ARTHUR ZIMMERMANN Biography - Polititians


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Name: Arthur Zimmermann                                                           
Born: 5 October 1864                                                             
Died: 6 June 1940                                                                 
Arthur Zimmermann (October 5, 1864 - June 6, 1940) was State Secretary for       
Foreign Affairs of the German Empire from November 22, 1916, until his           
resignation on August 6, 1917. His name is associated with the Zimmermann         
Telegram during World War I. However, he was also closely involved in plans to   
support an Irish rebellion, an Indian rebellion, and to help the Communists       
undermine Tsarist Russia.                                                         
He was born in Marggrabova (now part of Olecko, Mazury, Poland) in East Prussia, 
and died of pneumonia in Berlin. He studied law from 1884 to 1887 in Königsberg, 
East Prussia, and Leipzig. A period as a junior lawyer followed and later he     
received his doctorate of law. In 1893, he took up a career in diplomacy and     
entered the consular service in Berlin. He arrived in China in 1896 (Canton in   
1898), and rose to the rank of consul in 1900. While stationed in the Far East,   
he witnessed the Boxer Rebellion in China.                                       
Later he was called to the Foreign Office, became Under Secretary of State in     
1911, and on November 24, 1916, he accepted his confirmation as Secretary of     
State, succeeding Gottlieb von Jagow in this position. Actually, he had assumed   
a large share of his superior's negotiations with foreign envoys for several     
years prior to his appointment because of von Jagow's reservedness in office. He 
was the first non-aristocrat to serve as foreign secretary.                       
As acting secretary he had also taken part in the so-called Kronrat, the         
deliberations in 1914, with Kaiser William II and Chancellor Theobald von         
Bethmann Hollweg, in which the decision was taken to support Austria-Hungary     
after the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria at Sarajevo,     
which ultimately was to lead to the outbreak of war. He later disavowed the name 
Kronrat since it was the Kaiser's opinion that was decisive in the discussion,   
but with which Bethmann Hollweg and Zimmermann concurred.                         
In late 1914 Zimmermann was visited by Roger Casement, the Irish revolutionary.   
A plan was laid to land 25,000 soldiers in the west of Ireland with 75,000       
rifles. However the German general staff did not agree. In 1916 Casement         
returned to Ireland in a U-boat and was captured and executed. A German ship     
renamed the "Aud", flying Norwegian colours, shipped 20,000 rifles to the south   
Irish coast but it failed to link up with the rebels and was scuttled. Planning   
on this support, a minority of the Irish volunteers launched the Easter Rising   
in Dublin. Though the Rising failed, its political effect led on to the Anglo-Irish
war in 1919-21 and the formation of the Irish Free State.                         
On August 6, 1917, he resigned as foreign secretary and was succeeded by Richard 
von Kühlmann.                                                                   
One of the causes of his resignation was the famous telegram he sent on January   
16, 1917. Two-and a half years into World War I, the United States had           
maintained a status of strict neutrality while the Allied armies had been         
fighting those of the Central Powers in the trenches of northern France and       
Belgium. Although President Woodrow Wilson had been re-elected – winning the   
election on the slogan, "He kept us out of the war" – it became increasingly   
difficult to maintain that position.                                             
After the Royal Navy had been engaged in a successful naval blockade against all 
German shipping for some time, the German Supreme High Command concluded that     
only a total submarine offensive would break the stranglehold. Although the       
decision was made on January 9, 1917, the Americans were not informed of the     
operation until January 31. The Germans abrogated their Sussex pledge (not to     
sink merchant ships without due warning and to save human lives wherever         
possible) and began an unrestricted U-boat campaign on February 1, 1917. Since   
it was obvious that US shipping would also come under attack in the course of     
this operation, it became just a matter of time before the USA was drawn into     
the conflict.                                                                     
See Zimmermann telegram for a detailed description of the telegram and the       
events surrounding it.