Paris Peace Conf. 180.03501/98


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 Friday, November 21, 1919, at 10:30 a.m.

  • Present
    • America, United States of
      • Hon. Henry White
    • Secretary
      • Mr. L. Harrison
    • British Empire
      • Sir Eyre Crowe
    • Secretary
      • Mr. H. Norman
    • France
      • M. Cambon
    • Secretaries
      • M. Dutasta
      • M. Berthelot
      • M. de Saint Quentin
    • Italy
      • M. de Martino
    • Secretary
      • M. Barone Russo
    • Japan
      • M. Matsui
    • Secretary
      • M. Kawai
Joint Secretariat
America, United States of Capt. B. Winthrop
British Empire Capt. G. Lothian Small
France M. Massigli
Italy M. Zanchi
Interpreter—M. Mantoux

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

  • America, United States of
    • Admiral McCully, U. S. N.
    • Dr. I. Bowman
    • Mr. A. W. Dulles
    • Mr. Buckler
    • Lieut-Commander L. B. Green, U. S. N.
  • British Empire
    • Captain Fuller, R. N
    • Lieut.-Colonel Kisch
    • Mr. E. H. Carr
    • Mr. Forbes-Adam
    • Mr. H. W. Malkin
  • France
    • M. Laroche
    • M. Hermitte
    • M. Serruys
    • M. Fromageot
    • M. de Montille
  • Italy
    • M. Galli
    • M. Stranieri
    • M. Pilotti
    • M. Trombetti
  • Japan
    • M. Shigemitsu
    • M. Nagaoka

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1. M. Cambon said that the British and American Delegations would make known their views on the text of Article II of the Eastern Galician Treaty.1 Status of Eastern Galicia

Mr. White summarized the American point of view (See Appendix “A”). He added that he had thought it advisable to do so as at the preceding meeting the impression seemed to have been conveyed that the American position on the question was illogical.

Sir Eyre Crowe repeated that he could not change his attitude, and if the Council decided otherwise he would have to refer the question to his Government.

M. Cambon said it was important to come to a decision on this vital matter and that he hoped the Council would give its decision at that meeting. As the Council had adopted Sir Eyre Crowe’s views, he would ask Mr. White whether he could not modify his conclusions.

Mr. White then read an alternative text which he suggested be inserted in place of the present second paragraph of Article II of the Eastern Galicia Treaty: “At the expiration of twenty-five years the Principal Allied and Associated Powers, or the Council of the League of Nations, to whom the Powers may delegate their rights under this Treaty, shall have full power to maintain, revise or change the status of the present Treaty”. He thought this text would meet the objection that the requirement of unanimous decision of the Council of the League of Nations might render impossible a state favorable to Poland through the ultimate opposition of Russia in Eastern Galicia; and further that a second objection would be made [met?], namely, [that?] which might arise from the provision forcing upon the entire League of Nations the responsibilities of a Treaty concluded by the Five Principal Allied and Associated Powers.

M. Cambon asked whether this proposed new text met with the approval of the Council.

Sir Eyre Crowe said that the modified text still raised debatable questions and that he would have to present it for the approval of his Government. At the end of twenty-five years it still gave to Poland no voice on the final decision of its affairs.

Mr. White remarked that he still feared that a Power hostile to Poland might change the status of Eastern Galicia.

M. Berthelot said there was a very sharp difference between the two points of view. To effect conciliation he thought that the Council might accept the principle of Sir Eyre Crowe’s proposal by leaving it to the League of Nations to decide in twenty-five years the procedure which it would apply.

[Page 286]

M. Cambon said that, in other words, the Council might state at this time that the League of Nations would examine in twenty-five years’ time the question of Eastern Galicia, leaving it to the Council of the League of Nations to decide whether it would take its decision by a unanimous or a majority vote.

M. Laroche stated that if the procedure to be followed were not specified, it was certain that, taking into account the provisions of the Covenant, the Council would have to decide by a unanimous vote, and yet twenty-five years later the Covenant might have been changed and the procedure applied at that time might be different.

M. Cambon asked Mr. White whether, taking into account Sir Eyre Crowe’s firm stand on the question, he did not feel like accepting the point of view of the majority.

Mr. White said he withdrew his objection provided his attitude were recorded in the minutes so that in twenty-five years Poland should not consider America responsible.

It was decided:

to accept the text of the Eastern Galicia Treaty as presented by the Committee on Polish Affairs;
that paragraph 2 of Article II should read as follows:

“At the expiration of the period of Twenty-five years the Council of the League of Nations shall have full powers to maintain, revise, or modify the statute as defined by the present Treaty.”

2. (The Council had before it a note from the Committee on Greek Affairs (See Appendix “B”). Report of the Committee on Greek Affairs, Regarding Greek Administration in Smyrna

M. Cambon read and commented upon the draft telegram. He proposed the Council should address it to the Inter-Allied High Commissioners at Constantion in Smyrna

Sir Eyre Crowe suggested the following modifications: the first paragraph from second line beginning “Greek claims” should read, “to examine the questions relative to the Greek Administration of Smyrna raised by your telegram referred to above.” In second paragraph, in place of “the suggestions to be presented to the Supreme Council” read “those questions and to present its recommendations to the Supreme Council”. For the phrase in lines 3 and 4, “which those conflicts have made clear” read, “which have brought about the situation indicated by your telegram.” In third paragraph, second line omit “if necessary”. At the end of last paragraph add, “your information and after hearing the Greek High Commissioner at Constantinople upon the whole question”.

Mr. White in turn suggested that, at the end of the first sentence of paragraph 3 there be added: “and to submit therewith your observations and if necessary your recommendations”.

[Page 287]

It was decided:

to send to the Inter-Allied High Commissioners at Constantinople, the draft telegram after modifications suggested by Sir Eyre Crowe and Mr. White, as follows:

“Reference your telegram 2045.2 The Supreme Council has entrusted the Commission on Greek Claims to examine those questions relative to the Greek Administration in Smyrna raised by your telegram referred to above.

In order to study those questions and present its recommendations to the Supreme Council, the Commission would like to know with certainty the concrete facts of every kind which could be considered to have brought about the situation indicated in your telegram, especially in the matters of criminal and civil jurisdiction, customs, postal and press censorship, administration of the port, etc.

You are consequently requested to collate without delay and in agreement with the Allied High Commissioners the information furnished by your representatives at Smyrna on the concrete facts specified above, and to submit therewith your observations and if necessary your recommendations. You will be good enough to communicate these to Paris as early as possible by means of a telegram drafted in agreement with your colleagues and indicating as far as possible the sources of your information, after having heard the Greek High Commissioner at Constantinople upon the whole question.”

3. M. Berthelot said M. Dutasta and himself had seen on the previous day the two German Delegates Herr Von Simson and Baron Von Lersner. The interview bore on the note sent to the German Government as well as the protocol annexed thereto.3 Mr. von Simson spoke practically all the time and Baron von Lersner did not take active part in the conversation. Mr. Berthelot had emphasized to Herr von Simson that he spoke in a personal and not in an official capacity. Herr von Simson first raised the question of participation by America in the Commissions on the execution of the Treaty. He had replied that it had been decided that America would not be represented finally on any of these Commissions until the Senate had ratified the Treaty, and that this decision had been accepted by all the Allies who agreed that the American seats on these Commissions, though they remained vacant, would be reserved. Communication by M. Berthelot of His and M. Dutasta’s Interview With the German Delegates

Herr von Simson then raised questions of detail; first, Memel: he wished to know what would be the situation of that city and under what conditions it would be occupied by the Allies. He had replied that this was a subject which only interested the Allies, and that in any case, the situation of Memel would be settled in such a way as [Page 288] not to impose too severe charges on the city, and also the Allies considered that Memel would be incorporated in a new State.

Herr von Simson did not insist and next raised the question of the Sarre. To his questions he had replied, without feeling obliged to give him a full statement. He had told him that President Wilson had agreed to call the first meeting of the Council of the League of Nations, although the Senate had not yet ratified the Treaty; he had thought it inadvisable to inform him that the Council would settle only the question of delimitation of the Sarre and that the question of sovereignty over that territory would remain in abeyance.

Herr von Simson had then referred to the occupation of Allenstein and Marienwerder. He had indicated that articles 95 and 97 of the Treaty did not consider the question in the same manner for the two Provinces; for Marienwerder the question of the possibility of occupation had been raised, which was not the case with Allenstein. That observation had embarrassed him somewhat and he had answered that his personal opinion was that it seemed possible to occupy both territories and that in any event, the Principal Allied and Associated Powers did not intend to impose too heavy a burden on those territories. When the German Delegates met the Allied Commissioners, observations could be made by the Germans and information would be given on those points. Incidentally he had informed him that a general meeting of the Allied and German Delegates would be held the following Monday, and that the Allies considered that only questions of principle should be raised and the discussion be as succinct as possible in the interest of Germany herself. Herr von Simson had agreed on the last point.

Herr von Simson had then raised the question of the Protocol: he said he did not understand the classification adopted by the Allies to distinguish between the Armistice Clauses partially fulfilled, unfulfilled, and violated. He had not understood why the Protocol referred only to the Clauses whose execution was not provided for in the Treaty of Peace. In spite of three successive explanations, Herr von Simson professed not to understand. Mr. Berthelot had assured Herr von Simson that the Protocol specified only certain “violations, among others;” the Allies did not intend to raise the others.

The question of the Baltic Provinces preoccupied greatly the German Delegates: Herr von Simson had asked him whether, if the evacuation was not completed at the time the Treaty came into force, the Allies would continue the blockade. He had replied that the Allies did consider the question with a broad-minded spirit, and that if they had had recourse to a blockade, that was only because satisfaction had not been obtained. In proportion as the Allies recognized loyal and honest efforts on the part of Germany to expedite the evacuation, the blockade, he thought, would be relaxed.

[Page 289]

Mr. Berthelot asked whether in that statement he had properly interpreted the spirit of the Supreme Council.

(The Council agreed that he had.)

M. Berthelot continued that Herr von Simson had discussed the Scapa Flow sinking. M. Dutasta and himself had informed him that they were not qualified to discuss the question, but that a written answer should be made by the Germans. Thereupon Herr von Simson had stated that the attitude of the German Government had been quite correct and that the sinking of the German Fleet was due to a misinterpretation of facts, namely, that Admiral von Reuter had not been notified in due time of the renewal of the Armistice. He had given him to understand that whatever interpretation Admiral von Reuter put upon the incident, the Fleet at Scapa Flow had represented a German asset. That asset had disappeared and the responsibility of the German Government remained undiminished. As Herr von Simson considered that the responsibility of the Allies was involved, he had informed him that the Allies had examined from the technical and political points of view the question of interning the German Fleet in a neutral port; that the experts had explained that such a solution was impossible, as no neutral port had facilities to receive the German Fleet. On the other hand neutral Governments had been disinclined to have this responsibility placed upon them; no Allied Power had wanted to retain the German Fleet, least of all the British. He had asked whether it was Herr von Simson’s wish that he should say to the Supreme Council that the German Government denied responsibility for the Scapa Flow incident. Herr Von Simson refused to commit the German Government to that and said that a written explanation would be forthcoming.

After a brief reference to the submarines destroyed in the North Sea and on the Spanish coast, Herr von Simson had raised the vital question, from the German point of view, of the handing over of guilty individuals. He had stated that it was materially and morally impossible for the German Government to comply with that demand. To that statement Mr. Berthelot had replied that he was not qualified to discuss the execution of the Peace Treaty, but that if his personal opinion were asked for, he would say that the whole question had been examined by the Allies with the greatest care and that they had made every effort to see it from the German point of view. He had asked Herr von Simson whether he admitted that crimes had been perpetrated and that the guilty individuals should be punished. Herr von Simson agreed as far as to say that the guilty parties should be brought to judgment, but only before German tribunals; to which he had replied that the situation in that case would be yet more [Page 290] difficult for the German Government. Herr von Simson claimed that America, while admitting the principle that the guilty individuals should be handed over, did not insist on their being actually delivered up. Mr. Berthelot replied that he did not know the correctness of the statement, but that Herr von Simson certainly ought to realize that populations which had suffered directly from the war could not have the same feeling on that question as those that had not. There were crimes which families could not forget and, speaking to him as man to man, he had asked him whether if the German Government considered its duty in a loyal spirit, it would not find the difficulties less than it had at first believed. The Allies would not be implacable and if they recognized that a sincere effort was being made to hand over the guilty individuals, they might not insist on the extreme fulfilment of this clause; he had asked whether Herr von Simson did not think that there would be found German individuals, courageous and patriotic enough to surrender themselves voluntarily. Herr von Simson did not think so and Mr. Berthelot had replied that such would not be the case in the Allied countries.

He had finally explained to Herr Von Simson that the Council had fixed the deposit of ratifications for December 1st but this would only be possible if Germany did not create any difficulty. Germany had had the protocol for the last three weeks and if Germany had observations to make she should do so immediately; the German Government should not forget that the execution of the Treaty would mean the repatriation of her prisoners.

The Council expressed thanks to M. Berthelot for his very valuable summary.

4. Mr. White stated that the Labor Conference at Washington which had been unofficial up to that time, wished to know, as it intended to adjourn on November 29th, whether the deposit of ratifications was set for December 1st; in that case the Conference would hold over until the 2nd or 3rd of December to pass official resolutions to confirm the work previously covered unofficially. Labor Conference at Washington

M. Cambon replied that December 1st had been set and that the fact could be officially communicated to the Labor Conference.

5. (The Council had before it a report of the Special Economic Commission (See Appendix “C”).) Report of the Special Economic Commission Regarding the Confiscation of Greek Orthodox Property in Hungary

M. Serruys read and commented upon the report. He said the Economic Commission was unanimous but not in agreement with the Drafting Committee. The Drafting Committee wished to insert in article 232 bis in the Hungarian Treaty the following paragraph, “The Greek Orthodox Communities established at Budapest and other cities of Hungary as well as religious or other foundations [Page 291] are particularly included in the companies and associations referred to in this article.” If this paragraph were inserted an ambiguity would be caused as the word “Orthodox” had a political meaning broader than the religious one, and he did not think that it came within the province of the Economic Commission to decide this point.

M. Fromageot admitted that the argument of the Economic Commission had some weight, but the Drafting Committee did not think an ambiguity existed as the article referred to Allied subjects. He thought it would be sufficient, however in order to prevent any such ambiguity, to add to the paragraph read by M. Serruys the following phrase: “when subjects of Allied or Associated Powers are interested in those Communities or foundations”.

It was decided:

that the third paragraph of article 232 bis of the Hungarian Treaty be modified as follows:

“The Greek Orthodox Communities established at Budapest and other cities of Hungary as well as religious or other foundations are particularly included in the companies and associations referred to in this article, when subjects of Allied or Associated Powers are interested in those Communities or foundations.” (See Appendix “C”)

6. (The Council had before it the documents covered by Appendix “D”). Draft Answer to the Danish Request Regarding the Liquidation of Property of Schieswigers Residing Abroad

M. Serruys read and commented upon the documents numbered II and III in the Appendix. He the Liquidation of added that in the question concerning liquidation of enemy property there had never been unanimity between the Allied and Associated Powers. Article 297 of the Versailles Treaty spoke explicitly of the power and not of the obligation to liquidate. As a matter of fact England had already liquidated German property, France on the contrary had confined itself to sequestration, and as there had never been a common policy it might well be dangerous to give the impression that a common theory and common arrangements were now obtaining. It was exactly to avoid that inconvenience that the Economic Commission had proposed a noncommittal text. The Drafting Committee, on the other hand, in the draft it proposed (Number 4) was less noncommittal, and the Economic Commission saw great disadvantage in leaving the impression that a unanimous policy had been agreed upon by the Allies. The first sentence of the second paragraph as drafted by the Drafting Committee was too vague; it would be necessary to specify that the Allies should not undertake new measures of liquidation since at that moment measures were actually being executed in England, which could not be stopped. On the contrary the second sentence of the second paragraph did not go far enough; it anticipated only restitution of the [Page 292] proceeds of liquidation whereas in certain cases it was the liquidated property that would be handed over.

M. Fromageot said that the Drafting Committee had considered that matter from a purely practical point of view. As he had explained at a previous meeting of the Supreme Council,4 he had been mainly concerned with the difficult situation in which the Schleswigers were placed. Besides, the Drafting Committee’s reply was merely a draft letter to the Minister of Denmark, not a legal document.

M. Cambon said that the Council was not prepared to enter into questions of technical details. It would be well for the experts to come to an agreement and submit the agreed text to the Council at a future meeting.

It was decided:

that the special Economic Commission and the Drafting Committee should prepare a draft letter to be written to the Danish Minister, and that the draft agreed upon be presented to the Council at a future meeting.

7. (The Council had before it a note of the Drafting Committee (See Appendix “E”). Report of the Drafting Committee Relative to the Request of the Dutch Government for Permission To Export From Germany Certain War Material for Its colonies

M. Fromageot read and commented upon the note. He said it was for the Council to decide whether it should maintain the terms of the Treaty and the legal position already adopted by the Council.

It was decided:

that a letter be sent to the Dutch Minister at Paris advising him that the Supreme Council maintained that no departure could be made from its rule vetoing the export of war materiel from Germany.

8. (The Council had before it the proposed Treaty (See Appendix “F”), the report from the Spitzbergen Commission (See Appendix “G”), and the addition to the draft reply to the Norwegian Minister (See Appendix “H”). M. Laroche read and commented upon the report. Draft Treaty Regarding Spitzbergen

(After a short discussion.

It was decided:

to approve the proposed Treaty presented by the Spitzbergen Commission;
to approve the report of the Spitzbergen Commission, including the annexed letters;
to accept the addition to the draft reply to the Norwegian Minister, proposed by the Drafting Committee.)

(The meeting then adjourned).

Hotel de Crillon, Paris, November 21, 1919.

[Page 293]

Appendix A to HD–98

Summary of American Position Regarding Eastern Galicia

On June 25th Mr. Lansing introduced into the Council a resolution authorizing the Polish military occupation of Eastern Galicia and the establishment of a civil government “under a mandate from the Principal Allied and Associated Powers which shall be conditioned to preserve as far as possible the autonomy of the territory and the political, religious and personal liberties of the inhabitants”.5 His resolution further provided “that the mandate shall be predicated upon the ultimate self-determination of the inhabitants of Eastern Galicia as to their political allegiance, the time for the exercise of such choice to be hereafter fixed by the Principal Allied and Associated Powers or by a body to whom they delegate that power”. This proposition was submitted as a compromise between a proposition of Mr. Balfour for the appointment of a high commissioner under the mandate of the League of Nations and the proposition of Baron Sonnino for the unconditional surrender of East Galicia to Poland.

On the objection of Sir Eyre Crowe, to the word “Mandate” this was stricken from Mr. Lansing’s resolution and the word “agreement” substituted. With this exception Mr. Lansing’s resolution was accepted and served as the basis upon which the Polish Commission drafted its report No. 5 embodying a preliminary draft of the Treaty between the Principal Allied and Associated Powers and Poland establishing an autonomous Eastern Galicia within the Polish State.6 This draft treaty was drawn up on the general principle that a popular consultation should be held at some period to be determined by the Principal Allied and Associated Powers ten years after the exchange of ratifications of the treaty regarding Eastern Galicia.

Mr. Lansing’s resolution was introduced into the Council and the Polish treaty was largely prepared, at a time when conditions in Eastern Galicia were exceedingly troubled and when civil war between Poles and Ukrainians had hardly ceased.

When the treaty was considered in the Council toward the end of the month of September7 the situation was quite altered. According to reports of reliable and thorough observers, Polish occupation had resulted in the complete pacification of the country. The American delegation concluded it would be in the interests of peace and quiet to eliminate certain clauses which emphasized the provisional [Page 294] nature of the settlement while maintaining the rights of the Ruthenians and the principle of an eventual revision of the East Galician settlement in case of need. Therefore on September 25th Mr. Polk submitted for the consideration of the Council a memorandum suggesting, in addition to certain minor alterations, that the clauses regarding a popular consultation should be replaced by a stipulation placing the treaty under the guarantee of the League of Nations and providing “The United States, the British Empire, France, Italy, Japan and Poland hereby agree not to withhold their assent from any modification whatsoever of this treaty in whole or in part which is in due form assented to by a majority of the Council of the League of Nations.”8

The French, Italian and Japanese delegations accepted the principle of the American proposition but the British delegation, after reference to its Government, submitted a counter proposal providing that Poland should be granted a mandate over Eastern Galicia for a definite term of years—ten to fifteen. The French delegation proposed to modify the British proposition to grant Poland a twenty-five year mandate. The American delegation stated that it would accept the French proposition in case unanimity could be reached on this basis, but that otherwise it would revert to its original position that Poland should be granted an indefinite mandate subject to revision by the Council of the League of Nations at any time the settlement proposed should prove unsatisfactory.

The position of the American delegation has been controlled by the following considerations:

The only practicable solution of the immediate problem of administering Eastern Galicia is to entrust this administration to Poland. In the interests of peace it is necessary to create as solid an administration as possible; any administration that is clearly marked as “temporary” would fail to inspire the confidence and support which is necessary to restore normal conditions in Eastern Galicia and would foster propaganda and intrigue.

It is impossible, however, at the present time to state with accuracy what may be the ideal settlement of the Eastern Galicia problem, and it is therefore necessary to provide for a revision of any settlement in case the situation should demand it, although one cannot indicate whether such a revision should ever be made, or if it should be made, whether at the end of one, five, fifteen or thirty years.

Therefore the most satisfactory solution is to entrust Eastern Galicia to Poland, with the understanding that no change will be made as long as this status proves satisfactory, but to provide very clearly for an [Page 295] immediate revision if and when the solution proves to be no longer a desirable one.

For this reason, in the opinion of the American Delegation, it should not be within the power of a single nation to prevent such readjustment of the situation at the end of twenty-five years, and, therefore, that a decision on this point should be possible by a majority rather than unanimity of the Council of the League of Nations.

Appendix B to HD–98

Note for the Supreme Council Relative to Measures To Be Taken at Smyrna

According to a resolution of the Supreme Council under date of November 11 [12],9 the Commission of Greek Affairs has examined M. Venizelos’ note of November 6 [4],10 to the Supreme Council, relative to censorship, and the despatch of November 3,11 of the Allied High Commissioners at Constantinople, relative to the powers exercised by M. Sterghiadis and the Greek administration at Smyrna (the only documents submitted to it by the Supreme Council). It also heard General Bunoust and M. Venizelos on these subjects.

It therefore solicits the authorization of the Council to send the following despatch to the Allied High Commissioners at Constantinople.

Proposed Telegram

I refer to your telegram No. 2045.11

The Supreme Council has entrusted the Commission of Greek Claims to make proposals on the measures to be taken to diminish the friction pointed out between the Allied representatives and the Greek Administration at Smyrna.

The Commission, in order to examine the suggestions to be presented to the Supreme Council, is desirous of being accurately informed of concrete facts of every nature which were manifested by these frictions, notably in matters of civil and criminal jurisdiction, of customs, censorship, post and newspapers, port administration, etc.

You are therefore requested to immediately collect, in accord with the Allied High Commissioners, and if need be from information furnished by your representatives at Smyrna, the concrete facts above specified. You will please communicate them to Paris as soon as possible by a telegram drafted in common, indicating the source of information as much as possible.

[Page 296]

Appendix C to HD–98

orthodox greek communities in hungary

Draft of Report to the Supreme Council

The Special Commission of the Economic Commission examined the memorandum submitted by the Greek Delegation on October 15th to the Peace Conference, relative to the properties of the Greek Orthodox Community in Hungary.12

The Committee considers that, as far as the Communities in question are associations in which the Nationals of the Allied and Associated Powers are interested, the measures necessary for the protection of their interests are provided for in the Peace Treaty with Hungary: In this Treaty are comprised, not only the usual provisions concerning the property, rights and interests of the Allied Nationals and of the Societies or Associations in which they are interested, when these properties were submitted to exceptional war measures or to transfer measures; but still a supplementary disposition in order to frustrate any other acts prejudicial to this property taken from Hungary since the Armistice, and to insure the restitution of the property, as well as the payment of an indemnity and compensation for the damage or prejudice undergone.

However, it appears possible, according to the terms of the Greek memorandum, that the communities in question consist not of Greeks, but of Hungarian Nationals belonging to the orthodox Greek church.

To take measures in order to protect persons who are and remain Hungarian Nationals, would be absolutely contrary to the principles on which were based economic clauses of the Peace Treaty, and the Special Committee sees no reason, in so far as it is concerned, why an exception should be made in this case.

The question as to whether a special provision, relative to the protection of the ethnic or religious minorities should be provided for in the clauses of the Minorities Treaty, is beyond the competency of the Economic Commission.

Appendix D to HD–98

[Documents on a Reply to the Danish Request Regarding the Liquidation of Property of Schleswigers Residing Abroad]


First Project of the Drafting Committee

Without renouncing, until the issue of the plebiscite in Schleswig, their right to sequester the property, rights and interests of German [Page 297] Schleswig nationals, the Principal Allied and Associated Powers consider that it is expedient, during this period, to postpone the liquidation of this property. After the result of the plebiscite, they will abstain from exercising their right of sequestration and liquidation in respect to the property, rights and interests of the inhabitants of Schleswig, who will have definitely ceased to be German nationals.


Note to the Secretariat General of the Conference

November 12, 1919.

The special Committee of the Economic Commission examined the text proposed by the Drafting Committee for the reply to the letter of the Minister of Denmark, under date of October 24th, relative to the liquidation and eventual indemnities for liquidation of the property sequestered in the Allied and Associated Countries and belonging to inhabitants of the part of Schleswig submitted to plebiscite.13

The special Committee of the Economic Commission did not deem it proper to make an agreement so formal as that which had been considered by the Drafting Committee.

In fact, England is carrying out liquidations which the British Delegate declares impossible to be suspended, and, on the other hand, it appeared to the American Delegate that the text proposed by the Drafting Committee contains a formal promise which can only be formulated after a decision of the Congress.

Taking these considerations into account, the special Committee of the Economic Commission has the honor to propose the enclosed text to the Supreme Council of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers.

D. Serruys


Project, of the Economic Commission

Without renouncing, until the issue of the plebiscite in Schleswig, their rights concerning the property, rights and interests of German Schleswig nationals, the Principal Allied and Associated Powers consider that it is expedient not to undertake, during the period from the going into force of the Treaty to the issue of the plebiscite, any new liquidations of this property.

On the other hand, it is desirable that, after the result of the plebiscite, the German nationals who will acquire automatically the Danish nationality, be treated with respect to the property, rights and interests in the Allied and Associated Countries, the same as the German nationals who automatically acquire the nationality of an [Page 298] Allied and Associated Power, in conformity with the provisions of the Treaty.

Each Allied and Associated Power will consider the necessary measures to that effect, according to its own legislation.


Second Project of the Drafting Committee

It is not possible, at the present time, to impose upon Germany special obligations relative to property, rights and interests of Schleswig-Danish inhabitants in Germany;
It is not the intention of the Allied and Associated Powers to take, until the result of the plebiscite, toward the property rights and interests of Schleswig inhabitants the liquidation measures which the Peace Treaty allows to be taken in respect of property rights and interests of German Nationals. It is not the more their intention, after the result of a plebiscite, to conserve to the prejudice of Schleswig inhabitants definitely becoming Danish, the product of liquidations which will have been effected, or will still be in force at this moment.

Appendix E to HD–98

Note for the Supreme Council Relative to the Request of the Netherlands To Receive War Material From Germany

In a letter under date of July 26 last, the Dutch Government requested information on “the exact interpretation to be given to the words war material in Article 170 of the Peace Treaty.” It expressed the wish to be able to get from Germany naval material for the Dutch fleet.

They were informed on October 8 that Articles 170 and 192 of the Treaty stipulated the prohibition of export from Germany of all military and naval material and in consequence thereof the desire expressed by Holland could not receive satisfaction.

Another letter from the Dutch Minister under date of November 8, without disputing the interpretation of the said Articles, appeals to the Supreme Council requesting as an exception the authorization to import from Germany military and naval material which Holland might need for her colonies.

It is not within the competence of the Drafting Committee to appreciate the reply which it is proper to make to the Dutch Government from a political point of view. However, it takes the liberty of recalling to the Council the refusals already made in like cases to Spain and Denmark and, by right, the necessity that such a derogation, if it were [Page 299] accepted, be previously consented to by all the signatory Powers of the Treaty.

For the Drafting Committee
Henri Fromageot

Appendix F to HD–98

Treaty Concerning the Archipelago of Spitsbergen

[Here follows draft printed as appendix C to HD–60, volume VIII, page 354.]

Appendix G to HD–98


peace conference
secretariat general
spitsberg commission

To: Secretary General, Peace Conference, Paris.

In compliance with the unanimous wish of the Spitsberg Commission, I have the honor to forward to you herewith:

—A corrected copy of the Treaty concerning the Spitsberg Archipelago.14
—A draft of reply to the Minister of Norway.
—A draft of letter to be sent to the representatives of Great Britain, the United States, Italy, Japan, Denmark, Netherlands and Sweden in Paris.

I should be grateful if you would kindly submit these documents, which were drawn up by the Commission, to the Supreme Council. The Treaty was corrected by the Drafting Committee and in conformity with the remarks presented by Norway.

If the Supreme Council approves the enclosed document, the Commission suggests the following procedure:

—It would be advisable that the Supreme Council send this answer to the Minister of Norway, accompanied by a definite text of the Treaty with a request that the latter acknowledge receipt as soon as possible.
—As soon as the acknowledgment is received it will be necessary to invite the Government of the French Republic.
—To make known, in a period of six weeks, whether it has the intention of signing the Treaty.
—To address to the seven other contracting parties, through diplomatic channels the enclosed prepared letter, in order to ask them whether they have the intention of signing the Treaty.

[Page 300]

The Commission thinks that His Britannic Majesty’s Government will kindly agree to communicate this Treaty to the various dominions of the British Empire, and to ulteriorly notify the French Government of their replies.

I should be much obliged if you would submit these suggestions to the Supreme Council at one of its next meetings.

Please accept, etc.

The President of the Spitzberg Commission


Draft of Reply to the Minister of Norway, To Be Sent by the Supreme Council

Mr. Minister: In your letter of October 22d, you informed me that the Norwegian Government was willing to adhere to the Draft of Treaty to be concluded between the United States of America, the British Empire, Denmark, France, Italy, Japan, Norway, Netherlands and Sweden, to the end of settling the Spitsberg question, including Bears Island, a draft which was adopted by the Supreme Council of the Allied and Associated Powers.

In order to avoid, in future, all misunderstandings, you added that the Norwegian Government deemed it fitting to offer some remarks concerning certain provisions of this Treaty.

I have the honor to inform you that the Supreme Council agrees with the Norwegian Government with respect to the interpretation which is to be given to the provisions referred to.

Concerning the observations presented by your Government, relative to alinea 3 of article 3, the Supreme Council considers that it cannot give to the ships of the high contracting parties the right of trading between the ports of continental Norway. This provision only stipulates that the ships coming from and going to the regions referred to by Article 1, will have the right, one way as well as the other, to go into one or several Norwegian ports, in order to embark or disembark passengers and goods coming from or going to Spitsberg, or for any other purpose.

The Supreme Council also confirms that Article 3, Alinea 4, only provides that the Norwegian Government must not, in the regions referred to in Article 1, grant to the Norwegian Nationals, ships or goods, or to those of another power, more favorable privileges than to the Nationals, ships or goods of the other contracting powers.

The Supreme Council considers as justified the remark made by the Norwegian Government concerning No. 9, Paragraph 1, and No. 11, Paragraph 2, of the Annex, it being understood that the time limit which will be determined for the payment of expenses, to which the [Page 301] transfer of temporary title to definite title is subordinated, will be a reasonable time limit.

So it is with the observation of the Norwegian Government, concerning the word “claimant” in alineas 901 (?) [9 (c) (1) and (3)] and 3 [11], paragraph 2. By “claimant”, the Treaty means the claimant and his predecessors, that is to say, from a juridical point of view, the person from whom the claimant holds his right.

The French text and the English text of the draft of Treaty were slightly modified in order to avoid all misunderstandings with respect to the various points above. On the other hand, the differences which had been noted, were carefully revised, and both texts were made identical. Only the word “headquarters” was maintained to express “siege principal”; this word being singular in English, as you can notice it on Page 84 of the German Treaty, Table 1, No. 11. I have the honor to send to you herewith a corrected copy of it.

I have the honor to inform you that the Supreme Council, making a note of the adhesion of the Norwegian Government of which you were kind enough to notify me, decided to invite the other eight contracting parties, as soon as the acknowledgment of receipt of the definite text inclosed with this letter will have reached it, to make known in a period of six weeks whether they are willing to sign this Treaty.

Please accept, etc.


Draft of Letter To Be Sent by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Government of the French Republic

To: The Ambassadors of

  • England
  • United States
  • Italy
  • Japan

To: The Ministers of

  • Denmark
  • Netherlands
  • Sweden
    in Paris.

Mr. Ambassador or Mr. Minister: At the request of the Supreme Council, I have the honor to communicate to you the text of the draft of Treaty, relative to the Spitsberg archipelago, including Bears Island, which was adopted by the Supreme Council of the principal Allied and Associated Powers.

The Norwegian Government, to which this draft was communicated, had just given its adhesion to it.

[Page 302]

I should be grateful to you if you would kindly submit this text to your Government and ask it whether it is willing to participate in this Treaty as a high contracting party.

In case the Government of England,

  • United States
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Denmark
  • Holland
  • Sweden

should agree to sign this convention, it is suggested that it inform me of its adhesion before December. … On this date, in fact, according to the provisions provided by the Principal Allied and Associated Powers, the high contracting parties will have to designate their plenipotentiaries in order to sign, in Paris, the Treaty concerning Spitsberg. Beyond this date,

  • Great Britain
  • The United States
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Denmark
  • Netherlands
  • Sweden

could be admitted to adhere only as a third power, according to the final clauses.

Appendix H to HD–98

Addition to Proposed Reply to Minister of Norway


Before the last paragraph add:

“The Norwegian Government calls attention to the fact that for constitutional and parliamentary reasons, it is obliged to submit the Treaty and the Mining Regime simultaneously to the Storting.

“The Supreme Council has no objections to the Norwegian Government submitting the mining regime to the consideration of the Contracting Powers immediately after the signing and before the ratification of the Treaty so that this mining regime, once accepted by the said Powers, may be presented to the Storting at the same time as the Treaty itself.”

For the Drafting Committee
Henri Fromageot
  1. Appendix F to HD–97, p. 271.
  2. Appendix B to HD–90, p. 133.
  3. Appendices B and C to HD–80, vol. viii, pp. 863 and 865.
  4. HD–85, minute 7, and appendix M, pp. 6 and 18.
  5. FM–27, minute 1, vol. iv, p. 848.
  6. Appendix C to HD–57, vol. viii, p. 280.
  7. HD–57, minute 3, ibid., p. 270.
  8. Appendix K to HD–60, vol. viii, p. 368.
  9. HD–90, minute 1, p. 121.
  10. Appendix C to HD–90, p. 134.
  11. Appendix B to HD–90, p. 133.
  12. Appendix B to HD–90, p. 133.
  13. Appendix B to HD–74, vol. viii, p. 740.
  14. See appendix M to HD–85, p. 18.
  15. See appendix C to HD–60, vol, viii, p. 354.