Paris Peace Conf. 180.03501/105


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 Wednesday, December 3, 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. Cambon
    • Secretaries
      • M. Dutasta
      • M. Berthelot
      • M. de Saint Quentin
    • Italy
      • M. Scialoja
    • Secretary
      • M. Trombetti
    • Japan
      • M. Matsui
    • Secretary
      • M. Kawai
Joint Secretariat
America, United States of Capt. G. A. Gordon
British Empire Capt. Hinchley Cooke
France M. de Percin
Italy M. Zanchi
Interpreter—M. Camerlynck

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

  • America, United States of
    • Mr. E. L. Dresel
    • Rear-Admiral McCully, U. S. N.
    • Colonel J. A. Logan
    • Lieut-Commander Koehler, U. S. N.
    • Mr. A. W. Dulles
  • British Empire
    • General Sackville-West
    • General Mance
    • Captain Fuller, R. N.
    • Mr. Palairet
    • Mr. A. Leeper
  • France
    • General LeRond
    • Commandant LeVavasseur
    • M. Mauclere
    • M. Kammerer
  • Italy
    • General Cavallero
    • M. Vannutelli-Rey
    • Commandant Fea
  • Japan
    • M. Shigemitsu

1. M. Cambon said that in the absence of M. Clemenceau, who regretted being unable to attend the meeting before eleven o’clock, he [Page 449] proposed to commence with the discussion of the seventh point on the agenda, which related to the personnel for the German mine sweeping service. Personnel for the German Mine Sweeping Service

(The Council had before it a note from the naval representatives relative to the said question (See Appendix “A”).)

M. Cambon observed that the Council had before it an unanimous report of the naval representatives which proposed to some extent to grant the German request relative to retaining a certain number of men for mine sweeping, who should not be included in the total strength of the German Navy laid down by Article 183 of the Treaty of Versailles.

Sir Eyre Crowe saw no objection to adopting the unanimous report of the naval experts, but he wished to observe that a concession was thereby being made to the Germans since according to the terms of the Treaty of Peace the total strength of the German Navy was not to exceed fifteen thousand men. He felt that this was not a very opportune moment to let the Germans know that such a concession was being made. Consequently, he thought it might be well to adopt the report in principle but not to communicate the decision to the Germans before it was known what line of action should be taken with respect to their attitude.

Mr. Polk stated that he was ready to agree with the views of the majority.

M. Scialoja agreed with Sir Eyre Crowe. With respect to communicating the decision to the Germans he thought the Council might decide that point after having discussed the question raised by the present attitude of the Germans toward the Allied and Associated Powers.

Sir Eyre Crowe agreed entirely. He further thought that this point might be embodied in the Protocol1 to be signed by Germany.

It was decided:

to approve in principle the report of the naval experts relative to the personnel for the German Mine Sweeping Service (See Appendix “A”);
not to communicate that decision to Germany prior to a further discussion by the Council, which at that time should likewise determine whether that point should not be incorporated in the protocol to be signed by Germany.

2. (The Council had before it a note from the British Delegation dated December 1, 1919, relative to German activities in Schleswig. (See Appendix “B”).)

[Page 450]

Sir Eyre Crowe observed that, as was shown by the note before the Council, reports from Copenhagen indicated that the Germans were persisting in their schemes for getting around certain of the terms of the Treaty relating to the Schleswig plebiscite; thus it was that the German Colonel commanding the German troops in Schleswig had been given employment in that city and that troops under his command had been disguised as his employees. That was a barefaced subterfuge which could not be tolerated. However, he had not suggested any decision because he felt that nothing could be done until the coming into force of the Treaty. When the Treaty came into force it would be easy to send troops to Schleswig to drive out those disguised soldiers, but for the moment it seemed difficult to make any demand upon Germany on that point. He pointed out that the British report strongly urged that a third battalion be sent to the plebiscite zone. He had confined himself to bringing this request to the Council’s attention. German Activities in Schleswig

M. Cambon said that the Council took note of Sir Eyre Crowe’s statements, as well as of the request made by Sir Charles Marling. After the Treaty came into force the Council could then decide what should be done.

(This was agreed to.)

3. (Upon the request of M. Scialoja that question was adjourned.) Plans of the Turkish Government Relative to the Reconstruction of Constantinople

(At this point M. Clemenceau entered the meeting.)

4. M. Mauclere said that the Subcommission created at Vienna by the Committee on Organization of the Reparation Commission charged with ensuring the food supply of Austria, had noted the extreme gravity of the economic situation in Vienna and the remaining Austrian territory. It had noticed that the difficulties of supply were largely due to the imperfect circulation of rolling stock. It had presented a report on this subject, dated November 4th, 1919, showing that a final distribution of rolling stock belonging to the former Austro-Hungarian Empire had not been made as between the States containing territories which were part of that former Empire, inasmuch as each of those new States was trying to keep within its territories all the rolling stock which was there. They were hoping thereby to ameliorate their situation and at the moment of final distribution to obtain a larger share in proportion to the amount of rolling stock actually in their possession at that time. With a view to remedying that serious situation, the British Delegation had also proposed1a that the Supreme Council invite the States containing territories which were part of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire to send [Page 451] representatives immediately to Vienna, with a view to the formation in that capital of a Commission on which all the interested States of Central Europe would be represented, and which would be presided over by an Allied representative. The question had thus been presented in two different ways. On the one hand, the Committee on Organization of the Separation Commission was considering the question through its Subcommission at Vienna; on the other hand, the Supreme Council had had the question directly presented to it by the British Delegation. Those two propositions were inspired by somewhat the same motives. The Supreme Council having then referred the examination of the question to the Committee on Organization of the Reparation Commission, the latter had referred it to its Subcommission especially charged with Austrian questions, and had presented to the Supreme Council a report suggesting a decision. The text of that report was as follows: Creation of a Commission To Organize the Circulation of Rolling Stock in the States Containing Territories Which Were Part of the Former Austro-Hungarian Monarchy

“Whereas, one of the principal causes of the serious difficulties which are disturbing the economic life of the states of central Europe is the tendency which is sometimes manifested to withhold the railway cars which are on their territory, or enter it;

Whereas, there is at the present time no organization with sufficient authority to insure the indispensable circulation of the rolling stock of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire;

Whereas, it would be advisable to create to that effect a Commission which, moreover, would be entirely separate from the Commission of Experts which is charged with the distribution of the Austro-Hungarian rolling stock, under the Presidency of Sir Francis Dent; and, whereas, nevertheless, Sir Francis Dent seems to be qualified to be also the President of this new Commission;

Whereas, on the other hand there is already in Vienna a subcommission of the Committee on Organization of the Reparation Commission, which was created in compliance with the decision of the Supreme Council,2 to study and propose the necessary measures to improve the revictualling of Austria, the Committee on Organization of the Reparation Commission proposes to the Supreme Council the following decision:

—For the above-mentioned purposes, a sub-commission shall be instituted in Vienna within the shortest time possible, charged with ensuring and regulating the circulation of rolling stock on all of the railway systems which were comprised within the frontiers of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire.
—This sub-commission shall be subordinated to the Vienna sub-commission of the Committee on Organization of the Reparation Commission.
—The Governments of the United States of America, Great Britain, France, Italy, Poland, Roumania, the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, the Czecho-Slovak Republic, Austria, and Hungary, shall be invited by the Supreme Council to appoint representatives on this sub-commission.
The invitation to Hungary might be made through the intermediary of Sir George Clerk.
—This sub-commission shall be charged with:
—Proposing to the Committee on Organization of the Reparation Commission the suppression of all other Interallied organizations and commissions, whose powers are apt to duplicate those of the new commission.
—Organizing the control of the rolling stock at the present frontiers of the various interested States.
—Assuring the normal exchange and return of railway coaches and locomotives; with the right of eventually making remonstrances on this subject to all the States which may be withholding such rolling stock.
—Studying and recommending all provisions intended to expedite transportation between the various interested regions, especially with a view to improving the revictualling.
—Proposing all proper measures for the representation of the interests of Eastern Galicia.”

The Supreme Council approved that proposal and a letter was being prepared to be sent to the various interested Governments when the Supreme Council received a new note from the British Government (See H. D. 104, Appendix “E”),3 which showed that a misunderstanding had arisen. The British Delegation, in fact, wished the proposed new Commission to be fully independent of the Committee on Organization of the Reparation Commission. The Committee on Organization of the Reparation Commission had considered that note and had decided, with the exception of the British Delegate who maintained his point of view, that there was no reason to modify the draft decision of the Supreme Council.

Sir Eyre Crowe wished to point out some of the reasons which determined the attitude of the British Delegation on that question. The question was an old one since it had been raised on September 26th [29th?3a]. The British Delegation thought that under present conditions the intervention of the Reparation Commission was in no wise justified, and its information led it to believe that the proposed procedure would not be accepted by Poland, Czecho-Slovakia or any of the new Allied States which were in no way subject to that Commission. The Reparation Commission in fact was a body which had been created to act in the interests of the Allies against the enemy Powers. It therefore, was not qualified to intervene in the relations between the Allied and Associated Powers and Allied States. Moreover there was in existence a Commission charged with the distribution of Austro-Hungarian rolling stock. That Commission acted on principles entirely different from a juridical point of view from those actuating the Reparation Commission. Indeed it only acted in the general [Page 453] interest and not exclusively in the interests of the Allied and Associated Powers. At the present time it was proposed to create a third body which would be charged with effecting a provisional exchange of rolling stock, without touching the question of ownership. That new body could only obtain satisfactory results if it could count on the good-will of the interested States, since it had no means of coercing them and has no right to use any such means. It should not be forgotten that it was a question of dealing with new nationalities who were very jealous of their own authority and, would not tolerate in their internal affairs the intervention of the Reparation Commission which had no authority over them. The British proposition had been made in order to avoid that difficulty. If there were any chance of obtaining a satisfactory settlement of the question it could only be by appealing to the good-will of the interested States. If it should seem to be absolutely necessary to establish some connection between the new Commission and some body already in existence, the former should not be subordinated to the Reparation Commission but rather to the Commission charged with the final distribution of rolling stock, which constituted an analogous problem. He, himself thought it would be better to let the proposed Commission be entirely independent. In any event he thought it would be a serious mistake to subordinate it to the Reparation Commission which had no concern with that question, and he felt that the British proposal was the only one which could work out a practical solution of that question.

M. Mauclere said that the following reasons had led his Committee to its decision. There was no question of imposing the control of the proposed Sub-commission upon the new States. It was merely desired to obtain from the good-will of the interested States their acceptance, without any obligation on their part, of the intervention of that Commission which was charged only with ensuring the normal exchange of rolling stock. The difference of views only concerned the advisability of subordinating that Commission to the sub-commission at Vienna, which itself was subordinated to the Reparation Commission. The sub-commission at Vienna did not, strictly speaking, have anything to do with a problem directly relating to reparations since it was limited to ensuring the food-supply of Austria. As the Reparation Commission constituted the only body of any permanency provided for the execution of the Treaty in that respect, there was a natural tendency to attach to it the temporary bodies which were also studying means to reestablish in Central Europe a normal economic regime which alone would allow enemy States to fulfil the obligations assumed by the Treaties. In a general way, therefore, it could be said that the question of reparations dominated the whole problem. The Commission at Vienna nevertheless has a well defined object which was to ensure [Page 454] the food-supply of Austria. That question of food supply was itself dependent upon the question of the circulation of rolling stock. The Commission which it was proposed to create should consist of a representative from each of the interested States in addition to a representative of each of the Great Powers. The chief difficulties found their source in the lack of coal and food supplies as a result of imperfect railway circulation. There were numerous organs which had been created by the Supreme Council or which had created themselves through the force of circumstances, and which were concerning themselves with the same questions. Duplication of work was inevitable. In order to eliminate this duplication as much as possible it became necessary to attach these various Commissions to higher bodies and in this regard the Reparation Commission seemed the most suitable by reason of its semi-permanent character.

Sir Eyre Crowe understood that it might be necessary in order to avoid duplication to establish a logical plan of organization; although logic, especially when applied from afar, often led to impractical results. But it did not seem to him logical to attach to the Reparation Commission, merely because it was a somewhat permanent body, a sub-commission which had to handle a question essentially different from those in which the Reparation Commission was interested. He repeated that if it were necessary to attach the new sub-commission to a Commission already in existence, the Commission charged with the distribution of rolling stock was the only possible one. It was not only a question of the food supply of Vienna and of the Austrian Republic. Difficulties of the same nature presented themselves between the New States and he did not think it probable that Italy or Jugoslavia, for instance, would accept the authority of a Commission which was subordinated, no matter in how slight a degree, to the Reparation Commission.

Mr. Polk said that according to his information the interested States would not object to the solution proposed by the majority of the representatives on the Organization Committee of the Reparation Commission. M. Benes, in particular, had made statements to that effect.

Sir Eyre Crowe said that his information did not conform to that of Mr. Polk’s.

M. Mauclere said the sub-commission charged with the Austrian question was unanimous with the single exception of the British Delegate. The Italian Delegate, in particular, in accepting the proposition, specified—which moreover conformed to the views of the Commission—that there should be no question of control exercised by the Commission, which could only appeal to the good will of the interested States.

[Page 455]

Sir Eyre Crowe remarked that appeals to the good will of the interested States had been made for four months and that no result had yet been obtained. There was no other way of solving the present situation than to accept the proposals of the British technical experts who were on the spot and consequently in a position to judge matters wisely.

M. Mauclere pointed out that each of the interested States would be represented on the Commission which it was proposed to create Therefore the situation would not be the same as before and there should be more chance of success.

Sir Eyre Crowe said that if the British proposition were adopted the interested States alone would be represented, with the exception of the President who would represent the Principal Allied and Associated Powers.

M. Scialoja wished to point out that Italy was the only one of the States obtaining territory belonging to the former Austro-Hungarian Monarchy which had fully carried out its obligations with respect to rolling stock. She was moreover interested in having good railway service over the Austrian lines. It was entirely a question of ensuring railway service and that question had no political aspect. It was only necessary to organize what was called in Italy a cumulative service, that is to say, exchange of cars on the frontiers. It was less an affair of organization than one of personalities. It must be recognized that Sir Francis Dent had fully succeeded in his work and that all the interested States were agreed as to recognizing his skill and ability. The man who was needed had been found in him, and the Council would attain its object if it placed under him the representatives of the interested Governments who trusted him. He did not think that it would be useful to have Delegates from the other large Powers on that Commission. That might result in the danger that the Commission, if it had too many representatives from the large Powers, might be tempted to exceed its jurisdiction. It had already been suggested that the Commission might extend its control to all the Italian railway service including internal traffic. It went without saying that Italy could not accept such an extension of the Powers of the Commission and that the latter must content itself with exercising a limited control. After all the proposed Commission was a technical one. It was fitting that the Council should limit itself to defining its jurisdiction in a precise manner. The question as to whether or not it should be attached to the Reparation Commission seemed to him after all a relatively minor one.

M. Mauclere said that the Italian Delegate on his Committee had indeed pointed out that no reproaches could be directed towards Italy with respect to the exchange of cars, and the Committee had willingly [Page 456] endorsed his statement. The Italian Delegate had likewise wished to have it specified that there could be no question of the new Commission having any jurisdiction over internal railway organization and the Committee had agreed with that point of view. With respect to the composition of the Commission he thought that he should point out that all the large Powers were equally interested in maintaining stable conditions in Central Europe, and that the situation there depended largely upon possibilities of food supply which in turn necessitated a good organization of transportation service.

Mr. Polk said that although that question did not especially interest America he wished to point out that the American Representative on the Committee of Organization had not accepted the British proposal. The Committee on Organization of the Reparation Commission was already occupied with the distribution of coal, which was a question of the greatest importance. It seemed to him difficult to separate that question from the question of provisional distribution of cars. These two problems were in fact most closely connected. If the proposed Commission was to be entirely independent, and only responsible to the Supreme Council or to the respective Governments, no coordination of effort could be obtained. He reiterated that according to his information the Czechs, Poles and other interested States would be prepared to accept the proposal of the majority.

M. Scialoja said he did not see any great difficulty in the matter; he wished only to insist that the jurisdiction of the Commission should be precisely defined.

Sir Eyre Crowe regretted that the British considered the plan presented to be absolutely impracticable. The American Representative on the spot, moreover, had said that he was fully in agreement with the British proposal. That question in no way concerned the Reparation Commission. The latter had an undeniable tendency to extend its functions more and more. He thought it dangerous to follow that line of action. Moreover, M. Scialoja had said that it was less a question of organization than of personalities. It was certain that Sir Francis Dent, who M. Scialoja was kind enough to praise, could not collaborate in a task which he considered doomed to certain failure.

Mr. Polk said that the official American Representative, Colonel Smith, was not in favor of the British proposal. Both he and Colonel Causey, who was also at Vienna, accepted the principle of the formation of a new Commission, but contemplated its subordination to the Committee on Organization of the Reparation Commission. He was for a coordination of the different commissions and not in favor of the complete independence of the proposed new Commission.

Sir Eyre Crowe said that a distinction should be made between two questions. One was a question of the composition of the Commission; the other was whether or not it should include representatives [Page 457] of all the Great Powers, or only representatives of the interested States presided over by a representative of the Allies.

M. Berthelot remarked that the British proposition presented certain possible advantages from a technical point of view but from a political point of view it seemed impossible that only one of the Great Powers should be represented.

M. Clemenceau asked if Sir Eyre Crowe could not alter his proposition so as to facilitate an agreement.

Sir Eyre Crowe replied that if the Council wished to create a Commission including representatives of all the Principal Powers his Government would not oppose it, but their Delegates could not take part in that work. As to the second question, that is to say, whether or not that Commission should be subordinated to the Committee on Organization of the Reparation Commission, he felt obliged to say that his Government was definitely opposed to all thought of attaching it to the Reparation Commission, and that if the Council decided in that sense he could not agree with its decision and would have to ask for new instructions from London. Moreover he felt that the first question was far more urgent than the second one.

M. Clemenceau inquired if Sir Eyre Crowe would agree to the proposed Commission being attached to the Commission charged with the final distribution of rolling stock.

Sir Eyre Crowe said that he would be ready to eventually examine that solution but for the moment he felt that it would be better to make the proposed Commission absolutely independent.

M. Clemenceau thought it was rather dangerous to give the proposed Commission complete independence.

Sir Eyre Crowe replied that that was however the only way of obtaining a practical result.

General Mance wished to insist upon the effect which the present disagreement might have upon work already accomplished at Vienna in this respect. The Communication Section of the Supreme Economic Council was a purely consultative body. Except in a special case it had no power of its own and could only act through the personal influence which it exerted on the administration with which it came in contact. It was one of the only bodies which had no political complexion and which was inspired solely by the general interest. He thought that that special situation should be taken into account and that any proposition which might entail the retirement of Sir Francis Dent would run the risk of endangering results obtained by virtue of hard, and on the whole fruitful, labor. It seemed to him dangerous to embark upon an entirely new policy and to destroy, in the presence of a serious economic situation, a body which had already proven its worth.

[Page 458]

M. Clemenceau agreed with Sir Eyre Crowe’s opinion that the Committee on Organization of the Reparation Commission had a tendency to progressively enlarge its functions and he realized that it might be dangerous not to counteract that tendency but as M. Loucheur was then absent and was expected to return the following day he thought it would be difficult to reach a decision without consulting him. Consequently he felt that it would be preferable to adjourn the rest of the discussion of this subject to a meeting at the end of the week.

(This was agreed to.)

5. M. Berthelot informed the Council that M. Vesnitch had given him a letter from the Serb-Croat-Slovene Delegation showing that the Jugo-Slav Government had been prepared to sign the Austrian and Minorities Treaties when, on November 21st, it had been informed that it was also to sign the two financial arrangements signed at Saint Germain September 10th.4 One of those arrangements had greatly disturbed the Serb-Croat-Slovene Government by its provisions for a set-off between the sum due to Jugo-Slavia by way of reparation and those which it would have to pay out as its contribution to the expenses of the liberation of the territories acquired by it. The Serb-Croat-Slovenes maintained that such a provision would prevent their receiving anything from the reparation fund within 10 years, and would place them in an impossible economic situation as a result of the serious losses which the years of occupation by the troops of the Central Empires had inflicted upon them. The Jugo-Slav Delegation was convinced that if it could discuss that question directly with the former Reparation Commission an agreement could be reached prior to the following Friday, which was the expiration of the time limit granted it for signing the two Treaties and the two Financial Arrangements. Advantage might be taken of the presence in Paris of the Prince Regent, who had Technical Delegates with him, and the former Reparation Commission might be charged with preparing a report to be submitted the following Friday after having conferred upon this question with the Jugo-Slav Delegation. Financial Arrangements With Serbia

It was decided:

that the former Reparation Commission submit to the Council on Friday, December 5th, a report relative to the request of the Jugo-Slav Delegation seeking to obtain a modification in one of the financial arrangements signed at Saint Germain, September 10th, 1919;
that the said Commission, before preparing its report, should hear the Jugo-Slav Delegates on that subject.

[Page 459]

6. (The Council had before it a note from the French Delegation summarizing the contents of a telegram from the French Chargé d’Affaires giving the point of view of the British, French and Italian representatives at Bucharest. (See Appendix “C”). Roumanian Reply

M. Berthelot read and commented upon the note of the French Delegation. He observed that the name of the American representative was not mentioned, although it was not said that he had adopted an attitude differing from that of his colleagues.

M. Clemenceau asked if the new Roumanian Ministry had been formed.

Sir Eyre Crowe said that the Roumanian Government was quite capable of having deliberately brought about a Ministerial crisis in order to have a pretext for not replying to the note of the Allied and Associated Powers.5

M. Berthelot said that the French representative at Bucharest had, moreover, telegraphed that Vaiva Voevod had been elected President of the Chamber. He was opposed to a policy of resistance, and upon assuming the Presidential chair had made a speech in which he had insisted upon the necessity of Roumania’s not weakening the ties binding her to the Allies. Apparently the general impression of the last few days was more satisfactory, although surprises were of course always possible. The British Chargé d’affaires had made representations to the Queen and emphasized the dangers which Roumania would incur by refusing to sign. Roumania would find herself entirely isolated from a diplomatic point of view, and she would be obliged to maintain large forces under arms; the result would be a general discontent which might endanger the Dynasty itself. The Queen had seemed impressed with that argument and has promised to use her influence over King Ferdinand to induce him to give a favourable reply to the Allies. The question now was whether or not the Council would grant the Roumanians the delay they requested on the ground that their Ministerial crisis did not permit them to reach an immediate decision. It was to be feared that an open break would be badly received at that moment by public opinion, and in any event, it could not be denied that the decision now being deliberated would have most serious consequences.

M. Clemenceau agreed with Sir Eyre Crowe that the Roumanians had deliberately provoked a ministerial crisis in order to gain time. Nevertheless, in order to run no risk of antagonizing public opinion, he was inclined to grant the Roumanians a final short delay, six days for instance. But it should be clearly indicated that that delay would not be prolonged under any circumstances.

[Page 460]

Sir Eyre Crowe admitted that he felt a great hesitancy in giving his final opinion; there were many arguments in favor of both conclusions. On the one hand the Council had already sent a very succinct ultimatum to the Roumanians and it might be most disadvantageous to grant a prolongation of the time limit. He felt that the attitude of the various diplomatic representatives at Bucharest had not been at all satisfactory. They had not obeyed their instructions and they had led the Roumanians to hope that the Council’s decisions were not final. Quite possibly the Roumanian reply might have been more satisfactory if the attitude of the representatives of the Allied and Associated Powers had been more firm. His impression was that whatever the Council did the Roumanians were determined not to sign. The representatives of the Allied and Associated Powers seemed to think that if the Council granted a further delay to the Roumanian Government the latter would emancipate itself from M. Bratiano’s influence and would at last see where its true interests lay. He was far from being convinced thereof. M. Bratiano was no longer in power and his party no longer had a majority in Parliament; but he remained very powerful. His counsels had certainly prevailed once more, and if the Council now seemed to hesitate his influence could not be increased. As to Vaiva-Voevod, he thought that he was quite unreliable: he was, in fact, nothing more than M. Bratiano’s puppet. It was true that the decision was a serious one, but he pointed out that that decision had already been taken eight days before when the ultimatum had been sent. The foregoing considerations seemed to him of great weight, but, on the other hand, he was aware that in view of the difficulties raised by the situation in America and the arrogant attitude which Germany seemed to wish to assume it was necessary to move cautiously, and that it might not be advantageous to have an open break with Roumania.

Mr. Polk remarked that he had telegraphed the American Minister at Bucharest that he was not satisfied with his attitude and that in any event, in case of a severance of relations, he should leave Bucharest with his colleagues.

M. Scialoja said that he had given the Italian representative at Bucharest very clear instructions directing him to remain in complete agreement with his colleagues and to model his attitude upon theirs.

He had been ordered to urge the Roumanian Government to conform to the decisions of the Council. With respect to the general question, he felt that the Roumanians could not well be refused a short and final delay. It was quite possible that the Ministerial crisis was only a subterfuge; nevertheless, it was necessary that there should be a Government at Bucharest in order that a valid decision could be [Page 461] reached there. At a time when the enemies of the Allied and Associated Powers seemed to be again lifting their heads, it would be very serious if a breach were made in the ranks of the Allies. If, as he felt sure, Roumania finally decided to sign, the prestige of the Conference would be greatly increased. For these reasons he was in favor of M. Clemenceau’s proposal to grant the Roumanians a final extension of six days.

M. Clemenceau agreed fully with all Sir Eyre Crowe had said, especially concerning the perfidy of M. Bratiano and the intrigues of the Roumanian Government. It was nevertheless true that an open break would be very serious, especially at that time when the situation in America imposed added caution. The regrettable attitude of the diplomatic representatives of the Allied and Associated Powers made it possible to excuse, to a certain extent, the Roumanian attitude. However, to make assurance doubly sure and to be well within its rights, he thought that the Council had better grant Roumania the extension of six days. He did not agree with Sir Eyre Crowe as to the Roumanian Government definitely refusing to sign. The Queen of Roumania, who was a very sensible and clever woman, seemed to have been impressed by the representations of the British representative at Bucharest. Her influence might be decisive; furthermore, he knew that influential politicians were bringing pressure to bear on King Ferdinand in order to induce him to yield. But if this extension were granted it should be clearly set forth that no consideration of any nature could induce the Council to grant a further extension.

Sir Eyre Crowe recognized that there was a great deal of truth in what the President of the Conference had just said, and he was ready to agree in principle with his point of view, but he felt that the Council should calculate very carefully the date the extension would expire so as to give Roumania the time necessary to make her reply. Account should be taken of the extraordinary delays always encountered by telegrams sent to Bucharest, and the Council should carefully determine the conditions under which its communication to the Roumanian Government was to be sent and delivered. A further question was that of the publication of the notes of the Council. It seemed to him that now was the time to have recourse to publication. The Council should not fail to avail itself of the means at its disposal for acting upon Roumanian public opinion which still remained ignorant of the true situation.

M. Berthelot did not think that it would be advisable at that time to publish the notes addressed to the Roumanian Government. What was above all desired was to obtain the Roumanian signature. That would not be facilitated by a publication which might wound the national [Page 462] pride so excessive in Balkan countries. On the other hand, there would be no disadvantage in publishing the notes of the Council if the severance of diplomatic relations became a fait accompli.

Sir Eyre Crowe wished to again insist upon one point, to wit, the extreme importance of the Roumanians having no knowledge of the deliberations of the Council or of the differences of views which might have arisen on that serious question.

M. Berthelot thought that a special note might be published summarizing the last exchanges of notes with Roumania and setting forth the reasons why the Council had felt obliged to grant a last extension of time to the Roumanian Government. That would be a way of enlightening public opinion without wounding any sensibilities.

M. Clemenceau thought that M. Berthelot might prepare a draft of that nature which should be submitted during the course of the day to all the heads of delegations and, if approved by them, should be published in the press of the following day.

Sir Eyre Crowe said that in view of the uncertain communications between Paris and Bucharest, the Council at the same time that it sent a telegram, might ask a member of the Roumanian Delegation, M. Antonescu for instance, to go to Roumania. He would personally carry the Council’s message and could exert his influence at Bucharest towards obtaining an agreement. The telegram to be prepared by M. Berthelot should specify that it bound all the Powers and that none of the representatives at Bucharest of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers should await special instructions.

It was decided:

that M. Berthelot should prepare, and submit on that day to the Heads of Delegations, a telegram informing the Roumanian Government that the delay granted it to submit its reply was extended for six days, that is to say, until noon on Monday, December 8th; that the said telegram should be sent directly to Bucharest and a copy delivered to M. Antonescu requesting him to deliver it personally to the Roumanian Government;
that the question of detail concerning the sending and delivery of the communication to the Roumanian Government should be examined by M. Berthelot and his conclusions submitted during the day to the Heads of Delegations;
that M. Berthelot should prepare a note for publication in the press explaining the attitude of the Allied and Associated Powers towards Roumania, and that said note should be submitted during the afternoon to the Heads of Delegations.

7. Mr. Polk, referring to the decision taken on November 28th, relative to the Exequaturs of Foreign Consuls at Dantzig (See H. D. 101, Minute 3),6 said that he accepted the recommendations of the Drafting Committee provided that the temporary representative of the Principal Allied and [Page 463] Associated Powers should not have the right to refuse Exequaturs to Consuls of the Allied and Associated Powers. Exequatur of Foreign Consuls at Dantzig Prior to the Definite Establishment of the Free City

It was decided:

that during the period between the coming into force of the Treaty of Peace with Germany and the definite establishment of the free city of Dantzig, the exequaturs of foreign consuls should be delivered by the representative of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers, to which the sovereignty was transferred by article 100 of the said Treaty; provided that the said representative of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers could not refuse to grant exequaturs to the consuls of the Allied and Associated Powers.

(The meeting was then adjourned.)

Appendix A to HD–105

Note by the Naval Representatives for Submission to the Supreme Council

Personnel for the German Minesweeping Service

The Naval Representatives of the Allied and Associated Powers met on the 24th November, 1919 to consider the German Note (No. 38 of 20th October, 1919) on the subject of the personnel for the German Minesweeping Service.

The Naval Representatives reached the conclusions which are shown in the accompanying memorandum.

N. A. McCully For the United States of America
Le Vavasseur For France
L. Fuller For Great Britain
M. Grassi For Italy
M. Osumi For Japan

Personnel for the German Minesweeping Service

With reference to the German Delegation’s Notes Nos. 38 and 46 of 20th October and 4th November 1919 respectively, on the subject of the crews for the German mine-sweeping vessels, the view of the Allied Naval Advisers is that under the terms of the treaty of Peace with Germany, the Allied and Associated Powers have the right to require that the Mine Clearance Personnel should be included in the [Page 464] 15,000 officers and men of which the German Navy is, in the future, to consist:—

2. This opinion is based on the following reasons:

Article 183 lays down a total personnel of 15,000 officers and men for the German Navy to include all Services.
Article 182 states that a certain number of Minesweeping vessels may be kept in commission until the completion of mine-sweeping. (N. B. 130 of these minesweeping vessels are torpedo craft.)

3. The German requests for minesweeping vessels (comprising 328 in all) were granted in toto by the Allied Naval Armistice Commission in order to allow of the earliest possible clearance of the minefields in the interests of all nations.

4. It is considered that the number of men asked for by Germany is excessive. The following is a comparison of the British and German numbers employed.

Vessels Officers Men Average per Vessel
British 1000 900 15,000 16
German 328 755 14,535 47

5. The Principal points on which Germany bases her demand for additional crews over and above the 15,000 allowed by Article 183 are as follows:—

[Page 465]
Protest Reply
(a) 15,000 officers and men allowed by Art. 183 are required to man the remaining German warships. There is no necessity to man these ships until the minefields are cleared away [;] for their own safety it is better that they should not be manned and should remain in harbour.
(c) [sic] Crews must be specialists. Quite unnecessary. A very small proportion of specialists only is required. The British and French started minesweeping at the commencement of the war without practically any trained men. Recently the United States Navy cleared the North Sea barrage without any previous experience.
(d) Article 183 implies the obligation to retain crews in commission. On the contrary, it purposely makes no mention of personnel which is entirely dealt with in the next article viz, 183 which ends by stating that “No Naval corps may be organised in Germany without being included in the above strength.”
(e) Need of personnel for mine-sweeping only temporary No reason therefore why permanent men should not be used temporarily.

6. During the winter months, minesweeping in the Baltic is largely impracticable. In consequence practically half the mine clearance personnel will not be employed, and opportunity can then be taken to make the necessary changes.

7. In view however, of the importance to the general interests of commerce that the minesweeping should be completed as early as possible, and as its rapidity depends not only on the number of vessels, but also on the personnel, the following concession is proposed:—

The German Navy may include, for a maximum period of eight months from the coming into force of the Treaty of Peace, in addition to the personnel prescribed in Article 183, a number of men who shall be exclusively employed in the mine-sweeping provided for in Article 193. This additional number of men shall at no time exceed 10,000 and shall be progressively reduced from time to time in such manner as the Naval Inter-Allied Commission of Control shall determine, so that at the end of the period of eight months above referred to, the personnel of the German Navy shall not exceed the figure stipulated in Article 183.

Appendix B to HD–105

Memorandum for the Supreme Council7

Information has been received by His Majesty’s Government from Copenhagen to the effect that Doctor Koester, the German “Kommissar” for Slesvig-Holstein, who resides in the town of Slesvig, has taken an office in the town of Flensborg and has stated that he intends to remain in the plebiscite area during its occupation by the international commission.

It is further reported that Colonel Frumme, who was previously in command of the German troops in Flensborg, has been given an appointment,* nominally under the Ministry of Labour, and has already taken an office in one of the barracks of the town, where he has a staff of some 200 non-commissioned officers and men. It is reported on reliable authority that these persons are still inscribed in the official military accounts and are still drawing pay as members of the German army.

[Page 466]

Sir Charles Marling, who has telegraphed from London his comments on these reports, observes that it is impossible to permit a measure which is nothing but a retention of troops under the thinnest disguise, or to recognise an authority set up at the last moment without the consent of the international commission. He adds that the proposed residence of Dr. Loester [Koester?] at Flensborg would appear at first sight to be an attempt to evade the provision of the treaty by which German civilian officials are to leave the plebiscite area.

He strongly urges that a third battalion of allied troops should be placed at the disposal of the commission in view of the intention of the German Government—unmistakably shown by the above-mentioned information—to influence in their favour the voting in the plebiscite area.

Appendix C to HD–105

Note From the French Delegation

The French representative at Bucarest telegraphs that the Rumanian reply has been delivered to the Legations. This reply commences with a justification of the Rumanian policy since the beginning of the war, and recalls the sacrifices suffered by Rumania. It indicates that the Ministry, besides not being parliamentary, has resigned and cannot make a decision involving so gravely the future of the country. It begs a delay of sufficient length to enable a Ministry created by the Parliament to declare itself validly.

The British, French and Italian representatives are of the opinion that the request for a delay is one of the most justified under the existing circumstances. They are moreover under the impression that the new Government, which will be supported by a majority constituted outside of the liberal party, will be better disposed than the resigning government.

It is to be feared that in refusing a prolongation of the delay the campaign of the liberal party, which is attempting to swing the other parties in line with its intransigeance, would not be facilitated. The British and Italian representatives insist also upon the danger which might arise from any weakening of the authority of the state, direct or indirect, which might be favorable to the bolshevist movement.

  1. Appendix C to HD–80, vol. viii, p. 865.
  2. See appendix B to HD–92, p. 172.
  3. HD–66, minute 3, vol. viii, p. 508.
  4. Ante, p. 441.
  5. HD–63, minute 4, vol viii, p. 433.
  6. Appendices I and J to HD–37, vol. vii, pp. 830 and 832.
  7. Appendix A to HD–93, p. 182.
  8. Ante, p. 351.
  9. From the British Delegation.
  10. It is not clear from the telegram what is the nature of this appointment. [Footnote in the original.]