Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels, for President Woodrow Wilson

Subject Copy.

CABLEGRAM SENT 3 March, 1919.

To OPNAV , WASHINGTON <(for Secnav.)>        Serial No.

Prep. by M-5/G                    D.R.

     P R I O R I T Y

FOR SECRETARY                     MISSION NO. <318>

     Following is substance of draft of Naval Peace Terms with Germany as submitted by Naval representatives of Allies and United States and is forwarded at suggestion of Commissioners in order that it may be transmitted to President [Woodrow Wilson] before his departure. Covering letter <forwarding> Peace Terms will not be submitted. Letter states in substance that Naval clauses for preliminary terms of peace are divided in two classes. First Naval subjects which include articles one to eleven as given below. Second subjects intimately connected with Naval matters on which Admirals deem it essential to present their views and recommendations. This covered by articles twelve to twenty inclusive. Conditions for naval aircraft have been imbodied in general air terms. Conclusions as submitted by naval representatives follow quote  

 

Article one Future Strength of German Fleet period Until such time as Germany shall have fulfilled all her obligations under the final Treaty of Peace, the strength of the German Fleet in personnel and ships shall be restricted as follows colon dash

A. Personnel period subparagraph The total personnel for naval purposes comma including the manning of the Fleet comma coast defenses comma signal stations comma administration and other land services comma shall not exceed 15,000 parentheses officers and men of all grades and corps included close parentheses period. Subparagraph The conditions of service for Naval personnel shall be based on the same principles as are laid down for the German Army in the Military Terms.

B. Seagoing Fleet period subparagraph Germany shall be authorized to maintain in a seagoing condition comma as a maximum dash six battleships of the DEUTSCHLAND or LOTHRINGEN type period Six light cruisers comma xxxxxxxxxxxxxx for coastwatching and fishery duties following twelve destroyers com<m>a twelve torpedo boats period Subparagraph Until the completion of the minesweeping prescribed by Clause eleven comma Germany will keep in commission the number of minesweeping vessels fixed by the Allies and the United States period. Note period Admiral Benson does not agree to the limitation of the German Fleet after the final Treaty of Peace comma except as imposed by the League of Nations period.

 

Article two Disposal of Surplus period. Subparagraph Personnel period Officers and men belonging to the Germany Navy in excess of the numbers authorised by Clause one shall be demobilised within a period of two months from the signature of the preliminary Terms of Peace. Subparagraph Vessels of war period. Vessels of war over and above the seagoing fleet authorised by Clause one shall be disposed of as required by Clauses three comma four comma five comma six comma and ten comma or comma if not specially provided for in these clauses comma shall be placed in reserve or utilised for commercial purposes period. Note period Admiral Benson does not agree to the limitation of the German Fleet after the final Treaty of Peace comma except as imposed by the League of Nations period.

 

Article three Submarines period. A. All German submarines comma without exception comma submarine salvage vessels comma and docks for submarines comma parentheses including the tubular dock close parentheses comma are to be surrendered to the Allies and the United States of America period Those which can proceed under their own power comma or which can be towed comma shall be taken by the Germans into Allied ports comma to be there destroyed parentheses see note below close parentheses or broken up period Note Admiral de Bon comma by direction of the Minister of Marine of France1comma makes reservations on this point period Subparagraph Germany shall inform the neutral powers concerned that she authorises the delivery to the Allied and the United States of America of all German submarines in neutral ports period. B. paragraph The German submarines which cannot be delivered in Allied ports comma as well as those which are in course of construction comma shall be completely broken up by the Germans comma under the supervision of Allied and United States Commissioners period. Subparagraph The breaking up of these submarines shall be completed within a maximum period of three months after the signature of the Preliminaries of Peace period. C. paragraph The Naval Commission appointed by the Allies and the United States of America to supervise the execution of the Terms of the Armistice has decided as to which submarines are to proceed or are to be towed to Allied ports and which are to be broken up by the Germans period The decisions of this Commission shall be strictly carried out period.

 

Article Four Surface Vessels of War now interned period All German surface vessels of war now interned in Allied ports comma in conformity with the Terms of the Armistice comma or interned in neutral ports comma cease to belong to Germany semi colon they are definitely surrendered to the Allies and the United States of America for the purpose of being broken up or destroyed parentheses see note below close parentheses in the shortest possible time period. Paragraph Germany shall inform the neutral powers concerned that she authorises the delivery to the Allies and the United States of America of the German surface vessels of war in neutral ports period Note Admiral de Bon comma by direction of the Minister of Marine of France comma makes reservations on this point period.

 

Article Five Further reduction of surface vessels of war period Paragraph The German vessels of war named below shall be sunk under the supervision of the Allies and the United Stated [i.e., States] of America within two months after the signature of the Preliminaries of Peace. Paragraph Commissioners of the Allies and the United States shall fix the localities where these vessels shall be sunk period Paragraph vessels are to have their guns on board period In other respects they are to remain disarmed as ordered by Article twenty three of the Armistice Convention dated November eleventh nineteen hundred eighteen period Paragraph With the above reservations the German Government may remove from these ships before they are sunk such material as has a commercial value period The vessels are colon dash Battleships Oldenburg comma Thuringen comma Ostfriesland comma Helgoland comma Posen comma Westfalan comma Rheinland comma Nassau period Light Cruisers Stettin comma Danzig comma Munchen comma Lubeck comma Strassburg comma Augsburg comma Kolberg comma Stuttgart period Forty two modern destroyers period Fifty modern torpedo boats period Note Admiral de Bon comma by direction of the Minister of Marine of France makes reservations on this point period.

 

Article Six Vessels of War Under Construction period Germany shall stop the construction of all vessels of war comma including submarines period Paragraph All German surface vessels of war now under construction shall be broken up under the supervision of Allied and United States Commissioners period.

 

Article Seven Materials Arising From Vessels Broken Up period The materials arising from the breaking up of German vessels of war comma whether surface vessels or submarines comma may be used comma but solely for industrial or commercial purposes comma and on no account for warlike purposes period Paragraph Germany shall not sell or dispose of these materials to other countries period

 

Article Eight Construction of Vessels of War period Until the terms of the final Treaty of Peace have been fully carried out comma Germany shall not undertake the construction of or acquire any new vessels of war comma submarines included comma except as follows colon dash A. New vessels shall only be built to replace units of the seagoing fleet authorised by Clause one period B. They shall be designed purely for coast defence and coast watching purposes period C. No new vessels shall exceed ten thousand tons displacement period D. Except in the case of the loss of a ship comma units of the different classes shall only be replaced at the end of dash twenty years in the case of battleships and cruisers period Fifteen years in the case of destroyers and torpedo boats period. This number of years shall count from the first year in which credit is taken in the Budget for the construction of the ship which is to be replaced to the year in which credit is taken in the Budget for the construction of the new ship. period. Note Admiral Benson does not agree to the limitation of the German Fleet after the final Treaty of Peace comma except as imposed by the League of Nations period.

 

Article nine xxxx Naval War Material period The allowance of arms comma ammunition comma and all important items of Naval war material for the German Navy will be fixed by a Commission of the Allies and the United States of America on the basis of the seagoing fleet and personnel authorized by Clause one period The reserve of Naval ordnance comma arms comma ammunition and war material shall be in proportion to the number and types of the units of the seagoing fleet period Paragraph All arms comma ammunition comma and Naval war materiel comma including mines and torpedoes comma belonging to Germany and now in possession of the German Naval Authorities comma in excess of the above establishment comma shall be surrendered to the Allies and the United States of America comma at places to be determined comma to be destroyed or made useless period The surrender of materiel under this clause shall be executed within a period of thirty days from the date of signature of the Preliminaries of Peace period Paragraph The manufacture by Germany for foreign countries of Naval ordnance comma ammunition comma mines and torpedoes comma or their parts comma or Naval war materiel of any description comma is prohibited period. Note Admiral Benson does not agree to the final paragraph of this Clause period

 

Article ten Merchant Cruisers and Fleet Auxiliaries period Armed German merchant cruisers comma whether in ports of the Central Powers or interned in neutral ports comma and Fleet Auxiliaries which can be converted from merchant ships comma or which have been converted from merchant ships comma shall be disarmed and treated as other merchant vessels period Paragraph The vessels affected by this Clause are given in Appendix period2

 

Article eleven Minesweeping period Germany shall sweep up all mines in the areas which have been assigned to her in the agreement already entered into between the Allies and the United States of America period Paragraph In accordance with this agreement comma Germany shall be responsible for sweeping in the following areas colon dash one That portion of the North Sea which lies to the eastward from longitude four degrees no  minutes east from Greenwich dash A. between the parallels of latitude fifty three degrees no minutes north and fifty nine degrees no minutes north period B. To the northward of latitude sixty degrees thirty minutes north period Two The Baltic Sea comma excluding Russian waters period In regard to these waters further details will be given as soon as the Russian question is determined period.

 

Article twelve Heligoland period The fortifications comma military establishments and harbors of the Islands of Heligoland and Dune shall be destroyed under the supervision of Allied Commissioners comma by German labor and at the expense of Germany comma within a period to be determined by the Commissioners period Paragraph the Term harbors shall include the north east mole semi colon the west wall semi colon the outer and inner breakwaters and reclamation wroks <works> within them colon and all naval and military works comma fortifications and buildings comma constructed and under construction comma between lines connecting the following positions taken from British Admiralty chart number one hundred twenty six of April nineteenth nineteen hundred eighteen colon dash A. Latitude fifty four degrees ten minutes forty nine seconds north comma longitude seven degrees fifty three minutes thirty nine seconds east B. Latitude fifty four degrees ten minutes thirty five seconds north comma longitude seven degrees fifty four minutes eighteen seconds east C. Fifty four degrees ten minutes fourteen seconds north comma seven degrees fifty four minutes no seconds east D. fifty four degrees ten minutes seventeen seconds north comma seven degrees fifty three minutes thirty seven seconds east E. Fifty four degrees ten minutes forty four seconds north comma seven degrees fifty three xxxxx minutes twenty six seconds east period. Paragraph the disposal of the Islands will be decided by the final treaty of peace period

Note. Admiral Benson makes a reservation regarding the destruction of harbors.

 

Article thirteen. Routes of Access into the Baltic. Paragraph. In order to ensure the free access into the Baltic <to all nations, Germany shall not erect any fortifications> in the area comprised between latitudes fifty five degrees twenty seven minutes north and fifty four degrees north and longitudes of nine degrees east and sixteen degrees  east of the meridian of Greenwich, nor install any guns commanding the maritime routes between the North Sea and the Baltic. paragraph. The fortifications now existing shall be demolished and the guns removed under the supervision of <Allied> Commissioners. paragraph. The German Government shall place at the disposal of the Allies and the United States of America complete copies of all hydrographic information nowin its possession concerning the channels and adjoining waters between the Baltic and the North Sea. paragraph.

 

Article fourteen. Kiel Canal. paragraph. The Kiel Canal shall be open at all times to all war and commercial vessels of every nation. No nation shall benefit by especially favorable treatment, and no class of vessels shall be excluded from the Canal. Paragraph. Note. Admiral Benson does not agree to this Cluase <Clause> and believes that it cannot be justified except as a punitive measure. Paragraph.

 

Fifteen. German colonies. The German Colonies shall not be returned to Germany. Paragraph.

 

Article Sixteen. Wireless telegraphy. Paragraph One. The German high power w/t stations at Nauen, Hanover and Berlin shall not be used for the naval, military or political purposes of Germany, or of any state which has been allied to Germany in the war, without the assent of the Allied Powers and the United States of America, which will not be given until they are satisfied that the naval and military stipulations of the Trea<t>y of Peace have been fully carried out. During the intervening period these stations may be used for commercial purposes, but only under the supervision of the Allies and the United States of America, who will decide the wave length to be used. Paragraph two. Germany shall not build any more high power w/t stations in her own territory or that of Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria or Turkey, until the naval and military stipulations of the Treaty of Peace have been fully carried out. Paragraph Three. In the event of Germany violating the provisions of the Treaty of Peace, the Allies and the United States of America shall be at liberty to withhold the services of their w/t stations from German stations. Paragraph Four. Germany shall have only <one> vote at the next International Radio Telegraph Conference, irrespective of the number of independent or semi-independent states into which  Germany may be divided. Paragraph.

 

Article Seventeen. Submarine Cables. The German cables enumerated below shall not be returned to Germany: Emden-Vigo, Emden-Brest, Emden-Teneriffe, Emden-Azores (Two cables), Azores-New York (two cables), Teneriffe-Monrovia, Monrovia-Pernambce, Monrovia-Lome, Lome-Duala, Constantinople-Constnaza, Chifu-Tsingtau-Shanghai, Yap-Shanghai, Yap-Guam, Yap-Menado (Celebes). Note. Admiral Benson disagrees. paragraph.

 

Article Eighteen. Reparation for Allied Shipping Losses. Reparation for Allied Shipping Losses shall be made by Germany to the extent and in the method to be laid down in the permanent Treaty of Peace. Part of such reparation shall consist in the handling over by Germany to the Allies and the United States of America all merchant ships (with such exceptions as may be laid down in the Treaty of Peace) completed, launched, or under construction, which were on eleven November 1918, the property of the German Government or German owners or entitled to fly the German merchant flag. Paragraph. For the removal of doubt as to the interpretation which shall be placed upon certain points which might be deemed open to question, and without prejudice to further elucidations which may be xxx inserted in the Treaty of Peace, it is hereby declared that: subparagraph (a) Reparation for Shipping Losses. The Reparation required from Germany for shipping losses shall be based upon the total number of ships destroyed or lost, constructively or actually, through the hostile action of Germany, irrespective of the means employed for their destruction. Subparagraph. For the purpose of this paragraph the terms quote ships unquote and quote shipping unquote shall be deemed to include fishing vessels. Sub paragraph(b). Merchant vessels captured by Germany. All Allied or neutral merchant vessels which have been condemned by the German Pri<z>e Court and which were German property at the date of the Armistice shall be regarded as being German vessels which may be required to be surrendered under the heading of reparation. Sub-paragraph. Salvage of Allied Ships and Cargoes. Notwithstanding that reparation may have been paid for sunken ships and cargoes, the property in such ships and cargoes, if salved outside German territorial waters, shall remain at the disposal of the Allies. Paragraph.

 

Article Nineteen. Commissions for Execution of naval terms. All the above measures shall be carried out under the control of a special Naval Commission appointed for the purpose by Allies and the United States of America. Paragraph. This Commission will act under the supreme direction of the Admiralties of the Allies and the United States, and may appoint sub-commissions or Delegates as may be found necessary. Paragraph. The German Government shall facilitate, by all possible means, the exercise of this control, and shall furnish the fullest information demanded of it on all questions in connection with the same, including designs of warships, details and samples of Naval war material, guns, ammunition, torpedoes, mines and other explosives, and w/t apparatus. Note. Admiral Benson disagrees as to requiring Germany to furnish designs, samples, etc., of war material, and makes reservations regarding the participation by Naval representatives of the United States of America in Commissions dealing with the execution of Clauses One, Eight, Nine, Twelve, Thirteen and Fourteen. Paragraph.

 

Article Twenty. Armistice Conventions. XXXXX Nothing in these Preliminaries of Peace shall <invalidate> anything done or required to be done under the Armistice Convention of 11 November 1918, or subsequent conventions for its renewal. Paragraph. Appendix. Armed German merchant cruisers and Fleet Auxiliaries. (List referred to in Clause ten of Naval Terms-). Interned in neutral countries. (3) BERLIN, SANTA FE, YORCK. In Germany. (23) AMMON, ANSWALD, BOSINA<nia>, CA<O>DOBA, CASSEL, Dania, Rio Negro, Rio Pardo, Santa Cruz, Schweben, Soligen, Steigerwald, Franken, Gundomar, Fuorst Buolow, Ger<trud>, Kigoma, Rugia, Santa Elena, Schleswig, XXXX <Moewe>, Sierra Ventana, Chemitz, <Emi Georg von Strauss,> Habsburg, Meteor, Waltraute, Scharnhorst.

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. This copy starts out with an extra space between each article, but begins listing all articles within a single paragraph starting with thirteen. The editor has chosen to put all articles in separate paragraphs with an extra space between them for ease of reading.

Footnote 1: Adm. Ferdinand Jean Jaques de Bon, Chief of the French Naval Staff, and Georges Leygues, French Minister of Marine.

Footnote 2: The appendix was not included with this copy and has not been located.

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