File No. 763.72/1434
The Ambassador in Germany (Gerard) to the Secretary of State
[Received February 5, 10 p. m.]
1519. German Admiralty issues following proclamation: The waters surrounding Great Britain and Ireland including the whole English Channel are hereby declared to be comprised within the seat of war and that all enemy merchant vessels found in those waters after the eighteenth instant will be destroyed although it may not always be possible to save crews and passengers.
Neutral vessels expose themselves to danger within this zone of war since in view of the misuse of the neutral flag ordered by the British Government on January thirty-first and of the contingencies of maritime warfare it cannot always be avoided that neutral vessels suffer from attacks intended to strike enemy ships.
The navigation routes around the north of the Shetlands, in the eastern part of the North Sea and in a strip of at least thirty sea miles in width along the Dutch coast are not open to the danger zone. Foreign Office transmits long explanatory memorandum which is being sent by mail but can be cabled if desired.