841.857 Athenia/146: Telegram

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

1135. My 1059, September 4, 1 p.m. The German news agency publishes this morning the following statement by the high command of the German Navy.

  • “1. The German fleet including every single unit thereof is in possession of orders to abide by international obligations in every instance during the conduct of sea warfare.
  • “2. In the area in question in which the steamer Athenia sank there were no German naval units.
  • “3. It is therefore absolutely out of the question for the German sea force to be connected in any way with the loss of the steamer Athenia.
  • “4. The attempt to charge the German fleet with the sinking of the steamer Athenia—continued and repeated despite official German refutation—represents a typical product of atrocity agitation.”

Accompanying editorials declare that this statement serves finally to absolve Germany from all guilt in the sinking of the Athenia and it is openly charged that “none other than Churchill80 himself had the Athenia sunk” as a desperate utterly unscrupulous device to arouse the American public against Germany. Chamberlain81 is bitterly condemned for supporting Churchill in his nefarious undertaking before the House of Commons.

  1. Winston Churchill, British First Lord of the Admiralty beginning September 3, 1939.
  2. Neville Chamberlain, British Prime Minister.