The United States in the World War

By John Bach McMaster | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X
PLOTS AND CRIMES ON SEA AND LAND

CONSIDERING the submarine dispute as settled, by the last of the Sussex notes the German Government bade Ambassador von Bernstorff define its position on another matter fast becoming serious, the violation of our neutrality by its consular officers and agents. The Ambassador accordingly, May 18, 1916, announced that the German Government was opposed to all plots and propaganda leading to violation of our laws and our neutrality.

"In consequence," he said, "of cases that have occurred of late, the German Ambassador has sent instructions to all the German consuls in the United States strongly to impress on German citizens living in their districts that it is their duty scrupulously to observe the laws of the states in which they reside."

German consuls needed the warning quite as much as "citizens living in their districts." It will be remembered that on December 22, 1915, Captain von Papen sailed from New York on the Oscar II. All went well with him until the steamer, January 2, 1916, touched at Falmouth, where the British seized his papers. When von Papen, according to the managing editor of World's Work, was about to depart and was packing his papers in the office of the Austrian Consulate- General in New York, the stenographer, a young woman placed in the office by the Providence Journal as its secret agent, reported the contents of the box and was instructed to so mark the case that it could be identified later. "The day it was nailed up for shipment," so runs the story, "she ate her luncheon seated on the top of it. When she was in the midst of her meal von Papen came in. He asked if he might share her sandwiches. She consented. They sat on the box together.

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