File No. 300.115/2297

The Ambassador in Great Britain (Page) to the Secretary of State


1592. My 1537, January 27, was written after a conversation with Sir Edward Grey. Since then he has reduced the decision of the British Government to writing and has sent me the following note which confirms and adds to my telegram:

German views as to what constitutes a fortified place on British coast would apparently justify us in declaring any German port to be a fortified place and foodstuffs consigned to it as being therefore open to presumption of being conditional contraband.

[Page 320]

But apart from this it is now officially announced from Berlin that the Federal Council has decided to seize all the stocks of corn and flour in Germany by February 1. This materially affects the cargo on the Wilhelmina and His Majesty’s Government feel bound to submit corn and flour going to German port to a prize court as conditional contraband on the ground that the German decree causes all corn and flour to be compulsorily consigned to the enemy government.

As, however, the Wilhelmina could presumably have had no knowledge of this decree of which there had been no public notification before she sailed, His Majesty’s Government are prepared to compensate the owners of the ship and cargo for any loss sustained by them owing to action taken by His Majesty’s Government in stopping the ship and submitting the cargo to a prize court if the cargo consists of foodstuffs as stated.

American Ambassador