Paris Peace Conf. 184.00101/29

Minutes of the Daily Meetings of the Commissioners Plenipotentiary, Thursday, March 6th, 1919

  • Present:
    • Mr. Lansing
    • Mr. White
    • General Bliss
    • Mr. Herter

1. Mr. White stated that he had received a telegram signed by Mrs. E. H. Harriman and Mr. Herbert Pratt, asking him to serve as chairman of an American Committee which would insist on having certain official pictures of the members of the American Delegation of the Peace Conference painted for the United States. The telegram added that if Mr. White would accept this position the Committee would be sure of complete financial backing and Mr. White could immediately offer Sargent $50,000 for a picture of the Conference. The Commissioners felt that it would be advisable for Mr. White to accept this post and he therefore consented.

. . . . . . .

3. Mr. White asked whether at the Quai d’Orsay, any decision had been reached yesterday with regard to allowing food stuffs to be sent into German-Austria. Mr. Lansing said that no such decision had been reached and that during the discussion Sonnino had been greatly incensed by the attitude taken in the matter by the French and American representatives; nevertheless, after considerable persuasion Mr. Sonnino agreed that this matter should be placed on the agenda for Friday’s meeting and should, at that time, be decided finally.

4. General Bliss stated that he had recently obtained from the British certain information with regard to the naval expedition which they were contemplating sending to Murmansk. This information he had obtained in connection with the proposal that the United States should send several gun-boats and smaller craft to the same destination. He read two letters from General Ratcliffe explaining the British position in the matter, and indicating that the British were intending to send about April 15th, a complete expedition including proper mine sweepers, transport material etc., to assist in the withdrawal of the expedition. General Ratcliffe had felt, however, that the allied forces at Murmansk would have to deal a final and strong [Page 98] blow against the Bolsheviki if this withdrawal, a delicate operation at best, was to be performed without severe incumbrances because of attacks by the Bolsheviks. He therefore suggested that perhaps the United States would be willing to send 50 well trained American officers to assist in the maneuver.

General Bliss pointed out that although these letters from General Ratcliffe indicated that a withdrawal of the forces at Murmansk was being planned, no such definite statement had yet been made by the British government. He felt that some such statement should be made although he appreciated the fact that it would encourage the Bolsheviks tremendously.

5. General Bliss stated that he would present to the Commissioners at about 11:30 this morning the final translation of the military and naval terms which were to be imposed on Germany. Mr. Lansing stated that it was his understanding that these terms were the final and conclusive peace terms and that he had therefore been much surprised at Pichon’s statement to the effect that they were merely a continuation of the armistice terms. General Bliss concurred in Mr. Lansing’s views on the matter, and was very sure that an examination of the minutes of the meeting of the Council of Ten,63a at which this matter was discussed, would indicate that these terms were to be final peace terms and not merely armistice terms. He was further convinced that this was the President’s view of the matter, and in case of any discussion we should adhere to it.

6. Memorandum No. 138 was read inquiring whether the Commissioners would be willing to have applications made in their names for various members of Dr. Mezes’ section to return to the United States on transports. The Commissioners agreed that they were perfectly willing to have such applications made in their names.

7. Mr. Herter reminded the Commissioners of a decision which they had [made] a few days ago that it would be inadvisable to have members of the American Press in Germany use the German radio at Nauen and Hanover for sending out of press despatches. He explained that this decision of the Commissioners had been conveyed to the Associated Press and that Mr. Elmer Roberts of that association had replied indicating how, in his opinion, it would be very valuable for the American correspondents in Germany to have this privilege. Mr. Herter then asked whether the Commissioners would desire to have a memorandum on this subject read incorporating Mr. Roberts’ arguments, but the Commissioners felt that they would not care to change their decision in the premises, and that it would therefore not be worth while even reading over or discussing this matter.

8. Memorandum No. 140 was read inquiring whether the Commissioners [Page 99] desired that in accordance with Mr. Noulens’ request a civilian should accompany the three American army officers to Warsaw, and inquiring whether, if so, Mr. Phelps should be assigned to the position.

The Commissioners were unable to see the necessity of a civilian accompanying the army officers to Warsaw, and therefore felt that it would be undesirable for any to be so assigned. They also thought that it would be best to have instructions issued to Mr. Phelps to proceed at once to the Hague where he had already been assigned to the Legation.

9. Memorandum No. 141 was read regarding the sending of a field mission to Turkey. Mr. Dominian’s letter in the premises was read in full. The Commissioners felt that the proposed mission was very numerous and that the estimated expenses rather too great. They are not quite clear as to why such a large mission should be sent, and what the particular interest of the United States was in obtaining any more than political information for so large a tract of Asia Minor, Syria, the Caucasus, etc. They therefore ask that Dr. Bowman be requested to attend the meeting of the Commissioners tomorrow, March 7th, 1919, in order to explain in detail the purpose of the mission and the necessity for having so large a personnel.

  1. See BC-30 (SWC-7), minute 1, vol. iii, p. 1001.