22 DECEMBER 1939, Page 1


WHAT needs to be said about the immensely significant naval battle off Montevideo, and the Graf Spee's ' inglorious end, has been said on later pages of this issue, in articles which were in type before the suicide of the German warship's commander was known. Captain Langsdorf's resolve not to survive his ship was the decision of a brave man. He has died, not " for the Fatherland," as the German official announcement puts it—the loss of an able and honourable sailor is a strange gain to Germany—but as one more victim of Herr Hitler's petulant fanaticism, for it is clear now that it was on his orders and against the urgent representations of Captain Langsdorf, who, like a true sailor, would have steamed out for a last fight, that the Graf Spee ' was blown up. The rest of the battleship's crew are to be interned in Argentina for the period of the war—at Germany's expense. So ends the glorious victory proclaimed to the German people a week ago. The effect on the national morale, in particular on the loyalty of the navy to Herr Hitler, as the truth leaks out must be considerable. Outside Germany German prestige has fallen and British risen in equal measure ; the legend of the effete island race is ex- ploded as dramatically as the Graf Spee ' herself, after the achievement of the Exeter," Achilles' and ' Ajax,' against what were apparently overwhelming odds. But the Admiral Scheer ' and the Deutschland ' still remain to be dealt with.