File No. 763.72111/3139
The German Ambassador ( Bernstorff ) to the Secretary of State
My Dear Mr. Secretary: In answer to your favor of November 8 note with regret that it seems inadvisable to have the Hamburg-American Line case postponed.
Referring to the statement in your note:
I do not understand that the question involved in these cases is now the subject of diplomatic discussion between your Government and mine, and I am inclined to feel that if it were it would not have an embarrassing effect upon the diplomatic discussion.
I beg to state that I do not consider the controversy between our two Governments about the basis-question as closed. The fact that neither the memorandum of the German Foreign Office, sent by me to you on December 15,1 nor the Pisa question2 has been followed up, is due solely to the fact, that other more urgent matters have arisen in the meantime.
I gather from your note that in your opinion no military political question involving my Government will be referred to in the trial.
To this end I venture to hope that in this case, as in the Sacramento case,3 you will use good offices of the Department of Justice to secure instruction to those in charge to avoid questions involving inquiry into the military secrets of the German Government. You will agree, I think, that the details of the military system of a belligerent in the conduct of its naval warfare should not be made the subject of investigation by a civil court of a neutral country.
I am [etc.]