Germany’s U-Boat Response- Germany responded to the British blockade with a devastating counter-offensive: sinking any British or Allied ship in British waters, often with no warning to the crews and passengers aboard. ***Prior to U.S. entry into WWI, Germany’s unrestricted submarine warfare most challenged our neutrality.***
May 7, 1915- The British passenger ship, Lusitania, was torpedoed killing 1,198 people, including 128 Americans. While Germany justified its actions by pointing out that ammunition was in the cargo hold, the death of so many Americans turned public opinion against Germany and the Central Powers.
Just like the days following the Lusitaniadisaster, Wilson and protested but ruled out a military response.
Germany’s response was to promise not to target any more passenger ships.
March, 1916- Germany’s promise was broken when it sunk the French passenger ship, the Sussex, killing or injuring 80 passengers, including several Americans.
America threatened to end diplomatic relations if Germany did not stop the unprovoked attacks.
Germany issued its Sussex pledge, agreeing to stop the targeting of passenger ships IF America successfully persuaded Britain to lift its blockade. Failure to meet that condition would result in unrestricted submarine warfare from the Germans.