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The German submarine U-20 sinks the Lusitania off the southwest coast of Ireland

Cover of the 1915 sheet music for "When the Lusitania Went Down" by Charles McCarron and Nat. Vincent showing the ship underway and two public rooms. The Lusitania was sunk by the German submarine U-20 on May 7, 1915.

Cover of the 1915 sheet music for "When the Lusitania Went Down" by Charles McCarron and Nat. Vincent. The Lusitania was sunk by the German submarine U-20 on May 7, 1915.

Image text

When the Lusitania Went Down" by Charles McCarron and Nat. Vincent

By courtesy of the Cunard Steamship Co. Ltd.

G.T. Inc.

Leo. Feist New York

Other views: Detail

On May 7, 1915, German submarine U-20 sank the passenger liner Lusitania off the southwest coast of Ireland with a loss of 1,195 civilians, 128 of them Americans.

The Lusitania had sailed from New York on May 1. The German embassy had placed an ad in fifty US newspapers saying that ships flying the British flag or those of her allies in the War Zone around Britain and Ireland were subject to sinking. Most of the passengers were British or Canadian, but 139 Americans were also aboard.

In part as a response to the British blockade, and to the British flagging their ships as those of neutral nations, Germany declared the War Zone around the British isles on February 4, 1915 within which ships flying the flag of Britain or its allies were subject to being sunk. Nations, including the United States, protested this violation of neutrality laws, but Germany persisted.

After the Lusitania, in the face of international criticism, but particularly concerned about further damaging relations with the United States, Germany suspended its unrestricted submarine warfare.

1915-05-07