Paris Peace Conf. 184.00101/23

Minutes of the Daily Meetings of the Commissioners Plenipotentiary, Thursday, February 27, 1919

  • Present:
    • Mr. Lansing
    • Mr. White
    • General Bliss
    • Mr. H. R. Wilson
General Bliss stated that in the case of Lieut. Voska there was really no evidence against him. Lieut. Voska had submitted that he was acting under orders from Mr. Sisson52 to investigate a report showing connivance on the part of the German and Austro-Hungarian governments in the murder at Sarajevo. Mr. Lansing discussed Mr. Sisson and his part in the publication of the Bolshevik documents tending to show that Lenine and Trotsky had been in German pay.53 He declared that Mr. Sisson was a dangerous person. Mr. Lansing suggested to General Bliss to consult Mr. Patchin and Mr. Harrison concerning Mr. Sisson.
Mr. Lansing introduced the memorandum concerning the payment of commutation of quarters, and suggested that it be adopted with the insertion of article 5 reading, “this order effective from and after February 1, 1919”. The Commission thereupon approved the entire recommendation with Mr. Lansing’s amendment.
General Bliss stated that yesterday they had finished discussion on the armament affair. That Marshal Foch had stated that he would accept nothing to which General Bliss made reserves. A new draft was accordingly drawn up to which General Bliss agreed, declaring however, that the political consequences thereof were outside his province and must be judged by those competent. This agreement was returned to Marshal Foch, and later General Bliss was informed that an amendment had been made to it. General Bliss found that the amendment contained a rider which by its reading gave the possibility of perpetual control. Thereupon it was revised, and Marshal Foch will consult the Allies for their approval. General Bliss expected opposition to it. It will subsequently be reported to the Council.
Mr. Lansing read from the minutes of the Council meeting on Monday last concerning Mr. Pichon’s declaration that the preliminary conditions were not preliminary peace terms.54 Mr. Pichon explained that the conditions would in reality form part of the armistice [Page 81] and not part of the peace terms, pointing out the necessity, if they were peace terms of their being submitted to the United States Senate for ratification. Mr. Lansing felt that only the final form of a peace document had to be submitted to the Senate, but that conditions which included economic and territorial terms constituted in effect a peace treaty which should be submitted to the Senate. Mr. Lansing stated that on Tuesday he asked Mr. Pichon whether in reality he considered these preliminary conditions as an extension of the armistice or as part of the peace treaty. Mr. Pichon replied that he considered them an extension of the terms of the armistice. He thereupon called Marshal Foch by telephone, who took the contrary point of view. Mr. Lansing pointed out that the nature of the terms would make it obligatory that the Senate ratify it. General Bliss declared that he and General Pershing had agreed to a draft providing for: one, reduction of the German army; two, reduction of armaments; three, prohibitory terms; four, provision for control by a military commission in Germany. General Bliss pointed out that the Senate would probably make objections to the participation by American officers in a commission for perpetual control. General Bliss declared that he and General Pershing only, therefore, agreed to such a commission as would exist for a limited period of time to oversee the execution of those things which can be promptly carried out. General Bliss states the others have now receded from their position. Mr. Lansing called attention to the changed attitude in this matter of the French military authorities who now prefer a definite peace rather than a continuation of the armistice, Marshal Foch being uneasy about the condition in the French army. General Bliss stated that Marshal Foch had declared himself fully in accord with an immediate peace. Mr. White stated that it was the intention to have an immediate peace. General Bliss stated that Mr. Swope55 informed him that in an interview with Colonel House, the latter stated that those military, naval and air conditions which are included in the preliminary treaty will be included in the final terms. General Bliss is in accord with this. Mr. Lansing stated that it was this desire for early peace that induced the Council to call for reports on March 8th. Mr. Lansing is now working on the final draft. He added that Mr. Pichon declared that they were inserting in the armistice terms conditions to be incorporated later in the peace terms. Mr. Lansing, however, believes that it is really a preliminary peace and not armistice. Mr. White stated the idea now was to make peace with Germany, letting the Italian and other matters wait. Mr. Lansing stated that this was correct, but that the same resolutions had been adopted for each one of the [Page 82] enemy powers, but had been adopted separately which will enable separate action. Mr. White stated that the treaty with Germany must then be ratified by the Senate before peace could be declared by the President. General Bliss declared that the fact that the United States was now sending home 200,000 men per month and would shortly begin to send 300,000 was the factor that was inducing the others to hurry.
Mr. Harrison entered concerning a telegram despatched by M. Noulens56 from Poland relative to assistance for General Kernan. General Bliss declared that he would discuss this matter with General Pershing, and the Commission therefore referred the matter to General Bliss.
Mr. Wilson stated that Mr. Hoover had requested him to explain to the Commission that the bank at Helsingfors, the National Bank of Finland, has 14 million dollars on deposit in New York. In view of the frequent changes of government in Finland, the banks are unwilling to accept checks signed by the treasurer of the Bank of Helsingfors, unless the American authorities will declare that this treasurer now officiating has the right to draw such drafts. Mr. Hoover urges strongly that recognition be granted to the Government of Finland so that this money may be drawn for food which is immediately necessary to relieve the critical food condition of that country. Mr. Wilson added that he had brought up the matter with Colonel House and that Colonel House approved favorable action. The Commission decided to request from Mr. Dolbeare a complete report with recommendations to be presented at the earliest possible moment concerning the matter of the recognition of Finland.
Mr. Wilson stated that Colonel House had requested him to inform the Commission that the French government was giving a large dinner on Saturday, March 6th, for the American Delegation, including Admiral Benson, Mr. Sharp and General Pershing. That Mr. Lansing and Mr. Sharp were asked to give short speeches for the American Delegation. Mr. Lansing stated he would consult with Colonel House in regard to the acceptance.
Mr. Wilson read the telegram to the President which Mr. Hoover had proposed in the meeting of Wednesday.57 The despatch of that telegram was approved by the Commission.
The Commission approved the despatch of a telegram to the Department of State prepared by Mr. Grew, concerning the portrait of the Commission.
  1. Of the Committee on Public Information.
  2. For papers relating to the Sisson documents, see Foreign Relations, 1918, Russia, vol. i, pp. 371378, 380, 381382.
  3. See BC–38, minute 1 (b), vol. iv, p. 102.
  4. Herbert Bayard Swope, of the New York World.
  5. French delegate and chairman of the Interallied Mission to Poland.
  6. See minute 2, p. 77.