C. M. Mayo, a wonderful friend, incredible writer, and intellectual power house, found this forgotten little book by Arnold Krumm-Heller called Fuer Freiheit und Recht: Meine Erlebnisse aus dem Mexikanischen Buergerkriege (For Liberty and Justice: My Adventures in the Mexican Civil War). Krumm-Heller was a colorful personality, Grand Wizard of Mexico's Freemasons, German agent, and author of dozens of books. 

 Arnold Krumm-Heller in the uniform of a Mexican Army Colonel, 1915

Arnold Krumm-Heller in the uniform of a Mexican Army Colonel, 1915

Fuer Freiheit und Recht seems to have been written and published in Germany in 1916 as a propaganda piece targeting the German government to embrace Venustiano Carranza. In 1916, Carranza sent Krumm-Heller to Germany as "military attache" in Berlin. In reality he became Carranza's Liaison Officer to the German government. Originally, Krumm-Heller was supposed to stay one year. On the way there, the British arrested him. It took major international wrangling to release Krumm-Heller to continue to Germany. The British vowed to arrest him as a German spy if they caught him again. As a result, he remained in Germany for the duration of the war, offering his services to the General Staff.

The book starts with the history of Mexico leading up to Francisco Madero. The author describes in detail the reasons Diaz fell. He cites corruption, the loss of popular support of the Cientificos, and the "Latifundienuebel" (the hancienda cancer) as reasons for the Revolution. He decries the lack of a non-clerical legal system, such as the fact that divorce was illegal. Krumm-Heller emphasizes the influence of Germans on Mexican history, the works of Alexander von Humboldt (which he translated into Spanish) as positive, and the speculation of German businessmen taking "millions" out of the country as negative. He particularly mentions a "certain Rattner [sic], who claimed to be German, but was in fact Russian." Abraham Ratner was Huerta's arms procurement chief in the U.S. It is a great example of the propagandist nature of the book if you notice that people like von Humboldt and Ratner are mentioned in the same paragraph. In the last paragraph of the chapter Krumm-Heller writes: "I see in Militarism the highest moral state of a peoples' education and dedication for the holiest mankind owns, his Fatherland." He espouses German militarism as a solution for Mexico's social and educational deficiencies.

In the next chapter Krumm-Heller describes Madero as a Democrat and great political agitator. He marvels at Madero's knack for political organizing covering a country "four times as large as the German Empire." Small wonder, he adds, that the people wanted Madero to run for president. The corruption of Diaz' dictatorship and Madero's genius which was supported by Mexicans of all classes, down to the smallest "Indian villages" made his eventual victory inescapable. Krumm-Heller admires Madero. He describes him: "Of small frame, robust physique, neither fat nor skinny, the President radiated the energy of youth. His movements were easy and nervous; the round, brown eyes shot rays of sympathetic light. The face round, features rough, the beard thick and black, cut in angles, he always smiled with dignity. In his face thoughts mirrored that found expression in his gestures. Depending on whether he thought about something, talked or was silent, whether he walked or stood, listened or interrupted, he moved his arms, fixed his focus or looked into the distance and always smiled, smiled without fail. But his smile is good, deep, free, magnanimous; a smile the exact opposite of that of Taft. It was the gesture of a whole regime that went down with him." p. 25.

From the description of a Christ-like Madero Krumm-Heller goes straight into the Decena Tragica which he personally experienced. Not a sentence about the short-lived government of Madero. He describes the horrible carnage and destruction of the beloved capital of Mexico. He does not go into much detail on how close he was to the president and his staff at the time. He does mention "my friend S.," which might have been Felix A. Sommerfeld, fellow German agent and personal friend of Francisco Madero. As a matter of fact Krumm-Heller was a member of the Mexican secret service and reported to Sommerfeld. After Madero's murder, Krumm-Heller has to flee (an indication of his true occupation). In the next chapter it becomes clear who the only ideological heir to Madero could be: Venustiano Carranza. Krumm-Heller reproduces in detail  the entire Constitutionalist program. Carranza is presented as a courageous senator who fought Porfirio Diaz, and as a governor was beloved by his people. He "wanted to slay the serpent of discord and destroy together with Villa the excesses of the conservative party. He kept in mind that he had to realize Madero's ideals and thereby save Mexico." p. 89.

Krumm-Heller's adventures take him into the camp of the Constitutionalists. His reasons are encapsulated in this quote: "Madero had been arrested, and I received orders [from Sommerfeld?] to make the last arrangements for his departure on a Cuban warship, and thus save his life. As I described earlier, these inhumane power mongers did not keep their word and assassinated Madero; my beloved great friend, with whom I was connected spiritually through an eight year long friendship, based on our common studies." p. 93. In Guanajuato Krumm-Heller joines the Constitutionalist army as a propagandist "to urge the residents of Guanajuato  to join us with fiery speeches, and help the cause of justice and common good to victory, and not rest until the murderers and traitors who deposed the president and apostle of freedom Francisco I. Madero are getting their just punishment." p. 95. As a result of his activities Huertistas capture him  and he is condemned to death. According to Krumm-Heller he escapes after a harrowing mock execution and month-long incarceration. The savior is Eugen Motz, who intervenes as the Chilean Vice Consul. Supposedly, Krumm-Heller had refused the help of the German envoy. While the arrest of Krumm-Heller is documented, his stay of execution and release did result from the intervention of the German government. After being released, Krumm-Heller goes into exile to New York where he starts working as a doctor. He describes in detail how he despises American culture. He writes: "At a European court high class guests came to a party. Diplomats and princes showed off their medals. Also an American soap-prince found a way to smuggle himself into the gathering. On his chest he wore a huge, unusual looking, shining star. All the guests were wondering what kind of medal this could be. The host, driven by his curiosity finally had the courage to ask: 'Excuse me, which country bestowed this medal on you?' The Yankee dryly but full of self esteem replied: That is my own invention! Typical American! If an American does not reach the high goals of his desires in a comfortable and natural way, he moves ahead with force." p. 115. 

Krumm-Heller moves on to become a physician in General Alvaro Obregon's army. He lauds the typical Mexican soldier as brave, disciplined, and tough, but emphasizes that it is critical "to keep the flanks open, otherwise he will loose his composure."  He describes among many battles which he witnessed, the occupation of Veracruz and the fact that the German cruiser HMS Dresden saved thousands of American citizens in Tampico. As a matter of fact, in 1915 Captain Koehler of the Dresden indeed received a commendation from the American president for his actions in Tampico at the time of the Veracruz invasion. When the Constitutionalists conquer Mexico City in the summer of 1914, Krumm-Heller chooses not to participate in the lavish festivities but rather goes to the grave of his fallen friend and idol, Francisco Madero. 

The rest of the book details the struggles of the Constitutionalists against the corrupt forces of Conservatism, to which also Pancho Villa had fallen prey. Krumm-Heller does not describe his crucial role as chief of artillery in the battle of Celaya and as military adviser to Alvaro Obregon who started using German military tactics effectively against Villa. Rather, the author describes the heroism of Obregon, who, after his arm had been severed, "still bleeding" encourages his troops to attack. Krumm-Heller notably comes back to the United States in 1915 to run Carranza's propaganda effort in the Southwest. His "lecture tour" coincides with violent unrest in the border region under the Pan de San Diego. As Carranza takes power and becomes the provisional, de facto President of Mexico, things are on the mend. Krumm-Heller lists in detail agrarian reform laws, labor protection, stabilizing the monetary system and other actions that end the need for revolution. He describes in the chapter "the great men of Mexico," Obregon, Cabrera, Aguilar, Rojas, Azcona, and the Mexican ambassador Jose Almaraz Harris who wrote the introduction to the book. Finally, he writes an appeal to the Germans in Mexico who he admonishes to support the Carranza presidency and participate in the flowering of Mexico that will undoubtedly be the result of the new regime. 

Krumm-Heller sent one of the first copies of this book to the German Chancellor von Bethmann Hollweg. Reportedly, Foreign Secretary Zimmermann read the book and "with reservations as a result of some language issues" passed it on to Emperor Wilhelm II to read.

2 Comments