File No. 811.0151/34

The German Ambassador ( Bernstorff ) to the Secretary of State

J. Nr. A 868/15]

Mr. Secretary of State: It has come to the Imperial German Government’s knowledge that the British Admiralty has issued [Page 95] secret orders to the effect that, on account of the appearance of German submarines in the English Channel and Irish Sea, all British merchant vessels should immediately fly neutral flags. They should also show no house flag and should conceal all markings such as names, ports of origin, etc.

In compliance with instructions, I have the honor to point out to your excellency that this measure of the British Government may well expose neutral vessels to great danger, and I venture to leave it to your excellency’s kind consideration whether representations to the British Government against the improper use of the American flag by British vessels are in order.

Accept [etc.]

For the Imperial Ambassador: