Paris Peace Conf. 180.03501/118


Notes of a Meeting of the Heads of Delegations of the Five Great Powers, Held in M. Pichon’s Room at the Quai d’Orsay, Monday, 29 December, 1919, at 10:30 a.m.

  • Present
    • America, United States of
      • Hon. Hugh Wallace,
    • Secretary
      • Mr. Harrison,
    • Great Britain
      • Sir Eyre Crowe,
    • Secretary
      • Mr. Norman
    • France
      • M. Cambon
    • Secretaries
      • M. Dutasta,
      • M. Berthelot,
      • M. De Saint Quentin.
    • Italy
      • M. de Martino
    • Secretary
      • M. Trombetti,
    • Japan
      • Mr. Matsui,
    • Secretary
      • M. Kawai.
Joint Secretariat
Great Britain Captain Lothian Small
France M. de Percin,
Italy M. Zanchi.

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

  • Great Britain
    • Capt. Fuller, R. N.
    • Cdt. MacNamara, R. N.
    • Mr. Malkin
  • France
    • M. Leygues,
    • M. Loucheur,
    • Marshal Foch,
    • Gen. Weygand,
    • Adl. Levavasseur,
    • M. Laroche,
    • M. Fromageot.
  • Italy
    • Gen. Cavallero,
    • C. Adl. Grassi,
    • M. Dell’Abbadessa,
    • M. Pilotti,
  • Japan
    • M. Shigemitsu,
    • M. Nagaoka,
    • Cdt. Osumi.

M. Dutasta said that in accordance with the Council’s instructions1 he had had a conversation on Saturday evening with Mr. von Lersner.

[Page 686]

He had taken great pain not to commit the Council in anything whatever and to give to his conversation purely unofficial and personal character. Mr. von Lersner after hearing his exposition had told him that without committing his Government he was himself of opinion that an immediate agreement was possible upon the basis outlined. He had also said that he would telegraph to Berlin immediately, and that he would visit him that evening. It was probable therefore that they would know immediately exactly where they stood. [1.] Conversation Between M. Dutasta and Mr. de [von] Lersner [on?] the Subject of the Protocol

Sir Eyre Crowe asked what exactly were the suggestions made by M. Dutasta to which Mr. von Lersner had agreed.

M. Dutasta answered that he had said the Conference was ready to confirm in writing the declarations made verbally to the Head of the German Delegation in the course of the previous conversation; that he had added that the Allies would be satisfied provisionally with the 192,000 tons offered by the Germans allowing them the additional time required for handing over the remainder of the materiel. In that way they were answering the objection raised by the Germans to the effect that the immediate handing over of all the materiel claimed would imperil their economic existence. As he had said, Mr. von Lersner had shown himself satisfied on the whole with those proposals. The only objection Mr. von Lersner had made, one which, in his opinion, might easily be taken into consideration was that the date of signing the Protocol1a ought to coincide with that of the coming into force of the Treaty. The Germans seemed to attach great importance to the point since that affected intimately the burning question of prisoners of war. He had considered that he might tell von Lersner that he did not anticipate any difficulty on that subject.

He had further drawn M. von Lersner’s attention to the fact that the negotiations which were proceeding might be disturbed if the German Government were to send the Council a note refusing to sign the Protocol as it stood. M. von Lersner had answered that he did not know whether a note to that effect were not already on the way; if it were so it was probable that the German Press would publish it, but in any case he would not submit such a note to the President of the Conference, and he hoped that no notice would be taken of anything that might appear in the German Press.

Sir Eyre Crowe felt that Mr. Dutasta’s report was on the whole satisfactory. Concerning the question of sending naval experts to Germany, he had, at M. Clemenceau’s request, telegraphed to London. He had received a telegram from the British Admiralty, saying that the experts who had been appointed would not be ready to start before the following day.

[Page 687]

Mr. de Martino thought that there need be no difficulty in granting the German request to have the date of signing the Protocol coincide with that of the coming into force of the Treaty.

Sir Eyre Crowe said that they need only fix the date in such a way as to render possible the military arrangements required by the occupation of the plebiscite areas.

General Weygand added that certain political questions which were then being discussed by General Le Rond and the German experts relating to the conditions under which the transfer of authority would take place in the plebiscite zone, must be taken into consideration.

M. de Martino considered that it would be well to advise those commissions to conclude their work as quickly as possible.

General Weygand explained that the negotiations were commencing that very day.

M. Cambon thought if M. Dutasta’s impressions were correct they might well expect the signing of the Protocol by the Germans within four or five days.

General Weygand was afraid that the negotiations between General Le Rond and the German experts were perhaps already finished. The General Staff of the Army itself required four or five days to prepare the transportation of troops. On the other hand, as he had already indicated to the Council there was something to be said, if a sort of hiatus between the departure of the French and the Italian troops on the one hand and of the British troops on the other were to be avoided, for postponing the transport until about the 12th or 13th January.

Sir Eyre Crowe considered it unnecessary to start the transportation of troops on the very day of the Treaty’s coming into force; there was, of course, a decision of the Supreme Council to that effect,2 but it was for the Council itself to modify the decision if it thought it necessary.

General Weygand pointed out that there was nothing to prevent them really from delaying the transport until perhaps 10 days after the Treaty’s coming into force. If that were to take place on the 3rd January, for instance, the troops might start moving on the 13th.

Sir Eyre Crowe thought that the General’s proposal was the best procedure to adopt.

M. Dutasta explained further that Mr. von Lersner had anticipated no objections on Germany’s part to the handing over of the five light cruisers.

M. de Martino asked if he might draw the Council’s attention for a moment to a question that did not appear on the agenda. The Italian [Page 688] Delegation had just received from Klagenfurt communication of very disquieting nature. The inhabitants were dreading a coup de main by the Jugo-Slavs in that zone, certain number of them had even asked that a part of the Italian detachments in the neighborhood might be dispatched to Klagenfurt. It was certain that the decisions of the Conference ought to be respected and that a military operation by the Jugo-Slavs would take away all value from the proposed plebiscite. Steps ought obviously to be taken at once, therefore, if the Council did not wish to find itself confronted with a fait accompli. He would add that they had an Italian officer on the spot who confirmed those local reports of which he had just spoken. 2. Situation at Klagenfurt

Sir Eyre Crowe added that the other allied governments also had officers on the spot.

M. Cambon said that before taking any decision whatsoever it would be necessary to have fuller information. They had to deal with a nervous and divided population and it was very probable that while certain of the inhabitants complained to the Italian authorities about the activities of the Jugo-Slavs, others were addressing to Belgrade complaints of the exactly opposite nature.

M. de Martino asked how they were to set about making the proposed inquiries and suggested that the President of the Conference might address the Austrian or the Jugo-Slav Government.

M. Cambon suggested that it would be much better to ask first of all the allied officers who were on the spot their opinion on the situation.

Sir Eyre Crowe explained that certain difficulties had already occurred owing to the fact that the officers whom the Allies had there seemed to consider themselves as forming an Interallied Commission that was not at all the case. They had been sent at a moment when an armistice between the Serbs and the Carinthians had to be negotiated, it was important not to allow those officers to retain the impression that they constituted a commission invested with power by the Supreme Council.

M. Cambon suggested that in order to obviate the difficulty pointed out by Sir Eyre Crowe, it might be sufficient that each Government consult individually the officer it has on the spot.

M. de Martino insisted that the Council ought not to forget how urgent the question was and that unless they acted quickly they ran the risk of finding themselves in the presence of a fait accompli.

M. Cambon suggested that it was very important that in their fear of finding themselves before a fait accompli, they should not act in the very way in which to create one.

[Page 689]

Sir Eyre Crowe asked whether they might not very well address themselves directly to M. Troumbitch and ask him frankly what truth there was in the reports. It was certain that the Serbs had no right whatever to go to Klagenfurt, but he felt that he must say frankly that he did not give implicit faith to the reports that seemed so to disquiet their Italian colleague.

M. de Martino said that further the Serbs were making restrictions upon traffic which could not be prolonged indefinitely.

Sir Eyre Crowe said that all the interested parties stopped traffic in turn. Similar complaints were raised against the Italians.

M. de Martino could not believe that report was accurate. It was the Italians who were victims in the situation.

It was decided:—

that the Allied and Associated Governments address separately their officers on the spot a request for information about the situation in the Klagenfurt Basin, and especially about the possibility of a coup de main by the Jugo-Slavs.
that an inquiry be addressed to M. Troumbitch asking him for an explanation of the situation at Klagenfurt and of certain reports alleging that the Jugo-Slav Government intended, contrary to the decisions of the Conference, to send troops to Klagenfurt.

M. Loucheur explained that para. 2 of Appendix 4 of part 8 of the Treaty dealing with reparations distinguished between 2 kinds of substitutes for the materials destroyed or removed by Germans, the one by equivalents—Para. 2 (a)—and the other by direct supply—Para. 2 (b). In para. 3 it was provided that the lists dealing with the articles mentioned in para. 2 (a) were to be supplied within the 60 days following the coming into force of the Treaty. So far there was no difficulty, but the lists dealing with Articles mentioned in Par. (b) were there required to be supplied to the Reparation Commission by the Allied and Associated Powers on the 31st December 1919 at the latest. At the same time when that had been drafted, it had been considered that the Treaty would be in force at the latest in the month of August, and that the Reparation Commission would have had several months before it to procure those lists. It was obvious that in the existing state of things the lists could not be supplied at the time indicated as the Treaty was not yet in force and the Reparation Commission was not yet functioning. A modification was therefore necessary; but no arrangement to that effect was necessary perhaps with Germany, since it was stated in the paragraph concerned that the list had to be supplied to the Reparation Commission. Germany might claim, it was true, that if those lists [Page 690] did not arrive to the Reparation Commission until a date later than the 31st December 1919, its own situation was modified adversely. Personally he considered that the Reparation Commission need not consult Germany at all in order to extend the period provided for in para 3, and that the question was entirely a matter for the Allied Powers. They might, however, take advantage of the negotiations actually going on with the Germans regarding the signing of the Protocol to ask from them a declaration that they would not raise objection to the change from the period provided for in para. 3. That way of looking at it had the advantage of cutting short all later discussion. They had then alternative solutions: it was for the Council to decide between them. 3. The Time Period Provided for in Annex 4 of Part VIII of the Treaty of Versailles

Sir Eyre Crowe suggested that they might combine the two solutions. On the one hand they might themselves decide to prolong the period expiring on the 31st December and, on the other, communicate that decision to M. von Lersner. He thought they need not anticipate difficulty on that point.

M. de Martino pointed out the Treaty of St. Germain contained the stipulation identical with that of which M. Loucheur had just spoken. The last date—31st December 1919—appeared there also. It would be necessary therefore to extend to the Treaty of St. Germain the same resolution that they were going to introduce in the Treaty of Versailles.

It was decided:

that the final date—31st December, 1919 provided for in line 2, para. 3 of Appendix IV of Part VIII of the Treaty of Versailles for the Allied and Associated Powers to deposit with the Reparation Commission the lists dealing with the articles mentioned in para. 2 (b) of the aforesaid appendix shall not in law prevent the Allied and Associated Powers from presenting those lists at a later date.
that a communication shall be made to M. von Lersner to inform him of the decision taken by the Council,
that the decision appearing in the 1st paragraph of the present resolution shall apply equally to the final date—31st December, 1919—provided for in section 2 of para. 3, Appendix IV, of Part VIII of the Treaty of St. Germain.
that a communication shall be made to the Austrian Delegation informing it of this decision taken by the Council, (para. 3 of the present resolution).

(Mr. Wallace will refer this resolution to Washington for the instructions of his Government).

M. Laroche said that they had just received a telegram addressed to M. Clemenceau from their Ambassador at Washington from which it appeared that the President of the U. S. A. was ready to convoke the Council of the League of Nations on the first or second day after that of the coming into force of the Treaty. 4. Convocation of the First Meeting of the Council of the League of Nations

[Page 691]

Sir Eyre Crowe said that it has also been decided that preparatory measures should be taken by the French Minister of Foreign Affairs to acquaint the Governments concerned unofficially of the date arranged for the first convocation of the Council of the League of Nations in order that no delay should occur.

M. de Martino thought that they must also come to an understanding as to the agenda. Certain questions were of supreme interest for Italy, that especially of reciprocal emigration in the Balkan Peninsula. It would be well that that question be placed on the agenda as the Council of the League of Nations had to nominate a commission for dealing with the application of the convention arrived at upon that subject.

Sir Eyre Crowe recalled that the agenda of the first meeting of the Council of the League of Nations included only 2 questions, that of the Sarre and that of the confirmation of Powers of the existing secretariat of the League of Nations. He would also remind the Council that his Government had agreed upon the first meeting being held in Paris on the explicit condition that the agenda be limited to those questions.

Mr. Wallace asked whether the Council wished that President Wilson fix the meeting for the day after that of the coming into force of the Treaty or for the day following that. He would like to be able to give Washington a definite indication on that point.

M. Cambon thought it would be necessary to examine that question anew in the presence of M. Clemenceau.

M. de Martino suggested that it would be well for them to ask whether it was really necessary to limit the agenda of the first meeting so strictly.

M. Mantoux explained that the Secretariat of the League of Nations had examined the question of the time of its convocation. If the existing agenda were maintained there would be no objection to the first meeting being held on the first or second day after the Treaty’s coming into force. But if the agenda were to be extended, it would become necessary to consider a more distant date.

M. Laroche explained that in submitting M. Jusserand’s telegram to the Council, they had not intended to open debate the more especially as M. Clemenceau did not yet know of the telegram.

M. Cambon believed that it would indeed be necessary to resume the discussion of that question at a later date—(further discussion was, therefore, postponed).

Mr. Fromageot explained the conditions under which this question had been referred for examination to the Drafting Committee and the Naval experts, and he commented upon the Drafting Committee’s note which appears as Appendix “A”. 5. Conditions of Surrender of the Ships Demanded From Germany

Mr. Leygues read a note drafted by the Naval experts of the French Delegation. (Appendix “B”).

[Page 692]

He added that he did not wish to insist upon the arguments he had already presented on this question, but the affair had been examined in all its details and might be considered as fully elucidated. He would however remark that in Article 185 of the Treaty of Versailles, there was no question of the destruction of the materiel of the vessels which were to be handed over. It was wrong in that connection to invoke Article 192 as the protocol referred exclusively to Article 185 and to that alone. He had not any intention to read into the text of the Treaty a sense contrary to what it really signified. He adhered strictly to the letter of Article 185 in which there was no mention of destruction. If Article 192 could be quoted against his reading, it ought to have been mentioned in the protocol.

Sir Eyre Crowe said that this was the third [fourth?] time the same question had come before the Council.3 Always the same arguments were invoked and the same conclusions drawn. He had found nothing really new in Mr. Fromageot’s exposition and in the remarks of Mr. Leygues. He himself adhered to his opinion namely that the text of the Treaty was explicit. The Council was committed to the texts that it had signed. It was easy to see that the Chairman of the Drafting Committee himself believed that the meaning of the Treaty was unambiguous. He believed that every impartial reader of the Treaty must conclude that they were obliged to carry out destruction of materiel of the ships alluded to in the Treaty. He had no doubt that by recourse to subtle and ingenious argument they could manage to read into the texts under discussion a sense contrary to that they signified. His naval and legal experts, thought, as did he himself, that there could be no possible doubt about the interpretation of the Articles in question. They were bound by Article 192. It was perfectly true, as the Minister of Marine had said, that the protocol referred explicitly only to Article 185. That Article did not speak of the destruction of materiel, but it did say clearly that the ships must be handed over disarmed. Now Mr. Leygues was asking precisely that their armament be left on them, a demand which was exactly contrary to the text of Article 185.

He considered that a very clear distinction had to be made between the ships, the surrender of which was required under the Treaty and those alluded to in the Protocol. The fate of the former could be altered only by a modification made in the Treaty which would require not only the approval of all the Allied Powers but also, as he believed, Germany’s. The first time that that question had been raised, it had been decided on Mr. Clemenceau’s suggestion that they must adhere strictly to the Treaty. He himself saw that the gravest inconvenience must result from any change from that point of view. [Page 693] So far as concerned the ships whose surrender was required by the Protocol, the question presented itself differently. He thought that it would be comparatively easy to obtain the German delegation’s approval upon that point. For indeed, their demand was reasonable, it imposed no new burden on the Germans, and it was easy to combine that demand with the concessions which on the other points raised in the protocol they had already decided to make to the Germans. Under the circumstances, he thought that they need not expect to meet great difficulty from the Germans. If, nevertheless, difficulties did occur, they had still another card to play. The Germans had some time before asked permission to retain, in addition to the number of sailors provided for in the Treaty, supplementary crews to man their service of minesweepers. The Council had decided to accede to that request without, however, having acquainted the Germans.4 The moment seemed to him therefore to have arrived for availing themselves of that concession. If the Germans were to create difficulty on the question of the armament of the cruisers, they could tell them that they refused their demand for additional crews for minesweepers. It was greatly to the interest of the Germans that their own request be granted, and they had, on the other hand, no interest whatever in refusing the Allied request. He thought that in those circumstances, there was no doubt about the reply they would make. By addressing the Germans frankly they would be following a straight a [and] honest path and he did not doubt that that would lead them to the goal they had in view.

Mr. de Martino said that in agreement with the opinion of Admiral Grassi he supported the views expounded by Mr. Leygues.

Mr. Matsui recognized the inconvenience to France and Italy of having the German vessels handed over stripped of their munitions and armament. Nevertheless, after having himself personally examined the question, he found it difficult to adopt the legal interpretation proposed by Mr. Leygues, and he thought with Sir Eyre Crowe that they were bound by the text of the Treaty, which seemed explicit.

Mr. Cambon believed that the proposition formulated by Sir Eyre Crowe offered many advantages and that upon it they could arrive at general agreement. He would ask Mr. Leygues if he would consent to fall into agreement with that.

Mr. Leygues could not help still thinking that the point of view which he had explained was in agreement with legal truth, but he did not wish to prolong the discussion indefinitely, and was quite ready to support the British proposal if that were certain to be the practical means of reaching the desired end. He continued to believe, however, that very possibly the German reply would be a refusal. What he was [Page 694] anxious for was to obtain guarantees that the negotiations would succeed.

Mr. Cambon suggested that if they proposed to make concessions to the Germans in exchange for the one they had asked, there was a great chance of succeeding. It was the old method of “do ut des” which was the A. B. C. of diplomacy. They might well, while reserving the question of principle, get the Secretary General to make an unofficial advance to the Germans in the manner suggested by Sir Eyre Crowe.

Sir Eyre Crowe suggested that it would be all the easier for the Secretary-General of the Conference to broach the question with Mr. von Lersner in that the latter had said that Germany would probably make no difficulty about the surrender of the five light cruisers demanded by the protocol.

Mr. Leygues said that he supported Sir Eyre Crowe’s proposal if it were understood that the question of principle regarding the interpretation of Articles 185 and 192 of the Treaty of Versailles remained intact and was not decided in one sense or another by the Supreme Council. It might be raised again in the event of the unofficial pourparlers with the Germans not arriving at a solution satisfactory to the French and Italian natives [navies].

It was decided:

That, without prejudice to the general question of the interpretation of Article 185 and 192 of the Treaty of Versailles, Mr. Dutasta should negotiate unofficially with Mr. von Lersner with a view to obtaining agreement that the five light cruisers to be surrendered under the protocol should be handed over with their munitions and armament complete.
That Mr. Dutasta be authorized, should he consider it absolutely necessary, to let von Lersner know that if that request were admitted by the German Government, the Allied and Associated Powers were disposed in exchange to authorize Germany to retain in addition to the total number of seamen provided for by the Treaty a certain number of crews for her mine sweeper service.
That in the event of the pourparlers undertaken by Mr. Dutasta not arriving at a satisfactory result, the whole question would come before the Council again.
That the present resolution annul the resolutions upon the same subject agreed upon at the meetings of the 18th and 20th December.

(Mr. Wallace would refer this resolution to Washington for the instructions of his Government.)

The Council had before it a Note by Marshal Foch dated 25th December (Appendix “C”).

[Page 695]

Marshal Foch told the Council that General Niessel, who had been sent by the Council to the Baltic Provinces to ensure the evacuation of those provinces by the German troops, had step by step fulfilled his Mission. Meanwhile the fate of the army of General Yudenitch who had been thrown back upon the Esthonian territory was becoming tragic on account of the difficulties which had cropped up between General Yudenitch and the Esthonian Government. In a note of the 28th November, he had asked the Supreme Council whether it were not expedient to adopt in Esthonia a policy analogous to that which had produced such excellent results in Courland.5 It was a matter of re-establishing good relations between the Esthonians and Yudenitch’s troops in order to set up in those regions which were most particularly threatened by the stress of revolution, a barrier against the Bolshevist forces. On the 1st December the Council had replied to his communication that the Mission entrusted to General Niessel was purely military and that there could, therefore, be no question of giving it a political nature.6 6. The Proposed Mission of General Niessel to Reval

Since the date of that reply of the Supreme Council the question of Courland had been settled to their entire satisfaction. He had proposed anew in a Note of 14th December that General Niessel should be sent to Reval to try and establish an understanding between the Esthonian Government and General Yudenitch.7 The question was all the more pressing since the army of Yudenitch was daily going more and more quickly to pieces. The movement [moment?] for action seemed favorable seeing that the negotiations between the Esthonian Government and the Soviets had just been broken off as a result of the extravagant claims of the Bolsheviks. The hour seemed to have come for taking steps if the Council were to remain faithful to the policy it [that?] had been already formulated, that, namely, which consisted in establishing in the Baltic Provinces a barrier against the Bolsheviks. In order to realize that policy, it was important to constitute a group in which the Lithuanians and the Letts would take part, as well as the Esthonians whose situation was more particularly threatened. General Niessel, having completed his mission, was on his way back. He had telegraphed to the General to await new instructions at Berlin; it appeared to him that General Niessel was indicated as the agent of the policy he had just defined. In his opinion it was essential to send to the spot representatives of the powers who could arrest the steady decomposition of the Yudenitch Army and make some use of the debris. It was urgent to come to a decision on the matter because of the disquieting situation in Esthonia, [Page 696] and also in order to take advantage of General Niessel’s stay in Berlin, as he could easily be sent from Germany into Esthonia.

Mr. Wallace said that he would transmit Marshal Foch’s proposals to his Government.

Sir Eyre Crowe said that on that question he did not have full powers and must ask for instructions from his Government. The Russian question was indeed a very delicate one.

Mr. de Martino stated that he also would consult his Government.

Mr. Matsui said that he would do likewise.

Mr. Cambon said that he would do likewise.

Mr. Cambon summed up saying that Marshal Foch had rightly shown how urgent it was to come to a decision. He hoped that the Governments consulted would let their answers be known by telegram and as soon as possible.

Marshal Foch said that if they were not empowered to take active steps at once in Esthonia, it was nevertheless necessary to have on the spot an intelligence agent, and General Niessel was obviously fitted to fulfil that role.

Sir Eyre Crowe explained that he could not agree to the proposal even in that form without first having instructions. They had, for that matter British agents in Esthonia.

Mr. Cambon insisted that under those circumstances the answers of the several Governments ought to be obtained quickly.

Marshal Foch said that he intended telegraphing to General Niessel to return to Paris, where he could be sent into the Baltic Provinces if the Council were to decide later that that were necessary. He felt that he ought to draw the Council’s attention to the particularly happy way that General Niessel had acquitted himself in the Mission it had entrusted to him. He thought that the Conference might like to express to him its satisfaction.

Sir Eyre Crowe said he wished to support what the Marshal had just said; he did it all the more gladly since the task entrusted to General Niessel had been particularly delicate and since many of them at the moment of the General’s departure had believed his Mission doomed to failure.

Mr. de Martino associated himself heartily with the words of Marshal Foch and Sir Eyre Crowe.

It was decided:

To entrust the Secretary-General of the Conference to communicate to General Niessel the following resolution of the Supreme Council;

“The Supreme Council of the Allied and Associated Powers expresses to General Niessel its complete satisfaction with the remarkable way in which he acquitted himself in the particularly difficult and delicate Mission which was entrusted to him in the Baltic Provinces as well as with the entirely successful results which he obtained.”

[Page 697]

Mr. Fromageot commented upon a Note of the Drafting Committee on that question (Appendix “D”).

Mr. Cambon stated that as concerned the question raised by the special situation of the German Minister at Caracas, he thought that they would all agree in considering that that diplomat ought not to be recognized by their diplomatic agent until he had offered new letters of credence. It would be well to ask the Allied representatives to take the matter up with the Government of Venezuela. They could telegraph to their representatives asking them to take united action with the Government of Caracas. 7. The Rank of German Diplomatic Agents in Neutral Countries

Mr. Laroche suggested that they should send a telegram saying that the Supreme Council had examined the question raised by the irregular situation of the German Minister at Caracas and instructing their representatives to abstain, so long as that situation remained unchanged, from taking part in any meeting of the diplomatic corps at which the German Minister was present. Other Delegations ought to ensure that similar instructions be sent to Caracas at the earliest possible moment. There was no time to lose; it was already the 29th December, and it was desirable that those instructions arrive before the diplomatic reception on the 1st January.

Mr. Cambon said that upon the second point which the Drafting Committee had examined he agreed entirely with the opinion that it had expressed. However disagreeable it might be for them to see a German representative occupy the rank of Doyen of the Diplomatic Corps, they could not well go against the rule established by international custom.

Mr. de Martino said that that was also his opinion.

Sir Eyre Crowe stated that he too was in agreement with the President:

It was decided:

That each Delegation ask its Government to send instructions to its representative at Caracas instructing him to point out to the Venezuelan Government the irregular situation of the German Minister at Caracas, inasmuch as his letters of credence were granted by the old Imperial Government, and instructing the representatives to abstain so long as the German Minister had not received new and regular letters 01 credence from taking part in any meeting of the Diplomatic Corps at which the German Minister was present.
To raise no objection to the rank already reached by German Diplomatic Agents in neutral countries.

Mr. Wallace would refer the above resolution to Washington for instructions of his Government.

The meeting was adjourned.

[Page 698]

Appendix A to HD–118

Note From the Drafting Committee Relative to the Conditions Covering the Delivery of German Ships

It is evident primarily that Germany, aside from the materiel left to her, must deliver all material whether it belongs or not to the cruisers to be handed over; that is, whether it belongs to cruisers to be delivered in execution of the Treaty as [or?] those to be delivered in execution of the Protocol.8

The question arises as to whether, after the delivery of the materiel, Germany is justified in demanding its destruction.

According to certain members of the Committee, any demands on the part of Germany would in this case be without foundation for the following reasons:

—In the first place, it may be argued that upon complete delivery of the materiel, Article 192 becomes annulled as far as Germany is concerned, and its destruction is a measure which concerns the Principal Powers exclusively and is no affair of Germany’s. On this basis, a German [demand?] would be inadmissible.
—Even admitting that Article 192 intended to establish Germany’s right to demand destruction, it could be held that Article 185, 1—by stipulating that this or that ship is to be “delivered”, provides for the delivery of the ships and all their armament, that is, their materiel. Article 183, 2—by stipulating that these ships are to be in a state of disarmament does not impose any restriction in the obligation to deliver but only indicates in what condition the ships should be delivered, and does not imply any reduction in the armament or materiel to be delivered.

If it were otherwise, it would be difficult to see why, referring to the ships now interned in neutral ports, Article 184 should provide for their delivery inclusive of material. The solution to the question should be the same in both cases. Consequently, the material referred to here does not come under the provision for destruction as provided in Article 192, and any claims made by Germany under this head would be unjustified.

Certain members of the Committee, on the contrary believe that the texts of the Treaty and the Protocol (which refers to the Treaty) [and?] the arguments above referred to would not be sufficiently strong to reply successfully to an objection on the part of Germany. On the other hand, concerning the five cruisers to be delivered in execution of the Protocol, the difficulty could be solved by means of an interpretative note of the said Protocol.

For the Drafting Committee
Henri Fromageot

[Page 699]

Appendix B to HD–118

Note as to the Material Taken From German Warships9

It appears from the exchange of opinions which took place before the Council10 as well as from the Drafting Committee’s note of December 27th, that:

It is possible to consider as not being part of the material referred to in Article 192 of the Treaty, which was to be broken up, the material disembarked from ships the delivery of which is prescribed by the Treaty of Peace as well as by the Protocol of November 1st.11
This is possible without changing the texts and without asking the Germans, in advance, whether they consent to this material not being destroyed.
As any written or oral request on the part of the Allies would certainly meet with a refusal, on the part of the Germans, it is better to refrain from taking any steps in this direction.

These considerations would allow each of the five Great Powers to bring to their ports the material and the munitions of the ships attributed to them. In view of the fact that the preceding propositions refer only to the light cruisers and destroyers which were not to be broken up, it is proposed that the resolutions of December 18th and 20th be modified as follows:

“The Interallied Naval Mission of Control will take the necessary measures to ensure that the material belonging to the light cruisers and destroyers which were not to be broken up, be delivered in full and not destroyed”.

Appendix C to HD–118

of the allied armies

General Staff
1* Section

From: Marshal Foch,

To: Mr. Clemenceau.

After the interview I had with you on Dec. 24, I received a telegram informing me that General Niessel has probably left Riga on Dec. 22, for Berlin.

Consequently, I am sending to General Niessel in Berlin, a confirmation of the telegram which I sent him on the 23rd to Riga, to [Page 700] order him to limit his intervention concerning the reparations claimed from the German Government, by the Lithuanian and Lettich Governments.

Moreover, I invite him to wait in Berlin, instead of in Riga, for any ulterior instructions which might eventually order him to Reval, in case the Supreme Council should deem it necessary to entrust him with negotiations with the Esthonian Government, for the settlement of the question of the Youdenitch Army.



I have just received from Riga, dated yesterday, the following telegram:

“Diplomatic No. 107.

1—General Youdenitch went back this afternoon, after having failed in his negotiations.

The Government is very displeased with the Esthonians, who refuse to permit the cession to Latvia of the material of the North West Army.

2—General Niessel intends to leave tomorrow night, Monday. He has had here the best reception, and has produced (omission) a deep and favorable impression.

3—General Turner of the Interallied Mission will remain at Riga as Chief of the English Military Missions.”


Appendix D to HD–118

Note From Drafting Committee to Supreme Council Relative [to] German Diplomatic Representatives in Neutral Countries

From: Drafting Committee.

To: Supreme Council.

German Diplomatic Representatives in Neutral Countries

The Supreme Council decided, July 25, 1919,13 to invite Germany to “furnish new credentials to those of her diplomatic agents, accredited abroad by the former Imperial Government, at present in function”.

1. The Minister of France at Caracas advises that the German Minister to Venezuela is an agent accredited by the former Imperial [Page 701] Government (in whose favor he is continuing his propaganda) and he has never presented any credentials from the new German Government.

Regarding this point, it is evident that the German minister, representing a fallen sovereign, cannot legally be considered the German representative to Venezuela. An observation to the effect to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Venezuela would legally be justified.

2. The question has arisen as to whether German diplomatic agents, accredited by the former Imperial Government but having presented credentials from the new government, can take advantage of the seniority acquired by means of their former credentials. This point is of interest in the recognition of the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps.

Hitherto, according to diplomatic rules and practices, new credentials, of the same rank, have been recognized as not modifying the seniority acquired by the priority of the first reception.

The instructions of the Secretary of State of the United States of May 27, 1886 (IV, Moore’s Digest, p. 734) are to this effect, and authors on the subject express the same opinion.

After the Russian Revolution, new credentials were presented by the Russian Ambassador in Paris who still holds the rank acquired in seniority.

The thesis that Germany of today is different from the former Russian Empire, would be dangerous, owing to the consequences that could be deducted from it.

Under those conditions, the Drafting Committee is unanimously of the opinion that a protest from the Allied and Associated Powers regarding the rank, acquired by seniority, of German diplomatic agents, in neutral capitals would not be opportune.

For the Drafting Committee
Henry Fromageot
  1. See HD–117, minute 1, p. 666.
  2. Appendix C to HD–80, vol. viii, p. 865.
  3. HD–72, minute 1, ibid., p. 684.
  4. See HD–113, minute 6, p. 599; HD–114, minute 3, p. 613; HD–117, minute 4, p. 672.
  5. HD–105, minute 1, p. 448.
  6. Appendix E to HD–103, p. 407.
  7. HD–103, minute 3, p. 389.
  8. Appendix A to HD–113, p. 604.
  9. Appendix C to HD–80, vol. viii, p. 865.
  10. Drafted by the naval experts of the French Delegation.
  11. HD–113, minute 6, p. 599; HD–114, minute 3, p. 613; HD–117, minute 4, p. 672.
  12. Appendix C to HD–80, vol. viii, p. 865.
  13. Louis Charles Delavaud, French Minister at Stockholm.
  14. HD–13, minute 17, and appendices L and M, vol. vii, pp. 268, 301, and 302.