How this method of convoy can be carried out is a question concerning which Germany is ready to open negotiations with the United States as soon as possible. Germany would be particularly grateful, however, if the United States would urgently recommend to its merchant vessels to avoid the British naval war zone, in any case until the settlement of the flag question. Germany is inclined to the confident hope that the United States will be able to appreciate in its entire significance the heavy battle which Germany is waging for existence, and that from the foregoing explanations and promises it will acquire full understanding of the motives and the aims of the measures announced by Germany.
Germany repeats that it has now resolved upon the projected measures only under the strongest necessity of national self-defense, such measures having been deferred out of consideration for neutrals.
If the United States, in view of the weight which it is justified in throwing and able to throw into the scales of the fate of peoples, should succeed at the last moment in removing the grounds which make that procedure an obligatory duty for Germany, and if the American Government, in particular, should find a way to make the Declaration of London respected—on behalf, also, of those powers which are fighting on Germany’s side—and there by make possible for Germany legitimate importation of the necessaries of life and industrial raw material, then the German Government could not too highly appreciate such a service, rendered in the interests of humane methods of warfare, and would gladly draw conclusions from the new situation.
LONDON, Feb. 19.—The full text of Great Britain’s note regarding the flag, as handed to the American Ambassador, follows:
The memorandum communicated on the 11th of February calls attention in courteous and friendly terms to the action of the Captain of the British steamer Lusitania in raising the flag of the United States of America when approaching British waters, and says that the Government of the United States feels certain anxiety in considering the possibility of any general use of the flag of the United States by British vessels traversing those waters, since the effect of such a policy might be to bring about a menace to the lives and vessels of United States citizens.
It was understood that the German Government announced their intention of sinking British merchant vessels at sight by torpedoes, without giving any opportunity of making any provision for the saving of the lives of non-combatant crews and passengers. It was in consequence of this threat that the Lusitania raised the United States flag on her inward voyage.
On her subsequent outward voyage a request was made by United States passengers, who were embarking on board of her, that the United States flag should be hoisted presumably to insure their safety. Meanwhile, the memorandum from your Excellency had been received. His Majesty’s Government did not give any advice to the company as to how to meet this request, and it understood that the Lusitania left Liverpool under the British flag.