Verbatim Comparison of Mantoux notes and Hankey minutes: June 9, 1919, 11 a.m.

(For the Mantoux notes presented in the following “verbatim comparison”, the English translation given in the Papers of Woodrow Wilson was used.)


The members of the Supreme War Council are introduced.

Clémenceau: I received from my best informant in Berlin an account of a conversation with Theodor Wolff, the editor of the Berliner Tageblatt. He says that Ebert and Scheidemann are absolutely decided to refuse their signature to the treaty, unless we make enormous concessions. Theodor Wolff declares himself satisfied about the firmness of these two statesmen.

Lloyd George: The information, which I am receiving, is a bit different.


Clémenceau: You will have no doubts left in a short time. I have learned also that Hungary acknowledged receipt of our telegram enjoining her to halt hostilities against the Czechoslovaks.

Wilson: I ask the members of the Inter-Allied Military Council to inform us about the military situation in Hungary.

M. Clémenceau announced that a reply had been received from Buda Pesth, acknowledging receipt of the telegram, which had been dispatched on 7th June, 1919, in regard to the Hungarians’ attack against the Czecho-Slvaks (W.C.P. 940).

President Wilson said that the military representatives had been summoned by the Council of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers in order to discuss the question of the military measures to be taken with regard to Hungary, in accordance with the proposals contained in a joint note No. 43, submitted by the Military Representatives, Versailles (m.241).

He, (President Wilson), had heard contrary statements in regard to the Hungarian advance into Czecho-Slovakia. He would, therefore, like to hear from one of the Military Experts what were the actual facts of the case and he would ask General Wilson to give a short summary of the present military situation.

Sir Henry Wilson: It was the Czechs who attacked. Their attack reawakened the military spirit of the Hungarians, who fought the Czechs and are today in Slovakia.

General Wilson stated that the first move forward had been made by the Czecho-Slovaks, who had overstepped the boundary. This act had raised a strong national spirit in Hungary, with the result that the Hungarians had attacked the Czecho-Slovaks, and the chances now were that the Hungarians would beat the Czecho-Slovaks.

President Wilson inquired whether the Hungarians were making a very vigorous attack against the Czecho-Slovaks.

General Wilson replied that the information available was not sufficient to enable him to give a definite reply to that question.

Lloyd George: I have recent information from an Englishman, come from Budapest, and moreover very hostile to Bela Kun. He casts all the blame for what happened on the Rumanians. General Franchet d’Esperey established a line at the time of the Armistice; despite the injunctions of the commanding general, the Rumanians crossed it. We stopped them at a second line; again they violated it. At that time, Bela Kun was lost. He was isolated in Budapest. His situation could be compared to that of the Paris Commune immediately before its fall. The advance of the Rumanians aroused Hungarian national feeling and gave Bela Kun an army. In advancing against Hungary, the Czechs threatened the only important mining region, which remains in Hungarian territory; that provoked a new surge of national movement. Mr. Lloyd George said that he had received very important information supplied by a British subject who had just returned from Buda Pesth. This witness had stated that the whole blame lay with the Rumanians. At the time of the Armistice the General Commanding in Chief of the Armies of the East, General Franchet d’Esperey, had fixed a boundary line between Rumania and Hungary. That boundary line had been crossed by the Rumanians in defiance of General Franchet d’Esperry’s orders, who had then proceeded to fix a second boundary line considerably in advance of the first. Now, the second boundary line had also been crossed by the Rumanians. At that time, Bela Kin was done for, and the people outside the capital were determined to get rid of him. But the moment the Rumanians began their last advance into Hungary, many of the aristocratic officers of the old Hungarian Army had rushed to Bela Kin to be enrolled to fight against the Rumanians to stem the invasions, with the result that at the present moment a strong national movement for the defense of the country had been started in Hungary. At the same time, the Czecho-Slovaks had also advanced with the object of occupying the only coal-bearing area remaining within the boundaries of the new State of Hungary. The result had been a national Hungarian rising against the Czecho-Slovaks.
The witness through whom I know this told me “It is Rumanian aggression alone which permitted Bela Kun to rally the nation behind him.” It would be seen, therefore, that the fault lay entirely with the Rumanians who had been the first to invade the new State of Hungary; and the attack of the Rumanians had been followed by the advance of the Czsecho-Slovaks in the direction of the coal basin of Pecs.
Clémenceau: I call your attention to the question raised by President Wilson: what really is the military situation? The statement made by his informant, who had come straight from Buda Pesth, fully bore out what General Bliss had stated in the Memorandum attached to the joint note submitted by the Military Representatives, Versailles. M. Clémenceau pointed out that no reply had yet been given by the Military Representatives to President Wilson’s question in regard to the military situation in those regions.
Lloyd George: One word only. I received two telegrams from our military representative in Prague. The first says that the situation is very serious, that the Czechs lack munitions, that Pressburg is threatened, and that Bolshevism is developing in Slovakia. The second announces that, at the request of President Masaryk, General Pelle was placed at the head of the Czechoslovak army and martial law proclaimed in Pressburg.

Mr. Lloyd George said that he had received the following two telegrams which would answer M. Clemenceau’s question: -

The first telegram was dated Prague 5th June, 1919, and had been received in Paris on 8th June. It stated that General Pellet had, at President Masaryks’ request been appointed Commander in Chief of the Czecho-Slovak army and that martial law had been proclaimed at Pressburg.

The second telegram dated Prague 7th June, 1919, stated that Wobsi (?) had been captured by the Magyars and that the situation was extremely grave. The Czecho-Slovak troops were quite dispirited and a great shortage of munitions existed. Pressburg was threatened, where the only powder factory of Czecho-Slovakia was situated.

Mr. Lloyd George, continuing, said that his informant had also stated that the Slovaks had become Bolshevik and that the whole of Czecho-Slovakia had almost become Bolshevik.

(General Cavallero pointed out on a map the boundaries of Hungary, the Hungarian territory occupied by the Rumanians and the territory at present occupied by the Hungarians in Czecho-Slovakia).


General Belin explains the situation on the map: The Czechs have been pushed back in the southern part of Slovakia, the Hungarians operating on their left flank and placing themselves between it and the right flank of the Rumanian army.

Lloyd George: Where are the Rumanians?

Belin: On the second line fixed since the Armistice.

Lloyd George: That line, in relation to the first, is halfway from Budapest.

Clémenceau: Where did the Czech attack take place?

Belin: North of Budapest.

Lloyd George: We must be fair even to the Hungarians; they are only defending their country.

Cavallero: M. Allize has asked General Segre to give Austro-Hungarian war materiel found in possession of the Italian army to the Czechoslovak government. We consented, while reserving the rights
of the Italian government to this materiel. The transfer must be assured by the Italian armistice commission.

General Belin explained that in their advance into Czecho-Slovakia, the Hungarians had driven a wedge between the left wing of the Czecho-Slovak army and the right wing of the Rumanian army, so that continuity between the two armies had been broken. As a result, a road had been laid open for a possible advance of the Hungarians on Pressburg, the most important Czecho-Slovak center.
Lloyd George: What shall we do vis-à-vis the Hungarians? General Franchet d’Esperey, who represents all of us, once gave the Rumanians the order to halt; that order was not obeyed. The Rumanian attack was followed by a Czechoslovak attack. I propose to halt the sending of all materiel to Rumania until she has obeyed our order. The greater part of all these difficulties comes from the fact that the states, which are our friends, refuse to follow our instructions. We must put an end to it. Everything that is happening is due to the advance of the Rumanians contrary to the formal injunctions of the Commander in Chief of the Army of the East. I propose to stop all assistance to the Rumanians until they have given us satisfaction.

Mr. Lloyd George asked for information in regard to the invasion of Hungary by the Rumanians.

General Belin replied that the Rumanians had stopped their advance on the line of demarcation, which had been laid down by General Franchet d’Esperey after the Armistice line had been passed.

Mr. Lloyd George emphasized the fact that the Rumanians had advanced well into Hungary beyond the first Armistice line.

President Wilson agreed that the Rumanians had, in consequence occupied a not insignificant part of Hungarian territory.

Mr. Lloyd George, continuing, said that in addition the Czechs had also invaded Hungary and were advancing on the coalmines of Pecs. In his opinion, it was evident that the Rumanians and the Czecho-Slovaks were wholly to blame for what had occurred and in considering this matter, it was the duty of the Council to be fair, even to their enemies.

President Wilson agreed. He added that under the circumstances it was sometimes very difficult to be fair to their friends. He suggested that the dmilitary advisers should withdraw and that the question should be further considered by the Council of Four in private.

Mr. Lloyd George inquired whether the Council was in possession of all the requisite information in regard to the supply of munitions and other war material to Rumania and Czecho-Slovakia.

General Cavallero reported that General Segre, the chief of the Armistice Commission at Vienna, had been asked to dispatch to the Czecho-Slovak army war material to be taken from the stocks and supplies of the old Austro-Hungarian army. General Segre had willingly agreed to this proposal and the military representatives in the Joint Note they submitted to the Supreme War Council, had recommended that the Italian Armistice Commission at Vienna should be charged with the carrying out of the work in question.

Mr. Lloyd George inquired what supplies were now being given by the Allied and Associated Governments to the Rumanian armies. He pointed out that Rumania had defied the Allied Commander in Chief, General Franchet d’Esperey, and twice the Rumanians had refused to obey his orders. This clearly proved that the Paris writ not running. Orders were sent by the Supreme Council to the Rumanians, who merely snapped their fingers at them. Consequently, in his opinion, it would be necessary to stop the dispatch of all further supplies until a complete understanding was reached. He understood that a great deal of material was supplied by Great Britain and that would now be stopped, and he suggested that France should do the same. The whole of the trouble in Central Europe arose from the fact that their friends refused to obey the orders issued by the Supreme Council. He thought it would be necessary to take strong measures with their friends. In this case, all the trouble had arisen because Rumania had advanced in defiance of the orders given. Consequently, all supplies to Rumania should be stopped until a complete understanding had been reached as to what ought to be done.

President Wilson expressed the view that the Rumanians should be made to retire to the original Armistice line. He inquired whether they had advanced since General Smuts’ visit.

Mr. Lloyd George replied in the affirmative.

Clémenceau: The Rumanians halted after our last injunction. It is our military experts who now propose that they advance to extricate the Czechoslovaks.

M. Clémenceau said that the Rumanians had stopped their advance, as a result of the last instructions issued by the Supreme Council.

Mr. Lloyd George thought it would be more correct to say that they had been stopped by the Hungarian forces.

M. Clémenceau pointed out that their military experts, in Joint Note No. 43, had recommended that the Rumanians should advance.

General Sackville-West explained that this recommendation was merely based on the terms of reference to the Military Representatives which were as follows: -

“The Supreme Council of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers has charged the Military Representatives of the Supreme War Council at Versailles to examine the military action to be taken by the Allied armies to put an end to Hungarian attacks against Czecho-Slovakia”.

Cavallero: According to the reliable information that we received several days ago, it is the minister of National Defense of the Czechoslovak Republic who, on April 27th, ordered his troops to cross the Armistice line, in order to occupy territories which in his opinion the Hungarians would have to evacuate following the Rumanian push. It is then that the Czechs advanced under the command of General Hennocque. General Cavallero asked permission to read the following telegram, giving the information received by the Italian General Headquarters: -
“As result of the advance of the Rumanian Army, which, on the 25th,April, was about to reach . . . . . and to proceed in a north-westerly direction towards the Theiss, the Czecho-Slovak Minister of Defense on 27th April ordered the Czecho-Slovak troops to cross the present line of demarcation in order to occupy the whole of the Czechs. The Hungarian troops had been withdrawn from this territory in order to resist the further advance of the Rumanians. The Czecho-Slovak advance was made by General Hennoque’s troops.”
Clémenceau: Why should the Hungarians have to evacuate this territory? M. Clémenceau inquired why the Hungarians had evacuated the territory facing the Czecho-Slovaks.

Cavallero: It was the probable consequence of the advance of the Rumanians. The movement of the Czechs threatens the Ore Mountains, which are the last resource of Hungary in terms of mines; that explains the energetic resistance of the Hungarians.

Lloyd George: Should we not see M. Bratianu, and M. Kramar or M. Benes about this matter?

Wilson: I do not like to play with ammunition dumps; that can produce explosions.

Clémenceau: Can we not see them this afternoon, if you judge it necessary?

General Cavallero replied that the Hungarians had been compelled to withdraw their troops in order to stop the Rumanian advance. The Czecho-Slovaks in their advance had threatened the whole of the region lying to the south of the mineral-bearing mountains, where the only remaining coal mines in the new State of Hungary were to be found.

M. Clémenceau inquired whether M. Bratiano, Dr. Benes and Dr. Kramacz should not be summoned before any decision was taken.

President Wilson thought that this would be necessary. He, personally, thought it would be dangerous to play with ammunition dumps.

Lloyd George: After having placed themselves in impossible situations, these gentlemen come to us and say: “Come to our aid!” They are all brigand peoples who only want to steal territories.

Mr. Lloyd George agreed. In his opinion, it was imperative that measures should be taken to enforce the orders issued by the Supreme Council. In the past, the small Balkan States had defied every order issued from Paris and, having got themselves into trouble, invariably appealed to Paris to extricate them from their difficulties. He agreed with President Wilson that the question should be settled by the Council of Four without consulting the small Powers concerned.

(It was agreed that the question should be further discussed by the Council of Four.)


Clémenceau: M. Bratianu will say to us: “You left me alone, and I halted at your second injunction.”

Lloyd George: Do not forget that the Hungarians are a proud people and have a great military tradition. Let us summon M. Bratianu.

Clémenceau: I prefer that we settle this question among ourselves. I have had enough of giving advice.

Lloyd George: The time has come to impose our orders.

The members of the Supreme War Council withdrew.

(The Meeting then adjourned.)