The Ambassador in Germany (Gerard) to the Secretary of State
[Received February 23.]
My Dear Mr. Secretary: I was very glad to see Colonel House in Berlin, for many reasons and especially that the President and you may get his view of the situation here. He had long talks with the Chancellor, von Jagow, and Zimmermann and also met Dr. Solf, the Colonial Minister, von Gwinner, head of the Deutsche Bank, Gutmann of the Dresdner Bank, and Dr. Rathenau, head of the General Electrical Company and many corporations, who is now [Page 677] engaged with the General Staff in providing raw materials for Germany.
I think Zimmermann hollered at the Colonel—he certainly tried to scare me.
Morgenthau was here a day. I took him to see von Jagow, and through some Germans he met Zimmermann. Of course having a political talk with Zimmermann was technically an invasion of my bailiwick, but I welcome anything that might clear the situation.
Von Jagow said that Germany had never given any guarantees about submarine war, but had only stated that certain orders had been given to submarine commanders. He said Germany reserved the right to alter these orders—at any time.
Morgenthau says that Zimmermann asked him if the German-Americans would not rise in rebellion in case of war.
The enclosed from the [London] Times of February 6th [4th]13 confirms one thing stated to me in a certain interview, which interview has doubtless been related by now by my brother-in-law, Marcus Daly, to the President.
I think the Germans are getting short of copper and nickel, especially the latter. Copper lighting rods of churches have been taken and an effort was made to take the brass reading desk in the American church and the fittings in the Japanese Embassy.
I think from underground rumors that the Germans and the propagandists will endeavor to embroil us with Japan.
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There was a well-defined report that Germany would issue a manifesto stating that enemy merchant ships would be fired on without notice and this because of orders alleged to have been found on British ships ordering merchant ships to fire on submarines at sight.
The Chancellor told me Germany was ready for peace—but that all his emissaries had met with a cold reception in the allied countries of France England & Russia.
The other enclosure14 shows a slight concession to the Socialists & the general regulation as it stood might interest Labor Leaders, of intelligence, like Gompers.
- Not printed; quotes the Cologne Gazette to the effect that the war is one between governments of lawyers at London, Paris, and Rome, and governments of national kings at Berlin, Vienna, Budapest, and Sofia.↩
- Not printed; an article from the Berliner Tageblatt of February 8, 1916, reporting that the Prussian Ministry of Railways was no longer prohibiting railway employees from taking part in Socialist Party activities.↩