Monday, April 30, 2018

Arthur Zimmermann

Arthur Zimmermann 1864 - 1940

 Arthur became famous for the Zimmermann Note, which was his telegram to the German diplomat in Mexico, giving the latter permission to propose to Mexican President Venustiano Carranza an alliance between Mexico and Germany against the United States.
The note mentioned that the Germans would aid Mexico in recovering Mexico's "lost territories Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona."
The Germans were struggling in the fight of World War I. They knew they would have a big military advantage if they were to employ unrestricted submarine warfare. But at the same time doing so would provoke the United States to enter the war on the side of Germany's enemies, the Allies.
Zimmermann figured it would be therefore a good idea if the US were perhaps distracted by a war with Mexico or Japan, or preferably both. He sent the message on January 16, 1917.
The telegram was intercepted and decoded, however, and made US President Woodrow Wilson rub his eyes twice. Five weeks later the US declared war on Germany, thus entering Word War I.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Isoroku Yamamoto

Isoroku Yamamoto 1884-1943
Isoroku Yamamoto was born Isoroku Takano. He changed his surname when the Yamamoto family offered to adopt him in 1916. The Yamamotos were in need of a son and heir. Isoroku was the youngest Takano son and was honored to take on the famous Yamamoto name.
Isoroku means five, ten, six in Japanese. That's because his dad was fifty-six years old when he was born. Isoroku was born on April 4, 1884, in Nagaoka, Japan.
Isoroku Yamamoto lived 59 years and was an admiral in the Japanese navy. He also worked as naval attaché at the Japanese embassy in Washington, D.C., and held several other jobs for the Japanese government.
Military strategy was his forte. Yamamoto was also very attentive to details and nothing came between himself and his duty.

Yamamoto was against getting into the Second World War and the war with the United States because he thought the US was too powerful. But it was not for him to decide.
So, once Japan made the decision, he knew that his country's only chance for victory lay in a surprise attack that would cripple the American naval forces in the Pacific. He therefore conceived the plan to attack Pearl Harbor.

Isoroku Yamamoto's Weaknesses
Isoroku underestimated submarine warfare on commercial targets. Another big mistake was that he didn't act decisively when he was told that the Americans had deciphered Japan's codes.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Xerxes I

Xerxes I  519-465 BC

Oriental Institute, the University of Chicago

Here is a map of Persepolis Terrace, the entire palace complex. Darius I the Great started construction on this palace project around 518 BC. It was laid in ruins by Alexander the Great around 331 BC.

Other Names for Xerxes I
Xerxes is believed to have been the king Ahasuerus who is mentioned in the bible book Esther. Xerxes' old Persian name was Khshayarsha.

Xerxes had an elder brother, Artabazanes (or Artabanus). Why then didn't Artabazanes become king instead? Two reasons:
First reason: They had different mothers. Xerxes was the son of Darius I and Atossa. Artabazanes was the son of Darius and another woman, not Atossa. Let's remember, Atossa was the princess, Darius I was only a noble. Xerxes, therefore, was of royal blood. Artabazanes wasn't.
Second reason: Artabazanes was born before Darius I became king. Xerxes was the first son born after Darius became king.
Thus, Xerxes became king.
Xerxes went to conquer the Greeks with an army of approx. 360,000 men and 800 ships. Herodotus says it was 5,000,000 troops out of 50 nations, but you can't always take the good man literally. Fact is, it was a huge army.
The march from what is today Turkey to Greece was a major operation. A bridge was built over what is today's Dardanelles Strait and an important victory was won at the Battle of Thermopylae  in mid-August 480 BC. It was the destruction of the three hundred Spartans.

Also in August 480 BC, the naval Battle of Artemisium was fought for three days and won by the Persians. Indecisive actions between the Persian and Greek fleets near Artemisium, located on the north coast of Euboea, came to an end when the Greek vessels withdrew southward after having received the news of the Greek defeat at Thermopylae.

Later that year, on September 21, 480 BC, Xerxes sacked Athens.
However, the huge size of Xerxes' army had its weak point: logistics. The Greeks had major difficulties supplying their troops and, after a defeat in the naval Battle off the Salamis   near Athens on September 29, 480 BC, Xerxes was eager to get back home ASAP.
Xerxes left Mardonius in charge of fighting the Greeks and returned to Asia.

Back home in Persia, Xerxes launched a huge construction program.
Meanwhile in 479 BC, Mardonius and his Persian troops lost the Battle of Plataea, in which Mardonius was killed. Another Greek victory was secured at the Battle of Mycale. The Greeks were on the roll.

Damage assessment: The Persians lost all their conquests in Europe, and many on the coast of Asia.
Continuing court intrigues finally found Xerxes himself a victim. Xerxes was murdered by the chief of his guard, Artabanus.
Xerxes's son Artaxerxes I succeeded him to the throne.

Why Did Xerxes I Want to Invade Greece?
Xerxes wasn't the first to think of an invasion of the Greeks. His father, Darius I, was defeated in the Battle of Marathon in September 490 BC. Darius prepared right away for a vengeance expedition against Greece but died before he could carry it out.

Exactly ten years later, in September 480 BC, Xerxes pillaged Athens.