Sunday, October 25, 2015

Today -100: October 25, 1915: We hope it will not be necessary to have any more executions

The passengers of a ship arriving in NY from Liverpool include 250 Irishmen escaping conscription. There isn’t any conscription in Britain (and it’ll take another couple of years to reach Ireland), but they’re escaping it nonetheless.

German Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs Zimmermann says “It was a pity that Miss Cavell had to be executed, but it was necessary. She was judged justly. We hope it will not be necessary to have any more executions.” He says the law makes no distinction between the sexes. Isn’t that jolly feminist of him? “Were special consideration shown to women we should open the door wide to such activities on the part of women, who are often more clever in such matters than the cleverest male spy.”

Two Germans, Robert Fay (a lieutenant in the German Army) and Walter Scholz, are arrested in New Jersey after attempting to buy picric acid. The two are suspected of several acts of explosive-type sabotage of trains, merchant ships carrying munitions to Europe, and ammunition factories. In fact, they never got that far, but they were building explosive devices designed to take out ships’ rudders. More Germans and German-Americans will be arrested tomorrow, some for supplying the active agents with funds. After holding out under Secret Service interrogation for... minutes... Fay and Scholz confess to everything, including having received German Secret Service money. However Lt Fay says that Franz von Papen and Karl Boy-Ed, the attachés at the German embassy in the US, refused to have anything to do with planting mines on ships in US harbors and suggested he do his sabotage in Canada instead (von Papen would claim after the war that they suspected Fay of being an English spy). The two would be sent to jail, but Fay escaped the Atlanta federal pen in August 1916 and, with the help of funds from von Papen, crossed into Mexico and eventually from there to Spain, where authorities sent him back to the US, where he went back to prison. He was released and deported in 1922. Here’s a more detailed account of the plot.

South African Prime Minister Louis Botha wins parliamentary elections, in a decisive victory for his pro-war policy.

John Albrecht Walz, a German lit professor at Harvard, calls a convention of 26 German-American organizations to encourage them to work against Woodrow Wilson’s re-election.

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