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Mr. Page has received explicit instructions by telegraph from his Government to transmit this document without comment to Sir Edward Grey.
London, December 6, 1915.
Enclosure in No. 1
Memorandum from the German Government concerning the Murder of the
Crew of a German Submarine by the Commander of the British Auxiliary Cruiser Baralong
Before the public notaries, Mr. E. Ansley, in the county of Hancock in the State of Mississippi, and Charles J. Denechaud, in the municipality of Orleans in the State of Louisiana, on the 5th and 8th October, 1915, six citizens of the United States of America made the annexed sworn depositions ? concerning the murder of the crew of a German submarine by the commander of the British auxiliary cruiser Baralong. (Annexes 1 to 3.)
The names of these witnesses are:
The ages of the witnesses are: Clark and Cosby, 21 years; Garrett and Hightower, 22; Palen, 27; Curran, 32. According to enquiries made on the spot, all enjoy a good reputation; Curran was for a considerable time employed as commercial traveller in various large American business houses.
According to the unanimous statements of these witnesses, the occurrence took place as follows: In August, 1915, the British steamer
? Depositions not printed in this SUPPLEMENT. The statements in them are summarized in the German memorandum.-Ed.
Nicosian was on her way from New Orleans to Avonmouth. She carried about 350 mules for war purposes, thus being laden with contraband. The witnesses were shipped as muleteers and superintendents. On the 19th August, about 70 nautical miles south of Queenstown (Ireland), the steamer was stopped by a German submarine and fired on, after the whole crew, including the witnesses, had first left the ship in the lifeboats.
When the witnesses were in the life-boats outside the line of fire from the submarine, a steamer which had been already noticed by the witnesses, Garrett, Hightower, Clark, and Curran, when still on board the Nicosian, approached the spot. This, as afterwards transpired, was the British auxiliary cruiser Baralong. As this steamer approached all the witnesses noticed clearly that she was flying the American flag at the stern and that she carried on her sides large shields with the American flag painted on them. As the steamer carried the distinguishing marks of a neutral ship and had shown signals, which according to the seafaring members of the crew of the Nicosian meant that she was willing to assist if desired, and as there was nothing in her outward appearance to indicate her warlike character, the crew in the life-boats presumed that she was merely concerned with their rescue.
While the submarine was firing at close range on the port side of the Nicosian, the unknown steamer came up behind the latter and steamed past on her starboard side. When she was a short distance ahead of the Nicosian's bow, she opened fire on the submarine at first, as all the witnesses, with the exception of Garrett, affirm, with small arms, and immediately afterwards with cannon, which had been hidden up to that time by screens, and were only visible when the latter were removed. The witness Curran also deposed that the American flag flying at the stern of the unknown ship was only lowered after the rifle fire. He repeated this statement in the enclosed affidavit made before the public notary, Robert Schwarz, at New York, on the 21st October, 1915. (Annex No. 4.)
As the submarine after being struck several times began to sink, the commander and a number of seamen sprang overboard, the seamen having first removed their clothes. Some of them (the number is given by the witnesses Garrett and Curran as five) succeeded in getting on board the Nicosian, while the remainder seized the ropes left hanging in the water when the Nicosian's life-boats were lowered. The men clinging to the ropes were killed partly by gun-fire from the Baralong and partly by rifle fire from the crew, while the witnesses were boarding the Baralong from the life-boats or were already on her deck. With regard to this, the witness Curran also further testifies that the commander of the unknown ship ordered his men to line up against the rail and to shoot at the helpless German seamen in the water.
Next the commander of the Baralong steamed alongside the Nicosian, made fast to the latter, and then ordered some of his men to board the Nicosian and search for the German sailors who had taken refuge there. The witnesses Palen and Curran testify regarding this incident that the commander gave the definite order "to take no prisoners.” Four German sailors were found on the Nicosian, in the engine-room and screw tunnel, and were killed.
The commander of the submarine, as the witnesses unanimously testify, succeeded in escaping to the bows of the Nicosian. He sprang into the water and swam round to the bow of the ship towards the Baralong. The English seamen on board the Nicosian immediately fired on him, although, in a manner visible to all, he raised his hands as a sign that he wished to surrender, and continued to fire after a shot had apparently struck him in the mouth. Eventually he was killed by a shot in the neck.
All the witnesses were then temporarily ordered back on board the Nicosian. There the witnesses Palen and Cosby each saw one body of a German sailor, while the witness Curran—who remained on board the steamer with members of the crew absolutely necessary to man her-saw all four bodies, which were thrown overboard in the afternoon.
The commander of the Baralong had the Nicosian towed for a few miles in the direction of Avonmouth, and then sent back to the Nicosian the remainder of the crew who were still on the Baralong; at the same time he sent a letter to the captain of the Nicosian, in which he requested the latter to impress on his crew, especially the American members of it, to say nothing about the matter, whether on their arrival at Liverpool or on their return to America. The letter, which the witness Curran himself has read, was signed “Captain William McBride, H. M. S. Baralong.” That the unknown vessel was named the Baralong was discovered also by the witness Hightower from a steward of the steamer, when he (the witness) was on board this ship; while the witness Palen deposes that he, when he was leaving the ship, saw this name indistinctly painted on the bows.
The statements of the six witnesses are in substance corroborated by the 18 year-old witness, Larimore Holland, whose sworn statement before the public notary, Frank S. Carden, in the county of Hamilton, Tennessee, on the 12th October, 1915, is also annexed (Annex 5). The witness, who was a stoker on board the Baralong, was on board that ship when this unparalleled incident occurred.
According to his statement also, the Baralong hoisted the American flag, and, covered by the Nicosian, steamed towards the scene where, as soon as the submarine was visible, she opened fire on the latter and sunk her. He further states that about fifteen men of the submarine's crew sprang overboard as she sank and were killed by rifle and gun-fire from the Baralong, some while they were swimming in the water and others as they were trying to climb up the ropes of the Nicosian. If his statement differs in details from the statements of the other witnesses, this evidently is caused by the fact that he himself only witnessed some of the incidents, and that he apparently only knows by hearsay of other incidents, notably those which occurred on board the Nicosian.
By reason of the above evidence there can be no doubt that the commander of the British auxiliary cruiser Baralong, McBride, gave the crew under his command the order not to make prisoner certain helpless and unarmed German seamen, but to kill them in a cowardly manner; also that his crew obeyed the order, and thus shared the guilt for the murder.
The German Government inform the British Government of this terrible deed, and take it for granted that the latter, when they have examined the facts of the case and the annexed affidavits, will immediately take proceedings for murder against the commander of the auxiliary cruiser Baralong and the crew concerned in the murder, and will punish them according to the laws of war. They await in a very short time a statement from the British Government that they have instituted proceedings for the expiation of this shocking incident; afterwards they await information as to the result of the proceedings, which should be hastened as much as possible, in order that they may convince themselves that the deed has been punished by a sentence of corresponding severity. Should they be disappointed in this expectation, they would consider themselves obliged to take serious decisions as to retribution for the unpunished crime.
BERLIN, November 28, 1915.
Sir Edward Grey to Mr. Page, United States Ambassador in London
FOREIGN OFFICE, December 14, 1915. Your Excellency:
I have had the honor of receiving your communication of the 6th instant, covering a memorandum of the German Government in regard to incidents alleged to have attended the destruction of a German submarine and its crew by H. M. auxiliary cruiser Baralong on the 19th August last.
The German Government base on these alleged incidents a demand that the commanding officer and other responsible parties on board H. M. S. Baralong shall be brought to trial for murder and duly punished.
His Majesty's Government note with great satisfaction, though with some surprise, the anxiety now expressed by the German Government that the principles of civilized warfare should be vindicated, and that due punishment should be meted out to those who deliberately disregard them. It is true that the incident which has suddenly reminded the German Government that such principles exist is one in which the alleged criminals were British and not German. But His Majesty's Government do not for a moment suppose that it is the intention to restrict unduly the scope of any judicial investigation which it is thought proper to institute.
Now it is evident that to single out the case of the Baralong for particular examination would be the height of absurdity. Even were the allegations on which the German Government rely accepted as they stand (and His Majesty's Government do not so accept them), the charge against the commander and crew of the Baralong is negligible compared with the crimes which seem to have been deliberately committed by German officers, both on land and sea, against combatants and non-combatants.
Doubtless the German Government will urge that the very multitude of these allegations would so overload any tribunal engaged in their examination as utterly to defeat the ends of justice. If, for example, a whole army be charged with murder, arson, robbery, and outrage, it is plainly impossible to devote a separate enquiry to all the individuals who have taken a share in these crimes. These practical considerations cannot be ignored and His Majesty's Government admit their force. They would, therefore, be prepared, for the present, to confine any judicial