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Map 8: The Zimmerman Telegram

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This really put the fat in the fire. Germany's biggest blunder of WWI. If this is of any interest, don't miss Barbara Tuchman's account "The Zimmerman Telegram".


            The Zimmermann telegram:

Germany proposes a Mexican war against the US


Anticipating that the German submarine campaign would draw the United States into the war, Germany's foreign secretary, Arthur Zimmermann, sent a coded telegram to the German ambassador in Mexico. In the event the United States declared war on Germany, the ambassador was instructed to approach the Mexican government with a proposed alliance. Germany would help fund a military campaign to allow Mexico to retake some of the territory lost in the Mexican-American war seven decades earlier. This map shows Zimmermann's proposal: Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico would be annexed into Mexico (the red line shows Mexican territory before 1845). Unfortunately for Zimmermann, the Brits were not only tapping undersea cables between Europe and the United States, but they had also broken Germany's ciphers. So the Brits deciphered Zimmerman's message and passed a copy along to the Americans. The release of Zimmermann's telegram inflamed American public opinion and helped to build momentum for a US declaration of war, which occurred on April 6, 1917. Mexico, meanwhile, realized that it would have no hope of defeating the United States and rejected Germany's proposal.



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