[By The Associated Press.]
[Footnote A: In Germany’s reply to the American protest against certain features of the “war zone” order, which was received in Washington on Feb. 14, occurred this expression:
If the United States ... should succeed at the last moment in removing the grounds which make that procedure [submarine warfare on merchant vessels] an obligatory duty for Germany ... and thereby make possible for Germany legitimate importation of the necessaries of life and industrial raw material, then the German Government ... would gladly draw conclusions from the new situation.
In the German note to the American Government justifying the sinking of the Lusitania presented above, appears this clause:
In spite of the German
offer to stop the submarine war in case
the starvation plan was given up....
These two expressions are referred to in the British official statement, published herewith, in these words:
It was not understood
from the reply of the German Government
[of Feb. 14] that they were prepared to abandon the principle
of sinking British vessels by submarine.
Whether this may regarded as an opening for the renewal of the German offer in explicit terms, with the implication that England might accept it, is not explained.]
LONDON, Wednesday, May 12.—Inquiry in official circles elicited last night the following statement, representing the official British view of Germany’s justification for torpedoing the Lusitania which Berlin transmitted to the State Department at Washington:
The German Government states that responsibility for the loss of the Lusitania rests with the British Government, which through their plan of starving the civil population of Germany has forced Germany to resort to retaliatory measures The reply to this is as follows:
As far back as last December Admiral von Tirpitz, (the German Marine Minister,) in an interview, foreshadowed a submarine blockade of Great Britain, and a merchant ship and a hospital ship were torpedoed Jan. 30 and Feb. 1, respectively.
The German Government on Feb. 4 declared their intention of instituting a general submarine blockade of Great Britain and Ireland, with the avowed purpose of cutting off supplies for these islands. This blockade was put into effect Feb. 18.
As already stated, merchant vessels had, as a matter of fact, been sunk by a German submarine at the end of January. Before Feb. 4 no vessel carrying food supplies for Germany had been held up by his Majesty’s Government except on the ground that there was reason to believe the foodstuffs were intended for use of the armed forces of the enemy or the enemy Government.
His Majesty’s Government had, however informed the State Department on Jan. 29 that they felt bound to place in a prize court the foodstuffs of the steamer Wilhelmina, which was going to a German port, in view of the Government control of foodstuffs in Germany, as being destined for the enemy Government and, therefore, liable to capture.