Conference of Paris

germany, supreme, economic, council, commission, armistice, peace, poland, allied and polish

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Administrative Work.

With this matter of authority arbi trarily arranged, the Peace Conference settled to the work of constructing a peace. Peace-making, however, was not to be its sole task. It was obliged also to assume executive duties of tremendous consequence. It must direct the Allied Armistice Commission at Spa. It must set up and control the Supreme Economic Council at Paris. It had to maintain its own authority over Poland, Germany, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Rumania. The Supreme Council of the Conference administered the Armis tice by instructions to Marshal Foch, who in turn forwarded them to the International Commission at Spa. The Allied mem bers of the commission consequently had no authority to make any decision beyond their instructions. They did have full power to explain and to stress important points in the Allied interpretation of the Armistice and, by personal intercourse, to prevail upon the German representatives to accept the decisions of the Supreme Council at Paris. The matters that chiefly con cerned the Armistice Commission were : the withdrawal of Ger man forces from the territory of the Allies and their demobiliza tion, the repatriation of prisoners interned in Germany, surrender by Germany of the required amounts of arms, aeroplanes, mer cantile and agricultural machinery, railroad equipment, and the delivery of other commodities stipulated in the Armistice.

Supreme Economic Council.

At the instance of President Wilson, on Feb. 8 the Supreme Council resolved to create a Supreme Economic Council of five members each from interested Powers to advise the conference on the temporary economic measures necessary pending the completion of peace negotiations.

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.

Hostilities on Eastern Fronts.

The authority of the Peace Conference was menaced seriously not only by the hostility of the enemy, Germany, but by the resistance of the ally, Rumania, and the new governments of Poland and Czechoslovakia. Early in Nov. 1918 hostilities had broken out between the Poles and the Ruthenians in East Galicia, where Polish proprietors consti tuted a landed minority, and Ruthenian peasants, closely related to the Ukrainians in Russia, were a majority. During Feb. 1919 an Allied Mission intervened, but the Ukrainian commander re fused to accept the proposed truce. In March the Supreme Council of the Peace Conference arranged another truce with the Ukrainian commander, and on April 2 set up an Inter-Allied Commission at Paris to arrange the terms of an armistice concern ing Eastern Galicia. The Polish delegation rejected this armistice on the ground that Poland's safety required military occupation of East Galicia. The Supreme Council sanctioned the Polish occu pation. The status of Eastern Galicia was left for later decision.

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.

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