File No. 763.72119/20b
The Secretary of State to the Ambassadors in Great Britain ( Page ) and France ( Herrick )
Washington , September 8, 1914, 4 p.m.
Oscar Straus at a dinner given by Speyer of New York, met the German Ambassador. During conversation Straus asked the Ambassador whether he thought Germany would accept mediation at this time. The Ambassador answered that while he had received no communication from his government on the subject since leaving Berlin, a conversation he had with the Chancellor just before leaving led him to believe that the Kaiser would accept mediation if the other nations also expressed willingness. I sent for the Ambassador and he confirmed the conversation and replying to my question said he was willing to have the conversation reported to the German Government and the Emperor’s views asked. I sent a cable yesterday at the President’s direction to Berlin reporting the conversation and asking for the views of the Emperor, saying that if he responded favorably a similar inquiry would be addressed to the other governments. The British and French Ambassadors have been informed of the substance of our inquiry and Straus has spoken to both of them about his interview with Bernstorff. We do not know, of course, what reply the German Emperor will make but this war is so horrible from every aspect that no one can afford to take the responsibility for continuing it a single hour. The British and French Ambassadors fear that Germany will not accept any reasonable terms but even a failure to agree will not rob an attempt at mediation of all its advantages because the different nations would be able to explain their attitude, the reasons for continuing the war, the end to be hoped for and the terms upon which peace is possible. This would locate responsibility for the continuation of the war and help to mold public opinion. Will notify you as soon as answer is received from Bernstorff.