Paris Peace Conf. 184.00101/26

Minutes of the Daily Meetings of the Commissioners Plenipotentiary, Monday, March 3rd, 1919

  • Present:
    • Mr. Lansing
    • Mr. White
    • General Bliss
    • Mr. A. W. Dulles
The Commissioners discussed briefly the proposed military terms to be imposed on Germany and the attitude which the American delegates should assume on this question. General Bliss stated that he would be present at the afternoon meeting of the Council, when the terms would be considered.
Mr. Lansing read a communication from Mr. Baruch regarding the necessity of the formation of a special committee to draft the commercial provisions of the various treaties which the United States would have to conclude with the countries with which commercial relations have been broken. Mr. Baruch suggested that Mr. Taussig be requested to proceed to Paris to take charge of this work, and that Dr. A. A. Young and Mr. Miller should work on the problem [Page 89] of drafting such economic treaties pending Mr. Taussig’s arrival. Mr. Lansing mentioned Mr. Gay as a man who would be most useful for this work and said that if the other Commissioners approved he would discuss the matter with Mr. McCormick before a final decision was reached. This was agreed to by Mr. White and General Bliss. Mr. Lansing remarked that the drafting of new commercial treaties with Germany and the Austro-Hungary states was a very delicate matter, which would require the most expert assistance. He remarked that the United States never had had satisfactory commercial treaties with Germany.
Mr. White brought up M. Pichon’s suggestion regarding the “financial section” of the League of Nations. He remarked that this was merely a French method of putting through the idea of “pooling” the cost of the war. The Commissioners were unanimous that any project of this nature was utterly inacceptable to the United States, which would be forced to pay a disproportionate share of the pool and receive a very small proportion of the proceeds.
Mr. White read a telegram which had been received from the naval authorities regarding the proposal that the President land at Antwerp. This telegram mentioned that while the mine fields in the English Channel were largely cleared up, there was still some danger from mines, and that the navigation of the Scheldt was as yet very difficult for a vessel of the size of the “George Washington”. The naval authorities recommended that if the President made the trip as contemplated, he should land at Flushing and proceed by destroyer to Antwerp. The Commissioners were unanimous in the decision that they could not assume the responsibility for advising the President to take a trip which involved an element of danger. Mr. Lansing pointed out that it would be out of the question to touch at Flushing, which was Dutch territory.
The Commissioners noted the selection of Lt. Colonel Olds as liaison officer between the Commission and the American Red Cross. Mr. Lansing remarked that he knew Colonel Olds personally, and added that he had recently been selected as head of the Red Cross in Europe.
With reference to Admiral Benson’s request for instructions regarding the passage of German troops by sea to Libau, General Bliss remarked that he had just discussed the matter with Admiral Benson, who was on his way to a conference in which this matter was up for discussion. The Commissioners decided that no action should be taken until Admiral Benson had reported what had taken place in this conference. The attention of the Commissioners was called to the statements of Bear Admiral Robison and Captain Gherardi that the Germans would endeavor to take advantage of any aid they might give in checking the Bolsheviks by demanding compensation at the [Page 90] Peace Conference. The Commissioners discussed briefly the attitude of Germany towards the Bolsheviks and remarked that with the present internal condition of Germany it was out of the question for her to play Bolshevism against the Allies, as she herself was most nearly threatened by this danger.
The Commissioners noted Mr. McCormick’s request that officers of General McKinstry’s staff be retained for work with the Claims Sub-Committee of the Reparation Commission, and approved Mr. McCormick’s request for the eight officers mentioned, with the understanding that their services would not be required for a protracted period.
The Commissioners approved Mr. Stabler’s request to be permitted to entertain representatives of Latin American countries at the expense of the Commission. A similar request from Lt. Noble to be granted facilities for entertaining French journalists, etc., was also approved under the conditions noted by Lt. Noble, namely that four guests a week should not be exceeded. It was suggested that both Mr. Stabler and Lt. Noble in submitting the statement of expenses incurred in this way, should give the Secretary General the names of the persons entertained by them.
The Commissioners discussed a memorandum which outlined the objections to the union of German Austria with Germany, and Mr. Dulles explained the arguments against a “laisser faire” policy on this question. After some discussion Mr. Lansing remarked that if the question of opposing the union was brought up by one of the Allies it might well be considered, but that he could not approve of America’s taking the initiative in this question of a European territorial settlement, especially in view of the fact that such an initiative might appear to be in contradiction to the President’s principles.