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Date: 7 April 1917

Transcript:

GERMANY TO DENY THRASHER CLAIM?

Official Statement on Falaba Says Neutrals Were Warned and Steamers Were Armed.

PUTS BLAME ON ENGLAND

For Her "Commercial War"—State Department Seeks Proof of Thrasher's Citizenship.

Special to The New York Times.

WASHINGTON, April 6.—A polite but nevertheless positive intimation that the German Government is in no frame of mind to pay damages for the death of Leon Chester Thrasher of Hardwick, Mass., who was lost when the British steamer Falaba was sunk by a German submarine on March 28, was put out by
the German Embassy today.

It took the form of an "official message from Berlin"’ to the embassy, saying that British ships and neutral passengers on board such vessels were warned in due time not to cross the war zone and that the German Government was not responsible for the loss of such ships or lives. The statement, which comes from the Berlin Government, insists that the British Government is responsible for the loss of the Falaba and neutral passengers on board that vessel.

The embassy statement is considered most important because it was issued when no report had been received by the Berlin Government from the submarine which sank the Falaba, and is put out as a declaration of German attitude and policy. Inferentially this would also be the attitude of Germany toward the destruction of American or other neutral ships or lives in the war zone after warning had been given to such vessels to steer clear of the war zone.

The German declaration, which raises serious questions for the consideration of the United States and other neutral nations, was issued by the embassy in the form of the following official message from Berlin:

"A report from the submarine has not yet been received. However, according to trustworthy reports, the submarine requested the steamer Falaba to put passengers and crew into lifeboats when other ships came up. Irately English merchant ships have been provided with guns by the British Government and advised to ram or otherwise attack German submarines. This advice has repeatedly been followed in order to win promised rewards. Military necessity consequently forced the submarine to act quickly, which made granting of longer space of time and the saving of lives impossible.

"The German Government regrets sacrifices of human lives, but both British ships and neutral passengers on board such ships were warned urgently and in time not to cross the war zone. Responsibility rests, therefore, with British Government, which, contrary to international law. inaugurated commercial war against Germany and, contrary to international law, has caused merchant ships to offer armed resistance."

What action the United States Government will take with reference to the death of Thrasher has not been determined. Through its various agencies abroad, the State Department is seeking information on the case to make certain that Thrasher was an American citizen.


Source:
World War history: daily records and comments as appeared in American and foreign newspapers, -1926. New York, April 7. (New York, NY) 7 Apr. 1915, p. 36. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, www.loc.gov/item/2004540423/1915-04-07/ed-1/.

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