Paris Peace Conf. 184.001101/15

Minutes of Meeting of the Steering Committee, July 25, 1919, at 2 p.m.

  • Present:
    • Dr. James Brown Scott
    • Mr. J. C. Grew
    • Colonel U. S. Grant
    • Professor Johnson
    • Mr. Leland Harrison
    • Mr. J. F. Dulles
    • Mr. A. W. Dulles (Secretary)
Mr. Harrison read the agenda of the afternoon’s meeting of the Supreme Council. He stated that a special item was to be added, namely, the situation in Hungary, regarding which Mr. Hoover had just received important information which he desired to communicate to the Council.
Dr. Scott showed to the Committee copies of the German official editions of the peace treaty, as well as special pamphlets noting the changes which had been made in the original draft presented to the Germans. Dr. Scott suggested that the appropriate experts should look over this German edition of the treaty and compare it with the official text and also ascertain whether the translation was an accurate reproduction of the English and French text. Dr. Scott felt that it might be of value to point out to the Germans any errors either in text or translation of this text which the government was printing. Mr. Harrison stated that in his opinion by indicating corrections we might in some way make ourselves responsible for the accuracy of the remainder of the text, and that it would be safer to rely exclusively upon the official copy in the French Foreign Office, signed and ratified, as the standard in case any dispute arose as to the accuracy of any text.
Dr. Scott reported that Mr. Hurst, the British member of the Drafting Committee, had inquired regarding Bulgarian frontiers and had expressed the hope that the Americans would not insist on their attitude. He stated to Dr. Scott that he understood that Italy had abandoned its support of the American position. Dr. Johnson replied that Castoldi, the Italian representative on the committee studying Bulgarian claims, had recently informed him that rumors that Italy had changed its attitude regarding Western Thrace were incorrect.
Dr. Scott stated that he had further evidence of the impatience of the British to finish the work of the Conference as rapidly as possible. He added that he was informed that Mr. Balfour intended to serve notice that he was leaving on the 15th of August. A further rumor had reached him that the British were threatening to make a motion that the Conference adjourn on the 15th to reassemble in London 15 days later, in case the French did not hurry up the general action of the Conference.
Dr. Scott reported that the drafting committee had received certain general instructions from the former Big Four regarding the drafting of the Hungarian Treaty, and that in his opinion almost one-half of the treaty was ready to be put into final form. He inquired whether in the opinion of the committee it would be best for action to be taken in order that the drafting committee might work on the Hungarian treaty or whether it would be best to finish the treaties regarding the New States. The committee felt it would be preferable to take the latter course of action which made no special recommendation to the Commissioners necessary.
Dr. Scott inquired whether completion of the Bulgarian treaty could not be hastened by arriving at a formula under which Bulgaria would agree to accept such southern frontiers as the principal Allied and Associated Powers might subsequently indicate. The Committee pointed out that such a solution would not make it possible for any final decision to be reached regarding either the provisions on Ports and Waterways or the Economic clauses and that therefore it really seemed essential to definitely decide Bulgaria’s southern frontiers before the treaty could be put into shape for presentation.
The Committee discussed a provision which had crept into a draft of the Bulgarian treaty providing for American representation on the commission which would determine the fate of Bulgarian prisoners of war. It was understood that the attitude of General Bliss was that the United States should not be represented on this commission.
Just as the meeting was breaking up and when no quorum was present, Mr. J. F. Dulles brought up the question of the advisability of showing the draft of the Bulgarian treaty to the Jugo-Slavs, [Page 470] Roumanians, and Greeks before its presentation to the Bulgarians. Mr. Dulles felt that the most satisfactory method of doing this would be for the various committees to call the representatives of these states and discuss with them the portions of the Bulgarian treaty which the committee concerned had drafted. It seemed best to take up this question at the next meeting of the Steering Committee with a view to a definite recommendation to the Commissioners.

The Meeting adjourned at 2:45 P.M.