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Report of the Commander in Chief, Navy, to the Führer on 16 December 1939, at 1300.

Present: Generalmajor Jodl
Fregattenkapitän von Puttkamer

The Commander in Chief, Navy, reports that at least two weeks are needed to make the GRAF SPEE seaworthy, and that the Government of Uruguay has granted only 72 hours. The Foreign Office is requested to continue efforts to obtain an extension of the time allowed; this appears hopeless, however, as Britain and France are exerting great pressure, and Uruguay will conform to their wishes. Uruguay is unreliable as a neutral, and is not able to defend her neutrality. Internment in Montevideo is therefore out of the question. A break-through to Argentina, which is stronger, could be considered, since this would permit us to retain greater freedom of action. The Commander of the GRAF SPEE has proposed a break-through to Buenos Aires, and he requests a decision as to whether, if the prospect is hopeless, he should choose internment in Montevideo or scuttle the ship in the fairly shallow waters of the La Plata River.

The Commander's telegram of 16 December follows:

    "1. Strategic position off Montevideo: Aside from cruisers and destroyers, ARK ROYAL and RENOWN. Close blockade at night. Escape into open-sea and break-through to home waters hopeless.

    "2. Propose putting out as far as neutral boundary. If it is possible to fight our way through to Buenos Aires, using remaining ammunition, this will be attempted.

    "3. If a break-through would result in certain destruction of GRAF SPEE without opportunity of damaging enemy, request decision on whether the ship should be scuttled in spite of insufficient depth in the estuary of the La Plata, or whether internment is to be preferred.

    "4. Decision requested by radiogram.

    signed: Commander, GRAF SPEE"
The Commander in Chief, Navy, cannot recommend internment in Uruguay, and he considers the right course to be an attempt to break through, or, if necessary, to scuttle the ship in the La Plata River. The Führer is also opposed to internment, especially since there is a possibility that the GRAF SPEE might score a success against the British ships in the break-through. The Führer entirely approves of the instructions the Commander in Chief, Navy, proposes to send to the Commander of the GRAF SPEE.

The text of the instructions follows (sent as Radiogram 1347/16 to GRAF SPEE at 1707):

    "1. Attempt by all means to extend the time in neutral waters in order to guarantee freedom of action as long as possible.

    "2. WIth reference to No. 2: Approved.

    "3. With reference to No. 3: No internment in Uruguay. Attempt effective destruction if ship is scuttled.

    signed: Raeder"
Note: The envoy in Montevideo reports in the afternoon, that further attempts to extend the time limit were without result. Confirmation was therefore sent by Radiogram 2239 to the Commander of the GRAF SPEE that the instructions in Radiogram 1347 with reference to No. 2 and No. 3 remain in force. The text of the radiogram is as follows:
    "16 December, Radiogram 2239/16 to Commander, GRAF SPEE.

    "As envoy reported impossibility of extending time limit, instructions according to Radiogram 1347/16 Nos. 2 and 3 remain in force."
    Sent at 0040 on 17 December.


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