My Three Years in America

By Count Bernstorff | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IX
THE "SUSSEX" INCIDENT

ON the 24th March the unarmed passenger-ship Sussex was torpedoed without warning, and several Americans lost their lives. The first information about this incident was so vague that the matter was at first treated in a dilatory fashion in Washington. At the time I sent the following report to Berlin:


REPORT IN CIPHER

" Washington, 4th April, 1916.

"During the fourteen months that have passed since the opening of the submarine campaign there have been intermittent periods in which the American Government have shown themselves aggressive towards us, and others in which the now proverbial expression 'watchful waiting' formed the Leit-motif of their attitude. The past month belonged to the second category until the sinking of the Sussex and other similar incidents stirred American public opinion to fresh excitement. Officially I have, during the last four weeks, heard nothing further from the American side on the subject of the submarine campaign. During this time Mr. Lansing even allowed himself a fortnight's holiday for recuperation. On my side there was no occasion to reopen the submarine question as a complete understanding with the American Government cannot be attained,* and in my opinion it is advisable to avoid as far as possible any new crisis in our

____________________
*
i.e., Without instructions from Berlin.

-241-

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