File No. 763.72111Em1/13
The Ambassador in Austria-Hungary ( Penfield ) to the Secretary of State
[Received July 20.]
Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith enclosed a copy and translation of a note dated June 29 from Baron Burian, the Austro-Hungarian Minister for Foreign Affairs, relative to the shipment of arms and ammunition by citizens of the United States to Great Britain and her allies, and taking issue with the American Government as to its neutrality in permitting the continuance of this traffic in view of the proportions to which it has grown and in view of the fact that Austria-Hungary and Germany are cut off from the American market. The full text of the note was to-day cabled you in cipher.
In view of the importance of the subject in hand and of the delay which would attend a transmission by pouch, I am venturing to bring to your attention by telegraph certain actions on the part of the Austro-Hungarian and German Governments which have come to my notice, which form precedents, and which, although no doubt already known to the Department, I feel it my duty to recall to your notice on this occasion. The Embassy has ventured, unofficially, to recall these facts to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and did not omit to mention the large number of so-called Mexican guns now in the hands of the Austro-Hungarian troops, the shipment of which [Page 791] to Mexico was prevented only by the outbreak of the present European War, and likewise that American manufacturers of war materials could transfer their plants to Canada with a facility equal to that evidenced by the removal of the Belgian arms plant from Herstal to Germany, and the still more recent removal of similar plants from the shores of the Adriatic provinces—from Monfalcone, Pola, and Fiume—to safer places within the Monarchy where they are now in operation.
It was further suggested that the proportion of arms and ammunition supplied to the Allies by American manufacturers was probably much exaggerated in the Austro-German mind; that no account seemed to be taken of the fact that France and England, with her colonies, were utilizing every available resource to this end; that American manufacturers realized that the production of articles of this kind was altogether of a temporary nature, and that one might be sure that their attention had not been distracted thereby from the rich fields for export in South America and Asia, which had formerly been supplied by Europe, but which must now look to the United States for supplies. It was reasonable to suppose that American business men had not lost sight of the future advantages of gaining control of those markets in the present circumstances, and that therefore the Nation can not be supposed to have given itself up to the production of war material to the degree to which Austro-German publicists seem to imagine; that, to the contrary, should the United States mobilize her manufactories on the lines at present followed in Great Britain, it is highly probable that enough ammunition could, within a short time, be produced to supply the wants of any of the belligerents.
I have [etc.]