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Notes to Part III, Articles 42 to 44-Continued
of "settlements of a universal kind” through a series of conferences each with one clearly defined objective, of which five were mentioned. Parallel with this would be "an exchange of views on economic problems", a field in which the German Government was prepared "to contribute as far as lies in their power". Though Germany addressed this memorandum only to the British Government, it was widely published as a "solemn general mandate" just received by the German Government from the German people.
The United Kingdom reiterated its intention of initiating conversations with the Belgian and French general staffs to arrange the technical conditions for carrying out the Locarno guaranty in case of unprovoked aggression. Against the published German memorandum the French Government on April 8 published observations which, after incisive criticism of the German effort, embodied a peace plan of its own. The five Locarno states in a communiqué from Geneva on April 10 found that the German proposals did not permit immediate general negotiations, invited the United Kingdom to reply to Germany, convened the general staffs (except the Italian) for April 15, and decided to lay the German and French papers before the Council of the League.
The British Government in its reply to Germany of May 6 regretted that "the German Government have not been able to make a more substantial contribution towards the reestablishment of the confidence which is such an essential preliminary to the wide negotiations" which they both were said to have in view.
The British Government was "in some doubt as to the conception held by the German Government of the basis upon which the future settlement should be founded." A clear declaration as to whether Germany regarded itself to be "in a condition to conclude a binding treaty" would be welcomed. The British Government "must, of course, make it clear that they are unable to accept the views put forward by the German Government" with respect to the Treaty of Versailles. Germany was asked whether it "recognizes and intends to respect the existing territorial and political status of Europe except in so far as this might be subsequently modified by free negotiation and agreement". The lines along which the British Government thought the German proposals concerning an air pact, non-aggression arrangements, the east European question and future relations to the League of Nations might be developed were discussed as a preliminary to the "opening of the general negotiations".
Notes to Part III, Articles 42 to 44—Continued
Germany offered no reply. In an address to the Reichstag on January 30, 1937 the Chancellor of the Reich said that "it was not possible for the German Government, for reasons which the Government of Great Britain will appreciate, to reply to those questions".
Progress with recasting the Locarno group of five states was no more successful. Germany and Italy accepted in July 1936 the idea of a conference but no date for its convening could be arranged with either. Thus Germany remained in the Rhineland area without effective opposition, without making any concessions, and without assuming any new obligations or contributing to European order. The conditions on which articles 42 to 44 of the treaty of peace were based had disappeared.
Germany is forbidden to maintain or construct any fortifications either on the left bank of the Rhine or on the right bank to the west of a line drawn 50 kilometres to the East of the Rhine.
In the area defined above the maintenance and the assembly of armed forces, either permanently or temporarily, and military manœuvres of any kind, as well as the upkeep of all permanent works for mobilization, are in the same way forbidden.
Note to III, 43
Pursuant to article 43 of the treaty and article 5 of the agreement with regard to the military occupation of the territories of the Rhine signed at Versailles June 28, 1919, the Inter-Allied Rhineland High Commission issued Ordinance No. 20, Coblenz, April 23, 1920, which made the following reservations with reference to the application of the German decree of October 17, 1919 (Reichsgesetzblatt, 1919, No. 204, p. 1801) regarding the competence of the National Treasury Department (Inter-Allied Rhineland High Commission, Official Gazette, 1920, parts IV and V, 55) :
"1. The Department of the Administration of State Property for the Occupied Rhineland must in no way concern itself with questions regarding the maintenance of the German Army and Navy although these questions be within the competence of the National Treasury Department.
Note to III, 43-Continued
"2. In all the duties which devolve upon it with regard to the Allied Armies, this Administration must conform not only with the Ordinances that may be promulgated by the High Commission but also with all instructions and requisitions that emanate from the Armies of Occupation within the limits of the Agreement annexed to the Treaty of Peace for the performance of its duties."
These provisions were repeated in Ordinance No. 32, Coblenz, July 22, 1920, which canceled Ordinance No. 20 (ibid., parts VIII and IX, 15).
The Conference of Ambassadors on October 6, 1924 decided to inform the German Government that the presence of Reichswehr musicians in the neutral zone constituted a violation of article 43.
In 1929, the arrangements concerning the left bank of the Rhine were still under the supervision of the Conference of Ambassadors, which had on May 25, 1922 made various representations to the German Government respecting the railroads in that area. Before the war of 1914-18, students of strategy had discussed with interest the German railroad network toward the west, which was generally regarded as uneconomic and intended more for military than transportation purposes. The Inter-Allied Commission on Local Railroads (chemins de fer de campagne) considered the matter for several years. At Paris on July 17, August 4, 10, and 13, 1929 (104 League of Nations Treaty Series, p. 95), the German Government and the Conference of Ambassadors executed an exchange of notes with a view to making the German railway system of the left bank of the Rhine conform with the provisions of article 43. The notes specified the reduction of certain lines to a single track, the laying of some lighter rails, and the shortening or removal of 13 ramps.
In case Germany violates in any manner whatever the provisions of Articles 42 and 43, she shall be regarded as committing a hostile act against the Powers signatory of the present Treaty and as calculated to disturb the peace of the world.
Note to III, 44
No action was taken by any of the interested states to apply article 44 in spite of the resolution of the Council of the League of Nations of March 19, 1936 "that the German Government has committed a breach of Article 43".
SECTION IV.-Saar Basin.
As compensation for the destruction of the coal-mines in the north of France and as part payment towards the total reparation due from Germany for the damage resulting from the war, Germany cedes to France in full and absolute possession, with exclusive rights of exploitation, unencumbered and free from all debts and charges of any kind, the coal-mines situated in the Saar Basin as defined in Article 48.
In order to assure the rights and welfare of the population and to guarantee to France complete freedom in working the mines, Germany agrees to the provisions of Chapters I and II of the
Note to III, 45, 46
At the Paris conference, France wished to annex the Saar district; Great Britain and the United States declined to accept this but agreed to a compromise.
The German delegation declared that the frontiers of the Saar district had been so drawn as to include important industrial districts beyond the coal mines but that the surrender of even the mining districts would be out of proportion to the compensation required (Foreign Relations, The Paris Peace Conference, 1919, VI, 825). The German Government was prepared to guarantee a proper supply of coal-whereas the coal of the Saar mines represented a hundred times the maximum French demands. The population of the Saar was peculiarly uniform and the district had been German for more than 1000 years, except for 68 years when France had possessed it. Now, on account of the coal mines, the people were to be placed under an anomalous government by the League of Nations. "No body representative of the people, with legislative powers, will exist. The population loses all civic rights; it is politically outlawed." All this was demanded to compensate France for coal destroyed in the north. Such a question could be settled only on an economic basis; solution on any other basis would provide "a fresh source of conflict between the German and French peoples". The proposed solution would also lower the whole conception of the League of Nations. The German delegation therefore asked for a reconsideration.