At its first meeting on Feb. 17 the Supreme Economic Council decided to co-ordinate the work of all the former war boards and to direct them as sections of its own organization. As a result, matters of food and relief were placed under Herbert Hoover of the United States as director-general; matters of finance, under Norman Davis of the United States ; the problems of communications were ultimately assigned to Brig.-Gen. H. 0. Mance of Great Britain; raw materials, to Loucheur of France; problems of blockade, to Vance McCormick of the United States; and shipping to Kimball Cooke of Great Britain.
The Supreme Economic Council endeavoured to supply dev astated areas with materials necessary for reconstruction and to revive the economic activity of those countries which were vic tims of the war. It was especially concerned with the problem of relieving the famine-stricken areas of Eastern Europe—a situ ation recognized as dangerous to political stability and likely to encourage the spread of Bolshevism. It arranged the Brussels Agreement by which Germany was provided with foodstuffs, to carry out that provision in the Armistice which pledged the Allies to revictual Germany in return for cash payments. It delegated to a sub-committee the special task of economic administration in the territories of Germany occupied by Allied armies. It
carried on direct negotiations with the German Finance Com mission, studied the economic effects of the Allied blockades of a Bolshevist Russia and Hungary, and urged the Supreme Council of the conference to relax those blockades for the benefit of the peoples of other states near by. It relaxed the blockade against Germany and reorganized the transportation systems of Austria, Hungary and Poland.
In short, the Supreme Economic Council under the efficient chairmanship of Lord Robert (Viscount) Cecil, established only as a temporary commission to administer economic affairs until the advent of peace, became one of the most important inter national bodies directing the reorganization of Europe. After the Treaty of Versailles had been signed, it continued to act as agent for the Allies. The last meeting was held in Feb. 1920.
To safeguard Poland on its western border, the Peace Confer ence imposed an obligation upon Germany that had not been stipulated in the Armistice. In Posen, where Germans constituted in large part the class of landed proprietors and Poles were the peasants, local conflicts developed during Dec. 1918 between garrisons and Polish volunteer forces. The Peace Conference finally in Jan. 1919 despatched an Inter-Allied Commission to stop these hostilities and served notice of that intention upon Germany through Marshal Foch. Germany protested, but prac tically accepted the provisional line of demarcation as laid down by the Allied Commission until the boundaries of Germany and Poland were determined by treaty (see below VERSAILLES, TREATY oF). Germany also objected strongly to the transport of Gen. Haller's Polish army from France to Poland via Danzig, on the ground that its presence would prejudice the ultimate disposition of Danzig. The conference forced Germany to admit the technical right of the Allies to use Danzig as such a port of entry to Poland, but allowed Germany to route Haller's army via railroad without touching Danzig.