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are so entirely opposed to peace makes it impossible for the world at present to bring about the realization of these lofty ideals. Germany and her allies were ready to enter now into a discussion of peace and had set down as basis the guaranty of existence, honor and free development of their peoples. Their aims, as has been expressly stated in the note of December 12, 1916, were not directed towards the destruction or annihilation of their enemies and were according to their conviction perfectly compatible with the rights of the other nations. As to Belgium, for which such warm and cordial sympathy is felt in the United States, the Chancellor had declared only a few weeks previously that its annexation had never formed part of Germany's intentions. The peace to be signed with Belgium was to provide such conditions in that country, with which Germany desires to maintain friendly neighborly relations, that Belgium should not be used again by Germany's enemies for the purpose of instigating continuous hostile intrigues. Such precautionary measures are all the more necessary, as Germany's enemies have repeatedly stated not only in speeches delivered by their leading men, but also in the statutes of the economical conference in Paris, that it is their intention not to treat Germany as an equal, even after peace has been restored, but to continue their hostile attitude and especially to wage a systematical economical war against her.
The attempt of the four allied powers to bring about peace has failed owing to the last of conquest of their enemies, who desired to dictate the conditions of peace. Under the pretence of following the principle of nationality our enemies have disclosed their real aims in this war, viz., to dismember and dishonor Germany, AustriaHungary, Turkey and Bulgaria. To the wish of reconciliation they oppose the will of destruction. They desire a fight to the bitter end.
A new situation has thus been created which forces Germany to new decisions. Since two years and a half England is using her naval power for a criminal attempt to force Germany into submission by starvation. In brutal contempt of International Law the group of Powers led by England does not only curtail the legitimate trade of their opponents but they also by ruthless pressure compel neutral countries either to altogether forego every trade not agreeable to the Entente-Powers or to limit it according to their arbitrary decrees. The American Government knows the steps which have been taken to cause England and her allies to return to the rules of International Law and to respect the freedom of the seas. The English Government, however, insists upon continuing its war of starvation, which does not at all affect the military power of its opponents, but compels women and children, the sick and the aged to suffer, for their country, pains and privations which endanger the vitality of the nation. Thus British tyranny mercilessly increases the suffering of the world indifferent to the laws of humanity, indifferent to the protests of the neutrals whom they severely harm, indifferent even to the silent longing for peace among England's own allies. Each day of the terrible struggle causes new destruction, new sufferings. Each day shortening the war will, on both sides, preserve the life of thousands of brave soldiers and be a benefit to mankind.
The Imperial Government could not justify before its own conscience, before the German people and before history the neglect of any means destined to bring about the end of the war. Like the President of the United States the Imperial Government had hoped to
reach this goal by negotiations. After the attempts to come to an understanding with the Entente-Powers have been answered by the latter with the announcement of an intensified continuation of the war, the Imperial Government-in order to serve the welfare of mankind in a higher sense and not to wrong its own people is now compelled to continue the fight for existence, again forced upon it, with the full employment of all the weapons which are at its disposal.
Sincerely trusting that the people and Government of the United States will understand the motives for this decision and its necessity, the Imperial Government hopes that the United States may view the new situation from the lofty heights of impartiality and assist, on their part, to prevent further misery and avoidable sacrifice of human life.
Enclosing memoranda regarding the details of the contemplated military measures at sea, I remain, etc.,
(Signed) J. BERNSTORFF.
Part of Memorandum Accompanying the Above Note
The instructions given to the commanders of German submarines provide for a sufficiently long period during which the safety of passengers on unarmed enemy passenger ships is guaranteed.
Americans, en route to the blockade zone on enemy freight steamers, are not endangered, as the enemy shipping firms can prevent such ships in time from entering Sailing of regular American passenger steamers may continue undisturbed after February 1, 1917, if
(a) the port of destination is Falmouth
(b) sailing to or coming from that port course is taken via the Scilly Islands and a point 50 degrees north 20 degrees west,
(c) the steamers are marked in the following way which must not be allowed to other vessels in American ports: On ships' hull and superstructure three vertical stripes one meter wide each to be painted alternately white and red. Each mast should show a large flag checkered white and red, and the stern the American national flag.
Care should be taken that, during dark, national flag and painted marks are easily recognizable from a distance and that the boats are well lighted throughout.
(d) one steamer a week sails in each direction with arrival at Falmouth on Sunday and departure from Falmouth on Wednesday.
(e) The United States Government guarantees that no contraband (according to German contraband list) is carried by those steamers.
DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS SEVERED
The United States Secretary of State to the German
Department of State,
Washington, February 3, 1917. EXCELLENCY:
In acknowledging the note with accompanying memoranda, which you delivered into my hands on the afternoon of January 31st, and which announced the purpose of your Government as to the future conduct of submarine warfare, I would direct your attention to the following statements appearing in the correspondence which has passed between the Government of the United States and the Imperial German Government in regard to submarine warfare.
This Government on April 18, 1916, in presenting the case of the “Sussex,' declared
“If it is still the purpose of the Imperial Government to prosecute relentless and indiscriminate warfare against vessels of commerce by the use of submarines without regard to what the Government of the United States must consider the sacred and indisputable rules of international law and the universally recognized dictates of humanity, the Government of the United States is at last forced to the conclusion that there is but one course it can pursue. Unless the Imperial Government should now immediately declare and effect an abandonment of its present methods of submarine warfare against passenger and freight-carrying vessels, the Government of the United States can have no choice but to sever diplomatic relations with the German Empire altogether."