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May 1, 1915-Count von Bernstorff, German Ambassador, publishes in the American newspapers a notice informing the public that allied vessels entering the war zone are liable to destruction, and that neutral passengers traveling on such vessels will do so at their own risk.
Sinking of the Lusitania
May 13, 1915—Note from Secretary of State Bryan to Germany. The American Government declares itself unable to believe that such acts as the destruction of the Falaba, the Gulflight, and the Lusitania,
" acts SO absolutely contrary to the rules, practice, and spirit of modern warfare," can have the sanction of the German Government.
The adoption of measures of reprisal so far exceeding ordinary methods of maritime warfare, the warning against the danger of traversing a so-called zone of war, cannot limit the rights of commanders of American vessels or of American citizens traveling legally as passengers on commercial vessels of belligerent nationality. The American Government cannot believe that the German Government questions these rights.
" It assumes, on the contrary, that the Imperial Government accept, as of course, the rule that the lives of noncombatants, whether they be of neutral citizenship or citizens of one of the nations at war, cannot lawfully or rightfully be put in jeopardy by the capture or destruction of an unarmed merchantman, and recognize also, as all other nations do, the obligation to take the usual precaution of visit and search to ascertain whether a suspected merchantman is in fact of belligerent nationality or is in fact carrying contraband of war under a neutral flag."
The note goes on to point out the practical impossibility of employing submarines for the destruction of commerce without " disregarding those rules of fairness, reason, justice, and humanity which all modern opinion regards as imperative. It is practically impossible for the officers of a submarine to visit a merchantman at sea and examine her papers and cargo. It is practically impossible for them to make a prize of her; and if they cannot put a prize crew on board of her, they cannot sink her without leaving her crew and all on board of her to the mercy of the sea in her small boats." In the cases cited the necessary time was not allowed for taking the most elementary measures of safety, and in at least two of them no warn-, ing was given. The notice published in the newspapers, and supposed to come from the German Embassy, cannot be accepted as an excuse. The American Government wishes to believe that the German submarines have disobeyed orders, and that the German Government will disavow the acts in question, make reparation for them, and take imme
diate measures to prevent their repetition. The note concludes:
“ Expressions of regret and offers of repiration in case of the destruction of neutral ships sunk by mistake, while they may satisfy international obligations if no loss of life results, cannot justify or excuse a practice the natural and necessary effect of which is to subject neutral nations and neutral persons to new and immeasurable risks. The Imperial Government will not expect the Government of the United States to omit any word or any act necessary to the performance of its sacred duty of maintaining the rights of the United States and its citizens, and of safeguarding their free exercise and enjoyment."
May 25, 1915-American steamship Nebraskan attacked by a German submarine, which fires a torpedo without warning.
May 28, 1915-Foreign Secretary son Jagow replies. The attack on the Gulflight is explained as error due to the fact that English ships use the American flag. The Falaba had been allowed only a brief time for the escape of passengers and crew because that vessel had tried to escape. As to the Lusitania, it was
an auxiliary cruiser; it had guns hidden under the deck; it was transporting Canadian troops and munitions of war; the rapidity with which it sank was due to an explosion of munitions caused by the torpedo, “ otherwise, in all human probability, the passengers of the Lusitania would have been saved." The German Government submits all these facts to the American Government and reserves its final decision until it shall have received a reply.
June 1, 1915—Note from von Jagow declaring that the torpedoing of the Gulflight is the result of an error, for which the marine commander was not to blame, and offering to pay an indemnity.
June 2, 1915—Count von Bernstorff proposes to President Wilson: (1) The cessation of submarine warfare if the United States insist on obtaining from England the freedom of Germany to import foodstuffs, cotton, and materials of prime necessity; (2) immunity of vessels and passengers coming from American ports if the United States will guarantee that these vessels are not carrying contraband of war. President Wilson rejects these suggestions and holds to the terms of his note of May 13.
Reply in Lusilania Case June 9, 1915-American reply to the German notes of May 28 and June 1. As regards the case of the Falaba, the United States Government is surprised to find the German Government holding that an effort on the part of a merchant ship to escape can modify the obligation to safeguard the lives of those on board. “ 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 merchant. man has ever been held to forfeit the lives
of her passengers or crew." The German be no compelling necessity for American Government is misinformed when it asserts citizens to travel to Europe in vessels carrythat the Lusitania was carrying troops cr ing an enemy flag in time of war, and that was armed for offense.
" in particular the Imperial Government is " Whatever be the other facts regarding
unable to admit that American citizens can the Lusitania, the principal fact is that a
protect an enemy ship through the mere fact great steamer, primarily and chiefly a con
of their presence on board." veyance for passengers, and carrying more [RO ark.-Germany here proposes the esthan a thousand souls that had no part or lot tablishment of a modus vivendi comprising, in the conduct of the war, was torpedoed and on the one hand, immunity for American ves-. sunk without so much as a challenge or sels on condition that the Federal Governwarning, and that men, women, and children ment prevent their carrying contraband, and, were sent to their death in circumstances on the other hand, the torpedoing of merunparalleled in modern warfare. The fact chant ships of belligerents without regard to that more than one hundred American citi neutral passengers.] zens were among those who perished made it July 9, 1915--The English passenger steamer the duty of the Government of the United Orduna, plying from Liverpool to New York, States to speak of these things and once with 227 passengers, of whom 21 are Amermore, with solemn emphasis, to call the at icans, is attacked without warning by a tention of the Imperial German Government German submarine, which fires a torpedo, to the grave responsibility which the Gov followed by several shells, without hitting the ernment of the United States conceives that vessel. it has incurred in this tragic occurrence, and July 12, 1915—Germany sends a memoranto the indisputable principle upon which that duim stating that the attack on the Nebras. responsibility rests.
The Government kan was a “regrettable accident," due to an of the United States, therefore, deems it rea error, for which the commander of the subsonable to expect that the Imperial German marine was not to blame. . The German GovGovernment will adopt the measures neces ernment expresses its regrets, and declares sary to put these principles into practice in itself ready to repair the damages suffered respect of the safeguarding of American by American citizens. lives and American ships, and asks for as
July 21, 1915—America replies to the Gersurances that this will be done."
man note of July 8. The note is declared [Remark.-The foregoing note does not
very unsatisfactory," because it fails to inradically condemn the of submarines
dicate the way in which the accepted prinagainst commercial vessels, as did the note
ciples of law and humanity may be applied of May 13. It limits itself to requiring that
to the grave matter in controversy, but prothis use shall be combined with respect for
poses, on the contrary, arrangements for a neutral ships and for the lives of noncom partial suspension of those principles. It is batants. )
vain for the German Government to seek to July 8, 1915—Germany replies to the Amer justify its acts by representing them ican note of June 9. She asserts that all the reprisals against illegal acts by England. evil is due to Germany's enemies, who have On the one hand, the United States cannot paralyzed commerce between Germany and discuss the policy of England save with the neutral countries contrary to international British Government itself, and, on the other law, and that this obliges Germany to make hand, reprisals directed against the enemy submarine war upon commerce. In the fight ought not to harm the lives or property of for existence which has been imposed upon neutrals. The American Government is ready Germany by her adversaries it is the sacred to take into account the new aspects of naval duty of the Imperial Government to do all warfare, but cannot assent to the diminution within its power to protect and save the lives of any essential or fundamental right of its of German subjects. The case of the Lusi
citizens. The rights of neutrals in time of tania
“ shows with horrible clearness to war are based on principle, not upon expediwhat jeopardizing of human lives the man erey, and the principles are immutable." The ner of conducting war employed by our ad American Government cannot accept the sugversaries leads."
The German Gov gestion that “certain vessels shall be desigernment declares itself “ready to do all it . nated and agreed upon which shall be free can during the present war also to prevent on the seas now illegally proscribed. The the jeopardizing of lives of American citizens. very agreement would, by implication, subIn order to exclude any unforeseen dangers ject other vessels to illegal attack, and would to American passenger steamers, made pos be a curtailment and, therefore, an abandonsible in view of the conduct of maritime war ment of the principles for which this Govby Germany's adversaries, German subma ernment contends, and which in times of rines will be instructed to permit the free calmer council every nation would concede and safe passage of such passenger steamers as of course." The American Government when made recognizable by special markings concludes by declaring that “ repetition by and notified
reasonable time in ad the commanders of German naval vessels of vance.
* The note remarks in closing acts in contravention of these rights must be that with such an arrangement there would regarded by the Government of the United
States, when they affect American citizens, as deliberately unfriendly."
Aug. 19, 1915—The British steamer Arabic, bound from Liverpool to New York, is torpedoed without warning at the moment when it is approaching the English steamship Dulsley, just struck by a torpedo, in order to rescue the crew. Sixteen victims, including two Americans.
Aug. 24, 1915—Count von Bernstorff communicates to the State Department the instructions he has received in regard to the Arabic. After making all reserves as to the facts, the note says that the loss of American lives is contrary to the intention of the German Government, and is deeply regretted.
Germany's Promise to Reform Sept. 1, 1915—A letter from Count von Bernstorff informs Mr. Lansing that his instructions contain the following passage: " Passenger liners will not be sunk by our submarines without warning and without taking measures to secure the safety of the lives of noncombatants, on condition that thre steamers shall not try to escape or offer resistance."
Sept. 4, 1915--The English passenger steamer Hesperian, bound from Liverpool to Montreal, torpedoed without warning; twenty-five deaths, including one American, and twenty persons injured. The English inquest establishes the fact that this vessel was torpedoed; the German view, however, is that it struck a mine. The American Government, considering the case doubtful, merely places the incident on file.
Sept. 7, 1915—The German Government hands a communication to the American Ambassador. It states that the Arabic was torpedoed without warning because the submarine commander was convinced that the vessel intended to attack and ram him. The German Government regards itself as under no obligation to pay an indemnity, even if the commander of the submarine was mistaken as to the intentions of the Arabic.
Sept. 9, 1915—German memorandum to the United States, declaring that “ the attack on the Orduna by means of a torpedo was not in accord with existing instructions, which stipulate that large passenger steamers can be torpedoed only after due warning and after the passengers and
crew have been placed in safety "; the error will not occur again, as more precise instructions have been given.
Sept. 12, 1915—Mr. Lansing communicates to Count von Bernstorff the unanimous testimony of the survivors of the Arabic that the vessel was peacefully pursuing its course when it was unexpectedly torpedoed.
Sept. 21, 1915—The newspapers publish a communication from Foreign Secretary von Jagow declaring that enemy ships carrying passengers will not be attacked without warning or without taking precautions to safeguard the lives of the passengers and crews; that, moreover, merchant ships will have nothing to fear from submarines if they do not carry contraband of war.
September, 1915—About the end of this month England, in concert with Russia, or ganizes submarine cruises in the Baltic against merchant vessels. These cruisers are conducted in conformity with the rules of international law regarding visit and search, and the safeguarding of the lives of noncombatants.
Oct. 5, 1915-A letter from Count von Berdstorff to Mr. Lansing disavowing in the name of his Government the torpedoing of the Arabic; the German Government expresses regrets and promises an indemnity. The letter adds that orders given to submarines have been made so rigorous that the recorrence of such incidents is considered impossible.
Torpedoing of the Ancona Nov. 8, 1915--The Italian passenger steamer Ancona, bound from Italy to America, is fired upon without warning, torpedoed, and sunk between Sardinia and the coast of Tunisia by a submarine flying the Austro-Hungarian flag; the fire is directed in part against the lifeboats; more than 200 victims, including twenty Americans. (This act was committed outside of the war zone proclaimed on Feb. 4, 1915; it was in September, 1915, that German and Austrian submarines began to attack merchant ships in the Mediterranean.)
November, 1915—Protest of the Italian Government to the neutral nations against the destruction of the Ancona in violation of the fundamental laws of humanity and of the right which requires the belligerents to do all in their power,
whatever the circumstances, to save the lives of noncombatants.
Dec. 5, 1915—Attack on the Petrolite, an American oil tank steamer, by an Austrian submarine that fires on it without warning, and continues to fire, wounding one man, after the vessel has stopped; in the end the submarine exacts a tribute of provisions from thi vessel. The United States demands apology and reparation. Austria alleges that the submarine had mistaken the Petrolite for an enemy in disguise. The United States replies, (note of June 26, 1916.) that such a fear was without valid grounds, and that the conduct of the submarine commander showed an absolute lack of judgment and presence of mind, or else a well-matured intention equivalent to complete contempt for the rights of neutrals.
Dec. 9, 1915-A note from the United States to Austria-Hungary on the destruction of the Ancona.
The American Government, referring to the views it had expressed in its correspondence with Austria's ally, considers that the commander of the submarine “ violated the principles of international law and of humanity by shelling and torpedoing the Ancona before the persons on board had been put in a place of safety or even given sufficient time to leave the vessel"; this was
a wanton slaughter of defenseless noncombatants."
It refuses to believe that the Austro-Hungarian Government sanctions such acts; it thinks that the sub
marine commander acted in violation of his instructions, and it therefore “demands that the Imperial and Royal Government denounce the sinking of the Ancona as an illegal and indefensible act; that the officer who perpetrated the deed be punished, and that reparation by the payment of an indemnity be made for the citizens of the United States who were killed or injured by the attack on the vessel.”
Dec. 14, 1915-Baron von Burian hands an answer to the American Ambassador. It is a document of a dilatory nature. It states that the American note does
contain enough material proofs, that it does not give the names of the American victims on the Ancona, that it does not enunciate the judicial principles adopted by the Federal Government, but refers to a correspondence with another Government, with which the Government at Vienna has no authentic relation. Consequently it demands of the United States a more precise statement of rights and of facts.
Dec. 21, 1915-A second American note on the Ancona. It refers to the fact that the report of the Austro-Hungarian Admiralty states that the engines were stopped and the passengers still on board when the steamer was torpedoed. This is enough to show that there was a violation of the universally established rules of international law; the evi. dence is so clear that the Government of the United States has no need to discuss it, and does not understand that the AustroHungarian Government doubts it. It therefore renews its former demands.
Dec. 29, 1915--Austria replies on the subject of the Ancona. She communicates the result of an investigation and takes her stand upon this to impute the loss of human lives to the bad conduct of the crew of the Ancona. Nevertheless, she announces that the commander of the submarine has been punished for not obeying his instructions. The AustroHungarian Government promises, with slight reservations, to indemnify the victims. It reserves the right, however, to discuss later the difficult international questions arising out of submarine warfare.
Dec. 30, 1915—The Clan MacFarlane, British vessel sailing from England to Bombay, is torpedoed without warning amid a violent storm in the Mediterranean. Fifty of the men cannot be saved.
The British passenger liner Persia is sunk in the Mediterranean; 335 victims, including several Americans. No submarine having been seen, Germany and Austria-Hungary declare that, according to the reports of their naval officers, this destruction was not caused by any of their submarines.
Jan. 7, 1916_The German Embassy at Washington issues a memorandum indicating that the submarines have received orders to conform to the general principles of international law in their operations against commerce in the Mediterranean; the measures of reprisal used in the war zone around the British Isles are not to apply in the Mediter
ranean. German submarines will not destroy enemy merchant ships that do not try to escape or to resist until after having assured the safety of the passengers and crews.
Question of Armed Merchanimen Jan, 18, 1916–Secretary Lansing writes a letter to the diplomatic representatives of England, France, Italy, Belgium, and Japan at Washington, suggesting the establishment of a modus vivendi by the Allies on the following basis: Submarines will not attack enemy merchantmen without warning and will not sink them until after having placed passengers and crews in safety; the merchantmen will carry no armament.
Feb. 8, 1916-Germany sends a memorandum to the neutral powers announcing that armed merchant vessels of Germany's enemies will be treated as warships and attacked as such; the neutral powers are asked to warn their citizens not to intrust their lives or property to such ships.
Feb. 10, 1916-Austria-Hungary sends а. memorandum to the neutral powers on the same subject.
Feb. 15, 1916-Secretary Lansing tells representatives of the American press that by international law commercial vessels have the right to carry arms in self-defense.
Feb. 24, 1916-President Wilson writes letter to Mr. Stone, Chairman of the Committee of Foreign Affairs in the Senate. He refuses to advise American citizens not to travel on armed merchant ships belonging to Germany's enemies, because this would be to renounce the inalienable rights of Americans based on principles established by all nations to lessen the horror and sufferings of war. It would be “an implicit, all but an explicit, acquiescence in the violation of the rights of mankind everywhere," and an abdication of our hitherto proud position as spokesmen, even amid the turmoil of war, for the law and the right."
March 3, 1916––The American Senate tables the Gore resolution, in which it had been intended to warn Americans not to travel on armed vessels of belligerents.
March 7, 1916—The House of Representatives takes similar action.
March 8, 1916–The German Ambassador to the United States communicates a memorandum regarding the naval measures adopted by the belligerents. It states that Germany in February, 1915, was compelled by her enemies to resort to "a new weapon, the use of which had not yet been regulated by international law, and in doing so could not, and did not,, violate any existing rules, but only took into account the peculiarity of this new weapon, the submarine boat"; furthermore, this action
one of retaliation against the deeds of England.
The Tubantia and Palembang March 15-16, 1916–During the night and in a wild sea the Dutch steamer Tubantia, carrying passengers, is torpedoed wit ut warn
ing. The German press pretends that the ship struck a mine, and even intimates that it may have been torpedoed by an English slibmarine. The British Admiralty issues a denial of this rumor, and adds that no mine was laid by the English fleet in the region where the sinking occurred. On the other hand, the German Legation assures the press of Holland that no German submarine or torpedo boat caused the loss of the Tubantia, and that the Germans have not planted mines in that locality. A Dutch investigation establishes the fact that the explosion was caused by a Schwartzkopf torpedo of bronze, (No. 2,033, verdict of the Dutch Navigation Council, April 11:) now, this kind of torpedo is used only by the German Navy. The German Admiralty then asserts that the torpedo in question was fired on March 6 at an English destroyer, that it missed the ship and traveled to the shore, and that the Tubantia there ran into it by accident, (declaration of June 9.) On Sept. 25 the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs announces that he has proposed to submit the examination into the causes of the Tubantia's destruction to an international commission of inquiry, and that the German Government has accepted, with the proviso that the commission shall not act until after the conclusion of peace; Holland has given its assent.
March 18, 1916–The Dutch steamship Palembang is sunk in the North Sea; the crew is saved, but nine men are wounded. An investigation made in Holland shows that there were three explosions, the first possibly produced by a mine, the others producible only by torpedoes; at the time of the last explosion the ship was not moving. The torpedo causing the second explosion might have been intended for an English destroyer lying near by, but the last could have been aimed only at the Palembang. The German Government affirms, on the contrary, that this vessel was. not torpedoed, because, it says, no German warship was near the Palembang at the moment of the accident.
March 22 and 23, 1916–The Ambassadors of the allied powers at Washington present a note and memorandum in answer to Mr. Lansing's letter of Jan. 18. They remind the United States that the arming of merchant ships is the exercise of a recognized right, and that this protection against illegal attacks cannot be renounced save upon receipt of guarantees against a renewal of such attacks. As Germany has greatly extended her submarine war methods on lines contrary to international law, the authors of these acts would be encouraged by being left to go unpunished. Mr. Lansing's proposition is therefore rejected.
Torpedoing of the Sussex March 24, 1916-The French passenger steamer Sussex, on its way from Folkestone to Dieppe, is torpedoed without warning. This vessel was not armed, and was not following the route of the military transports. About
eighty passengers, including American citizens, were killed or wounded; a Spanish composer, Granados, is among the victims.
March 29, 1916–The Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs announces that he has received from the German Minister at The Hague the following declaration : " The principles laid down by the Imperial Government in regard to submarine warfare, in the form in which they were communicated to the neutral Gov. ernments, have not been modified, except that the instructions concerning armed commercial vessels have been more clearly defined. The German naval forces have the strictest orders to abstain from all attacks upon neutral ships unless they try to flee or resist search."
April 5, 1916–The English steamer Zent is torpedoed without warning by a submarine and sinks in a few minutes ; 49 victims.
April 6, 1916—The Reichstag passes a resolution offered by its Budget Committee, holding that as the submarine has shown itself to be the most effective weapon against the attempts of England to starve Germany, it is desirable to use the submarine, as well as all other military means, in such a way as to guarantee to Germany her future and a sure peace, and to safeguard Germany's interests on the seas-in her negotiations with foreign States-by the maintenance of the necessary liberty to employ this weapon, while at the same time not losing sight of the legitimate interests of neutral States.
April 7, 1916–The Dutch steamer Eemdijk, bound from Baltimore to Rotterdam, and displaying the Dutch flag and other visible signs of its nationality, is struck by a torpedo fired by a German submarine, as shown by an investigation made in England after the vessel has taken refuge there.
The Sussex Negotiations April 10, 1916-Von Jagow delivers a note to the United States Ambassador at Berlin. German submarine, he states, did indeed sink a long, black vessel in the English Channel, but according to sketches made by the Captain it could not have been the Sussex, but · rather a warship or an English mine layer. The Sussex probably must have struck a British mine.
April 18, 1916--The Danish press tells of the sufferings endured by the crew of the Danish sailing vessel Proven, who spent three days and two nights in open boats after their vessel, which was carrying salt from Portugal to Sweden, had been sunk by a German submarine.
April 18, 1916-Secretary Lansing sends a note in reply to the German note of April 10. After proving that the Sussex was sunk without warning by a German torpedo, the note expresses regret at perceiving that the German Government does not understand the gravity of the situation resulting not only from the attack on the Sussex, but from the whole German method of submarine warfare, comprising the destruction of merchant ships