Britain cuts German Cable Communications 5 August 1914

In the early hours of 5 August 1914, only a few hours after war was declared, Britain carried out something that seemed to be minor, but was actually vital. A British cable ship severed five German overseas underwater cables, which passed from Emden through the English Channel to Vigo, Tenerife, the Azores and the USA

This cut direct German communications to outside Europe, most significantly to the United States. The British could now intercept German signals to their embassies. They were sent in code, but British codebreakers were eventually able to read them.

Most significantly, Britain intercepted the Zimmerman Telegram, sent to the German Ambassador to Mexico. If the USA went to war with Germany, he was to offer the Mexicans an alliance with the promise that they would receive Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. Its revelation helped to push the USA into war with Germany.



Filed under War History

15 responses to “Britain cuts German Cable Communications 5 August 1914

  1. Communications are the key element of any activity and most especially that of war. It seems to me that communications are often treated as a sideshow to action by those who seem to not to understand that communications are the mother of action.

    • Good point. A lot of people ignore vital aspects of war, such as communications and logistics. No point in having a great plan if you cannot communicate it to those who have to implement it.

  2. While I knew of the Zimmerman telegram I did not know the back story. Small things can indeed turn into rather big things. Thank you.

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