Paris Peace Conf. 180.03501/93


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 Saturday, November 15, 1919, at 10:30 a.m.

  • Present
    • America, United States of
      • Hon. F. L. Polk
    • Secretary
      • Mr. L. Harrison
    • British Empire
      • Sir Eyre Crowe
    • Secretary
      • Mr. H. Norman
    • France
      • M. Clemenceau
    • Secretaries
      • M. Dutasta
      • M. Berthelot
      • M. de Saint Quentin
    • Italy
      • M. de Martino
    • Secretary
      • M. Barone Russo
    • Japan
      • M. Matsui
    • Secretary
      • M. Kawai
Joint Secretariat
America, United States of Capt. B. Winthrop
British Empire Capt. G. Lothian Small
France M. de Percin
Italy M. Zanchi
Interpreter—M. Mantoux

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

  • America, United States of
    • Captain Matteson, U. S. N.
    • Mr. A. W. Dulles
    • M. Buckler
  • British Empire
    • Mr. Forbes-Adam
    • Mr. A. Leeper
  • Italy
    • M. Vannutelli-Rey
  • Japan
    • M. Shigemitsu

1. Sir Eyre Crowe stated that the drafting of the resolution of November 11th1 concerning the status of Eastern Galicia did not seem to him to agree entirely with the decision which had been actually taken by the Council. He had understood that their decision was an absolutely final one and the Polish Delegates would be heard, not by the Council, but by the Commission. Status of Eastern Galicia

[Page 176]

M. Clemenceau did not agree with Sir Eyre Crowe on that point; if his recollection was correct, the text of the resolution quite agreed with what they had decided. It was understood, however, that the hearing of the Polish Delegates would only be an act of courtesy on the part of the Council. Their declarations would have no influence on the Council’s decisions, and should not take more than one-half to three-quarters of an hour.

M. de Saint Quentin stated that in accordance with the resolution of November 11th, the Secretary General had informed the Polish Delegation that M. Patek would be heard by the Council as soon as he arrived in Paris, and had insisted on the extreme urgency presented by the question of Eastern Galicia.

2. (The Council had before it the draft note to the Roumanian Government, inserted in the minutes of November 14th [13th] (See Appendix “A”2). Draft Note to the Roumanian Government

M. Berthelot read the draft note.

Mr. Polk asked whether it would not be advisable to refer, at the end of the third paragraph, to Sir George Clerk’s Mission at Bucharest.

M. Berthelot said that, so as to take into account Mr. Polk’s remark, which appeared to him quite justified, one might insert at the end of the third paragraph the following phrase: “in order to show the importance which the Conference attached to obtaining the reply of Roumania, it had even entrusted a special delegate, Sir George Clerk, to go to Bucharest.”

M. Clemenceau stated that in recognition of the good-will shown by General Coanda and M. Antonescu in the interview he had with them two days previous, he proposed to omit in paragraph seven the words: “the time when Roumania still had under arms an army of over four hundred thousand men.” He also suggested granting to Roumania a period of eight days to make its answer known instead of six days which they had proposed to give them in their original draft.

Mr. Polk suggested adding in Section 3 (on top of page 4) the following words: “under the conditions shown by the note from the Supreme Council, dated October 12th.”3

Sir Eyre Crowe proposed a change of form in the second last paragraph of the draft which he thought would read better as follows: “As far as the fixing of frontiers yet to be effected is concerned, Roumania will thus, by its own conduct, forfeit all title to the support [Page 177] of the Powers, as well as the recognition of its rights by the Conference.[”]

M. de Martino said that he found himself in a rather embarrassing situation. He had received his instructions, but these were not quite clear. He was told on one hand, not to oppose the Allies in the question of sending the note to Roumania, and on the other, not to subscribe to expressions which were too strong, and which would lend it a character of violence or of threat. As a matter of fact this draft threatened the Roumanians with a diplomatic rupture. Under these circumstances he had asked Rome for new instructions which he hoped to receive that day. He would like to know if Mr. Polk had already received his instructions.

Mr. Polk said he was ready to accept the draft which was then before them.

M. Clemenceau said it was extremely important that they should vote that very day. The immediate despatch of the note was necessary all the more because they were sure, according to the declarations made to him by the Roumanian Delegates that their demands would be accepted.

M. de Martino stated he had also received the Roumanian Delegates. The latter had come away with the very best impression of their interview with M. Clemenceau and of the manner in which he had explained the situation to them. They had also told him that a misunderstanding had arisen between Sir George Clerk and Mr. Diamandi on the question of the evacuation. The Roumanians considered their retreat to the Theiss only as a first step towards the evacuation of Hungarian territory, and did not intend in any way to stop short on that river for a protracted period. They had also expressed themselves as ready to sign the Austrian Treaty. As for the rectifications of frontiers which were asked for by the Roumanians, they were of very secondary importance, and concerned chiefly the Commissions of Delimitation on the spot. He wondered whether, taking into account the good-will which the Roumanians seemed to show, they might not subdue some of the expressions which were used in the draft note under discussion.

M. Clemenceau felt obliged to remark that he had read the draft note to General Coanda and Mr. Antonescu. It therefore, seemed to him, under the circumstances, extremely unfortunate to change in the draft anything at all except the phrases concerning first, the Roumanian forces still under arms at the time of the Armistice, and second, concerning the period within which they demanded an answer—a period which they had agreed to extend from six to eight days. He had himself let the Roumanian Delegates hope for the [Page 178] granting of these two concessions. He did not think that they ought to make any further concessions, especially as General Coanda had already left for Bucharest to report on the situation with reference to the communication which he (M. Clemenceau) had read to him.

M. de Martino hoped his instructions would arrive in the course of that afternoon and that he could make known his final answer between 4 and 5 o’clock. He felt certain, moreover, that he would receive authority to accept the note which was before them.

Mr. Polk felt that a new delay in the despatch of the note would be extremely unfortunate.

Sir Eyre Crowe thought that the note should be sent as it had been read to the Roumanian Delegates. M. de Martino might let his Government know that there was, properly speaking, no threat towards Roumania as they were virtually certain that the Roumanians would accept their demands. Should the note not be sent immediately, the Council would be giving the Roumanians the impression that the Allies were hesitating.

Mr. Polk maintained that the Council had already used towards the Roumanians language quite as severe.

M. de Martino pointed out that the acceptance of the note by General Coanda and Mr. Antonescu committed only themselves. The Council did not know for certain what would be the attitude at Bucharest.

M. Berthelot remarked that the same thing had taken place concerning the Council’s note of November 7th. The Italian Minister at Bucharest, alleging that he had not received direct instructions from M. Tittoni, had refused to join in the step taken in concert by his colleagues.

Sir Eyre Crowe said that the British Delegation had received similar information from its representative at Bucharest.

M. de Martino said that the Italian Delegation had, as a matter of fact, telegraphed to its representative at Bucharest to associate himself with his colleagues.

M. Clemenceau proposed to despatch the note to Roumania immediately. If the Italian Delegate could not accept that note, it would suffice to send a telegram to the Italian Representative at Bucharest advising him to abstain from joining his colleagues.

Sir Eyre Crowe asked what decision would be taken with regard to publishing the note.

M. Clemenceau said he had promised in the course of his interview of November 13 with the Roumanian Delegates to support in the Council the non-publication of the note. The Roumanians had made a formal promise. He thought that they should take their [Page 179] good-will into account and not crush them under the blow of a publication, the effect of which in Roumania would certainly be very serious.

Sir Eyre Crowe thought they were not sure that Mr. Bratiano would appear as conciliatory as General Coanda.

M. Clemenceau stated that if Bucharest offered any difficulties the Council would then be free to publish the letter, and that, even without the toning down upon which they had decided that day. It should not be forgotten that General Coanda had answered for the King of Roumania.

Sir Eyre Crowe said he was quite ready to associate himself with the views the President had just expressed. They ought, however, to take care that the Roumanian Government should not take advantage of their silence to present the facts to Roumanian public opinion in a false light.

M. de Martino remarked that the telegram to which he had referred previously and which directed the Italian Minister at Bucharest to join in the step taken by his colleagues was dated November 10th, 12:47 A.M.

M. Berthelot said that as the note of the Allies was dated November 7th, the slight misunderstanding which had taken place was easily explained by the interval of three days which occurred between the note and the telegram.

It was decided:

to adopt the draft note to the Roumanian Government (See Appendix “A”).

M. de Martino made the reservation that his final approval of the note would be made known in the course of the afternoon. If the instructions received by the Italian representative should not allow him to adopt the note, the Italian Minister at Bucharest would receive telegraphic instructions to abstain from associating himself with the step taken by his colleagues.

It was further decided:

not to publish, for the present, the note addressed to the Roumanian Government.

3. Mr. Polk read the resolution adopted by the Supreme Council on July 5th on the subject of Colonel Haskell’s mission (See I. C. 201A).4a He proposed to add after the word “Armenia” the words, “Georgia and Azerbaijan”. The Council had heard at the preceding meeting Colonel Colonel Haskell’s declarations.5 He simply wished to submit this proposal to the Council without insisting that it should be accepted. Extension to Georgia and Azerbaijan of the Mission Already Entrusted to Colonel Haskell for Armenia

[Page 180]

Sir Eyre Crowe said he had submitted this question to his Government. He thought he could already say that they would not object to the extension of Colonel Haskell’s mission for the organization of relief in Georgia and Azerbaijan. He would, however, call to the attention of the Council the fact that in the resolution which had just been read Colonel Haskell was entitled High Commissioner. He wished to make his reservations on that title all the more so as he did not think that it corresponded with the functions with which Colonel Haskell had been entrusted.

Mr. Polk said as the British were already represented in those regions, he proposed that Sir Eyre Crowe be good enough to submit a draft resolution at a later meeting.

M. de Martino said that the Italians also had officers in the Caucasus. He would therefore consult his military experts, but he could already say that he was in favor of the American proposition.

It was decided:

that Sir Eyre Crowe, after consultation with the competent experts, would put before the Council a draft resolution extending the powers already conferred upon Colonel Haskell for Armenia (See I. C. 201–A of July 5th, 1919) to include Georgia and Azerbaijan in matters concerning relief work.

4. M. Clemenceau said that it was advisable to take up as soon as possible the important questions which still remained to be decided by the Council. He wished to ask whether they should not examine the list of questions on the agenda of the Council which had been drawn up by M. Berthelot.6 Agenda of the Conference

5. Sir Eyre Crowe wished to call attention to the urgency of taking a decision concerning the provisioning of Vienna. Their information depicted the situation of the Austrian capital in a terrible light. To enable the Austrians to buy food, it seemed necessary to grant them a loan. But he thought the guarantee for this loan should be a charge upon the Reparations Fund. That was an important question which the Reparation Commission ought to deal with immediately. The Question of Provisioning Vienna

M. Clemenceau asked whether it did not rather concern a financial commission.

Mr. Polk said the Reparation Commission was already acquainted with the question. Mr. Rathbone had cabled Washington to explain the situation and to ask how far the American Government would consent to be committed.

Sir Eyre Crowe said that if immediate measures were not taken, it was to be feared that there would be from 300,000 to 400,000 dead [Page 181] that winter in the streets of Vienna. The Austrians realized the situation and were resorting to every possible means to get money. They were at the moment engaged in selling their art collections, pictures, jewels, etc, a procedure which was, as a matter of fact, contrary to the provisions of the Treaty.

M. Berthelot said it was correct that the Austrians had tried to sell their “objets d’art”, but in fact they had not managed to sell anything with the exception perhaps of a few isolated objects. He had, moreover, seen M. Benes, who had also depicted the situation at Vienna as tragic. He had stated that if the Powers were willing to help him, he would be in a position to send coal and food to Vienna.

M. Clemenceau said that M. Benes might be asked to discuss the question in agreement with the Reparation Commission.

It was decided:

to refer to the Committee on Organization of the Reparation Commission for examination and report the problem of means to be adopted to ensure the provisioning of Vienna;
that M. Benes be asked to make known to the Committee his views on the subject.

6. M. Berthelot summarized Sir George Clerk’s telegram, dated November 13th, (See Appendix “B”). He said that the information conveyed in this telegram was not very reassuring, and it seemed that the formation of a coalition cabinet was situation more uncertain than ever. Telegram From Sir George Clerk on the Hungarian Situation

M. Clemenceau wished, in that connection, to say a few words concerning the attitude of Admiral Troubridge. No one contested the fact that the Admiral was a distinguished and capable man, but he was a partisan of Archduke Joseph. He had a right to be, but he wondered whether the Admiral was not going a little far in following his preferences, which apparently were not those of his Government. The information he was giving on Admiral Troubridge’s attitude came from an excellent source and he wondered if it were not advisable for the British Government to take this situation into account, all the more so because the Admiral’s influence throughout Hungary was considerable.

Sir Eyre Crowe said the Admiral had received instructions to comply with the policy of Sir George Clerk. He would not fail, however, to take up the question raised by M. Clemenceau.

7. Mr. Polk said he would have an important statement to add to the declarations he had made at the preceding meeting on the oil tank ships,7 but as the French and British experts were not present, he proposed to adjourn this question to the next meeting. German Oil Tank Ships

[Page 182]

8. M. Berthelot said that in the question of distribution of enemy ships, the naval experts had not yet succeeded in arriving at a complete agreement. He thought that an understanding would be made easier if the Council heard the question, inasmuch as the differences of views which existed seemed to him of slight importance. Distribution of Enemy Ships

M. Clemenceau said that they could put the question on Monday’s agenda.

9. M. Berthelot said that they had informed the Serbs that they would not be authorized to sign the Bulgarian Treaty until they had signed the Austrian Treaty. The Serbs had answered they could not sign the Austrian Treaty before the question of the distribution of Austro-Hungarian tonnage had been solved. That question could be discussed on Tuesday, for the British expert would then have received his instructions. Distribution of Austro-Hungarian Tonnage

M. Clemenceau thought that if that question was settled on Tuesday, the signature of the Bulgarian Treaty could be set for Wednesday or Thursday.

(The meeting then adjourned.)

Appendix A to HD–93

[Note From the Supreme Council to the Rumanian Government]

The Supreme Council has taken note of the answer of Rumania under date of November 2nd, signed by General Vaitoianu.8 It cannot but state that this note gives no satisfaction at all to the Allied and Associated Powers. This fact imperils, in the most serious manner, the relations of Rumania and her Allies, who feel bound to ask the Rumanian Government for a definite answer.

Since the first part of August, that is to say, since the moment when the Rumanian troops occupied Budapest, the Peace Conference has repeatedly asked Rumania to assume in Hungary an attitude conforming to the common principles of the Allies and the agreements binding them.

With indefatigable patience, inspired by the respect of the Allies for one another, and by the hope that the Rumanian Government would at last realize that it cannot with impunity disregard the principles [Page 183] and the reciprocal agreements of the Allies, the Conference has striven to maintain the bonds which unite the Allies to Rumania and to bring about a compliance by this Power with the decisions of the Supreme Council; on August 4,9 August 5,10 August 6,11 August 7,12 August 14,13 August 23,14 August 25,15 September 5 [4],16 October 12,17 November 3,18 November 7, pressing requests were addressed to that effect to the Government of Bucharest. To indicate the importance which it attached to obtaining the reply from Rumania, the Conference even directed a special Delegate, Sir George Clerk, to proceed to Budapest [Bucharest].

All these patient efforts have resulted only in the answer of November 2, conciliatory in words, but, negative in fact; regarding the three questions asked, acceptance of the frontiers determined by the Supreme Council, signature of the Peace Treaty with Austria, and of the Minorities Treaty, adjustment of the situation in Hungary, the Note postpones the two first ones and answers only the third.

Even on the latter question, none of the admissions asked for are, in reality accorded. The principle of the discontinuance of requisitions in Hungary is admitted, it is true, as well as the institution of an Inter-Allied Commission in Budapest to apply these principles, but Rumania, in making this concession, recognizes neither that the Commission may have the goods, now accumulated in the Hungarian freight cars, unloaded without having yet passed the verification bridges, nor that it has authority to receive the complaints and conduct investigations on the abuses committed by the Rumanian military authorities. The withdrawal of the Rumanian troops is accepted only as far as the Theiss, and Rumania does not comply with the decision of the Powers which includes the evacuation of all the Hungarian territory and the withdrawal within the definitely determined frontiers, a decision which was immediately accepted by the other neighboring States, Czechs and Serbs.

In short, the Rumanian Government has continued, for the last three and a half months, to negotiate with the Conference, from Power to Power, taking into consideration no other rights or interests than her [Page 184] own, and refusing to accept the charges of solidarity, although she wishes to enjoy the benefit of them.

The Conference wishes to make a last appeal to the wisdom of the Rumanian Government and of the Rumanian people before taking the grave resolution of severing all relations with Rumania. Their right to dictate rests essentially on the fact that Rumania owes the priceless service of having reconstituted her national unity, in doubling her territory and population, to the victory of the Allies. Without the enormous sacrifices consented [to?] by them, at the present time Rumania would be decimated, ruined and in bondage, without any possible hope. Rumania entered the struggle for her freedom at the end of the second year of the war, making her own conditions; it is true she made great sacrifices and suffered heavy losses, but she finally consented to treat separately with the enemy and to submit to his law; her liberty and her victory, as well as her future, she owes to the Allies.

How can such a situation be lost sight of and so soon forgotten by the Rumanian statesmen?

In any case, the Supreme Council can wait no longer; it invites Rumania to take without discussion, reservation or conditions, the following resolutions:

—To evacuate entirely Hungarian territory, withdrawing within the definite frontiers fixed by the Conference;
—To accept the constitution of the Inter-Allied Commission provided for to decide, control and pass judgment upon the requisitions made in Hungary since the beginning of the Rumanian occupation;
—To sign the Austrian Treaty and the Minorities Treaty, under the conditions indicated by the note of the Supreme Council of October 12.

The Supreme Council will wait eight (8) days for the affirmative or negative reply of the Rumanian Government.

Should this reply not give satisfaction to the Supreme Council of the Allies, the latter have decided to notify Rumania that she has separated herself from them. They shall invite her to recall immediately her Delegates at the Peace Conference and they will also withdraw their diplomatic missions at Bucarest.

As to questions concerning the settlements of boundaries, still to be made, Rumania will thus, by her own action, deprive herself of all title to the support of the Powers, as well as to the recognition of her rights by the Conference.

It would be with the profoundest regret that the Supreme Council of the Allies should see itself forced to sever relations with Rumania, but it is confident that it has been patient to the very last degree.

[Page 185]

Appendix B to HD–93

Telegram From Sir G. Clerk to the Supreme Council

No. 7

My telegram No. 6.20 On my arrival here I at once realized two things. One, that Hungarians would do nothing until Roumanians left, and the other, that since Archduke’s resignation Friedrich has acquired for various reasons into which I need not enter at present, a following in country so large and so excited against Communists and Jews, that it would be fatal to seem to override or fail to take into account opinions and feelings of those who are at present his followers. I have explained position of Allies to Hungarians of all parties and opinion is generally ripe for formation of coalition government. But personal position of Friedrich is main difficulty. Since method of telling him to resign premiership and to let someone else take it and form a government will not work because it would simply mean that Friedrich and great bulk of his followers, that is, by far the majority in country, would if he went at all go into opposition, and nobody could be found to make a Government in which the Christian National Party did not participate. It has therefore been necessary to proceed by way of telling Friedrich that he must first show what he can do towards satisfying Allies. His attempts have not yet succeeded and I informed him on the morning of November 12th that unless he was prepared to summon a general conference by today, November 13th I should ask all political leaders, including himself and his Ministers, to meet me informally in order that I might explain the situation to them. As a result he has just informed me that he will at once issue invitations for a general political Conference.

Meanwhile I have seen the parties of the Left, viz, Social Democrats, Liberal Democrats, National Land Party also small Proprietors and Christian Social Democratic Party. These five Parties have united themselves into a block and they will meet Friedrich the Christian National in Conference. They will probably there declare that they will not accept Friedrich as Minister President, though they are ready to work loyally with Christian National block apart from Friedrich and that they will only enter a Government in which all of their five parties are represented. Government Parties will probably say they cannot give up Friedrich and there may be a deadlock unless the Christian National Parties have sense enough to see Friedrich must go.

[Page 186]

I have a meeting with the Christian National leaders to-night and may get them to see what is at stake for Hungary. If nevertheless there is this deadlock it is possible that some influential person outside party politics such as the Cardinal Primate will try to effect a solution, but if such efforts fail I shall have to explain the position in the Press and say that as Hungarians cannot in this crisis agree upon a temporary Coalition Government where all Parties are fairly represented and insist on maintaining the rule of a single party I can do no more and intend leaving Budapest forthwith. Consequences will of course be that Hungary will have neither peace nor help from the Allies but will be left severely to her own devices. It is for Hungarians to decide if this is what suits them. I shall also dispel various delusions which Friedrich has endeavoured to create in the public mind, such as that I really represent only the Paris policy which is the French policy and that when I have gone and the French policy is shown to be a failure, then the English policy which is really favourable to Friedrich will have its day.

I still hope that the end may be satisfactory, but I send this telegram in order that the Supreme Council may know what I am doing and may realize that in the present state of feeling in the country, violently anti-semitic and anti-socialist, Friedrich must be gradually pushed from office and cannot simply be turned out. Process is long and extremely trying but it is the only one which will not leave Hungary worse off than she is at present.

  1. HD–89, minute 7, p. 99.
  2. Appendix A is the final text of the note. For text of the draft note, see appendix F to HD–91, p. 154.
  3. See appendix B to HD–68, vol. viii, p. 583.
  4. Minute 3, vol. vii, p. 28.
  5. HD–92, minute 4, p. 167.
  6. See appendix H to HD–89, p. 118.
  7. HD–92, minute 2, p. 159.
  8. Appendix D to HD–90, p. 136.
  9. Appendix C to HD–23, vol. vii, p. 517.
  10. Appendix A to HD–24, ibid., p. 541.
  11. HD–25, minute 2, ibid., p. 548.
  12. See appendix B to HD–26, ibid., p. 615.
  13. Appendix 0 to HD–31, ibid., p. 691.
  14. Appendix A to HD–37, ibid., p. 819.
  15. Appendix C to HD–38, ibid., p. 857.
  16. Appendix B to HD–47, vol. viii, p. 111.
  17. See appendix B to HD–68, ibid., p. 583.
  18. Appendix D to HD–82, ibid., p. 920.
  19. Appendix E to HD–90, p. 138.