Treaty With Germany, Political Clauses - Belgium


Treaty With Germany, Political Clauses - Belgium


Slosson, Preston W. (Preston William), 1892-1984




No date


Robert and Sally Huxley


Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museusm


Ashley Herring





The sources used in this Section, to which reference is made, are:

1. Minutes of the Supreme Council, including:

a. Council of Ten (B.C.).

b. Council of Five (F.M.).

c. Council of Four (I.C.) and (C.F.).

2. Preliminary Conditions of Peace, definitive text of the Treaty and correspondence with the German Delegation.

3. Minutes of the Commission on Belgian and Danish Affairs.

4. Reports of the Commission on Belgian and Danish Affairs.

a. Report on Revision of the Treaties of 1839.

b. Report of March 19 on Belgian Affairs (territorial).

5. Report of Central Committee on Territorial Questions; German-Belgian Frontier.

PART III. Section I. Political Clauses for Belgium.The basis of this Section is the work of a Commission on Belgian Affairs which on February 12 was charged to report on the rectification of the Belgian frontier with respect to Moresnet and Malmedy and a possible rectification of the Dutch frontier with the object of compensating the Netherlands for possible cessions to Belgium. The Commission was appointed in consequence of the presentation by M. Hymans of the political claims of Belgim before the Supreme Council on BFebruary 11, 1918 (B.C.28). M. Hymans urged revision of the political and territorial arrangements imposed on Belgium in 1839, the annexation of neutral Moresnet and of Malmedy, closer political relations between Belgium and Luxemburg, absolute control of the Scheldt todits mouth by Belgium, the transfer of the southern bank of the Shecheldt and of Limburg to Belgium, the compensation of the Netherlands for this transfer at the expense of Germany.

On February 26 M. Tardieu stated on behalf of the Belgian Commission that it was uncertain whether or not the Commission had the power to hear Dutch representatives or to consider the questions of the left bank of the Scheldt and of Dutch Limburg. (B.C.40). Mr. Balfour considered that “the Conference had no power to ask Holland, a friendly and neutral State, to cede any portion of its territory” and so the only question before the Commission was the “purely practical one” of inquiring whether it was feasible to alienate any portion of German territory to the Netherlands in case the Netherlands should agree to make cessions to Belgium. “The Commission had not been asked to adjudicate on the value of the exchange. Only the Dutch could decide whether it satisfied them”. M. Tardieu considered that the terms of reference of the Commission should include also the legal status of the Treaties of 1839 since the violation of Belgian neutrality had destroyed the old international position of Belgium. Mr. Lansing thought that the mere fact of violation had not invalidated the treaties, but he agreed that a revision might be necessary. The Commission was therefore charged with the study of the revision of the Treaties of 1839.The Commission issued two Reports on Belgian affairs. One, on the revision of the Treaties of 1839, presented March 6, was accepted by the Supreme Council on March 8, and is the basis for Article 31 of the Treaty.The second Report, dealing with territorial changes, was completed on March 16, and was passed on by the Central TerritorialThese conclusions were taken from the draft prepared by the American delegation (Annex III to the minutes of March 4), except for a verbal modification in the last paragraph, as the American version “to create a regime for Belgium in accordance with the League of Nations” was thought by some members of the Commission to imply a limitation on Belgian sovereignty.On March 8 the Supreme Council (B.C.47) approved the Report of the Commission on Belgian Affairs with respect to the revision of the Treaties of 1839.

The conclusions of the Report were embodied in their present form in an article approved by the Council of Five (Foreign Ministers) on April 17 (F,M,5).rNeutral Moresnet.

Article 32 corresponds to paragraph one of Article I of the Report of the Commission on Belgian Affairs. It was voted by the Commission at its fifth session, March 6.

Prussian Moresnet.Article 33 is based on paragraph two of Article I of the Report of the Commission on Belgian Affairs, which read:“Germany renounces in favor of Belgium all its rights and titles over the communal woods and domaniaal wood situated in Prussian Moresnet”. In this form it was voted by the Commission at its fifth session, March 6. The cession, it was explained, was designed to repay Belgium for the destruction of forests carried out by the Germans in Belgium.

In the Central Territorial Commission the wording of this article was changed to read:“Germany renounces in favor of Belgium the sovereignty over the part of Prussian Moresnet covered by the communal woods and the domanial wood, as well as all rights and titles over the said woods.”In the Treaty the boundary is defined in deifferent wording, the Liege-Aix-la-Chapelle road being indicated as the frontier.

Eupen and Malmedy.

Article 34 is based on Article 2 of the draft articles in the Report of the Commission on Belgian Affairs. The Belgian delegation presented at the third session of the Commission, March 1, a map showing alternative rectifications of the Belgian-German frontier. On the proposal of Mr. Haskins (U.S.A.) the “green line”, based mainly on ethnogtraphic considerations, was teken as the basis for discussion: the “black line”, based on the principle of military defense, was reserved for consideration in case the regime adopted for the left bank of the Rhine did not offer Belgium sufficient security. March 6,At the fifth session of the Commission, it was unanimously decided to assign the whole of Malmedy to Belgium. M. Tardieu (France) urged that Eupen, especially the mining district in the north of that Kreis, was economically oriented towards Belgium. Mr. Haskins (U.S.A.) and Suir Eyre Crowe (Britain), however, reserved their opinion with regard to Eupen because iof the mixed character of its population.At the seventh session of the Commission, the stipulation was added on the motion of Sir Eyre Crowe (Britain) with respect to the cession of Malmedy “unless a majority of the population makes formal protest”. Discussion contaiinued on the Eupen scession, the British and American delegates poijnting out that M. Hymans, in presenting Belgian claims, made no mention of Eupen. It was agreed, however, that in any event Belgium should have the unrestricted right of exploiting the mineral deposits of the Kreis of Eupen which are indispensible to the works of the Viellle Montagne in Moresnet.At the eighth session of the Commission, March 12, Mr. Headlam-Morley (Britain) and Mr. Haskins (U.S.A.) withdrew their objections to the annexation of Eupen, provided the majority of inhabitants of this Kreis made no formal objection to annexation. The Commission adopted the Article in the following form:“Germany renounces in favor of Belgium all its rights and titles over the territories composed of the whole of the Circles (Kreise) of Eupen and of Malmedy.

Nevertheless, the population of the whole or part of the said territories may within six months after the coming into foreffect of the present Treaty protest against this renunciation.It will be the duty of the Belgian Government to submit any such protest to the League of Nations, whose decision Belgium undertakes to accept.”The method of consulting the population of Eupen and Malmedy indicated in the Treaty was inserted subsequently.

Article 35, establisheing the international commission to delimit the Belgian-German frontier, corresponds to Article 3 of the Report of the Belgian Commission as amended by the Central Territorial Commission, The clause “taking into account the economic factors and the means of communication” was added by the Central Territorial Commission (eighth session, March 26) after Sir Eyre Crowe had explained that the frontier line would intersect at two or three points are Petergronsfeld-Reren-Valheim railway if it strictly flolloewed the political boundary indicated in the treaty.Article 36, on the nationality of inhabitants of the ceded territory, corresponds to Article 4 of the Report of the Belgian Commission, except that the change of nationality is dated from the time “when the transfer of sovereignty...has become definitive”, instead of “at the end of the six months” allowed for plebiscite. In view of Article 34, the phrases are equivalent in substance.Article 387, on the right of option, corresponds to Article 5 of the Report of the Belgian Commission, except as brought into uniform wording with analogous clauses in other parts of the Treaty.Article 38, concerning the return of archives and official records of all kinds to Belgium, has no equivalent in the Report of the Commission on Belgian Affairs.The minutes at hand do not indicate the date of its insertion.Article 39, concerning the assumption by Belgium of financial liabilities in consequence of annexation, had for its equivalent Article 6 in the Belgian Commission Report: “The territories referred to above will be acquired by Belgium free and clear of all charges”. In aArticle 2656 of Part IX is the clause: “Belgium also shall be exempt from making any payment or any credit under this Article for any property or possessions of the German Empire or States situated in German territory ceded to Belgium under the present Treaty”.

The Supreme Council agreed on May 3 that Belgium should enjoy the special exemption mentioned in Article 256 (I.C. 180 D).

Original Format




Slosson, Preston W. (Preston William), 1892-1984, “Treaty With Germany, Political Clauses - Belgium,” No date, WWP19037, R. Emmet Condon Collection, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.