The Ambassador in Germany (Gerard) to the Secretary of State
[Received January 4, 1916.]
My Dear Mr. Secretary: The Chancellor sent for me early Saturday morning. He complained again bitterly that he could not communicate in cipher with Bernstorff. He said, How can I arrange, as I wish to, in a friendly way, the Ancona and Lusitania cases, if I cannot communicate with my Ambassador. He said, Why does the United States Government not allow me to communicate in cipher? I said the German Foreign Office tried to get me to ask for a free pass to America for the notorious Rintelen, saying he was going on charitable work for Belgium; perhaps the American Government thinks you want to communicate with people like that. He then changed the subject and spoke of the feeling against Germany in America, and said that after the war there would be bad feeling here against America. I said that that idea had been expressed by a great many Germans and German newspapers, and that I had heard privately from a great many Americans that if Germany intended to make war on America after this war that perhaps we had better go in now. He then became very amiable and said war with America would be ridiculous. He asked why public opinion in America was so against Germany. I said things like the Cavell case made a bad impression in America and that I knew the Kaiser even was against the Lusitania torpedoing. He said, how about the Baralong.[Page 674]
I said I didn’t know, but first, there is no doubt about the fact that Miss Cavell was shot, and second, that Miss Cavell was a woman, and the crew of the German submarine men. I then took up in detail questions of treatment of British prisoners and said it could not go on, and we talked over this. He kept calling me “his dearest Ambassador,” and I think he is worried over the Ancona note.
Speaking of the Baralong case,—I think Senator (State) Isaac Barth, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, can tell something interesting about this. As I remember it, he told me in Berlin that in Liverpool he met some of the crew of the Nicosian who claimed they saw the submarine which sank the Arabic in turn and in sight of the Arabic (or its place of disappearance) sunk by an English boat which at first flew the American flag and had the American colors or arms on a large board hung over the side; as the submarine which sank the Arabic finally turned up, the story of the Nicosian’s crew evidently had to be changed.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Dr. Ohnesorg, U. S. N., and Osborne back from inspecting camps report bad conditions; they were not allowed (contrary to our treaty) to talk out of hearing of camp officers to the prisoners in Limburg Camp. These prisoners are 2000 Irish, and the reason, of course, for the refusal of the usual permission is that the Germans through the notorious Sir Roger Casement have been trying to seduce the Irish, and do not want the soldier prisoners to tell us about it. I have learned through other sources that the Germans seduced about 30 Irish. I told von Jagow what I had learned and asked what the Germans had done with these victims,—whether they were in the German army; he said, no, most had been sent to Ireland to raise hell there. I suppose they were landed from submarine; they may be dynamiting in America.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
I think there will be a stormy attack by Germans soon on West front with Turks in it. Also Zeppelin on London.