The Eagle of Hans Langsdorff

eagle

© EPA – Graf Spee Eagle

He watched as divers brought up the figurehead of his beloved Graf Spee from the muddy depths where it had lain for nearly seventy years. If he could have wept, bitter tears would have streamed down his face, but this was denied him as well as peace he had sought long ago. Instead, damnation has been his constant companion, and though he could take no breath, what was once his heart was crushed at this bitter reminder.

They covered the swastika displayed beneath the eagle’s nine-foot wingspan out of consideration of those still sensitive to Hitler’s bloody legacy. So be it. The Nazi dream was just as dead as Hitler, and just as dead as Captain Hans Langsdorff who committed suicide two days after scuttling the German battleship rather than have it fall into enemy hands. How fleeting and meaningless history has rendered his ship and his wandering spirit.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to use a Google maps image/location as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 149.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Montevideo, Uruguay. As usual, I looked up the location and under 20th century, I found this:

During World War II, a famous incident involving the German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee took place in Punta del Este, 200 kilometers (120 mi) from Montevideo. After the Battle of the River Plate with the Royal Navy and Royal New Zealand Navy on 13 December 1939, the Graf Spee retreated to Montevideo’s port, which was considered neutral at the time. To avoid risking the crew in what he thought would be a losing battle, Captain Hans Langsdorff scuttled the ship on 17 December. Langsdorff committed suicide two days later. The eagle figurehead of the Graf Spee was salvaged on 10 February 2006; to protect the feelings of those still sensitive to Nazi Germany, the swastika on the figurehead was covered as it was pulled from the water.

I found the story verifying this at BBC News and the rest, as they say, is history.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

Oh, the location seemed familiar, and earlier this year, I wrote a tale for the same location.

Advertisements

22 thoughts on “The Eagle of Hans Langsdorff

  1. Ah, I remember reading about this! I was (and am) a WW2 nut, so I have spent much of my life immersed in the fantistic little stories like this one. Stranger than fiction. I am fond of the way Eric Larson uses actual quotes in his pieces to bring history alive in a fresh new way. While there have been ample reimaginings of history in non-fiction, nobody I know of has stuck so faithfully to documented fact.

    Like

  2. Between you and Penny im already Learning so much about history this time around. I like the idea of the ghost feeling that his deeds were all for naught, as if up till the point where the wreck was brought to the surface, he still felt some pride regarding what he had done. I also like the dead as…dead as construction, to show the ghost that the world has managed to survive quite nicely thank you, without him or Hitler or the “nazi dream”–and even that he would term it a dream, rather than a nightmare betrays the sorry state of his soul. Well done.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.