File No. 763.72/1783

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


2255. As I cabled, I am sure Germany will not abandon present method submarine warfare. Newspapers and all classes are unanimous in declaring that enemy ships carrying munitions of war should not be made immune from submarine attack by fact that they carry American passengers. The prospect of war with America is contemplated with equanimity. It is said that in the case of war American ships carrying munitions can be destroyed by submarines and that the delivery of American munitions to the Allies will be diminished because more munitions will be required in America. If you do not desire to go to extremities, it is possible perhaps to arrange that if Americans insist in traveling on British ships that these ships shall be inspected at American ports before sailing, that the American Government shall then guarantee both that the ships are unarmed and carry no contraband of war and that such ships shall then carry distinguishing flags and marks and be, of course, subject to the usual rules as to visit and search, capture and destruction by enemy vessels but not to be torpedoed without notice. This suggestion, however, does not come from the German Government. Germans of position here, bankers, editors, officials, have told me that America has not enforced its rights to trade with Germany, but have acquiesced in England’s holding cotton destined for Germany although there is no effective blockade of German coast. They refer also to fact that Americans were told by American Government that they remained in Mexico at their own risk, and they cannot see why the American Government should enforce the protection of cargoes of munitions by the presence of American passengers in British vessels who can travel in American ships in perfect safety and without causing complications. Germany has had great successes in the east, and is perfectly prepared to fight Italy with Austria, and is quite ready for the war.