Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of the American Republics (Duggan)

Mr. Butler27 gave me the content of a message from London, in turn received by the Director of Naval Intelligence in London from the British Naval Attaché in Rio.

The Naval Attaché had learned that the Wakama was using its wireless while in port in Rio de Janeiro to communicate regarding ship movements at sea. The Naval Attaché called the attention of the Brazilian Government to this section [action] and “denounced” the Wakama as a German naval auxiliary. The Wakama left port 36 hours thereafter, the inference being that the Brazilian Government had “done something”.

The Naval Attaché had also learned on February 8 that the German merchant ship Königsberg was at anchor off Gravata Island at the entrance of Rio Harbor, from where it was watching and presumably communicating about ship movements. The Naval Attaché called [Page 700] this to the attention of the Brazilian authorities, who are said to have informed the master of the Königsberg that she had either to leave Brazilian territorial waters or to return to port. The Königsberg chose the latter course.

Mr. Butler added that it must be evident that Great Britain could not permit German merchant vessels to perform unneutral acts in the territorial waters of American countries. He said that if they left territorial waters then under international law Great Britain had a right to capture or destroy them. He expressed hope therefore that there would be no protest regarding the Wakama.

I thanked Mr. Butler for the information he had conveyed emanating from the British Naval Attaché in Eio and said that as he doubtlessly knew the several American countries were now considering the Wakama incident at the request of the Government of Brazil.

  1. N. M. Butler, Counselor of the British Embassy.