Friday, March 31, 2017

Today -100: March 31, 1917: Let the spy hunts begin!

NYC high school principals are ordered to hold a “patriotic meeting” on April 2nd. But the School Board is running into difficulties in implementing its plan to fire pacifist teachers: that wouldn’t actually be legal. Yet. The Board is now asking the Legislature for a law requiring an oath of allegiance, on pain of dismissal.

German Foreign Secretary Arthur Zimmermann defends the eponymous telegram, saying the offer of alliance was to be made to Mexico only in the event of a US-German war. Which isn’t quite true, since he sent a second telegram two days after Wilson broke off diplomatic relations, telling the ambassador to Mexico to make the approach immediately. Since British Naval Intelligence hadn’t made this telegram public (or, indeed, told the Americans about it), Zimmermann thinks, wrongly, that it wasn’t intercepted. He says Carranza was never actually approached, which is a lie.

The Reichstag votes to appoint a committee to investigate whether to democratize the constitution a bit. Making the cabinet responsible to the Reichstag rather than to the kaiser, that sort of thing. Of course this is a stalling action, but the Russian Revolution has created pressure, not only from German lefties, but from the fact that the war now looks more like a bunch of parliamentary democracies, more or less, fighting a bunch of, well, not democracies.

The Russian government says the Polish people should decide on their own form of government in an independent state, although it still talks about that Polish state being “bound to Russia by a free military union.” Germany, meanwhile, finding very few Poles joining the puppet military of its puppet Polish kingdom, is planning to start conscripting them.

Headline of the Day -100: 

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