June 1, 1915

by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent

From the pages of The Daily Capital Journal:

Following the headlines from the early months of the war, two innovations distinguish this war from all previous wars. Death and destruction came from above and below: Zeppelins from above and submarines from below the water.

ZEPPELINS SHOWER BOMBS ON LONDON KILLING CITIZENS
Four Meet Death and Others Seriously Hurt Before Raiders Fly Away

WORN OUT GERMANS FALL BACK BEFORE ADVANCE OF SLAVS
Von Mackensen’s Troops Exhausted By Rapid Advance Upon Przemsyl
AUSTRO-GERMAN ARMY NOW ON DEFENSIVE
Italy Preparing To Rush Well Trained Army Into Action Along Border

The sinking of the Lusitania demonstrated to readers that “neutral” meant very little. The destination mattered; and Germany declared the area surrounding the British Isles to be a war zone. No person boarding a ship had any way of knowing what other cargo was aboard. They could only rely upon the examination of the ships and the ship’s manifest to be certain that no contraband was aboard. The United States had a responsibility to its citizens and to its neutrality to make sure that no contraband left stateside ports. As a result more than 1300 passengers would die because the British-owned Lusitania had entered a war zone. The sinking of the Lusitania sank much of the good will that may have existed toward Germany and would contribute to the decision of the United States to enter the war, though this would not have been apparent to the paper’s readers at the time.

The headline read:

WILSON’S CABINET REVIEWS TEXT OF GERMANY’S ANSWER
President Will Not Back Down From Original Position In First Note
WILL FORWARD EVIDENCE TO GERMANY AT ONCE
Positive Proof That Lusitania Was Not Armed when Cleared From Port

President Wilson and the cabinet today went over the whole official text of Germany’s evasive reply to this government’s note protesting against the submarine warfare.

Later the president suggested that all comment as to the note be withheld for the present. Now that the official text has been discussed by the cabinet, he said, it might be dangerous to make conjectures of too wide a nature as to his reply, because such conjectures, cabled abroad, invariably caused the government trouble.

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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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