Paris Peace Conf. 184.00101/27

Minutes of the Meetings of the Commissioners Plenipotentiary, Tuesday, March 4, 1919

  • Present:
    • Mr. Lansing
    • Mr. White
    • General Bliss
    • Mr. Herter
Mr. White observed that a member of the Siamese Delegation had yesterday come to see him in order to ascertain whether it would not be possible for the head of the Siamese Delegation to have a short [Page 91] interview with Mr. Lansing, in which he might submit a memorandum in regard to Siamese aspirations. Mr. White explained that the granting of such an interview would be a source of deep gratification to the Siamese government. Mr. Lansing agreed to see the Delegate in question and asked that an engagement be made for him.
Mr. White recounted an interview which he and General Bliss had held with the Arch-Bishop of Spalato in regard to the whole Dalmatian question. Evidently the Arch-Bishop had made a very strong case and had convincingly expounded the folly of allowing Italy to take possession of Fiume or the islands of the Dalmatian coast.
Mr. White observed that he had had a long conversation with Mr. Coromilas of the Greek Delegation yesterday, indicating that the latter was much upset over the alleged American attitude respecting the Greeks of Asia Minor and the Dodecanese Islands. Mr. White read a memorandum of the statements which Mr. Westermann had made during a meeting of the Commission charged with the study of the Greek claims in regard to the attitude of the United States. This statement indicated that the only thing to which the Greek Delegation might take exception in our attitude was the declaration that in our opinion the coast of Asia Minor should not be separated, from an administrative point of view, from Hinterland. Mr. White went on to explain that Mr. Venizelos, who [sic] is coming to discuss this matter with him this afternoon, and asked what attitude he should adopt. Mr. Lansing and General Bliss both agreed that Mr. Westermann’s statements of the case had been perfectly correct and that Mr. White could properly tell Mr. Venizelos that our general view was that no Hinterland can properly be separated from the coast, but that of course we were still willing to leave this matter open to debate.
Mr. White read a memorandum which had been presented yesterday by the French Delegates on the Commission for the International Regime of Ports, Waterways and Railways, regarding France’s claims with respect to the Rhine. Mr. White stated that inasmuch as this memorandum was practically a demand on Germany to sign a blank check with regard to her rights on the Rhine, he felt that the American Delegates on this Committee should take a very strong stand against it. Mr. Lansing and General Bliss both asked for copies of the French proposal and stated that they would be glad to give Mr. White their opinion as soon as they had had an opportunity of studying it.
Mr. Lansing read a letter which had been sent to him by Mr. Norman Davis regarding the appointment of an additional representative to the Financial Commission, and of a financial representative on the Economic Committee. It was decided that Mr. Davis should be appointed as the additional American representative on the Financial Commission and Mr. Thomas W. Lamont as the financial [Page 92] representative on the Economic Committee. Mr. Herter was asked to have the above named gentlemen notified of their appointment.
Mr. Lansing spoke of the Committee on which he was now serving, which was endeavoring hard to have the Kaiser tried. He explained that he was in rather an uncomfortable position in this matter as he stood alone against the other representatives on the Commission against having the Kaiser tried by a tribunal. He was willing to have a court of inquiry pass upon the case, but was not willing to let it go further. General Bliss and Mr. White agreed that a court of inquiry might in this connection bring out some useful information in regard to the obscure beginnings of the war, but that the actual trial of the Kaiser could not take place before a tribunal.
Mr. Herter read Memorandum No. 125 in regard to the relative position of the Serbian and Rumanian troops in the Banat. It was agreed that in view of Mr. Laroche’s60 promise to secure complete reports of the action which the French army of the Orient had taken in this matter no further steps need be taken at present.
Mr. Herter read Memorandum No. 126 inquiring whether the Commissioners desire to have Lieut. Paukstas assigned to Paris for duty with the Lithuanian National Council. The Commissioners were unable to understand exactly why we should be asked to have Lieut. Paukstas assigned to Paris and to pay his expenses while in Paris for the sake of the Lithuanian National Council or Commission. Furthermore, the Commissioners were not sure that we should take this step and thereby become indirectly responsible for Lieut. Paukstas’ connection with a Lithuanian body. However, as this whole matter appears to be rather obscure and as the exact status of the Lithuanian National Council as well as our relation to it are not quite clear, the Commissioners desire a full explanation of the whole case before taking definitive action.
Information Memorandum No. 26 was read in regard to the formation of a Committee of from three to five members to assist in establishing better relations between the American and French press. The Commissioners discussed this matter at some length and felt that although the French press attacks against the President and America had perhaps not been inspired, nevertheless it was a strange coincidence that when the rumor was spread about that the President might ask to have the seat of the conference changed to some other country all attacks suddenly stopped. They felt that taking all in all such a Committee as was suggested might be cumbersome and that it would really be better to let matters take their regular course. They therefore desire that action on this memorandum be suspended for the present or until such a time as the situation became more acute.
Mr. Herter read Memorandum No. 127 [sic] regarding Mr. Day’s61 desire to be relieved of his post in Berlin. The Commissioners agreed that it would be well to have Mr. Day come back to Paris and report at once, but at the same time thought that he should bring Schumacher62 with him on account of the extremely unsettled conditions in Germany. The telegram appended to this memorandum was approved with the indicated changes, the Commissioners feeling that it would be well to leave in the last sentence as the Germans could then under no conditions attribute Mr. Day’s withdrawal to lack of faith on our part in their power to keep order, but rather to a desire to have a report from him.
  1. French representative on the Commission on Roumanian and Jugoslav Affairs.
  2. Franklin Day, of the Gherardi Mission to Germany.
  3. Frederick Schumacher, of the Gherardi Mission to Germany.