Fourth—The regulation of legitimate importations of food into Germany suggested by the American Government appears to be in general acceptable. Such regulation would, of course, be confined to importations by sea, but that would, on the other hand, include indirect importations by way of neutral ports. The German Government would, therefore, be willing to make the declarations of the nature provided in the American note so that the use of the imported food and foodstuffs solely by the non-combatant population would be guaranteed. The Imperial Government must, however, in addition (* * * * *) having the importation of other raw material used by the economic system of non-combatants, including forage, permitted. To that end the enemy Governments would have to permit the free entry into Germany of the raw material mentioned in the free list of the Declaration of London, and to treat materials included in the list of conditional contraband according to the same principles as food and foodstuffs.
[Footnote 1: Apparent omission.]
The German Government venture to hope that the agreement for which the American Government have paved the way may be reached after due consideration of the remarks made above, and that in this way peaceable neutral shipping and trade will not have to suffer any more than is absolutely necessary from the unavoidable effects of maritime war. These effects could be still further reduced if, as was pointed out in the German note of the 16th inst., some way could be found to exclude the shipping of munitions of war from neutral countries to belligerents on ships of any nationality.
The German Government must, of course, reserve a definite statement of their position until such time as they may receive further information from the American Government enabling them to see what obligations the British Government are, on their part, willing to assume.
The undersigned avails himself of this occasion, &c.
Dated, Foreign Office, Berlin, Feb. 28, 1915.
Great Britain’s reply.
The reply of Great Britain to the American note of Feb. 20, handed to the American Ambassador at London, was as follows:
London, March 15, 1915.
Following is the full text of a memorandum dated March 13, which Grey handed me today:
“On the 22d of February last I received a communication from your Excellency of the identic note addressed to his Majesty’s Government and to Germany respecting an agreement on certain points as to the conduct of the war at sea. The reply of the German Government to this note has been published and it is not understood from the reply that the German Government are prepared to abandon the practice of sinking British merchant vessels by submarines, and it is evident from their reply that they will not abandon the use of mines for offensive purposes on the high seas as contrasted with the use of mines for defensive purposes only within cannon range of their own harbors, as suggested by the Government of the United States. This being so, it might appear unnecessary for the British Government to make any further reply than to take note of the German answer.