Today in History, February 26, 1917:
President Woodrow Wilson is informed of the “Zimmermann Telegram”.
German Foreign Secretary Arthur Zimmermann had sent the telegram to the German Ambassador to Mexico, Count Johann von Bernstorff, authorizing him to offer Mexico a great deal of money if they would become allies with Germany should America enter the war.
To top it off, Germany offered to give Mexico Texas, New Mexico and Arizona should they agree.
Wilson ordered American shipping to be armed and authorized the release of the telegram to the media. News of the treachery enraged the American public, who were already angry over German submarine attacks on American ships. By April 6th Wilson had asked for and received a declaration of war.
Today in History, February 26: 1935:
Adolph Hitler secretly signed a decree creating the Luftwaffe, the German Air Force, and names Hermann Goering it’s commander. At the end of WWI the Treaty of Versailles signed between the combatants, including Germany, declared that Germany could have no military air service.
Hitler quietly built up what would become a larger, and more modern, air force while the rest of Europe and America let their forces languish.
Lufthansa, the civilian airline that was permitted, was used to provide flight training to the men that would become Luftwaffe pilots.
By September 1939 when the German Blitzkrieg swept across Poland, Denmark, Norway, Holland, Belgium and France, the Luftwaffe consisted of 1,000 modern fighter planes and 1,050 modern bombers.
This build up, and the build up of the Wehrmacht, all took place while the future allies practiced appeasement and protested verbally (the British had built up the Royal Air Force, but it was still much smaller than the Luftwaffe).
Today in History, February 26: 1919 – President Woodrow Wilson designates the Grand Canyon as a National Park. His nemesis and predecessor, President Theodore Roosevelt, had designated the Grand Canyon as a National Monument in 1908. Thanks, guys!