Ajax Veterans Street Dedication: Langsdorff Drive
- Media Type:
- Town of Ajax
Street Name: Langsdorff Drive
Name of Veteran: Hans Wilhelm Langsdorff Mar. 20, 1894-Dec. 19, 1939
Rank: Captain of the Kriegsmarine (German Navy in WW2)
Ship Served: Admiral Graf Spee
Date of Service on Ship: 1937 to 1939
Year of Visit/Dedication: October 2007
Veteran or Family Visit: Inge Nedden, daughter
Veteran of the Battle of the River Plate: Yes
Died at Battle: No
Hans Wilhelm Langsdorff was born in Germany on March 20, 1894 on the island of Rugen in Bergen. He was the eldest son in a family with legal and religious traditions rather than a naval tradition. In 1898, the family moved to Düsseldorf, where they were neighbours of the family of Count (Graf) Maximilian von Spee, German naval hero. Hans joined the Navy in 1912 at the age of eighteen and received the Iron Cross during the first world war in recognition of his bravery.
In 1937 Langsdorff became Commander of the pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee and two years later was engaged in battle with the Ajax, Achilles and Exeter off the coast of Montevideo. Leading up to the Battle of the River Plate Langsdorff and his crew were in the South Atlantic disrupting the British trade routes and sunk many merchant ships. True to his honour Langsdorff never harmed the crew of these ships but instead delivered them safely to the coast.
After the Battle of the River Plate, on December 17, 1939, Langsdorff scuttled his ship four miles out of Montevideo, Uruguay. The crew went to Argentina and interned for the rest of the war. Two days after his arrival in Buenos Aires, Captain Langsdorff wrapped himself in the flag of the Imperial German Navy and committed suicide.
He is remembered fondly for his conduct during war and for the many lives he saved. He is honoured by a street in Ajax as are the other Captains involved in the Battle of the River Plate.
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- Location of Original:
- Original document and image located in the Ajax Archives.
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