Paris Peace Conf. 180.03501/90
Notes of a Meeting of the Heads of Delegations of the Five Great Powers Held in M. Pichon’s Room, Quai d’Orsay, Paris, on Wednesday, November 12, 1919, at 10:30 a.m.
- America, United States of
- Hon. F. L. Polk
- Mr. L. Harrison
- British Empire
- Sir Eyre Crowe
- Mr. H. Norman
- M. Clemenceau
- M. Dutasta
- M. Berthelot
- M. de Saint Quentin
- M. de Martino
- M. Barone Russo
- M. Matsui
- M. Kawai
- America, United States of
|America, United States of||Capt. G. A. Gordon|
|British Empire||Capt. G. Lothian Small|
The following were also present for items in which they were concerned:
- America, United States of
- Mr. W. H. Buckler
- British Empire
- General Sackville-West
- Mr. Forbes-Adam
- Mr. A. Leeper
- General Weygand
- M. Laroche
- M. Galli
- M. Vannutelli-Rey
- M. Shigemitsu
1. (The Council had before it a draft note to M. Venizelos relative to the report of the Commission of Inquiry, prepared by the British Delegation (See Appendix “A”),1 a telegram from the French High Commissioner at Constantinople, dated Nov. 3 (See Appendix “B”), and a letter from the Greek Delegation, dated Nov. 4 (See Appendix “C”).) Note to M. Venizelos Relative to Incidents at Smyrna[Page 122]
M. Berthelot read the draft note prepared by the British Delegation.
M. Clemenceau raised the following point of form: on page 2 he thought the word “observed” should be changed to read “felt” in the sentence reading: “It hopes that the dangerous tension which at the present time does not seem to have ceased to make itself felt along the limits of the Greek occupation.”
Sir Eyre Crowe explained that in drawing up this note the British Delegation had wished to avoid mixing up two questions; he realized, however, that other questions, referred to on the previous day by M. Berthelot but not touched upon in this draft note, still remained to be settled. The question of the administration of Smyrna was a rather complex one and it might be well to turn it over to a Commission. A Commission on Greek Territorial Claims was already in existence. He understood that M. Venizelos had a good deal to say on this question and it would perhaps be better for him to be heard by that Commission.
M. de Martino agreed, particularly as he thought it was time that a decision should be reached relative to the relations between the Greek army of occupation and the local authorities on the one hand, and the central Government of Constantinople on the other. It would be well to be guided by the principles of The Hague Convention.2 On the other hand, it would be well to show consideration to M. Venizelos, who throughout the war had shown qualities of the highest value and whose difficulties were well known.
M. Clemenceau suggested that the question be referred to the Commission on Greek Territorial Claims which, if necessary, could solicit the advice of the military experts.
M. Berthelot pointed out that as General Bunoust, who was entirely familiar with the situation, was present he might give the Commission valuable advice.
Mr. Polk called the attention of the Council to a paragraph of the draft note authorizing the Greeks to advance from Aidin up to the river Kochak Chai. That clause was a very important one. It should be remembered that any further advance meant fighting between the Greeks and Turks. General Milne himself had recognized that fact. He therefore wished to ask if the Council deemed it advisable to assume the responsibility for such further conflict.
M. Clemenceau again pointed out that he could send no troops; he felt that possibly the best solution would be to have M. Venizelos withdraw his troops from the region of Aidin where they had gone without the consent of the Council.[Page 123]
Sir Eyre Crowe observed that that meant letting the Turks occupy this region.
M. Clemenceau inquired if the Italians were far distant from the Greeks in this region.
M. de Martino explained that they were not; that the Italian forces were within six hundred meters of the line of the River Meander and the parallel railroad. The Greek line was along the north bank of the river.
Sir Eyre Crowe explained that if the Greeks retired a triangle would be left between the river, the railroad and the Greek line, which included Aidin. To the south the line had been fixed by agreement between M. Venizelos and the Italian Government. He thought that it would not be advisable to withdraw the Greeks from the triangle in question and turn it over to Italian occupation.
M. de Martino pointed out that he had not made any such suggestion.
M. Clemenceau then suggested that the Greeks could be left at Aidin, but that they should not be allowed to advance.
Mr. Polk asked if General Milne himself had not said that a further advance by the Greeks would inevitably result in serious trouble.
Sir Eyre Crowe thought that General Milne had rather said that he would be willing to authorize a further advance if the Council was prepared for the fact that such an advance would mean encountering armed opposition. General Milne had favored that advance on strategic grounds.
M. Clemenceau observed that as M. Venizelos felt capable of conquering Asia, the Greek troops certainly should be able to maintain their ground at Aidin. He agreed with Mr. Polk that if the Council ordered a further advance it would be in a position of creating further trouble.
Mr. Polk said that he could not agree to a letter authorizing the Greeks to advance in view of the fact that the authorities on the spot had said that trouble would certainly ensue. He thought that this would be tantamount to authorizing the Greeks to advance and conquer additional territory.
Sir Eyre Crowe said that the only alternative was to let in the Turks who would then unquestionably start to massacre the Greeks.
Mr. Polk asked if Sir Eyre Crowe felt convinced of this?
Sir Eyre Crowe said that he did.
Mr. Polk said that his personal view was that if this line of action were followed all Asia Minor would eventually have to be occupied.
M. Clemenceau suggested that the Greeks be left at Aidin but that they be not authorized to advance further. (This was agreed to.)
M. de Martino wished to ask Sir Eyre Crowe if he could give him some information on the intentions of the British Government relative to the occupation of Aidin. According to a telegram which he had [Page 124]received from Italian Authorities on the spot, English troops were reported to be ready to advance on Aidin. General Montague Bates, commanding the 83rd Infantry Brigade, was said to be in command of those forces. On November 4th more than 70 cars were reported to have left for Afium Karahissar in order to transport the British Troops.
Sir Eyre Crowe replied that the British arrangement had been made in contemplation of Inter-Allied occupation. As no French troops could be sent he thought that the British troops would likewise not approach Aidin.
It was decided:
to approve the draft note to M. Venizelos relative to the report of the Commission of Inquiry at Smyrna prepared by the British Delegation (see Appendix “A”) after making the following modifications therein:
- on the second page of this draft note the sentence: “It hopes that the dangerous tension which at the present time does not seem to have ceased to make itself observed along the limits of the Greek zone of occupation”, should be changed to read, “It hopes that the dangerous tension which at the present time does not seem to have ceased to make itself felt along the limits of the Greek zone of occupation”;
- the clause: “In the meanwhile allowing the Greek troops to advance from Aidin up to the river Kochak Chai, according to General Milne’s recommendation” should be eliminated.
It was further decided:
to refer to the Commission on Greek Territorial Claims the questions pertaining to the administration of Smyrna (See Appendices “B” and “C”), and that the Commission should be at liberty to take the advice of Military Experts, in particular that of General Bunoust.
2. (The Council had before it a reply from the Roumanian Government transmitted by the Chargé d’Affaires of France, dated November 2nd, to the note of the Allied and Associated Powers dated October 20th [12th]3 (See Appendix “D”).) Reply of the Roumanian Government to the Note of October 20th [12th]
M. Clemenceau observed that the answer was very unsatisfactory and was even of a nature to cause anxiety.
Sir Eyre Crowe agreed. He felt that the answer was practically a refusal of all the demands presented by the Supreme Council. The only point upon which the Roumanians had even partially agreed was the evacuation of Hungary, and even on that point the Roumanian Government had made a most formidable reservation with respect to the extent of the Hungarian territory to be evacuated. The Roumanian answer gave no satisfaction to the Council’s demand relative to the evacuation in so far as concerned the withdrawal beyond the river [Page 125]Theiss. On all other points the answer was evasive and defiant. The Council should carefully examine the present situation in Roumania. Its authority must be respected. M. Bratiano was merely dilly-dallying and playing for time, and the measures adopted by him had resulted in deluding the majority of his countrymen into thinking him a great patriot. He (Sir Eyre Crowe) felt that if the King and the majority of the Roumanians were made clearly to see that a persistence in their present attitude would necessarily mean a breach with the Allied and Associated Powers and Roumania’s exclusion from the Alliance, then Roumania would adopt a more compliant attitude. He thought that in such an event the present Government would be forced to retire and that a Ministry would be constituted which would see the wisdom of meeting the Council’s just demands and would act accordingly. He thought the above considerations should be put very plainly to Roumania and that it should be told that if its reply to the communication proposed to be sent by the Council were not satisfactory it would mean the breaking off of relations between Roumania and the Allied and Associated Powers. The Roumanians could not be driven out of Hungary by force as the Council had no force to dispose of, and it seemed to him that the only alternative was the line of action he had proposed.
Mr. Polk said he welcomed any strong action.
M. Clemenceau thought that the action proposed by Sir Eyre Crowe was strong enough to meet the requirements of the situation.
M. de Martino inquired if it would be wise to adopt in its entirety Sir Eyre Crowe’s suggestion, which involved threatening Roumania. The resulting situation if the Roumanians should refuse to agree to the action proposed should be examined. If the Roumanians refused the situation would be worse than it was before.
M. Clemenceau thought that the terms of the communication to be sent to Roumania were reasonably clear. They could be plainly told that they would be no longer in the Alliance.
M. Berthelot reminded the Council that at the time of signing the Austrian Treaty it had considered telling Roumania that Bukovina would not be attributed to it, but that in the Austrian Treaty it would be given to the Principal Allied and Associated Powers. This had not been done as it had seemed too severe a measure to be judicious at that time. However, as it was now proposed to exert pressure on Roumania, it was well to examine the means of bringing this pressure to bear and a similar plan might now be considered. Roumania might be told that her claims to Transylvania would not be recognized and that the question of Bessarabia would not be discussed until it could be taken up with a reconstituted Russia. He pointed out that the Roumanian reply was [Page 126]satisfactory in so far as it announced the imminent withdrawal of the Roumanian forces to the Theiss; the result had been to facilitate negotiations with the Hungarians. What he was now suggesting was primarily theoretical. The question of the advisability of taking such measures must still be decided, for when considering the question of punishing a Government it would be well not to lose sight of the fact that the population should not be wholly antagonized.
Sir Eyre Crowe reminded the Council that Sir George Clerk had referred in a former telegram4 to Roumanian atrocities in Transylvania and the Council had inquired what part of Transylvania was meant.5 This question had not yet been answered but he had that day received a mass of documents relative to outrages in Transylvania, an examination of which might lead to the conclusion that the inhabitants of Transylvania were not as favorable to Roumania as might have been thought.
M. Clemenceau observed that two distinct questions were raised. First, was there a basis of right for taking away from Roumania the Hungarian territories in question? The second question related to the outrages committed by the Roumanians in Transylvania.
Mr. Polk said that he had always felt that if Roumania refused to accede to the very reasonable demands of the Council she should not have Transylvania given to her. He thought that such action was entirely too generous.
Sir Eyre Crowe felt that the difficulty was that if Transylvania were withheld from Roumania that would involve an occupation by Allied troops, which was obviously impossible.
Mr. Polk observed that if these territories were withheld from Roumania she would at least be in a position of never having been given them. Although occupation by the Allies was out of the question, he thought that such action would at least have a great moral effect.
M. de Martino thought that the point of prime importance was to rehabilitate the prestige of the Council. The action proposed by M. Berthelot was certainly rather severe. He would have to consult his Government on that point. In the meantime he thought that the Ministers at Bucarest might be instructed to take further action.
M. Clemenceau did not think this advisable in as much as the representatives of the Allied and Associated Powers at Bucarest had already done all they could do.
Sir Eyre Crowe said that in his personal opinion a communication should be sent to Roumania in the nature of a real ultimatum. He would, however, have to consult his government before agreeing to send such a communication.[Page 127]
Mr. Polk inquired if it were necessary to send a communication of that nature. Could not an answer be sent to Roumania pointing out that her latest communication to the Council was no answer at all, and demanding a satisfactory answer from her.
Sir Eyre Crowe felt that the time for such action had gone by and that the present was the time to act firmly and decisively.
M. Clemenceau agreed.
Mr. Polk also agreed.
M. Clemenceau suggested that Roumania should be informed that the Allied and Associated Powers would withdraw their representatives from Roumania and that the Roumanian representatives in the various capitals, as well as her representatives at the Peace Conference, must also be withdrawn. He further suggested that M. Berthelot should draft a note, taking into account the views expressed at that meeting, this note to be submitted to the Council as soon as the Heads of Delegations had been able to consult their respective Governments.
M. Berthelot pointed out that a diplomatic rupture was a serious matter and inquired if it was to be resorted to at once.
M. Clemenceau said that his patience was utterly exhausted. He had been long suffering with the Roumanian Government and had even been reproached for that attitude. The Roumanians always tried to prolong pourparlers indefinitely, and this must be put an end to.
M. Matsui agreed to the action proposed. He, of course, would have to consult his Government, which he thought would not raise any objections. He wished to point out that his Government had no diplomatic representation in Roumania. In the meantime, in as much as he might not be able to receive an answer from his Government until some time after the other members of the Council had heard from their respective Governments, he was willing to agree with the view which would be adopted.
M. Berthelot summarized the contents of the communication to be prepared by him. He would recall to Roumania all that had been done for her and in her behalf by the Allied and Associated Powers and would point out the refractory attitude consistently maintained by Roumania with respect to the just demands of the Supreme Council.
M. de Martino called attention to one paragraph of the Roumanian note which seemed to him to have some merit. That was the paragraph dealing with the granting of authority to the Sub-Committee of the Reparations Commission to receive complaints relative to unauthorized requisitions. Roumania had pointed out that in this respect she had been treated worse than the Jugo-Slav State had been in the matter of its requisitions in the Banat.
M. Berthelot explained that the situations were not at all analogous. The Serb-Croat-Slovene Government had never been in opposition to the Council on this question.[Page 128]
General Weygand stated that he had lately received a visit from Colonel Dimitrescu. He did not know the Colonel and was unaware how much importance should be attached to his statements. By way of information, however, he wished to tell the Council that Colonel Dimitrescu had complained of the Council’s attitude towards Roumania and had pointed out that the present Government in Roumania, mainly composed of Generals, was only able to attend to internal affairs; he therefore hoped that the Council would have patience with Roumania until elections had been held and a government constituted which was qualified to deal adequately with foreign affairs as well as internal matters.
M. Clemenceau thought that no importance should be attached to these remarks of Colonel Dimitrescu; M. Bratiano was behind the whole matter.
Sir Eyre Crowe observed that the Ministry of Generals had been put in power so that precisely that argument could be advanced.
It was decided:
That M. Berthelot should draft a note to the Roumanian Government, for submission to the Council, taking into account the views expressed by the Council at that meeting.
3. (The Council had before it a telegram from Sir George Clerk dated November 9th (See Appendix “E”) and a telegram from the Inter-Allied Military Mission dated November 10th (See Appendix “F”).) Situation in Hungary
Sir Eyre Crowe remarked that the situation in Hungary seemed to have greatly improved. He called attention to Sir George Clerk’s request that about 20 officers be sent to Hungary to be attached to various army and police units.
M. de Martino said that he was in favor of sending these officers if the other members of the Council were also.
Sir Eyre Crowe thought that the question of their payment would surely be raised. It seemed to him that they might well be paid by the Hungarian army.
M. Clemenceau agreed and said that he also favored sending these officers.
Mr. Polk said that at present Colonel Yates, he believed, was in charge of the reorganization of the Hungarian Gendarmerie. He thought that his Government would have no objection to sending a few officers to Hungary temporarily but he would of course have to consult his Government.
M. Clemenceau suggested that it might be well in replying to Sir George Clerk to warn him to be on his guard against a restoration of the Hapsburgs under any guise.[Page 129]
Sir Eyre Crowe remarked that this might be unnecessary in as much as Sir George Clerk had indicated that Friedrich’s departure was imminent.
M. Clemenceau pointed out that his retirement in many ways resembled that of M. Bratiano. Although nominally retiring he would still be remaining in power. He thought it would be well to include a general phrase of the tenor above suggested by him.
Sir Eyre Crowe agreed.
It was decided:
- that Sir Eyre Crowe should prepare, for submission to the Council at its next meeting, a telegram to Sir George Clerk in answer to the telegram, dated November 9th, received from him, and taking into account the telegram received from the Inter-Allied Military Mission dated November 10th;
- that the Heads of Delegation should examine the question of sending a total of about 20 Allied officers to Hungary.
4. (The Council had before it a note relative to the expenses of transportation of the Inter-Allied troops of occupation for Plebiscite Areas. (See Appendix “G”).) Expenses of Transportation of the Inter-Allied Troops of Occupation, and Maintenance of Said Troops and of Commissions, for Plebiscite Areas
General Weygand read and commented upon this note and pointed out that the German Government would certainly raise the question of the payment of expenses of transportation.
M. Clemenceau observed that the work to be done by these troops would be for the account of various interested countries. He thought that those countries might well bear the expenses.
Sir Eyre Crowe thought that the proper solution, but wished to point out that in the case of Danzig and Memel the Council had decided that those expenses should be borne by the local authorities.6
Mr. Polk suggested that the matter be referred to the Drafting Committee.
(This was agreed to.)
M. de Martino wished to bring up a question closely related to the foregoing one. In the plebiscite areas the expenses of maintenance of the Inter-Allied troops and Commissions would entail expenses which had not yet been estimated with exactness. These expenses, however, would be considerable. According to the terms of the Treaty these expenses were to be met by the local revenues of each plebiscite area. In the case of Allenstein, Eastern Prussia might be called upon for partial payment in case the local revenues were not sufficient. In the remaining areas the local revenues should suffice. Under these conditions it seemed necessary that a more or less accurate estimate of [Page 130]the expenses of maintenance of those troops and Commissions should at once be made by a Committee of Financial and Economic experts who would be charged with determining whether or not the whole of those expenses should be apportioned to the local revenues of the plebiscite zones.
General Weygand observed that he had only raised the question of the expenses of transportation. The question of the expenses of maintenance was a far larger one. There had as yet been no means of arriving at a very accurate estimate of the transportation expenses but from some figures at hand it seemed that they would amount to two or three million francs. The amount of the expenses of maintenance he thought could easily be calculated.
Sir Eyre Crowe thought that this latter amount could not be estimated with great accuracy because it was impossible at that time to know how long the various areas would be occupied.
M. Berthelot pointed out that the occupation would not be effected by a large number of troops and would not last for a long time, except possibly in the case of Upper Silesia where the local revenues would be amply sufficient.
M. de Martino suggested that the Drafting Committee also examine this question at the same time as the question of the expenses of transportation.
General Weygand stated that he would be able, with the aid of the Allied Military Representatives, to estimate the expenses of maintenance, and he would communicate that estimate to the Drafting Committee.
It was decided:
- that the note relative to the expenses of transportation of the Inter-Allied troops of occupation for plebiscite areas should be referred to the Drafting Committee for examination and report;
- that at the same time the Drafting Committee, after receiving from Marshal Foch an estimate of the expenses of maintenance of the Inter-Allied troops and Commissions in the plebiscite areas, should determine by whom such expenses should be borne in case the local revenues were not in all cases sufficient.
5. M. Berthelot informed the Council that a telegram had been received from Sofia saying that the Bulgarians were prepared to sign the Treaty without any conditions whatever. M. Stambouliski was anxious to be present at the signature of the Treaty, but as he was just leaving Sofia he would not reach Paris for several days. He, (M. Berthelot) thought there would be no harm in awaiting M. Stambouliski’s arrival before proceeding to the signature of the Treaty, all the more so as there were several details still to be settled. For instance the Serb-Croat-Slovene Government which had to sign the Austrian treaty before signing the Bulgarian treaty, was prepared to sign the former when [Page 131]the question of the distribution of tonnage had been adjusted. The Council had also decided that certain clauses were to be inserted in the Bulgarian Treaty relative to the neutrality of Switzerland. Signature of the Bulgarian Treaty
(It was agreed that there was no objection to awaiting the arrival of M. Stambouliski before proceeding to the signature of the Bulgarian Treaty.)
6. M. Berthelot informed the Council that according to a telegram from Prague the Czecho-Slovak troops had already been ordered to evacuate the mining district of Salgo Tarjan without awaiting a prior reimbursement of the Czecho-Slovak Government for expenses incurred by it on behalf of Hungary. M. Benes had desired to remain in occupation of two points in the neutral zone by way of guarantee, but if the Council did not agree with him he was not prepared to insist. Retirement Czexho-Slovak Troops From Mining District of Salgo Tarjan
7. General Weygand reminded the Council that at its meeting of November 4th7 it had approved the communication sent by Marshal Foch to the German Government relative to the interruption of railroad traffic in the occupied regions of Germany. The German Government had complied with the terms of this communication. Therefore, the day before Marshal Foch had consented to allow certain reductions in railroad traffic in the occupied territories. The matter was at that time settled satisfactorily to both sides. Interruption of Railroad Traffic in Germany
8. M. Berthelot informed the Council that a telegram from Belgrade had announced that the Serb-Croat-Slovene Government was ready to sign the Austrian Treaty as soon as the distribution of Austrian commercial tonnage had been adjusted.
M. de Martino stated that he had been informed the previous day that his Government and the Serb-Croat-Slovene Government had reached a complete agreement on this point. Distribution of Austrian Commercial Tonnage Between the Italian and Serb-Croat-Solvene Governments
(The meeting then adjourned.)
- Appendix A is apparently a revision of the draft here referred to.↩
- Convention Respecting the Laws
and Customs of War on Land, October 18, 1907,
Foreign Relations, 1907, pt. 2, p. 1204.↩
- See telegram to
the British Chargé at Bucharest, October 11, appendix B to HD–68,
viii, p. 583.↩
- Appendix B to HD–83,
viii, p. 947.↩
- HD–83, minute
ibid., p. 936.↩
- HD–75, minute 2,
viii, p. 747.↩
- HD–83, minute 1,
viii, p. 936.↩
- Appendix A to HD–87, p. 44.↩
- HD–87, minute 2, p. 36.↩
viii, p. 463; HD–71, minute 3, ibid., p. 675.↩
- Appendix A to HD–85, p. 9.↩
- Appendix B to HD–85, p. 9.↩