Paris Peace Conf. 180.03501/112


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

  • Present
    • America, United States of
      • Hon. Hugh Wallace
    • 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. Trombetti
    • Japan
      • M. Matsui
    • Secretary
      • M. Kawai
Joint Secretariat
America, United States of Capt. B. Winthrop
British Empire Capt. Lothian Small
France M. de Percin
Italy M. Zanchi.
Interpreter—M. Mantoux

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

  • America, United States of:
    • Colonel J. A. Logan.
    • Mr. Rathbone.
  • British Empire:
    • M. Leeper.
    • Cdt. MacDonald.
    • Cdt. MacNamara.
  • France:
    • M. Loucheur.
    • M. Leygues.
    • Gen. le Rond.
    • Admiral Levavasseur.
    • M. Hermitte.
    • M. Massigli.
  • Italy:
    • M. Bertolini.
    • C. Amiral Grassi.
    • Cdt. Fea.
  • Japan:
    • M. Shigemitsu.

[Page 579]

1. M. Loucheur said that the Organization Committee of the Reparation Commission had examined at its preceding meeting the general economic situation of Austria. He had had the honor of explaining the day before to the Supreme Council the measures proposed for providing Austria with food stuffs for from two to two months and a half.1 There still remained to be examined measures of a more general order which would insure the economic uplift of Austria for a longer period. From information received that morning the negotiations concerning the loan of 30,000,000 florins which Austria was trying to conclude with a Dutch group were proceeding and it could be hoped that the pourparlers would succeed. Economic and Financial Assistance to the Austrian Republic

The Organization Committee had received from the Austrian Chancellor and from the Food Minister a memorandum which gave an estimate of the measures which would be necessary each month to insure the provisioning of Austria, that estimate gave the following figures:

50,000 tons of wheat, i. e. $5,500,000.00
1600 tons of meat, i. e. 1,000,000.00
3400 tons of fats, i. e. 2,700,000.00
30,000 boxes condensed milk, i. e. 300,000.00
making a total of $9,500,000.00 each month.

They would therefore, so as to take care during seven months of Austria’s needs, require a sum of seventy million dollars as a minimum. The figure asked by the Austrian Delegation for the same period amounted to one hundred million dollars. The financial effort to be accomplished was therefore included between two figures.

The Organization Committee of the Reparation Commission could only refer to the letter which it had sent on the 14th November last to the President of the Conference.2 It had pointed out in that letter that it was not for it to decide on the principle of the loan to be granted to the Austrian Republic. That question was not within its competence and concerned exclusively the different Allied governments. The Organization Committee would therefore limit itself, in case the principle of a loan was adopted, to suggesting certain measures of protection, such as the establishment of a certain control over the finances of Austria. The Austrian Government should furthermore promise to have certain financial laws voted so as to give the Powers all desirable guarantees. Before examining those questions in detail, it was, however, advisable to solve the question of principle and to know whether they intended or not to grant Austria an important loan which might [Page 580] vary between seventy and one hundred millions of dollars. That was a question which the Organization Committee now asked the Conference to settle.

M. Cambon said that it was important to settle before anything else the question of principle, and he would ask the representative of the United States of America to give his opinion on the matter.

Mr. Wallace said that he would refer the question to his government that very day, and hoped to obtain a reply within two or three days.

M. Cambon said it seemed to him extremely important, as well as to the French Government, to come as promptly as possible to Austria’s help, so as to avoid throwing into absolute want the population of the small Austrian State which the Allies had just created.

Mr. Wallace said that M. Cambon had not been present at the preceding meeting where he had very clearly stated his position.3 His principal duty consisted in following the meetings of the Council as an observer and in forwarding immediately to his government all questions of a nature to be submitted to its decision. He did not have the necessary powers to express before the Council opinions which would be binding upon the American Government.

Sir Eyre Crowe said that the question had already come up before the Council and it had been decided that it concerned the governments alone.4 The British Government, as a matter of fact, was ready to bear its share of the expenses involved in the economic reestablishment of Austria, but only on the formal condition that America should also stand its share. That consideration was all the stronger as in the actual state of the financial market nothing of any value could be done without the help of the United States. It was not pounds or francs that they needed, but dollars, which they could only obtain from the United States. His Government had made every effort to arrive at an agreement on the subject with the Government at Washington. It had telegraphed many times, but no decision seemed to have been yet taken at Washington. They still hoped that a favorable decision might be taken in the United States, and if so, he could assure the Council that his Government would act in the most sympathetic spirit towards the Austrian Republic.

M. de Martino said that they had the strongest reasons, as well from a humanitarian as from a political point of view for coming quickly to Austria’s help, whose actual situation appeared extremely serious. They had, however, as Sir Eyre Crowe recalled, decided that it belonged to the governments alone to take decision on the loan which should be granted to the government at Vienna. The Italian Government [Page 581] had not yet taken a decision, and it was natural that it should await, before doing so, the result of the negotiations taking place between London and Washington. It was indeed a question of obtaining dollars, which the United States alone were able to supply.

M. Matsui said that he had also referred that question to his Government and had not yet received a reply. He was therefore not able to state precisely what attitude would be adopted by the Japanese Government; but he hoped that it would be able to participate in the common task.

M. Cambon said that under those conditions he did not see that they could do anything more on that day, and he proposed to adjourn the discussion until such time as the interested governments would have made known their decisions.

Sir Eyre Crowe wished to ask how far they had got on the question of wheat, which the Serbian Government was to deliver to Austria. Numerous difficulties had come up on the subject, and he hoped M. Loucheur had been able to obtain from the Serbian Delegates the promise that they would fulfil their contract.

M. Loucheur said that he was going to see that very afternoon Mr. Trumbitch as well as the Serbian Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Lascovitch. As he had informed the Council on the preceding day, he intended to propose that an interallied commission be sent which would be charged with the verification on the spot of the conditions under which the food stuffs were sent, and which would insure the satisfactory settlement of all questions concerning the performance of the contract made between Austria and the Jugo-Slav Government.

(The discussion on that question was adjourned to a later date.)

2. M. Loucheur read and commented on a note of the Organization Committee on the subject (See Appendix A). He said that the difference of interpretation which had taken place in the Committee of Organization concerning the resolutions adopted by the Council on the 6th and 9th of December5 seemed to be of merely academic interest. As a matter of fact Germany having sent delegates to Paris with a view to signing the protocol and the latter appearing on the whole to be in a conciliatory spirit, it might be hoped that the exchange of ratifications might take place within a very few days and that the Treaty might then come into force. He did not, however, see any objection to addressing at this time a letter to the Germans telling them what it had done at its meeting of December 9th (H. D. 110). If the Council so decided the Organization Committee would immediately prepare a draft letter which would be submitted to the Council. Collection by Germany of Customs Duties in Gold Marks

[Page 582]

It was decided:

that the Organization Committee of the Reparation Commission should submit to the Council a draft letter to the German Delegation informing it of the decisions taken by the Council at its meeting of December 9 (H. D. 110) concerning the question of collection by Germany of the customs duties in gold marks.

3. M. Loucheur said that the members of the Reparation Commission had held a meeting on the previous day with the naval experts and those sent by Germany at which it had been discussed the questions relative to the reparations claimed for the Scapa Flow affair. They knew, that by the last German note Germany declared itself unable to surrender the 400,000 tons of naval material which had been claimed from her.6 They thought, however, that the Germans were going to propose compensations of another order. Indeed, the German note stated that “the German Government has charged a commission of experts to put these data before the representatives of the Allied and Associated Powers, and to give them the necessary explanations; it will formulate at the same time precise and definite proposals for a mode of reparations which, although it would mean a new and heavy burden for Germany in its present situation, would not be contrary to its vital interests”, that sentence seemed to indicate on the part of the Germans an intention to offer compensations to the Allied Powers for that part of the claimed naval material which they declared they were unable to surrender. Report of the Conference Between the Allied and German Delegates on the Subjects of Reparations Claimed by the Supreme Council for the Scapa Flow Sinking

The Germans, however, had not made any proposal of that kind. They had been satisfied with giving a list of materiel actually existing in their ports, which they estimated approximately at 700,000 tons, of which 500,000 tons were docks and the remainder dredges, tugs, etc. The figures given by the Germans did not agree with those furnished by the Allies’ own experts. The difference was approximately one of 85,000 to 90,000 tons. As a matter of fact a meeting between their naval experts and those of the Germans had been held on the previous evening. The figures given by the two parties had been compared, but he did not yet know the results obtained at that meeting.

Supposing, however, that the figures as given by the Germans were correct, the Germans offered to deliver to the Allies 192,000 tons out of the 700,000 which they claimed to have. He made no difficulty in admitting that, if the Germans only possessed 700,000 tons of port material, they could not surrender 400,000 thereof. But the important point was that the Germans up to this time offered no compensation [Page 583] whatsoever for the 208,000 tons which they declared they were unable to surrender.

Under these conditions a first question came up on which they needed a decision of the Supreme Council. Should their Committee limit itself to examining whether the Germans were offering them a sufficient proportion of their available port materiel. Should they, on the contrary, examine what compensations the Germans could give them? From a purely personal point of view it seemed to him that they might request the Germans that they promise to build within a time limit of from three to five years a quantity of docks corresponding to the 208,000 tons which they refused to surrender.

Contrary to their expectations, the Germans had also raised the question of the five light cruisers which, according to the provisions of the protocol,7 were to be delivered to the Allies. The Germans insisted on keeping those five cruisers, maintaining that their ports and coastline would remain without proper defense if those ships were taken away from them. They offered in exchange to surrender to the Allies five other cruisers actually under construction. They, however, had been unable to furnish any precise time when the building of those cruisers would be completed. The Germans were to get information from Berlin on the subject, and the experts might probably know where they stood on the following day. Before examining that question, however, it was important that the Council take a decision as to whether the Organization Committee should or should not be asked to examine what compensations the Germans could furnish for that part of the material which had been claimed and which they declared it was impossible for them to surrender.

M. Leygues said that before seeking for a compensation, it would be necessary first to confirm the exactness of the figures given by the Germans. The figures which had been arrived at by their experts after a conscientious and thorough search, coincided in fact with the data furnished in 1916 by a special German review, The Germanischer Lloyd. As they had naval experts on the spot, they might ask them to verify rapidly in the German ports the correctness of the figures which had been given them. If they found out that those figures were exact, they might look for compensation in another direction. But the difference was too important, approaching at least 85,000 tons, for them to accept without any verification whatsoever the figures given by the Germans.

M. Loucheur said that he quite realized the importance of verifying the German figures. But such an investigation might necessarily take a certain time, and it was important before all not to delay the signature of the protocol, and consequently the coming into force of the [Page 584] Treaty. They might proceed at once with the signature of the protocol, accepting the German figures under reserve of later verification which might be made quite rapidly. If the figures given by the Germans were found to be wrong, the Allied and Associated Powers would thus be enabled to increase their claims. He did not think that the Germans would object to such a procedure for they had informed them on the preceding day that their data were exact to within five percent. It belonged, however, to the Council to reply to the question which he had put a few minutes ago. Should the Organization Committee of the Reparations Commission be charged with finding another form of compensation?

Mr. Wallace asked whether the Organization Committee could not give an opinion to the Council on the question of principle raised.

Mr. Loucheur said that he did not think that the Organization Committee would be in a position to do so. It was, as a matter of fact, a political question in the first place. Should the Allies maintain the point of view they had expressed to Germany in the shape of an ultimatum? From the special point of view which interested the Reparation Commission the question was a secondary one. It was indeed quite clear that they would not be able to make the Germans pay twice, and that what they would pay on the one hand they would not pay on the other.

Sir Eyre Crowe said that he fully agreed with Mr. Loucheur that it was an essentially political question, and for that reason he was not in a position to take an immediate decision. He had telegraphed to his Government on the previous evening explaining the general lines of the situation as it appeared to him. They should not forget that their last note7a demanded from Germany the signature of the protocol as it stood. It was only after that signature that the Powers were to examine whether certain concessions could be made to Germany. The first question before them, therefore, was to know whether they ought to abandon the principle which they had formally laid down. It should indeed not be lost sight of that the Germans were trying to bring them round to a procedure which was just the opposite. They wished to bargain first and sign afterwards. He had also drawn the attention of the British Government to the fact that the German Government had been satisfied with offering them half of what they had demanded from it, without giving detailed explanations on that reduction.

M. Loucheur said that he must admit that the Germans had handed to them a very long and rather complete memorandum on the subject. He thought, however, that it was quite certain that a complete acceptance of their demands would throw German navigation into very deep trouble, especially on account of the lack of tugs.

[Page 585]

Sir Eyre Crowe said that the question was whether the Organization Committee was in a position to judge on the German claims from the indications furnished by that memorandum, without having recourse to an investigation on the spot. He would add that his own experts had told him that the explanations given in the German memorandum were very vague and were confined to ideas of a very general character. He would, however, refer that question also to his Government.

M. Loucheur said that in the next conversation he would have with the Germans he would ask them for more precisions and would make every effort to force them to put their cards on the table.

Sir Eyre Crowe said that the third point which had attracted his attention was the remarkable discrepancy in the figures of the port material then in Germany. For example, in the list drawn up by the Allies figured two floating docks of very large dimensions at Dantzig. According to the Germans there were no docks at Dantzig. As it happened they had in Paris certain of their Allied experts who, he was assured, had seen those docks at Dantzig with their own eyes. When the Germans told them that those docks did not exist it might well be that they simply meant that they had been sold. That would be a fact which would be easy to verify as they had people at Dantzig. An answer could be had in two or three days.

To sum up, he would say that he could not express an opinion on the procedure to be followed towards the Germans, for the reason that the question of procedure was closely allied to that of principle. Four questions were raised:

Could they abandon the principle they had sustained until now towards the Germans, namely that they, the Germans, should sign the protocol before any discussion, and that it would only be then that the Council would examine concessions they might eventually make?
Were there grounds for verifying on the spot the data furnished by the Germans?
Were they ready to make concessions in the amount of materiel claimed by them, and, if so, how far should those concessions go?
Lastly, should they look for a compensation for that part of the tonnage which the Germans said they were incapable of handing over?

On the other hand, he was very much struck by the views expressed by Mr. Loucheur on the necessity of arriving at an agreement as soon as possible so as not to delay once more the coming into force of the Treaty.

M. de Martino said that there was no doubt that the pourparlers which were going on concealed the Germans’ desire to bargain and to obtain some advantages before the signature. They certainly had great interest in preventing that little game. They should not, however, lose sight of the fact that, of all the aims they had before them, [Page 586] the most important of all was to reach, as quickly as possible, the coming into force of the Treaty which alone would allow the Reparation Commission to function. They should, according to him, subordinate all other considerations to that fundamental aim. The question of reparations to be exacted for the Scapa Flow incident presented itself under a double aspect; a political and a technical one. From the technical point of view, his experts informed him that it was not impossible that certain mistakes might have been made, such as, for instance, that docks might have been counted twice. He was not competent in those matters, but it seemed to him that they should take into account a certain possibility of errors. An investigation on the spot might of course be advantageous, but such a procedure would take time and delay the coming into force of the Treaty. From a political point of view they should not hide from themselves the danger there would be in delaying the Treaty’s coming into force, on account of the interior situation of Germany, which was evidently unstable. They should avoid giving the Imperialist Party, which might not perhaps be numerous but which was energetic, and troublesome, an occasion to resume its agitation against the Government.

He did not make any proposition, but wished to point out the interest there would be in putting the Treaty into force as rapidly as possible. They should, according to the expression used on the preceding day by Mr. Clemenceau, avoid giving the Germans the possibility of rebounding and of creating new difficulties for the Allies.

M. Matsui said that they all seemed agreed on the necessity of a prompt coming into force of the Treaty. Mr. Loucheur’s proposal tending to sign the protocol without delay, with the reservation of an ulterior verification of the figures furnished by the Germans, seemed to him opportune. It did not however, seem absolutely necessary to him that a decision should be arrived at on that day, and there would be no inconvenience in waiting a day or two, which would perhaps allow for certain verifications.

M. Loucheur said that he was to see the German experts at three o’clock. He would then make them define the reasons for the reduction they proposed. He would, furthermore, ask them once more whether they offered any compensation whatsoever for the missing tonnage.

Mr. Wallace said that his opinion was that it would be preferable to await, before taking a decision, the instructions of their respective governments.

M. Berthelot said that he had seen Mr. Clemenceau that same morning and that he had explained the situation to him. He, of course, was not qualified to speak for the President before the Council, but he thought he could give it his impression simply for their [Page 587] information. Mr. Clemenceau was of the opinion that a reply should be made to the last German note: 1, in order to take note of the German declaration that no difficulty would be raised on account of the absence of the American or other delegates on the Commissions; 2, to define the sense to be given to that part of the note concerning measures of coercion. He had prepared, in accord with M. Fromageot, two draft texts on the subject, which had been approved by the President of the Council and might be discussed when the whole of the reply to be made to Germany came up for examination. Mr. Fromageot had observed to him that amongst German precedents alone might be found seven or eight cases of measures of military coercion taken without a declaration of war, such as those of Haiti or Zanzibar.

On the other hand it was necessary to request the Germans to send delegates immediately to take up practical questions relative to the functioning of plebiscite and other commissions. If negotiations on the subject were not immediately opened, the coming into force of the Treaty ran the risk of being materially delayed.

He would not speak for the moment of the question of the light cruisers which would be taken up by the Minister of Marine.

On the question of substance which had been submitted by M. Loucheur, M. Clemenceau was of the opinion that the 192,000 tons offered by the Germans should be accepted, and that a compensation should be found for the lacking tonnage. On account of the necessity of arriving at a quick solution, they might immediately proceed to sign with the reservation of a later verification of the figures which had been furnished. Should those figures be found incorrect, the Allies would be entitled to claim a greater portion of the German port materiel.

Sir Eyre Crowe asked whether it would not be advisable to ask the Germans to send delegates at once to take up the questions relative to the practical organization of the commissions provided for by the Treaty, without awaiting the drafting of the note addressed to the Germans.

M. Berthelot said that M. Dutasta observed that the procedure proposed by Sir Eyre Crowe would have the inconvenience of giving the Germans the impression that they were ready to yield on the question of reparations to be furnished by them for the Scapa Flow incident. It would be wiser to await the result of the next meeting with the German delegates which would take place that very afternoon. The German delegates sent from Berlin to examine the question of organization of the Commissions should have instructions to sign within 48 hours.

[Page 588]

M. Loucheur said that he would report to the Council at its next meeting the result of the interview which he would have that afternoon with the German representatives.

M. Leygues said that, concerning the question of the light cruisers, he wished to state that he was not of the opinion that the German proposal should be considered before the exchange of ratifications. They were not, as a matter of fact, in a position in the short time which separated them from that exchange, to appreciate the exactness of the information given by the Germans. The latter offered them, in exchange for the five cruisers which they were to surrender, five ships which were still on the ways, and they ignored the progress of their construction. As that was an important question, especially for the French Navy, he would ask to be allowed to examine it at leisure, and this would not be possible until after the signature of the protocol, for investigations would have to be made which would take from fifteen days to three weeks at the minimum.

M. Berthelot said that it might perhaps be possible to tell the Germans that they maintained their claims on the question of the cruisers, with the possibility of examining after the coming into force of the Treaty whether certain substitutions might prove acceptable.

M. Cambon said that if they told the Germans that they would examine the question after the coming into force of the Treaty they would either think that the Allies intended to deceive them with a view to obtaining their signature, or consider that reply as a tacit agreement to give them satisfaction, at least in part. It therefore seemed to him that, as Mr. Leygues had objections to put forward against the Germans’ claim, it would be best to reply by a pure and simple refusal which would not, however, prevent their eventually examining the question anew, should there be need to do so.

M. Leygues said he entirely agreed with the views of the Chairman.

M. Berthelot said that the ships under construction which the Germans offered to exchange for those they claimed, should be demolished under the provisions of the Treaty. Their claim was, therefore, contrary to the stipulations of the Treaty.

M. Cambon said that the latter consideration seemed to him final and, in his opinion, should lead the Council to refuse the Germans’ demand purely and simply.

Mr. Wallace said that it seemed a very reasonable conclusion to reach.

Admiral Grassi stated that before denying purely and simply the Germans’ claim, it would be wise to remark that if things remained as they were Germany would find itself in the following year with five light cruisers which would be twenty years old. Under those [Page 589] conditions she would be entitled according to the terms of the Treaty, to rebuild new ships in place of those old units. A net loss would result in the way of labor and construction materiel. What was the need of obliging Germany to destroy war ships which she had in her ways, if she was to rebuild new ones six months later?

Mr. Matsui said that he thought it preferable to maintain their demand as it stood.

Mr. Wallace said that he wished to point out that the opinion which he had expressed was purely personal; in that question as in all others he was not qualified to bind his Government, unless he had received explicit and precise instructions to that effect.

M. Berthelot said that he would observe that Mr. Polk having already signed the protocol,8 it did not seem that new instructions should be necessary when it was merely a question, as was the case for the question of the cruisers, of maintaining the text of that protocol.

M. Leygues said that as a matter of fact the Council had reached, on the question of the cruisers, a unanimous decision.9 The discussion which had taken place with regard to the new request of the Germans did not bear in any manner whatsoever on the principle of that decision, but merely on the forms of its execution. Under those conditions and without, of course, wishing to exercise any pressure of [on] the representative of the United States, it seemed to him that new instructions were not necessary. He would point out that this was a question which interested France primarily and which only offered for America and Great Britain interest of a secondary nature. He would, however, simply mention that the principle had been adopted unanimously by the Conference.

Mr. Wallace stated that he felt obliged to repeat that everything he might say before the Council was unofficial, except in cases where he had received explicit instructions from his Government. He hoped it would not always be necessary to repeat that all that he said here had an unofficial character.

M. Cambon said that the question was whether they maintained prior decisions of the Conference or whether they accepted the new request formulated by the Germans with regard to the cruisers. It seemed to him that instructions would only be necessary in the second case. If another procedure were adopted by the Council the Germans would have it in their hands to suspend the execution of the Treaty by making new requests. He personally would be of the opinion that they maintain the text already arrived at and that they should answer the Germans by a pure and simple refusal.

[Page 590]

M. Leygues said that the question was quite different for the cruisers and for the docks and port materiel.

Sir Eyre Crowe said that was not quite certain. They had made a proposal to the Germans. The Germans now made a counter-proposal. It was for them to examine it and to decide whether they would strictly adhere to the text of the protocol, or whether they would envisage certain modifications on that point.

M. Cambon said that to consent to changes on that question would be to open the door to a whole series of German claims.

M. Leygues said that the Council had decided to demand from the Germans five cruisers which had been designated by name. The Germans now asked to keep those ships and offered in exchange warships which were still under way. The Germans did not therefore contest the principle of their demand; they only discussed the forms thereof. But as they lacked precisions on the progress of construction of those ships, it would be better for them to stand by their former demand which would also offer the advantage of not risking, by starting a new discussion, to delay the date of the signature of the protocol and the coming into force of the Treaty.

Sir Eyre Crowe said that they were evidently entitled to maintain the original text of the protocol, and, as far as he was concerned, he did not see any objection thereto.

It was decided:

to maintain, with regard to the question of the five light cruisers to be delivered by Germany, the text of the protocol such as it had been fixed on November 1, by the Supreme Council.

(The discussion was adjourned to a later date).

4. Sir Eyre Crowe said that the Drafting Committee was engaged upon two questions for which a solution was necessary in view of the final preparation of the Treaty with Hungary. Right of Priority Claimed by Serbia for Reparations

The first concerned the request of Serbia to obtain a right of priority on reparations to be furnished by Hungary and Austria. The Serbian request had been referred to the Organization Committee of the Reparations Commission. The latter, however, had not yet communicated its views on the subject.

M. de Saint-Quentin said that the delay came from a confusion which had taken place between the former reparations commission and the Commission presided over by M. Loucheur. The misunderstanding, however, had now been cleared up and the Organization Committee was to furnish a report on the question the following day.

5. Sir Eyre Crowe said that the second question was whether Article 232, Paragraph A, of the draft Treaty with Hungary, protected sufficiently the nationals of Allied and Associated Powers who held bank notes issued by the Bela Kun Government. It would be advisable [Page 591] to have the Financial Commission examine whether a special clause should not be inserted in the treaty with Hungary so as to insure the protection of their nationals who possessed such bank notes. Protection of Allied and Associated Nationals, Bearers of Bank Notes Issued by the Bolshevist Government of Hungary

It was decided:

to refer back to the Financial Commission the question of whether in the draft treaty with Hungary a supplementary clause should not be added to the appendix concerning reparations, in order to insure the efficacious protection of the interests of nationals of the Allied and Associated Powers, bearers of bank notes issued by the Bolshevist Government of Hungary.

The meeting then adjourned.

Appendix “A” to HD–112

Note From the Organisation Committee of the Reparation Commission on the Payment of German Customs Duties in Gold

From: Organization Committee of the Reparations Commission.

To: The Supreme Council of the Allied and Associated Powers.

1. The attention of the Supreme Council is drawn to the following fact:

According to the British and American delegates, the text proposed and adopted by the Supreme Council in its meeting of December 9,10 included the suppression of the third paragraph of the Supreme Council’s resolution of December 611 on the same subject;—in other words the letter informing it of this decision should be sent to Germany immediately without waiting for the signature of the Protocol12 and the coming into force of the Treaty.

According to the Belgian, French and Italian delegates, the proposed text was, on the contrary, subject to the reservation of the third paragraph of the above mentioned decision of December 6th.

The three delegates, American, British and Italian, agreed on the following resolution:

They advise the Supreme Council that in their opinion, in the interest of Reparations, No. 3 of the decision of December 6th should be modified and the proposition adopted by the Committee should immediately be communicated to Germany.

[Page 592]

If the letter is not sent before the ratification of the Treaty, then, in the opinion of the British and the American Delegations, it should not be sent in its present form.

Placing themselves on the standpoint of “Reparations”, the French and Belgian Delegates were of the opinion that the payment of customs duties on a gold basis should be authorized.

But, from the same point of view, and in the superior interest of Reparations, those two delegates were also of the opinion that all measures for exerting pressure which may bring about the rapid ratification of the Treaty, should be maintained, and, consequently the annulation of No. 3 of the Resolution of the Supreme Council of December 6th, should not be requested.

By the order of the Committee,
The Interallied Secretary,
Signature (Illegible)

Resolution: (H. D. 108, December 6, 1919, 108–A)

It was decided:

to refer back to the Committee on Organization of the Reparations Commission in accord with economic experts both the question of payment of German customs duties on a gold mark basis and the import prohibition by Germany.
that the Committee on Organization of the Reparation Commission submit immediately a report to the Council.
that no reply be given to Germany until she had signed the protocol and the Treaty of Peace had come into force.

Resolution (H. D. 110, December [9], 1919).

[minute] viii. perception [collection] by germany of customs duties in gold marks

It was decided, under the reservation of Mr. Matsui’s acceptance:

that Germany be immediately authorized to majorate the amount of specified pre-war customs duties expressed in marks in such a measure as the Reparations Commission should deem it to be a just equivalent of the depreciation of German currency.
that the necessary negotiations with various Powers on the question of import prohibitions into Germany, as well as on the question of exports, should be opened or continued;
that if such negotiations had not come within a period of three months to a conclusion which should be deemed satisfactory by the said Powers, the question should be entirely examined anew.

  1. HD–111, minute 5, p. 562.
  2. Appendix E to HD–97, p. 253.
  3. HD–111, minute 2, p. 559.
  4. HD–97, minute 4, p. 239.
  5. HD–108, minute 2, p. 505; HD–110, minute 8, p. 545.
  6. Appendix A to HD–111, p. 567.
  7. Appendix C to HD–30, vol. viii, p. 865.
  8. General note dated December 8, 1919; text not found in Department files.
  9. The protocol had not been signed. See HD–114, minute 2, p. 611.
  10. HD–80, minute 3, and appendix C, vol. viii, pp. 847 and 865; HD–81, minute 4, and appendix D, ibid., pp. 878 and 905.
  11. Post, p. 592.
  12. Post, p. 592.
  13. Appendix C to HD–80, vol. viii, p. 865.