(Photo from Paul Thompson)]
THE EUROPEAN WAR
Germany’s War Zone and Neutral Flags
The German Decree and Interchange of Notes Answering American Protests to Germany and Britain
BERLIN, Feb. 4, (by wireless to Sayville, L.I.)—The German Admiralty today issued the following communication:
The waters around Great Britain and Ireland, including the whole English Channel, are declared a war zone on and after Feb. 18, 1915.
Every enemy merchant ship found in this war zone will be destroyed, even if it is impossible to avert dangers which threaten the crew and passengers.
Also neutral ships in the war zone are in danger, as in consequence of the misuse of neutral flags ordered by the British Government on Jan. 31, and in view of the hazards of naval warfare, it cannot always be avoided that attacks meant for enemy ships endanger neutral ships.
Shipping northward, around the Shetland Islands, in the eastern basin of the North Sea, and a strip of at least thirty nautical miles in breadth along the Dutch coast, is endangered in the same way.
Feb. 10, 1915.
The Secretary of State has instructed Ambassador Gerard at Berlin to present to the German Government a note to the following effect:
The Government of the United States, having had its attention directed to the proclamation of the German Admiralty, issued on the 4th of February, that the waters surrounding Great Britain and Ireland, including the whole of the English Channel, are to be considered as comprised within the seat of war; that all enemy merchant vessels found in those waters after the 18th inst. will be destroyed, although it may not always be possible to save crews and passengers; and that neutral vessels expose themselves to danger within this zone of war because, in view of the misuse of neutral flags said to have been ordered by the British Government on the 31st of January and of the contingencies of maritime warfare, it may not be possible always to exempt neutral vessels from attacks intended to strike enemy ships, feels it to be its duty to call the attention of the Imperial German Government, with sincere respect and the most friendly sentiments, but very candidly and earnestly, to the very serious possibilities of the course of action apparently contemplated under that proclamation.
The Government of the United States views those possibilities with such grave concern that it feels it to be its privilege, and, indeed, its duty, in the circumstances to request the Imperial German Government to consider before action is taken the critical situation in respect of the relation between this country and Germany which might arise were the German naval forces, in carrying out the policy foreshadowed in the Admiralty’s proclamation, to destroy any merchant vessel of the United States or cause the death of American citizens.