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Hans Langsdorff (1894 or something like that – December 19, 1939) was notable in that he lost the Battle of the River Plate, failed to go down with the Panzerschiff (German for "piece of shiff") Admiral Graf Spee, then shot himself. In fact, that's about all he did.
Langsdorff was born in some remote, insignificant location in 1894, the eldest son of a family with little historical impact whatsoever. From there, they moved to Düsseldorf for a reason that doesn't matter into a house neighboring that of someone who made a slightly greater mark on history, Graf (Count) Maximilian von Spee, who made his name by getting his entire command killed in the Battle of the Falkland Islands in 1914. Thus, following an obsession with this slightly less obscure neighbor, Langsdorff decided to join the German Navy, hoping that he might somehow do something worthwhile to earn himself at least a footnote in future German textbooks. Towards the end of World War I, he earned a medal or two, while the standard issue for German soldiers happened to be twelve, awarded in a year which no one bothered to record. For the next twenty years, nothing significant happened.
Finally, after doing nothing in particular, Langsdorff was given command of the ship Admiral Graf Spee and sent off to do whatever in 1939 (probably). Over the next ten weeks, Langsdorff and Admiral Graf Spee suffered extreme incompetence, sinking nine British merchant ships, totalling over 50,000 tons, while somehow failing to kill anyone.
Soon, those suave, dashing types, the British Navy decided that Langsdorff was starting to get a tad annoying (what what) and deviously concocted a plan so cunning (i.e. more cunning than a fox that's made emeritus professor of cunning at Oxford University college of cunning) that it stupified the poor witless Kraut Langsdorff. At this point, the Admiral Graf Spee gave up, Langsdorff soiled himself, making the entire consignment of bratwurst it was carrying go, sort of, orrrf. When the witless sausage-munching, lederhosen sporting German chamberpot (Langsdorff again!) became aware of the magnitude of those dashing Britisher's hoodwinkery, he ordered the Spee to blow itself up. Langsdorff attempted to go down with the Spee, but unlike the numeous times he'd "gone down" on Richard Littlejohn, (i.e. to earn himself some sort of name), he failed. Thus, depressed and shamed by his total failure, Langsdorff, bereft of bratwurst, shot himself, dying in his still-soiled underwear. His suicide note, which has since been misplaced somewhere, was just a bunch of whining. Altogether, nobody cared.
When those splendid British types were quizzed on their jolly spiffing ruse, particularly in light of Langsdorff's trouser soiling and suicide, whether they would repeat such a whizzy-jolly jape, they simply replied "Yes".
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Someone more noteworthy
|Captain of the Graf Spee|
1938 - 1939
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