File No. 763.72/2144
The Ambassador in Germany ( Gerard ) to the Secretary of State
[Received September 23, 2.17 p. m.]
2921. Our naval attaché had talk to-day with Admiral Holtzendorff, the new Chief of Naval Staff. Admiral said that Naval Department was now in complete accord with general Government and that instructions given to submarines were strict and would be carried out.
I think you will find that Bernstorff has wide discretion and is empowered to offer to refer compensation for loss American lives on Lusitania and Arabic to Hague; that he will state that submarines have strict orders not to torpedo liners without warning and, before passengers and crews in boats and that in all cases of doubt torpedo not to be fired; that these instructions as to cases of doubt possibly did not reach commander of submarine which sank Arabic as instructions were sent by wireless; think also Bernstorff empowered to state that Arabic might not have intended to ram. You will probably have some difficulty about disavowal of act of commander of submarine, which sank Arabic, but convinced Germany intends to settle whole matter now.