The Zimmerman Telegram: How a Secret Message Changed the Course of World War I

TLDR In 1917, the British intercepted a telegram from Germany to Mexico proposing an alliance against the United States. The revelation of the Zimmerman Telegram led to the United States entering World War I and ultimately helped turn the tide in favor of the Allies.

Timestamped Summary

00:00 In 1917, British intelligence intercepted a diplomatic telegram between Germany and Mexico that had the potential to change the course of World War I.
02:19 In the 1916 presidential election, the main issue was that of war, with the official U.S. policy being neutrality, but leaning towards the allies, while the Germans desperately did not want the United States to enter the war.
03:50 In January 1917, the German diplomatic service sent an encoded message to their embassy in Mexico via the United States, but the message was intercepted by the British Admiralty's Room 40, a group dedicated to signal analysis and cryptography.
05:25 Germany sent a telegram proposing an alliance with Mexico, in which Mexico would declare war on the United States and Germany would provide financial support and help Mexico regain lost territory, while also suggesting that Mexico invite Japan to join the war on Germany's side.
07:05 The British intercepted the Zimmerman Telegram and had to come up with a story to explain how they obtained it without revealing that they had cracked the German code.
08:40 The Americans were shown the Zimmerman Telegram and its code by the British, leading to its public release, an uproar in the country, and eventually the United States declaring war against Germany, which helped turn the tide in World War I.
10:13 The Germans miscalculated the potential outcomes of their plan, as Mexico would not have been able to successfully invade the United States and the negative effects of the United States joining the war outweighed any benefits for Germany.
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