Paris Peace Conf. 180.03501/102
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 Saturday, November 29, 1919, at 10:30 a.m.
- America, United States of
- Hon. F. L. Polk
- Mr. L. Harrison
- British Empire
- Sir Eyre Crowe
- Mr. H. Norman
- M. Clemenceau
- M. Dutasta
- M. Berthelot
- M. de Saint Quentin
- M. de Martino
- M. Trombetti
- M. Matsui
- M. Kawai
- America, United States of
|America, United States of||Capt. G. A. Gordon|
|British Empire||Capt. G. Lothian Small|
|France||M. de Percin|
The following were also present for the items in which they were concerned:
- America, United States of
- Rear-Admiral McCully, U. S. N.
- Colonel J. A. Logan
- Lieut-Commander Koehler, U. S. N.
- Mr. A. W. Dulles
- Capt. H. Pierce
- British Empire
- Captain Fuller, R. N.
- Commander MacNamara, R. N.
- Mr. Colles
- Mr. E. H. Carr
- Colonel Beadom
- Lieut-Colonel Kisch
- M. Georges Leygues
- M. Cambon
- General Weygand
- M. Laroche
- Commandant LeVavasseur
- M. Kammerer
- Amiral Cagni
- M. Mancioli
- M. Stranieri
- Cap. de corvette Ruspoli
- M. Shigemitsu
1. Mr. Polk stated that he had been unable to come to an agreement with the naval experts as to the questions raised by paragraph 2 of the British proposal (See H. D. 101, Appendix “A”);1 he would therefore have to refer the matter to Washington. Distribution of Enemy Surface War ships
Sir Eyre Crowe asked if this meant referring the whole question.
M. Clemenceau explained that the points raised in paragraph 2 of the British proposal were alone meant.
Mr. Polk agreed.
Sir Eyre Crowe wished to know what the United States’ proposal was.
Mr. Polk explained that they had been unable to come to an agreement as to figures. The amount of national effort, as a basis of distribution, which had been proposed in Committee by the American representatives, had now been abandoned. Captain Fuller had proposed certain figures which were arbitrary, inasmuch as they were not based on exact data, and which the American representatives could not accept without referring the question to Washington.
Sir Eyre Crowe wished to know what basis of distribution was desired. If the United States had abandoned the idea of having national effort the basis of distribution, what other basis could be adopted except the clear one of losses. He wished to know if the United States desired a still different basis. He did not see how the principle of distribution according to percentage of losses sustained in the war could be combined with another principle, for example, that of national effort.
Mr. Polk pointed out that the basis proposed was a distribution of 70% to Great Britain, 10% to France, 10% to Italy, 8% to Japan and 2% to the United States. He felt that the effort of the United States had been larger than was reflected in such a distribution. The United States had had eight super-dreadnaughts with the Grand Fleet and, he thought, more destroyers than any other Power. The United States did not desire to keep the ships in question but considered it was a question of principle which affected the national feeling. The question was one of satisfying public opinion. The United States might have over-estimated the effort it had made, but did not feel that a 2% distribution correctly estimated or reflected its effort. He wished, further, to point out that the basis of loss suffered took into account ships which had been lost not necessarily in action; a great many had been lost in harbor and it was not sure whether or not they had been lost as a result of enemy action. For instance, some of the losses might have been the result of boiler explosions and similar accidents.[Page 361]
Admiral Cagni stated that the large Italian ships which had been lost in harbor had clearly been destroyed by enemy action, and that this was susceptible of proof by documents in his possession.
Sir Eyre Crowe said that his sole desire was to arrive at clearness. The discussion still left obscure the position as regards the principal issue. He would like to know if the United States wished to eliminate from the basis of losses suffered, ships not sunk at sea by enemy action.
Mr. Polk said that this was not what he had in mind. The figures then under discussion of losses suffered were arbitrary. No hard and fast rule had been adopted for determining these losses; for instance, it seemed to him that the 10% of losses as given for France and Italy did not correspond exactly with the losses suffered. He wished again to point out that some of the ships lost might or might not have been lost as a result of enemy action.
M. de Martino said he wished to disagree formally with that last point of Mr. Polk’s. Italian losses had not been arbitrarily calculated. The vessels lost in port had been lost as a result of enemy machinations. The result was just the same if a ship were lost in this way as if it had been sunk at sea. He therefore maintained his point of view that ships lost in that manner must enter into the calculations of losses suffered.
Mr. Polk thought that M. de Martino was putting up a man of straw to be knocked down. He, himself, was not questioning the right to include such losses in the calculation of losses suffered, nor was he questioning the fact that some Italian ships might have been sunk in port by enemy action. If it could be proved that such was the case, then there could be no question as to its being proper to include such losses in the calculation of losses suffered. All he had said was that, as a general matter, some of the ships included in the calculations of losses might well not have been lost as a result of enemy action.
Sir Eyre Crowe said that he unfortunately had a passion for clearness but he still remained confused. He would like again to ask what the standard was. He appreciated Mr. Polk’s difficulties relative to American public opinion but it seemed to him that the easiest way to satisfy fair public opinion in every country was to state a clear principle of distribution and nothing could be clearer than actual losses suffered. If it was decided to give a certain percentage of enemy ships to certain countries without such distribution being based on a clear and logical principle it would be necessary to explain to the satisfaction of public opinion in all countries why different nations were given an arbitrary percentage of ships. A distribution of 2% to the United States was not unfair for he thought that the United States losses had been so small as not to reach in fact the percentage of 2%.[Page 362]
Mr. Polk agreed that the losses had indeed been small. He agreed with Sir Eyre Crowe’s point of view but the difficulty he felt was that the proposed percentage of distribution was arbitrary. It was true of course that no United States ships had been lost in port but he still felt that it was arbitrary to include all ships lost in port irrespective of the cause.
Sir Eyre Crowe observed that the calculation was not arbitrary and was based on the principle of losses suffered.
Mr. Polk reiterated that he thought the figures of 70–10–and 10 percent must be arbitrary. He thought it inconceivable that the French and Italian losses were exactly the same. In any event he had certain instructions and at the present stage of the discussion he would have to refer the matter to his Government.
Captain Fuller stated that by actual calculations the French and Italian losses were almost identical: 10.70% for the French and 11.45% for the Italians.
Sir Eyre Crowe proposed the following solution: to accept as the standard the percentage of warships sunk by definitely proved action of the enemy whether at sea or in port.
Admiral Cagni pointed out that in the event of such a solution being adopted it would be necessary to institute an inquiry for each ship lost. In many cases losses were due to collisions resulting from war navigating conditions. Such losses were as fully entitled to be included as losses resulting more directly from enemy action. Certainly the most long drawn out inquiries in each case would have to be expected.
M. Clemenceau declared that he was ready to accept Sir Eyre Crowe’s proposal.
Mr. Polk again pointed out that he would have to get instructions from his Government.
M. de Martino inquired whether Sir Eyre Crowe’s proposal would eliminate such collisions as those mentioned by Admiral Cagni and also losses resulting from mines?
Sir Eyre Crowe replied that to meet M. de Martino’s suggestion he would propose that the standard of distribution might be all ships sunk at open sea and all ships sunk elsewhere through definitely proved enemy action.
Mr. Polk said that he would cable his Government.
M. Clemenceau approved this new proposal in principle.
Admiral Cagni thought it would be well to definitely approve the other points raised by the British proposal.
Mr. Polk said that he had accepted those points in principle subject to changes of phraseology to be arrived at between Admiral McCully and Captain Fuller. He had no objection to France and Italy receiving the ships specified in paragraph 5 of the British proposal.[Page 363]
Sir Eyre Crowe understood that it had been decided that Greece, Roumania and Portugal should each receive as compensation a ship corresponding to the one lost by each of these Powers, as specified in paragraph 2 of the British proposal.
(This was agreed to).
Admiral McCully suggested that in the final clause of paragraph 1 it be provided that the surface warships surrendered by the enemy Powers should be either sunk or broken up. It might well be more expensive at times to break up the ships than to sink them.
M. Clemenceau took it as understood that the Power receiving the enemy warships would have the option of sinking or breaking them up.
(This was agreed to).
Admiral McCully in discussing paragraph 3 of the British proposal relative to the allocation of enemy tonnage to be broken up by the Inter-Allied Naval Commission proposed that the breaking up or sinking be begun immediately and be completed within one year and furthermore that none of the sunken vessels and no parts or portions of them were to be incorporated in the naval forces of any Power.
M. Clemenceau said that he was utterly unable to agree with this proposal. It seemed to him an impossible procedure.
Sir Eyre Crowe said that he would put an extreme case which would test the proposed principle; was it meant that if a vessel had been broken up, none of the steel from such vessels should ever find a place in another ship?
M. Clemenceau felt that each Power should be enabled to sink or break up the vessels allocated to it in such manner as it should see fit.
Mr. Polk pointed out that it would then be possible for all the necessary parts, such as engines, guns, etc., to be taken off an enemy warship and put onto a ship belonging to the Power to which such vessel had been allocated.
M. Clemenceau felt that the proposal in question implied a mutual distrust, and he considered such a condition would be almost humiliating.
M. Leygues thought that a condition of this kind was one which could only logically be proposed by the Germans. If such a solution were adopted it would be equivalent to the Allies imposing upon themselves conditions which were more difficult than those they were imposing upon the enemy.
Mr. Polk said that he would like to know frankly what was intended. If it were intended to use this material in the manner which had just been suggested, he thought it would be better to say so clearly. His idea was that the principle had already been accepted that the enemy [Page 364]warships were to be destroyed. If it were now intended to save certain parts thereof, he felt that that was an extreme departure from the principle of destruction.
M. Leygues pointed out that as a result of the enormous losses suffered by certain nations, public opinion in those nations would simply not be able to comprehend why boilers and other similar useful parts of enemy warships could not be used.
Mr. Polk replied that that was exactly what he meant. If it were not intended to destroy the ships completely, he thought it should be so stated. He merely wanted to know what the intentions were.
Sir Eyre Crowe said it had been agreed to destroy them as ships but not to demolish them.
M. Clemenceau did not understand the proposal advanced by Admiral McCully. He did not see why it was necessary to pulverize the enemy warships. To his mind, destruction meant the destruction of enemy warships but not the destruction of their component parts. When artillery material had been taken from the Germans there had been no objection to using the same. England was at the present time building a warship costing several millions of pounds; this showed that there was no contemplation of adopting the principle of total disarmament. The idea of building ships out of enemy material had been made a matter of reproach. For his part, he could not see any harm in taking for instance a boiler from an enemy warship and putting it into a warship to be built two years later. France had reduced her armies to the minimum and might have done so too soon. England had not demobilized her navy, and certainly he was far from reproaching her therewith. It should not be forgotten that France’s financial situation made it impossible for her to build up a powerful navy, and consequently there was nothing to fear from her in that respect.
Mr. Polk repeated that it was merely a question of so saying unequivocally if it was desired to use material from the enemy warships in the manner which had just been discussed; the original idea had been to destroy all enemy warships.
Sir Eyre Crowe pointed out that the words “breaking up” had always been used instead of the word “destroying”. Consequently, it had been contemplated that parts of these enemy warships were to be put to some use. He instanced the operations of breaking up of ships: when a ship was no longer useful they did not pulverize it but broke it up and made use of the parts. If it had been contemplated that the ships were to be completely demolished there would have been no use calculating their distribution so carefully.
Mr. Polk said that he did not wish to hold the matter up, but he must go on record as saying that the United States Government did [Page 365]not consider that the procedure proposed carried out the principle that had been decided upon. He felt that when the enemy ships were taken to the yards the greater part of them would doubtless be devoted to war purposes.
M. Clemenceau asked if the words actually used were “breaking up” or “destroying”.
Captain Fuller replied that “breaking up” was the actual text.
Mr. Polk said that the American idea had always been that the enemy warships would be destroyed so that there would be that much less naval war material in the world.
M. Leygues replied that Admiral Benson had repeatedly expressed this view, but that the French and Italian representatives had never agreed thereto and that the question had never been formally voted upon.
Sir Eyre Crowe thought that the question of the time within which enemy warships were to be sunk or broken up should be settled. The British suggestion had been two years and the United States had thought one year sufficient.
Mr. Polk said he would not make any difficulties on this point.
M. Leygues thought the delay should be even greater. The breaking up of ships was a long and costly operation as the English had discovered in their inquiry relative to Scapa Flow. It might be almost impossible to get the necessary workmen or appliances within a shorter period.
M. Clemenceau suggested a three year period.
Mr. Polk wished to go on record as considering this entirely too long a delay. However, he did not intend to prevent a decision being reached.
It was decided:
- that any Power receiving enemy warships not to be incorporated for use with its fleet, should have the choice of sinking or breaking up said enemy warships;
- that any Power receiving enemy warships to be sunk or broken up should effect said breaking up or sinking within a period of three years after the arrival of said vessels in one of its own ports;
- that Greece, Roumania and Portugal each receive as compensation one enemy warship corresponding to the warship lost by each of these Powers, for use with its fleet or any other purpose that it might desire;
- that Mr. Polk should refer to his Government the question of the percentage of distribution among the Principal Allied and Associated Powers of enemy warships and of the proceeds accruing from the breaking up thereof;
- that except as modified by the foregoing paragraphs, paragraphs 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6 of the British proposal (See Appendix “A” H. D. 101) be adopted unchanged.
2. Captain Fuller read a summary on the situation relative to the surrendered enemy submarines, dated November 28th, (See Appendix “A”). The question now was what view France took.
M. Leygues stated that France had always been opposed to breaking up the surrendered enemy submarines inasmuch as she had always felt that this question was tied up with the question of future submarine warfare. If, however, the question of prohibiting future submarine warfare were now brought up, he would be prepared to discuss it. Distribution of Enemy Submarines
Sir Eyre Crowe reminded the Council that this question had been put within the competence of the League of Nations.
M. Clemenceau observed that submarine warfare could consequently not now be discussed. The question remained whether enemy submarines were all to be destroyed or to be submitted to the same treatment as enemy surface warships. He then read to the Council a French proposal relative to the distribution of enemy submarines (See Appendix “B”), and a statement relative to the number of submarines in each navy (See Appendix “C”). He asked if the former might be accepted as a basis of discussion.
M. Matsui pointed out that when the question of the distribution of submarine motors had arisen a different proportion had been adopted than was then proposed. Japan desired that the two should be similar.
M. Clemenceau explained that this French proposal was merely to serve as a basis of discussion and that therefore M. Matsui’s objection was not immediately involved.
Mr. Polk took it as understood that in discussing this proposal the question of principle as to whether or not the submarines were to be destroyed, was still before the Council.
Sir Eyre Crowe pointed out, with reference to the first paragraph of the French proposal, that France had hitherto opposed the destruction of submarines. In the proposal then submitted by her she had made a large concession which should influence the other members of the Council in reaching a decision.
Mr. Polk announced that he agreed with the first paragraph of this proposal, with the exception that he would like an eventual explanation as to the small number of submarines therein referred to.
M. Matsui said that he could not give any decision on the matter until the following Monday, as he had just received this proposal.
Sir Eyre Crowe suggested that the discussion be continued without necessarily reaching a decision on that date.
Mr. Polk, with reference to the second paragraph, said that although he had no present objection to the figures in question, he wished to inquire if the distribution was to be made for the purpose of eventually breaking up the submarines.[Page 367]
M. Leygues replied that that was so. With reference to the third paragraph of the French proposal, he read and commented upon the figures presented in Appendix “C”. He pointed out the heavy losses suffered by France and the fact that she alone had not been able to indulge in any naval construction, all the resources of her shipyards having been devoted to production of land war material for herself and her Allies.
M. de Martino agreed with M. Leygues in what he had said with respect to the French situation. Although Italy was not in exactly a similar position, she occupied a position intermediate between that of England and of France. Italy had likewise been greatly handicapped by having to stop her naval construction on account of having to devote such resources to the production of land war material. If France, by way of compensation for such a situation, was to receive a certain number of submarines, Italy likewise should have some. He did not have exact figures at hand, but would refer to Admiral Cagni for such figures; he thought that this matter might be further examined into.
Sir Eyre Crowe said that he was quite ready, as far as France was concerned, to agree to the same principle with respect to submarines as had been determined upon with respect to surface ships. His Government would be glad if the ten submarines to be allotted to the French might be selected from among such as had not disgraced the flag. His Government would be glad of this for sentimental reasons.
M. Clemenceau inquired if there were ten such submarines available.
Sir Eyre Crowe replied that there were more than ten in French ports.
M. Leygues agreed with the British proposition, provided that ten submarines of that kind could be found available for delivery to France. If they could not, the French would have to fill up their quota from other enemy submarines.
Sir Eyre Crowe accepted M. Leygues reservation. He did not feel quite sure that M. De Martino was entirely correct in saying that Italy occupied a position intermediate between that of France and England. He was of course not entirely familiar with the figures that had just been furnished but they seemed to show that in Italy new construction had been relatively greater and losses relatively less than in other countries, and he felt that from that point of view it was really England that was in the intermediate position.
Mr. Polk felt that in this respect France occupied a unique situation. He would recommend the acceptance of the French proposal to his Government, but with respect to the proportions suggested for distribution of enemy submarines he would likewise have to refer the question to his Government. President Wilson when in France had [Page 368]taken a strong position with respect to total destruction of enemy submarines.
M. Matsui said that he would make the same recommendation to his Government as did Mr. Polk.
Admiral Cagni remarked that the French figures (Appendix “C”) did not give an exact idea of the situation as far as Italy was concerned. It was true that Italy had constructed submarines during the war but the majority of them were very small submarines for work in the northern Adriatic and could scarcely be used for any other purpose. The Italian Admiralty was quite ready to recognize the special situation of the French Navy to which it extended its sympathy.
(Further discussion of this question was provisionally adjourned).
3. M. Kammerer informed the Council that the Committee of New States had been unanimous in agreeing to expunge from the preamble of the proposed Minorities Treaty with Roumania all reference to Roumanian independence (paragraphs 2 and 3 of the preamble to the proposed Minorities Treaty). The United States alone had not been in favor of expunging the last paragraph of the preamble and of eliminating all reference to the Treaty of Berlin.2 The majority felt that as the text in question favored Roumania it might well be eliminated upon the request of Roumania. The United States Delegation had proposed to substitute for the last three lines, the following: “recognize that Roumania is definitely discharged from the obligations undertaken by article 44 of the Treaty of Berlin.” As the other Delegations had not agreed to this the American Delegation had reserved its judgment giving as its reason the fact that no written observations had been received from the Roumanian Delegation which would show whether or not its request was well founded. Roumania had desired a clause inserted showing that the terms of the Treaty were finally agreed upon after consultation with the Roumanians. It had been unanimously decided that there was no objection to the insertion, as a new paragraph in the preamble, of the following clause: “And after discussion and agreement with the Principal Allied and Associated Powers.” The Committee had then discussed the request of the Roumanians for the suppression of articles 10 and 11 granting special protection to the Jews. The majority were in favor of the elimination of both articles; the American Delegation alone reserved judgment on this point again stating that since the Roumanians had submitted no formal observations the Principal Allied and Associated Powers should not be put in the position of prejudicing the question of the protection of the Jews as a result only of informal conversation [Page 369]with M. Antonescu—this question of the protection of Jews having been insisted upon in the case of Poland. Since the majority of the Committee had been in favor of the suppression of these articles, and since it had been necessary to reach some conclusion which could be presented to the Supreme Council on the following day, it had been decided to present the views both of the majority and of the minority and to leave it to the Supreme Council to settle the question. On this understanding it had been proposed that the following paragraph should be inserted in the preamble as a new paragraph, the American Delegation accepting this proposition only in case its view was overruled by the Supreme Council and the two Jewish clauses were eliminated. “Whereas Roumania has declared its intention of recognizing as Roumanian nationals ipso-facto and without the requirement of any formality the Jews inhabiting all the territories of Roumania”. Modification of Roumanian Minorities Treaty
M. Clemenceau suggested that further discussion of this question be adjourned until the receipt of the Roumanian answer. The nature of that answer might well change his opinion.
Mr. Polk said that that was the point that he had always been trying to make.
M. Clemenceau said that he was ready to make concessions if the Roumanian signature could certainly be obtained thereby but otherwise there was no point in making such concessions.
Sir Eyre Crowe was entirely of the President’s opinion provided the Roumanians gave proof immediately of deserving the concessions proposed.
It was decided:
that further discussion on this subject be adjourned until the receipt of the answer to the last note sent by the Council to the Roumanian Government.3
4. M. Clemenceau informed the Council that the King of Roumania had addressed a letter to President Poincaré. This letter was certainly a most unfortunate one, and was evidently prepared under the influence of M. Bratiano. It was in substance one long series of complaints. It appealed to President Poincaré to intervene with the Supreme Council, and this could certainly not be tolerated. Letter From the King of Roumania
M. Berthelot read the letter from the King of Roumania to President Poincaré. (See Appendix “D”.)
Sir Eyre Crowe observed that this constituted a good commentary on General Coanda’s activities.[Page 370]
M. Clemenceau said that he had not yet seen President Poincaré. He suggested that a joint answer be prepared by France, England and Italy. He understood that the letter had not been sent to President Wilson or to the Emperor of Japan. This constituted a most serious act of discourtesy.
Sir Eyre Crowe informed the Council that he had also had bad news from the British representative at Bucharest. M. Maniu had stated that the Roumanians did not intend to retire away from the Theiss prior to the signature of the Treaty of Peace with Hungary. He felt that the time had come to publish the last note of the Council to the Roumanian Government. Perfect ignorance still existed in Roumania with respect to the attitude of the Supreme Council.
Mr. Polk agreed that the Roumanian press was full of misstatements relative to the attitude of the Allies.
M. de Martino agreed with M. Clemenceau’s suggestion as to a joint answer. He thought that it was a matter to be arranged between the Governments concerned.
It was decided:
to publish in the morning press of Sunday, November 30th, the text of the last note of the Supreme Council to the Roumanian Government.
5. (The Council had before it the draft of an additional protocol to the Treaty concluded at Versailles between the Principal Allied and Associated Powers and Poland, June 28th, 1919 (See Appendix “E”).)4 Treaty Regarding Eastern Frontiers of Poland
M. Cambon in commenting upon this draft protocol pointed out that in the absence of a regularly constituted Russian Government it had hitherto seemed impossible to assign definite eastern frontiers to Poland. Nevertheless it had been recognized that in order to enable Poland to administer the territory occupied by her it was necessary to establish at least a provisional eastern frontier comprising territories which were indisputably Polish. By a decision of the Supreme Council (H. D. 60)5 the Drafting Committee had been charged with examining the formulation of such an agreement and it had been unanimous in presenting the present protocol. The frontier line having already been laid down by the Council the labors of the Drafting Committee were limited to matters of form.
Mr. Polk pointed out that in the first article the full and complete sovereignty of Poland was formally recognized by the Principal Allied and Associated Powers. He wondered whether this did not [Page 371]constitute a final gift on the part of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers and whether it did not mean shutting the door to any future negotiations with Russia.
M. Cambon explained that all the territories in question were in-contestably Polish. When part of the Russian Empire they had been described as forming a part of the Kingdom of Poland.
Mr. Polk said his only doubt was whether it were wise to give this recognition in so formal a way as by signing a protocol of this nature. He thought it possible that Poland might receive this communication in some other form.
M. Laroche pointed out that the protocol only bound the signatories thereto.
Mr. Polk said that nothing, however, could more formally bind the five Principal Allied and Associated Powers.
Sir Eyre Crowe observed that this question had come up previously and that it had been agreed that the Drafting Committee should determine the necessary formula. The Council would recall the famous declaration of Kerensky relative to all territories bona-fide inhabited by Poles. Furthermore this was not in contradiction with the Council’s note to Admiral Koltchak.6
Mr. Polk observed that the Drafting Committee had been asked to find a formula for communicating to Poland the Council’s decision relative to Poland’s eastern frontiers. It seemed to him that this was more than a communication. He was prepared to cable his Government but under his present instructions he could not sign such a protocol.
M. Cambon thought the question was covered by previous decisions of the Council.
Sir Eyre Crowe asked if it were necessary to retain the word “Polish” in the first paragraph of Article 1. He thought that if this word was omitted the substance would be retained and only a cause of irritation removed.
Mr. Polk said that he would get instructions from his Government.
(Further discussion on this question was adjourned until an early meeting of the Council.)
6. (The Council had before it two notes relative to the expenses occasioned by the maintenance of Russian prisoners of war and refugees in Germany (See Appendices “F” and “G”).)
General Weygand read and commented upon these two notes. He called attention to the unanimous conclusions of the Financial Sub-Commission (See Page 6, Appendix “F”). Russian Prisoners of War and Refugees in Germany[Page 372]
Sir Eyre Crowe observed that the Italian representative had made a reservation with respect to the expenses concerning refugees from Kiev (See page 2, Appendix “F”), and wished to associate himself with that reservation. The German Government had stated that the Allied and Associated Powers had assumed the responsibility for the maintenance of these refugees, but no evidence had been adduced to show that the German Government was telling the truth. The Inter-Allied Commission at Berlin had apparently not gone into that question. He thought that it should be further examined and that the Commission at Berlin should be charged with the duty of verifying the truth of the statement of the German Government.
General Weygand agreed. He had thought that as General Malcolm had presented the matter in that manner, the question had already been examined. He called attention to the proposed resolution contained in the second note (See Appendix “G”). It was his personal opinion that that point had already been settled by the Council’s decision of November [October] 11th.7 General Malcolm might be informed to that effect, but certainly the German Government knew that already. A further question remained to be examined. He had been informed that the expenses of the Commission at Berlin amounted to twenty thousand marks per month. He further pointed out that the Germans had said that their delegate would not be named until the Allies had indicated that they were willing to cooperate in the sense of assuming their share of the expenses. He thought that the Germans could now be notified that they were to assume all the expenses connected with the maintenance of those Russian prisoners and refugees.
Sir Eyre Crowe inquired whether it was contemplated that the Allied and Associated Powers should pay the twenty thousand marks referred to or that the Germans should do so.
General Weygand thought that the Allied and Associated Powers were to pay it.
Sir Eyre Crowe observed that the Allied and Associated Powers had washed their hands of these prisoners and refugees. It was not to their interest to maintain that Commission. If the Germans were told that they had to assume all the expenses they would wish to eliminate that Commission, and for his part, he was willing that this Commission be abolished. There could be no objection to having an officer on the spot exercise some control, but he considered the continuation of that Commission unnecessary.
General Weygand thought that humanitarian, as well as political reasons, made it advisable that the Allied and Associated Powers [Page 373]should continue to interest themselves in the lot of these prisoners. He proposed to prepare a draft letter to General Malcolm.
Mr. Polk pointed out that the position of the United States was that it had no money for that Commission. As the United States Government has already contributed over half the expenses of this work in Germany, it considered that it was in no way obligated to participate in the payment of outstanding indebtedness, nor was it directly interested in the method adopted for the payment of those outstanding bills. He thought that even if General Malcolm recommended it, his Government was in doubt as to whether any basis of right existed for creating or maintaining a Commission not provided for in the Treaty. His Government considered rather that this was a suitable time to withdraw.
General Weygand agreed that the coming into force of the Treaty offered a good chance to withdraw if this were considered advisable; but the question was whether political considerations with respect to Russia would not render it expedient to continue this work.
Mr. Polk observed that the Commission would be without power or money. They might take decisions, but would have no way of enforcing them. He thought that that meant putting the officers on that Commission in a most difficult situation.
Sir Eyre Crowe thought that the Germans should be told that they must meet the expenses of the Commission. The Germans would then refuse and the Commission would cease to exist.
M. de Martino pointed out that the Italian representative had made an additional reservation with respect to the basis of distribution of the expenses of maintenance of the Russian prisoners (See page 2, Appendix “F”); he wished to maintain that reservation.
M. Clemenceau suggested that the German Government be informed that it would have to meet all expenses until such time as the Treaty went into force.
Mr. Polk said that he felt most strongly that after the Treaty came into force such a Commission had no place in Germany.
Sir Eyre Crowe suggested that it be decided that when the Treaty went into effect the Commission would cease to exist.
M. de Martino agreed.
Mr. Polk agreed also, but wished to put on record the remarks he had previously made as to the attitude of the American Delegation in view of the discussion which had taken place.
It was decided:
- that the International Commission at Berlin be charged with the duty of verifying the statement of the German Government that the Allied and Associated Powers had assumed the responsibility for maintaining the refugees from Kiev;
- that General Weygand prepare a draft letter to General Malcolm, for submission to the Council, taking into account the views expressed at that meeting.
(The meeting then adjourned).
- Ante, p. 355.↩
- Foreign Relations, 1878, p. 895.↩
- Appendix A to HD–93, p. 182.↩
- For text of the treaty, see Treaties, Conventions, etc., 1910–1923, vol. iii, p. 3714.↩
- Minute 9, vol. viii, p. 349.↩
- Appendix I to CF–37, vol. vi, p. 73.↩
- HD–68, minute 4, vol. viii, p. 579.↩
- Protocol No. 1, Plenary Session of January 18, 1919, vol. iii, pp. 157, 159.↩
- Treaties, Conventions, etc., 1910–1923, vol. iii, p. 3714.↩
- The Commission, having no data on the dates on which the supplies mentioned above were made, took as a basis, for the conversion into marks, the rate of exchange of August 25. Therefore, the above figures should be examined before being definitely admitted. In fact, each Delegate has expressly reserved for his Government the right to modify the total of the sums representing its contribution to the provisioning if, ulteriorly, other items of expense were to be comprised in it. [Footnote in the original.]↩
- Resolution not printed; for discussion thereof, see HD–68, minute 4, vol. viii, p. 579.↩