A Shift in Priorities

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So America is marching into a Super-Vietnam. This will not end well. At the moment its all under the responsibility of a democratic president. I wonder if there will be at the end of the 20th a Nixon.
Tilling the Fields

Leon Trotsky had left the conduct of the guerrilla campaign against the US interventionists to his proven aid, Ephraim M. Sklyansky, and the Mexican Generals of Pancho Villa’s entourage, who all had ample experience in this kind of business. The press campaign was expertly guided by Rosa Luxemburg and Emma Goldman, there was no need to get involved here either.
Thus he was free to ply the All-Mexican Workers Council and get along with creating a reliable proletarian base.

The situation in Mexico was considerably different from the one in Russia in 1917. The Bolsheviks had been supported by the organised workers and the soldiers, whose coordinating bodies had been the councils, the Soviets. While Mensheviks and Social-Revolutionaries had – in accordance with orthodox Marxist theory – tried to install the bourgeois phase first and then – much later – proceed to proletarian revolution, the Bolsheviks had brought about that latter revolution immediately – and had shoved Mensheviks and Social-Revolutionaries on the rubbish dump of history. For the defence of the revolution against the Whites, however, the support of the Russian peasants had been paramount. Fearing the return of the landowners, they had provided the bulk of the Red Army, while the revolutionary workers and soldiers had become the vanguard of the new order, commissars and local leaders.

The Second Mexican Revolution had been one of the peasants and agricultural labourers, without any support by the industrial workers and no revolutionary situation inside the Mexican Army, which had simply split between Panchists and adherers of the old order once Pancho Villa was marching on Ciudad de México.
The Panchist movement was one of land reform, as such it had spread to Central and South America. The component of socialisation of the factories and mines had been added on Trotsky’s initiative, although the fact that the ruling oligarchy and their foreign partners had had their stakes here as well had helped a lot.
Forming the workers, basically a bunch of privileged capitalist employees, into a progressive Socialist proletariat had been Trotsky’s challenge from the start.

But not in vain had Leon Trotsky been the Bolsheviks’ most silver-tongued orator. This, together with his aristocratic appearance, always looking and acting more like a count or duke than a leader of dirty dungaree conspirators, finally won him the approval of the Mexican workers. His Spanish, on which he had worked very hard, was excellent, his style, which enabled him to captivate large audiences, as punchy and easily accessible as ever.
After all, they, the Mexican industrial working men, were an elite, the most progressive element in this backward society – and thus the born leaders of social development, weren’t they?
Of course, this had gone hand in hand with the distribution of new privileges – comparably to those of the Bolshevik commissars in Russia. The introduction of the eight-hours working day, which had led to a strong afflux of unskilled new craft, had equally helped to shape the awareness of the old hands of being an elite.
Also, the attempts by the US to strangle and parch the revolution had greatly supported Trotsky’s efforts, welding together a once disparate community against foreign threat.

All of this was not revolutionary in the sense of starting a new revolution, but it brought the workers in line with the nation and – for example – facilitated the employment of workers against the Gringo aggressors, leading to a rapid breakdown of sanitation and transport in the occupied territory.
Equally, the North Americans could not profit from taking into possession the Mexican oil fields near Tuxpán, because the workers had removed and hidden vital components – and Gringo experts and specialists brought in to make the facilities run again were prone to suffer horrible occupational accidents.
Dock workers and warehousemen in Tampico and Tuxpán not only successfully sabotaged incoming US supplies, but were also able to divert considerable amounts of US stuff towards the guerrillas.

The interventionists were at present preparing the ascent to the central highland and the conquest of Ciudad de México. Trotsky wondered what the Gringos hoped to find there. – Did they really expect to find him sitting at his desk?
No, if the Gringos really intended to erase the Second Mexican Revolution, they would – at first – have to occupy all of Mexico, - and thereafter they could try to separate the activists from the mass of the hangers-on and destroy them.
Their current occupation zone only was an invitation for an unending running battle.
Publish or Perish

Neither Rosa Luxemburg, nor Emma Goldman thought that a simple newspaper campaign would be sufficient to influence international opinion and US decision making.

Their work was favoured by the fact that in Britain Lord Northcliffe had died in August and the new Socialist government had already broken up and ‘reformed’ his erstwhile press empire. Thus the British press, despite the decline of the country still read and respected all around the world, reacted rather positive to the news and stories provided by the Mexican Oficina de Informatión (information bureau) – short: ODIM.

In the German language area, the Socialist papers willingly accepted Luxemburg’s truths, while the influential right wing Hugenberg press tried to steer a neutral course. For the German nationalists and jingoists, Socialism in the form of Panchism was as horrible as US interventionism; but with their uncommitted stance they involuntarily left persuasion of public opinion to their political enemies.

In the USA, George Creel had been reactivated as head of the resurrected Committee on Public Information (CPI) and been charged to repeat ‘the world’s greatest adventure in advertising’, i.e.: To sway US public opinion to the unconditional support of the intervention against Panchism and those who had attacked the US.
Emma Goldman therefore had to rely mainly on her good connections to the US Socialist and Anarchist scene and their underground magazines. But with many of these people already arrested and various ‘Protective Leagues’ and ‘Defense Societies’ witch-hunting and ferreting out suspicious ‘Commies’ and ‘Mexes’, Goldman’s ability to access the American public remained rather limited – and as a whole ineffective.

However, Goldman was able of scoring in Canada. The Canadians felt somehow uneasy about their neighbours arbitrary attitude of intervening militarily in the vicinity. After the cruel butchering of the Canadian Corps, which had tried to save the British Army from rout, and the final defeat in the Great War, Canada had gone on a course of national self finding, independent from developments in Britain, although one had supported the British attempt to regain India. After all, the British Empire provided a comfortable counterweight against the big southern neighbour – and did not exert any disturbing influence on inner-Canadian affairs.
However, with Britain going Socialist, the left groups in Canada also had gained new strength and the newly formed All Canadian Labour Union (ACLU) thankfully took up Goldman’s propaganda and in addition mirrored the British Socialist press.

But influencing the papers was only one aspect, just like the CPI in the US, the ODIM employed or hosted writers, painters and movie makers for its purposes.
H. G. Wells, Bertrand Russell, John Dos Passos, Kurt Tucholsky and Ernest Hemingway could easily be won for writing about the horrors of the US intervention and the Mexican people’s valiant struggle for freedom.
Fritz Lang, of recent ‘Dr. Mabuse’ faim, could be talked into making a movie about Pancho Villa, which was filmed in Spain and the Babelsberg studios near Berlin and under the title ‘Der Rebell von San Juan’ (The Rebel from San Juan) became a great success wordlwide. Harry Liedtke played Pancho Villa, who was no ordinary murderer and bandit, but an innocent victim of evil machinations sponsored by Mr. Bigbuck (Werner Krauß), forced to take up arms in order to defend himself and his family. Pola Negri played Maria, a revolver-swinging revolutionary heroine, falling in love with Pancho and finally sacrificing her life for him.
Pablo Picasso’s painting ‘Las Lavaderos’ immediately became famous with arty-fartsy people, although the broader public was slow to appreciate it.

By Christmas 1922, Luxemburg and Goldman agreed that world opinion had been successfully tuned for the support of the Mexican cause, only the US audience had not been reached and remained under the influence of the CPI.
A very good timeline!

Just one question. How big are the american losses? This "death by a thousend cuts" campain that Luxemburg & Co are doing must be murder on the american troops..

Keep up the good work!
Don’t cry until you are out of the Wood

Compared to the casualties of the Spanish-American War and the Great War – not counting, however, the victims of the American Flu – the losses in Operation Capstone were severe.
The Mexican guerrillas were intendly not aiming at killing all Americans, but tried wounding as many as possible. A killed soldier is just a dead body, but an injured one ties up his buddies for caretaking and requires a lot of resources, like special transport, drugs, hospitals, a bunch of physicians, nurses, etc. Thus, wounding a soldier puts a far greater stress on the enemy’s system than simply killing him.
Nevertheless, by the end of 1922, after the US forces had taken Mexico City and now controlled all of the area foreseen in the initial invasion plan, the number of soldiers killed in action amounted to 6,560, while more than 27,500 had already had to be evacuated from theatre because of their injuries or malady. At the same time, 738 Americans had died from diseases, 492 from ‘accidents’ and 15 had been shot after court-martial.
As these numbers could not be concealed from public, a certain disenchantment spread – especially with the hard core isolationists, who had been against the Mexican adventure from the start and now went into open opposition.

The US had not arrived in Mexico completely unprepared for setting up a new government. But José Vasconcelos Calderón, the former Minister of Education in the Obregón government, although a renowned writer and philosopher, was hardly someone who could hope to supplant Pancho Villa in the heart of the Mexicans.
Seen as a puppet of the Gringos, which he wasn’t because he had quite original own ideas about Mexico’s future, Vasconcelos never succeeded in gaining public approval. Constantly screened by American security, he and his cabinet remained obscure figures without influence.

If the guerrillas moved like fish in the pond of the people, the obvious answer was to drain the pond. There were two classical concepts how this could be achieved.
The Prussian/German one of 1870/71 and 1914 relied on terror. If one shot a sufficient number of indigenes and laid waste to enough villages and towns, resistance would soon die down because of fear of more reprisals. This had basically worked in France and Belgium, but it had made the Germans the target of a worldwide propaganda campaign painting them as brutes and barbarians.
The second, principally more intelligent, concept was that of the British in the Second Boer War. Crowding the indigenes into camps would also drain the pond of the guerillas without killing too many people. Unfortunately, because of British incompetence, lacking sanitation and health care and failing supply, this method had caused far more fatal casualties with the Boer Population than the beastly behaviour of the Germans in France and Belgium had caused to the Belgians and Frenchmen.

The US were now determined to better the British effort and make the camp system work. They called them ‘Shelter Facilities’ (SF) – carefully trying to avoid all allegation with the infamous British ‘Concentration Camps’.
Run be the American Red Cross (ARC), the facilities were large tent camps of up to 25,000 inhabitants, each family been given an own tent. There would be schools, workshops and hospitals inside the camps – as well as adequate sanitation and sports facilities, camp newspapers, etc.
The inner perimeter would be run by the ARC, the outer – security – perimeter by National Guard units.

What looked good in theory, had some problems in real life.
First of all, the Mexicans didn’t like to be cooped up. It would force them to leave their houses, prevent them from tilling their fields and caring for their animals. The notion that they could be transported quite peacefully into the SFs soon had to be dropped. There was spontaneous fierce and well armed resistance with whole villages in open combat against the oppressors.
Secondly, the capacity to set up SFs was rather limited, if the supply system was to run steadily, the tempo had to be slow, only gradually progressing from north to south and along the littoral.
Thirdly, the capability to keep the Mexicans inside the SFs also proved inadequate. Once arrived, most people did nothing but plot and dapple in escape, leading to many more casualties when the guards used their rifles. But on average, from five Mexicans interned, two escaped again, mainly younger persons.
Needless to mention that the press coverage of the SF system by the Luxemburg/Goldman ODIM painted the US as black beasts and brutes à la outrance.

With escaped internees coming back to their villages, the death toll was rising even further. The US troops were under order to open fire on everyone encountered in the ‘evacuated areas’. Yet, most of their victims were not guerrillas, but ordinary farmers and village men.

Of course, neither Leon Trotsky nor Emma Goldman had been captured when Mexico City was occupied. And there was absolutely no indication that Mexican resistance was going to falter in the near future.
It also was clear that the US did not have sufficient troops to occupy and control all of Mexico.
By New Year’s Eve 1922, the Owen Administration was coming under considerable domestic pressure to either produce a quick success or abandon the Mexican adventure.
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Knowing a bit from experience in the PLA and the war against Japan I say the Americans got off lucky, they didn't have the technology to mass produce mines (cheaply) back then or IEDs (not that their much different) which usually accounts for the majority of causalities in gurellia operations (thou I persume rockets too but never had experience with them so I can't say).
In fact the most pervalent source of casualities would be non-combatant, specifically noncombatant venereal casualties in well populated areas.
Maybe this will lead to a more effective American Army earlier, I hope you change their pratice of giving command to an overeducated gentlemen with a thirst for blood/adventure.
Breed Crows and they will take out your Eyes

Leading an ordinary bandit’s life and combatting the Gringos were quite different things, as Otilio El Moreno (originally: Otilio Herrera Vásquez) soon had realised.
His group of ten had been reduced to four in the first encounter with the Americans – and they hadn’t even got near their target. But the fiasco had taught El Moreno some lessons the hard way: Horses were good for riding, but not for combat. Without thorough reconnaissance, no coup had hope of success. Shooting it out with the Yankees risked serious own losses, bombing them to hell was far better. Running around like tradional Mexican Vaqueros would soon attract hostile attention, better to look and smell like normal Peones.

Accordingly, El Moreno had changed the composition of his gang and its modus operandi. The spy group now comprised a boy aged eight, one woman of fifteen, another one of thirty-two, and an old man of seventy-two years. The bomb construction squad consisted of two selfmade explosive experts. The supply echelon had two older women and a young boy together with five donkeys. The command group was made up from El Moreno himself, his aide-de-camp and three messengers. And, finally, the combat group was led by El Moreno’s deputy and comprised two snipers and four all-round riflemen.
Co-ordinating and directing this outfit had initially been quite a challenge for El Moreno, but – to his own satisfaction – he had grown with the task.

The ‘Luchadores’ (Fighters), as they called themselves, were an outfit, which operated inside the enemy occupied territory. Therefore, they spent about seven eigths of their time with concealment and deception. The American method of creating evacuated areas slowly forced them to wander south. But it also created opportunities. Near San Fernando, they had managed to kill the guarding unit of a SF by blowing up their night’s lodging and sniping the pickets, setting free approximately twelve thousand people to hike back to their villages and farms.

Generally, there were three ways to explode a bomb: By remote control via electric ignition, this made sure that the intended target was hit, but required at least one person in the vicinity to hit the button. By time fuse or by mechanic detonator, initiated by push or pull. The latter two methods did not require any presence of the Luchadores, other than when the device was set up; something that regularly happened at night.
The art was to be able to move around at all, dodging all Gringo checkpoints and patrols. Here, of course, the support of the population was paramount. And the spy group also conducted fabulous work, very often profitting from the Gringos’ lechery. These men, most often raised in a climate of puritan prudery and righteousness, hardly could resist the temptations offered by youthful leggy Zapopa or curvaceous Graciela – in most cases to the very detriment for their further health…
But also eight year old Pablo frequently did score in that respect, there seemed to be quite a numerous faction of Gringos who favoured little boys for certain services.
Old tottering Pedro usually passed as completely beyond suspicion, but despite playing the deaf man, his ears and his English were quite good.

The supply echelon excelled in transporting explosives camouflaged as foodstuffs, most Yankees proving unable to discern blasting agents from hard cheese or cornstarch. Fuses and detonators usually travelled inside the donkeys or the accompanying old women.

Nevertheless, they did not always win or succeed, any the composition of the group very often saw new members taking up a function, whose former bearer had fallen victim to the Gringos. But that did not stop El Moreno from carrying on. One had to show the aggressors that they weren’t welcome at all.
Dynastic Dynamics

In Potsdam, Kaiser Wilhelm’s sexuality familiarisation programme for Prince Louis Ferdinand had come to a sudden end after Empress Cecilie had found out about it. The pretty blond girl, a gifted Swede named Lisa, had vanished into limbo like before Crown Prince Wilhelm’s mistresses, leaving behind a rather sulky and dissatisfied Louis Ferdinand.
Cecilie, however, took the opportunity to start an open campaign for making Giovanna, Princess of Savoy, next Empress of Germany.
Her arguments were quite clever: Crown Princess Juliana would become a ‘ruling’ monarch in her own right. -
How should a marriage with the Prussian Crown Prince and future Emperor Wilhelm IV. work out? What evidence supported a liaison between two ‘ruling’ sovereigns? Had anybody considered which protocol would apply?
Wouldn’t it be better if Wilhelm married Giovanna, who ‘only’ was a third daughter and fourth child, - and either Prince Louis Ferdinand or even Hubertus became Prince Consort to Juliana?
And wasn’t Italy with her well developing industry and her prominent geographic position in the Mediterranean a much worthier country to supply the future German Empress – than the Netherlands, who – whether they liked it or not – already firmly belonged to the German economic sphere and sandwiched between Belgium and Germany had no other choice but singing to the German tune?
Wasn’t attaching 38 million Italians more important than binding 7 million Dutch?

Cecilie’s views collided with those of Chancellor Erzberger and Foreign Minister Stresemann, who both had vague ideas about a ‘Germanic’ Empire that re-integrated the Dutch into the German people’s community (‘Volksgemeinschaft’). - Emperor Wilhelm III. had been set at zero after the latest ‘familiarisation’ adventure, his opinion did not really matter in this moment.
King Vittorio Emmanuele III. of Italy and Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands had already expressed serious interest in entering into family relations with the House of Prussia. In the case of the Italians, this was supported by public opinion, while in the Netherlands – although or just because most Dutch realised that their future depended on good relations with Germany – there was a certain animosity against the ‘Duitsers’. Germany was simply too big and powerful for the Dutch with their ‘Germanic dialect’ to feel comfortable.
A connection with the House of Oranje would create no religious troubles, they were Calvinists – just like the House of Prussia. But Catholic Princess Giovanna would cause no problems either, even the Holy Father had already signalled that her conversion to Calvinism would not be seen as a sin.

German public opinion, as polled by the government, strongly favoured the Dutch connection. Most Germans shared the idea about the ‘Germanic’ Empire, although in the educated classes some also sympathised with the rebirth of the Holy Roman Empire.

From Helgoland, however, came a strong voice in favour of Cecilie and Giovanna. Wilhelm von Preußen, former Emperor and present darling convict of the nation, boldly stated that a liaison of two sovereigns like Juliana and his grandson could not work. No marriage could endure the stress put upon it when both partners were ‘ruling’ monarchs. This was simply impossible, beyond the personal capacity of everybody.

Whether it was this strong opinion or Cecilie’s pighead, after short time the politicians caved in. On January 1st, 1923, it was announced that Crown Prince Wilhelm von Preußen would engage with Princess Giovanna of Savoy on Easter Sunday.
Shortly after, Prince Louis Ferdinand travelled to Scheveningen for a winter holiday on the Dutch beaches.
In Politics, a Man must learn to rise above Principle.
(American Proverb)

Initial ideas about sending guerrillas to the south-western US states had been cancelled at the instigation of Rosa Luxemburg. This was a war of aggression by the imperialist US capitalists against the peaceful country of Mexico, any impression of Mexican aggression against the USA had to be avoided. Mexico was the suffering victim of unscrupulous US megalomania.
Thus the world learned how the American policy of ‘Concentration Camps’ (the Mexican side had no problem in using this term forged negatively in the Second Boer War) spread misery and despair with the population of the Mexican north-east, where domestic animals perished by the thousands and crops decayed on the fields.

International opinion, also in political circles, was turning more and more against the USA. After all, there was no proof that the Mexican leaders had anything to do with the October 6th Bombings. Apart from loud accusations and unfounded suspicions voiced in the US press and readily picked up by the Owen Administration, there was not the slightest evidence. Even the search of the governmental files found in Mexico City had revealed nothing about a possible involvement of the revolutionary Mexican government.

Although Britain was heavily depending on US capital, the socialist press– and most members of the cabinet – grew ever more sceptical about the true motives of the US intervention. Very soon, the ‘truest’ reason had been discovered: The oil fields near Tuxpán, conveniently occupied by US forces, were a motive that most Englishmen could understand well. Hadn’t that been the modus operandi of Britain for centuries? Setting sails in order to chasten some vile dudes who had allegedly acted against the laws of humanity or done something else reprehensible, but never forgetting to pick up the gold nuggets lying in one’s path.

In France, the US invasion of Mexico really did excite people. Okay, one was no friend of Socialism. But the blockade of the Mexican ports was something else. This threatened business (and business was business, full stop) – and although the French Navy had decommissioned several submarines, which now served as submergible transports for private companies, French sales to Mexico had dropped steeply; the cramped spaces inside the submarines hardly being able to accommodate more than personnel and construction plans.
Thankfully, the Mexicans had enough gold to pay for services in the long term, even now after the oil wells had fallen to the Americans.

In Spain, where there was little love for the US since the war of 1898 anyway, the aggression against Mexico appalled people. The Spanish Socialists and Liberals were raising volunteers for a Spanish Legion designed to fight in Mexico, while Primo de Rivera’s government remained idle, not opposed to the idea that some potential troublemakers moved house.
In Italy, the same happened with the tacit permission of the newly elected second liberal-socialist Giolitti government and the silent support of the Holy See, the latter seeing the US invasion as a threat to Catholic Mexican Orthodoxy, which never ever had been challenged by Panchismo.

In Germany, the attempt to form a volunteer unit had coldly been suppressed by the Erzberger government. Those who wanted to fight thus had been forced to go to Italy or Spain. But fund raising in support of the volunteer brigades and the Mexican freedom fighters nevertheless went on and achieved nice results.
German companies no longer cared for the embargo, after the US had moved to close blockade, and were selling whatever the Mexicans wanted, either directly or by their French proxies. U-155, the former merchant submarine ‘Deutschland’, had been sold to the Bremer Lloyd by the German Navy, restored to her erstwhile function and had received the new name ‘Hermes’. Further details were unknown to the public, but it was believed that she was running freight service to Mexico.

In Japan, the ruthless US manner of treating their near abroad was observed with great interest. Nippon was still licking the wounds torn by the Russian Bear and happy to receive US funding. Yet, even without these factors, nobody in official function would have moved a finger in support of Panchism. No, not the invasion per se was seen as wrong, the Japanese thought, however, that an occupation of all of Mexico would have been far wiser than the desultory invasion of the Mexican east coast only.
If the US, however, took the liberty to invade their neighbours for petty reasons, Japan in future, when the current wounds had healed, could invoke the same liberty in her near abroad, couldn’t she?
You can't unscramble an Egg
(American Proverb)

Despite the CPI running its campaign to ‘sell’ US intervention to the public at full power, foreign papers were read and discussed in the states – and quite a number of people noticed that the US were about to become the bête noir of international politics.

The issue, however, was what alternatives did exist, now that the invasion of Mexico was a fact? Simply dropping everything and going home was out of question, even for staunch enemies of intervention abroad. Wasn’t it better to occupy all of Mexico, install a democratic government after general elections – and only then withdraw?
After all, Pancho Villa was a bandit and murderer, and this Russian Jew, Trotsky, was a mass murderer. There was absolutely no reason to leave these characters in power in a neighbouring country. But there also was no point in ruining Mexican economy by the SF system.

For an occupation of Mexico entire, the current size of the armed forces clearly was insufficient. – But enlarging the US Army was nothing that could be done in a jiffy. Indifferently whether the growth was achieved by introducing conscription or by recruiting more men serving voluntarily, it would take time. In 1917/18 it had taken almost one year to enlarge the army and send greater numbers of soldiers to Europe. One could, however, not ‘freeze’ affairs in Mexico for twelve months. A solution of the Mexican dilemma was urgent.
While at present a sizeable portion of the US populace agreed to the Mexican intervention and most of those who didn’t really agree still followed the slogan ‘Right or Wrong, my County’, the introduction of conscription for military service would dramatically change this attitude to the negative.
Thus, the only available solution was hiring more volunteers, and, if possible, volunteers, who had a service background already from 1917/18. If this worked, new units could, hopefully, become ready within six months.

Until then, it was important to change affairs in the current zone of occupation. To shut away the population in the SF apparently only was a short-time military solution, but nothing that was desirable or sustainable in the long run. – The Mexicans had to be given the chance to live their normal lifes – and at the same time the US must harness the opportunity to install a democratic system.

It was Vice-President Roosevelt, who accomplished this alteration of attitude in the cabinet. President Owen also had been looking for a change, but although feeling uncomfortable with the previous methods, he had had not yet arrived at a holistic new solution of his own.
So, by early 1923, the US occupation of north-eastern Mexico began to change its face. Gradually, the population was released from the ‘shelter facilities’ and allowed to return to their villages and towns. With massive US financial aid, the damages of several weeks of neglect were tried to be redressed.

This – of course – also brought about a surge of new guerrilla activities, but with no further advance intended at present, a tight network of small units could now be laid upon the entire occupied territory, in which the guerrillas could be detected and tackled early on.
New ID cards and registration systems certainly helped, yet the major factor was that the US soldiers now could come to know the vicinity – and thus be aware who belonged to the area and who not.

By early February 1923, the Mexican side began to feel the reversal. The losses the guerrillas suffered always had been higher than those inflicted on the Gringos, but now losses mounted without any damage caused.
The weakness of the enemy makes our strength.
(Cherokee Proverb)

Due to the rapid end of the Great War, most US Army units never had received their heavy equipment before being deactivated again. Nevertheless, production of ordnance of French design had had started in the USA and at least those four divisions kept active after the end of the war had been equipped with state-of-the-art hardware between 1918 and 1920.
Consequently, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Infantry Divisions and the 1st Cavalry Division possessed modern artillery brigades, which disposed of a mixture of 75 mm field cannons and 155 mm Schneider howitzers. Their infantry had calibre 30 and 50 Browning heavy machine guns, M 1918 BARs, M 1903 Springfield rifles and 3-inch Stokes trench mortars.
Against this formidable field force, the Mexican side could muster nothing comparable, although most Mexican units were equipped with the excellent Mondragón automatic rifle and modern machine guns like the French Mle 1914 Hotchkiss adopted to Mauser ammunition and the German Bergmann MG 15 nA.
The sore spot, however, was artillery. Mexican factories produced French 155 mm Rimailhos and Schneiders and also ammunition for them, but at a very slow output. Some guns also had been delivered before the US blockade became effective, but the total number available hardly sufficed to equip four regiments, thus about half of what the US could muster.
US National Guard as well as Mexican Rurales and other irregular units had to cope with what was at hand, which meant that they hardly had any artillery other than some older cannons and mortars.

When the Americans changed their strategy in early 1923 and the Mexican guerrillas became less and less effective, the question about an offensive of the regular Mexican Army soon arose.
An all-out assault in order to drive the Gringos back beyond the border was out of question, but attacks with limited objective might be possible. One could possibly wreck some National Guard units and withdraw before the hard core of the US force arrived.
Intelligence on US dispositions was abundant, the Gringos couldn’t move a single platoon without this being noticed and registered by the Mexicans.
Were the Americanos aware of Mexican troop dispositions? They certainly ruled the skies by day – with most aeroplanes coming from the Army Air Service (the idea of creating an independent US Air Force hadn’t really proceeded yet), but also with strong support from the US Navy – and were able to see what was happening in unoccupied Mexico.

Utmost care had to be taken to arrange for movements at night only and to camouflage positions and assembly areas. Only regular army units with proven discipline were to be used.
General Enrique Estrada Reynoso was put in charge of the first operation, which received the code name ‘Huitzilopochtli’ and was launched on early morning of February 8th, 1923.

The US were completely surprised. There had been no indication of a pending assault, everything had looked like ‘business as usual’. About two regular Mexican divisions banged upon three National Guard regiments in the vicinity of Actopan – Tepatepec – Tetepango and penetrated as deep as Pachuca de Soto with their cavalry squadrons.
Leaving behind 1,800 Americans dead and about 3,500 wounded, they withdrew again during the following night, carrying with them approximately 700 Gringos as prisoners of war.
Although Mexican losses had been higher than those of the Americans, the operation was seen as a resounding Mexican victory – internationally, in Mexico and in the USA. (The Mexicans had been able to evacuate most of their fallen and wounded, thus obscuring the US body count.)

On February 11th, the 1st US Infantry Division counter attacked, but only hit empty spaces. The Mexicans were gone.
The US were not used to be beaten in battle. And to have been beaten by Spics did hurt even more. The result was a public firestorm. The first official to become a victim of the Battle of Pachuca de Soto was General Robert Lee Howze, who was almost immediately replaced by General Robert Lee Bullard.
But also the competence of the Chief of Staff of the United States Army, General John J. Pershing, was seriously questioned. Valiantly (or just fed up with the whole nonsense, as some rumoured), Sectretary of War Neuton Diehl Baker Junior assumed responsibility and stepped down from office, to be replaced by Alvin Victor Donahey.

Conscription now became an urgent issue, as did the rapid enlargement of the US Army. The American public – inspired by the CPI – cried for revenge for Pachuca de Soto.

Before any far reaching decisions could be taken in the US, the Mexicans struck again. On February 15th, Operation ‘Quetzalcoatl’ hit National Guard units in the area Tehuacan – Tierra Blanca.
The Mexican divisions had been assembled for some time and had had ample time to get ready. Only the artillery had had to be shifted from the west to the south.
This time, however, although surprised, the Gringos were not unprepared. The reservists put up a spirited fight and inflicted severe losses on the attacking Mexicans.
Nevertheless, in the end two more US regiments had been annihilated and another 250 men been taken prisoner of war.
The counter attack came in quicker this time and caught the Mexicans while still pulling out. About one third of the Mexican guns was lost. – But the cost paid by US 1st Cavalry Division was horrendous. The automatic rifles of the Mexicans extracted a heavy price from the riders and their mounts. The divisional history of the 1st Cavalry later would call the event ‘The Altepexi Horse Slaughter’.
In the mountainous terrain north of Tehuacan, the Mexicans got away unmolested; and in the area of Tierra Blanca a counter thrust of US Marines out of Vera Cruz – without proper artillery coverage – crashed against the dug-in Mexican infantry and was repulsed for high losses to both sides.

Unbeknownst to the US and the international audience, the offensive capacity of the Mexican Army was now spent. Their casualties were enormous, more than the double of what they had inflicted on the Gringos. For all practical purposes, the active Mexican Army had been gutted. It would take them more than half a year to train a sufficient number of replacements – and about the same time to replace the lost guns. In addition, their supply of artillery ammunition was completely depleted.

But that was not what the world was seeing. The US had been beaten twice – that was the message. The Gringos could be vanquished.
The signal was well understood on Cuba, in Nicaragua, Honduras, San Salvador and British Honduras (although in the latter country there were no US troops and the Socialist Government in London was prepared to grant most demands of the Movimiento de la Libertad) – and resistance to the ruling oligarchs and their US helpers multiplied.
US citizens and US installations became targets of bullets and bombs on scale never experienced before. The US embassy in La Habana burned down to the ground after being stormed by a wild mob, the local fire brigade refusing to quench the flames. A US destroyer in the harbour of Habana was heavily damaged by a bomb detonating in a barge alongside the ship.
In Nicaragua, Augusto Sandino and his gang scored by raiding several plantations of the UFC and killing some handfuls of their local ‘serfs’ and at least twelve Americans.

In US occupied north-east Mexico, the occupation forces reacted nervous and trigger-happy to the two battles, thus jeopardising the few gains made with the local population by releasing them from the ‘shelter facilities’. Quite a number of innocent people were shot by edgy US soldiers fearing for their lifes.
This, in turn, increased the support that the ‘Luchadores’ and other guerrilla groups were able to draw from the populace – leading to a steep rise in attacks and bombings.
Ship Watching

Korvettenkapitän (Lieutenant Commander) Karl Dönitz, Captain of SMS Kolberg, watched the US destroyer stop the Spanish freighter and send a search party on board.
These ‘Amis’ were rather proficient, this he had to admit. They were very similar to the Germans in many ways, bluff, coldly efficient, workaholic and enterprising. But they also were puffy and holier-than-everybody, cocky and arrogant. Dönitz had already decided that he didn’t like them.
Their hypocritical behaviour during the Great War always had irritated him. While English submarines cold as ice had sunk everything that came before their prows – without any warning, these Americans had made a big fuss about German submarine operations.
While the English had starved German babies to death, the Amis had raved about the security of American citizens – bloody idiots who insisted to travel safely into a war zone... – and at the same time had delivered ammunition and other war material to the Entente.
Dönitz only regretted that the Americans had escaped annihilation in France; that would certainly have tempered their hubris. But done was done, and Germany today was at peace with the USA.

Dönitz and SMS Kolberg had been sent to Mexican waters in order to monitor the US blockade operations and to safeguard German ships – if necessary. He had been advised – under the pledge of secrecy – that the ‘Hermes’ did not run into the Bay of Campeche but was employed to transport goods to the ports in the Gulf of Honduras, Chetumal and Porto Juarez.
So, any submarines that the Amis might be hunting in these waters had to be French.

The Amis were reported to have Asdic, which the English had invented during the Great War and the Germans had come to know about by evaluating a Royal Navy destroyer wreck after the Battle of Cape Arnautis. Dönitz had been instructed that the device was not very reliable. The SMS Kolberg had ‘Echolot’, the German version of sonic ranging, which didn’t seem to be any better.
If there really were French submarines running freight service to Coatzacoalcos or Campeche, neither the Amis nor the SMS Kolberg – so far – had detected any. The US made it a habit to have a casual look into the ports whether there was any submarine, which regularly led to fire fights with the Mexicans. The costal batteries, antiquated as they had been, had long been silenced by the Amis; but the Mexicans had brought up some mobile batteries – apparently older guns as well – and truly had managed to damage two US vessels, one destroyer so heavily that the ship had to retire for major repair.

The search party had finished its mission and the Spanish freighter received permission to proceed into port at Campeche. It was a small ship, hardly worth a torpedo – had Dönitz still been a submarine man. He had served under ‘Kaleu’ Walter Forstmann, one of the highest scoring U-Boat aces and bearer of the Pour-le-Merite, before being given his own command, UC 25, in March of 1918, only few weeks before the end of the Great War.
He had managed only one mission with his boat, sinking two enemy ships, then the war had been over. Nevertheless, Dönitz remained convinced of the potential of submarines.
After all, Tirpitz’ big ships had accomplished very little, while the U-Boats had almost strangled England. And the Kaiser’s U-Boats had been primitive dive boats, hardly seaworthy and not very fit for combat action. The new boats currently under construction in Germany were quite another affair. One could very well control the Atlantic Ocean with these...

Dönitz turned to his officer of the watch. “Alright, all peaceful here. – Have course set to Coatzacoalcos, Mister Bonte.” He left the bridge and went to his cabin. Time to update his diary.
Hardly had he sat down, when an orderly knocked at his door. “Kaleu Bonte asks you to come up to the bridge again, Sir. The Americans are throwing depth charges.”

The USS Satterlee was just running another attack, when Dönitz arrived on the bridge. “Echolot?” he asked.
“Nothing, Sir.”
Dönitz grabbed a pair of binoculars.
The battle drill of the Amis was impeccable. These guys really knew their trade.
But what did they think they were hunting?
“Mister Bonte, get us closer.”

The Amis were flashing. “Stay off!” This was the second destroyer, USS Gridley.
“They’ve no right to give us any orders. Get us closer.”
USS Satterlee was making another run.
“Contact!” reported Echolot. “Distance 1,800, coming in our direction.”
“Mister Bonte, we hold course.”
“Get out of our zone of action!” flashed USS Gridley.
“Fuck you.” hissed Dönitz. “Signals! – Tell them that these are international waters. We’ll act according to our own dispositions.”

“Echo passing below us.” reported Echolot.
USS Satterlee came very close, but SMS Kolberg was just bigger and with her – now fully manned – 150 mm cannons a lot meaner than the two US flushdeckers.
“Echo is heading for Campeche port.”
The Amis had given up their chase. Dönitz was sure that they now were asking for new orders via radio. He didn’t really care. They had hassled the Germans during the war, now it was his term to hassle the Amis!
urgs.. i hope he gets demoted for this..

Even if he does not like the amis it is not the best idea to provoke a diplomatic incident with someone you are at peace with...

by the way --> bump!
urgs.. i hope he gets demoted for this..

Even if he does not like the amis it is not the best idea to provoke a diplomatic incident with someone you are at peace with...

by the way --> bump!

By "annoying the Amis" he possibly saved a French sub from being sunk. One can get quite some political capital with France out of this, and Amis are half a world away while France is next door.

Not saying I would admire him for the decision, but it is a sound Realpolitik.
Good Fences make good Neighbors

Whether there really was a master plan to worsen German-American relations behind Dönitz’ action will remain a contentious issue between the different schools of historians.
The Angler-School, named after Professor Fritz Angler of the Hamburg University, famous for his much-noticed work ‘Grabbing for State Domination’ (‘Der Griff nach der Staatsmacht’), maintains that Dönitz was infested with pan-German ideas and acted in accordance with guidelines issued by the ultras of the extreme right wing of the GDNP.
The Reiter-School, named after Professor Gerhard Reiter of the Freiburg University, famous for his ground braking examination of the Schlieffen Plan and his five volume analysis of militarism versus civil control in Germany ‘The Sword and the Sceptre’ (‘Staatsführung und Feldherrnkunst’), points to the fact that Dönitz was in deed reprimanded for his unauthorized operation because the Erzberger Government – including Minister of War Alfred von Tirpitz (GDNP) – strongly supported the US intervention in Mexico. They also argue that although some GDNP members were known to have been rabidly anti-American, the same persons had been much more anti-Communist and therefore there was no convincing plot. – At the same time, the Reiter-School admits that formally Dönitz’ decisions had been absolutely correct.
Whatever may have been Dönitz’ motives, the result was telling: On February 25th, 1923, the USA declared the Gulf of Mexico, the waters around Cuba and the sea between Cuba and Panama a war zone and restricted neutral shipping to four sea lanes tightly controlled by the US Navy. Neutral ships of war were no longer allowed inside the war zone.
This was a fundamental violation of the principle of absolute freedom of navigation, an issue that had been held very high by the US under President Wilson, and immediately led to widespread protests by the neutral nations. All European countries saw their trade impaired and harmed by this unilateral US step.
In Germany, many people remembered that the US had had already ‘forgotten’ about freedom of navigation after they had joined the Entente in 1917. Apparently, these Americans were not at all interested in principles but steered a clear course of gross self interest and blatant power politics – just like the Europeans...
Militarily, the US sanction would not have consequences. Only two navies were at all capable of challenging the US Navy, the German High Seas Fleet and the British Royal Navy.
The irony was that the German government fully agreed with the US intervention and thus had no interest at all in a confrontation, although a German officer had apparently provided the final straw that had led to the American decision.
The British government, while much more considerate towards the Second Mexican Revolution, had no interest in a conflict with the USA either. All Britons knew since long before the Great War that challenging the USA bore no healthy prospect for Britain, and actually, the island was dependent on US money for her economic prosperity.
In the end, for all European countries trade with the USA was much more important than trade with Mexico or the Central American countries.
Thus, apart from fierce vocal protests, nothing happened – and after few days world opinion accepted the realities created by the US.

For the Mexican economy, the consequences were enormous because the country now was completely isolated from the European markets.
Today, many think that this was the major cause why the take-over of the councils, the Soviets, as they were commonly called also in Mexico, could happen. From Russia, Leon Trotsky had brought along his experience in orchestrating an isolated country and an isolated economy. And when commercial motivation no longer mattered, motivation by coercion became the more important.
The implementation of the war zone by the US therefore triggered the shift to totalitarian rule in Mexico. The Workers’ Soviets, controlled by Trotsky, now become the ‘legal’ background for Trotsky’s rule. Pancho Villa, for whom the game had become just too big, meekly agreed to Trotsky’s assumption and continued to play ‘El Guardián del Pueblo’. Luxemburg and Goldman, although not entirely convinced by Trotsky, nevertheless saw no other way to continue as well. The masses had to be organised and the Mexican economy had to become self-sufficient, otherwise the country would revert to the Middle Ages.
With other world, the latest step by USA brings about exactly the thing they wanted to prevent in the first place. And if they were to revert course, it is too late because one cannot expect Trotsky to relinquish the power again.
OTOH if there are significant atrocities by Workers' Soviets, there will be a better justification for USA to enlarge the scope of invasion and to go straight for "regime change".
five volume analysis of militarism versus civil control in Germany ‘The Sword and the Sceptre’ (‘Staatsführung und Feldherrnkunst’)
Interesting that it has a different name in English, compared to German- and that in German, the civil control-refence comes first, while in English, it is the militarism reference.
Having Tea with the Hereditary Enemy

Karl Dönitz was not amused. First, a radio message from SKL had told him harshly that obstructing US activities in relation to Mexico was not the intention of the German Government. Apparently, the ‘Amis’ had complained about him in Berlin. Then, he had been ordered to leave the war zone claimed by the US.
SMS Kolberg now cruised north of Venezuela, waiting for a coal steamer coming out of Port of Spain on Trinidad. After restocking her coal supply, the vessel was to return to Wilhelmshaven.

“Emerged submarine on starboard ahead!”
Dönitz startled up from his gloomy thoughts.
“Submarine identifies as French ship ‘Nereide’. They ask permission to come alongside.”
Dönitz had fought the French in the Mediterranean during the Great War. Many of Walter Forstmann’s victims had been French ships. What did the captain of this submarine want?

“French captain asks for permission to come aboard.”
“Permission granted. – Have piped the side.”

The whole French crew seemed to be clad in civilian garb; their captain differed from the rest by wearing a tailcoat and a tie. He looked rather friendly.
“My name is Georges Loizeau. I want to thank you for saving our lifes.”

So, this was the submarine, which the Americans had been hunting when SMS Kolberg interfered. Dönitz invited Loizeau to have tea with him on the bridge, in full visibility of both crews.
It soon turned out that Loizeau’s last military rank had been Capitaine de Vaisseau (Naval Captain). Like Dönitz he had fought in the Mediterranean during the Great War. In 1916, he had been commander of the French cruiser ‘Requin’ (Shark) and had played an important role in the defence of the Suez Canal, for which he had been promoted to full Captain.
He had volunteered to command the ‘Nereide’, one of the decommissioned submarines, which now ran commercial freight service to Mexico.

“It is an eerie feeling when you hear the ‘ping’ of the sonic detector knocking at the wall of the boat. – These Americans are very clever. The second destroyer kept detecting the ‘Nereide’, while the other one ran the attacks. – If you hadn’t intervened, they’d gotten us… - But you also have a sonic detector!”
Dönitz smiled.
“The Englishmen developed the device in response to our U-Boat offensives. They call it Asdic, short for Anti-Submarine Device Investigation Committee. Our’s was developed independently from their’s. We only learned about their Asdic after the Battle of Cape Arnautis. The US should have received the formulas from the English during the war.”
“So, why did you save us?”
“I’ve been on submarines during the war. I was First Officer on Walter Forstmann’s U 39 – and then became a commander myself. I’ve often been hunted, but I always could fight back. – You can’t fight back. Thus, I thought it unfair what the Americans were doing. Hunting unarmed prey is not sportsmanlike.”
“Again, my profoundest thanks. – Should you ever come to Toulon, please be my guest.”

The crews had mixed in the meanwhile, German sailors crawling around inside ‘Nereide’ and French seamen wandering about SMS Kolberg, trading cigarettes and alcoholic beverages. The language barrier obstructed deeper conversation, but smiling, backslapping and offering cigarettes was universal.
That they should owe their lifes to a bunch of Boches apparently didn’t spoil the temper of the French sailors.

“How did you find SMS Kolberg?” inquired Dönitz.
Loizeau made a vague hand gesture. “Let’s say France does have some people on Trinidad who provide information to our regional command on Guadeloupe. Guadeloupe told me that a coal steamer had departed from Port of Spain in order to supply you about here.”

Before saying farewell, a photograph of both crews standing together was taken on board SMS Kolberg. Then the French submarine departed with her crew on deck and waving.
What Karl Dönitz did not yet know was that he soon would be prominent in French (and then also in German) newspapers together with the picture showing both crews – as a valiant hero saving French sailors from certain death.
Quite unintentionally, he had become a pioneer of Franco-German rapprochement.
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