Your Excellency, I have the honour to respectfully send you the enclosed transcript of a report sent to me from a reliable source, as I believe that it will be of interest to Your Excellency.
[From the Head of the Admiral's Staff to Zimmermann, 25 October]
The enclosed transcript is respectfully sent to Your Excellency.
4 October, from Amsterdam:
"Several days ago, one of my acquaintances had a visit from a certain Dr. Johannes Lepsius, Chairman of the German Mission for the Orient, Potsdam, Grosse Weinmeisterstrasse 45. This gentleman attempted to win over my acquaintance to the following views and asked him to use his influence to inform the people in his circles in this sense. I would not report this entire matter, except that Dr. Lepsius claimed that his propaganda work has been approved by the German Foreign Office as well as by the Reichskanzler himself, and that the Reichskanzler informed him that he wished to support him in his endeavours. But the worst is that through his behaviour Dr. Lepsius is most certainly playing to the British hand, surely without the approval of the above mentioned offices. He sends his very anti-Turkish brochures in large numbers to the United States, to Dr. John Mott, the well-known head of the mission in the United States, and the British definitely have no interest in not letting these leaflets through.
Dr. Lepsius informed me that he (Dr. L.) is in contact with British statesmen in order to reach a peace project. He claimed that these connections were established at the direct order of the Reichskanzler. He explained that the party of the Reichskanzler had now become so strong in Germany because it was also Hindenburg's party and both men believed that the eastern front was the main thing, which was why they wanted to settle with the Russians there first, after which a settlement could be reached with England whereby the British claims would be satisfied with Turkish territory in Asia Minor. The party of the Reichskanzler had now become so strong that it could get its own way in the above sense, and the large banks and financiers in Germany greatly supported this party, which was in favour of peace with England as quickly as possible by means of a settlement at Turkey's expense.
Dr. Lepsius says that he is a great enemy of the Turks because supposedly he has seen the killings of Armenians. This is why he also turns to the religious circles in Holland, and does the same in England and the United States. He has published a brochure on the "Christian murders in Armenia", so he says! Naturally, all of this agitation is grist to England's mill, whose diplomats will not hesitate to make it known in Constantinople through indirect channels that it will be suggested from the highest German office that an understanding be reached with England at Turkey's expense, while on the other hand a great deal of agitational material can be gained from Dr. Lepsius' brochure for a general Christian indignation against the Turks. Dr. Lepsius said he sent an Armenian from Switzerland to Lord Bryce to discover the feelings of important British circles for the above project, and received the answer that there was also a strong party in England that was not against a settlement with Germany on this basis and it would even be possible to win Lord Grey over to this plan. He, Dr. Lepsius, gave reports relating to this to the German Foreign Office and received the answer that it would be pleased if he would continue his "peace endeavours" from Holland in the direction carried out until now. The Reichskanzler also informed him of his approval for his endeavours.
Naturally, I cannot take Dr. Lepsius' information seriously, that he is acting on order from the German Foreign Office and even has the Reichskanzler's sanction for this. I am only reporting this matter because the man is certainly harming Germany's interests with his agitation concerning the "terrible Christian murders by the Turks in Armenia", as he says, and aiding our enemies. In addition, some people in pro-German, religious circles here believe his rash stories. Therefore, I considered it my duty to draw your attention to these peculiar 'peace endeavours'."
[Jagow’s answer, 6 November]
Dr. Lepsius continues to inconvenience the Imperial Government with his Armenian propaganda. He knows that his agitation against Turkey is disapproved of most strongly by the Reichskanzler and the German Foreign Office, and because of this he has been in direct opposition to the government for quite some time. To make his propaganda journeys more difficult, the Chairman of the Regional Council in Potsdam was petitioned on 8 August of this year to release an order that applications made by Mr. Lepsius to obtain a visa for Switzerland should be denied. On 20 September, this petition was extended to include passports and visas for all foreign countries. Mr. Lepsius was only able to travel to Holland, because he had previously obtained a passport for foreign countries that was valid until the end of January 1917.1
It is obvious that Mr. Lepsius did not receive orders from either the Reichskanzler or the German Foreign Office to carry out his agitation. The thought that Lepsius was acting on orders or with the approval of political authorities when he attempted to initiate an understanding with England at Turkey’s expense, is even more grotesque.
I am grateful that the head of the Admiral’s general naval staff, who surely recognised at once the senselessness of the remarks supposedly made by Mr. Lepsius, gave me the opportunity to follow up on this matter by informing me of the agent’s report.