The British Blockade of Germany should be considered more deadly – although there are several opinions on that matter. For the history of existence of U-boats, they have sunk a significant number of merchant ships, the blockade was a powerful strategy that, among others, led Germany to its demise in World War 1 (Grainger, 2020). Marine blockade was a strategy that the British Empire has been successfully utilizing since the early 18th century to establish its “naval supremacy” (National Archives). It played a significant role in the outcome of the WW1 – for the duration of the entire war, British navy was “intercepting and detaining thousands of merchant ships” bound for Germany (National Archives). This way, Britain and the Entente was planning to starve Germany its defeat.
As the hunger blockade progressed, it had more and more impact on the German nation. The threat was rising, so that “by 1915, German imports had fallen by 55%”, mostly because the fertilizers, vital for agriculture, and resources such as metals, were shut off by the blockade (National Archives). A year later, ersatz products were introduced to subsidize minimum dietary requirements, although it was futile (National Archives). Even in the light of these events, Germans were so patriotic, that such devastation of the country’s economy was not the prime reason of their capitulation.
However, the main reason of the US entering the war was particularly the German counter strategy to the blockade – unrestricted submarine warfare. Although, many historians are still debating as to what exactly was the prime reason the US entry. From 1916 to 1917, as President Wilson was receiving the news about German sinking of countless of merchant ships, with the loss of US citizens, he was hesitant to enter the war (Office of the Historian). Even “especially in light of his efforts to avoid war in 1915 after the sinking of the British passenger liners Lusitania”, which resulted in the death of 131 citizens (Office of the Historian). It is possible to say that the Zimmerman note was the determinative German move after which the USA joined the war – mainly because after it reached the press, the public opinion was “swayed in support of a declaration of war” (Office of the Historian). Therefore, both of these factors can be named critical, however, the Zimmerman telegram was the last drop.
Grainger, J. D. (2020). The Maritime Blockade of Germany in the Great War: The Northern Patrol. Routledge.
The Blockade of Germany. (n/d). The National Archives.