Paris Peace Conf. 180.03501/123


Notes of a Meeting of the Heads of Delegations of the Five Great Powers Held in M. Pichon’s Room, Quai d’Orsay, Paris, Tuesday, January 6, 1920 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
    • Secretary
      • 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,
Great Britain 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:

  • Great Britain
    • Mr. Millington Drake
    • Gen. Sackville-West
    • Cmdr. MacNamara
    • Mr. Carr
  • France
    • Gen. Weygand
    • Gen. Le Rond
    • Adl. Levavasseur
    • M. Laroche
    • M. Kammerer
    • M. Hermite
  • Italy
    • Gen. Cavallero
    • Vice-Adl. Grassi
    • Cmdr. Scanagatta
    • M. Vannutelli-Rey
    • M. Stranieri
    • M. Mancioli
  • Japan
    • M. Sawada

[Page 807]

General Le Rond told the Council that in the course of conversations he had had with Mr. von Simson the latter recalled that the German delegation in a note of 28 October last had raised the question of the revision of the German-Polish frontier but that no reply had so far been made to their communication. He had replied that the German note amounted to nothing less than raising the whole question of the treaty of Versailles and that, he considered, could not be countenanced by the Allied Governments. Mr. von Simson had then said that he would take note of the comment but that the German delegation were none the less anxious to have a written reply in order to justify themselves in the eyes of the local population who had insisted upon the German Government’s obtaining some modification of the treaty. In those circumstances he had prepared a draft reply which had been submitted to Mr. Fromageot and which he would read to the Council. State of the Negotiations With the German Delegation Relative to the Signature of the Entry Into the Force of the Treaty of Peace. (a) Reply to the German Note of October 28, 1919 Proposing the Estabilishment of a Frontier Zone Between Germany and Poland

General Le Rond then read the document which appears as Appendix A.

It was decided:

to adopt the draft letter to the German delegation proposed by General Le Rond. (Appendix A.)

General Le Rond said that the German delegates had also recalled that in a letter of 5 November last they had asked that a certain limited territory, situated in the southwest of Upper Silesia and which, according to the treaty of peace, ought to go to Czecho-Slovakia, might be allocated to Upper Silesia and allowed to share the same fate as the plebiscite accorded to that province. He had confined his reply in that case also to saying that no modification of the Treaty of Versailles could possibly be considered. Mr. von Simson was satisfied with the reply and insisted only that it be communicated to him in writing. Nevertheless Mr. von Simson’s request emphasized the necessity of an understanding between the Germans and the Czecho-Slovaks if the evacuation of that territory by the Germans and its handing over to Czecho-Slovakia were to be assured. He had advised the Czecho-Slovak Delegation about that situation in order that it might take steps to be represented for that question in the negotiations actually taking place. A draft statute for the territories of Memel and Dantzig was to be submitted to the Council that very day. It had been prepared by the Commissions of Polish and of Baltic Affairs in joint session. It might be well if a sub-commission comprising two or three members of those Commissions would be good enough to take part in the negotiations that were going on.

That proposal was adopted.

[Page 808]

General Weygand told the Supreme Council that, in accordance with its instructions,1 the commission which had fixed the numbers of troops to be sent into the areas of occupation had met on the previous day to examine the objections raised in Mr. von Lersner’s note.2 It had been unanimous in thinking that the troops proposed could not be reduced in number without serious inconvenience and likewise that the arguments put forward by the Germans could not be discussed at all. For example, the Germans had professed that their military barracks did not have sufficient accommodation, although, as a matter of fact, the numbers of the troops fixed for the occupation were very appreciably lower than the numbers stationed in the German barracks in those territories in time of peace. Nevertheless, so far as concerned Allenstein, since the British troops had had to be reduced to the extent of one battalion, they had in the draft letter he was submitting to the Council, offered as a concession in that case that the number of battalions to be sent would be reduced from four to three. (b) Revision of the Numbers of Allied Troops To Be Sent to the Areas of Occupation

On the other hand, since the Government of the United States had not yet ratified the Treaty, and consequently could not for the moment send into Germany the forces originally decided the total force anticipated was reduced by one quarter. The Germans had therefore at the moment partial satisfaction and he proposed to tell them that that circumstance would allow the Allies to make a trial of the reduction asked by them.

General Weygand then read the draft reply to the note of the German Delegation of January 2, 1920 (Appendix B).

It was decided:

to adopt the draft reply to the note of the German Delegation of January 2, 1920, (Appendix B.)

Mr. Laroche read a report on that question, presented jointly by the commissions of Baltic and of Polish Affairs. (Appendix C.)

He added that the basis of the arrangement with arrangement with Germany which appeared as an appendix to that report had been prepared by the Drafting Committee. The Commission had thought it well to make certain modifications and proposed to the Supreme Council the adoption of a text rectified in certain particulars. (c) Draft Arrangement With the German Government on the Transfer of Soverignty at Dantzig and Memel

Mr. Laroche then read the draft (Appendix D.)

He explained that the points on which they had modified the draft prepared by the Drafting Committee were two in number. One bore [Page 809] upon the condition in which the German officials of those territories would retain the rights they had acquired, and the other upon economic and revenue arrangements.

In agreement with the Drafting Committee they had deemed it necessary to give to the Germans, who would not fail to raise the question, certain concessions, but the formula of the legal experts had seemed too rigid, considering especially that the provisional regime, insofar as it affected Memel, might last for a considerable time; the draft they were proposing seemed to have the advantage of not prejudicing the future and of leaving to the Allied and Associated Powers greater liberty of action.

Mr. Wallace said that, so far as concerned Clause I, dealing with the procedure of the handing over of the ceded territories, he was obliged to state that the use of the formula “Principal Allied and Associated Powers” would make it necessary for him to ask instructions from his Government.

Mr. Laroche insisted that they could not in that document use any other term than the one which already appeared in the Treaty of Versailles.

Mr. Wallace said that he did not insist.

It was decided:

to accept the basis of arrangement with Germany on the transfer of German sovereignty over Memel and Dantzig and the provisional administration of those territories as appeared in Appendix D.

Mr. Cambon proposed to postpone until the following meeting the examination of that question as the Roumanian Government’s reply was known to them so far only by the telegrams of French Chargé d’Affaires at Bucarest. They had just received the text of the Roumanian reply itself; there was every reason, it seemed to him, to postpone the discussion of the question till the text of that reply could be distributed to the several Delegations. Reply of the Rumanian Government to the Two First Points in the Supreme Council’s Note of November 13th [15th] 19193

(The remainder of the discussion was postponed until the following meeting.)

Mr. Cambon commented upon the French Delegation’s note of January 4, 1920, (Appendix E). After a short discussion, Representations to the Hungarian Government in Favor of the Communists Condemned to Death

It was decided:

that the Allied generals at Budapest receive instructions to make representations to the Hungarian Government in order to ask its clemency towards the communists condemned to death.

[Page 810]

Mr. de Saint Quentin explained to the Council that, in accordance with its instructions, the Drafting Committee had handed to the Secretariat General the list of questions affecting the Hungarian Treaty which were not yet definitely settled. The Secretariat General had obtained from the several competent commissions the necessary information on the stage reached in the decisions upon those questions. Status of the Treaty With Hungary

The first point concerned the liquidation of the property of Hungarian nationals by the Roumanians. That question had been the subject of a note from Sir George Clerk. The Drafting Committee had examined the possible consequences of that liquidation as it affected Hungarian or foreign nationals in the territories ceded to Roumania. As they were aware, Roumanian legislation prohibited foreigners from owning property, the Economic Commission had been apprised of the question and would send in its report that very day.3a

The second point concerned the military and naval clauses, modifications in which were demanded by the Czecho-Slovak Delegation (note of December 22 [20], 1919) and by the Serb-Croate-Slovene Delegation (note of December 27, 1919).

The military representatives at Versailles were then examining those two notes and their report would be ready probably towards the 8th or 9th of January.3b

A third point affected the mines of Pecs. The Commission on Roumanian Affairs had proposed to the Supreme Council to submit the exploitation of those mines for five years to the control of the Reparation Commission which would be in a position, if it considered that advisable, to take into account the Serb-Croate-Slovene State’s need of coal.4 The Serbs had then sent a note to the Conference on December 22nd, in which they maintained that that arrangement was not such as could give them complete satisfaction and that in any case it would leave them without coal until the Treaty came into force. The Commission on Roumanian and Yugo-Slav Affairs was to meet on the following day to examine the Serb-Croat-Slovene note and would submit to the Supreme Council a report upon the possibility of acceding to the Yugo-Slav demand, both from the economic and from the political point of view.4a

The fourth point affected the economic clauses of the treaty. The Czecho-Slovaks had made a formal protest against the obligations imposed upon them by the Treaty to supply to Hungary a certain quantity of coal. A decision of the Supreme Council of December [Page 811] 31st had referred that question to the Coal Commission.5 But Powers with limited interests being represented on that Coal Commission, there would be great difficulties in arriving at unanimous results for the reason that the interested parties themselves were represented thereon.

Sir Eyre Crowe pointed out that it was nevertheless impossible to make the conclusion of the Treaty await a decision of the Coal Commission.

Mr. de Saint Quentin thought it would be preferable to consult only the experts of the Principal Powers.

Sir Eyre Crowe believed that that solution would indeed be preferable and, even so, it was necessary to hasten matters since the Hungarians were to arrive the following day.

It was decided:

to cancel the decision of December 31, 1919, referring to the European Coal Commission the examination of the Czecho-Slovak protest against supplying coal to Hungary and to refer the examination of the question to the technical experts of the Principal Powers.

Mr. de Saint Quentin explained that another economic clause still remained in suspense, that namely which dealt with the liquidation of Hungarian property in the territories acquired by the Serb-Croat-Slovene State. The question was to be examined that day by the competent Commission.

A further question had been raised by the British Delegation: it dealt with the measures to be taken in favour of Allied nations who had been adversely affected by the issue of notes by the Hungarian Communist Government, notes which were then without value. The question had been referred to the Financial Commission. That Commission had asked the British Delegation for precise information about the conditions in which the issue and exchange of those notes had taken place. It had also asked the Economic Commission to let it know whether the financial measures of the Government of Bela Kun could be considered as coming under the definition “exceptional war measures”, mentioned in Article 232 of the Treaty. The Economic Commission had stated that it had no objection to the insertion in the treaty of an article taking into account the case cited by the British Delegation. The Financial Commission would continue to meet to come to a decision upon the question which had been submitted to it.

One last point, a request from the Serb-Croat-Slovene delegation, referred to canal administration in the Bachka, the Baranya and the Banat. The Serbs had presented two demands, one for the cession of the territory of Baya. It seemed to him that that demand [Page 812] could not be granted as the competent Commission had decided in favour of the maintenance of the frontier and the Supreme Council had approved its decision.6 The second demand of the Serbs on the same subject had been referred to the Commission of Ports, Waterways and Railways and the Secretariat General had asked that Commission to expedite its reply.

To resume, none of the points he had touched upon seemed to present insuperable difficulties and they might hope that the final text would be prepared by Friday.

Mr. de Martino asked whether that final text would be submitted to the Supreme Council.

Mr. de Saint Quentin answered that the text had already been approved by the Supreme Council except in the four or five points which he had just discussed and upon which the Council would still have to give its decision.

Mr. de Martino explained that his financial expert had told him on the previous day that certain economic and financial clauses of the treaty had not been communicated to him.

Mr. de Saint Quentin felt it difficult to understand how that could have happened. The clauses of the Treaties were as a matter of fact drafted by the Commissions and then, after approval by the Supreme Council, revised by the Drafting Committee. In any case the Italian financial expert might easily have communicated to him the clauses that interested him by applying to his colleague on the Drafting Committee.

The meeting then adjourned.

Appendix A to HD–123

[The President of the Peace Conference (Clemenceau) to the President of the German Delegation (Lersner)]

peace conference
the president

Mr. President: In the course of the present conversations, Mr. von Simson, President of the German Commission of Experts, asked for a reply to your letter of October 28, enclosing a Note “relative to the temporary demarkation line between Germany and Poland, and a rectification of the Eastern frontier.”

The proposals contained in the said Note are tantamount to placing the Treaty of Versailles under question, therefore, they cannot be given consideration.

The Allied Powers can only comply with the stipulations of the Treaty of June 28, 1919.

Accept, etc.

[Page 813]

Appendix B to HD–123

[The President of the Peace Conference (Clemenceau) to the President of the German Delegation (Lersner)]

peace conference
the president

Mr. President: The remarks which you presented in the name of the German Government regarding the plans for the distribution of Allied troops of occupation in the plebiscite zones, as well as in the territories of Dantzig and Memel, have been the object of a careful examination by the Allied and Associated Governments.

The Allied Governments are disposed to maintain in those territories only the forces which are indispensable. It is in this spirit that they have determined the number which seemed to them a necessary minimum. Nevertheless, in the zone of Allenstein they agree to reduce this number from four to three battalions.

It does not seem, on the other hand, that there is any reason to consider the remark regarding the insufficient quartering space in the military buildings, as the effectives determined upon as troops of occupation are notably less than the effectives of the German garrisons in those territories in times of peace.

The Allied Governments have therefore maintained the number of units determined for the different zones of occupation with the exception of Allenstein as indicated above.

But the fact that the American troops do not participate in the occupation before the ratification of the Treaty by the United States will temporarily reduce the total number of Allied forces by about one quarter and therefore make it possible to try out the reduction requested by the German Government.

In order to do away with any misunderstanding, it should be remarked that only police forces may remain in the territories occupied after the entry into force of the Treaty and such forces should only include local or municipal police forces and gendarmes, exclusive of all formations which depended directly on the central authority before the entry into force of the Treaty.

Accept, etc.

Appendix C to HD–123

Report Presented to the Supreme Council by the Commissions on Polish and Baltic Affairs

During the meeting of January 3, 1920, it was decided by the Supreme Council: “that the Commission on Polish Affairs, which is [Page 814] authorized to employ the experts it may deem necessary, will immediately prepare plans for arrangements with the German Government concerning the transfer of sovereignty over Memel and Dantzig.”7

In the course of an expose presented to the Supreme Council by General Le Rond, it was indicated that the Arrangement between the Allied Powers and Germany might be elaborated on the following bases: a)—temporary maintenance of German officials, with the guarantees enjoyed by them; b)—maintenance of the jurisdictions existing at the present time; and creation of a Superior jurisdiction; c)—maintenance of the German legislation; d)—delivery of the properties belonging to the Reich and Prussia to the Allied Powers; e)—temporary maintenance of the economic and financial status quo.

The Commission on Polish Affairs and the Commission on Baltic Affairs met on January 5.

They were unanimous in deciding that the immediate arrangements should be of a general nature, and that it was advisable to authorize the Temporary Administrator, representative of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers in Dantzig, and the Commander of the Occupation Forces in Memel, to adopt any necessary measures of detail on the spot.

Under these circumstances it appeared desirable to have special clauses prepared to cover the points (c) and (d) in the concluding of the Arrangement.

As Germany will automatically lose all rights of sovereignty over the territories of Dantzig and Memel, upon the entry into force of the Treaty, the temporary maintenance of the German legislation will be decided by the Allied and Associated Powers alone without requiring consultation with the German Government.

Furthermore, as the delivery of the properties belonging to the Reich and to the various German States is provided for, by Article 107 of the Treaty for Dantzig, and in the two first paragraphs of Article 256 for Memel, the representatives of the Allied and Associated Powers will be authorized to regulate the conditions of this delivery on the spot.

Finally, it appeared to the Commission that it would entail serious inconveniences to formally agree to maintain the economic and financial status quo now existing.

If, in principle, this maintenance appears temporarily inevitable, it is important, nevertheless, to reserve, in the interest of the territories transferred to the Principal Allied and Associated Powers, the right to adopt any measures which may be deemed necessary (interdiction to export to Germany, for example).

[Page 815]

In the same way, if the maintenance of the present local jurisdiction appears unavoidable, it is desirable to provide, in the Arrangement with Germany, for the creation of a Superior jurisdiction applicable in the ceded territories.

As Germany’s relinquishment of her sovereignty rights releases, ipso facto, the inhabitants of Memel and Dantzig from the jurisdiction of German tribunals, the Allied and Associated Powers are authorized to institute a Superior District Court under any conditions deemed advisable by them.

From the German point of view, the maintenance of local jurisdiction amounts to an application of the temporary statutes of the magistrates now officiating in the ceded territories. (Therefore the question conflicts with point (a).

The Arrangement between the Allies and Germany might be limited to a certain number of provisions according to which the officials of administrative or judiciary order, who would temporarily remain in office, would retain the powers vested in them by the German Government, but, on the other hand, it appeared to the Commission necessary that provisions be adopted regulating the conditions under which the delivery of ceded territories is to be effected, (settlement of the accounts, turning over of the archives, etc.)

In accord with the Drafting Committee, and under reservation concerning certain modifications made in the text prepared by the Committee, the Commission has the honor to submit the plan of Arrangement hereto annexed for the approval of the Supreme Council.

For the reasons above exposed, the Commission is unable to agree with Alinea 5, and proposes that it be replaced by the text submitted in Annex 2.8


Bases of Arrangement With Germany Relative to the Transfer of German Sovereignty in the Territories of Memel and Dantzig and of the Temporary Administration of These Territories

1. Procedure for the delivery of the ceded territories.

As the sovereignty of these territories will be transferred, ipso facto, by the entry into force of the Treaty, its delivery into the hands of the representative of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers will be effected on the day following the deposit of the ratifications [Page 816] of the Treaty, at mid-day, local time, (by the highest official of the German administration).

2. The German management of the finances and recording thereof, as well as all the administrative and judiciary direction, shall terminate upon the delivery of the territories. All the archives and records shall be placed at the disposal of the new authority.

3. Minutes covering the operations above provided for shall be drawn up and signed by the respective Representatives of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers and Germany.

A latitude of several days will be accorded for the accomplishment of these different formalities.

4. Temporary Administration of the ceded territories.

The administrative or judiciary officials and, in general, the personnel of the State Public Service, which, in accord with the Representative of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers, shall continue to temporarily exercise their duties, shall retain the rights vested in them by the German Government, even should they later enter the service of Germany. In this case these officials are to be considered by the German Government as having been on leave temporarily. In the event that these officials remain permanently in the service of the ceded territories, their privileges acquired through the German Government, shall be determined at the time of the turning over of the territories.

5. The customs duties between the ceded territories and German territories shall not be regulated until after the establishment of a permanent regime for the said ceded territories.

Appendix D to HD–123

Bases for the Arrangement With Germany Concerning the Transfer of German Sovereignty in the Territories of Memel and Dantzig and the Provisioned Administration of These Territories

1. Procedure for the transfer of the ceded territories.

The sovereignty being transferred ipso facto to the Principal Allied and Associated Powers by the coming into force of the Treaty, the transfer of these territories will be effected (by the highest functionary of the German Administration) to the representative of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers at the request of the latter and under the conditions which he will indicate.

2. The German financial administration and the [books of accounts] as well as the administrative and judicial registers will be closed at the date of the transfer of these territories. All archives and registers will be remitted into the possession of the new authority.

[Page 817]

3. Procès-verbal of the above operations will be made and signed by the respective representatives of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers and of Germany.

A few days delay is granted them for the carrying out of these different formalities.

4. Provisional Administration of the Ceded Territories.

The administrative and judicial personnel and in general the personnel in the public service of the state, which, in accord with the representatives of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers will continue to exercise their functions temporarily, will keep their acquired rights in Germany. If they later return in the German service, these functionaries will be considered by the German Government as having been temporarily on leave. In the event that they would remain indefinitely in the service of the ceded territories, their rights in regard to Germany will be determined at the date of the transfer of the territories and will be the subject of a subsequent convention.

5. The Economic and Customs regime of the ceded territories would only be determined when the final political regime of these territories shall have been established. The modifications which it may be necessary to bring provisionally in the present relations between these territories and Germany will take into serious account the reciprocal needs and interests of the population.

Appendix E to HD–123

Proposal To Request the Clemency of the Hungarian Government for Certain Communists

french delegation

Execution of Communists at Budapest

From concordant information sent from Budapest by General Gorton and General Graziani, the Hungarian Courts have condemned to death, a certain number of communists, several of whom represented the most moderate element in the Government of Bela Kun. On the date of December 23, 14 communists had already been executed. At that time, General Gorton asked for and obtained from his Government instructions to intercede in favor of the condemned. But his steps were either too late or vain. Since then, he asked his French and Italian colleagues for assistance.

The French Government is willing, jointly with the other Governments, to invite the Hungarian Government to be indulgent, if the Supreme Council thus decides.

  1. HD–122, minute 1, p. 779.
  2. Dated January 2, appendix B to HD–122, p. 794.
  3. Appendix A to HD-93, p. 182.
  4. See appendix C to CM–1, p. 966.
  5. See appendix A to CM–1, p. 961.
  6. See appendix B to HD–104, p. 438.
  7. See appendix B to CM–1, p. 964.
  8. HD–120, minute 10, p. 732.
  9. HD–21, minute 7, and appendix G, vol. vii, pp. 454 and 471.
  10. HD–121, minute 2, p. 762.
  11. The text submitted in annex 2 to the report of January 5, 1920, of the Commissions on Polish and Baltic Affairs is identical with paragraph 5 of the “Bases for the Arrangement With Germany Concerning the Transfer of German Sovereignty in the Territories of Memel and Dantzig and the Provisional Administration of These Territories” which appears in appendix D, p. 816.