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. 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.
- Leviathans: Armored Skies, pgs. 292-293, loc. 4174-4190, ebook.
- Ibid., pgs. 293-294, 4190-4210.