Hellmuth von Mücke
Historical Figure
Nationality: German Empire (born in Kingdom of Saxony), later West Germany
Date of Birth: 1881
Date of Death: 1957
Cause of Death: Heart attack
Religion: Lutheran
Occupation: Sailor, Author of Non-Fiction, Activist
Spouse: Carla Finke
Children: Three sons and three daughters
Military Branch: Imperial German Navy (World War I)
Political Party: German National People's Party (1918-1919);

German Workers' Party (1919-1920); NSDAP (1920-1929)

Political Office(s): Member of the Saxony Landtag
Fictional Appearances:
Shared Universe Story
"Last Flight of the Swan of the East"
POD: 1878
Type of Appearance: Direct POV
Military Branch: Kaiserliche Luftmarine

Hellmuth von Mücke (20 June 1881 - 30 July 1957) was an officer of the Kaiserliche Marine, the navy of the German Empire, in serving in early 20th century, including World War I.

Mücke was first officer aboard the commerce raider SMS Emden. In November 1914, at the direction of Captain Karl von Müller, Mücke led a 53-man landing party to Direction Island, one of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands northwest of Australia in the Indian Ocean. Mücke's task was to destroy the wireless station and the shore facilities of the important intercontinental communications cable. While the party was ashore, the HMAS Sydney intercepted the Emden. Müller and the remaining crew were captured. Mücke and his crew seized a derelict, 97-ton, three-masted schooner, the Ayesha, quickly made her seaworthy, and escaped when the Sydney sailed away to capture the Emden's collier, the Buresk. In addition to small arms and 29 rifles, the landing party was equipped with four heavy machine guns. Over the next six months, Mücke led his small command on one of the longest escapes recorded – over 11,000 kilometres (6,800 mi) by sea and land, losing only one man to disease and three to enemy action.

After several months of making their way through the Middle East and into the Ottoman Empire, finally reaching Constantinople, and from there returning to Germany. Mücke and his men returned to a hero's welcome. He became a minor celebrity, and published a pair of books on the journey home.

In the aftermath of the Treaty of Versailles, Mücke turned towards a more conservative worldview. He joined the German National People's Party, then moved to German Workers' Party (DAP). He stayed with the DAP when it became the National Socialist German Workers Party. He was elected to the parliament of Saxony on the NSDAP platform in 1926. However, by 1929 he had become disenchanted with the Adolf Hitler's cult of personality. Mücke reconsidered his position regarding re-armament, left the Nazi Party, embraced pacifism, and lectured and wrote extensively on the subject.

Mücke remained a vocal opponent of Hitler throughout the 1930s and into World War II. He was imprisoned intermittently throughout between 1936 and 1940, and his writings were banned. His final term of imprisonment was in Hamburg in 1940; however, the local Nazi official still considered Mücke a hero, and arranged for his release for health issues. He retired to Ahrensburg for the remainder of his life. His son was killed on the Eastern Front in 1943. Mücke spent the rest of his life advocating for pacifism. He died of a heart attack in 1957.

Hellmuth von Mücke in "Last Flight of the Swan of the East"[]

Oberleutnant Hellmuth von Mücke was the first officer of the SMS Emden, a commerce raider in the German Kaiserliche Luftmarine (airship navy). During the first months of the Great War, the Emden (affectionally nicknamed "the Last Swan of the East"). He served under Luftfregattenkapitän Karl von Müller.

The Emden was anchored at Tsingtao when one of the wireless operators, Franz Schatzeder, informed Müller and Mücke that Austrian crown prince Franz Ferdinand and his wife Duchess Sophie had been murdered by a Serbian assassin.[1] The two discussed global situation. They assumed Austria-Hungary would punish Serbia, but then wondered if the Russian Empire would come to Serbia's aid. They also wondered if Germany would come to Austria's aid against Russia, as war with Russia would also mean war with France. They also pondered what Britain and the U.S. would do.[2]

At the end of July, 1914, the officers of the Emden dined with the crew of the Austrian leviathan, the Kaiserin Elisabeth. The captain was confident that Austria would defeat Serbia, but he wasn't sure what would happen next.[3] The next day, Schatzeder informed the officers of Austria's "timed note", and Serbia's response, which sent the dominoes falling, and the world into war.[4]

As the war began, Admiral Maximilian von Spee, the commander of the Far East Squadron, ordered the Emden to proceed to Pagan and begin raiding enemy commerce in the Pacific.[5] Spee informed the captains that he'd initially thought about ordering the Far East Squadron to patrol the Indian Ocean, but discarded the idea for fear of antagonizing Britain. Instead, he decided the bulk of the Squadron would head towards the Western Hemisphere, using neutral Chile as a coaling station. Spee ordered Müller to take Emden to raid commerce in the Indian Ocean, reasoning that lone leviathan could make a nuisance of itself and evade capture for a long time.[6]

Mücke suggested that they disguise the Emden, adding an additional funnel and repainting the hull. Müller agreed, and had the changes made, given the Emden an appearance consistent with an English leviathan.[7] Raiding proved even more successful as a result.

After several raids, Emden went to Diego Garcia. Upon her arrival on October 9, the Emden's crew were greeted by the Englishman who ran the coconut plantation there. When the Englishman told Müller that the island didn't have a wireless, Müller told Mücke and the crew not to speak of the war. After a few days rest, the Emden took off again.[8]

Several days later, the Emden seized the American S.S. West Cobalt, bound for the Far East from Mombasa. Mücke led the boarding party. The party quickly discovered that the cargo hold was full of thinly disguised eteroid ore. Mücke immediately called Müller to review their discovery. After puzzling over the American captain's scheme, Müller ordered the West Cobalt sunk, regretting the loss of the eteroid ore.[9]

After a raid on Phnom Penh, the Emden was contacted by a fleet of Japanese leviathans, who invited Emden to join them in a raid on American possessions in the Philippines. Müller was convinced that the U.S. had an eteroid refinery some where in the Philippines. Soon enough, Müller spotted a a pier obviously meant to accommodate commercial shipping.[10] Despite his best efforts, radio operator Franz Schatzeder was not able to prevent the Americans from sending signals reporting Emden.[11] Müller then turned command of a landing party over to Mücke, who then moved onto the island.[12] Not longer after the party made their way into the jungle, the American leviathan Cincinnati engaged Emden was [13]

Mücke and his team found the refinery. Mücke had kept one of the disguised stones from the West Cobalt, and soon discovered similar stones, as well as the refining spheres. While Mücke was determined to destroy the refinery, he was concerned about killing innocent workers.[14] Before setting charges, Mücke's team set a fire that caused the workers to evacuate. Then the crew set their charges; one went off prematurely, causing a series of explosions that also released the electrolyte in the electroid. He then oversaw their escape, which was narrower than they expected. The Germans then fled into the nearby jungle, just as the factory exploded. One of his men, Franz-Walter Beyer, was killed by an electrical discharge.[15]

The group reached the edge of the island, and saw the wreckage of the Emden. Rather than surrender, the landing party stole a schooner called the Following Sea tied up nearby. He determined that several of his men also had experience in water vessels. After gathering supplies, they set off. Mücke deferred to Jens Rasmussen, one of the experienced sailors. It was a slow voyage, and they often had to rely on rain water and any fish they caught. They arrived at Siboret Island after two weeks. A Dutch leviathan called the Lynx towed the schooner into Padang.[16]

The neutrality officer did not believe that the Following Sea was a warship, and initially scoffed at providing supplies. When Mücke reminded him that the laws of neutrality gave belligerents 24 hours to resupply (and when Mücke threatened to use the Maxim gun the Germans had with them), the officer finally relented. Mücke also met with Horst Schild, the German counsel in Padang, who further supplied Mücke's crew with money and supplies. While a number of Germans interned in Padang also gave Mücke's crew supplies, they also plainly thought they were crazy. For his own part, Mücke resolved to engage in piracy until they got back to Germany.[17]

Two days later, they saw a Dutch leviathan, Meester Corenlis. Mücke ordered the crew create a fire in a bucket. The smoke was enough for the Dutch leviathan to investigate. The Germans immediately aimed their guns at the ship, promising to fire if the Dutch ship tried to escape. The Germans boarded the Meester Cornelis. Mücke secured paroles from skipper Peter de Graaf most of the crew, and all of the passengers. Mücke then ordered the Meester Cornelis out of Dutch airspace. Within a few days, they raided the ship Jacob H. Gallinger. When the Jacob H. Gallinger arrived at Mangalore, rumors began that the Emden was still active. Once they truth was established, the Germans were long gone.[18]

On December 24, 1914, the Germans raided the Savannah's Price, which gave them enough coal to reach the Arabian Peninsula. Avoiding British-held Aden, Mücke's ultimate goal was Hodeida, which was under Ottoman rule. Once here, Mücke and his crew took their leave, returning the ship to de Graaf.[19] It took the crew several from January to May to get from Hodeida to Constantinople.[20]

In June, 1915, Kaiser Wilehlm II personally pinned the Cross of the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern on Mücke's chest. After receiving the honor, Mücke joined Wilhelm for a lavish luncheon. Mücke felt a measure of guilt at the feast, as he knew the damage the Entente's blockade was inflicting on the average German.[21] In the meantime, he'd already received a posting to Wilhelmshaven to take command of the Fifteenth Half-Flotilla of Luftflotilla VIII.[22]


  1. Leviathans: Armored Skies, pgs. 292-293, loc. 4174-4190, ebook.
  2. Ibid., pgs. 293-294, 4190-4210.
  3. Ibid., pg. 296-297, loc. 4229-4240.
  4. Ibid., pg. 297-299, loc. 4240-4290.
  5. Ibid., pg. 300-301, loc. 4290-4309.
  6. Ibid, pgs. 308-310, loc. 4427-4448.
  7. Ibid., pg. 314, loc. 4510.
  8. Ibid., pgs. 332-333, loc. 4795-4816.
  9. Ibid., loc. 4795-4885.
  10. Ibid, loc. 5067-5080.
  11. Ibid., loc. 5100.
  12. Ibid., loc. 5107
  13. Ibid., loc. 5113-5134.
  14. Ibid., loc. 5113-5165.
  15. Ibid., loc. 5186-5244.
  16. Ibid., loc. 5293-5358.
  17. Ibid., loc. 5364-5377.
  18. Ibid., loc. 5396-5445.
  19. Ibid., loc. 5463-5490.
  20. Ibid., loc. 5497-5511.
  21. Ibid. loc. 5505-5535.
  22. Ibid., loc. 5530.