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Memorandum to the British Embassy.

The Secretary of State presents his compliments to His Britannic Majesty's Chargé d'Affaires and acknowledges the receipt of his Memorandum of August 11, 1914, communicating a telegram received by him from the Foreign Office stating that the Germans are scattering contact mines indiscriminately in the open waters of the North Sea without regard to the consequences to merchantmen, thus rendering these waters perilous to the shipping of all nations, and that in view of the methods adopted by Germany the British Admiralty hold themselves at liberty to adopt similar measures in self-defense, thus increasing the dangers to navigation in the North Sea.

It is not stated in the Memorandum whether the contact mines are floating or anchored, but it is presumed from the expression “scattering contact mines indiscriminately” that it was the intention to convey the idea that the mines referred to are floating mines.

The limitation placed upon the use of floating contact mines by Article 1 of The Hague Convention of 1907 relative to the Laying of Automatic Submarine Contact Mines is that they shall become harmless within one hour after being laid.

The Secretary of State is loath to believe that a signatory to that Convention would willfully disregard its treaty obligation, which was manifestly made in the interest of neutral shipping.

All restrictions upon the rights of neutrals upon the high seas, the common highway of nations, during the progress of a war, are permitted in the interests of the belligerents, who are bound in return to prevent their hostile operations from increasing the hazard of neutral ships in the open sea so far as the exigencies of the war permit.

If an enemy of His Majesty's Government has, as asserted, endangered neutral commerce by an act in violation of The Hague Convention, which can not be justified on the ground of military necessity, the Secretary of State perceives no reason for His Majesty's Government adopting a similar course, which would add further dangers to the peaceful navigation of the high seas by vessels of neutral powers.

The Secretary of State, therefore, expresses the earnest and confident hope that His Majesty's Government may not feel compelled to resort, as a defensive measure, to a method of naval warfare, which would appear to be contrary to the terms of The Hague Convention and impose upon the ships and lives of neutrals a needless menace when peaceably navigating the high seas. DEPARTMENT OF STATE,

Washington, August 13, 1914.

Memorandum from the British Embassy.

The British Embassy presents its compliments to the Department of State, and with reference to its memorandum of August 11 on the subject of contact mines in the North Sea has the honour to communicate the following telegram received from His Majesty's Government:

German action and the measures it may entail are a source of grave danger to shipping. British Admiralty will, however, from time to time and subject to naval exigencies, try to indicate certain routes and channels for trade to pass to the Scheldt, and they do not wish in any degree to keep trade away from the English Channel.

Difficulties in the way of a guarantee for the Rhine, which is nearer to the center of war, are at present insuperable. BRITISH EMBASSY,

Washington, August 14, 1914.

Memorandum from the British Embassy.

His Britannic Majesty's Chargé d'Affaires presents his compliments to the United States Secretary of State and has the honour to acknowledge the receipt of his memorandum of August 13 in which, with reference to the action of Germany in placing contact mines in the North Sea and the right reserved by His Majesty's Government to take similar measures in self-defence, the Secretary of State expresses the hope that His Majesty's Government may not feel compelled to resort to a method of warfare which would appear to be contrary to the terms of the Hague Convention of 1907 and impose upon the ships and lives of neutrals a needless menace when peaceably navigating the high seas.

His Majesty's Chargé d'Affaires lost no time in fully informing His Majesty's Government of the views which the Secretary of State


was good enough to express in the memorandum under reply, and he now begs to communicate a further expression of Sir Edward Grey's views as received by telegraph.

It is stated that there is no doubt whatever that automatic contact mines have been placed by Germany in the high seas where they are dangerous to merchant shipping, as a German mine-laying vessel was caught in the act. It is not alleged that they are a breach of any Convention concluded at The Hague to which Germany is a party, but that does not make them less dangerous to merchant shipping.

His Majesty's Government share the reluctance of the Secretary of State to see the practice extended and the danger to neutral shipping increased. At the same time His Majesty's Chargé d'Affaires is instructed to point out that if Great Britain refrains from adopting the methods of Germany the result is that Germany receives impunity unless the neutral Powers can find some means of making Germany feel that she cannot continue to preserve all facilities for receiving trade and supplies through neutral shipping while impeding British commerce by means the use of which by Great Britain is deprecated by the United States Government. BRITISH EMBASSY,

Washington, August 19, 1914.

Memorandum from the British Embassy.

His Majesty's Ambassador presents his compliments to the Secretary of State and has the honour to communicate to him the following telegram received from the Foreign Office yesterday summarizing the Naval position of the war up to date:

The Admiralty wish to draw attention to their previous warning to neutrals of the danger of traversing the North Sea. The Germans are continuing their practice of laying mines indiscriminately upon the ordinary trade routes. These mines do not conform to the conditions of The Hague convention; they do not become harmless after a certain number of hours; they are not laid in connection with any definite military scheme such as the closing of a military port or as a distinct operation against a fighting fleet, but appear to be scattered on the chance of catching individual British war or merchant vessels. In consequence of this policy neutral ships, no matter what their destination, are exposed to the gravest dangers. Two Danish vessels the S. S. Maryland and the S. S. Broberg have within the last twenty-four hours been destroyed by these deadly engines in the North Sea while traveling on the ordinary trade routes at a considerable distance from the British Coast. In addition to this, it is reported that two Dutch steamers clearing from Swedish ports were yesterday blown up by German mines in the Baltic. In these circumstances the Admiralty desire to impress not only on British but on neutral shipping the vital importance of touching at British ports before entering the North Sea in order to ascertain according to the latest information the routes and channels which the Admiralty are keeping swept and along which these dangers to neutrals and merchantmen are reduced as far as possible. The Admiralty, while reserving to themselves the utmost liberty of retaliatory action against this new form of warfare, announce that they have not so far laid any mines during the present war and that they are endeavouring to keep the sea routes open for peaceful commerce. BRITISH EMBASSY,

Washington, August 23, 1914.

Memorandum from the British Embassy.

The British Ambassador presents his compliments to the Secretary of State and has the honour to communicate the text of a telegram received to-day from Sir E. Grey:

His Majesty's Government have learnt that on or about August 26th an Iceland trawler is reported to have struck a mine 25 miles off the Tyne and sunk, and at least one foreign newspaper has stated that the mine was English. Although the German action in laying mines has forced the Admiralty to reserve to themselves the right to do likewise, the statement already made by His Majesty's Government that no British mines have been laid remains absolutely true at this moment. The mines off the Tyne were laid thirty miles to seaward, not as part of any definite military operation nor by German ships of war but by German trawlers of which a considerable number appear to have been engaged on this work; the number of one such trawler actually seen to be doing this was A. E. 24 Emden. It would be well if the conduct of those who ordered her to perform this act were carefully considered by neutral powers. BRITISH EMBASSY,

Washington, August 30, 1914.

The German Ambassador to the Secretary of State.



New York, September 10, 1914. MR. SECRETARY OF STATE:

By direction of my Government I have the honor respectfully to bring the following to Your Excellency's knowledge.

No foundation for idea prevalent among neutrals abroad that because of the blockade of German ports sea trade with Germany is tied up. No port is blockaded and nothing stands in the way of neutral states' sea trade with Germany.

The assertions from England that the North Sea has been infested with mines by Germany are wrong.

Neutral vessels bound for German ports in the North Sea must steer by day for a point 10 nautical miles N.W. off Helgoland. There

a will German pilots be found in readiness to pilot the ships into port.

Neutral vessels must sail direct for Baltic sea ports, every one of which has pilots.

The prohibition of coal export does not include bunker coal and coaling is assured. Accept, etc.,


Ambassador W. H. Page to the Secretary of State.

No. 476.]


London, September 28, 1914. SIR: I have the honor to transmit herewith a protest made by the British Government against the methods pursued by the German Navy in laying mines in the North Sea.

This protest was inclosed to me by his Majesty's Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, in a communication requesting that it be forwarded to the Government of the United States. I have, etc.,


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