File No. 763.72/2478

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


2289. Referring to your 1723, May 23, 2 p. m.,1 regret your telegram not quite clear because you say that House reports that new British Ministry now willing to consider the proposals which we made in our note received February 22 last,2 and you then speak of getting the German Government to renew its proposals. The essential difference between the proposition made in our identic note and the German counter proposal is that we proposed that foodstuffs should be allowed to enter Germany and the German counter proposal demanded not only foodstuff and forage, but raw material also. Colonel House cabled me from London direct on May 18, the text of his telegram having been repeated in your 1622 [1712]3 to me. I immediately had interview with Von Jagow and on May 21 cabled House as follows:

Gave your suggestion to Von Jagow this morning. This proposition of permitting passage food in return for cessation of submarine methods already made and declined. If raw material added, matter can perhaps be arranged. Germany in no need of food. Ask Department to cable you my cable number 2305 [2205]4 of May 10, 5 p. m.

This disposes of the proposition if you mean that the British Government is willing to allow foodstuffs but not raw material to enter Germany in return for cessation of torpedoing of merchant ships without notice by submarines. I had a talk to-day with Zimmermann, Von Jagow being out of town, and he reiterated what Von Jagow said, but expressed himself as satisfied that an agreement might be reached on somewhat the following basis: Germany and England both agree not to use gases. Food, cotton, copper, rubber, and such other raw material as does not directly enter into manufacture of munitions of war to be allowed to enter Germany. Germany to stop torpedoing of merchant vessels without notice, but England to agree that merchant vessels shall not be armed and shall not attempt to ram submarines.

I think German answer to Lusitania note will be only in first place a statement of facts, and we shall be asked if we agree that this statement correctly sets forth the facts.

  1. Ante, p. 406.
  2. See identic note of February 20, ante, p. 119.
  3. See footnote 2, ante, p. 400.
  4. Ante, p. 389.