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POLITICS
Asked by Jeniffer

How is unrestricted submarine warfare a threat to neutrality?

From the start of the First World War in 1914, Germany pursued a highly effective U-boat campaign against merchant shipping. This campaign intensified over the course of the war and almost succeeded in bringing Britain to its knees in 1917. At first, U-boats obeyed 'prize rules', which meant that they surfaced before attacking merchant ships and allowed the crew and passengers to get away. This left U-boats vulnerable to attack, especially after the British introduced ‘Q-ships’ – disguised warships with hidden guns intended to lure U-boats in close and then sink them. The use of Q-ships contributed to Germany’s eventual abandonment of prize rules. On 4 February 1915, Germany declared a war zone around Britain, within which merchant ships were sunk without warning. This 'unrestricted submarine warfare' angered neutral countries, especially the United States.

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Krishitha Mannan
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