The Graf Spee

 

Kriegsmarine (German Navy) NCO Schirmütze (visor cap)

German newspaper with the German official view of the Battle of the River Plate.

German Naval Issue Egg Cup.
Not from the Graf Spee but identical to those which would have been onboard.





Following the scuttling of the Graf Spee, the Germans pulled off something of a coup by arranging for the crew to be landed in Argentina rather than Uruguay. They achieved this by transferring them covertly from the Graf Spee onto another German ship, the Tacoma, a blockaded Hamburg- America Line merchantman that had been moored in the harbor and had accompanied the warship on her final short voyage out into the estuary. Instead of returning the crew to Montevideo, as anticipated, the Tacoma unexpectedly transferred them onto smaller vessels and dispatched them to Buenos Aires.
The Argentinian government placed the 1,114 remaining crew in internment camps, but security was relatively lax. The German embassy in Argentina and the Abwehr quickly established escape routes running through Argentina and over the Andes mountains to Chile. In the three years from January 1940, an estimated 200 men made their way back to Germany, most of them officers or technicians with skills in much demand in the Kriegsmarine.


Under pressure from the British, the Argentines agreed to move the officers and petty officers to a naval base on the island of Martín Garcia and disperse the rest of the crew, in groups of 100 each, to the provincial towns of Florencio Varela, Rosario, San Juan, Cordoba, Mendoza, and Santa Fe, but when this plan was announced, it prompted a further wave of escapes.


In 1944, after protests about the unhealthy conditions on Martín Garcia, the crew was moved to a hotel in the resort of Sierra de la Ventana, where they remained even after their status changed in March 1945, when Argentina declared war on Germany and they became POWs rather than internees.

 

Displayed here are the Argentinian Police files for four members of the Graf Spee's crew, namely Heinz Franke (Medical Orderly - born Berlin 1914), Richard Schmidt (born Strasbourg 1917), Gustav Hendzian (born Krenzofen 1916) and Martin Coutureau (Signaler – born Wittenberg 1917).

Kriegsmarine (German Navy) uniform breast eagle.

Kriegsmarine (German Navy) medic / medical orderly uniform trade patch.


To read about Gerfried Brutzer  the Torpedo Officer Graf Spee, click here

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