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  • Ja Worsley
    The last sane man a live!
    • Jan 2000
    • 6550

    Should Langsdorf be returned home???

    I know this is going to be a very delicate subject, so please keep it nice, if not for the Board, at least out of respect of a great and honourable man!!! This is a subject that has been on my mind for many years.

    Hans Langsdorf was the Captain of the German Poket Battleship Graf Spee in WWII. He was very successful in the early part of the war at sinking commerce shipping around Southern America and even deployed to the Southern parts of Africa in order to acheive mystery as to where his ship was.

    His luck ran out though, a freighter managed to get off a signal before being sunk and then another. The British navy had by then sent a force to get the ship that had caused them trouble. HMS's Ajax and Exiter along with HMNZS Achillies soon caught up with the Spee and the battle commenced.

    Spee knocked the merry heck out of Exiter (the largest of the three ships and armed with 6x 8' guns) with her 6x 11' guns. The other two ships turned in fast and forced Langsdorf to focus his attak on them instead of finnishing off Exiter. The two smaller ships did enough damage with their 8x 6' guns that Lansdorf was forced to seek refuge in the River Plate. Uruguay was a neutral country during the war and Spee saught refuge in Montevideo harbour, but after three days of extreem pressure from the British government, Langsdorf was forced into a decission that few capatains have had to face.

    The Nazi government wanted the Spee to get back into the fight and take out as many ships as possible whilest trying to get back to Germany for repairs. Langsdorf knew that half the British fleet was now bearing down on him so he requested assylum for his crew in Uruguay, they refused but Argentina didn't (Argentina were back then, pro Nazi). So Langsdorf sent his men ashore to be smuggled out of Uruguay and sent his officers in to scuttle the ship. He then made his way to Argentina where he shot himself in the head because the Nazi government saw this as a disgrace.

    Given the time and changes not only in Germany, but in the world, should Langsdorf's body be returned home with fulkl military honours? He thought of his crew first and was one of the few gentlemen Captains of the Nazi era who valued honour over political will. He saw life being more sacred than the Nazi way. IMHO the guy was a hero and should be awarded a medal and be returned home to the country that he loved so much that he couldn't return because it broke not only his heart but his spirit.
    19
    No, just forget about him, he brought it upon himself.
    10.53%
    2
    No, let him rest in peace as is, with respect.
    47.37%
    9
    No, but they should honour him with a medal at least.
    0.00%
    0
    Yes, but do it quietly.
    10.53%
    2
    Yes, and give him a medal
    0.00%
    0
    Yes and honour the man with full military honours and medals.
    31.58%
    6

    The poll is expired.

    Last edited by Ja Worsley; 8th April 2005, 16:11.
    It's a good thing you are short, that way you don't have to live up to a high IQ!
  • Ja Worsley
    The last sane man a live!
    • Jan 2000
    • 6550

    #2
    Hmm after a brief conversation with a friend I think I should make the main point clear.

    Hans Langsdorf was an anti nazi captain in nazi germany, after the loss of the Spee, the Nazi's started placing Captains who they knew followed their ways in to command. Those that had questionable motives in the eyes of the Nazi party were removed and later moved to camps, most never to be seen again.

    Langsdorf was a hero because he was the first person to stand up and say NO to them. He went against the Nazi order to go out and kill more ships when he knew that other ships were waiting and that his crew would surely die. Life ment more to him than any Nazi order.

    And that is why I call him a HERO. He was an officer and a gentleman and one of the last to serve the Kreigsmarien under the nazi's. Germans today would be proud of him.
    It's a good thing you are short, that way you don't have to live up to a high IQ!

    Comment

    • fightingirish
      Rank 5 Registered User
      • May 2004
      • 1181

      #3
      "Germ free"

      No, let him rest in peace as is, with respect.

      Living in Germany and served in the GAF, I repest him with a bow for savng his men from a useless battle with the british fleet and serving in honour for friends and foes.
      If his family want his remains back to Germany, they shall be allowed.
      But I don't expect full military honour or even medals from the German goverment and the German Navy.

      The german red-green government are in moment very critical with Germans who served during WW2. Since March 18th the fighter bomber wing 74 (JG 74) of the German Air Force has lost its honour wing name "Mlders". Mlders was a famous pilot in WW2, killed on a plane crash on his way to Udet funeral in 1941. On April 28th 1998, a red green majority in the german parlament decided that members who served in the Legion Condor during the Spanish Civil War, can't be paid honour anymore. Barracks have to change their names.
      The MoD said, because Mlders served in Legion Condor and took part planning the bomd raid of Guernica on April 26th 1937, barracks, steet names and JG 74 have to delete the name Mlders.
      Far left groups want even to change barracks called after Rommel or Manstein. The history of the German military should begin in their eyes past 1945.
      Source in German: Die Welt - Handwerker des Krieges

      Fisher, minister of Foreign Affairs won't honour former employees, who worked committed in Ministry of Foreign Affairs past 1945 but were members in the NSDAP before.

      In my service time, the German military had problems, if or not it should honour deserteded german soldiers.
      To sum it all up:

      Some german politians want to clean German history "germfree".
      "Germ free", what a word!!!

      Ja Worsley, this is my opinion:
      From my german perspective, people have to be very sensitive honouring a german who served in the military or in the government between 1933 and 1945 .
      Sln, fightingirish
      Avatar: Ho-Yeol Ryu, Flughafen (Airport), Hannover [HAJ / EDDV] 2005

      Comment

      • Ja Worsley
        The last sane man a live!
        • Jan 2000
        • 6550

        #4
        Fightingirish: Mate I fully respect the stance you have taken and thank you deeply for braving this subject.

        I know too well about German politics and history, family

        Perhaps a clean slate would be a good idea, but you can not deny the past. IMHO German politicians should take note of what was done in the past, and heed it as a warning for the future!
        It's a good thing you are short, that way you don't have to live up to a high IQ!

        Comment

        • Aurel
          Rank 5 Registered User
          • Oct 2003
          • 1177

          #5
          I think it is the decision of the family. If his remains come home, then he should get full military honors. And no, I don't think medals are the right way to honour him. Better send every year some sailors to his grave (where ever this is).
          The Argentinians really take care about his grave.

          Comment

          • Ja Worsley
            The last sane man a live!
            • Jan 2000
            • 6550

            #6
            Aurel: Thanks for you input mate. Actually Argentina burried him and his grave is just like any other, there is no special care taken. Weeds sometimes grow over his grave, grass grows and then is cut, but no extra special care for someone so important.

            But I guess you are right, it's a decission the family must make. Sure Germany is trying to forget the nazi past, but here is one hero of those times that they can be proud of.
            It's a good thing you are short, that way you don't have to live up to a high IQ!

            Comment

            • King Jester
              Senior Member
              • Apr 2003
              • 171

              #7
              Ja wrote:
              The Nazi government wanted the Spee to get back into the fight and take out as many ships as possible whilest trying to get back to Germany for repairs. Langsdorff knew that half the British fleet was now bearing down on him
              Well, general agreement seems to be that he was indeed given the choice between fighting OR scuttling the ship, but under no cirscumstance the ship had to be captured. He choose to scuttle it to make sure Graf Spee would not be captured.

              so he requested assylum for his crew in Uruguay, they refused but Argentina didn't (Argentina were back then, pro Nazi). So Langsdorf sent his men ashore to be smuggled out of Uruguay and sent his officers in to scuttle the ship.
              No, that is not the case. He was indeed refused permission to keep Graf Spee in uruguayan waters, but he did not ask for "assylum", not in Uruguay nor Argentina. Under international law once Graf Spee was scuttled, the german crewmembers became shipwreckers, and allowed and entiteld to assistance on ANY country. Argentina assited those shipwreckers. As they were also members of a belligerant party stranded on neutral soil, they were accordingly to international law, interned in Argentina for the remainder of the war. All crewmembers were indeed interned in prison camps in the province of Cordoba till 1945 (except for a few who managed to escape). Many of'em decided to stay and married in Argentina.
              Langsdorff choose Argentina simply because Uruguay had proven not be "all that neutral".
              Just a "small data pearl" to understand what I'm talking about...HMS Achilles harboured in Buenos Aires just two days after Langsdorffs death for repairs, supplies and burial ceremonies, the same way Graf Spee had harboured in Montevideo fior the same reasons.
              Indeed one dead Achilles sailor was buried in the britsh sector of the Chacarita cementery, only a 100 meters away from Langsdorff.

              Actually Argentina burried him and his grave is just like any other, there is no special care taken. Weeds sometimes grow over his grave, grass grows and then is cut, but no extra special care for someone so important.
              Ja, how exactly would you know what Langsdorffs grave looks like?

              What about a handy picture:


              I get to see Langsdorffs grave every now and then when I pay a visit to my own family grave, in the german sector of the Chacarita cementery. It is indeed well taken care of, and every December 17th a small number of Graf Spee survivors gather to pay respect to their former captain. The only "blemish", if you wish, is that the small swastikas inside the Iron Crosses were removed some years ago, due to a BRD (Bundes Republick Deutschland) regulation which called for every Iron Cross to be "sanitized". Indeed, the german embassy pays for the maintanience of the general WWI and WWII mausoleums in the german cementery in Buenos Aires, and also for Langsdorffs grave. Langsdorff and the other Graf Spee crewmembers are not buried on a "war cementery" per se, simply because Argentina was not a war theater in 1939-45, but for all tense and purpose they get the same respectfull treatment.

              King Jester

              Comment

              • Ja Worsley
                The last sane man a live!
                • Jan 2000
                • 6550

                #8
                WOW that is very different to a report that I saw on the tv here. Indeed that picture would seem to present a different case as to what I saw. It is good to hear that Langsdorff's grave and indeed those of the other members of the crew, are respected by the German diplomats there.
                It's a good thing you are short, that way you don't have to live up to a high IQ!

                Comment

                • Wanshan
                  Senior Member
                  • Sep 2004
                  • 3929

                  #9
                  Returned home: yes
                  Full military honors: trans corpus mortuum!

                  Comment

                  • Ja Worsley
                    The last sane man a live!
                    • Jan 2000
                    • 6550

                    #10
                    Very interesting call Wanshan, very interesting.
                    It's a good thing you are short, that way you don't have to live up to a high IQ!

                    Comment

                    • Tiornu
                      Rank 5 Registered User
                      • Apr 2005
                      • 153

                      #11
                      I may very well be wrong, but as far as I know, Langsdorff was not particularly anti-Nazi. Non-Nazi perhaps, but not anti-Nazi. Unfortunately the specifics of his situation are mixed up with a fair amount of mis- and disinformation, like the story about his wrapping himself in an Imperial flag before committing suicide.
                      Does his family have an opinion on the reburial suggestion?
                      I would warn against sentimentalizing his decision. What did he accomplish with his scuttle order? He preserved the lives of many crewmen, a number of whom managed to get back to Germany and back into the war effort. He also preserved the lives of the British sailors who would have died in the ensuing battle. I have little doubt that Spee would have been defeated, given the state of her main battery and ammunition, not to mention her lack of speed. One benefit to her defeat in battle would be her sinking in deep water where the British would not be able to explore her for intelligence purposes, as was the case outside Montevideo.
                      The greater repercussions of his choice were less tangible. He gave a great boost to British morale, simultaneously painting his fellow KM personnel as quitters. The result was an ossifying of command initiative in the KM. I don't think it's fair to saddle Langsdorff with the entirety of blame, however, as he had received permission for his action.
                      In the end, I tend to think his actions were ultimately detrimental to the German war effort. But that's okay by me.

                      Comment

                      • wizardS1969
                        Junior Member
                        • Mar 2005
                        • 9

                        #12
                        Great topic of discussion guys. Hans Langsdorf, whether you love or hate the German's, was a German hero who fought and died for what he believed was right at the time. As with any patriotic person, you and I included, in similar situations and time frame, may have done the same. I do hope that his grave is treated with due respect as he did give the ultimate sacrifice. Unlike what Turkey is doing in desecrating the allied beach landing at Gallipolli, disturbing not only Australian, New Zealand and British graves, but also Turkish one. But that is another story.

                        Comment

                        • Moggy C
                          Moderator
                          • Jan 2000
                          • 20534

                          #13
                          I don't often post here but I've been very impressed with this thread and felt I had to add my contribution.

                          From the image it would appear that the Captain lies with members of his crew.

                          Faced with this question about the repatriation of remains of aircrew who died together I've always supported the 'leave them together where they died' faction.

                          I see no reason to change my view in this case.

                          Equally the emotion I've experienced at the US and German cemeteries here in the UK, and the many cemeteries in Normandy confirms me in this opinion.

                          Moggy
                          "What you must remember" Flip said "is that nine-tenths of Cattermole's charm lies beneath the surface." Many agreed.

                          Comment

                          • Ja Worsley
                            The last sane man a live!
                            • Jan 2000
                            • 6550

                            #14
                            Mog: Mate thanks for your contribution, it's been a while mate, hope things are doing well for you!

                            As I may have stated, I saw a documentry here one night and Langsdorf's grave wasn't looking that great, but I have been corrected on this issue, also I've been corrected in the matter of his honour, I now know that at least the consulate staff do have a memorial for him.
                            It's a good thing you are short, that way you don't have to live up to a high IQ!

                            Comment

                            • bwa
                              bwa
                              Rank 5 Registered User
                              • Mar 2006
                              • 4

                              #15
                              Originally posted by fightingirish
                              No, let him rest in peace as is, with respect.

                              Living in Germany and served in the GAF, I repest him with a bow for savng his men from a useless battle with the british fleet and serving in honour for friends and foes.
                              If his family want his remains back to Germany, they shall be allowed.
                              But I don't expect full military honour or even medals from the German goverment and the German Navy.

                              The german red-green government are in moment very critical with Germans who served during WW2. Since March 18th the fighter bomber wing 74 (JG 74) of the German Air Force has lost its honour wing name "Mlders". Mlders was a famous pilot in WW2, killed on a plane crash on his way to Udet funeral in 1941. On April 28th 1998, a red green majority in the german parlament decided that members who served in the Legion Condor during the Spanish Civil War, can't be paid honour anymore. Barracks have to change their names.
                              The MoD said, because Mlders served in Legion Condor and took part planning the bomd raid of Guernica on April 26th 1937, barracks, steet names and JG 74 have to delete the name Mlders.
                              Far left groups want even to change barracks called after Rommel or Manstein. The history of the German military should begin in their eyes past 1945.
                              Source in German: Die Welt - Handwerker des Krieges

                              Fisher, minister of Foreign Affairs won't honour former employees, who worked committed in Ministry of Foreign Affairs past 1945 but were members in the NSDAP before.

                              In my service time, the German military had problems, if or not it should honour deserteded german soldiers.
                              To sum it all up:

                              Some german politians want to clean German history "germfree".
                              "Germ free", what a word!!!

                              Ja Worsley, this is my opinion:
                              From my german perspective, people have to be very sensitive honouring a german who served in the military or in the government between 1933 and 1945 .
                              Hey there,
                              just found this thread by browsing the Forum.

                              I agree with fightingirish - let him rest in peace!
                              Our government still tries to whitewash Germanys worldwide reputation - and overshoots that aim by broad-brushing anything that has sth. to do with german military before 1955 and claim that as evil (except from them, who directly acted against the Nazis like Stauffenberg p.e.).

                              Lately, after misstating the members of the "Legion Condor" as "thugs" by the government, they also changed every single street-name at the air base Frstenfeldbruck into "Strae der Luftwaffe" (Street of the Air Force).
                              Not only those which were namend after members of Legion Condor, like Boelcke, Immelmann, Oesau, but even the street named after Antoine de Saint-Exupry!

                              Article from "Die Welt"

                              No wonder the whole world is headshakin bout us...
                              -------------------------------
                              There is only one basic human right and that is the right to do as you damn well pleaase, and with that right comes the only human duty - the duty to take the consequences. (P.J. ORourke)

                              Comment

                              • pred
                                Rank 5 Registered User
                                • Feb 2006
                                • 160

                                #16
                                Hmm, a couple of names like Mlders, Ltjens and Rommel have become free after decommissioning of Ltjens (US Charles F Adams class) destroyers... add Langsdorf and you have four. By pure coincidence there will be four brand new F 125 frigates coming up over the next decade in need of names... would be fitting I am thinking. That said, with the current purge of names and their main role of supporting multinational operations abroad for long periods of time the selection of names may be ever more politically sensitive. As an alternative (also to names of major towns and states currently used), how's about islands, somewhat appropriate to their role. Beginning with FGS Helgoland - stubborn red rock in the north sea (then Rgen, Sylt etc).

                                Comment

                                • Ja Worsley
                                  The last sane man a live!
                                  • Jan 2000
                                  • 6550

                                  #17
                                  Pred: mate anything to do with the war is now outcasted in German society, they are really trying to foget the bad past and pretend that it never happened. Sadly though a phrase that has been in the center of my life lately comes to mind in this matter; "Those who can not remember the past are condemed to repeat it"

                                  I hope that they don't repeat it at all. Sadly they should remember those military people who did try to do their best in difficult situations, Rommel and Langsdorf were two such men. (I am proud to be a relative of Rommel, He was my Grandfather's cousin's Son, not that my grandfather had much to do with him but the blood line is there).
                                  It's a good thing you are short, that way you don't have to live up to a high IQ!

                                  Comment

                                  • pred
                                    Rank 5 Registered User
                                    • Feb 2006
                                    • 160

                                    #18
                                    Having grown up and served there I got the impression that the reminders of that past were constant and over time served to paint everything to do with it in a bad light. Unfortunately the efforts outlined in this thread (renaming and purging names) may be part of a re-inforcing of that trend and counteract progress that may have been made over the years.

                                    Comment

                                    • Corsair166b
                                      Senior Member
                                      • Nov 2003
                                      • 1334

                                      #19
                                      I say..unless his FAMILY want him moved somewhere...let him be. He was honorable....treat him as such.

                                      M

                                      Comment

                                      • Forestin
                                        Senior Member
                                        • Jun 2005
                                        • 105

                                        #20
                                        I can ensure you that no one in Germany is trying to forget WWII. Actually it is pretty impossible to do so since almost every where you go you will find something remembering you of what happened (Cemeterys, Dedication plaques in the Villages of there fallen sons, Restored Building, Bunkers in the Forest, even still completely destroyed buildings,)

                                        For a long time everything related to violence & war was an absolute TABU en Germany. But with the world order changing, Germany & the Germans learned that they can not hold back any longer & that they have to keep up with there responsibilities as a leading country & that is what Germany is trying to change, to get people accept that a Military is not necessarily bad or for an invasion, but that it also can perform Humanitarian missions, assistance & protect people.

                                        Comment

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