Zimmerman Telegram

Topics: United States, World War I, Woodrow Wilson Pages: 3 (1099 words) Published: November 27, 2011
On April 2, 1917 the United States entered WWI declaring war against Germany and its allies. The deciding factor for the U.S. to enter the war is due to one document, the Zimmerman Telegram. The document was sole proof to many Americans that Germany’s intentions were not only causing harm on European soil but bringing it across the seas to American soil. It stated that Germany had no intentions on slowing down its submarine warfare to which they hoped to keep the Americans neutral, but if they failed in doing so they offered an alliance among themselves and Mexico. The understanding was that Mexico would declare war on the United States and help the Germans and in return they would receive their land they had lost to America in years past, and receive a great deal of financial support.

In January British agents intercepted the Zimmerman Telegram. The interception of this document was considered “one of the war’s greatest intelligence coups.” [1] The time in which it was intercepted the Germans thought it relatively safe to send messages to the western hemisphere because Woodrow Wilson had given Germany the privilege to send messages under the cover of U.S diplomatic traffic in an effort to show Germany that it had no intentions on entering the war on anyone’s behalf. The Germans felt confident in their ability to not get intercepted because in order to use any telegram as incriminating evidence the British had to admit on intercepting or spying on U.S diplomatic traffic. Though unknown to Germany at this time the British had started to intercept and decode much of the American traffic. The telegram was deciphered immediately and sent to the United States President Woodrow Wilson on February 24th.[3] After which Woodrow Wilson made a public statement to the country in which he stated.

‘‘If you knew what I know at this present moment, and what you will see reported in Tomorrow morning’s newspapers, you would not ask me to attempt further...

Cited: Nickles, D. P. Under the Wire: How the Telegraph Changed Diplomacy. Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press. 2003.
Freeman, Peter. "The Zimmermann Telegram Revisited: A Reconciliation of the Primary Sources." Cryptologia 30. 2006.
Keene, Jennifer. Visions of America. Prentice Hall, 2009.
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[1] Visions of America (pg. 600)
[2] Quoted by Nickels (p.151)
[3] Visions of America (pg. 600)
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