Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

United States Chargé d’Affaires at Bergen, Norway, Hans Frederick A. Schoenfeld, to United States Embassy at London

                            Sept 29            [File No.] 28-3-1

              September 29 <28>, 1918.

To:       American Embassy,London.

From:     American Legation,Christiania signed SCHOENFELD

Dated:    Undated

Received:      September 29th. 7 p.m.

Number:        197.                              40759

     Following sent to Department of State,repeated for your information:-

URGENT.

          No.1183,dated 28th September 5 p.m.

          The Minister for Foreign Affairs1 read and delivered to me today a Note,under this date,in reply to my Note of August 29th2 last,with reference to the protection of Norwegian territorial waters against belligerent submarines.

          Translation is as followsP-

          “With reference to your Note of August 29th last regarding measures to be taken in respect to cases of violation of Norwegian territorial waters/ I have the honor to again point out that the Norwegian Government is determined,by the means it finds most serviceable,to insure compliance with the order it has issued for the protection of the security of the national territory,and that it will hold every belligerent power accountable for violation of these regulations.

          Meanwhile,the Norwegian Government feels itself obliged to make the following remarks with regard to your Note:

          The 13th Hague Convention of 19073 provides expressly in Article 10 that a country’s neutrality is not called in question by the mere fact that belligerent war vessels are permitted to pass through its territorial waters. No exception is made in this provision of the Convention for submarine boats. The fact that Norway by a domestic regu<l>ation has conditionally forbidden such war vessels to passthrough her territorial waters does not in any respect change the position of Norway under International Law and gives the belligerents no right to make a demand on the Norwegian Government which is not based on general rules of International Law and so the regulation in question,as stated in my Note of August 20th,was called forth exclusively by consideration of Norway’s own interests. And just as a similar regulation has been made by all other neutral states so Norway would also be fully entitled by International Law to revoke this regulation if,according to circumstances at a given time Norway should no longer find it compatible with her interests.

          There is no information before the Norwegian Government that Norwegian territorial waters are being used by foreign submarines as a “rendezvous”. None of the circumstances surrounding the cases of sojourn of submarines in territorial waters which the Norwegian Naval Authorities have observed or been informed of or which have been brought by the British Government confidentially to the knowledge of the Norwegian Government,indicate that these cases involve anything else than passage.

          Accept Mr. Charge d’Affairs et cetera.”

          London advised accordingly.

Schoenfeld.

MR.LAUGHLIN.

Source Note: CyS, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Document identifier “1/2/A/J” appears in the upper-right corner.

Footnote 1: Nils Claus Ihlen.

Footnote 2: This document has not been found. For more on Norwegian neutrality, however, see: Sims to Benson, 28 July 1918; Sims to Opnav 16 August 1918; and Sims to Opnav, 29 September 1918.

Footnote 3: The full text of the agreements reached at this convention are available online through the Avalon Project: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/subject_menus/lawwar.asp.

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