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Zimmermann Telegram: The Original Draft

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This article presents the original draft of the Zimmermann telegram from 1917 in facsimile. Its various annotations provide interesting insights, such as the idea to promise California to Japan and instructions concerning trans- mission and encryption. Further documents clarify how the telegram was sent and put various alternatives suggested in the literature to rest. The political back- ground and fallout in Germany are discussed, as well.
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With Britain by late 1916 facing the prospect of an economic crisis and increasingly dependent on the US, rival factions in Asquith's government battled over whether or not to seek a negotiated end to the First World War. In this riveting new account, Daniel Larsen tells the full story for the first time of how Asquith and his supporters secretly sought to end the war. He shows how they supported President Woodrow Wilson's efforts to convene a peace conference and how British intelligence, clandestinely breaking American codes, aimed to sabotage these peace efforts and aided Asquith's rivals. With Britain reading and decrypting all US diplomatic telegrams between Europe and Washington, these decrypts were used in a battle between the Treasury, which was terrified of looming financial catastrophe, and Lloyd George and the generals. This book's findings transform our understanding of British strategy and international diplomacy during the war.
Chapter
With Britain by late 1916 facing the prospect of an economic crisis and increasingly dependent on the US, rival factions in Asquith's government battled over whether or not to seek a negotiated end to the First World War. In this riveting new account, Daniel Larsen tells the full story for the first time of how Asquith and his supporters secretly sought to end the war. He shows how they supported President Woodrow Wilson's efforts to convene a peace conference and how British intelligence, clandestinely breaking American codes, aimed to sabotage these peace efforts and aided Asquith's rivals. With Britain reading and decrypting all US diplomatic telegrams between Europe and Washington, these decrypts were used in a battle between the Treasury, which was terrified of looming financial catastrophe, and Lloyd George and the generals. This book's findings transform our understanding of British strategy and international diplomacy during the war.
Chapter
The use of wireless telegraphy – radio – during World War I marked the advent of modern cryptology. For the first time, commanders were sending enciphered messages to front line troops and for the first time, the enemy had an enormous amount of ciphertext to work with. This spurred the development of more complicated codes and ciphers and eventually led to the development of machine cryptography. World War I is the first time that the Americans had a formal cryptanalytic organization. It is the beginning, in all the nations involved in the conflict, of the bureaucracy of secrecy. In the United States it marks the first appearance of the two founding fathers of modern American cryptology, Herbert O. Yardley and William F. Friedman. This chapter introduces Herbert Yardley and William Friedman and examines some of the cryptographic systems used during World War I.
Article
Historians for decades have placed Room 40, the First World War British naval signals intelligence organization, at the centre of narratives about the British anticipation of and response to the Easter Rising in Ireland in 1916. A series of crucial decrypts of telegrams between the German embassy in Washington and Berlin, it has been believed, provided significant advance intelligence about the Rising before it took place. This article upends previous accounts by demonstrating that Room 40 possessed far less advance knowledge about the Rising than has been believed, with most of the supposedly key decrypts not being generated until months after the Rising had taken place.
Article
The invention of the one-time pad is generally credited to Gilbert S. Vernam and Joseph O. Mauborgne. We show that it was invented about 35 years earlier by a Sacramento banker named Frank Miller. We identify which Frank Miller it was, and speculate ...
Article
During the First World War, Persia was the scene of early British cryptanalytical successes against German diplomatic codes and ciphers under the auspices of Room 47 one of the suite of rooms which for convenience have been listed under “Room 40 OB” or the Old Building of the British Admiralty in London. It is the contention of this article, based on newly discovered archival material, that there is a strong, and previously undetected link with the Zimmermann Telegram, which David Kahn has called “the greatest intelligence coup of all time.”
Article
Edward Bell (1882–1924), the American diplomat who dealt with British intelligence in the matter of the Zimmermann telegram, which pushed the United States into World War I, has been unknown in all but his name. This note offers a brief biography and photograph. It prints two unpublished memoranda that Bell wrote giving his inside story of the telegram, written to explain why an author should not reveal its solution. Also appended are a memo about that solution and its disclosure to the Americans by the telegram's main British cryptanalyst and a note revealing the ignorance of the German minister in Mexico about how the telegram came to Allied knowledge.
Article
The Zimmermann telegram of 1917, the attempt of the German government to bring Mexico into World War I on the side of the Central Powers, is a well-known diplomatic episode because it is generally conceded to be one of the series of factors which convinced President Woodrow Wilson of the efficacy of abandoning his policy of neutrality. In return for her co-operation, and upon the successful conclusion of the war, Mexico was to “recover the lost territory in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona.” On March 1, 1917, when the incident was recorded in the United States press and before either the State Department or the White House issued a confirmation or a denial, many congressmen and a good percentage of the United States public considered the note to be a brazen forgery and a great hoax. Had they realized that Foreign Minister Arthur Zimmermann’s proposal to Venustiano Carranza was not a bold and newly devised scheme but rather the climax of several years of intrigue with various Mexican officials and exile groups and had they been aware that the idea of restoring the territory lost in the middle of the nineteenth century was a Mexican rather than a German idea, there would have been but little reason to dispute the validity of the document in question.
Article
The following paper is the text of a lecture given by Sir Alfred Ewing (F.R.S. 1887), then Principal of Edinburgh University, to the Edinburgh Philosophical Institution on 13 December 1927, under the title ‘Some Special War Work’. The text was not published at the time because of security objections by the Admiralty; Ewing was, however, ‘certain that the narrative had enough historical value to justify its existence in print’ ( The Life of Sir Alfred Ewing , p. 246), also commenting ‘it would be nice for the grandchildren to have later’. Through the courtesy of his great-grandson, Mr D. J. Wills, a copy of the lecture text has recently been made available to Notes and Records : it is reproduced here because of its value as a personal account by Ewing of the initiation and development of the famous Room 40 of the British Admiralty in World War I, leading to the decrypting of the Zimmermann telegram in 1917, of which David Kahn wrote in The Codebreakers in 1966: ‘never before or since has so much turned upon the solution of a secret message’ for it was decisive in bringing the United States into the war.