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present practically all British merchant vessels were armed and provided with hand grenades.

“Besides, it has been openly admitted by the English press that the Lusitania on previous voyages repeatedly carried large quantities of war material. On the present voyage the Lusitania carried 5,400 cases of ammunition, while the rest of the cargo also consisted chiefly of contraband.

If England, after repeated official and unofficial warnings, considered herself able to declare that that boat ran no risk and thus lightheartedly assumed responsibility for the human life on board a steamer which, owing to its armament and cargo, was liable to destruction, the German Government, in spite of its heartfelt sympathy for the loss of American lives, cannot but regret that Americans felt more inclined to trust to English promises rather than to pay attention to the warnings from the German side."


In reply to the above German defense of the sinking of the Lusitania the following official statement was transmitted to the State Department May 11:

"The German Government states that responsibility for the loss of the Lusitania rests with the British Government, which, through its plan of starving the civil population of Germany, has forced Germany to resort to retaliatory measures. The reply to this is as follows:

“The German Government on February 4 declared their intention of instituting a general submarine blockade of Great Britain and Ireland, with the avowed purpose of cutting off supplies for these islands. This blockade was put into effect February 18.

As already stated, merchant vessels had, as a matter of fact, been sunk by a German submarine at the end of January. Before February 4 no vessel carrying food supplies for Germany had been held up by his majesty's government, except on the ground that there was reason to believe the foodstuffs were intended for use of the armed forces of the enemy or the enemy government.

“The decision of his majesty's government to carry out the measures laid down by the order in council was due to the action of the German Government in insisting on their submarine blockade.

“This, added to other infractions of international law by Germany, led to British reprisals.

The Germans state that, in spite of their offer to stop their submarine war in case the starvation plan was given up, Great Britain has taken even more stringent blockade measures. The answer to this is as follows:

“It was not understood from the reply of the German Government that they were prepared to abandon the principle of sinking British vessels by submarine. They have refused to abandon the use of mines for offensive purposes on the high seas on any condition. They have committed various other infractions of international law, such as strewing the high seas and trade routes with mines, and British and neutral vessels will continue to run dan. ger from this course whether Germany abandons her submarine blockade or not.

“The Germans represent British merchant vessels generally as armed with guns and say that they repeatedly ram submarines. The answer to this is as follows:

It is not to be wondered at that merchant vessels, knowing they are liable to be sunk without warning and without any chance being given those on board to save their lives, should take measures for self-defense. With regard to the Lusitania, the vessel was not armed on her last voyage and had not been armed during the whole war.

“The Germans attempt to justify the sinking of the Lusitania by the fact that she had arms and ammunition on board. The presence of contraband on board a neutral vessel does render her liable to capture, but certainly not to destruction with the loss of a large portion of her crew and passengers.

“The Germans maintain that after repeated official and unofficial warnings his majesty's government were responsible for the loss of life, as they considered themselves able to declare that the boat ran no risk, and thus 'lightheartedly assume the responsibility for the human lives on board a steamer which, owing to its armaments and cargo, is liable to destruction.' The reply thereto is:

“First. His majesty's government never declared the boat ran no risk.

"Second. The fact that the Germans issued their warning shows that the crime was premeditated. They had no more right to murder passengers after warning than before.

“Third. In spite of their attempts to put the blame on Great Britain, it will tax the ingenuity even of the Germans to explain away the fact that it was a German torpedo, fired by a German seaman from a German submarine that sank the vessel and caused over 1,000 deaths."

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The Secretary of State ad Interim to Ambassador

Gerard at Berlin

[This was the Lusitania note, written by President Wilson, and dispatched to Berlin June 9, which caused the resignation of Mr. Bryan as Secretary of State on the previous day. He disagreed with the President as to the tone to be adopted toward Germany.]

Department of State,

Washington, June 9, 1915. American Ambassador, Berlin: You are instructed to deliver textually the following note to the Minister of Foreign Affairs :

In compliance with Your Excellency's request, I did not fail to transmit to my Government immediately upon their receipt your note of May 28 in reply to my note of May 15, and your supplementary note of June 1, setting forth the conclusions so far as reached by the Imperial German Government concerning the attacks on the American steamers Cushing and Gulflight. I am now instructed by my Government to communicate the following in reply:

The Government of the United States notes with gratification the full recognition by the Imperial German Government, in discussing the cases of the Cushing and Gulflight, of the principle of the freedom of all parts of the open sea to neutral ships and the frank willingness of the Imperial German Government to acknowledge and meet its liability where the fact of attack upon neutral ships "which have not been guilty of any hostile act" by German aircraft or vessels of war is satisfactorily established, and the Government of the United States will in due course lay before the Imperial German Government, as it requests, full information concerning the attack on the steamer Cushing.

With regard to the sinking of the steamer Falaba, by which an American citizen lost his life, the Government of the United States is surprised to find the Imperial German Government contending that an effort on the part of a merchantman to escape capture and secure assistance alters the obligation of the officer seeking to make the capture in respect of the safety of the lives of those on board the merchantman, although the vessel had ceased her attempt to escape when torpedoed. These are not new circumstances. They have been in the minds of statesmen and of international jurists throughout the development of naval warfare, and the Government of the United States does not understand that they have ever been held to alter the principles of humanity upon which it has insisted. Nothing but actual forcible resistance or continued efforts to escape by flight when ordered to stop for the purpose of visit on the part of the merchantman has ever been held to forfeit the lives of her passengers or crew. The Government of the United States, however, does not understand that the Imperial German Government is seeking in this case to relieve itself of liability, but only intends to set forth the circumstances which led the commander of the submarine to allow himself to be hurried into the course which he took.

Your Excellency's note, in discussing the loss of American lives resulting from the sinking of the steamship Lusitania, adverts at some length to certain information which the Imperial German Government has received with regard to the character and outfit of that vessel, and Your Excellency expresses the fear that this information may not have been brought to the attention of the Government of the United States. It is stated in the note

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