File No. 763.72111Em1/14

The Ambassador in Austria-Hungary ( Penfield ) to the Secretary of State


759. Referring to my cable of July 1, 10 a. m., 751,2 submitting Austro-Hungarian note which was received immediately subsequent to visit of German Minister for Foreign Affairs to Vienna, I venture in view of urgency of occasion to Submit following memorandum:

Taking advantage of Hague conventions, both Austria and Germany sold arms and ammunition to belligerents during both Balkan wars and Italo-Turkish war. Position of Austria and Germany [Page 789] during Boer war presents striking analogy to that of United States vis-à-vis present belligerents Boers being cut off by British, Austrians and Germans were unable to supply them with munitions of war. In spite of this and of the fact that keen sympathy was felt for Boer cause in Austria and Germany, manufacturers of both countries sold munitions to British Government. According to recent statement of British War Office to London Embassy, Erhardt, Düsseldorf, at that time supplied Great Britain with 108 quick-firing guns and ammunition, and Skoda Works, Austria, delivered four 9¾-inch howitzers with 4,000 rounds of ammunition. I venture to recall to Department attitude of Austrian Government relative to shipment of arms to Mexico. When it is pointed out that American Government was endeavoring to conserve large Austro-German investments in Mexico and suggested, pursuant to instructions, that we, as their agents, hoped that means might be found to act in concert with us in preventing shipment of arms to Mexico, especially in view of the fact that continuance of shipments would probably seriously interfere with accomplishment desired end, they replied that their manufacturers were very jealous of their rights. The degree to which this armament was contemplated is emphasized particularly by large quantities Mexican guns and ammunition now in hands of Austro-Hungarian forces. Reliable Americans have informed me they have seen many of these guns lying on battlefield near Tarnow; also ammunition cases addressed to Mexican Government, Vera Cruz. I am likewise reliably informed that numbers of these arms are in hands of Austrian troops on Italian front. Embassy has informally pointed out to Ministry of Foreign Affairs that in event of enactment law prohibiting export of arms from the United States, American manufacturers would immediately transfer plants to Canada. Rapidity with which transfers can be made evidenced by successful removal of machinery from Herstal, Belgium, to Germany and recent removal several plants from Adriatic coast to interior of this Monarchy.

  1. Not printed. The note transmitted therein is printed as an enclosure to the Ambassador’s despatch No. 608, July 2, post, p. 790.