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of the European War cesses on the western front and contemporaneous Russian successes in re-conquering Bukovina. This action also brought her into war with the allies of Austria-Hungary, Turkey, Bulgaria, and Germany.
THE FIRST SUBMARINE CONTROVERSY
OUR controversy with Germany began on February 4, 1915, at which time the German Government issued a proclamation declaring the waters around the British Isles a war zone. All enemy ships found in this zone on and after February 18, 1915, were to be destroyed without its being always possible to avert the dangers threatening the crews and passengers on that account.” The proclamation went on to recite that even neutral ships would be “exposed to danger in the war zone as in view of the misuse of neutral flags ordered on January 1st by the British Government and of the accidents of naval war, it cannot always be avoided to strike even neutral ships in attacks that are directed at enemy ships.” The effort would be made to destroy all enemy merchant ships in the war zone even if it were not always “possible to avert the dangers which may menace persons and merchandise.” Neutral powers were “accordingly forewarned not to continue to entrust their crews, passengers, or merchandise to such vessels."
In short, this was a warning that neutrals would run a serious risk of losing their lives and their ships if they should venture into the war zone. The excuse given for this defiance of international law was that it was a retaliatory measure necessitated by Britain's restrictions on German trade. Great Britain, it was alleged, had violated international law by declaring the North Sea a war area, by extending unreasonably the lists of contraband of war, and by refusing to abide by the Declaration of London.
The United States Government felt that it could not acquiesce in this infringement of its rights as a neutral and so protested vigorously
1 Jour. (9), 83-5.
The Declaration of London is a codification of the rules of naval warfare as agreed upon by representatives of the ten leading maritime states at a conference held in London in the winter of 1908–09. The Declaration, however, has not been ratified by all the countries represented at the conference and therefore does not have the binding force of international law. Great Britain was one of the powers which had not ratified the principles of the Declaration, although her representatives at the conference had signed it. In the beginning of the war our State Department asked all the belligerents if they would agree to be bound by the principles of the Declaration of London provided that their opponents would make the same pledge. The Teutonic allies replied that they would accept the Declaration on these conditions, but the Entente Allies declined to do so. The reason for this refusal was that Great Britain, being the strongest naval power of the belligerents and the one upon whom the restrictions of the Declaration would bear most heavily, objected to certain clauses, mainly those dealing with contraband of war. After this refusal our Government announced that it would not consider the articles of the Declaration as binding but would fall back upon the principles of international law. Jour. (9), 1-8; Rogers, America's Case against Germany, 41-43; War Cyclopedia.