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


1732. Below you will find a memorandum of my conversation with the Austrian Ambassador:

I made a memorandum of our conversation for the President, immediately after your departure, and refreshing my memory by an examination of the [Page 409] memorandum, I give you herewith the substance of our conversation. I feel sure that you could not have misunderstood the points which I endeavored to impress upon you—first, that I would not feel authorized to discuss the subject of arbitration without first getting the President’s views. In answer to your statement that Germany did not desire war and was anxious to maintain friendly relations with the United States, I stated that you might say to the German Government that you felt sure there was no desire for war in this country, and that we expected Germany to answer the note in the same spirit of friendship that prompted ours. You then suggested that it would make it easier for Germany if she could, in her reply, say that she expected us to insist in the same spirit upon the freedom of trade with neutrals. I pointed out to you that such an expression in the answer might embarrass us and make it more difficult to deal with the Allies and I thought that Germany ought to assume that we would live up to our answer to the orders in council. You asked whether we would give confidential assurances of that kind, and I told you it ought not to be necessary and that if the German Government desired to justify before the people its acceptance of the doctrine set forth in our note, it could publish its views in a statement, not to us, but to the German people, and say that she took it for granted that we would maintain the position taken in that statement and would insist upon our right to trade with neutrals. I pointed out that if her answer contained any expression of opinion as to how we should deal with Great Britain, it would seemingly link the two cases together and put us in the attitude of acting at Germany’s suggestion, instead of acting upon our own initiative and for the protection of our own interests, and that it might be construed as a sort of trade whereby we would settle an account with Germany by opening an account with the Allies. When you referred to Germany’s prohibition of the carrying of explosives on railways and asked if we could not refuse clearance to ships carrying explosives and munitions, I replied that Germany was at liberty to make any suggestions she thought proper in her reply, but that we could not consider these suggestions in advance.

Upon receipt of your telegram I sent this memorandum of conversation to the Austrian Ambassador for his verification. He has just called and brought an answer to my letter in which is the following language:

I find the memorandum you had the kindness to send me quite correct and rendering faithfully the substance of our conversation.

Please bring this to the attention of the Foreign Office in order that there may be no misunderstanding as to my conversation with Ambassador Dumba. My statement that there is no desire for war in this country was brought out by his assurance that Germany did not desire war and was anxious to maintain diplomatic relations.