An eventful period lay behind Commander Erich Köhler at the outbreak of the war—weeks of heavy work of responsibility, but rich in success and honor.
On 21 January, 1914, he, with H. M. S. Dresden, anchored off Vera Cruz, Mexico, and relieved the commander of H. M. S. Bremen of the East-American station. The H. M. S. Bremen then started for home.
Since the abdication of Porfirio Diaz, a war of rebellion raged in Mexico. German rights and property were in constant danger. The worst place on the east coast was the petroleum harbor of Tampico, which was threatened since December, 1913.
But the German commander had more to do than merely to protect the German interests against the Mexicans. Opposed to him were the American and English admirals and the captains of the French men-o-war who did not relish the presence of the German flag.