The German Chargé (Thomsen) to the Secretary of State
Mr. Secretary of State: With reference to my note of yesterday regarding the occupation and seizure by the American Government of two German merchant ships lying in American harbors, I have the honor to inform Your Excellency of the following:
According to a report of the German Consul at Boston, of March 31, the captain and the crew of the tanker Pauline Friedrich, lying in Boston Harbor, were placed in the Boston immigration station after their compulsory removal from their ship, and are being detained there under conditions which must be designated as disgraceful and degrading. All of the members of the crew are in one single dormitory, together with colored people. The German Consul at Boston has already protested very emphatically against this kind of treatment of the crew to the chief of the immigration authorities at Boston.[Page 459]
According to a telephone report of the German Consul at New Orleans, who has gone in person to Fort Lauderdale to protect the rights of the crew of the motorship Arauca and to look after the ship itself, as he has the right to do under the German-American Treaty of Commerce, the crew has been quartered not only in an entirely inadequate, but also in a degrading manner. Like that of the tanker Pauline Friedrich it has been removed from the ship by compulsion and is being detained on land. After being kept temporarily at the Coast Guard station at Fort Lauderdale, it was taken yesterday to the county jail at that place, where it is crowded together in two small rooms. Here also the German Consul has protested very emphatically against this illegal detention and disgraceful quartering.
In the name of my Government I also raise a very sharp protest against the measures which have been taken by the American authorities against the crews of the two German ships.
Once more I beg Your Excellency to have all members of the two crews set at liberty and granted unhindered return to their ships, in order thereby to bring to an end at the same time the disgraceful, unsanitary and unmerited quartering of the crews.
According to a report of the United Press of April 1 that has just reached me, the Attorney General has authorized the Federal District Attorneys to institute criminal proceedings immediately for alleged sabotage against the crews of the German and Italian merchant ships in American territorial waters.
I should be grateful to Your Excellency for an immediate statement, on what concrete acts of the crews of the two German merchant ships in question the Attorney General bases his order and on what legal basis the Attorney General intends to proceed against the members of the crews.