File No. 865.857An2/125

The German Embassy to the Department of State

J. Nr. A 8257]

The Imperial German Embassy presents its compliments to the United States Department of State and has the honor to enclose herewith a wireless cipher message, in duplicate, to the Foreign Office, Berlin, for kind transmission to the Tuckerton radio station.2

Duplicate copies of the text of the message are likewise enclosed.


The Austro-Hungarian Chargé at Washington ( Zwiedinek ) to the Austro-Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs ( Burian )

268. Yesterday’s wireless concerning preliminary answer Ancona received. Saw informally Secretary of State who greatly disappointed over a cablegram of American Ambassador in Vienna and newspaper reports indicating lines of probable answer. Without giving me details of this report he objected to argument that Austria-Hungary was not bound by negotiations with Germany in submarine question saying that Austrian Government has official cognizance of American viewpoint as Austrian Embassy here had received copies of notes and as Bryan had discussed matter with Dumba.

During the conversation I observed that I believed that my Government would not object to declaring that the commander was not allowed to shell any more after steamer had stopped; that the American note, however, demanded that all passengers should be in the boats before torpedoing and that I doubted if this last extreme principle had been accepted by us. Secretary answered that this ought not to be taken absolutely verbally without however entering further into the question mentioning only the particular difficulty of the transfer of wounded. He mentioned also that according to the Admiralty report not the safety of the passengers seems to have been the first consideration but the fear that the prey might escape: From this report one could conclude that this last consideration not only justified the torpedoing but made it obligatory for the commander to sink the ship without further delay.

Mr. Lansing insisted again that only our immediate declaration would be acceptable that we were ready to disavow the action of the submarine commander [Page 641] and fulfil the American demands in case an investigation would prove that the facts were such as represented in the American note. The American Government would not enter into discussion of the case before the principles of humanity had been recognized by us. Discussion of facts could only follow after this principle was recognized. Mr. Lansing is unwilling to believe that we would not accept this view.

  1. Approved for transmission.