Paul von Hintze (13 February 1864, in Schwedt/Oder – 19 August 1941, in Meran) was a German naval officer, diplomat, and politician who served as Foreign Minister of Germany in the last stages of World War I, from July to October 1918.
Paul Hintze was born in 1864 in the little town of Schwedt approximately eighty miles northeast of Berlin. The Hintze family was part of the hardworking German middle class of the Prussian country towns. Schwedt only had ten thousand inhabitants but because the city is located on the Oder River it benefited from trade. Paul's father owned a tobacco plant, making cigars of the raw tobacco he imported. He also had a seat in the City Council. The Hintze family was one of the best regarded and wealthiest in town. Paul attended the humanistic Gymnasium (high school) and graduated with a baccalaureate in 1882. Rather than serving the mandatory year in the military, he joined the navy as an eighteen-year-old. Paul struck his superiors as very smart and very tough. After basic training on the school ship Prinz Adalbert, Hintze sailed the seven seas for the next twelve years, in which he saw the coasts of Africa, the Middle East, North and South America. In 1894 the navy lieutenant (Kapitänleutnant) studied at the Naval Academy at Mürwik, a school for which very few officers had the honor of admission.
Schwedt is a town in northeastern Brandenburg, Germany. With the official status of a Große kreisangehörige Stadt, it is the largest town of the Uckermark district, located near the Oder River close to the border with Poland.
Among the many that trained and studied at the Naval Academy in Kiel there were several graduates worth mentioning for this story: Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz (then Captain Tirpitz) graduated in 1865, von Hintze (then without noble title) in 1896. Karl Boy-Ed, eight years von Hintze's junior, joined the class of 1894. After serving in active duty in the Far East, Boy-Ed became German Naval Attaché in Washington in 1912 and worked for then Ambassador von Hintze in his partial responsibility for Mexico. Franz von Rintelen (although he never had a noble title), the son of a well-known Berlin banker, graduated in 1905. Rintelen was to become a notorious German sabotage agent in the United States in World War I. All three worked for Grand Admiral von Tirpitz who became the loudest voice clamoring for unrestricted submarine warfare in the Great War. After Paul Hintze completed his studies at the Naval Academy in 1896, he joined the Naval Command in Berlin.
Alfred Peter Friedrich von Tirpitz was a German Grand Admiral, Secretary of State of the German Imperial Naval Office, the powerful administrative branch of the German Imperial Navy from 1897 until 1916. Prussia never had a major navy, nor did the other German states before the German Empire was formed in 1871. Tirpitz took the modest Imperial Navy and, starting in the 1890s, turned it into a world-class force that could threaten the Royal Navy. His navy, however, was not strong enough to confront the British successfully in the First World War; the one great engagement at sea, the Battle of Jutland, ended in a draw with both sides claiming victory. Tirpitz turned to submarine warfare, which antagonised the United States. He was dismissed in 1916 and never regained power.
Karl Boy-Ed was the naval attaché to the German embassy in Washington during World War I.
Captain Franz Dagobert Johannes von Rintelen was a German Naval Intelligence officer in the United States during World War I.
In 1898, Rear Admiral Tirpitz commissioned navy captain Hintze to join the East Asian battle group as a "Flaggleutnant," the liaison officer to the German Imperial Naval High Command. In this capacity Hintze faced an outraged Admiral George Dewey when the German navy obstructed Dewey's efforts to subdue the Spanish in the Philippines in the Spanish–American War. German ships had operated so close to the U.S. navy that Dewey had to employ searchlights, which gave away the American positions to the Spanish. Dewey also had declared a blockade and accordingly expected any naval vessel to allow search parties to board. Naturally the proud German navy rejected this infringement on international law. Hintze never commented on his confrontation with Dewey, which must have been so heated that news stories about it could be found twenty years later. According to newspapers, Dewey told the German naval officer "if he [German Admiral Otto von Diederichs] wants a fight he can have it now."Cooler heads prevailed. Rather than shooting out their differences, the German fleet found a way to compromise with the Americans and eventually left the Philippine theater. Ambassador Johann Heinrich von Bernstorff commented on the affair in his 1920 memoirs. According to the ambassador, the underlying cause of the aggression was that Germany tried to "acquire" the Philippine islands after the U.S. had declared it did not want to hold on to them in the long term. "[A] misunderstanding had occurred, as a result of which the Berlin Foreign Office had acted in perfect good faith. In the public mind in the United States, however, the feeling still rankled that Germany had wished to make a demonstration against their Government." It was unfortunate that Hintze had to find himself in the middle of this "misunderstanding."
The German Imperial Naval High Command was an office of the German Empire which existed from 1 April 1889 until 14 March 1899 to command the German Imperial Navy. A similarly named office existed in the Prussian Navy and the Kriegsmarine of Nazi Germany.
George Dewey was Admiral of the Navy, the only person in United States history to have attained the rank. He is best known for his victory at the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish–American War.
The Spanish–American War was an armed conflict between Spain and the United States in 1898. Hostilities began in the aftermath of the internal explosion of USS Maine in Havana harbor in Cuba, leading to U.S. intervention in the Cuban War of Independence. The war led to emergence of U.S. predominance in the Caribbean region, and resulted in U.S. acquisition of Spain's Pacific possessions. That led to U.S. involvement in the Philippine Revolution and ultimately in the Philippine–American War.
In 1903, the navy dispatched their thirty-nine-year-old and experienced naval captain Hintze to the German embassy in Saint Petersburg. "His social suaveness...his empathy for the idiosyncrasies of other people made him quickly establish friendly relationships."He had been a popular commander at sea. As the new naval attaché to St. Petersburg Hintze occupied a critical position in the embassy: Emperor Wilhelm II became extraordinarily interested in reports from Tirpitz’ protégé. Hintze's assessment of Russian politics and the quality of his intelligence soon caused the Kaiser to use Hintze for most sensitive missions between the German government and the Russian Czar. Never trusting of the Foreign Office, the Emperor preferred communication with his cousin "Nikki" to go through naval attaché Hintze. In 1905, Hintze joined the two emperors in a summit meeting in the Swedish city of Bjoerko. A year later Hintze received the title "Flügeladjutant." This promotion, in a roundabout way, made him the direct representative of the German Emperor in Russia, a position that in many ways was more powerful than that of the ambassador. Hintze's close relationship with the two emperors and the circumvention of the Foreign Office by the Kaiser made him a long-term target of career diplomats in the Reich. In 1908, Wilhelm II made Hintze into a nobleman with the title of Baron that could be inherited. As such, the middle class tobacco merchants of Schwedt became nobility. Von Hintze also received the promotion to rear admiral that year.
Saint Petersburg is Russia's second-largest city after Moscow, with 5 million inhabitants in 2012, part of the Saint Petersburg agglomeration with a population of 6.2 million (2015). An important Russian port on the Baltic Sea, it has a status of a federal subject.
As the German ambassador to Mexico, Karl Buenz, left his post as the result of an illness, Emperor Wilhelm II was on the outlook for a fitting successor. The situation in Mexico had become critical as the result of the Mexican Revolution that had broken out in 1910. The choice fell on von Hintze, especially because of his military background. The new ambassador was dispatched not only to represent Germany to the new revolutionary government of Francisco León de la Barra, but also to provide important intelligence about the revolution. Von Hintze arrived in Veracruz on April 25, 1911.Members of von Hintze's clandestine network of agents in Mexico included Consul Otto Kueck, Felix A. Sommerfeld, and Carl Heynen. Sanctioned by the German government, von Hintze promoted German arms sales to Mexico. Many of the sales the German government contracted at that time with the Mexican government did not arrive in Mexico until Victoriano Huerta was dictator, prompting historians to allege German support for the dictator. He also relentlessly pursued the murderers of four German citizens in the city of Covadonga. As a result of von Hintze's efforts, the German government was the only one to receive payments for its murdered citizens from the revolutionary Mexican government. Von Hintze's efforts resulted in a restitution of 400,000 German Marks (about $95,000 at the time, $2 million in today's value) to Germany in June 1912. The perpetrators were tried and executed in the presence of the German ambassador in March 1913 (by then the Huerta government ruled Mexico). Von Hintze's relationship with the government of Francisco I. Madero was a productive one. Through his agent Felix Sommerfeld, who became Madero's secret service chief, the German ambassador kept up with political developments in the capital and the fight against uprisings along the Mexican–American border, most notably the revolt of Bernardo Reyes in the fall of 1911 and the uprising of Pascual Orozco in the spring of 1912.
The Mexican Revolution, also known as the Mexican Civil War, was a major armed struggle, lasting roughly from 1910 to 1920, that radically transformed Mexican culture and government. Although recent research has focused on local and regional aspects of the Revolution, it was a genuinely national revolution. Its outbreak in 1910 resulted from the failure of the 35-year-long regime of Porfirio Díaz to find a managed solution to the presidential succession. This meant there was a political crisis among competing elites and the opportunity for agrarian insurrection. Wealthy landowner Francisco I. Madero challenged Díaz in the 1910 presidential election, and following the rigged results, revolted under the Plan of San Luis Potosí. Armed conflict ousted Díaz from power; a new election was held in 1911, bringing Madero to the presidency.
Francisco León de la Barra y Quijano was a Mexican political figure and diplomat who served as 32nd President of Mexico from May 25 to November 6, 1911.
Otto Kueck (1878–1915) was a German businessman, agent, and diplomat in Chihuahua City, Mexico. He was the German consul of the city between 1908 and 1914, when Pancho Villa expelled him because of his support of Victoriano Huerta. He not only served in the German diplomatic corps but also was a German secret service agent and recruiter. The best known German spies who worked for him were Felix A. Sommerfeld and Horst von der Goltz. Kueck was succeeded by Ernst Goeldner and died in March 1915 in Los Angeles as a result of a heart attack.
In February 1913, however, the political unrest reached the capital of Mexico. In the Decena Tragica General Victoriano Huerta unseated President Madero and had him murdered. The German ambassador kept apprised of developments through his contacts with the other diplomats in the capital and through Felix Sommerfeld who stayed at the German embassy for most of the uprising.Von Hintze knew that a coup was about to happen. Rather than waiting for the military to make its move, the ambassador proposed for Madero to install Huerta as a successor, while he and his administration would retreat to safety. He pitched the idea first to Foreign Minister Pedro Lascuráin. Madero initially agreed but then relented. The coup happened and Madero was arrested. Von Hintze negotiated with American Ambassador Wilson as well as General Victoriano Huerta to secure the release and safe conduct of Madero and his family. He did not succeed. Despite General Huerta's assurances Madero and Pino Suárez were murdered.
Von Hintze returned to Germany for most of 1913 to recuperate from a flame up of amoebic dysentery.When he returned to Mexico in September 1913, President Huerta was waging a civil war against the revolutionary forces under the leadership of Venustiano Carranza. Von Hintze bluntly assessed the quality of the understaffed federal officer corps describing President Huerta as so desperate that he "...promotes waiters, accountants and such from one day to the next to lieutenants and captains -lawyers to generals...The Mexican army has plenty of generals...these are for the most part the type of people which are called ‘funeral generals’ in Russia, since their only activity is to parade in uniform for funeral processions – for money...one has to expect worse losses than Alviles Canon, Torreón and Durango, since now the generals who so-far remained in their salons are sent into the battlefield." Von Hintze correctly reported to Germany in the beginning of 1914 that Huerta was finished. Generals Pancho Villa and Alvaro Obregon were dealing Huerta one military blow after another in the field. The final nail in Huerta's coffin was the United States occupation of Veracruz on April 21, 1914. Von Hintze's role in the causes of the intervention is under dispute. The facts are that the German HAPAG ship SS Ypiranga (Ypiranga incident) had large amounts of arms and ammunition on board destined for the Huerta regime. American forces sought to prevent these weapons to land and occupied the harbor of Veracruz as a result. Ambassador von Hintze officially requisitioned the Ypiranga to serve the German navy as an auxiliary cruiser to carry German refugees. Whether the objective was to carry refugees in case of a war between the United States and Mexico or to force the delivery of the weapons to the Huerta regime, which is what actually happened, is unclear.
In July 1914, General Huerta gave up his fight against the Constitutionalists in the Mexican Revolution. On 20 July 1914 he departed from Puerto Mexico (now Coatzacoalcos) on the German cruiser SMS Dresden (1907), dutifully supplied by Ambassador von Hintze.
In July 1914, not only Huerta left Mexico. Ambassador von Hintze received his wartime assignment to China (1914–1915). He built up the German naval intelligence organization in the Far East and provided supplies for the German East Asia Squadron under Admiral Maximilian von Spee. After his China assignment von Hintze served in Norway between 1915 and 1918. Despite his lack of political experience, von Hintze was appointed Foreign Minister on July 9, 1918, following the resignation of his predecessor, Richard von Kühlmann, who had fallen afoul of the military High Command, led by Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg and General Erich Ludendorff, who effectively governed the country. During his time in the foreign ministry, Hintze pushed the Kaiser towards liberalization of the government and was involved in the discussions which led to the decision to seek an armistice at the end of September. After the resignation of the government of Chancellor Georg von Hertling on October 3, Hintze was replaced as Foreign Minister by Wilhelm Solf.
Francisco Ignacio Madero González was a Mexican revolutionary, writer and statesman who served as the 33rd president of Mexico from 1911 until shortly before his assassination in 1913. He was an advocate for social justice and democracy. Madero was notable for challenging Mexican President Porfirio Díaz for the presidency in 1910 and being instrumental in sparking the Mexican Revolution.
The Imperial German Navy was the navy created at the time of the formation of the German Empire. It existed between 1871 and 1919, growing out of the small Prussian Navy, which primarily had the mission of coastal defence. Kaiser Wilhelm II greatly expanded the navy, and enlarged its mission. The key leader was Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, who greatly expanded the size and quality of the navy, while adopting the sea power theories of American strategist Alfred Thayer Mahan. The result was a naval arms race with Britain as the German navy grew to become one of the greatest maritime forces in the world, second only to the Royal Navy. The German surface navy proved ineffective during World War I; its only major engagement, the Battle of Jutland, was indecisive. However, the submarine fleet was greatly expanded and posed a major threat to the British supply system. The Imperial Navy's main ships were turned over to the Allies, but were sunk at Scapa Flow in 1919 by German crews.
Francisco "Pancho" Villa was a Mexican revolutionary general and one of the most prominent figures of the Mexican Revolution.
Pascual Orozco Vázquez was a Mexican revolutionary leader who rose up with Francisco I. Madero late 1910 to depose Porfirio Díaz. Sixteen months later he revolted against the Madero government and ultimately sided with the coup d'état that deposed Madero.
Venustiano Carranza Garza was one of the main leaders of the Mexican Revolution, whose victorious northern revolutionary Constitutionalist Army defeated the counter-revolutionary regime of Victoriano Huerta and then defeated fellow revolutionaries after Huerta's ouster. He secured power in Mexico, serving as head of state from 1915–1917. With the promulgation of a new revolutionary Mexican Constitution of 1917, he was elected president, serving from 1917 to 1920.
Gustavo Adolfo Madero González also known to many as "Ojo Parado", born in Parras de la Fuente, Coahuila, Mexico, was a participant in the Mexican Revolution against Porfirio Díaz along with other members of his wealthy family.
The United States occupation of Veracruz began with the Battle of Veracruz and lasted for seven months, as a response to the Tampico Affair of April 9, 1914. The incident came in the midst of poor diplomatic relations between Mexico and the United States, and was related to the ongoing Mexican Revolution.
Admiral Eduard von Capelle was a German Imperial Navy officer from Celle. He served in the navy from 1872 until his retirement in October, 1918. During his career, Capelle served in the Reichsmarineamt, where he was primarily responsible for writing the Fleet Laws that funded the expansion of the High Seas Fleet. By the time he retired, Capelle had risen to the rank of admiral, and had served at the post of state secretary for the Reichsmarineamt. From this post, he oversaw the German naval war during the latter three years of World War I. Capelle retired to Wiesbaden, where he died on 23 February 1931.
The German East Asia Squadron was an Imperial German Navy cruiser squadron which operated mainly in the Pacific Ocean between the mid-1890s and 1914. It was Germany's only major "blue water" or overseas naval formation independent of home ports in Germany.
The United States involvement in the Mexican Revolution was varied and seemingly contradictory, first supporting and then repudiating Mexican regimes during the period 1910-1920. For both economic and political reasons, the U.S. government generally supported those who occupied the seats of power, whether they held that power legitimately or not. A clear exception was the French Intervention in Mexico, when the U.S. supported the beleaguered liberal government of Benito Juárez at the time of the American Civil War (1861-1865). Prior to Woodrow Wilson's inauguration on March 4, 1913, the U.S. Government focused on just warning the Mexican military that decisive action from the U.S. military would take place if lives and property of U.S. nationals living in the country were endangered. President William Howard Taft sent more troops to the US-Mexico border but did not allow them to intervene in the conflict, a move which Congress opposed. Twice during the Revolution, the U.S. sent troops into Mexico.
The Ten Tragic Days was a series of events that took place in Mexico City between February 9 and February 19, 1913, during the Mexican Revolution. This led up to a coup d'état and the assassination of President Francisco I. Madero, and his Vice President, José María Pino Suárez. Much of what happened these days followed from the crumbling of the Porfiriato system of repressive order giving way to chaos, and as such, these days' events have been among the most influential of the Revolution's history. Madero's martyrdom shocked a critical portion of the population, and the unwelcome foreign intervention prepared the way for the growing nationalism and anti-imperialism of the Revolution. In many ways, then, it set the tone for the Revolution's most violent period, but it also prepared the way for an agenda of profound political and social change.
Heinrich Arnold Krumm-Heller was a German doctor, occultist, Rosicrucian, and founder of Fraternitas Rosicruciana Antiqua (FRA), a traditional Hermetic order that operates in Brazil. He also was a German naval intelligence agent during the Mexican Revolution and World War I. A prolific writer, he published 25 esoteric books, novellas, history books, biographies, as well as countless articles in his magazine Rosa Cruz and similar publications.
The Ypiranga Incident occurred on April 21, 1914, at the port of Veracruz in Mexico. The SS Ypiranga was a German steamer that was commissioned to transport arms and munitions to the Mexican federal government under Victoriano Huerta. The United States had placed Mexico under an arms embargo to stifle the flow of weaponry to the war-torn state, then in the throes of civil war, forcing Huerta's government to look to Europe and Japan for armaments.
The arms race between the United Kingdom and the German Empire that occurred from the last decade of the nineteenth century until the advent of World War I in 1914 was one of the intertwined causes of that conflict. While based in a bilateral relationship that had worsened over many decades, the arms race began with a plan by German Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz in 1897 to create a fleet in being to force Britain to make diplomatic concessions; Tirpitz did not expect the Imperial German Navy to defeat the Royal Navy.
Felix A. Sommerfeld was a German secret service agent in Mexico and the United States between 1908 and 1919. He was chief of the Mexican Secret Service under President Francisco I. Madero, worked as a diplomat and arms buyer for Venustiano Carranza and Francisco "Pancho" Villa, and ran the Mexican portion of Germany's war strategy in North America between 1914 and 1917.
Sherburne Gillette Hopkins was an American lawyer and influential lobbyist in Washington DC. His clients included oil tycoon Henry Clay Pierce, financier and "father of trusts" Charles Ranlett Flint, Guatemalan President Manuel Estrada Cabrera, and Mexican President Francisco I. Madero among others. He specialized in connecting American finance with Latin American revolutionaries. "According to Who's Was Who in America, Hopkins specialized 'in internat. matters and settlements with the Govt. Adviser to several Latin Am. govts.; adviser to provision govt. of Mexico (Madero), 1911; constitutionalist govt. of Mexico, 1913–14; to provision govt. of Mexico, 1920." The most revealing source for Hopkins's activities is his testimony before the U.S. Senate Foreign Affairs Committee.
John Wesley De Kay was an American entrepreneur and self-made millionaire, "Sausage King" of Mexico with the famous brand "Popo", playwright, author, and eccentric socialite.
Radolf von Kardorff
| German Ambassador to Mexico |
Heinrich von Eckardt
as Chargé d'Affaires
| German Minister to China |
|Relations severed owing|
to China's declaration of war
| German Ambassador to Norway |
Gerhard von Mutius
Richard von Kühlmann
| Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs |