Sommerfeld Felix A.

Publié le par Roger Cousin

Sommerfeld FelixFelix A. Sommerfeld (May 28, 1879 – after 1930) 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. Born on May 28, 1879 in Schneidemuehl, Posen, Germany, Sommerfeld grew up in a middle class Jewish household as the youngest son of Pauline and Isidor Sommerfeld. After finishing high school Sommerfeld began studies in Berlin as a mining engineer. However, for unknown reasons he dropped out and came to the United States in 1898 to visit his brother.

In the excitement over the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, the 19-year-old joined the army but deserted a few months after. In 1900 Sommerfeld, this time as a German soldier, went to war in China to put down the Boxer Rebellion. He was a "Meldereiter," German for horse messenger. When he returned in 1901 he completed his mining engineering studies and returned to the United States in 1902. After briefly staying with his brother Julius in Chicago, Sommerfeld set out to the West as a prospector. He worked his way through Arizona, Sonora (Mexico) and Durango (Mexico) until 1905 when he returned to Chicago totally broke. Not much is known about the German adventurer between 1906 and 1908. It is possible that he returned to Germany and received secret service training in Berlin.

In 1908, he suddenly showed up in Chihuahua, Mexico. He again worked as a mining engineer, however, in reality he became an informant for the German government. Chihuahua was ripe with rebellion and Sommerfeld did all he could to find out as much as possible about the anti-reelection movement led by Francisco I. Madero. In 1910 the Mexican Revolution commenced. Sommerfeld ostensibly worked for AP News but filed regular intelligence reports for the German government. When Madero succeeded in overthrowing the Mexican Dictator Porfirio Diaz, Sommerfeld firmly joined the new president's entourage, first as a personal assistant, then as Mexico's chief of the secret service. Working under the direction of Gustavo A. Madero Sommerfeld led the Mexican secret service. He helped put down the Orozco uprising in the spring of 1912, in the course of which he led the largest foreign secret service organization ever operating on U.S. soil.

The secret service organization Sommerfeld built included Mexican-Americans, Mexican expatriates, other German agents such as Horst von der Goltz and Arnold Krumm-Heller, as well as two of the most notorious soldiers of fortune of the decade, Sam Dreben and Emil Lewis Holmdahl. In 1913, after Madero's overthrow and death, Sommerfeld left Mexico under the protection of German ambassador Paul von Hintze, went to Washington, D.C. where he received funds from lawyer and Madero supporter Sherburne Hopkins and signed up with the rebel movement assembled to overthrow Victoriano Huerta. Venustiano Carranza sent Sommerfeld to El Paso and San Antonio to organize weapons for the revolutionaries.

Sommerfeld also functioned as a liaison between the American government and Carranza. In the spring of 1914, Sommerfeld began working closer with Francisco "Pancho" Villa. When Villa and Carranza split apart and started fighting each other, Sommerfeld stayed with Villa as his chief weapons buyer in the U.S. Sommerfeld also lobbied the American government on Villa's behalf to receive diplomatic recognition. The task brought Sommerfeld close to General Hugh Lenox Scott and American Secretary of War, Lindley Miller Garrison, both of whom he assisted numerous times when American citizens found themselves in trouble in Mexico.

When World War I broke out in August 1914, Sommerfeld moved to New York ostensibly to represent Pancho Villa's interests but actually worked for German Naval Attache Karl Boy-Ed. In his function as a specialist on Mexican affairs, Sommerfeld helped the German government sell off arms and ammunition they had bought to keep them out of Entente hands. Sommerfeld also had great knowledge of American munitions factories, their capacities, order status etc. His intelligence reports had a great influence on the formulation of Germany's war strategy vis-a-vis the United States. In 1915, Sommerfeld funneled large amounts of arms to Pancho Villa, the value being estimated to about $340,000 (About $7 million in today's value).

In March 1916, Pancho Villa attacked the city of Columbus, NM. Sommerfeld, who had offered to the German government in May 1915 that he could create an incident which would provoke a war between the U.S. and Mexico, became a prime suspect. However, no investigator or historian has been able to prove Sommerfeld's involvement. In June 1918, Sommerfeld was interned in Fort Oglethorpe, GA as an enemy alien. He was released in 1919. A few trips back and forth to Mexico have been recorded in the 1920s and 30s. However, the German agent disappeared in the 1930s without a trace.

Publié dans Espions

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