Ken Beaton: ‘There never was a good war’

Arthur Zimmermann was the State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the German Empire from Nov. 22, 1916 to Aug. 6, 1917. He wrote the Jan. 17, 1917 Zimmermann telegram stabbing America in the back. He was born Oct. 5, 1864, and he died June 6, 1940.

Arthur Zimmermann was the State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the German Empire from Nov. 22, 1916 to Aug. 6, 1917. He wrote the Jan. 17, 1917 Zimmermann telegram stabbing America in the back. He was born Oct. 5, 1864, and he died June 6, 1940.

Today’s Final Jeopardy answer is: “The January 19, 1917 telegram instructing Germany’s Ambassador Eckardt in Mexico City to propose a funded military alliance with Germany promising Mexico the states of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, totaling 496,788 square miles.”

Did you write, “What was the Zimmermann telegram?” More on the Zimmermann telegram:

The Great War, AKA World War I, began in Sarajevo, Bosnia. The heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and his wife Sophie were shot and killed by a Serbian nationalist, Gavrilo Princip on June 28, 1914. Serbian nationalists wanted to be free of the Austria-Hungarian government ruling over Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Franz Ferdinand’s assassination was similar to a chain reaction of a freeway. The Austria-Hungary government used the incident to confront Serbian nationalism. The entire situation was convoluted with Russia supporting Serbia. Austria-Hungary waited until they received assurances from Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm II. The Austria-Hungary leaders feared Russia’s intervention; the Russians were allied with France and possibly Great Britain.

Once Austria-Hungary had Germany’s support, the dual monarchy sent an impossible-to-accept ultimatum to Serbia. Serbia ordered its army to mobilize and requested assistance from Russia. On July 28, 1914, a month after the Archduke’s death, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. Within a week the world was at war; Russia, Belgium, France, Great Britain and Serbia versus Austria-Hungary and Germany.

To summarize, the Great War had become a stalemate for more than two years. There was a total of 25,000 miles of trenches. On Jan. 19, 1917, Arthur Zimmermann sent a coded telegram to Heinrich von Eckardt, Germany’s ambassador to Mexico.

“We intend to begin on the first of February unrestricted submarine warfare. We shall endeavor in spite of this to keep the United States of America neutral. In the event of this not succeeding, we make Mexico a proposal of alliance on the following basis: make war together, make peace together, generous financial support and an understanding on our part that Mexico is to reconquer the lost territory in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. The settlement in detail is left to you. You will inform the President of the above most secretly as soon as the outbreak of war with the United States of America is certain and add the suggestion that he should, on his own initiative, invite Japan to immediate adherence and at the same time mediate between Japan and ourselves. Please call the President’s attention to the fact that the ruthless employment of our submarines now offers the prospect of compelling England in a few months to make peace.


The British Intelligence Service intercepted and decoded the Zimmermann telegram. On March 1, 1917, President Wilson was greatly disturbed after reading the telegram. During the month of March 1917 four more American merchant ships were sunk in British waters. On April 1, 1917, a U-boat sunk the U.S. steamer, Aztec, without warning in British waters. Twenty-eight Americans died. The next day President Wilson addressed both houses of Congress. The President proposed to “Make the world safe for Democracy.” Ninety-six hours later, April 6, Congress declared war on Germany.

The world changed between 1914 and 1920. Political disruptions contributed to the fall of four imperial dynasties: Austria-Hungary, Germany, Russia and Turkey. There was the rise of one imperial dynasty, Japan. The Great War used new technologies: aerial combat, chemical weapons, machine guns, radio communications and tanks. Nine million men were killed in combat with 21 millioin men wounded, which created social change. Millions of women filled workforce vacancies and became self-supporting.

On Jan. 17, 1920, the 18th Amendment, “Prohibition,” took effect. America was officially “dry” for 13 years until the 21st Amendment, the repeal of Prohibition.

After years of lobbying for the right to vote and protesting for the right to vote, four women became “political prisoners.” Finally, on Aug. 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment was ratified granting women the right to vote.

Returning American troops, “Doughboys,” had carnal knowledge how French women kissed differently from American women. The hit song, “How Ya Gonna to Keep ‘em Down on the Farm (After they’ve seen Paree)?” was sung by Eddie Cantor.

The Spanish flu epidemic began at Fort Riley, Kan., on March 8, 1918. Within two years the flu was responsible for 50 million deaths worldwide.

Germany thought it was signing a peace treaty similar to President Wilson’s Fourteen Points. Instead, Germany was forced to sign a punishing treaty causing political turmoil and violent protests. The worldwide Depression combined with German pride gave Adolf Hitler the opportunity to rise to power. Less than 21 years after the signed Armistice, Sept. 1, 1939, Germany demonstrated to the world “Lighting War” in Poland.

During World War I, Palestinians fought with the British against the Turks. The McMahon Agreement promised Palestine to the Palestinians. The Balfour Declaration promised Palestine to the Jews. A hundred years later the Palestine problem hasn’t been resolved!

“There never was a good war, or a bad peace,” said Ben Franklin.

Ken Beaton of Carson City contributes periodically to the Nevada Appeal.


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