Why did the United States break Diplomatic Relations with Germany in 1917?

Published: 30 June 2023

via the ViaTravelers.com web site


The Allied Powers and the Central Powers fought the First World War between 1914 and 1918. The countries that made up these alliances were primarily European countries, with Germany belonging to the Central Powers.

The US was neutral initially but eventually joined the war near its conclusion. In total, over 100,000 Americans died in World War I. So, why did the United States break Diplomatic Relations with Germany in 1917? Why did it take so long for the US to get involved?

First World War

World War I started on 28 July 1914 and ended on 11 November 1918. The war was fought between the Allied Powers (British Empire, France, Russian Empire, and eventually Italy and the US) on one side and Central Powers (Austria-Hungary, Germany & the Ottoman Empire).

The US stayed neutral for most of the war but eventually joined it in 1917. The United States had an important role in entering WWI, which involved a number of reasons. President Woodrow Wilson was one of the main promoters of entering WWI.

He had his ideas on democracy, freedom, and self-determination which he wanted to export to other countries. These are considered the most important reasons for joining the war against Germany in 1917.

Another reason is that Americans were steadily becoming more outraged by German acts of terrorism against civilians. The sinking of the Lusitania in 1915, a civilian British ocean liner, was a major factor in pushing the US closer to war. 123 Americans lost their lives in that attack.

Although it would still be two years before the US said enough was enough. The Zimmermann Telegram was also a factor in America entering WWI. This telegram was sent from German Foreign Minister Arthur Zimmermann to the Mexican government.

The Germans were trying to get Mexico to join the war and help them defeat America should the US decide to join the fight on the Allies’ side. If Mexico agreed, Germany would help them regain the territories they lost to America in the Mexican-American War.

The war ended in November 1918, and the Treaty of Versailles was signed in June 1919. This treaty forced Germany to sign an agreement to take full responsibility for starting the war and to pay heavy reparations to the Allied Powers.

Many speculate that the harshness of this treaty gave rise to Nazism in Germany, leading to World War II. So why did the US break ties and declare war on Germany? Let’s delve into it!

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