Mike Fowler couldn’t believe his luck. The young radio reporter had simply had the luck in the world because the American was there at the right time in the right place. And this place was called this 17. December 1939 Montevideo. In the La Plata estuary, the “Admiral Graf Spee”, the famous German armored ship was moored for a few days, in sight of the buildings in the port.

The ship had escaped after a battle with several British ships of war here, because it was so badly damaged that it was not possible to continue the journey was. And also, outside, at the entrance to the estuary, the English ships, and lay in wait to the fact that the “Spee” would leak, so they could shoot the unarmed German ship and sink it.

sea captain Hans Langsdorff had to leave the Spee months in the Atlantic ocean poaching. Again and again he succeeded in establishing English trade ships and to sink. The teams he had let escape, only the officers he had taken his ship into custody. Angry, the British “the beast had hunted”, as they called the ship, but it had escaped them.

By chance, they had made it finally, but in front of the Brazilian coast and to be challenged to a battle. Both sides had suffered losses and destruction, then Langsdorff was ordered to sail the ship to Montevideo. A mistake, as it quickly turned out, had, because, here, the “Spee” with her 1200 man crew in the event. You couldn’t get out, but in Uruguayan territorial waters she was not allowed to remain.

A great spectacle in the port of Montevideo

Langsdorff was faced with a difficult decision: Should he lead his ship into the battle and until the last drop of blood to fight, to defend the honor and the glory of the third Reich, as Hitler called it? Or should he sink the “Graf Spee” self and the life of his almost 1200 young men save? On this 17. In December it had to come to a decision, because the Germans had to leave the port until the evening around 20 o’clock. Book recommendation

a sea captain, Hans Langsdorff: The last commander of the Panzer ship Admiral Graf Spee. A Biography.

about The book

A great spectacle, a spectacle that wanted to keep track of a large number of people live and on the spot announced,. And so the people made a pilgrimage on this rainy afternoon to the port. 100 000 it should be at least have been an English source even speaks of 750 000. And a man was also on site: the young Reporter, Mike Fowler.

He had built on the roof of the highest building in the city and an improvised radio station and reported that now live all over the world. The British BBC, took over his reports in their worldwide network. A dream for any Reporter.

Not a staunch national socialist,

For Hans Langsdorff, however, these days of pure nightmare were. Since the “Spee” at 13. Of December, had anchored in front of Montevideo, there had been a diplomatic struggle, how long she was lying there. Langsdorff was the fate of his men, not for the fame and glory of the Fatherland.

He was not a convinced national socialist, even if he had, unquestionably, belongs to the functionary elite of the Nazi state, writes the historian and former naval officer, Hans-Jürgen Kaack, in his extensive biography, “a sea captain, Hans Langsdorff. The last commander of the Panzer ship Admiral Graf Spee“.

Langsdorff, Scion of a middle-class family home, it had pulled up early to the Navy. In the first world war, he had had as a very young captain of a command. As in the days of the Revolution in early November 1918, the Sailors of his ship, cited against the officers, ed, he, by skillful Action, that blood was shed avoided.

In the Weimar Republic, he became a consultant Kurt von Schleicher, who was in the final phase of the Republic, Minister of defence and then the last Chancellor of Germany before Adolf Hitler’s assumption of power.

The Nazi state, he had asked, but as he stood now in front of the decision between the Welfare of his men and that which referred to the Nazis as “national honor”, he decided for the first. He secretly ordered preparations for the self-sinking of his ship. Langsdorff and his crew arrived with the help of Argentine ships in the 200 kilometres away, in Buenos Aires, where the Germans were interned, under reasonable conditions, inter-and most of them stayed until the end of the war also.

Under the Last committed Langsdorff’s suicide

Langsdorff and his men as a Hero and as her life Savior is celebrated, suffered under the burden of his decision. Because he had violated the rules and clear orders of Hitler. He knew that he would live with the consequences, and felt the heavy burden of the unhinged moral views of the national socialists. Shortly after the arrival in the Argentine capital, he committed suicide. His funeral was a big event. Hundreds of thousands accompanied him on his last journey to the cemetery, and even the British captains of the ships that had sunk the “Spee”, were to be to him the last honor and expressed in Interviews extremely friendly about him.

In England, is this Episode from the early days of the Second world war until the present and is referred to as the “Battle of Honor”, the “battle of the honour”. In Germany, however, she is largely forgotten – and thus the moral power Langsdorffs, saved expressly against the command of Hitler, the lives of his men. However, although he officers today, Junior could serve as a model, he will be hushed up in the German Navy.

Hero or traitor?

he Is a Hero or a traitor? “Hans Langsdorff had the courage, humanity, functional professionalism. This is a morally dictated Act which sprang from his from the innermost stirring of respect for the inviolable Dignity of the human person, in the Prussian-German military history, hardly any examples,“ says Hans-Jürgen Kaack in his book and comes to a clear judgment.

Kaack recalls in this context the words of Henning von Tresckow, one of the leading heads of the attempt on Hitler of 20. July 1944: “The moral value of a human being begins only when he is ready to give for his Conviction his life”. Not a bad mission statement for the education of young officers. Kaacks book is an important step to Langsdorffs Thinking and raise awareness – not just to the officers.

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