File No. 362.112T41/10

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


2026. My 2021, April 9, 6 p. m.1 Our naval attaché was told by officer at Marine Department that the German side of sinking of the Falaba was given in the North German Gazette, the official newspaper, April 2, and that nothing more would be said. The article referred to reads in part as follows:

The Falaba lies! Until now it has almost always been stated, even by Englishmen, that opportunity was given crews of ships doomed to destruction to leave their vessel. That is a postulate of humanity and it is a matter of course that our submarine commanders are obedient to it as long as ever possible from the military standpoint, but naturally not a moment longer. This humanity is, however, rendered practically impossible for our submarines the moment England offers rewards to her merchant vessels which ram submarines and systematically trains them for combat. Since England proceeds in such a manner every English merchant vessel is not only confiscable enemy’s property but is under suspicion of a hostile act of an attack and our submarines area bound to observe greatest caution. When a submarine is lying alongside such valuable booty and other ships approach, as is possibly the case in this instance, the time for rescuing crew and passengers is limited to such time as the other vessels may require to reach a proximity which might imperil the submarine. At this instant the military necessity of action arises; that is, it becomes imperative [Page 365] to sink the steamer which has been stopped. This is therefore merely a consequence of the instructions which England’s merchant vessels received to attack our submarines. In counseling her merchant vessels to aggression England sowed the winds; may she now reap the storm!

  1. Not printed.