Langsdorff and the Graf Spee

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graham23s
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Post by graham23s » 12 Oct 2003 21:17

am i right in saying british officers came to pay thier respects at his funeral?

Graham

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Post by Karl da Kraut » 13 Oct 2003 21:36

Langsdorff had neither been ordered to attempt a break out norto scuttle his ship. This decision was up to Langsdorff himself, as Raeder only ruled out the possibility of an internment.

Ovidius wrote:
This must have been the main reason for which he took his life: once returned to Germany, he was going to be tried and sentenced for refusal to engage combat, having the means to do so. Hitler would have said the men were expendable, the ship was more precious for the war effort.
As your own post points out, Langsdorff was granted the permission to scuttle Admiral Graf Spee by Raeder himself. Therefore it would have been extremly unlikely that Langsdorff would have been courtmartialled. Moreover, according to the information available to him, his ship would have been sunk anyways by a force so vastly superior that he could hardly hope to deal damage to the enemy before going down. As it was percieved, the Graf Spee could no longer contribute to the war effort. There was no need for Langsdorff to fear possible future punishment by German authorities.

However, Langsdorff could have been (socially, in the view of history) accused of cowardice. Maybe he scuttled his ship because he was primarily concerned about his OWN life? By comitting suicide, Langsdorff proved he had not avoided action to save his life. I guess his motivation was to preserve his soldiers honor.

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Dora
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Post by Dora » 18 Nov 2003 04:58

All,
As a small sidebar to the discussion is the issue of German radar on the GS. The half submerged hulk was an object of great interest to day tourists after the battle, among them British technical personnel from the embassy. Based on the aerial array, which was almost undamaged, the British were able to deduce the abilities of the radar set the GS had and prepare this information for use in the RN.
Dora

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Alex (F)
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Post by Alex (F) » 09 Aug 2006 22:08

Talking about Langsdorff's suicide - it was likely that he committed suicide only after learning that he had actually been able to escape, but he was affected by the British propaganda and chose sinking the ship, believing he had no other choice.

I can just add that I have also read another version of events, saying that Langsdorff only faked his death. It looks like conspiracy theory, nevertheless I hve read it in a non-fiction book. The book was about someting else - it was "La vraie vie d'Eva Peron" by Silvain Reiner (a documentry biography). The author states that the suicide of Captain Langsdoff was faked and gives the following arguments:
- The only witnesses of putting Langsdorff's body into coffin were a sailor from Admiral Graf Spee - Fisher and German attache. There was no doctor to confirm the death.
- In 1941 the coffin was transported to Germany and put in Gorlow (East Prussia), but when at the and of the war a group of allies' officers went there (they wanted to honour him, because he was respected by the enemies) it turned out that the coffin was empty.

Finally Reiner says that Juan Peron had captain Langsdorff his guest in Calle Posadas.

I have not came across any other sources supporting this theory or even arguing with it. Did Reiner invent the story or maybe Peron did? Maybe other users can comment on it and give more information.

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Re: Langsdorff and the Graf Spee

Post by tigre » 30 Jul 2015 02:59

Hello to all :D; a new twist regarding this topic....................

Decision issued in a borderline situation: Kapitän zur See Hans Langsdorff before and in Montevideo 1939.

Contact with the enemy and action.

Already in the first phase of the combat as stated in a later investigation report of the OKM from 6:17 to 6:38 hours (the alarm "clear ship for action" was already given at 06:00 hours), Langsdorff, follows the battle from the foretop - and therefore unprotected - was wounded by splinters and needs to be suplied with the first aid packet.

During the second portion of the engagement, the Commander suffered a serious injury, when he fell to the ground unconscious for a few minutes due to the close blast of a grenade. The then Oberleutnant zur See Kurt Diggins, located nearby as Langsdorff's adjutant reported that Langsdorff "Had temporarily lost consciousness" and continues: "after my call, Commander down, a few minutes later the first officer appeared on the foretop, when the commander was already gained full awareness. "

We must stop at this point to understand that Langsdorff in the phase of the combat between 6:38 and 07:00 hours fell to the ground and lost consciousness a few minutes. This detail went almost unnoticed before and immediately makes sense when evaluating the rationality and tactical wisdom in subsequent decisions of the commander from the military point of view.

When at 07:15 hours the HMS Exeter severely damaged runs behind a black cloud of smoke, followed a lull at 7:30 hours. While on the Graf Spee, deaths and wounded be recovered, Langsdorff made a tour along the devastated upper deck in order to get an immediate impression on the damage caused. In total 36 sailors have fallen and 60 were injured, some seriously. The dead or mutilated sailors make a deep impression to the commander. The physical battle damage were serious at this time and for the subsequent decision decisive:

- Large leak in the hull stern by action of a hit of a shell of 15 - 20,3 cm just above the waterline
- Failure of the fuel and lube oil purification plant
- Failure of all galleys except Admirals galley.
- Flooding in flour and food loads

Wordlessly Langsdorff went back to the bridge. The navigation officer, Korvettenkapitän Jürgen Wattenberg, describes this moment in which the commander's order began the tragedy. Unambiguously and without further consultation with his Officers Langsdorff explained:

"Our damage can not be corrected with standard tools. We shall enter port for repairs. Montevideo or Buenos Aires this is the question. "

Wattenberg describes also the surprise this command triggers among the officers in the bridge:

"In this moment, Korvettenkapitän Ascher (the I AO, d V - 1st Artillery Officer) came on the bridge. I talked to him immediately after the Langsdorff command, we were unsympathetic to each other. Langsdorff had led us so well up to that moment, that we thought that he must know what he was doing. Later, we deeply regretted not have diverted him from his fatal decision"

Source: Führungsentscheidung in einer Grenzsituation:Kapitän zur See Hans Langsdorff vor und in Montevideo 1939.Vortrag für Klaus-Jürgen Müller zum 80 Geburtstag in der Helmut-Schmidt-Universität am 11. März 2010.

Cheers. Raúl M 8-).
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Phaing
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Re: Langsdorff and the Graf Spee

Post by Phaing » 30 Jul 2015 19:13

He should have tried to break out.
He didn't spend his whole life working his way up to a command like that, and his men didn't sign up, to go give up and go into internment for 5 years after their first tough fight.
There was a chance he could have made it, and he should have taken it.

That's why he killed himself, IMHO. Once he had a chance to think, he knew what he had thrown away.

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tigre
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Re: Langsdorff and the Graf Spee

Post by tigre » 30 Jul 2015 19:36

Hello Phaing :D; it seems that.......the lecture arises the matter that Langsdorff decisions were clouded by the concussion he suffered. Cheers. Raúl M 8-).

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Re: Langsdorff and the Graf Spee

Post by tigre » 02 Aug 2015 13:28

to all :D; something more....................

Decision issued in a borderline situation: Kapitän zur See Hans Langsdorff before and in Montevideo 1939.

Contact with the enemy and action.

At this time the ship was more than 200 nautical miles east of the River Plate. From the mouth of the river she must still sail another 50 nautical miles to Montevideo. Buenos Aires as alternative was rejected after checking the nautical chart by the shallow water in the access channel. Immediately below the hull were the intake valves of the water cooling system for the engines, what constituted a risk because sediments could cause a malfunction in this system, affecting the machines.

On the upper deck and inside the ship was working feverishly. the minor damages were repaired with the tools present on board. Power failures and communication links are replaced by flying wires on the middle deck. The sailors killed in action will be placed in their hammocks as coffins and covered with the flag. A guard of honor was mounted.

Around 22:30 hours the lights of Montevideo were sighted. Without a pilot, without tug assistance without diplomatic notification, Langsdorff maneuvered the warship in a completely unknown port. One of the merchant navy officers prisoner on board and who knows the area from peacetime like his hand, lent effective aid. At midnight on December 13 he dropped the anchor. On the speaker system the Commander addressed to all crew saying: "By the time being, the war is over for us."

At the day of arrival of the Graf Spee in Montevideo commander, officers and crew had been 114 consecutive days at sea.

The operational mission of the Graf Spee to disrupt supply lines to Britain, had been successfully accomplished, sinking nine merchant ships. More important was the strategic effect of diverting by the unexpected appearance of an elusive German raider in the vastness of the South Atlantic Ocean and the neighboring Indian Ocean. This is true for 31 British and French warships were employed in the chase and therefore away of the European maritime areas.

Source: Führungsentscheidung in einer Grenzsituation:Kapitän zur See Hans Langsdorff vor und in Montevideo 1939.Vortrag für Klaus-Jürgen Müller zum 80 Geburtstag in der Helmut-Schmidt-Universität am 11. März 2010.

Cheers. Raúl M 8-).
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tigre
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Re: Langsdorff and the Graf Spee

Post by tigre » 04 Aug 2015 18:51

Hello to all :D; something more....................

Decision issued in a borderline situation: Kapitän zur See Hans Langsdorff before and in Montevideo 1939.

Contact with the enemy and action.

After receiving the first reports about the battle, the OKM perceived the situation that hung over the Graf Spee. In the war log (KTB) was stated on December 13, 1939: In this context it should be noted that the choice of Uruguayan port for repairs has not been favorable. Probably the choice was done by the commander in order to repair the ship and try to break to open water and fight. But Uruguay is totally weak in the hands of enemy powers, its government also is aligned with England and although wanted is not in a position to force its total neutrality.

This assessment came too late for Langsdorff and incomprehensible, even today, as this basic information was not made available to the commander when he sailed in August from Wilhelmshaven to find targets in South Atlantic waters.

So it became clear that the OKM did not make available to the commander an intelligence analysis about the political situation in the coastal states of the region where the ship was to operate. This blatant and momentous error was evident in the investigation carried out by the OKM, in which the following is specified: The strong political dependence and respect from Uruguay to England, was not known by the commander. It is conceivable that the decision would have been different had been fully informed about the attitude of the countries of South America.

Kurt Diggins, who was his assistant, said in a later interview: I want to mention that Captain Langsdorff was hit by some shrapnel during the battle and lost consciousness for a few moments. Therefore it can be assumed that he was in shock and that this influenced his later decision. If he had clear thinking, it has not entered into Montevideo. When he realized his mistake it was too late to escape the snare.

This was also confirmed by the Commander of the Argentine Navy Eduardo A. Aumann, who had a long conversation with Langsdorff the day of his suicide, and wrote in his report: I could not get from Captain Langsdorff the reasons why he chose to enter Montevideo and I have the feeling that he was deeply sorry for his decision, as he repeated several times that he should have sailed to Puerto Belgrano (south of the Province of Buenos Aires, near Bahia Blanca some 700 km south of the city of Buenos Aires).

Finally Admiral Theodor Krancke, classmate and close friend of Langsdorff, between 1939 and 1941 Commander of the sister ship "Admiral Scheer" wrote in a letter to Admiral von Fischel the January 10, 1944: the fire was light cruiser very uncomfortable and he was hit twice for it and was slightly injured by shrapnel. He lost consciousness due to the explosión of shell and even a headstrong as he was, barely could stand it. Therefore he did not take his decisions clearly ............ I also have gone to Montevideo, he said.

Source: Führungsentscheidung in einer Grenzsituation:Kapitän zur See Hans Langsdorff vor und in Montevideo 1939.Vortrag für Klaus-Jürgen Müller zum 80 Geburtstag in der Helmut-Schmidt-Universität am 11. März 2010.

Cheers. Raúl M 8-).
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Re: Langsdorff and the Graf Spee

Post by tigre » 07 Aug 2015 14:06

Hello to all :D; something more....................

Decision issued in a borderline situation: Kapitän zur See Hans Langsdorff before and in Montevideo 1939.

In Port.

Back in Montevideo, the militarily view was put aside and entered the diplomatic part to play. Protagonists on the German side were Kapitän z. See Hans Langsdorff, Ambassador Otto Langmann, who congenial little with Langsdorff, so immediately arrived from Buenos Aires the Naval Attaché Kapitän z. See Dietrich Niebuhr, who played a key role in advising the German Commander and by the British side the resolute and at the same time great rival, Ambassador Eugene Millington-Drake, very close to the Uruguayan establishment.

While in the Graf Spee everyone who was not assigned to the service fell into a deep sleep where they were, only medical personnel remained at his post for the care of the wounded did not pause. At dawn on December 14 came alongside a barge to disembark the wounded bound to the military hospital or the Pasteur Hospital. It was also moored alongside a Uruguayan tug.

The Captain of the Port came on board to coordinate administrative issues and by 01:30 hours was granted permission to moor. Langsdorff then met with German Ambassador and let him know that for a new Atlantic crossing the ship needed time and the help of a shipyard. During the morning arrived 36 coffins and a funeral service was arranged for the next morning.

The diplomatic struggle was characterized by the demands of each party, at first Langsdorff asked for three weeks, reduced later to two, to repair his ship and the British demanded to be granted only 24 hours as for the Hague Convention of 1907. The German side did not succeed in their demands and failed against the pressures on the British side, now the Uruguayan government granted only 72 hours and then will proceed to the internment. Therefore there is no time to repair the ship properly and meanwhile the British ran the (false) information that heavy naval units were being concentrated on the mouth of the Rio de la Plata and the French sent the Battleship "Dunkirk".

In addition to the successful policy of British disinformation, an unfortunate appreciation of the enemy by the First Artillery Officer, has a disastrous impact on Langsdorff's future decisions, on December 15 was stated in the war diary: This morning from the foremast a capital ship was sighted, due to her mast can not be other than the "Renown", was also observed on the horizon the "Ark Royal" followed by 2-3 destroyers. From land we have seen several ships, including the "Cumberland".

This erroneous report is transmitted to Berlin and generated controversy among the senior naval officers, because the wireless interceptions of the OKM contradicted Langsdorff, but the Grand Admiral Raeder and the Chief of Staff Schniewind argue that the commander on the ground has better information.

December 16 a notification of the Uruguayan prefecture is received, the Graf Spee has to leave the port before December 17th at 18:15 hours.

December 15 Langsdorff had sent the following message via the embassy:

1. Military Situation in front of Montevideo: cruisers, destroyers, Ark Royal and Renown tight blockade imposed by night. Break out to sea and return to the country without hope.
2. Intent achieve neutral border. If using remnants ammunition can be reached Buenos Aires should be tried.
3. In this case and the possibility of destruction of the Graf Spee by the enemy, decide whether scuttling or internment is required.
4. Decision requested by wireless

The answer came on 16 December:

1. Search every effort to reach neutral waters to maintain freedom of action as long as possible.
2. Point 2: According
3. Point 3: No internment in Uruguay. If scuttling look for effective destruction.

sgd. Naval Operations

Source: Führungsentscheidung in einer Grenzsituation:Kapitän zur See Hans Langsdorff vor und in Montevideo 1939.Vortrag für Klaus-Jürgen Müller zum 80 Geburtstag in der Helmut-Schmidt-Universität am 11. März 2010.

Cheers. Raúl M 8-).
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tigre
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Re: Langsdorff and the Graf Spee

Post by tigre » 22 Aug 2015 18:31

Hello to all :D; something more....................

Decision issued in a borderline situation: Kapitän zur See Hans Langsdorff before and in Montevideo 1939.

In Port.

Based on the response from Berlin on the afternoon of the 16th December took place a meeting aboard in order to set definitely the all further steps. In the KTB of the Graf Spee was written as follows:

"In the late afternoon, in the presence of the naval attaché the Commander held a meeting with I.O.(First Officer), L.I. (Engineer) and N.O. (Signal Officer) about the possibility of a breakthrough to Buenos Aires or the need to blow up the ship. The commander throws, that the 72-hour period is not sufficient to seal the outboard holes and to restore the seaworthiness of the ship. The above-mentioned condition makes the prospect of a breakthrough after home illusory. He stands for whereas run out, still destroy an enemy with the existing ammunition. Nevertheless he speaks about the low water depth before the La Plata. If the ship gets a hit, due to her draft, she will sits flat on the bottom more or less defenseless and is then perhaps not even able to prevent that important secret systems fall in the enemy hands.

A postponement as per the message of the naval staff to 1) does not come into question. The approved under 2) breakthrough to Buenos Aires is also discarded, since the cooling water intake valves on the Ship bottom and thus there is a danger that in the flat and very dirty waters of the La Plata, the engines run hot with very bad consequences. to 3) no question, probably the only possibility is a blast outside territorial waters, in order to be effective a certain preparation time is required. Commander gives the order to set up an appropriate plan. On the night of 17 December, the decision falls.

The commander waited first in the German embassy, where the ambassador Langmann is expected to return from another Interview with Foreign Minister Guani. In this interview the Uruguayan side confirms its unchanged position. Langsdorff formulated then - in the embassy - a formal, detailed reasoned letter of protest against the government decision. In order to prepare the effective destruction, Langsdorff came back aboard shortly before 03:00 clock.

Source: Führungsentscheidung in einer Grenzsituation:Kapitän zur See Hans Langsdorff vor und in Montevideo 1939.Vortrag für Klaus-Jürgen Müller zum 80 Geburtstag in der Helmut-Schmidt-Universität am 11. März 2010.

Cheers. Raúl M 8-).
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Re: Langsdorff and the Graf Spee

Post by Polar bear » 24 Aug 2015 16:10

hi,

3 small comments

- Langsdorff's ADC Kurt Diggins escaped to Germany, later, and became Commanding Officer of http://www.uboat.net/boats/u458.htm
- the name of the French battleship was not "Dunkirk" (i.e., in english), but (in correct French) "Dunkerque"
- the N.O. is not the Signal Officer but the Navigation Officer

greetings, the pb
Peace hath her victories no less renowned than War
(John Milton, the poet, in a letter to the Lord General Cromwell, May 1652)

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tigre
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Re: Langsdorff and the Graf Spee

Post by tigre » 05 Sep 2015 15:48

Hello to all :D; thank you very much Polar bear :wink:. Now something more....................

Decision issued in a borderline situation: Kapitän zur See Hans Langsdorff before and in Montevideo 1939.

In Port.

An entry in the diary of the Artillery Officer realizes the gravity of the drama in this dawn. Rasenack wrote: "I woke up around 04:50 AM and received the order to destroy the artillery system. I went to the commander to confirm the order. He had just arrived, and neither could fix anything in this endeavor. He looked very overworked and bleary-eyed. In low voice he confirmed this crucial order. "

With charges of hand grenades and hammers began the work of destruction inside the ship. The most precious central chronometers were saved - may still be necessary. During the evening meeting at the embassy it was discussed the situation of the crew. Under all circumstances should avoid being interned in Uruguay. For a transfer to Argentina they were considered the German freighter "Tacoma" and "Lahn" present in Montevideo. The "Tacoma" was ordered to be ready to sail on 17 December and follow the warship. However, since large freighters, due to their draft, can not run the direct route from Montevideo to Buenos Aires an alternative was envisaged and with the help of the naval attache, the Inspector of Hamburg-Süd in Buenos Aires, Captain Rudolf Hepe was commissioned to get three barges and make them sail for Montevideo on the night of December 17. Soon after, over the phone, encrypted confirmation came from Buenos Aires: "Everything in order .... provided two tugs and one light." This logistical support, which works to the last minute, remained hidden in almost all the stories about the end the Graf Spee. The essential action was to evacuate the entire crew to a German-friendly Argentina, where the sailors could have a benevolent regime of internment.

On the evening of December 17 the ship was scuttled by its own crew, which was totally rescued. In focus remained the borderline situation of a naval officer who breaking with tradition, followed his conscience and saved the lives of 1103 men. This was clearly reflected in the diary of the NCO (Maschinen-Obermaaten) Hans Götz that quoted the commander on December 17: "I will not let go out to the sea together to fight against a superior enemy force. I will prefer rather 1000 young alive than 1000 dead heroes"........................

Source: Führungsentscheidung in einer Grenzsituation:Kapitän zur See Hans Langsdorff vor und in Montevideo 1939.Vortrag für Klaus-Jürgen Müller zum 80 Geburtstag in der Helmut-Schmidt-Universität am 11. März 2010.

It's all folks. Cheers. Raúl M 8-).
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Re: Langsdorff and the Graf Spee

Post by tigre » 19 Sep 2015 12:09

Hello to all :D; two pictures................

Scuttled!

Source: in the pictures.

Cheers. Raúl M 8-).
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Re: Langsdorff and the Graf Spee

Post by stig58 » 05 Oct 2015 19:41

I have read the posts on the sinking of the Graf Spee a very interesting topic, I noticed nobody has mentioned the 1956 British war film "The Battle of the River Plate" I’m not sure how accurate the film is but it is very entertaining. In the film Captain Langsdorff is portrayed as not very sympathetic to Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party, it was probably the consequences of Langsdorff or the Kriegsmarine decision to scuttle the Graf Spee which would not have been received well back in Germany, and consequently Langsdorff’s decision to commit suicide, as he would have been made a scapegoat by the Nazis for the loss of his battleship, and if the portrayal of Langsdorff the anti- Nazi are true then his punishment would probably have been very severe. I have posted and interesting picture of Langsdorff attending his crew’s funeral service, as someone on the forum has already pointed out that Langsdorff is not giving the Nazi salute, just the traditional navy salute, and if you notice none of his crew is giving the Nazi salute, even the priests are giving the Sieg Heil! But not Langsdorff and his men. However the most poignant moment in the picture is the German minister giving the Nazi salute standing just behind Langsdorff, look at the expression on the ministers face, he was obviously not pleased by Langsdorff’s salute, and I think once the funeral service ended, the minister and Langsdorff exchanged words back at the German embassy in Montevideo, and messages were sent back to Berlin regarding Langsdorff and his men’s conduct. So I believe Langsdorff probably knew what was waiting for him back in Germany and therefore ended his life in Uruguay.

Dennis
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