“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Galveston in Galveston County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)

The Mexican Telegraph Company

The Zimmermann Telegram

The Mexican Telegraph Company - The Zimmermann Telegram Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Jim Evans, July 19, 2000
1. The Mexican Telegraph Company - The Zimmermann Telegram Marker
In 1917, with World War I at a stalemate, German military leaders adopted an aggressive strategy to strike any ships, even those of neutral nations, encountered in the Atlantic. As part of a campaign to hinder entry of the U.S. into the war, Germany's Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Arthur Zimmerman, signed off on a message to Mexican president Venustiano Carranza offering financial support and other considerations in return for Mexico's invasion of the American Southwest. Unable to hand deliver the message to Mexico's envoy, Germany sent it via transatlantic cables, but Britain had cut the German line, forcing a reliance on American cables. On Jan. 16, 1917, the Zimmerman telegram was transmitted from Germany to Washington, D.C., where the German Ambassador sent it on to Mexico City via the Mexican Telegraph Co. Trans-Gulf Cable, which entered Galveston near 19th Street beneath the seawall. A small building at 1819 Ave. O housed equipment which relayed the encoded telegram on to Mexico.

British intelligence agents, monitoring messages via the U.S. Embassy in London, intercepted and deciphered the telegram. They handed a copy
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to the U.S. Government on Feb 19. Upon reviewing the message, President Woodrow Wilson abandoned hopes of securing a peaceful conclusion to the war. He arranged for a copy of the telegram to be leaked to the press, thereby helping to accelerate the U.S. entrance into the war and the eventual victory for the allies. In the years following armistice in 1918, the Mexican Telegraph Co. merged with Western Union. The Galveston office remained open for 66 years, closing in 1949. To prevent demolition, the telegraph company building was relocated in 1995 and then restored.

Marker is the property of the State of Texas
Erected 2017 by Texas Historical Commission. (Marker Number 18753.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: CommunicationsWar, World I. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #28 Woodrow Wilson series list. A significant historical date for this entry is January 16, 1917.
Location. 29° 17.484′ N, 94° 48.158′ W. Marker is in Galveston, Texas, in Galveston County. Marker can be reached from Avenue North 1/2. The building and marker are inside a fenced and gated property. From the street it's largely hidden by trees. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 3328 1/2 Avenue N 1/2, Galveston TX 77550, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within
The Encrypted Zimmerman Telegram image. Click for full size.
From the U.S. National Archives
2. The Encrypted Zimmerman Telegram
Original message was sent from Germany’s Foreign Affairs Office to the German Embassy in Washington D.C. on January 16th. The German Embassy relayed it to Mexico City by typing it out on this telegram form and submitting it to the Western Union office in Washington on January 19th for transmission as a “Fast Day Message.”
walking distance of this marker. Site of the Home of Michel Branamour Menard (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Powhatan House (about 500 feet away); Galveston Artillery Club (approx. 0.2 miles away); Gail Borden, Jr. (approx. 0.2 miles away); Dr. Frederick K. and Lucy Adelaide Fisher House (approx. 0.2 miles away); Poole-Parker House (approx. ¼ mile away); Samuel May Williams (approx. ¼ mile away); Hagemann-Cobb House (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Galveston.
More about this marker. The building was moved from its original location to this property. Later it was restored by the Galveston Historical Society.

It seems odd a historical commission would restore a historic building and make it essentially inaccessible to visitors, but that's what's happened here.
Also see . . .
1. The Zimmerman Telegram. Library of Congress website entry (Submitted on July 20, 2020, by Jim Evans of Houston, Texas.) 

2. The Zimmerman Telegram at the World War website. Excerpt:
The secret to the British interception began years earlier. In 1914, with war imminent, the British had quickly dispatched a ship to cut Germany’s five trans-Atlantic cables and six underwater cables running between Britain and Germany. Soon after the war began, the British successfully tapped into overseas cable lines
The Mexican Telegraph Company Building and Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Jim Evans, July 19, 2000
3. The Mexican Telegraph Company Building and Marker
This building was recently restored by the Galveston Historical Society.
Germany borrowed from neutral countries to send communications. Britain began capturing large volumes of intelligence communications.

British code breakers worked to decrypt communication codes. In October of 1914, the Russian admiralty gave British Naval Intelligence (known as Room 40) a copy of the German naval codebook removed from a drowned German sailor’s body from the cruiser SMS Magdeburg. Room 40 also received a copy of the German diplomatic code, stolen from a German diplomat’s luggage in the Near East. By 1917, British Intelligence could decipher most German messages.
(Submitted on July 20, 2020, by Jim Evans of Houston, Texas.) 

3. British telegram to the U.S. disclosing the Zimmermann telegram. It is dated February 24. Excerpt:
Early in the war, the British Government obtained possession of a copy of the German cypher code used in the above message and have made it their business to obtain copies of Bernetorff’s cipher telegrams to Mexico, amongst others, which are sent back to London and deciphered here. This accounts for their being able to decipher this telegram from the German Government to their representative in Mexico and for the delay from January nineteenth until now in their receiving this information. ...

The copies of this and other telegrams were not obtained in Washington but were bought in Mexico.
(Submitted on January 2, 2021.)
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4. The Zimmermann Telegram at Wikipedia. Excerpt:
Revelation of the contents enraged Americans, especially after German Foreign Secretary Arthur Zimmermann publicly admitted on March 3 that the telegram was genuine, helping to generate support for the United States’ declaration of war on Germany in April. The decryption was described as the most significant intelligence triumph for Britain during World War I, and one of the earliest occasions on which a piece of signal intelligence influenced world events.
(Submitted on July 20, 2020, by Jim Evans of Houston, Texas.) 
Additional commentary.
1. English Translation of the Deciphered Zimmermann Telegram
The telegram was addressed to the German Legation (Embassy) in Mexico City.
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 Mexico] 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.

    — Submitted January 2, 2021.
Credits. This page was last revised on November 25, 2021. It was originally submitted on July 19, 2020, by Jim Evans of Houston, Texas. This page has been viewed 769 times since then and 78 times this year. Last updated on January 10, 2021, by Carl Gordon Moore Jr. of North East, Maryland. Photos:   1. submitted on July 19, 2020, by Jim Evans of Houston, Texas.   2. submitted on January 2, 2021, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio.   3. submitted on July 19, 2020, by Jim Evans of Houston, Texas. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.

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Apr. 16, 2024