Paris Peace Conf. 180.03801/9


Notes of a Meeting Held in M. Pichon’s Room, Quai d’Orsay, Paris, Tuesday, January 20, 1920, at 10:30 a.m.

  • Present
    • America, United States of
      • Hon. Hugh Wallace
    • Secretaries
      • Mr. Harrison,
      • Mr. Winthrop.
    • Great Britain
      • Mr. Lloyd George,
      • Lord Curzon.
    • Secretaries
      • Sir Maurice Hankey,
      • Mr. Leeper,
      • Capt. Lothian Small.
    • France
      • Mr. Clemenceau,
      • Mr. Millerand.
    • Secretaries
      • Mr. Dutasta,
      • Mr. Berthelot,
      • Mr. Massigli.
    • Italy
      • Mr. Nitti,
    • Secretary
      • Mr. Trombetti.
    • Japan
      • Mr. Matsui.
    • Secretary
      • Mr. Kawai.

Interpreter: Mr. Mantoux

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

  • France
    • Mr. Cambon,
    • Mr. Ignace,
    • Marshal Foch,
    • Gen. Weygand.
  • Italy
    • Mr. della Torretta,
    • Colonel Castoldi.
  • Japan
    • Mr. Sawada.

Mr. Clemenceau: The agenda comprises the drawing up of the list of guilty persons to be demanded from Germany.

Mr. Ignace: You have given us a double mission: firstly to draw up the list of guilty persons which the Entente is to demand from Germany under the Treaty of Versailles; secondly, to arrive at a settlement concerning the mixed Tribunals which are to judge persons who have been guilty of crimes against nationals of various States. 1. List of Guilty Persons

Each Power prepared a list, which, at the outset, was fairly long. We then proceeded to revise the lists, and arrived at the following result, which we submit for your consideration.

The British Empire claims 95 guilty persons;
France 334
Italy 29
Belgium 334
Poland 51
Roumania 41
The Serb-Croat-Slovene State claims 4
[Page 906]

amounting to a total of 888 accused persons to be demanded from Germany.

I will point out immediately that from this figure of 888 it will be necessary to deduct certain individual entries which have been made more than once and which amount to 34. The number of accused persons whom we are demanding from Germany under the Treaty of Peace is therefore 854.

Complete agreement has been reached between the Lord Chancellor and myself concerning this figure.

It was decided:

to sanction the list revised by the Lord Chancellor and Mr. Ignace, of guilty persons the surrender of whom will be demanded from Germany, in accordance with Article 228 of the Treaty of Versailles.

The Council had before it a draft telegram addressed to the French Ambassador at Washington, for transmission to the American Government. (Appendix “A”).

Mr. Berthelot: Mr. Lloyd George asked that the text of this telegram should be submitted to the Council, in order that it might receive Mr. Nitti’s approval. 2. Telegram to Washington Concerning Russian Affairs

Mr. Nitti: I approve of this draft.

Mr. Matsui: Concerning the recognition of Georgia, Azerbaidjan and Armenia, as de facto Governments, I must make certain reservations: I have referred the matter to my Government, and am awaiting its instructions.

It was decided:

that Mr. Clemenceau as President of the Peace Conference, should address the telegram which figures in Appendix “A” to the French Ambassador at Washington, in the name of the Supreme Council, to be transmitted to the American Government;

Mr. Matsui made reservations with regard to the last paragraph of the said telegram, concerning the recognition of Georgia, Azerbaidjan, and Armenia, as de facto Governments.

The Council had before it a Note from the Central Committee for Territorial Questions on the administration of justice in the occupied territory of Western Thrace. (Appendix “B”). 3. Judicial Administration of Thrace

Mr. Laroche read and commented on this report. He then added:

This draft will not come into force until the Treaty with Bulgaria has been ratified and has itself come into force. In the meantime, it is for the military authorities to take such measures as they shall consider most suitable to satisfy the wishes of the populations.

It was decided:

to approve the draft decision concerning the administration of justice in the occupied territory of Western Thrace, which had been [Page 907] submitted by the Central Committee on Territorial Questions. (Appendix “B”).

Mr. Wallace would refer the present resolution to Washington for instructions from his Government.

Mr. Clemenceau: I had a visit from Mr. Ador, who expressed his desire to be heard by the Council. He attaches much importance to the explanations which he intends to submit; I therefore ask to receive him. Because of the effect it must have upon national amour propre, I think that hearing him can only have good results. 4. Admission of Switzerland to the League of Nations

As far as I could understand, he would like us to settle questions which only the League of Nations can decide. He would like to know, in particular, how the neutrality of Switzerland can be reconciled with its membership in the League of Nations. It is in the interests of his country, gentlemen, that I ask you kindly to hear him. If he asks us definite questions, we will give him equally definite replies, otherwise we will refer him to the League of Nations.

Mr. Berthelot: The question has already been examined by the Council.1 Switzerland had sent a memorandum concerning the manner in which her neutrality was to be interpreted.2 The Supreme Council then decided to refer the question to the League of Nations. Mr. Ador asks to be heard in order to explain the difficulties which may result for the neutrality of Switzerland through her entry into the League of Nations under the conditions now contemplated.

(Mr. Ador and Mr. Max Huber were admitted.)

Mr. Ador: I thank the Supreme Council for giving me the opportunity of being heard. I apologize for troubling it with a question which it may consider secondary, i. e., that of the neutrality of Switzerland.

For us it is of very great importance. The Federal Council, the Chambers, and the Swiss Nation desire most ardently to be able to join the League; provided, however, that Switzerland still preserves the character which she has possessed from all time, i. e., that of perpetual neutrality granted her in the interests of Europe.

In the Treaty of Peace you have inserted an Article 435, according to which the Powers which are Signatories to the said Treaty recognize afresh, as being in the interests of Europe, the obligations established by the Congress of Vienna in 1815, in favor of the recognition of perpetual neutrality for Switzerland. Also, in the Covenant of the League of Nations, an Article 21 has been inserted stating that international agreements for the maintenance of Peace are by no means incompatible with the aim of the League of Nations.

[Page 908]

We are therefore confronted with two texts, Article 435 of the Treaty of Peace, drafted and inserted by you, and Article 21 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, also inserted in the Treaty of Peace.

These two texts seemed to us to possess unquestionable clearness. No doubt existed in our minds as to the significance and interpretation of this Article. However, the French Government, or rather the Secretariat General of the Conference transmitted to us on January 2, in reply to questions by the Swiss Government concerning the time limit for joining the League of Nations, a Note, which in its second part, after observing that a connection between Article 435 of the Treaty of Peace and Article 21 of the Covenant of the League of Nations was being established by a decision of the Federal Chambers, declared that the examination of this question would have to be reserved.3

This note was the cause of much misgiving in Switzerland; people wondered whether the question of the perpetual neutrality had really been brought once more under discussion, and whether this question, which we had always considered to be finally settled, was not really settled after all. While desiring to join the League of Nations as a perpetually neutral State, you may be sure that Switzerland intends to assume all the duties and responsibilities incumbent on members of the League of Nations. It will be said against us that we are demanding a privileged position.

We are asking to remain what we have been for many centuries, a country which has always pursued a peaceful policy. Situated in the centre of Europe and particularly exposed, our country, by reason both of its position and of its constitution, ought to be and to remain a neutral country; we intend to undertake, at our own risk and peril, to defend and maintain the inviolability of our soil; we will not permit anyone to penetrate into Swiss territory. This is a responsibility which we accept, and which we will fulfill with all the loyalty of which, in this matter Switzerland has always given proof.

We are prepared to accept all the economic consequences of our entry into the League of Nations; and consequently to submit to all collective measures which the League of Nations may impose on its members; but we ask that it may be recognized that the perpetual neutrality of Switzerland excludes the right of passage of troops across her territory.

This is perhaps a somewhat delicate point which it will be necessary to examine, but it is a fundamental article of our Swiss constitutional law, and I am expressing on this point the sentiments of my nation. We could not permit ourselves to be placed once more in [Page 909] the conditions we suffered in 1815, when we were obliged to abandon our neutrality to permit the hostile armies who were pursuing Napoleon, to cross a portion of our territory.

I understand that the Conference cannot give me a reply in this matter today. I did not come here as a petitioner. The question deserves serious consideration. We are being given an extremely short time in which, as an original member, to join the League of Nations. Moreover, we feel that it is entirely to your interest that Switzerland should not remain outside the League; just as we ourselves have a very real interest in joining the League, in order to continue to fulfill the humanitarian and philanthropic duties, which, thanks to our geographical position, we have been able to carry on during this war, and which have been of some service to the various countries.

We are of opinion that Switzerland, if neutral, might be admitted into the League of Nations in the peculiar position of a country that has always been neutral, placed as it is in the centre of Europe, and made up of races speaking different languages—a country which, consequently, can exist owing to its neutrality alone.

We earnestly beg the representatives of the Governments forming the Supreme Council to be good enough to tell us that such was their intention when they recognized the neutrality of Switzerland: and, further, if any special conditions are to be introduced, whether these may be discussed with the Council of the League of Nations. It seems to me, however, that the Council of the League of Nations ought at least to know the intentions of those who signed the Treaty of Peace, for that Council might confront us with the objection that it had not signed the Treaty, and that, consequently, it does not know how the latter should be interpreted on the matter of the neutrality of Switzerland. That is the delicate point to which I venture to draw your attention.

In a memorandum which I have had the honor, together with my Colleague, Professor Max Huber, to address to all the Representatives of the Powers at the Conference, I developed and set forth with the greatest clearness and extreme frankness the point of view of the Federal Council. We are entirely at the disposal of the Governments represented here, to confer with them amicably and openly on this question. We shall tell them frankly our point of view. We quite understand that you are unable to give us a final reply to this question today, but we wish to draw your attention to the necessity of giving it a speedy settlement, in order that the matter may not arise three weeks or a month hence, after the prescribed time limit for joining the League of Nations has expired.

These, gentlemen, are the observations which I desired to submit.

[Page 910]

Mr. Clemenceau: I have now only to thank Mr. Ador for the statement which he has kindly submitted to us.

(Mr. Ador and Professor Max Huber left the room.)

Mr. Nitti: I agree entirely with the considerations which have just been urged.

It seems to me that the neutrality of Switzerland ought to be maintained; from the military and political point of view it is of the greatest interest that this neutrality should be as complete as possible. But the question is a complex one; it does not arise merely from a military point of view, it has also to be considered from an economic point of view. Is it to be admitted that Switzerland, in joining the League of Nations, would be able to take part in an economic blockade? That might determine a limit to punitive measures. What we desire is that Swiss neutrality should remain intact. We have every interest in maintaining it as complete as possible.

Mr. Clemenceau: It is a question which must of necessity be examined by the Council of the League of Nations.

Mr. Laroche: As regards the time limit prescribed for entry into the League of Nations, the opinion of the legal experts may be adopted: according to that the time limit dates from the coming into force of the last Treaty of Peace. In these conditions Switzerland would not have two months in which to join the League of Nations dating from the coming into force of the Treaty of Versailles, she would have two months dating from the coming into force of the last Treaty of Peace.

It was decided:

Questions concerning the entry of Switzerland into the League of Nations, which were stated to the Supreme Council by Mr. Ador, on behalf of the Federal Council, should be referred to the Council of the League of Nations for examination and report:
in notifying Mr. Ador of this decision, the President of the Conference shall inform him that, in view of the attitude of the Federal Constitution, and in order to facilitate Switzerland’s entry into the League of Nations, the Supreme Council admits that for Switzerland only, the period of two months dating from the coming into force of the Covenant, as provided in the Covenant, for entry into the League, shall date not from the coming into force of the Treaty of Versailles, but from the coming into force of the last Treaty of Peace containing the Covenant to be signed by the Allied and Associated Powers.

Mr. Wallace: The American Embassy in Paris has received a telegram according to which the General commanding the Roumanian army of occupation in Hungary, has just notified the Interallied Military Mission in Budapest, where there still are a British, a French and an Italian Representative, [Page 911] that, since the Roumanian troops are now east of the Theiss, he desires that the mission will no longer send him direct communications, but that it will address them to Bucharest. This is in contradiction with the orders of the Supreme Council. 5. Affairs of Roumanis and Hungary

The Government of the United States desires, on the other hand, to know what measures were taken by the Supreme Council obliging the Roumanians to effect the evacuation of Hungarian territory according to its orders.

Mr. Clemenceau: Since we are going to hear the Roumanian President of the Council, the simplest method in order to be certain, would be to ask him the question.

(Mr. Vaida-Voevod, Roumanian President of the Council, and Mr. Cantacuzens were admittted.)

Mr. Clemenceau: Before asking you to speak, I have a question to put. We have just received from President Wilson a telegram in which he asks what measures we have taken in order to compel the Roumanians to evacuate Hungarian territory.

May I ask you if you are in a position today to tell us by what date this evacuation will be completed?

Mr. Vaida-Voevod: It is to our interest that these territories be evacuated as soon as possible. In accordance with the obligations which we have undertaken towards the Supreme Council, this evacuation has already begun. If it is not completed it is because we have had to cope with difficulties of a technical nature: we have no locomotives to effect the transport of troops; and we have, further, had great difficulty, at this particular time of the year, in finding shelter for our soldiers.

It is my opinion that the evacuation will still take several weeks.

Mr. Clemenceau: Can you fix a date for us by which you undertake that the evacuation of Hungarian territories shall be completed?

Mr. Vaida-Voevod: In order to fix a date, I should be obliged to consult our military experts. I think I can say that the evacuation will be completed within a few weeks.

Mr. Clemenceau: What do you mean by “a few weeks”?

Mr. Vaida-Voevod: I hope that the evacuation will be completed by the 1st of March. But we will make every effort to hasten it as much as possible.

Mr. Clemenceau: There is another point to which I wish to call your attention.

The General commanding the Roumanian army in Hungary has notified the Interallied Military Mission in Budapest, which still includes a British, a French, and an Italian Representative, that as he is now east of the Theiss, he desires that the mission should no longer send communications to him direct, but should address them [Page 912] to Bucharest, a request which is in contradiction of the orders given to the mission by the Supreme Council.

Mr. Vaida-Voevod: I will give proper orders on this matter.

Mr. Lloyd George: I wish to say a word on this question. Ever since July we have urgently insisted that the evacuation of Hungary by Roumanian troops must be carried out. This evacuation has always been retarded on account of various difficulties. We are told today that if it cannot be carried out more quickly it is for want of means of transport. The Roumanian army of occupation has, however, been able to find the means of transport to transfer to Roumania the cattle and agricultural implements requisitioned by her. These facts may very well give rise to fresh difficulties between the Roumanians and Hungarians, and cause Roumania to forfeit the sympathies of those who are her best friends, simply on account of the resistance she has so long shown to the desire expressed by the Supreme Council that this evacuation be effected without delay. At present, since their agricultural implements have been taken away, the Hungarian peasants are deprived of the means of working, it is to be feared that they may lose patience and that bloodshed may ensue. If war again broke out it would be regrettable, under these conditions, to think that the responsibility would rest with Roumania, and that consequently, she would not have the sympathy of the western Powers.

Mr. Vaida-Voevod: I do not wish here to recall the past. My role is to busy myself with the present and to face the future.

I am obliged to state that Roumania was devastated by German and Austro-Hungarian troops, who took away her agricultural implements, and above all her cattle. The trains were not able to take to Germany all the cattle that was stolen. On account of the slowness of means of communication these probably died on the way. Cattle worth fortunes were thus wasted between the Theiss and the Danube. Transylvania, in particular, was the object of systematic requisitioning. All the cattle in that region were taken, on the grounds that such provisions were indispensable for the army.

Roumania possessed locomotives of the latest model: Marshal von Mackensen took possession of these. In these distressing conditions, we Had to endure the Bolshevist attacks of Bela Kun, at the time when the Supreme Council was preparing a plan to deal a mortal blow to Bolshevism. The attack which surprised us was extremely violent. In order to resist it the Roumanian army had to fight hard battles. We have to deplore in consequence, the loss of several thousands of men and officers of high rank.

We had to take preventative measures for the future. Unfortunately a misunderstanding between the Supreme Council and Roumania occurred, and it is to avoid enduring in the future the [Page 913] evils which have overwhelmed us in the past, that I ask permission to draw the attention of the Supreme Council to certain definite facts. Admiral Horthy is at present organizing conspiracies not only at Budapest, but on our own territory. He is forming White Guards, at the head of which he is placing officers of the former Magyar and Austro-Hungarian army. These officers have under them officers of lower rank scattered throughout the villages. A veritable net-work of conspiracies has thus been established. At present they are merely at the organizing state, but no secret is made of the fact that next spring they will pass on to action. A plan has already been prepared: it consists of seizing the municipal buildings, stations, and post and telegraph offices.

A fortnight ago we arrested some of the conspirators; officers who served in Karolyi’s army. The Allied representatives at Bucharest requested us to set them at liberty. We made no difficulty about that. We thought that they would cease planning conspiracies, but scarcely were they released when they returned to their former activities. The High Command of the Roumanian army is taking measures to guard against all eventualities in this matter, but an attack will most certainly be directed against the Czecho-Slovaks, the Yugoslavs, and the Roumanians in the spring. I consider it a moral duty for the Supreme Council, in the interest of the Great Powers themselves, to take the necessary measures in order that the Magyars shall not attack us after the signature of the Treaty of Peace.

I desire especially to appeal to Mr. Lloyd George and to ask him to show some pity towards the Roumanian peasants. Whilst the Magyar peasant is still fairly well clothed, the Roumanian peasant is deprived of everything. He is overwhelmed with poverty. The German troops took every thing from him. They left only one shirt to each peasant and took away even the children’s cradles. The country was literally sacked. No population has suffered so much as the Roumanian population.

If the Magyar peasants rise up, their insurrection will not be due to exorbitant requisitioning inflicted by the German [Rumanian?] troops, it will be due to the Bela Kun and the Christian Socialist movements. The Jews are now the victims of the murders and insurrections which take place, but tomorrow the peasants will rise against the landed proprietors, and, if any attempt is made to avoid the application of agrarian reform, they will turn against the Government which refuses them the land. Gentlemen, I do not wish to promise anything which I cannot fulfill. I will give orders for the evacuation of Hungarian territory, and I hope they will be carried out. In conclusion I will repeat once more the urgent request which, at the beginning of these observations, I addressed to the Supreme [Page 914] Council, to take all necessary measures in order that the Czecho-Slovak, Yugo-Slavs, and we ourselves may not become the object of an attack on the part of the Magyars, and in order that our safety may be assured in future.

Mr. Lloyd George: You say that you are afraid of being attacked in March; your troops are, however, still in Hungarian territory, which Roumania promised to evacuate. If you were attacked while Roumania was still occupying territory which ought to remain Hungarian, what would you have to complain of? The Hungarians will employ all imaginable means in their attempts to drive you from it, and they will be entirely within their rights in so doing.

Mr. Vaida-Voevod: Perhaps the Hungarian offensive will begin in this manner, but there is no doubt but that the Hungarians will subsequently try to invade territories which have been assigned by the Treaty of Peace either to the Czecho-Slovaks, the Roumanians, or the Yugo-Slavs. Besides, the Roumanian troops were received with much enthusiasm when they entered Hungary, for the people considered that we had delivered them from the Bolshevists.

Mr. Clemenceau: You are not entirely answering Mr. Lloyd George’s remark, who states that you are occupying these territories in spite of the Conference. For many months past you have promised to evacuate; in not keeping your promise, you are affording your enemies a pretext for aggression. That is the opinion of the Conference, and I can do nothing in the matter. You say, “It will be understood, etc.” It is not a question of understanding, it is a question of preventing the aggression of which you may be the victim.

Mr. Vaida-Voevod: We shall withdraw our troops.

Mr. Clemenceau: Let it be as soon as possible! If you desire the support of the Conference, your troops must be withdrawn without delay from Hungarian territory.

Mr. Vaida-Voevod: We shall do so as soon as possible; and then it will be necessary for you to help us.

Mr. Lloyd George: The danger will be far less than if war were to ensue because the Roumanian troops remained in Hungary, and the Allies were therefore unable to show for Roumania the sympathy which, in other circumstances, they would have shown.

Mr. Clemenceau: We are well aware that you, gentlemen, are not responsible for this state of affairs, but your attitude is of the greatest importance as regards Roumania: by your actions you will either keep or forfeit the sympathy of the Conference.

If it is the desire of the Council, the incident shall be considered closed, and the Roumanian President of the Council shall speak to us on the subject of Bessarabia. I will now ask him to speak, but he must not forget that the Conference has already come to a decision on that subject.

[Page 915]

Mr. Vaida-Voevod: The Conference has in theory come to a decision on this subject, which I have not forgotten; it has recognized Roumania’s right to annex Bessarabia, but, without desiring to weary you with a long statement, I should like to ask the Conference to ensure the realization of that decision. 6. Question of Bessarabia

Mr. Clemenceau: Yes, but you must understand that your position is a false one: you do not carry out certain decisions of the Conference while you ask it to carry out others. I know you are not personally responsible for this. I have explained to you the state of mind of the Conference.

Mr. Vaida-Voevod: After the ratification of the Treaty of Peace, the frontiers of Roumania on the Bessarabian side will be finally determined. The population of Bessarabia has decided to join Roumania, a decision which was proclaimed for the third time by the deputies appointed at the last elections, without distinction of speech, race or nationality; on December 29, 1919, they all voted for union with the mother country. The Conference has virtually recognized this state of affairs, but it has not actually proclaimed it, and our position is difficult in consequence since we are neighbors of the Bolsheviks and have to live, not to philosophize. Bolshevist ideas were spread among us, especially recently, by Russians who fled from Odessa when the Bolsheviks again approached that town. We offered them generous hospitality, but we could not distinguish among the refugees those who were Bolsheviks and those who were not. The Conference has not yet fully granted us Bessarabia and, if the Russians advance still more, the population will be in a state of great uncertainty. Some people among them are in favor of the Bolsheviks because they hope to render impossible the execution of the agrarian reform begun by us. Moreover, there are Roumanian priests who were brought up at Kiev and who long for the old regime which gave them a position privileged in comparison with that which they now have: they are pro-Russian agents. Such a state of affairs cannot come to an end until you recognize that Bessarabia must be joined to Roumania; until then it will be impossible to restore order in that part of our territory.

Mr. Clemenceau: Will you kindly summarize what you ask of us?

Mr. Vaida-Voevod: We have summarized our requests in a note which I have ventured to transmit to the Conference. We want the Conference to recognize the union of Bessarabia with Roumania de jure.

Mr. Clemenceau: Have we not already done so?

Mr. Vaida-Voevod: Yes, but that was at the time when it was still hoped that Kolchak would defeat the Bolsheviks. That was some time ago, but if now the Conference would proclaim the union of [Page 916] Bessarabia with Roumania, the result would be a legal position on which we could base the restoration of order.

Mr. Clemenceau: It is not the defeat of Kolchak which prevents us from giving you satisfaction, but it is your disobedience of the unanimous wishes of the Conference. First of all we want the evacuation of those territories which are not given to you by the Treaty of Peace and you talk of postponing the evacuation of Hungary once more for a month or six weeks. That is what troubles us, although we are in agreement in principle.

Mr. Vaida-Voevod: We will carry out that evacuation in the shortest possible time.

Mr. Clemenceau: You say so, but we have been awaiting your evacuation for months: I am explaining to you the difficulty by which we are confronted.

Mr. Vaida-Voevod: The two questions should not be connected, since the Magyars attacked us.

Mr. Clemenceau: But you disobeyed the Conference from the very beginning. I know that is not in the least your fault and I should like to satisfy you. Only a short time ago we were agreed not to give you Bessarabia because you constantly disobeyed the Conference. Now our opinions are different, but we cannot reply unconditionally to your request; we are obliged to defer our reply because you yourselves deferred evacuation.

Mr. Vaida-Voevod: Sir, I undertake to wire this very day ordering evacuation as soon as possible.

Mr. Clemenceau: Please believe that I am not hostile to you—quite the contrary.

Mr. Lloyd George: We cannot grant you what you ask if, when we take a decision in your favor, you accept it, but when we take a decision which is not beneficial to Roumania, Roumania resists.

Mr. Vaida-Voevod: The engagement which we have taken to carry out the decision of the Conference shall, I assure you, be fulfilled.

The present Roumanian Government cannot be punished for the faults of the former regimes.

Mr. Clemenceau: We want to help, not to punish you.

Mr. Vaida-Voevod: I will give the order for evacuation in conditions which are considered practicable by the Conference, but I cannot give a promise which I might be unable to keep.

Mr. Clemenceau: The Conference is in sympathy with your cause, but it has been hindered by your predecessor for two years.

Mr. Lloyd George: We are convinced of your intention to evacuate Hungary, but we think you may be faced by certain difficulties from the military party and we think the military party would be more [Page 917] willing to obey the order of the Conference to evacuate Hungary immediately if you said to them: “The Conference is waiting our evacuation of Hungary before deciding that Bessarabia shall be definitely Roumanian.”

Mr. Vaida-Voevod: I thank you with all my heart. From that I conclude that the Conference will acknowledge our claim to Bessarabia from the day evacuation is effected. I may say that?

Mr. Clemenceau: Yes.

Mr. Lloyd George: We cannot now say that we undertake to recognize your right: we can only say that we are going to discuss it as soon as you have evacuated Hungary.

Mr. Vaida-Voevod: That does not give me the moral support which I require.

Mr. Clemenceau: I would willingly go further than Mr. Lloyd George: in my name, and I think I can say in the name of France, I can state that we are prepared to recognize Roumania’s right to Bessarabia.

(Mr. Miller and made a sign of assent.)

Mr. Lloyd George: As Mr. Berthelot pointed out, the Commission on Roumanian Affairs, on which all the Powers are represented, has unanimously decided to attribute Bessarabia to Roumania. That is the actual position.

Mr. Clemenceau: We are all sincere in this matter.

Mr. Vaida-Voevod: Gentlemen, I thank you for the great concession you have granted me; I will do my best to ensure the evacuation of Hungarian territories as soon as possible and also the settlement of the question of Bessarabia.

(Mr. Vaida-Voevod and Mr. Cantacuzens withdrew.)

The Council took note of the statements of Mr. Vaida-Voevod; it acknowledged that, although it had as yet come to no decision as to the attribution of Bessarabia and could not do so until Roumania had carried out the orders of the Conference in Hungary, the Commission on Roumanian Affairs was unanimously of opinion that this territory should be attributed to Roumania.

(Marshal Foch and General Weygand were introduced.)

Mr. Clemenceau: I have before me a proposal from Mr. Patek, Polish Minister for Foreign Affairs, which raises the question of the defence of Poland against the Bolsheviks. Mr. Patek proposes to refer this question to the Military Committee at Versailles, of which Marshal Foch is Chairman. 7. Defence of Poland Against the Bolsheviks

I suppose nobody has any objections to make?

Mr. Lloyd George: This letter was not communicated to me.

Mr. Clemenceau: Mr. Berthelot will have it circulated.

[Page 918]

Marshal Foch: Our plans are upset by the absence of nine English battalions destined for the plebiscite territories. We will attempt to find a means of remedying the situation. The first question, I will ask is the following: Can Italy undertake to supply some troops in place of the English battalions? 8. Occupation of Plebiscite Zones

Mr. Nitti: For the time being I can give no undertaking.

Mr. Clemenceau: Mr. Lloyd George, you and I discussed this matter yesterday. As England cannot supply the number of men we counted upon, we discussed the question as to whether Italy and France could make up the deficit. Marshal Foch was not there. It was a matter of no less than five battalions for us, which is a great deal. There are eleven battalions short: England was to have supplied one, Italy five, and France five. I am afraid that is more than we can give.

Marshal Foch: In view of the absence of ten English battalions, there are questions of principle which I ask leave to submit to the assembled Governments.

The most serious question is that of Dantzig. Dantzig was to have received four battalions, including two English and one American. These are missing: only one French battalion remains. To occupy a large town with only one French battalion is very dangerous.

Mr. Clemenceau: Could we not send one or two supplementary battalions?

Marshal Foch: We have not got them. In these circumstances I ask the Governments whether they could not consider this solution: send only one battalion to Dantzig, but on condition that we keep Polish troops near at hand so as to appeal to them in case of need. Those Polish troops would not occupy Dantzig, but they could enter it in case of necessity.

Mr. Clemenceau: What do you mean by “near at hand”?

Marshal Foch: On the borders of Dantzig territory.

Mr. Clemenceau: While I am here, I should prefer that we make an effort, which I think could be made, to send French troops instead of bringing Polish troops to some station near at hand: that would create difficulties of which we cannot at present foresee the consequences. When must Dantzig be occupied?

Marshal Foch: The first troops must leave on the 27th of this month. To send one single French battalion to Dantzig is, I repeat, very unwise.

Mr. Clemenceau: I propose that two battalions are taken from the 40,000 men guarding German prisoners. The Polish solution you suggested is dangerous, not from the military, but from other points of view. That is my opinion, but I believe that the President of the Council, who is to succeed me tomorrow, shares it.

[Page 919]

Mr. Millerand: Certainly.

Mr. Nitti: For my part, I will do all I can.

Marshal Foch: Even if two battalions are taken from the prisoners’ guard, they will not be ready for some time yet.

Mr. Clemenceau: I do not ask you to perform a miracle, I ask you to do what you can.

Marshal Foch: If in a fortnight’s time there should be firing at Dantzig, we shall run a great risk.

The same question arises in the case of Silesia. We ought to have a total of 18 battalions there. As the English and American battalions are lacking, six French battalions and 3 Italian remain, i. e. 9 instead of 18. If absolutely necessary, that might be sufficient, on condition that we renounce the occupation of Teschen, which is quite close.

Mr. Clemenceau: That is impossible: it would mean civil war at Teschen.

Mr. Lloyd George: How many battalions were there to have been at Teschen?

Marshal Foch: Three: one French, one Italian and one American.

Mr. Lloyd George: Are three battalions required at Teschen?

Mr. Clemenceau: The Americans are lacking.

General Weygand: If we had had 18 battalions in Silesia, we should have been able to do without the Americans at Teschen, keeping only two battalions there; if anything serious had happened at Teschen, we should have appealed to the troops in Silesia. But now that the troops in Silesia are practically reduced to nothing, we cannot count any more on those actually there.

Mr. Clemenceau: I think if there is one French and one Italian battalion at Teschen, that is quite sufficient.

General Weygand: The position of Teschen has not changed, but we asked that the troops provided for Teschen might be sent to Silesia. The Chairman of the Governing Commission of Silesia will be responsible for maintaining order in Silesia with a reduced number of nine battalions instead of 18. That is extremely difficult. The question is to know whether the Chairman of the Silesian Commission will undertake the responsibility.

Mr. Clemenceau: You must confer on this subject with General Le Rond. It is not for us to take decisions of a purely military nature. If, after conferring with General Le Rond, Marshal Foch says it is impossible, we shall be obliged to find another solution.

General Weygand: General Le Rond is Chairman of the Governing Commission. In this capacity his mission is not military: he is undertaking the government of Silesia. It is by chance that this government has been entrusted to a soldier.

[Page 920]

Mr. Clemenceau: There is a Governing Interallied Commission which is going to administer Silesia. Its Chairman is General Le Rond. It was arranged that he was to have 18 battalions at his disposal. This number is reduced to nine. If the Commission says: “I undertake to administer Silesia with 9 battalions”, I will let them do it; but if it says that it cannot do so, I for my part cannot impose that responsibility on it. What is the opinion of the Commission?

Marshal Foch: I have not consulted it. I therefore request that there may be a meeting this very evening between the Chairmen of the Commissions, the representatives of the Governments and the Allied military representatives to decide whether the Commissions for plebiscite districts and Dantzig can perform their duties with this reduced force.

Mr. Clemenceau: I should like this question to be settled as soon as possible and the heads of Governments to be informed this very evening of the conclusions of this meeting, so that Mr. Nitti, Mr. Lloyd George and Mr. Millerand or myself may consider the matter.

General Weygand: Each Delegation should appoint a diplomatic or political representative, since political questions are concerned, and a military representative. They should also be able to consult the heads of the Governing Commissions.

Mr. Berthelot: All the troops provided for Upper Silesia are not required immediately, for the difficulties of maintaining order will begin with the plebiscite operations themselves. That is not immediate. Now the two battalions at present at Teschen will be free within three months at the latest; they could then be sent to Upper Silesia. I think this consideration, which is one side of the question, should be taken into account.

General Weygand: An officer who has returned from Silesia states that the Germans are still retaining their troops in all the territories which must be evacuated under the Treaty. Difficulties may arise on that score.

Mr. Berthelot: We can expect some violation of the Treaty by the Germans everywhere. We must not forget that, but, on the other hand, we need not think that they will inevitably take place everywhere. I know the documents to which you have just referred. I do not think them convincing; the Germans have often made attempts of that kind which have come to nothing.

General Weygand: According to the agreements signed with the Germans, they must evacuate territories on the arrival of our troops. If we cannot send the troops on which we are counting, the Germans may consider those territories unoccupied. Will the Chairmen of the [Page 921] Governing Commissions accept this responsibility? We must know their opinions.

Mr. Berthelot: They will give their opinion this evening.

Marshal Foch: The meeting of the Chairmen of the Commissions and the delegates of each Government might take place at four o’clock.

Mr. Clemenceau: Have you any other communications to make?

Marshal Foch: At Memel there is only one battalion left. Is that enough in a port like Memel? Moreover, there is no governor at Memel.

Mr. Berthelot: It was said that the governor would be the officer commanding the troops. It may be the head of the French battalion as it was formerly the English officer.

Marshal Foch: No, it was an English general. The head of an English battalion would not be enough there.

Mr. Clemenceau: Send them an officer of high rank.

Mr. Berthelot: There is no great danger of disturbances or violence at Memel.

Marshal Foch: There are no troops left in Allenstein. Allenstein was to have been occupied by the English. Is it still to be occupied?

Mr. Berthelot: The Germans have discussed the occupation of Allenstein. It was not in the Treaty. The matter was entirely forgotten.

Marshal Foch: There is only one Italian battalion at Marienwerder, but that is sufficient.

Mr. Clemenceau: I do not know what conclusions will be reached at the meeting this evening. They should be communicated immediately to the heads of Governments in order that a practical conclusion may be reached. The heads of Governments should also meet this evening or tomorrow morning at the latest to adopt resolutions.

Mr. Nitti: Unfortunately I have to leave for Italy this evening at 8 o’clock, on account of urgent business.

Mr. Clemenceau: We will meet at six o’clock.

It was decided:

that in the afternoon Marshal Foch should preside over a Committee composed of political and military representatives of the British, French and Italian Governments together with the Chairmen of the Governing Commissions of Marienwerder, Allenstein, Upper Silesia, and Teschen and with the Allied representative at Dantzig, in order to examine whether it would be possible to ensure the administration of the said territories with reduced forces, in view of the temporary withdrawal of the British contingents;
That the Supreme Council would meet at 6 p.m. to examine the report of that Committee.

Mr. Nitti: Before the meeting rises, I must make a statement with regard to the Adriatic question. We hope, for the sake of the peace [Page 922] of Europe, that this question will be settled as soon as possible. Unfortunately, a solution has not been reached up to the present. 9. Question of the Adriatic

In those circumstances, I must make the following statement:

“His Majesty’s Government, being desirous of reaching an equitable solution of the Adriatic question in the general interest, has made proposals and accepted counter-proposals extending to the uttermost limit the concessions compatible with the vital interests of Italy.

“During the course of negotiations, the Allies have had occasion to observe the extent of the spirit of conciliation and sacrifice shown by Italy.

“In spite of this, the efforts she has made to reach an agreement have constantly failed owing to the absolutely uncompromising spirit of the Jugo-Slav aspirations.

“Consequently, after noting with regret the impossibility of reaching a conclusion, the Italian Delegation feels compelled to declare that it considers all concessions made during the long negotiations as of no effect and null and void.

“In these circumstances, the Treaty of London of 19154 must be carried into full effect.”

Mr. Clemenceau: As President of the Conference, I am obliged to say that this seems to me quite impossible under present circumstances, inasmuch as it is at variance with procedure we have already adopted.

In agreement with Mr. Nitti, we have requested a reply from the Serbian Government: This reply has not yet reached us, owing to the interruption of the telegraph wires; it does not, therefore, seem possible for the Italian Government to withdraw the concessions it has made without at the same time injuring most seriously both itself and the Conference. The impossibility of an agreement cannot be stated until that becomes evident from the Serbian reply. To postulate one now would throw upon you a heavy responsibility in the eyes of all Europe, owing to the consequences which might be entailed by a rupture of the Conference on this point. I am certain I express the opinion of all the members of the Council when I invite Mr. Nitti to prolong his stay in Paris for a few hours, until the arrival of the Serbian reply.

Mr. Lloyd George: I join in the appeal made by the President. Negotiations once before reached a point at which agreement seemed very probable. Then an incident occurred which caused keen feeling on both sides. Mr. Orlando decided to leave for Rome; Mr. Clemenceau and I besought him not to go; we told him that, if he went [Page 923] to Rome, there would be popular manifestations which would render it impossible for him to accept concessions which might otherwise have been possible. I believe there were members of the Italian Delegation who shared this opinion. Nevertheless, Mr. Orlando left; if he had left 45 hours later with the solution of the affair in his pocket, all would be finished today.

No doubt it is presumptuous of me to discuss what should be done with regard to the opinion of a foreign nation, but I cannot do otherwise than support what Mr. Clemenceau has just said. I do not think it reasonable for Mr. Nitti to leave before being certain that the Serbs will not accept the proposed solution; that would merely be fanning the flames; unless other urgent reasons compel Mr. Nitti to leave Paris this very evening, we beg him to prolong his visit a little.

Mr. Berthelot: On Saturday we were given to hope that we should have the reply this afternoon. That assurance is rather doubtful, in view of the state of communications, but it is not the fault of the Serbs.

Moreover, we have received a telegram of January 16 from our agent at Belgrade, according to which the President of the Serbian Council accepted the proposed arrangement, save for two or three points; the opinion was conciliatory.

Mr. Nitti: I think, Sir, there is a misunderstanding. I did not say that I was leaving the Conference because I was not in agreement with the Serbs; I said quite clearly that I was returning to Italy for domestic reasons. Since six o’clock this morning we have had a railway strike; a reduced service will run, but I think that my presence is necessary. This movement is not only of interest to Italy; its bearing is more general, it is only beginning with Italy: it is therefore to the interest of all the Allied countries that a solution should be reached as soon as possible. I have no desire to break with the Jugo-Slavs; I have always considered the Jugo-Slav question with the utmost impartiality and in quite a friendly spirit, but we cannot exceed the limits of the concessions we have made. If I went beyond that, I should no longer be master of the situation. If the Serbs approve of the conditions which you yourselves approved, I am at the disposal of the Conference, but the situation must not be prolonged, otherwise we shall fall back upon the provisions of the Treaty of London.

Mr. Clemenceau: The result of what you have just said is that for the moment your note is null and void: they must accept or not accept, there is no middle course.

Mr. Nitti: We have made the last concession we can; if, while awaiting a solution, the Serbs were to quibble—excuse this expression—and prolong the present state of things, the result would be [Page 924] general embarrassment for us, for themselves, and for the Conference.

Mr. Clemenceau: In short, the concessions made by Italy are still open?

Mr. Nitti: Yes.

Mr. Lloyd George: We have already said that, if negotiations fail, we will carry out the Treaty of London, and we said it not only to the Italian Premier, but also to Mr. Trumbich and Mr. Pachich: consequently, the Serbs know perfectly well what are the intentions of France and Great Britain.

Mr. Clemenceau: We are in agreement.

The meeting adjourned at 1:15 p.m.

Appendix A to ICP–22

[Draft Telegram Addressed to the French Ambassador at Washington for Transmission to the American Government]

French Ambassador, Washington.

I beg you to submit to the American Government, on the part of the Peace Conference, the following telegram.

The overthrow of Admiral Koltchak and General Denikin has led the Allied Governments to again take up the Russian question as it is now evident that the attempt, supported up to the present time by the Allies, to overthrow the Bolshevist regime by anti-Bolshevist forces has definitely failed.

After attentive examination the Allies have decided upon the two following conclusions:

In the first place, after having heard the Representatives of the Russian Cooperative Societies, which are the only organizations which have survived the Bolshevist efforts at destruction and which have a membership of 25,000,000 persons, they have decided to permit the free exchange of the products necessary for the Russian peasants, to be obtained in Allied countries, on condition that grain, flax, skins, and other raw products to be found in Russia, be received in exchange. The Allies have been advised by the Representatives of the Russian Cooperative Societies that last year’s corn crop in southern Russia established a record and that enormous quantities of food stuffs and other raw products are available for exportation if the necessary transportation facilities can be obtained, and if merchandise could be shipped to Russia in exchange for which the peasants would be disposed to surrender their products. These food stuffs are absolutely necessary in Europe in order to meet the acute food shortage which is the principal encouragement to Bolshevism in the West. [Page 925] The Russian Cooperative Societies are also convinced that the most efficient action which could be taken against the Bolshevists is to put these commercial exchanges into operation. These Cooperatives point out that it is possible for a Government in time of war to deprive the population of many of the conveniences of life, but that, on the other hand, as soon as the pressure of the state of war ceases to be felt, the population will act on its Government in order that the sale of its products, and the purchase, in exchange, of clothing, shoes, machinery, etc., may be rendered possible. Now that the defeat of Koltchak and Denikin has robbed the Bolshevists of the argument that they are fighting for the defense of the revolution and the protection of peasant property, the pressure exercised by the Bolshevists, to end the state of war, restore normal conditions, and abandon the measures of repression which have no other justification than the state of war itself, will be infinitely strengthened. In the opinion of the Allies the reorganization of Commerce is the best means of destroying the extremist forms of Bolshevism in Russia itself.

The projected exchange of products will not involve any negotiations between the Allied Governments and the Government of the Soviets, nor the recognition of the Bolshevists, nor the authorization for Bolshevist Representatives to enter the Allied countries. It will only imply a grant of facilities, by which the Cooperatives, which, for some time, have had organizations in the capitals of Europe, will be placed in a position to organize these exchanges of products with the Allied countries. This plan will naturally make it necessary for the Cooperatives to secure the consent and the assistance of the Soviet authorities, especially in the matter of transportation, but, for the reasons which have already been presented, it is thought that internal pressure will be strong enough to compel them to give their assent. With reference to the preceding, the United States are not directly concerned as they have never participated in the blockade, and, in consequence, the Allied Governments do not doubt but what the Government of the United States will fully approve this decision.

The second conclusion reached by the Allied Governments is that they must declare themselves as having arrived at an agreement, in so far as the future is concerned, by which they will observe a policy of non-intervention in affairs within the boundaries of Russia, but that they have recognized the independence of the neighboring States, to the list of which has just been added Georgia, Azerbaidjan, and Armenia, and that in the eventuality that the Bolshevists would refuse to make peace with these States and would attempt to infringe on the independence of the said communities by force, the Allies [Page 926] would accord these States the fullest support in their power. The Allied Governments are very desirous of knowing whether the Government of the United States is disposed to concur in this policy.5

Appendix B to ICP–22

Note From the Central Committee on Territorial Questions to the Supreme Council Relative to the Administration of Justice in the Occupied Territory of Western Thrace

The Central Committee on Territorial Questions has established, in accord with the Drafting Committee, a plan of statutes, hereto annexed, as to the organization of the judicial administration in the occupied territory of Western Thrace.

In submitting this plan, the members of the Central Committee unanimously recommend it for the approval of the Supreme Council.


Plan of Statutes Submitted by the General, Commander in Chief of the Allied Armies in the East, Relative to the Administration of Justice in the Occupied Territory of Western Thrace

The General, Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Armies in the East, acting in compliance with the powers conferred on him,

In view of Decree No. 1, of October 28, 1919, relative to the temporary administration of the occupied territory of Western Thrace.


Article 1

In civil matters, justice will be administered in the occupied territories of Western Thrace, in conformity with the local law, and in the name of the Law, by:

The Justices of the Peace, established in the town of each district;
The Central Tribunal, with headquarters at Gümüldjina;
The Court of Appeals, with headquarters at Gümüldjina;
Lastly, the Religious Tribunals now functioning.

[Page 927]

Article 2

The Justices of the Peace personnel shall include:

  • One judge only;
  • A clerk;
  • One or more sworn interpreters.

This personnel will be nominated by the Governor General.

Article 3

The Justice of the Peace will have jurisdiction over the entire District. He will be competent to deal initially in the Lower Court with cases involving sums as high as 3,000 Levas, and finally in the Lower and Higher Courts with cases as high as 1,000 Levas.

Article 4

The Central Tribunal will be composed as follows:

One President and two Judges; all three to be nominated by the General, Commander-in-Chief, on the recommendation of the Governor General, and chosen from among the local population; but to be of different nationalities;
One Chief Clerk of the Court and one or more interpreters, nominated by the Governor;

One or two assistant judges may be nominated. These nominations will be effected under the same conditions as those of the President and the Judges.

Article 5

The Jurisdiction of the Central Tribunal will extend over all the occupied territory of Western Thrace. The Tribunal will be authorized to deal with:

Appeals from judgments rendered by the Justices of the Peace in the Lower Court, and appeals on decisions rendered by the administration in fiscal matters;
Initially, on appeal, all litigations in which the amount involved does not exceed 10,000 Levas;
Initially, all litigations in which the amount involved exceeds 10,000 Levas.

Article 6

The Court of Appeals shall be composed of:

A President, named by the General, Commander-in-Chief, and chosen from among the French Magistrates;
Two Counsellors, chosen from among the British and Italian Drogmen of the British and Italian Diplomatic Missions to Constantinople, [Page 928] and named by the General, Commander-in-Chief, on the recommendation of the British and Italian Governments.

Article 7

The Court of Appeals will examine the appeals from judgments rendered, initially, by the Central Tribunal, and complaints formulated for violations of the law against decisions of the Justices of the Peace and the Central Tribunal, rendered initially or on appeal.

Article 8

The functions of the State Attorney shall be exercised before the Central Tribunal and the Court of Appeals by an Officer, appointed by the General, Commander-in-Chief, on the nomination by the Governor.

Article 9

The Religious Tribunals now existing shall retain their present composition and their present attribution.

Article 10

All decisions of the Justices of the Peace, of the Central Tribunal, and the Court of Appeals, shall be drawn up in French, and in the language the most commonly used on the spot.

Article 11

Regarding repressive measures, justice shall be rendered by the French Military authorities, in conformity with the French Military Code.

Article 12

During the period of occupation, the right of Consular jurisdiction shall be recognized by the Principal Allied and Associated Powers, and these Rights shall continue to be exercised by the Consuls of the other Powers as now accepted.

  1. HD–117, minute 5, p. 675; HD–120, minute 5, p. 728.
  2. Appendix D to HD–117, p. 681.
  3. Appendix D to HD–120, p. 737.
  4. Great Britain, Cmd. 671, Misc. No. 7 (1920): Agreement Between France, Russia, Great Britain and Italy, Signed at London, April 26, 1915.
  5. For the attitude of the United States Government with respect to the proposal of the Supreme Council, see telegram No. 483, March 6, 1920, 11 p.m., to the Ambassador in France, Foreign Relations, 1920, vol. iii, p. 703.