|Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg's response to U.S. President Woodrow Wilson's impending
declaration of war with Germany on April 2, 1917
The directors of the American Nation have been convened by President Wilson for an extraordinary
session of Congress in order to decide the question of war or peace between the American and
German Nations. Germany never had the slightest intention of attacking the United States of
America, and does not have such intention now. It never desired war against the United States of
America and does not desire it today.
How did these things develop? More than once we told the United States that we made unrestricted
use of the submarine a weapon, expecting that England could be made to observe, in her policy of
blockade, the laws of humanity and of international agreements
This blockade policy, this I expressly recall, has been called illegal and indefensible by President
Wilson and Secretary of State Lansing.
Our expectations, which we maintained during eight months, have been disappointed completely.
England not only did not give up her illegal and indefensible policy of blockade, but uninterruptedly
intensified it. England, together with her allies, arrogantly rejected the peace offers made by us and
our allies and proclaimed her war aims, which aim at our annihilation and that of our allies.
Then we took unrestricted submarine warfare into our hands; then we had to for our defence.
If the American Nation considers this a cause for which to declare war against the German Nation
with which it has lived in peace for more than 100 years, if this action warrants an increase of
bloodshed, we shall not have to bear the responsibility for it.
The German Nation, which feels neither hatred nor hostility, against the United States of America,
shall also bear and overcome this.