—Lusitanian, adj., n./looh'si tay"nee euh/, n.1. (italics) a British luxury liner sunk by a German submarine in the North Atlantic on May 7, 1915: one of the events leading to U.S. entry into World War I.2. an ancient region and Roman province in the Iberian Peninsula, corresponding generally to modern Portugal.
* * *British ocean liner sunk by a German submarine off the coast of Ireland on May 7, 1915.The British Admiralty had warned the Lusitania to avoid the area and to use the evasive tactic of zigzagging, but the crew ignored these recommendations. Though unarmed, the ship was carrying munitions for the Allies, and the Germans had circulated warnings that the ship would be sunk. The loss of life1,198 people drowned, including 128 U.S. citizensoutraged public opinion. The U.S. protested Germany's action, and Germany limited its submarine campaign against Britain. When Germany renewed unrestricted submarine warfare, the U.S. entered World War I in April 1917.
* * *▪ British shipBritish ocean liner, the sinking of which by a German submarine on May 7, 1915, contributed indirectly to the entry of the United States into World War I. The 32,000-ton ship was returning from New York to Liverpool, with 1,959 passengers and crew on board. The sinkings of merchant ships off the south coast of Ireland and reports of submarine activity there prompted the British Admiralty to warn the Lusitania to avoid the area and to recommend adopting the evasive tactic of zigzagging, changing course every few minutes at irregular intervals to confuse any attempt by U-boats to plot her course for torpedoing. The ship's crew chose to ignore these recommendations, and on the afternoon of May 7, 1915, the vessel was attacked. A torpedo struck and exploded amidships on the starboard side, followed by a heavier explosion, probably of the ship's boilers. Within 20 minutes the vessel had sunk, and 1,198 people were drowned. The loss of the liner and so many of its passengers, including 128 U.S. citizens, aroused a wave of indignation in the United States, and it was fully expected that a declaration of war would follow, but the U.S. government clung to its policy of neutrality.The Lusitania was also carrying a cargo of rifle ammunition and shells (together about 173 tons), and the Germans, who had circulated warnings that the ship would be sunk, felt themselves fully justified in attacking a vessel that was furthering the war aims of their enemy. The German government also felt that, in view of the vulnerability of U-boats while on the surface and the British announcement of intentions to arm merchant ships, prior warning of potential targets was impractical. On May 13, 1915, the U.S. government (Wilson, Woodrow) sent a note to Berlin expressing an indictment of the principles on which the submarine war was being fought, but this note and two following ones constituted the immediate limit of U.S. reaction to the Lusitania incident. Later, in 1917, however, the United States did cite German submarine warfare as a justification for American entry into the war.
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