File No. 841.857Ar1/38
The Ambassador in Germany ( Gerard ) to the Secretary of State
[Received August 26, 1 p. m.]
2777. Von Jagow sent for me at 1.30 to-day and asked me if I had any news. He said that he had no word from Bernstorff. We had some conversation; he finally said I could cable you and say, if Arabic torpedoed as reported in English papers, that the act would be disavowed and reparation made; that torpedoing, if as reported, was contrary to instructions. I asked again what those instructions were: he said not to torpedo passenger ships without notice and giving crew and passengers an opportunity to leave the ship. I asked if these instructions referred to passenger ships only or included merchant vessels also; he said he could not answer that but knew they did refer to passenger ships. I told him of a conversation with Admiral Behncke, head of Admiralty staff, in which Behncke had said, referring Gulfight case, that they could not punish or disavow act of a submarine commander who had made a mistake if he acted honestly, and also of a statement made by Lieutenant Rintelin, formerly of Admiralty staff, the Foreign Office might make concessions but that naval commanders would not. To this Von Jagow said that Emperor was the person who decided and not Admiralty.