841.857 Athenia/449: Telegram
The Ambassador in the United Kingdom ( Kennedy ) to the Secretary of State
[Received November 3—7:40 a.m.]
2260. Tour 1356, November 2, 5 p.m.89 The B.B.C.90 in a news broadcast on September 22 stated:
“The Cunard White Star Shipping Company, from their Liverpool headquarters, (acting on behalf of the Donaldson Atlantic Line) have issued a statement denying the allegation in a German newspaper that they had requested that no further passenger bookings should be taken for the Athenia, Aurania, Andania, and Ascania with the object of making sure that no German witnesses were on board but as many Americans as possible. The company’s statement says that in the ordinary course of business a telegram was sent by the company to certain offices abroad telling them mat the passengers who were hoping to get their formalities through so that they could sail in the mentioned vessels were not to be forwarded until further advice. This was to protect space for passengers transferred from other sailings which had to be cancelled. It is customary for advices of this character to ‘be sent to offices and agents when sailings are cancelled so that passengers shall not be transferred to ships which are already booked’
In point of fact, as a reference to the passenger list of the S.S. Athenia forwarded in despatch No. 439 of October 21, 1939,91 of Consul General at Glasgow will reveal, there were many German refugee immigrants on board the Athenia and it may be assumed that the Cunard bookings in Germany were principally of this class.