File No. 841.857/66
The British Ambassador (Spring Rice) to the Secretary of State
[Received June 7.]
Sir: I have the honour to bring to your notice the following facts: The Fatherland, a paper edited by George Viereck and Frederick Schrader, in its issue of May 19 contains the following passage on the first page:
Last week we predicted the fate that has overtaken the Lusitania. The editorial in question was written several days before publication. To-day we make another prediction... A fate not unlike that of the Lusitania will meet, before long, a passenger ship, by an explosion of vast stores of ammunition within... Spontaneous combustion recognizes no international convention.
The inference is obvious. The writer knew of the intended sinking of the Lusitania. He announces his knowledge of an intended case of “spontaneous combustion,” from within, on board other passenger vessels.
In the New York Sun of May 31 particulars are given of a circular contained in bundles of German newspapers addressed from Blomberg in Germany offering a reward of a thousand to ten thousand dollars to any one who will assist in destroying, by fire or dynamite, factories which manufacture war material or trains which convey such material to Canada. These circulars were addressed to the Arbeiter Zeitung in St. Louis, Missouri, and were sent for distribution in factories.
It will no doubt be in your recollection that a plot was discovered in New Orleans for the purpose of destroying a ship by dynamite which conveyed supplies supposed to be destined for France. Hans Halle, a German, was arrested in December 1914 for being in possession of an infernal machine which he intended to place on board a French liner leaving New Orleans for France. It was not possible to obtain a conviction as Halle was held to have committed no crime covered by the law of the State of Louisiana. The case will now come before the supreme court of the State.
According to advices received from Rio de Janeiro, Germans in that port are planning to put bombs with time fuses on board British mail steamers and it has been necessary to take special precautions.
I am further informed from London that on the ship Samland conveying cargo from New York to Tilbury four bombs were discovered so constructed as to explode after a certain delay.
Two very similar bombs were found in the hold of the steamship Lord Erne which arrived at Havre from New York about May 22. One of them was stamped with the number four, so that there is reason to believe that they are specimens of several constructed for this purpose. Again a similar bomb was found in the cargo of the steamer Bankdale which left New York for Havre about May 2 after loading at Thirty-first Street, Brooklyn, in the neighborhood of a German ship.[Page 892]
I have the honour of calling your attention to the above facts to point out that there appear to be grounds for clear suspicion that a criminal conspiracy exists for the destruction of lives and property on land in America and on the high seas on board ships leaving American ports; that this plot is encouraged from abroad and that it is known to foreign agents in this country.
As the conspiracy appears to be operated on American soil and to have as its special object the destruction of British ships and railways, I have the honour to suggest that the matter may be referred to the competent authority of the United States Government with a view to such action as may be considered right and proper.
I have [etc.]