File No. 124.67/13a

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Turkey ( Elkus)


3467. Your 2563, March 23.1 The following is secret and merely for your guidance in certain eventualities.

On March 28 the Austro-Hungarian Government was definitely informed that this Government could not receive Count Tarnowski as ambassador in view of the fact that Austria-Hungary upholds the ruthless submarine policy declared by Germany—a policy which has already resulted in the death of 225 American citizens. However, in view of Count Czernin’s declaration that “Austro-Hungarian submarines are operating only in the Adriatic and in the Mediterranean, and that therefore a prejudicing of American interests by Austro-Hungarian men-of-war is hardly to be feared,” and of this Government’s realization that the acquiescence of Austria in Germany’s submarine policy was the result of Prussian influence rather than the desire of the Government of Austria-Hungary, this Government has not felt the necessity; of severing diplomatic relations with Vienna. Furthermore Penfield has been instructed to inform Count Czernin that this Government hoped to continue to maintain friendly relations with Austria.

Count Tarnowski, who has been in Washington since February 3 waiting to be received by the President, was March 29 advised that he could not be received and that, if he desired to return to Vienna a safe-conduct will be provided for him. On March 28 Penfield was called home for consultation, leaving the Embassy in the charge of Grew as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim.

After the President’s address to Congress when that body convenes on Monday next, it is possible that a state of war will be declared between the United States and Germany, in which event it is conceivable that the Austrian Government may be compelled to sever relations with the United States, and thus make it impossible for the Department to communicate freely with you. In this eventuality, therefore, these instructions are addressed to you to be observed only should a break with Austria become a fact.

This Government has had no controversy with Turkey and desires to maintain the friendly relations which have always existed [Page 192] between the two Governments, and there would appear to be no reason, therefore, for severing relations unless it be that the Turkish Government feels compelled to obey the mandate from Berlin. In that eventuality you should make clear the attitude of the United States.

If, however, your passports are delivered to you, you are to turn over the affairs of the Embassy to the diplomatic representative decided upon. The Department will advise you at the earliest possible moment regarding disposition to be made of the interests of other governments now in your charge.

You will return to the United States. The members of your staff will accompany you as far as Switzerland, there to await the Department’s further instructions.

[Here follow detailed instructions regarding the disposition of Embassy affairs.]