The Commission to Negotiate Peace to the Secretary of State
[Received 10.20 a.m.]
5492. For Secretary of State from Polk:
Your 3906 November 27th. Commission fears that it has failed to make clear position it has taken in the past in regard to the execution of the German treaty and [what] it has consistently stated to be its position in view of the treaty not being ratified. We have been most careful for over a month to impress upon the Supreme Council that we could take no part in any of the commissions created by the treaty and have so reported to the Department from time to time.
- Department will probably recall that I have telegraphed many times on the subject of Rhineland Commission but it was never suggested that we should appoint a permanent representative until we [Page 24] had ratified the treaty. This Commission would call attention of the Department to the very unfortunate situation that would be created by the withdrawal of our temporary commissioner Mr. Noyes. We have been charged with certain administrative functions in connection with the territory occupied by our troops and it would be impossible to withdraw now [Noyes] unless we also withdraw our troops as it would not be proper to my mind to have French or British commissioner functioning in the district with our military forces. I will assume therefore that it is not intended to withdraw Noyes.
- I shall inform my colleagues of the decision that no American arbitrator can be nominated for the Danube or other European rivers by the United States. I assume there would be no objection to the Allies appointing and paying an American for this [work] if they so desired. I would call to your attention Department’s 2962 August 27, 3 p.m.13
- As already indicated the Commission never assumed for one moment that the United States would be represented on any geographic or boundary commission and has so informed Council. The Department will probably recall that we pointed this out on several occasions.
- The United States Government is not represented on any military or naval commission created by the treaty and the Department has apparently overlooked the fact that we have been holding officers in Paris for this duty pending the ratification of the treaty and have not let them go into Germany.
- The Commission notes the Department’s views in regard to a representative on the Teschen Commission and will communicate them to the Supreme Council and to the Czechs and Poles. The two latter powers undoubtedly will request the United States to act.
No question could possibly arise at this time in regard to our being represented on commissions provided for by the Austrian, Hungarian and Bulgarian treaty [treaties] in view of the position we have consistently taken in regard to the German treaty.
In regard to your recommendation that we should sail about December 6 we would respectfully call the Department’s attention to the fact that we notified the Department over three weeks ago that we desired to sail the first week in December and many telegrams have been sent stating that we would sail on the 6th. All arrangements to that end have already been made.
When the Mission leaves there will be certain questions practically complete but needing some slight attention such as the final [Page 25] terms in the Hungarian treaty and our relations with Roumania. It would not be possible to my mind, particularly in connection with the Roumanian matter, for us to withdraw entirely. It will therefore be necessary for the Ambassador in order to complete these matters to sit in the Supreme Council for a short time. The matters are routine in character and have been practically settled but could not be handled by the Allies with Washington. This is particularly true in the case of Roumania, and as we have been taking a firm and consistent stand from the first our withdrawal would be a great embarrassment to the Allies, and would be great benefit [sic] to Roumania and would hurt our prestige. In view of the fact that it has nothing whatever to do with the German treaty we most earnestly urge that the Ambassador be authorized to sit in the Council for the purpose of attending to these matters.
In this connection Clemenceau called my attention to the fact that the German Government is getting out of hand as they believe that we might make a separate peace. He has cabled Jusserand to represent to our Government [the necessity of the Mission’s delaying its departure]. I have told him that for practical reasons it could not be done. It is therefore all the more necessary that Wallace should be empowered to sit in the Supreme Council until these pending matters are completed. Otherwise we will be seriously inconveniencing the Allies and will create a most unfavorable impression here as they will not see the logic of our withdrawing on the 6th rather than on the day the treaty was defeated. Wallace, of course, can take no part in questions of the carrying out of the German treaty and the French and British understand that thoroughly but [it is] only a question of appearance which is important for French and Germans.
There are still two military missions in the field, namely, General Bandholtz in Hungary and General Cheney in the Baltic States. As to General Bandholtz I have proposed that the Supreme Council dissolve the Military Council in Budapest immediately but I would suggest that Bandholtz be left there as our representative until Grant-Smith can arrive. As to Cheney the work seems to be [complete] and he can probably be through in a week or ten days. It would create an extremely unfortunate impression to my mind to withdraw him just as his work is being brought to a successful conclusion. This work is connected with the armistice and has no relation to the treaty.
As to direction that I continue to sit in the Council but refer all questions to the Department, of course the Department understands that it would probably be impossible to get answers to any questions [Page 26] I might now ask until after my departure. The Commission will receive [carry out] the wishes of the Department but at the same time I am sure the Department would not object to the Commission completing such matters [not] relating to the execution of the German treaty as are still before us. Polk.
- Not printed.↩