World War: Voluntary Elimination

Why did Adolf Hitler change the Admiral Graf Spee from a gallant fighting ship into a miserable scuttleship? Naval men pondered many theories last week, as the Spee's semi-submerged hulk still smoked in the Plata estuary and her 1,039 officers & men were interned at Buenos Aires and Montevideo, four of them under arrest in the latter capital, pending an investigation to see if the Spee's scuttling was criminal.

German defeatism was a blanket answer. Mustard-gas shells aboard the Spee, discovery of which would have created a stench in neutral noses, was the height of British suspicion. Fear that Uruguay or...

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