent to Berlin only at the time when the Chargés d’Affaires will be replaced by Ambassadors, in which personnel they will naturally find their place. 6. Composition of Mission Before the Arrival of Ambassadors

Appendix H to HD–94

Draft of Instructions To Be Sent General Masterman

Note to be handed to German Government:

According to Article 202, last alinea, of the Peace Treaty, Germany agrees to displace no aeronautic material, this material to be delivered to the Allied and Associated Powers.

Germany, with a view to escaping this agreement, continually operates the displacement, and even the sale and exportation of this material. By attempting to thus render valueless the obligations which she assumed, she compromises the loyal execution of the Treaty signed and rectified [ratified?] by her.

The Allied and Associated Powers remind Germany that the measures thus taken by her cannot be justified, and that, in consequence, [Page 210] the said displaced, sold or exported material must be delivered to them according to the terms of the Peace Treaty, or, in default thereof, its equivalent value, upon the entry into force of the Treaty.

Appendix I to HD–94

[Note From the Drafting Committee to the Supreme Council]

The Supreme Council has notified the Rumanian and Serb-Croat-Slovene Delegations that their respective governments will not be permitted to sign the Treaty with Bulgaria without having first signed the Treaty with Austria and their Treaty with the Principal Allied Powers for the protection of Minorities.

The question arises as to whether the same obligations should not be extended to the two arrangements signed at St. Germain-en-Laye and which are essential for the liquidation of the former Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, to wit:

the arrangement between the Allied and Associated Powers concerning the contribution to the expenses of liberating the territories of the former Austro-Hungarian Monarchy,12
the arrangement between the Allied and Associated Powers relative to Italy’s share of reparations.13

Rumania and the Serb-Croat-Slovene State figure in the list of High Contracting Parties to these two acts.

The Drafting Committee is of the opinion that Rumania and the Serb-Croat-Slovene State should be invited to sign the two financial arrangements along with the Treaty with Austria and the special treaty on Minorities.

It has asked the Secretariat General to bring about a decision of the Supreme Council on this subject.

Appendix J to HD–94

No. 1507

From: Plenipotentiary of the Austrian Republique, Eichoff.

To: Clemenceau.

In view of the recent requests made by Austria, the Government of the Serb-Croat-Slovene Kingdom has declared that it is disposed, with the reservation that the consent of the Supreme Council of the [Page 211] Allied and Associated Powers in Paris would be granted, to repatriate the Austrian war prisoners detained in Serbia. Their number is relatively unimportant, amounting in all to about 20 officers and a little more than 150 men.

Pursuant to my note of the 28th inst., No. 1489, I again have recourse to your Excellency and beg that you kindly intervene in our behalf with the Commissions and competent Delegates in order that the consent of the Peace Conference to the immediate liberation of the Austrian war prisoners may be granted, and that notification thereof may be made to the Serb-Croat-Slovene Government as promptly as possible.

  1. Minute 2, p. 159.
  2. Allied Naval Armistice Commission.
  3. HD–62, minute 1, vol. viii, p. 403.
  4. See HD–62, minute 2, ibid, p. 406.
  5. Appendix A to HD–90, p. 131.
  6. Post, p. 207.
  7. Appendices I and J to HD–37, vol. vii, pp. 830 and 832.
  8. Memorandum by Captain Fuller of the British Navy.
  9. IC–176E, minute 2, vol. v, p. 238.
  10. Appendix B to HD–17, vol, vii, p. 364.
  11. CF–90, minute 1, CF–91, minute 2, and CF–92, minute 7, vol. vi, pp. 649, 656, and 671.
  12. HD–76, minute 5, vol. viii, p. 767.
  13. According to the Imperial Constitution, the Chancellor of the Empire was the real Minister for Foreign Affairs, but this seems to be modified under the terms of the new Constitution (Article 5). [Footnote in the original.]
  14. Appendix I to HD–37, vol. vii, p. 830.
  15. Appendix J to HD–37, ibid., p. 832.