Zimmermann telegraph

Ok, I fear this may border on GD, but I’ll put it here and trust in the mod’s judgement.

The Zimmermann telegraph, if you don’t know what it is, was a telegraph supposedly sent, during World War I by Germany to Mexico. It invited Mexico to go to war with the US (which was neutral at that point) and take back the territory the US had taken from them. Although this was not the cause for World War I, it “made it easier” for the US.

My suspicion (which my history teacher agrees with) is that the British or French forged it in order to get the US involved in the war. A Mexican attack on the US would have failed and Germany would have gained nothing, since the US was netral at that point. It seems too obvious and too “looking for trouble.”

Is there any evidence as to whether or not my suspicion is correct?

Well, didn’t Zimmerman actually admit to sending it? (God only knows why)

I think it was more of a case that Zimmermann wasn’t exactly the brightest person to be named German foreign minister at the time.

It seemed highly unlikely that the Germans would have been able to get Mexico to remove Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona away from the United States. (Perhaps impossible).

Barbara Tuchman wrote a whole book about the incident and that may shed some more light on the subject.

FWIW, the National Archives has a copy of the Zimmermann telegram, both coded and decoded.

You can look at it on this page

One interesting aspect of the case, according to one of the documentary TV presentations on the subject, was that the English had a dilemma, having decoded the telegram. They wished to tip the US off, but had obtained the telegram by having spies operating on US soil (the telegram was transmitted through the US via the German embassy), which they didn’t want to admit to (officially. Privately, everybody knows that everybody spies on everybody else.) I forget the details, but they supposedly went to a great deal of subterfuge to come up with an official story as to how they obtained the telegram.

Considering that the US had been squabbling with Mexico for the past two years, and the outrage of the Lusitania attack, it was a pretty good way to get the US into the war.
On the other hand, don’t underestimate the stupidity of the Kaiser. Willy WOULD have tried something like this, and believe he could win.

Well, also, the attack on the US was conditional on war between the US and Germany. If you go to the link and read the telegram, it says " In the event of this [America remaining neutral] not succeeding, we make Mexico a proposal or alliance on the following

I second BobT’s recommendation of Barbara Tuchman’s The Zimmerman Telegram. It’s an excellent treatment of the subject.

The Germans did a particularly poor job of estimating the relative military capabilities of the U.S. and Mexico. In fact, they continued to underestimate the ability of the Americans to field an army and fight in Europe even after war was declared.