Who's Who - Arthur Zimmermann

Arthur Zimmermann Arthur Zimmermann (1854-1940) was responsible as German Foreign Secretary for the Zimmermann Telegram which helped to draw the United States into World War One against Germany in April 1917.

Zimmermann was appointed Germany's Foreign Secretary in November 1916 and owed his political eminence to his unwavering support for the Third Supreme Command, an effective military dictatorship led by Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff.  Towards the close of 1916 Zimmermann stated his full support for the military high command's decision to impose a highly controversial policy of unrestricted submarine warfare - the policy which eventually drew the U.S. into the war in April 1917.

However Zimmermann is best-known as the author of the infamous 'Zimmermann Telegram' sent to the German Embassy in Mexico on 19 January 1917.  The encrypted telegram to von Eckhardt in Mexico effectively comprised an offer of German support for a Mexican invasion of the U.S.  The thinking behind the telegram suggested that the U.S. would find itself too concerned with fighting a war with Mexico at home to direct its energies to the conflict in Europe.

In perhaps the best-known example of cryptanalysis the British intercepted the telegram and set its team of cryptographers ('Room 40') to decrypt the telegram.  Using a captured German diplomatic codebook the British team succeeded and passed the contents of the plain-text telegram to the government who in turn sent details to U.S. President Woodrow Wilson.

The inevitable publication of the telegram on 1 March (with Wilson's permission) was initially met by stunned disbelief in American quarters, its contents widely considered implausible.  Unfortunately Zimmermann inexplicably confirmed the authenticity of the telegram shortly afterwards.  War between the U.S. and Germany drew ever nearer: within a month it would become a fact.

Zimmermann himself chose 'retirement' in August 1917.  He died in 1940.

The Russian war ace Alexander Kozakov claimed 20 victories during the war; his nearest compatriot, Vasili Yanchenko, claimed 16.

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