February 17, 2015

by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent

The front page of the Capital Journal again focused on the pending German submarine blockade of Great Britain and France. A map on the front page illustrated the area where German submarines would be operating. The blockade would close the entire English Channel. The caption for the map describes the planned blockade:

Following the Von Tirpitz plan of trying to starve Great Britain by submarine blockade and destruction of merchant ships, the German government has notified the world that from February 18 attacks will be made on all enemy merchant ships and that neutral merchants will be in danger. The United States is vitally concerned. Its ships may be sunk. the map shows by shaded portion the new naval war zone declared by the germans. Rear Admiral von Tirpitz suggested several weeks ago that the only method to pursue with England was to blockade her harbors.

US MAPFrom the perspective of Marion County residents the news appeared grim:

NO CHANGE IN WAR ZONE SITUATION
American Still Awaits Answer From Great Britain and Germany
KAISER’S MANDATE TAKES EFFECT TOMORROW
Twenty-Eight Steamers Carrying Over 10,000 Speeding Toward War Zone

Liverpool, Feb. 17. – Twenty eight steamers from New York, carrying more than 10,000 Americans are speeding toward the war zone today and may be subject of the retaliation order by Germany against England beginning tomorrow.

Washington, Feb. 17. – What protection the government of the United States intends to give the thousands of Americans who’re on steamers headed for British waters included in the extended German war zone and commerce in the future is a diplomatic secret.

When asked bout the administration’s plans today, Secretary of State Bryan declined to “outline any policy.” Neither would he indicate whether his silence was due to the non-arrival of Germany’s answer to the American protest in this regard.

State and navy officials denied they had received a suggestion from Germany that American warships could safely convey American merchantmen through the danger zone. They indicated that they did not intend to follow such a course.

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About whclarc

We are devoted to providing information fresh from the Archives, Library and Collections of the Willamette Heritage Center in Salem, Oregon. We specialize in the history of Marion County and the greater Salem area.
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