The Chargé in Germany (Kirk) to the Secretary of State
[Received 7 p.m.]
1998. My 1914, November 2, 10 a.m. A member of the Embassy called yesterday on a competent official of the Foreign Office with regard to the continued detention of wood pulp cargoes consigned to the United States. The official admitted that it would not be very difficult to prove the American destination and consumption of these cargoes. Concluding previous conversation the same official had indicated that the fears previously expressed by the Prize Commissioner to the Consul at Hamburg that British naval authorities might seize and divert these cargoes to England were not shared by the members of the Prize Court (my number 1835 October 26, 8 a.m.). The official indicated that the question of destination of the wood pulp was only one and the smallest element of the problem the solution of which despite continual study had not been found. He declined to set even an approximate date when a solution might be expected but the indication was quite clear that there will be a considerable period of delay. He also declined to elucidate the considerations and reasons which were determining the German Government to hold these cargoes beyond stating with an air of sincerity that the delay was not in any way intended to injure any American interests and that it had nothing to do with German-American relations. He indicated furthermore that the possibility that the detained ships might be used to carry supplies from the United States to England was a relatively minor element of the German problem in connection with the detained ships and cargoes and closed the interview by saying that he could not communicate an explanation of the matter but gave the impression that larger issues were involved. It is to be noted that the above indications are not in accord with the Prize Commissioner’s statements to the American Consul in Hamburg that certain of the ships would be promptly released as soon as satisfactory evidence of the American consumption of their cargoes was forthcoming. It is impossible to predict what decision may be taken or when it will be forthcoming but in view of this statement and of the apparent unlikelihood that the Foreign Office will textually instruct German Consuls in America to examine the evidence, it is again suggested that the procedure followed in the Andrejs Kalnins case be followed, namely that the Department request the American importers to submit to it documentary evidence of the American destination and consumption of the detained cargoes and cable its findings to the American Consul General at Hamburg [Page 835] for submission to the Prize Commissioner so that evidence as to American consumption will be available to the German authorities.