File No. 763.72111/2256

The Secretary of State to the German Ambassador (Bernstorff)

My Dear Mr. Ambassador: I desire to call to your attention a matter which has given this Government great concern. The Government is informed that a German torpedo boat held up and searched on the high seas on the last of April, 1915, off the Swedish coast at Malmö the American steamship Muskogee, flying the American flag en route between Copenhagen and Stockholm, and that the German boat took away, notwithstanding the remonstrances of the American captain, two seamen, boatswain Hans Petersen, a Norwegian, and Jan Rejkers, a Dutchman, who had regularly shipped as members of the Muskogees crew.

It is not necessary to point out to you the objectionable features of this incident, which it appears partly disabled the American vessel by reason of the loss of two men who, according to the captain’s statement, were most essential to his ship, as they performed certain duties which other members of his crew did not understand.

I desire to request that you bring this matter to the attention of your Government, with the suggestion that a thorough investigation be made of the incident, for if the facts here set forth prove to be true, this Government will be under the necessity of presenting formal representations to your Government in the matter, on the general ground that the jurisdiction of the United States over its merchant vessels on the high seas has been unduly disregarded by the German authorities.

I am [etc.]

For the Secretary of State:
Robert Lansing