The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Germany ( Gerard )
1731. Please deliver the following despatch to the German Government as the English translation of a telegram which the Austrian Ambassador is sending in cipher. I am sending this at the Ambassador’s request for fear his cipher despatch may be delayed.
Secretary of State just advised me of a cable of Mr. Gerard purporting that I had sent to Berlin a telegram which, according to Mr. Zimmermann said in substance the Lusitania note was not meant in earnest and “was only sent as sop to public opinion.” I do not understand how my telegram could produce such an erroneous impression. Mr. Bryan emphasized the difference between the destruction of many human lives and material damage, the high tension of public opinion and the correspondent earnestness of his protest which does not exclude a friendly tone and spirit. It would be a great mistake to minimize the earnestness of this protest.