862.85/1873: Telegram

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

1220. Your 932, March 30, 2 p.m.13 I was received by Under State Secretary Woermann at 5:30 this afternoon and left with him an aide-mémoire summarizing the Department’s information relative to the German and Italian vessels. I eliminated from the aide-mémoire the statement that the crews had acted on orders received and substituted “the United States Coast Guard received reliable information to the effect that the crews of these vessels were planning to sabotage [Page 460] and disable the ships”. I also did not make use of the next to the last paragraph of the Department’s telegram beginning “The urgency” and ending “advance notice”. Otherwise, I recited the full text except of course the concluding paragraph.

Woermann listened attentively and replied that the German Government had the matter under advisement and he was not prepared to make any statement with regard to the German position thereon. I noticed that he had before him the text of the Act of June 15, 1917.14 He expressed his satisfaction that I had made an explanation of the circumstances from the American official viewpoint. He stated further that he had heard from foreign radio broadcasts that the German Chargé d’Affaires in Washington had delivered a protest but added that he did not know this to be true and had received nothing on it from Herr Thomsen. I gathered the impression that the Foreign Office attitude was to study the matter from a legal viewpoint before taking up a position.

The Under Secretary seemed considerably [put?] out by a telegram received yesterday from his Consul at Boston reporting that the captain and crew of the German steamer Pauline Friedrich had been arrested at Boston because they had overstayed a permission to remain 60 days either in the harbor or on shore and that they had been lodged in jail with ordinary malefactors. The Under Secretary stated that his information was very scanty as to what had actually occurred. He seemed desirous of obtaining an explanation. I think it would be well if the Department would telegraph me the facts about the arrest of the crew of this steamer.

  1. See footnote 8, p. 455.
  2. Espionage Act; 40 Stat. 217.