German Communique

The following is the text of a statement issued by the German Embassy in Buenos Aires on the suicide of Captain Langsdorff:-

The Commander of the glorious cruiser Admiral Graf Spee, Captain Langsdorff, sacrificed his life last night for the fatherland, and took his life voluntarily.  According to a letter he wrote to the German Ambassador he said that he had decided from the first to share the fate of his superb ship.  Only by exercising powerful self-control, and by considering the responsibility which devolved  upon him for the safe disembarkation of his crew, composed of more than one thousand  young men was he able to postpone carrying out his decision until he had fulfilled his duty and made a complete report to his superiors. This mission he completed last night, and the destiny of a brave sailor who has written another glorious page in Germany’s naval history was fulfilled.

The high command of the German navy in a communique last night about Captain Langdorff’s suicide, said [according to Reuter] The navy understands and esteems this act. As a fighter and a hero Captain Langsdorff did what was expected of him by his Fuhrer, the German people and the navy.

Written by The Times Correspondent in Montevideo Uruquay on December 20th 1939.

I am informed from a thoroughly trustworthy source that the Admiral Graf Spee was seaworthy, but that the real reasons why she could not fight were that two of her forward 11” guns and one starboard 5.9” gun were out of action, five or six torpedo tubes had been made useless through shell splinters striking upwards and damaging them underneath, the control tower had been so damaged that her range finder was inaccurate and her firing rate slow, and she had only 28 11” shells left.  In addition to her weaponry defects, her desalination unit had been completely destroyed, so too had her fuel oil separators and  her complete galley/dining areas which doubled as an operating theatre, plus her aircraft had been devoured by fire.  The fuel oil separators prepared the diesel ready for feeding to the engines by ejecting any water content into the bilges for pumping seaward. Although still afloat and seaworthy with four of her 11" guns still operational [albeit with only a handful of  shells to fire], she still had her 5.9" guns [6" for all practical purposes] and ammunition subsequently used with 11" projectiles  to enhance the scuttling processes, in effect, reducing her to the status of a light cruiser,  running on severely impaired ships services. Such an inept weapon platform forced the hand of Langsdorff given that he was led to believe there was a sizeable and powerful British squadron waiting for him seaward of the estuary.