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investigation to charges made against German and British officers at sea; and if even this restriction were thought insufficient, they would be content to call attention to three naval incidents which occurred during the same forty-eight hours in the course of which the Baralong sank the submarine and rescued the Nicosian.
The first incident relates to a German submarine which fired a torpedo into the Arabic and sank her. No warning was given to the merchant vessel; no efforts were made to save its unresisting crew; forty-seven non-combatants were ruthlessly sent to their death. It is understood that this act of barbarism, though in perfect harmony with the earlier policy of the German Government, was contrary to orders recently issued. This, however, if true, only increases the responsibility of the submarine commander; and His Majesty's Government have received no information indicating that the authorities have pursued in his case the course they recommend in the case of the crew of the Baralong, by trying him for murder.
The second incident occurred on the same day. A German destroyer found a British submarine stranded on the Danish coast. The submarine had not been pursued there by the destroyer; she was in neutral waters; she was incapable either of offence or defence. The destroyer opened fire upon her; and when her crew attempted to swim ashore the destroyer fired upon them also with no apparent object but to destroy a helpless enemy. There was here no excuse of hot blood; the crew of the British submarine had done nothing to rouse the fury of their opponents. They had not just murdered forty-seven innocent non-combatants. They were not taking possession of a German ship, or committing any act injurious to German interests. So far as His Majesty's Government know the facts, the officers and men of this destroyer committed a crime against humanity and the laws of war, which is at least as worthy of judicial enquiry as any other which has occurred during the course of recent naval operations.
The third incident occurred some forty-eight hours later. The steamer Ruel was attacked by a German submarine. The ship which had made no resistance began to sink, the crew took to their boats, and while endeavoring to save themselves were fired upon both with shrapnel and rifle fire. One man was killed, eight others (including the master) were severely wounded. The sworn testimony on which these statements are based shows no reason whatever which could justify this cold-blooded and cowardly outrage.
It seems to His Majesty's Government that these three incidents, almost simultaneous in point of time, and not differing greatly in point of character, might, with the case of the Baralong, be brought before some impartial court of investigation, say, for example, a tribunal composed of officers belonging to the United States navy. If this were agreed to, His Majesty's Government would do all in their power to further the enquiry, and to do their part in taking such further steps as justice and the findings of the court might seem to require.
His Majesty's Government do not think it necessary to make any reply to the suggestion that the British navy has been guilty of inhumanity. According to the latest figures available, the number of German sailors rescued from drowning, often in circumstances of great difficulty and peril, amounts to 1,150. The German navy can show no such record-perhaps through want of opportunity. I have, etc.
DECLARATION WITHDRAWING THE BRITISH RESERVATIONS IN RESPECT OF
ARTICLES 23, 27, AND 28 OF THE RED CROSS CONVENTION, 1906 1
BERNE, July 7, 1914. The undersigned, His Britannic Majesty's Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the Swiss Confederation, duly authorized by his Britannic Majesty for that purpose, hereby declares that the reservations with respect to Articles 23, 27, and 28, under which the International Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armies in the Field was signed on behalf of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on the 6th July, 1906, and ratified by His Britannic Majesty, the said ratification being deposited at Berne on the 16th April, 1907, are hereby withdrawn.
In witness whereof the undersigned has signed the present declaration and affixed thereto the seal of his arms. Done at Berne, this 7th day of July, 1914.
(L.S.) EVELYN GRANT DUFF.
1 Great Britain, Treaty Series, 1916, No. 1.
BRITISH STATEMENT OF THE MEASURES ADOPTED TO INTERCEPT THE SEA
BORNE COMMERCE OF GERMANY 1
1. The object of this memorandum is to give an account of the manner in which the sea power of the British Empire has been used during the present war for the purpose of intercepting Germany's imports and exports.
I. Belligerent Rights at Sea 2. The means by which a belligerent who possesses a fleet has, up to the time of the present war, interfered with the commerce of his enemy are three in number:
(i) The capture of contraband of war on neutral ships.
3. The second of these powers has been cut down since the Napoleonic wars by the Declaration of Paris of 1856, under which enemy goods on a neutral ship, with the exception of contraband of war, were exempted from capture. Enemy goods which had been loaded on British or Allied ships before the present war were seized in large quantities immediately after its outbreak; but for obvious reasons such shipments ceased, for all practical purposes, after the 4th August, 1914, and this particular method of injuring the enemy may therefore, for the moment, be disregarded.
No blockade of Germany was declared until March, 1915, and therefore up to that date we had to rely exclusively on the right to capture contraband.
4. By the established classification goods are divided into three classes:
(a) Goods primarily used for warlike purposes. (b) Goods which may be equally used for either warlike or peaceful purposes. (c) Goods which are exclusively used for peaceful purposes.
5. Under the law of contraband, goods in the first class may be seized if they can be proved to be going to the enemy country; goods in the
1 British Parliamentary Papers, Miscellaneous No. 2 (1916). (Cd. 8145.)
second class may be seized if they can be proved to be going to the enemy government or its armed forces; goods in the third class must be allowed to pass free. As to the articles which fall within any particular one of these classes, there has been no general agreement in the past, and the attempts of belligerents to enlarge the first class at the expense of the second, and the second at the expense of the third, have led to considerable friction with neutrals.
6. Under the rules of prize law, as laid down and administered by Lord Stowell, goods were not regarded as destined for an enemy country unless they were to be discharged in a port in that country; but the American prize courts in the Civil War found themselves compelled by the then existing conditions of commerce to apply and develop the doctrine of continuous voyage, under which goods which could be proved to be ultimately intended for an enemy country were not exempted from seizure on the ground that they were first to be discharged in an intervening neutral port. This doctrine, although hotly contested by many publicists, had never been challenged by the British Government, and was more or less recognized as having become part of international law.
7. When the present war broke out it was thought convenient, in order, among other things, to secure uniformity of procedure among all the Allied forces, to declare the principles of international law which the Allied Governments regarded as applicable to contraband and other matters. Accordingly, by the Orders in Council of the 20th August and the 22nd October, 1914, and the corresponding French decrees, the rules set forth in the Declaration of London were adopted by the French and British Governments with certain modifications. As to contraband, the lists of contraband and free goods in the Declaration were rejected, and the doctrine of continuous voyage was applied not only to absolute contraband, as the Declaration already provided, but also to conditional contraband, if such goods were consigned to order, or if the papers did not show the consignee of the goods, or if they showed a consignee in enemy territory.
8. The situation as regards German trade was as follows: Direct trade to German ports (save across the Baltic) had almost entirely ceased, and practically no ships were met with bound to German ports. The supplies that Germany desired to import from overseas were directed to neutral ports in Scandinavia, Holland, or (at first) Italy, and every effort was made to disguise their real destination. The power which we had to deal with this situation in the circumstances then existing was:
(i) We had the right to seize articles of absolute contraband if it could be proved
that they were destined for the enemy country, although they were to be discharged in a neutral port.
(ii) We had the right to seize articles of conditional contraband if it could be
proved that they were destined for the enemy government or its armed forces, in the cases specified above, although they were to be discharged in a neutral port.
9. On the other hand, there was no power to seize articles of conditional contraband if they could not be shown to be destined for the enemy government or its armed forces, or non-contraband articles, even if they were on their way to a port in Germany, and there was no power to stop German exports.
10. That was the situation until the actions of the German Government led to the adoption of more extended powers of intercepting German commerce in March, 1915. The Allied Governments then decided to stop all goods which could be proved to be going to, or coming from, Germany. The state of things produced is in effect a blockade, adapted to the condition of modern war and commerce, the only difference in operation being that the goods seized are not necessarily confiscated. In these circumstances it will be convenient, in considering the treatment of German imports and exports, to omit any further reference to the nature of the commodities in question as, once their destination or origin is established, the power to stop them is complete. Our contraband rights, however, remain unaffected, though they, too, depend on the ability to prove enemy destination.
III. German Exports
11. In carrying out our blockade policy great importance was from the outset attached to the stoppage of the enemy's export trade, because it is clear that to the extent that his exports can be stopped, and his power to establish credits for himself in neutral countries curtailed, his imports from such neutral countries will more or less automatically diminish. The identification of articles of enemy origin is, thanks to the system of certificates of origin which has been established, a comparatively simple matter, and the degree to which the policy of stop