USA declare was on Germany 100 years ago!

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WW I periscopes weren't all that good to begin with let alone using an observation position lower than a man sitting in rowboat. .
This, in the North Sea and others with high wave heights up to 30ft. Many major sea battles contain some episode of miss identification of well known surface vessels even by airborne observers. Once one ship has been sunk under controversial circumstances, in a war you dont hear the other side, who would blame a captain for ramming a submarine and /or running?
If unrestricted sub warfare is so bad it didn't stop USA in Ww2 in the Pacific.
Doenitz at Nuremberg was going to be in deep poop for Kriegsmarine unrestricted sub warfare until Nimitz advised he did exactly same thing.
Maybe it was just very bad PR on the German side. They freely and deliberately admitted it when best to do is just do it and deny everything!

I am still unconvinced that unristricted sub warfare was the reason USA joined the war. Because the anti war movement was so strong and even pro German Anti British sentiment was also powerful.

I will do more reading.
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Why this fixation on THE reason the US joined the war? These things seldom happen for a single overriding reason. IMHO it was a pile of reasons such as Zimmerman, submarines, unwarranted executions, Anglo-French propaganda, etc, that led to a perception of Germany as brutal, treacherous, and dishonorable; all qualities that offended American values (expounded if not always practiced) of honor, honesty, and fair play. Sophistication and cynicism regarding foreign affairs had not (and many would say say never has) matured in America. Obviously, it was our duty to pitch in, slay the Jaborwock, and put the world to rights. "Speak softly and carry a big stick!"
stop and search policies were practised from well before WWI. They were applied during the blockades of the ACW. Also as far back as the Napoleonic war.

During WWI German submarines adhered to the rules of war for the most part. they would stop a vessel , search it, if it was carrying contraband, they would order the crew to abandon ship and lay explosive charges to sink the ship. The stories of armed merchantmen fighting back, Q ships roaming the high seas to terrorise Uboats with surprise attacks did happen, but were rare. Its substantially true to say these stories are overblown bits of baloney most of the time.

The Allies used over 1000 escort vessels, 100000 mines and more than 5000 a/c to combat the German Uboat forces. Of the 340 Uboats that put to sea, 178 of them were lost, but only a handful were lost to merchant ships fighting back. just as its a beat up to say Germany was forced into unrestricted attacks by merchantmen being armed it is also baloney to think that the Uboats of WWI were technically more inferior to WWII boats. Its a false assumption. Compared to the surface escorts ranged against them, WWI uboats were technically superior to their WWII cousins. WWI subs operated as far afield as the US west coast and the Med. The 340 submarines of the imperial navy managed to sink 15 million tons of shipping in effectively 3 years, whilst the uboats of the KM numbering well over 800, and operating for nearly 6 years managed to sink around 14 million tons of shipping. WWI subs were never technologically beaten in the same way as DKM boats were beaten. They certainly did not lack effective optics. They were just overwhelmed....

What really forced the Germans to use sink on sight policies was the increasing use of convoy, and more to the point effective escorts for those convoys. A uboat could not really surface, stop board search and then scuttle a ship that was part of a convoy. Convoys forced the Uboats to fight illegally ,

once the germans were prepared to sink any ship on sight without warning it was only a matter of time before they would rile the Americans into joining the fight
America also declared war on Austria Hungary. When Austria Hungary was actually not doing anything to upset the Americans apart from been allied to Germany.

Not sure about the convoy theory. The Admiralty has not organised full convoys yet and the Germans had already started unrestricted sub warfare. The idea was simple. Sink as many ships as fast as you can and starve Britain. The full convoy system was in answer to the German policy. Since the Germans considered the Royal Navy 'Hunger Blockade' as a war against children then I suppose morality was already out the window
War contraband is a term that can be defined any way the blockaders wanted. It didn't take the British long to define food as a contraband war material. So when war broke out in August 1914, the British government moved immediately to strangle the supply of raw materials and then foodstuffs to Germany and its allies. This marked the beginning of the 'hunger blockade', a war of attrition that lasted beyond the Armistice and didn’t end until Germany signed the Treaty of Versailles in June 1919.
Armed with contraband lists, British naval ships spent the war patrolling the North Sea, intercepting and detaining thousands of merchant ships thought to be harboring cargo bound for enemy shores. This aggressive display of maritime power aroused considerable anger in neutral countries, many of whom enjoyed strong trading links with Germany.
Tension was heightened after the North Sea was declared a British 'military area' on 3 November 1914. Despite complaints about breaches of international law, however, most neutral merchant ships agreed to put into British ports for inspection and were subsequently escorted - minus any 'illegal' cargo bound for Germany - through the British-laid minefields to their final destinations.
The blockade strategy worked effectively. As a memorandum to the War Cabinet on 1 January 1917 stated, very few supplies were reaching Germany or its allies - either through the North Sea or through other areas such as Austria's Adriatic ports, subject to a French blockade since the first month of the war.
Germany attempted to counter the crippling effects of the blockade with a new weapon that seemed capable of subverting British naval superiority: the submarine. For much of the war, German submarines were deployed only intermittently against neutral and Allied shipping. Their devastating impact was offset by the international anger that such attacks aroused.
In spite of the international uproar, starting from 1 February 1917, the German naval command adopted a policy of ‘unrestricted submarine warfare'. Despite initial successes, this high-risk strategy did not work. It finally provoked the USA into entering the war against the Central Powers and its worst effects were successfully countered by the introduction of a convoy system.
Due to the 'hunger blockade', by 1915, German imports had fallen by 55% from pre-war levels. Aside from causing shortages in important raw materials such as coal and various non-ferrous metals, the blockade cut off fertilizer supplies that were vital to German agriculture.
Staple foodstuffs such as grain, potatoes, meat and dairy products became so scarce by the winter of 1916 that many people subsisted on a diet of ersatz products that ranged from so-called 'war bread' (Kriegsbrot) to powdered milk. The shortages caused looting and food riots, not only in Germany, but also in the Habsburg cities of Vienna and Budapest, where wartime privations were felt equally acutely.
The German government made strenuous attempts to alleviate the worst effects of the blockade. The Hindenburg program, introduced in December 1916, was designed to raise productivity by ordering the compulsory employment of all men between the ages of 17 and 60. A complicated system of rationing, first introduced in January 1915, aimed to ensure that at least minimum nutritional needs were met. In larger cities, 'war kitchens' provided cheap meals en masse to impoverished local citizens.
Such schemes, however, enjoyed only limited success. The average daily diet of 1,000 calories was insufficient even for small children. Disorders related to malnutrition - scurvy, tuberculosis and dysentery - were common by 1917.
Official statistics attributed nearly 763,000 wartime deaths in Germany to starvation caused by the Allied blockade. This figure excluded the further 150,000 German victims of the 1918 influenza pandemic, which inevitably caused disproportionate suffering among those already weakened by malnutrition and related diseases.
Although the blockade made an important contribution to the Allied victory, many of its devastating side effects cast a long shadow over post-war German society and like the Versailles Treaty contributed to the rise of Nazism.
I would say the Turnip Winter was just as vital in the use of unrestricted submarine warfare as any other. The population was starving although lack of agriculture workers was also to blame.
In my humble opinion ww1 has far more shades of grey than ww2 and that makes it far more interesting and controversial. And far more challenging to know the good guys.
After its defeat in WWI, according to the Treaty of Versailles, Germany was not allowed to have any submarines. In 1935, Germany ignored it and began to rebuild a new submarine force, under the command of a former World War I U-boat captain, Karl Doenitz. Doenitz advanced submarine warfare to new heights, trained highly skilled crews and captains, and developed devastating new tactics, mainly the Wolfpack tactic which allowed a group of submarines to efficiently coordinate and concentrate their effort instead of fighting alone.
In the Wolfpack tactic, the submarines first spread across a long stretch of ocean to enhance their probability of detecting passing enemy ships, and when one of the submarines detected a convoy of enemy ships, instead of immediately attacking it alone, it reported its position and course and followed it, and the other submarines first slowly regrouped to a position ahead of the enemy convoy, and only then attacked it together, preferably at night, overwhelming or even outnumbering the convoy's anti-submarine escort warships and sinking many more ships.
The devastating implementation of such tactics by the German U-boats, and systematic ongoing analysis of results and adaptation to changes, made Doenitz and his submarines the most formidable enemy Britain faced, more worrying even than the Luftwaffe. Winston Churchill said that the only threat that really worried him during World War 2 was "The U-boat peril".
The only thing that saved Britain from being suffocated early in the war by the German U-boats, were Doenitz's superiors.
1. The German High Command, and mainly Hitler, were focused before and during the war on continental ground warfare. Hitler was also firmly confident before the war that Germany will not have to fight Britain in the near future. He said so himself in a letter to the U-boat captains just 5 weeks before the war.
2. The German Navy itself, like the British Navy, was dominated by Admirals who served in the big guns surface ships, and despite the successful experience of German submarines in World War 1, and the development of the aircraft as a powerful weapon against surface ships, they kept the submarines force as a secondary arm of the Navy, in terms of budget allocation.
As a result, Hitler and Roeder (head of the German Navy) confidently rejected Doenitz' pre-war warnings that Germany has too few submarines to achieve their task of cutting Britain's maritime life line, and instead of having 300 submarines at the beginning of the war ( Doenitz calculated that considering the submarines sailing to and back from the area of operations, submarines used for training new crews, and submarines being resupplied and repaired in German harbors, he needed 300 submarines in order to have 100 submarines active in the area of operations near Britain.) as he wanted, he had just 55, and only 12 could be active in Atlantic operations.
Even after the war started, it took a long time before the U-boats were allowed to fully exploit their devastating potential and before their rate of production was significantly raised to compensate for losses and increase their numbers. In 1943 Doenitz was also promoted to head of the German Navy and submarine production was dramatically increased, but it was too late. The German U-boats then faced much stronger anti submarine forces, which were equipped with new technologies, new tactics, a new commander, Admiral Max Horton, a former submarine captain and commander of the British submarine force, who knew best how to fight against submarines, and by then merchant ships were produced in America faster than the U-boats could sink them. In May 1943 Doenitz lost 41 U-boats in 3 weeks. The hunters became the hunted. The U-boat activity expanded to the South Atlantic, to the US East coast, the Caribbean, and the Mediterranean, but the main battlefield remained the North Atlantic sea routes to Britain, and there they lost the battle.
Until the end of 1942, the Germans sunk an average of 14 ships for each submarine lost. Since 1943, the rate dramatically reduced and submarines losses were very high. During the war they sunk a total of 3000 allied ships, mostly merchants, 14.5 million tons of shipping, and lost almost 800 submarines, which is about 80% of those which participated in operations, and 2/3 of the total of 1170 U-boats produced
These things seldom happen for a single overriding reason

Here's another - according to A.J.P. Taylor the demise of Bernstorff was also a contributor to souring German/USA relations.

Two points that are totally unconnected.

Top ten nations that suffered from U-boat attacks.

Country Attacks
British 3,739
French 802
Norwegian 796
Italian 689
Greek 272
Danish 256
Russian 192
Swedish 181
Dutch 179
American 174
total 7,280

from Ships hit by U-boats - German and Austrian U-boats of World War One - Kaiserliche Marine -

Please note that Norway was "technically" neutral, although it favored the British even more than the US (at least until 1917) and the Dutch were neutral for the entire war. Greece did not officially declare war on the central powers until 30 June 1917.
Granted merchant ships of any nation could embark cargoes of war materials for combatant nations.

As for the Japanese and Americans in WW II. The Japanese had 9 submarines operating of the US west coast in Dec of 1941 that made 8 separate attacks on US merchant ships, sinking 2 and damaging 2 more. four made their escape despite being fired on by deck guns or missed by torpedoes. In NO case were warnings given or any attempt to board examine the ships made. (some ships did radio reports leading to aircraft arriving shortly). There was one reported instance of machine gunning the lifeboats although no causalities resulted.
The Japanese started "unrestricted" submarine warfare against the US, they just weren't very good at it and failed to keep it up (it lasted from Dec 18 to 24). US counter attacks failed to damage any of the Japanese submarines.

The Japanese cannot have it both ways. You can't start unrestricted submarine warfare (no matter how incompetently) and then complain when your enemy uses it against you.
This is all very high level discussion.

I have a small request for sources when specific statistics are cited.

It's not really airplanes, but the discussion is historical. I recon that without WW1 submarines, we wouldn't have WW2 aircraft.

BTW-it's a pleasant occurrence to have such a potentially emotional subject discussed with such civility on an Internet forum. Good show all.
Both sides exercised total blockades within a declared area. This meant that after the mandatory diplomatic announcements any ship could be stopped, searched and if found to be "carrying contraband" , could be seized . 'Carrying contraband" is a euphemism for carrying cargo for the enemy. For a time the neutrals attempted to essentially act as smugglers and sneak goods into Germany by moving the goods through their own ports. The Allies countered this by imposing strict quota limits on the imports of the neutrals....just enough to cover their own needs, not enough to onsell to the Central powers. This required all traffic in the north sea to be apprehended, searched and sometimes seized outright.

Small wonder that the neutrals rapidly diminished their trade with Germany aknd switched to carrying goods almost solely for the allies.

There is not the slightest problem or immoral overtone about the imposition of this blockade on the germans. It was entirely legal,. nobody except the germans were all that concerned about it . If a ship was german flagged, it was seized, if it was armed it was sunk.

The Germans responded to this in a new and at the time in a way considered immoral.. they too embarked on a counter blockade at first within a declared area, later it was changed to a sink on sight policy, that is, no declared area. The only limits were those imosed by the technology. Both sides practised this with surface units, but it took a little lobger to loosen the uboat restrictions. The Germans adopted a stop and search policy, but they changed the seize and detain procedures used by the allies to scuttle or sink procedures. later, as convoys came into being they changed it even further, No more stop and search, it was now sink on sight. An altogether different approach to blockade to the one being used by the Allies. It was rightly seen as a breach of the rules of war, and outraged and awoke a sleeping giant.
In 1914 the British Navy was the 900lb Gorilla in the swimming pool.
This was the Swimming pool.

Note the differences in length of coast line and routes of approach. There is no way the Germans could "blockade" Britain with any hope of success using the pre-war rules. And violating those rules would leave the Germans as an outlaw state in the eyes of the world.
Given the size of the RN and the restricted approaches to Germany the British could mount an effective blockade using the old rules.

Don't pick a fight with a 900lb gorilla in his own pool/swimming hole.
I think no single one of the causes you mentioned was by itself responsible, but a combination of them all led to an increasing public perception of a "kinder, gentler," more sympathetic (to American values) civilization under attack by a more brutal, less civilised barbaric horde.
Young, headstrong, earnest, newly powerful America, an adolescent on the world stage, needed to flex her muscles, set the world to rights, and vanquish the villains. "Let's see, we managed to whip Mexico, then them Injuns, then Spain, with one hand tied behind us, so these Krauts, or Huns, or Boches, or whatchamacall'ems shouldn't be any trouble at all!" The unreadiness for modern warfare is never really apparent until the war is underway.

I think that is an incredible misunderstanding of the US entry into the war. There was a strong thread of isolationism in US politics, especially prevalent central US, but there was also a fairly significant dislike of the UK and respect for Germany. Next, those groups beaten by the US weren't members of what the US at the turn of the 20th Century would consider equal to whites, a category limited to Western and Northern Europeans and Germans (no Slavs, people from the Mediterranean littoral, or Jews need apply: this was the driving force behind the US immigration laws in effect from the 1920s to 1960s), so your comment about the Boche would not apply.

Do remember that the perception of German aggression against France and Belgium was perfectly matched to the fact of German aggression against France and Belgium. While the UK was blockading Germany, possibly in violation of international law, those merchant ships stopped and diverted were not sunk, as was the case of the German Navy's attempted blockading of Britain and France by sinking merchant ships. Stories like "those nasty British made me and my shipmates go into Aberdeen for a forthnight" are not going to incite quite the outrage as "my ship was sunk by a German U-boat, and all my family died." The German U-boat campaign was the proximate cause for the US entry into the war.
A submarine couldn't pick up survivors. And it was always vulnerable to ramming or even the smallest of naval guns. So even on a good day, it's ability to follow the Prize rules was very limited. However from a legal point of view...A merchant vessel is no longer a merchant vessel if that ship is armed or has orders to ram or radio its position. It can be then classed as an auxiliary and Prize rules don't apply if it's resisting capture.
However, the order to sink ships on sight is certainly illegal as this doesn't allow the merchant vessel a chance to surrender peacefully.
Swampyankee, I agree with all of your first paragraph (except the first sentence and the last phrase) as of 1914. However, the combined effects of the Zimmerman affair (treachery), the executions of seamen for defending their ships (war crimes), the sumarine warfare (war crimes again), the allied propaganda (depicting Germans as brutal savages), the harsh treatment of neutral nations "in the way" of the German attack on France and Russia, all served to swing the pendulum of American perception away from isolationism and sympathy for Germany. Of course there were still plenty of isolationists and teutonophiles, but their influence waned as the perception changed. I think if "the U-boat menace" had been the only burr under our saddle, we might still have eventually joined the fray, but whether soon enough to affect the outcome I think highly questionable.
Alternately, if you're going to war with the world's naval superpower, you build a navy to match it before hostilities break out. Kaiser Bill was jealous of his Gram's navy and they almost had one.
Really, the Brits leveraged their position and it's likely if the roles were reversed, the Germans would do the same.
No one has the moral high ground.
Alternately, if you're going to war with the world's naval superpower, you build a navy to match it before hostilities break out. Kaiser Bill was jealous of his Gram's navy and they almost had one.
The Kaiser was a monarch who fell down with many others in that era, Wilhelm II had dismissed Bismark in 1890 after he was crowned, a power that his Grandmother Queen Victoria never had.

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