Paris Peace Conf. 180.03501/117


Notes of a Meeting of the Heads of Delegations of the Five Great Powers, Held at M. Clemenceau’s Residence, Paris, on Saturday, December 27, 1919, at 10:30 a.m.

  • Present
    • America, United States of
      • Hon. Hugh Wallace
    • Secretary
      • Mr. L. Harrison
    • Great Britain
      • Sir Eyre Crowe
    • Secretary
      • Mr. H. Norman
    • France
      • M. Clemenceau
    • Secretaries
      • M. Dutasta
      • M. Berthelot
      • M. Arnavon
      • M. de Saint Quentin
    • Italy
      • M. de Martino
    • Secretary
      • M. Trombetti
    • Japan
      • M. Matsui
    • Secretary
      • M. Kawai
Joint Secretariat
Great Britain Capt. Lothian Small
France M. Massigli
Italy M. Zanchi
Interpreter—M. Mantoux

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

  • Great Britain
    • Capt. Fuller, R. N.
    • Cdt. MacNamara R. N.
    • M. Malkin
  • France
    • M. Leygues
    • Gen. Weygand
    • Gen. Le Rond
    • Contre Admiral Levavasseur
    • M. Laroche
    • M. Hermitte
    • M. Fromageot
  • Italy
    • C. Admiral Grassi
    • Cdt. Fea
    • M. Pilotti
  • Japan
    • M. Nagaoka

Mr. Dutasta informed the Council that Baron von Lersner had visited him on the previous day. The Chairman of the German Delegation [Page 667] had come to discuss two kinds of questions with him: he had first stated that the German Government was prepared to receive the Allied Naval experts responsible for determining the exact number of floating docks existing in Germany. Baron von Lersner had even added that his Government would like the experts to start as soon as possible. He had also come to ask whether the Allied Powers were prepared to allow their technical delegates to negotiate with the German experts of whom Mr. von Simson was the head. Otherwise Mr. von Simson and his colleagues would leave again for Berlin. Mr. Clemenceau, to whom he had reported this request, was of opinion that the opening of negotiations as soon as possible between the experts of both sides could not but be beneficial. He had informed Sir Eyre Crowe of this opinion. 1. Reply of the German Government to the Note of December 22

Sir Eyre Crowe added that he had already telegraphed to London as a result of the communication made to him on the previous day, pointing out that in his opinion their experts should leave as soon as possible for the German ports. He believed, moreover, that the inquiry which they were about to make would last some time—the experts even suggested several weeks. However that might be, they were in rather a difficult position. They had verbally informed the Germans that they were prepared to make them concessions: the Germans asked them to define those concessions in a sort of agreement to be signed before or at the same time as the Protocol. Such a procedure would necessarily involve an alteration in the text of the Protocol.1 He was uncertain whether it would not be better, instead of so doing, to indicate if possible, in the Protocol in its present form that the figures claimed was the maximum. This solution would certainly involve a slight alteration of the Protocol and it would consequently be necessary to obtain the consent of the American Government to this alteration: but he thought it unlikely that this consent would be refused, since from the outset the American Delegation had been of opinion that their conditions were too hard and since Mr. Polk had insisted that the Reparation Commission should be consulted: Mr. Wallace might sound his Government on that particular and point out to it that the proposed change would be in conformity with the American views and that the Germans alone would have to sign the new document in the presence of the Allied delegates.

Mr. Clemenceau personally thought it would be better, if possible, not to alter the Protocol. They might merely note the concessions they had decided to grant Germany in a letter to Baron von Lersner. The German delegation was already aware of them from the verbal communciation for which Mr. Dutasta was responsible.

[Page 668]

Mr. de Martino pointed out that this procedure had the drawback of causing discrepancy between the Protocol and the letter.

Sir Eyre Crowe said that for his part he was ready to accept this proposal if the Germans could be persuaded to agree to it.

Mr. Wallace stated that if the Council so desired he was in a position to explain the views of his Government on this question. The American Government had repeatedly declared that the question of reparation to be demanded of Germany must be considered from a purely economic point of view. Germany’s power to make reparation depended on her power to produce and export. It was thus closely connected with the economic conditions of the world at a time when a large part of it was in a critical economic position. The American Government could not, therefore, accept any claim for reparation seriously affecting Germany’s power of payment. It had realized that by claiming the surrender of docks, dredgers and harbor material they had committed a great mistake. President Wilson had always thought that German ships surrendered to the Allies as reparation should be destroyed. The fact that the German crews had destroyed them themselves did not therefore cause such heavy loss to the Allies that they were justified in renouncing that principle of reparation which he had just recalled. As to the acceptance of the original Protocol by Mr. Polk, the Council would recall the fact that the American delegate had afterwards regretted it.2 The American Government therefore accepted the delivery of the 192,000 tons which Germany declared her readiness to supply, but it was definitely opposed to any supplementary cession of harbor material as reparation for the Scapa Flow incident.

Mr. Clemenceau begged to point out that Mr. Polk had formally accepted the Protocol providing for the surrender by Germany of 400,000 tons of floating docks. He made the following proposal: the Protocol should not be altered, and, in his capacity as President of the Conference, he would write to Baron von Lersner specifying the concessions they were prepared to make. But they could obviously decide nothing without the consent of the British Government.

Sir Eyre Crowe hoped to obtain that consent but they must not ignore the fact that if their action had not the desired effect their position would be rendered more difficult.

Would it not be sufficient for the moment to have another conversation with the German delegates and to tell them that their claims were satisfied on the whole. They could then be asked whether they wished these promises to be noted in writing and if they would then [Page 669] be satisfied. If the German reply was in the negative they would have the advantage of not having compromised themselves.

Mr. Clemenceau thought this suggestion excellent: Mr. Dutasta might see Baron von Lersner that very day and ask him what satisfaction he desired. It was, moreover, possible that Baron von Lersner would reply that he wished for an alteration of the Protocol. They would then see what could be done.

Mr. Dutasta said that his interview with Baron von Lersner had given him the impression (which was, however, a purely personal one) that if the Supreme Council were to confirm in writing the verbal communication made in its name and definitely stated that after the immediate supply of the 192,000 tons proposed by the Germans themselves time would be granted for the delivery of the material still to be supplied, it would be possible to come to an arrangement. The German experts were most alarmed at the demand for immediate delivery of all the material claimed.

Mr. Berthelot supposed that under those conditions the Protocol would not be altered.

Sir Eyre Crowe feared that they could not really avoid altering the Protocol in this way.

Mr. de Martino agreed with the last speaker. The American representative should at once ask for the consent of his Government to a possible alteration of the Protocol.

Sir Eyre Crowe thought it might be enough to add a few words to the Protocol stating that they only claimed a quantity of docks, dredgers, floating cranes not exceeding 400,000 tons. Such a formula would allow of all necessary arrangements with Germany without involving more serious alteration of the Protocol.

He indeed thought it difficult to sign the Protocol without altering it, since they had not stated elsewhere in writing that they would not demand 400,000 tons.

Mr. Berthelot saw no real difficulty: a “contre-lettre” would be sufficient.

Mr. Dutasta thought this all the more possible as they had already expressly stated in the Note3 accompanying the Protocol that their claims might be reduced in order to take into account the economic difficulties facing Germany.

Mr. Clemenceau asked whether there was any objection to a conversation between Mr. Dutasta and Baron von Lersner with a view to inducing the latter definitely to state his point of view.

[Page 670]

Sir Eyre Crowe would prefer that the Secretary-General should in no case state that they would if necessary accept the delivery of new material specially constructed for them.

Mr. Clemenceau agreed.

Sir Eyre Crowe thought Mr. Dutasta might make the following statement. The inquiry which they were about to make was twofold: first there was the verification of figures, which might be fairly quickly done; then there was also the investigation of the possible effects of the execution of the Protocol on German economic life. This was a much more delicate problem, the solution of which might take much time: he thought it would be difficult to pledge themselves on the second point. On the other hand, it would be easy to reduce their demands if they had made a mistake in the facts concerning the docks of Hamburg or of Dantzig.

Mr. Dutasta also pointed out that, if they were prepared to grant a delay in delivery, the German objection based on the eventual paralysis of the economic life of the country fell through to a great extent.

Mr. Clemenceau suggested that as a preliminary Mr. Dutasta might state that they had requested of London that the experts might be sent speedily.

(Mr. Clemenceau withdrew and Mr. Cambon took the chair).

A note, dated 26th December, 1919, from the Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Armies was laid before the Council. (Annex A.)

General Weygand read and commented on Marshal Foch’s note. He added that there were points in the reply to the German experts to our Memorandum which could be accepted and others which did not admit of discussion. For instance, it was certain that whatever were the arrangements made between the Germans and the Poles for the evacuation of territories ceded to Poland, there was no need to await the 26th day after the coming into force of the Treaty in order to let our troop trains through; before that date at least two trains per day could run through Western Prussia. Other questions were of a more difficult nature. If they were satisfied with the four trains per day offered by the Germans, a period of twenty days would be necessary for the transport of troops for Upper Silesia and the occupation of other territories would not be completed for 40 days. He asked the council whether such a state of affairs would not have drawbacks; for his part, he thought it would. 2. Transport of Allied Troops in Plebiscite Territories

On the other hand, if they managed to run six trains per day, transports for Upper Silesia would be completed in 15 days and at the end of twenty-five days, the northern territories would have received the contingents allocated to them. Should the Council consider it necessary that the occupation troops should all be on the spot within a period of 15 days from the coming into force of the Treaty, a larger number [Page 671] of trains would obviously be required. However, in view of the fact that they had claimed 10 trains per day and that the Germans offered them four, he thought they might easily demand 6.

Sir Eyre Crowe said that if, at the rate of 6 trains per day, the transport of troops was effected within a period of 25 days, that was a solution which could be accepted. He would not say the same if the transports would not be completed for 40 days.

Mr. de Martino refused to give an opinion in the absence of his military expert, but was ready to agree with the opinion of the majority.

General Weygand said his opinion was that of all the military delegates who had examined the German Note together.

Mr. de Martino withdrew his reservation in those circumstances.

Mr. Cambon said the Council therefore invited General Weygand to demand 6 trains per day.

General Weygand passed on to another point: if transport began immediately on the coming into force of the Treaty and if this coming into force was close at hand, they would be obliged to mark time, owing to the special position of the British contingents which could not leave the Rhine before about January 20. Such interruption might have a bad effect on the Germans and he therefore thought it best that transport should take place without interruption. That would be possible if it began on January 8 at the rate of 4 trains per day or January 13 at the rate of 6 trains per day.

Sir Eyre Crowe thought General Weygand’s scruple probably useless as it was doubtful whether the procès-verbal of the deposit of ratifications would be signed before January 13.

General Weygand asked, however, that trains might be fixed to run on January 13 if the Treaty came into force before that date. As he required 5 days to settle the final details, he also asked to be informed 5 days before the coming into force of the Treaty.

Mr. Cambon assured General Weygand that he would be informed in good time by the Secretariat-General.

General Weygand said there remained the question of wagons and that of the cost of transport. The Germans declared that they could supply no wagons. The French lines could supply a certain number of trucks and of flat wagons, but no passenger wagons; the men must, however, travel in heated wagons. He would add that it was morally essential that the Allied soldiers should be as well treated as the German prisoners, for whom heated passenger wagons perfectly fitted were provided. With the consent of the Council, he would therefore demand passenger wagons of the Germans.

Sir Eyre Crowe suggested that, if necessary, the German prisoners might wait a few days.

Mr. Cambon noted that the Council approved of this proposal.

[Page 672]

General Weygand said that, with regard to the cost of transport, the Germans claimed payment at the general rates in force for goods and passenger transport. He thought this claim incredible.

Sir Eyre Crowe considered it quite inadmissible.

Mr. Cambon agreed that this claim could not be accepted and that no discussion of the point by the Germans could be allowed.

It was decided that, with a view to the transport to plebiscite territories of Interallied contingents, the Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Armies should:—

1. (a) Require the German Government to run a minimum of six trains per day;

(b) Require the German Government to supply all the passenger wagons required;

(c) Refuse to allow these transports to be effected at the rate generally in force in Germany and demand the application of the military rate.

It was also decided that if the transport was effected at the rate of six trains per day, these trains should not begin to run before January 13, in order that it might continue uninterruptedly until the completion of the transport.

2. That the Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Armies should be informed five days beforehand of the date of the coming into force of the Treaty.

A note dated December 26, from the Naval experts was laid before the Council. (Annex B.)

After a short discussion, it was decided that the Interallied Naval Commission should come to a final decision regarding the transfer to Poland of ex-Austrian torpedo-boats, taking into consideration the views developed in Annex B. 3. Enemy Ships Allocated to Poland for Policing and Guarding the Coast

A note dated December 26, 1919, from the French and Italian naval experts was laid before the Council. (Annex “C”.)

Mr. Leygues read and commented on the Note from the French and Italian experts. 4. Conditions of Delivery of German Warships

Sir Eyre Crowe thought they were all agreed in wishing to grant the request of the French and Italian navies if possible. But the question was whether that request was in conformity with the Treaty. It had been recognized at a previous meeting that it was not and that they must content themselves with semi-official overtures to the Germans. The Joint Secretariat had formulated the Council’s decision inaccurately.4 Under these conditions the naval experts had met again but the French navy had preferred to begin the discussion afresh. They were faced by a difficulty which they all desired to settle and he was quite prepared to consent to [Page 673] refer the matter once more to the legal experts, unless Mr. Fromageot who was present, could give their definite opinion at once.

Mr. de Martino said that the Note explained by Mr. Leygues had been drawn up in agreement with the Italian experts. He therefore agreed with this argument.

Mr. Matsui thought that in Common sense the claim made by the Minister of Marine seemed well-founded, but Sir Eyre Crowe had rightly pointed out that the terms of the Treaty and the Protocol were so definite that a claim seemed hardly possible. He thought the question should be referred to the legal experts.

Mr. Leygues asked Mr. Fromageot for his opinion.

Mr. Fromageot stated that Article 185, which, moreover, in its original form provided for the destruction of the ships, referred to Clause 23 of the Armistice Convention,5 which stipulated that vessels must be disarmed. Article 185 nevertheless added that the artillery must be completely re-embarked.

Vice-Admiral Levavasseur pointed out that only the breeches had been re-embarked.

Mr. Fromageot said that disembarked material was at present in the hands of the German Government. It therefore belonged to the categories referred to in Article 192 of the Treaty. As for the five cruisers the delivery of which was provided for in the Protocol, that document certainly made no mention of Article 192 and there was no question of any destruction. It only referred to Article 185, i. e. it specified that the ships should be handed over disarmed with their artillery. The destruction of the material was doubtless not provided and the Treaty did not come into play, but if they wished to obtain the delivery of all that material, it was nevertheless necessary to alter the terms of the Protocol.

Mr. Leygues thought Mr. Fromageot confused two ideas when he declared that material disembarked under Article 185 came under the categories referred to in Article 192. In reality, they must distinguish between three kinds of boats: (1) boats referred to in Article 185. It was not stated that material disembarked from them belonged to the German Government and would not be handed over to the Allies. Indeed, this material had only been disembarked because they mistrusted the German crews responsible for handing over the vessels. (2) Article 190, on the other hand, specified that a certain number of ships should be left at the disposal of Germany. Article 192 concerning the destruction of excess material only referred to material disembarked from the vessels mentioned in Article 190. He thought it impossible to combine Article 185 with Article [Page 674] 190. Still less could they adduce Article 192 in relation to the third category of vessels, i. e. the cruisers the delivery of which was claimed by the Protocol of November 1. He would go further and would ask whether it was possible in international law to hold that a vessel should not be surrendered with all its material, unless it was expressly stated that before delivery such material should be disembarked for purposes of destruction.

Mr. Fromageot regretted that he could not accept the point of view of the Minister of Marine. It was indeed true that, in the absence of any stipulation to the contrary, a vessel must be surrendered with all its material and appliances, but Article 185 referred to by the Protocol definitely provided for the disarmament of ships to be surrendered. Article 192 seemed to have a general bearing. Nevertheless, it might be argued (he was not very convinced of the value of the argument) that the material disembarked from the vessels referred to in Article 185 was not in the hands of the German Government, since it was placed under Allied control; consequently, it would not come under the scope of Article 192.

Mr. Leygues thought the meaning of article 192 perfectly clear; the word “in excess” contained therein clearly indicated that it applied to arms and material of all kinds disembarked from the vessels referred to in Article 190. He was quite prepared to accept a formula which would give the result he was seeking in any way whatever, but how could they prove to public opinion or a parliament that, while they left Germany armed cruisers, they allowed her to surrender disarmed boats. He thought it rather dangerous to count on verbal communications and German good will in order to attain their object. He was afraid Germany would not lose such a good opportunity to be unpleasant. He must, moreover, point out that in reality the cruisers concerned had not been disarmed.

Sir Eyre Crowe considered that all this should have been thought of when the Protocol was drafted.

Mr. de Martino thought it would be best if the naval experts and the drafting committee examined the question together once more.

Sir Eyre Crowe said they were faced by a purely legal problem, that of the interpretation of the Treaty. Discussion at that meeting had produced no fresh arguments; he was afraid the fresh examination by the legal experts would lead to no better results.

Mr. Fromageot said they would be pleased to reconsider the question, but was afraid they could reach no other solution.

Sir Eyre Crowe returned to his original suggestion. Could not Mr. Dutasta discuss the matter with Baron von Lersner since it was of no importance to the German Government, as the material would not be left to it in any case?

[Page 675]

Mr. Leygues thought such action would have serious draw-backs: what would be their position if the Germans refused their request, even unofficially.

Sir Eyre Crowe said the same question might be raised with regard to the Protocol. They did not pledge themselves to anything. It was merely a matter of an inquiry.

Mr. Cambon asked whether the Minister of Marine agreed that the Germans should be asked this question by Mr. Dutasta.

Mr. Leygues said he did not agree, and asked again what their position would be in the event of a German refusal.

Sir Eyre Crowe thought that if they insisted on settling the question they must then alter the protocol.

Mr. Cambon said he was struck by Mr. Leygues’ argument. He was indeed afraid that unless Mr. Dutasta was successful, they would be in a worse position. They had the choice of two solutions: either a fresh examination of the question by the legal experts, or a conversation between Mr. Dutasta and Baron von Lersner.

Mr. de Martino thought a conference between the naval and legal experts might be very helpful; hitherto they had deliberated separately.

Mr. Matsui agreed with this opinion.

Sir Eyre Crowe was not opposed to referring the matter to the legal experts.

It was decided that the Drafting Committee and the naval experts should examine together the conditions of surrender of German warships destined for delivery to the Allies.

An aide-mémoire from the Swiss Legation in France was laid before the Council, to which was annexed the Federal Decree of November 21, 1919, concerning the accession of Switzerland to the League of Nations, (Annex D) together with a note from the Drafting Committee, concerning the aide-mémoire. (Annex E). 5. Accession of Switzerland to the League of Nations

Mr. Fromageot read and commented on the note of the Drafting Committee.

Mr. de Martino asked whether the Swiss aide-mémoire had been transmitted to the French Government or to the Peace Conference.

Mr. Fromageot replied that it had been transmitted to the French Government.

Mr. Cambon asked whether there was any need to answer it.

Mr. Fromageot thought there were drawbacks to leaving the Swiss arguments unanswered.

Mr. Cambon thought it better that the reply should be drafted and sent on behalf of the Conference. He proposed that the Drafting Committee should submit a draft to them.

[Page 676]

It was decided to accept the principles developed in the Drafting Committee’s note with regard to the Swiss aide-mémoire concerning the accession of Switzerland to the League of Nations.

It was also decided to instruct the Drafting Committee to prepare a draft reply to that aide-mémoire.

The meeting was adjourned.

Appendix A to HD–117

of the allied armies

french republic
cabinet of the marshal

No. 2,087/CRF

Note Relative to the Transportation of Governmental Commissions and Troops of Occupation Across Germany to the Territories of Eastern Germany

On December 20 the German Delegation replied to the Memorandum, presenting the proposals of the General Staff of the Marshal, Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Armies, relative to the transportation of the Governmental Commissions and troops of occupation across Germany to the territories of Eastern Germany, which was received by the Delegation on November 20.

The German reply presents important modifications in the proposals of the Marshal’s Staff.

The reply was examined during an Interallied Conference on December 22nd.

The examination showed that it is possible to comply with the German demands on a certain number of points, but that it is absolutely necessary to maintain the original proposals on the following points:

1.—Duration of the Transportation

We requested a total of ten trains per day on the lines other than those used by the Italian troops. Under these circumstances the transportation of the troops would require about fifteen days, and would permit us to have our troops in a position to operate within the period fixed by the Peace Treaty.

The Germans offer us four trains per day* and add that these trains will be unable to cross Eastern Prussia until after the 26th day following [Page 677] the entry into force of the Peace Treaty. Under these conditions the time required for the transportation of the troops, properly speaking, would be about 41 days, with a blank of 7 days between the transportation to Upper-Silesia and the transportations destined for the Baltic regions. This delay appears irreconcilable with the necessity to place Allied troops at the disposition of the Plebiscite Commissions of Government at the proper time.

2.—Troop Trains

We requested the Germans to furnish all the material necessary (with the exception of a part of the material destined for the American transportations) namely:

5,268 Coaches (Aside from those for the Italian Army)
720 (For the Italian Army)
5,988 Coaches

The Germans contend that they are unable to furnish any coaches.

The French and Italian railway systems are, in fact, in a position to furnish an important amount of material, but no passenger coaches. Now, it is necessary that our men travel in heated passenger coaches. In the first place because the trip, which will require at least four days, will be effected in open winter in particularly cold regions, and in the second place, because the German prisoners of war will be repatriated at the same time with accommodations carefully prepared by the German Government, and it would be inadmissable to allow our men to be transported over the same lines in unheated box cars. It is to be noted, moreover, that any transaction with the Germans relative to diminishing the number of trains utilized, will be taken as a diminution of the number of coaches necessary to carry out the transportation.

3. Payment of the Transportations

We requested that the military tariff in use in Germany to November 1, 1919, be admitted similar to its application during the transportation of the Haller Army.

The Germans offer the “General tariff in use concerning travellers and merchandise.”

An estimation already made relative to the liquidation of the cost of transporting the Haller Army indicated that the two tariffs would [Page 678] have been (at the time of the execution of the Haller transportation) in the relation of: 1 to 4.

It seems inadmissible to accept such an increased tariff.

Therefore, the Marshal, Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Armies, proposes, unless opposed by the Supreme Council of the Governments, when negotiations relative to this question are again resumed, to exact that the Germans:

—Furnish the daily number of trains necessary to complete the transportation of troops so that those destined for Upper Silesia will be at their destination within a period of fifteen days, and those destined for the other territories within a period of from twenty to twenty-five days.
—Furnish all the passenger coaches, and a part only of the other cars.
—Agree to the application of the military tariff to the different troop transportations.

Information as to whether the above proposals are accepted or not is respectfully requested. In the affirmative they could be used as a basis in conducting further negotiations with the German Delegates.

F. Foch


The number of trains bound to Upper Silesia and Teschen is: 60.

The transportation, at the rate of 4 trains a day will last 60÷4=15 days.

The journey to reach the lines of Western Prussia lasts three days.

The last train shall reach the vicinity of these lines: the 18th day.

As the trains destined for the Baltic territories can only use these lines from the 26th day, there will be between the trains of the two series, a blank of: 7 days.

From that time, there will remain 54 trains for the Baltic territories, having yet to make a journey of at least one day.

Their passage will last 54÷4=14 days.

Their transportation will be finished after: 26+14+1=41 days.

In the above calculation, it is supposed that the transportation begins from the going into force of the Peace Treaty.

If notification were necessary from the day of going into force, the transportation, carried out according to our requests, would still last 15 days; but the notice being deducted from the above blank of 7 days, the transportation carried out according to the German proposals, would last: 41 days (duration of notice).

Note.—The trains containing the Commissions are supplementary.

[Page 679]

Appendix B to HD–117


Question of the Attribution to Poland of Austrian Torpedo-Boats

—There exist 25 former Austrian torpedo-boats (of the sea-going model, 197–246 tons) finished since 1913–14.
—From a political point of view, it seems undesirable that former German torpedo-boats be attributed to Poland for, flying the Polish colors, they would be obliged to stay at Dantzig.
—From a naval point of view, the difficulty of transferring the Austrian torpedo-boats to Dantzig still exists. There is no reason why this difficulty should be unsurmountable, although the transfer should be carried out in a favorable season.
—The cost of the journey should be charged to the Polish Government.
—Moreover, as the Serbian-Croatian-Slovanian State shall receive 12 torpedo-boats, which will very likely be chosen among the former Austro-Hungarian torpedo-boats, certain difficulties might arise between those States and Poland, with respect to the choice of the torpedo-boats for the two States.
—It is recommended that these reasons be communicated to the Interallied Naval Commission (I. N. C.), as this organization will be responsible for the distribution of former enemy battle-ships, and that the final decision concerning the transfer of former Austrian torpedo-boats, be entrusted to the I. N. C.

Appendix C to HD–117

Conditions for the Delivery of German War Vessels6

During the session of December 24th, of the Supreme Council,7 Sir Eyre Crowe pointed out that he did not believe that the resolution taken on December 18th8 relative to the cruisers to be delivered according to the protocol,8a was fully in conformity with the decision of the Council. He esteems that in order to regulate this question we must, rather than have official intervention on the part of the [Page 680] Control Commission, act unofficially with the Germans, through the intermediary of the General Secretariat of the Conference.

After the Allies refusal by the Allies [sic], any attempts of this nature appear to be destined to be unsuccessful unless we offer an advantage of some kind in exchange.

Such steps are not necessary. In our opinion the texts do not prescribe the destruction or rendering useless of the material dismantled from the ships, the delivery of which is provided for either by the Peace Treaty or by the Protocol.

Since the entire question depends on these texts, may we be permitted to examine them anew.

The first paragraph of Article 185 of the Peace Treaty provides for the delivery of the ships. Now, a battle or merchant ship is equipped with certain material suitable for the service for which it was intended, and when, after a purchase, or for any other reason, a ship is delivered, it is turned over with all material belonging to it.

The Germans cannot contend that the principal Allied and Associated Powers at the time they provided for the turning over of these ships, did not intend to claim, or would not be justified in claiming the armament material and the munitions.

It is true that Paragraph 2 of Article 185 prescribes that the ships are to be in a state of disarmament, as is also prescribed by Article XXIII of the Armistice of November 11, 1918.9 However, this precautionary measure was taken because the ships were to be conducted to the Allied ports by the Germans, and it in no wise modifies the principle concerning the delivery, as prescribed in the first paragraph;

The arms, munitions, and war material of every kind, including the torpedoes and the mines carried in the inventory of the ships are, therefore, to be delivered at the time of delivering the ships. This material cannot be included in that referred to in Article 192, the delivery of which is to be effected with a view to destruction by the principal Allied and Associated Powers. The powers remain free to dispose of the material of the ships which are to be turned over to them as they may deem fit.

As no provision concerning this material is made in the Peace Treaty, it does not seem that the Germans can be forced to deliver it in Allied ports, therefore, it must be taken over in Germany by the Powers concerned, or in case the Germans claim it as impossible for them to man the ships themselves, as is provided for in Article 185, it might be loaded on the ships before their departure from Germany.

[Page 681]

For these reasons, the following text is proposed in connection with the conditions for turning over the German war vessels:

The delivery of the ships includes that of the material.
The Interallied Naval Control Commission will take all measures necessary to insure that the arms, munitions and all war material figuring in the inventory of the delivered ships will be completely turned over.
As this material no longer belongs to the German Government after the going into effect of the Treaty, it should not be included in that prescribed in Article 192 of the Peace Treaty to be destroyed or rendered useless.

Appendix D to HD–117

swiss legation in france

[Memorandum From the Swiss Legation Regarding Switzerland’s Joining the League of Nations]

A) “Although the deposit of ratifications of the Peace Treaty of June 28, 1919, has not yet taken place and, consequently, the Swiss Federal Council has not been officially invited to declare that Switzerland will accede to the League of Nations, in conformity with the terms of Article I of the Covenant of April 28, 1919, the Swiss Federal Council has the honor to inform the Government of the French Republic that the Swiss Federal Assembly decided, on November 21, 1919, in favor of Switzerland’s entry in the League of Nations, text of which decision is annexed hereto.

“The Federal Council will make a formal declaration of the accession of Switzerland, to the Secretariat General of the League, at the proper time. However, in compliance with a desire expressed by the Commission of the Swiss National Council, the Federal Council begs to indicate at this time that, in its opinion, the vote of the people and the Swiss cantons on the Federal Bill of November 21, which will be promulgated as soon as circumstances permit, should not, necessarily, have to be operated within the time stipulated in Article I of the Covenant of the League of Nations. It would be absolutely contrary to the constitutional customs of Switzerland to submit a proposed bill to the people before its juridical bases had been established, as the realization of the League of Nations is dependent on the accession of all the States to whom the Covenant accords, in relation to their special political importance, permanent representation on the Council of the League.

“The Federal Council is convinced that a notification of the decision of the Swiss Federal Assembly, made within two months after [Page 682] the entry into force of the Peace Treaty, will assure Switzerland, without anticipating the decision of the people and of the cantons, all the rights due a State invited to accede to the League of Nations in the capacity of original member. Switzerland is the only country in which the principle of popular vote in the question of accession to the League of Nations is a constitutional necessity, but as this principle is in entire conformity with the conception of the international regime which is the object of the League of Nations, the Federal Council is firmly convinced that Switzerland will not be placed at a disadvantage by reason of the democratic character of her constitutional law.”

B) The Federal Assembly of the Swiss Confederation.

“After having taken note of a message from the Federal Council, dated August 4, 1919:

“Whereas the perpetual neutrality of Switzerland, recognized in particular by the Act of November 20, 1815,10 is considered, according to Article 435 of the Peace Treaty concluded on June 28, 1919, between the Allied and Associated Powers and Germany, as an International agreement for the maintenance of peace.; and whereas, the perpetual neutrality of Switzerland, according to Article 21 of the Covenant of the League of Nations may be considered as inconsistent with none of the provisions of the said Covenant.

“Hoping that the present League of Nations will extend, in the near future, so as to become universal,

Decrees that:

I. Switzerland adheres to the Covenant of the League of Nations agreed upon on April 28, 1919, by the Peace Conference, assembled in Paris.

The provisions of the Federal Constitution concerning the promulgation of the Federal Laws shall apply to the ratification of the amendments made in the said Covenant, and to the approval of all conventions pertaining to the League of Nations.

The decisions relative to the violation [denunciation] of the Covenant or exclusion from the League of Nations, should be submitted to a plebiscite.

Article 121 of the Federal Constitution, concerning popular expression, is also applicable to the decisions relative to a violation [denunciation] of the Covenant or to exclusion from the League.

II. The present Federal decision shall be submitted to the vote of the people, as soon as the five Great Powers shall have adhered to the Covenant.

III. The Federal Council is charged with the execution of the present decision.”

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Appendix E to HD–117

Note11 Relative to the Swiss Note of December 18, 1919, Concerning the Adherence of Switzerland to the League of Nations12

C) “1. It is evident that the Swiss Note does not authorize Switzerland’s adherence to the League of Nations, as is, moreover, recognized by Switzerland herself, as she referred to an ulterior formal declaration.

“2. According to Article 1 of the Covenant, the declaration of adherence must be made without reservations. Consequently, Switzerland cannot, expressly or implicitly subordinate her adherence to a referendum, which she contends is compulsory by her constitutional law. Questions of Swiss Constitutional law, such as the necessity of a referendum, concern Switzerland only and are not of interest to the other Powers.

“3. It can be sustained that the date for the commencement of the two month period, allowed the Powers in which to make their declaration, is not necessarily connected with the ratification of the German Treaty, since the Covenant, of which the Powers can take advantage, is also incorporated in the Austrian and Bulgarian treaties, and that the entry into force of those two Treaties will doubtless be subsequent to that of the German Treaty. It is known that China, which is neither among the signatory Powers of the German Treaty nor the invited Powers, is, nevertheless, a signatory of the Covenant, by the fact that she has signed the Austrian Treaty.

“In the event that Switzerland would allow the two months following the entry into force of the German Treaty to lapse, she could still demand the delay provided for by the Covenant in the Austrian or Bulgarian Treaties, and adherence to this Covenant within the period of two months which will follow the entry into force of these Treaties.

“If, the non-adherence of Switzerland at the time of the entry into force of the German Treaty, cannot prevent the constitution of the League of Nations and the commencement of its functions, it can, on the other hand, seriously interfere with the establishment of the League at Geneva.

“4. The Swiss Note quotes April 28, 1919, as the date upon which the Covenant was adopted.

“It should be noted that the only official text is that which was signed, that is to say the text of the Treaties, and first of all, that of the German Treaty of June 28, 1919.

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“5. The theses of the Swiss Note, according to which the realization of the League of Nations is dependent on the ratification of the five Principal Powers, cannot be accepted.

“On this point, it is clearly stipulated in the final clauses of the Treaty, in all its parts, inclusive of Part I (Covenant of the League of Nations) will enter into force for all the Powers which will have ratified at that time, upon ratification by three of the Principal Powers and Germany.

“6. The decision of the Federal Council, [text] of which was annexed to the Note from the Swiss Government, contains various considerations in its preamble concerning the relation between the adherence of the Helvetic Confederation to the League of Nations and the perpetual neutrality of Switzerland, as well as between Articles 21 and 435 of the Treaty.

“Regarding this question, which was the object of certain developments in the Message of the Supreme [Federal] Council of August 4, 1919, it would be advisable to not appear to silently acquiesce purely and simply in the views of the Federal Council, but to hold the entire question for examination and whatever solution it may be deemed proper to adopt.”

  1. Appendix C to HD–80, vol. viii, p. 865.
  2. HD–101, minute 1, p. 345.
  3. Appendix B to HD–80, vol. viii, p. 863.
  4. See HD–113, minute 6, p. 599; HD–116, minute 2, p. 638.
  5. Vol. ii, p. 1.
  6. They have suggested, it is true, to effect a part of the transportation by sea, but the Allies have not the necessary ships at their disposal. [Footnote in the original.]
  7. See note hereto annexed. [Footnote in the original.]
  8. Note from the French and Italian naval experts.
  9. HD–116, minute 2, p. 638.
  10. HD–113, minute 6, p. 599.
  11. Appendix C to HD–80, vol. viii, p. 865.
  12. Vol. ii, p. 1.
  13. British and Foreign State Papers, vol. iii, p. 359.
  14. From the Drafting Committee.
  15. Appendix D, supra.