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Section I.—German Colonies (Art. 119 to 127)

Article 119.

Germany renounces in favour of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers all her rights and titles over her oversea possessions.

Note to IV, 119

The demand that Germany renounce all its colonies was declared by the German delegation to be “in irreconcilable contradiction” to [Page 277]President Wilson’s Fifth Point, which promised an open, frank, and impartial settlement of colonial claims ( Foreign Relations, The Paris Peace Conference, 1919, vi, 841). Germany had acquired its colonies lawfully and had developed them laboriously. The need for them was greater than ever as, owing to the unfavorable rate of exchange, Germany must obtain raw materials as far as possible from its colonies. The colonies were needed also as markets for goods and settlements for surplus population.

As a great civilized nation Germany had the right and the duty to cooperate in the exploration of the world and the education of backward races, and had in fact accomplished great things by introducing peace, order, justice, health, education, and Christianity. Germany had protected the interests of the natives, had not militarized them; the principle of the open door had been maintained. The demand that Germany renounce its colonies was therefore unjust.

The provisions that all state property should pass to the mandatory powers without compensation and that they should not assume the debts of the colonies were unacceptable. So also was the provision that private property should pass to the arbitrary control of the mandatories, a provision that defied “all principles of international and public law”. Germany therefore asked for the reference of colonial questions to a special commission and at the same time declared its willingness to administer the colonies as a mandatory of the League of Nations on condition of being admitted immediately as a member with equal rights.

The Allies replied that they had “placed before every other consideration the interests of the native population” and that “Germany’s dereliction in the sphere of colonial civilisation” did not permit them to “make a second experiment” or not “safeguard their own security and the Peace of the world”.

The loss of the colonies would not hinder Germany’s normal economic development, for its trade with the colonies in 1913 accounted for only one half of one percent of both imports and exports. “For climatic reasons and other natural causes” the colonies could accommodate only “a very small proportion” of German emigration, as proved by the small number of colonists resident there.

The conditions for the transfer of the colonies were held to be “in conformity with the rules of International Law and Equity”, and it would be unjust to burden the natives with the debts of the German Government. The Allies had to reserve full liberty of action to determine whether Germans would be allowed to establish themselves [Page 278]in the colonies, and Germany would have to subscribe to the colonial conventions mentioned in the text.

In order that no misunderstanding should exist as regards the property of German missions, the Allies “explicitly stated that the property of these missions will be handed over to boards of trustees appointed by or approved by the Governments and composed of persons holding the faith of the mission whose property is involved”.

See article 22 for the allocation of the territories referred to under the mandatory system. The provisions of this section having a general application were incorporated in the mandates drawn up for the several territories.

For special provision relating to German Samoa, see article 288.

The United States on November 9, 1920 declared to the other governments to which Germany renounced the territories that “at the previous request of President Wilson” at the Paris Peace Conference and in the hope that it might be made available by agreement as an international cable station, “it is the understanding of the Government that the Island of Yap was not included in the action of the Supreme Council on May 7, 1919”. The Governments of Great Britain, France, Italy, and Japan did not share that understanding and correspondence ensued which involved the terms of the mandate under which Japan was to administer the former German islands north of the equator. The Governments of the United States and Japan reached an agreement with regard to the temporary operation of the Naba–Yap–Guam cables, with the consent of Great Britain, France, and Italy; this agreement was evidenced by Executive Order No. 3600, December 24, 1921, and an exchange of notes of January 30, February 4, 1922 ( Foreign Relations, 1921, ii, 31013).

The preoccupation of the United States with arrangements for communication facilities was further recorded in the treaty with Japan regarding rights in former German islands in the Pacific Ocean north of the equator and in particular the Island of Yap, concluded at Washington February 11, 1922, article III of which reads (Treaty Series 664):

“The United States and its nationals shall have free access to the Island of Yap on a footing of entire equality with Japan or any other nation and their respective nationals in all that relates to the landing and operation of the existing Yap–Guam cable or of any [Page 279]cable which may hereafter be laid or operated by the United States or by its nationals connecting with the Island of Yap.

“The rights and privileges embraced by the preceding paragraph shall also be accorded to the Government of the United States and its nationals with respect to radio-telegraphic communication; provided, however, that so long as the Government of Japan shall maintain on the Island of Yap an adequate radio-telegraphic station, cooperating effectively with the cables and with other radio stations on ships or on shore, without discriminatory exactions or preferences, the exercise of the right to establish radio-telegraphic stations on the Island by the United States or its nationals shall be suspended.”

The United States accepted the Japanese statement as “cooperating effectively” and took no further steps.

Article 120.

All movable and immovable property in such territories belonging to the German Empire or to any German State shall pass to the Government exercising authority over such territories, on the terms laid down in Article 257 of Part IX (Financial Clauses) of the present Treaty. The decision of the local courts in any dispute as to the nature of such property shall be final.

Article 121.

The provisions of Sections I and IV of Part X (Economic Clauses) of the present Treaty shall apply in the case of these territories whatever be the form of Government adopted for them.

Note to IV, 121

The Belgian Government relinquished its claims against Germany under this article and forewent the exercise of its powers under article 297 (b) in virtue of the agreement regarding German property, rights and interests in Belgium, signed at Berlin, July 17, 1929, in force May 17, 1930 (104 League of Nations Treaty Series, p. 211). This was in accordance with the recommendations of the report of the Committee of Experts, June 7, 1929 (Young Plan), which liquidated the past and consolidated all claims against Germany in a single series of payments.

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Article 122.

The Government exercising authority over such territories may make such provisions as it thinks fit with reference to the repatriation from them of German nationals and to the conditions upon which German subjects of European origin shall, or shall not, be allowed to reside, hold property, trade or exercise a profession in them.

Article 123.

The provisions of Article 260 of Part IX (Financial Clauses) of the present Treaty shall apply in the case of all agreements concluded with German nationals for the construction or exploitation of public works in the German oversea possessions, as well as any sub-concessions or contracts resulting therefrom which may have been made to or with such nationals.

Note to IV, 123

The Reparation Commission and the German Government on September 16, 1926 signed an agreement relative to the application of articles 123 and 260. It related principally to the repatriation of securities and documents to Germany.

Article 124.

Germany hereby undertakes to pay, in accordance with the estimate to be presented by the French Government and approved by the Reparation Commission, reparation for damage suffered by French nationals in the Cameroons or the frontier zone by reason of the acts of the German civil and military authorities and of German private individuals during the period from January 1, 1900, to August 1, 1914.

Note to IV, 124

The Reparation Commission’s decision on January 18, 1921 did not include these damages in reparation under article 233, the amount not having been notified to Germany before May 1, 1921. Later the Reparation Commission approved a French claim amounting to 16,184 gold marks, in virtue of article 8 A, d, of the Finance Ministers’ Agreement of January 14, 1925.

Article 125.

Germany renounces all rights under the Conventions and Agreements with France of November 4, 1911, and September 28, 1912, [Page 281]relating to Equatorial Africa. She undertakes to pay to the French Government, in accordance with the estimate to be presented by that Government and approved by the Reparation Commission, all the deposits, credits, advances, etc., effected by virtue of these instruments in favour of Germany.

Note to IV, 125

One convention between France and Germany concerning Morocco signed at Berlin November 4, 1911 (104 British and Foreign State Papers, p. 948) terminated what was known as the “Agadir crisis” and secured for France, so far as Germany was concerned, recognition of a special position in Morocco, subject to certain privileges obtained by Germany. A second convention of the same date provided for cessions to Germany of considerable areas of French Equatorial Africa adjacent to German colonies (ibid., p. 956). Both conventions were accompanied by explanatory correspondence.

France and Germany signed a protocol at Paris on September 12, 1912 (106 ibid., p. 1001) concerning the delimitation of the new boundaries in Africa. Two declarations of September 28, 1912 (ibid., pp. 974, 1001) dealt respectively with delimitation of the frontier between French Equatorial Africa and Kamerun and between the French possessions of Dahomey and Sudan and German Togoland.

On March 25, 1925 the Reparation Commission fixed at 17,926 gold marks the amount due from Germany to France, this amount by article 8 A, d, of the Finance Ministers’ Agreement of January 14, 1925, being determined as arrears of German payments. In reaching that decision, the commission ruled that France was not entitled to reimbursement for the royalties paid to the German Government by French companies which were working concessions during the time when the territories were ceded to Germany by the 1911 and 1912 instruments, since they were then under German sovereignty. The payment was made in respect of deposits transferred to the German Government in execution of the convention of September 28, 1912.

Article 126.

Germany undertakes to accept and observe the agreements made or to be made by the Allied and Associated Powers or some of them with any other Power with regard to the trade in arms and spirits, and to the matters dealt with in the General Act of Berlin of February 26, 1885, the General Act of Brussels of July 2, 1890, and the conventions completing or modifying the same.

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Text of May 7:

Germany undertakes to accept and observe the agreements made or to be made by the Allied and Associated Powers or some of them with any other Power with regard to the trade in arms and spirits, and to the matters dealt with in the General Act of Berlin of the 26th February, 1885, and the General Act of Brussels of the 2nd July, 1890.

Note to IV, 126

The General Act of Berlin of February 23, 1885 (76 British and Foreign State Papers, p. 4) concerns the Congo trade, slave trade, and navigation of rivers in Africa. The United States was not a party to it. The General Act of Brussels of July 2, 1890 (Treaty Series 383; William M. Malloy (ed.), Treaties, Conventions, etc., Between the United States of America and Other Powers, 1776–1909, ii, 1964) dealt with the repression of the slave trade. A convention revising both these acts was signed at Saint-Germain–en–Laye on September 10, 1919 (Treaty Series 877; 49 Stat. 3027; Treaties, Conventions, etc., 1923–37, iv, 4849). A convention concerning the liquor traffic in Africa was signed at Saint-Germain-en-Laye on September 10, 1919 (Treaty Series 779; 46 Stat. 2199; Treaties, Conventions, etc., 1923–37, iv, 4856).

Article 127.

The native inhabitants of the former German oversea possessions shall be entitled to the diplomatic protection of the Governments exercising authority over those territories.

Note to IV, 127

The former German territories placed under mandate in virtue of article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations have been administered as “B” and “C” mandated territories. On the national status of their inhabitants the Permanent Mandates Commission reached these conclusions in 1923:

  • “1. … The native inhabitants of B and C mandated territories should be granted a national status wholly distinct from that of the nationals of the mandatory power.
  • “2. A special law of the mandatory power should determine the status of these native inhabitants, who might be given a designation such as ‘administered persons under mandate’ or ‘protected persons under mandate’ of the mandatory power.”

Replies to a questionnaire authorized by the Council on March 5, 1928 showed that the mandatories had taken such measures, but a [Page 283]single formula to describe the nationality of natives under B and C mandates was not adopted.

The nationality of inhabitants of A mandates is determined by their legislative bodies. Abroad, the nationals of territories under A and B mandates are, by recommendation of the Council on September 9, 1930, accorded the advantages of nationals of members of the League in the territories of the latter.