Unrestricted U-boat warfareComments
1915: February 4
Two years before their aggressive naval campaign would draw the United States into World War I, Germany declared the North Sea a war zone. The proclamation stated that all ships, including merchant vessels and boats from neutral countries, could be sunk without warning by its U-boat submarines. The extreme measure was a retaliation to the British-imposed naval blockade of Germany which restricted any ‘contraband of war’, including food, from reaching the country. The Allied goal was to strangle their enemy economically, while the Germans claimed it was starving the German civilian population.
The declaration of unrestricted submarine warfare brought immediate condemnation from the US. As a result a division appeared in Germany between those who didn’t want to provoke US involvement and those who wanted to use the navy to its full power to bring down the British blockade.