On May 7, 1915, less than a year after World War I (1914-18) broke out across Europe, a German submarine torpedoed and sank the RMS Lusitania, a British ocean liner en route from New York to Liverpool, England.
Previous German attacks on merchant ships off the south coast of Ireland prompted the British admiralty to Lusitania to avoid the area or take simple evasive measures, such as zigzagging to confuse the U-boats tracking the course of the ship. The captain of the Lusitania ignored these recommendations, and at 2:12 p.m. on May 7, in the waters of the Celtic Sea, the 32,000-ton vessel was hit by an explosive torpedo on the starboard side. The explosion of a torpedo was followed by a larger explosion, probably of the ship’s boilers. the Lusitania sank within 20 minutes.
Germany justified the attack by rightly claiming that the Lusitania was an enemy ship and was carrying ammunition. It was mainly a passenger ship, and among the 1,201 that were drowned in the attack, there were many women and children, including 128 Americans. Colonel Edward House, close associate of US President Woodrow Wilson, was in London for a diplomatic visit when he learned of the LusitaniaThe disappearance of. America has arrived at the separation of paths, he writes in a telegram to Wilson, when it must determine whether it represents civilized or uncivilized war. We can no longer remain neutral spectators.
Wilson then sent the German government a heavily worded note – the first of three similar communications – asking it to end the submarine warfare against unarmed merchant ships. Actions of Wilson On the afternoon of May 7, 1915, the British ocean liner Lusitania was torpedoed without warning by a German submarine off the south coast of Ireland.
Faced with the overwhelming size and strength of the British Royal Navy at the start of World War I, Germany realized that its most effective weapon at sea was its extremely precise U-boat submarine. As a result, in February 1915, the German Navy adopted a policy of unrestricted submarine warfare, declaring the area around the British Isles a war zone, in which all merchant ships, including those of neutral countries, would be subject to attacks.
Although the United States was officially neutral at this point in the war, Britain was one of the country’s closest trading partners, and tensions arose immediately over Germany’s new policy. In early May 1915, several New York newspapers published a warning from the German Embassy in Washington that Americans traveling on British or Allied ships in war zones did so at their own risk. On the same page, an advertisement announced the imminent navigation of the British liner Lusitania from New York to Liverpool.
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On the German side, fear of further upset Wilson and his government led the Kaiser Wilhelm and Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg to apologize to the United States and restrict the policy of submarine warfare without restriction. In early 1917, however, under pressure from military leaders who advocated an aggressive naval policy as an integral part of German WWI strategy, the government reversed its policy and, on February 1, 1917, Germany resumed its policy of free war by boat. Two days later, Wilson announced that the United States was breaking diplomatic ties with Germany; the same day the american liner Housatonic was sunk by a German submarine. The United States officially entered the First World War on April 6, 1917.