File No. 763.72/3213
The Ambassador in Germany ( Gerard ) to the Secretary of State
[Received February 5, 8.30 p.m.]
4994. Chancellor sent for me last night, at 6 and I was with Zimmermann at supper later for two hours. Both seemed very much worried over attitude America and continually asked me for news and begged me to help keep peace. Chancellor said the Allies had refused to make peace when Germany wanted to and that President had Germany’s peace terms, and so there was nothing left to do but use all means at hand. I said that member of Reichstag had told me that matter might be arranged if food allowed in. Chancellor said it was too late, and that nothing but peace on admirably modest terms would do. I finally got him to tell me what those terms are: Germany to give up Belgium but retaining so-called guaranties such as railroads, forts, a garrison, ports, commercial control, etc.; a slice of France through rectification of frontier; will only give back a small part of Serbia, and Bulgaria can do, as she likes with Roumania and everybody must pay indemnities to Germany, etc. If Bernstorff has given President any other terms he is fooling him, but do not quote me to Bernstorff.
Zimmermann said he had often thought of telling me of the pending action in the 10 days before February 1, but knew I would only say it was impossible and would lead to a break, but that they hoped by taking the action first that we would stand for it as the situation had been altered by the peace talk and anyway that we wanted peace.
Suggest if you decide make any threats threaten war. Germans not afraid of break of diplomatic relations which simply means they can go ahead and do what they please and attack us if they win. Chancellor spoke of the great hatred the military and naval people have for America. Even if there is war German military calculate they can starve England before America can do anything. These people have only one God—Force.