File No. 841.857Ar1/101

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


3059. The following note has just been received 10 a. m. from Foreign Office:

Ambassador Count Bernstorff has now reported about the negotiations conducted in Washington, D. C., with reference to the Arabic incident, and also communicated to me the text of the letter he addressed to the Secretary of State, Mr. Lansing.

From the Ambassador’s report I see with satisfaction that a full understanding has been reached between our two Governments.

As Count Bernstorff, acting under instructions of the Imperial Government, has already pointed out, the commander of the submarine that sank the Arabic was convinced that the Arabic intended to ram his boat. I have since transmitted by mail to Count Bernstorff the evidence on file here—that is, a legalized copy of the report made by the commander of the submarine on September 2, as well as legalized copies of the hearing of the witnesses, conducted on September 21, in the matter of the sinking of the English steamer Arabic by a German submarine, together with the diagram and English translation—and [Page 604] have requested him to bring this evidence to the knowledge of the American Government.

I beg to transmit herewith also to your excellency copies of the above-mentioned documents,1 for I trust that your excellency’s Government will gain from them the conviction that the circumstances as explained in the statements of the witnesses gave the commander of the submarine justified reasons for his above-mentioned supposition.

The German Government, on the other hand, as Count Bernstorff has already informed Mr. Lansing, does not want to refuse to credit the affidavit of the English officers [of] the Arabic, according to which no submarine was seen from the Arabic. The German Government therefore admits that, whereas the commander personally was convinced that he acted in self-defense, there was in fact no attempt made to ram the submarine. I may therefore repeat Count Bernstorff’s statement that the attack of the submarine, to our regret, was not in accordance with their instructions issued, and that the commander has been notified accordingly.

As it has been the intention of the Imperial Government to settle the incident in a friendly manner, Count Bernstorff has also been instructed, as you know, to declare to the American Government our readiness to pay—out of friendly consideration and leaving aside the question of the liability resulting from international law—an indemnity for the loss of the American lives which the German Government deeply [regrets].

In giving again expression to my satisfaction that Count Bernstorff’s negotiations with the Secretary of State, Mr. Lansing, have led to a settlement of the incident, I avail myself [etc.]

Von Jagow

  1. Not printed.