300.115(39)/17: Telegram

The Chargé in Germany ( Kirk ) to the Secretary of State

1835. Department’s [telegram] 758, October 24, 7 p.m.2 Following the receipt of the Department’s 739, October 20, 7 p.m., I made an appointment with the State’s Secretary for Foreign Affairs and submitted to him the observations contained therein. I also left with him an aide-mémoire on the subject and requested that action be expedited.

In the course of a conversation yesterday afternoon with Lohman, a Foreign Office official and member of the Prize Court, he stated emphatically to a member of the Embassy that the Foreign Office in the interests of good relations was endeavoring to expedite as rapidly as possible the decisions in the cases of detained vessels with cargoes of wood pulp destined for the American market. Certain vessels [Page 830] however had allegedly admitted their intention of stopping at British ports or of transiting through the St. Lawrence waterway and had thereby violated a provision of the German prize law which made intention to enter the territorial waters of an enemy country grounds for seizure of the ship.

At time the prize law was written no one had given thought to the fate of neutral shipping by way of the St. Lawrence waterway but he asserted that it is not now possible to change the law to accommodate shipping utilizing this route.

He said that, whatever the ideas and suspicions of the German Prize Commissioner who fulfilled the functions of a prosecuting attorney might have been, the members of the Prize Court did not believe that wood pulp cargoes consigned to the United States would be seized by the British blockade authorities. He said he understood the inability of the American Government under existing law to certify that wood pulp cargoes would not be reexported and that the monthly foreign trade statistics would enable the German authorities to verify that no unusual exports or reexports of cellulose from the United States were occurring and indicated agreement with the proposition that such export was unlikely.

He further said that the Foreign Office was endeavoring to find a way to permit wood pulp cargoes to proceed to the United States with a minimum delay and interruption. The schemes thus far proposed had not been entirely practical but that he hoped that it would shortly be possible to devise some satisfactory system.

At the Economics Ministry it was pointed out to a member of the Embassy that while the Ministry was not competent in the matter it was interesting itself unofficially and the suggestion was made briefly and informally that with a system of notification to the German naval authorities prior to the departure of the ship as to the character of the cargo, the route to be followed and the names and addresses of the consignees much of the delays complained of might be avoided.

  1. Not printed.