File No. 763.72112/1820

The Ambassador in Germany (Gerard) to the Secretary of State 1

No. 1673]

Sir: With reference to the Department’s unnumbered instruction of June 25, 1915, File No. 763.72112/1210, concerning the proposal of the King of Spain that American and Spanish diplomatic representatives accredited to the different belligerent governments make a [Page 1054] joint request of those governments that hospital supplies in transit on the high seas may be considered by them as neither contraband nor conditional contraband of war, but free, I have the honor to transmit to the Department herewith a copy and translation of a note addressed by the Imperial Foreign Office under date of October 15, 1915, to the Spanish Ambassador in Berlin in regard to this subject which the Foreign Office requests me to bring to the attention of my Government.

I have [etc.]

James W. Gerard

The German Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Zimmermann) to the Spanish Ambassador (De Bernabé)

No. IIIa–19014/150962

Mr. Ambassador: With reference to your letter of August 2, 1915, relative to the free transit on the seas of certain articles and materials, I have the honor to inform you as follows:

The German Government declares itself ready to consider the articles and materials of exclusive use for the care of the sick and wounded, a list of which accompanied the above letter, as being comprised in the Declaration of London relative to the law of maritime warfare, and to guarantee their free transit on the seas. In conformity with the provisions of Article 29, No. 1, of the Declaration, it has already inserted into the Prize Ordinances of September 30, 1909 (Reichs-Gesetzblatt 1914, p. 275), the provisions of No. 28, par. 1, according to which articles and materials of the nature described above cannot be considered as contraband of war. As it is stated in Article 29, No. 1, of the Declaration of London that, in case of important military necessity the articles and materials in question can be requisitioned against indemnity, if they are destined for enemy territory or for territory occupied by the enemy or for his armed forces, the German Government has reserved itself right of requisition, of which mention is made in No. 28, par. 1, of the German Prize Ordinances, but up to the present has not made use of it.

If the German Government accepts the Spanish proposition and consents to engage by international act to observe the stipulations of Article 29, No. 1, of the Declaration of London, and especially to consider as binding, the list of articles and materials in question, submitted by the Spanish Government, it only enters this engagement on the understanding of strict reciprocity and declares expressly that it will not consider itself bound, if England should impede the transportation of the said articles and materials from a neutral country to a German port.

Requesting that you inform your Government of the above, I avail myself [etc.]

  1. Enclosure transmitted to the British Ambassador and the Ambassador in Great Britain, for their information, December 9 (File No. 763.72112/1962).