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Maximilian Von Spee
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Military Personnel
    (June 22, 1861-December 8, 1914)
    Born in Copenhagen, Denmark
    German Rear Admiral
    Commander of the German East Asia Squadron (1912-14)
    Sank the British battle cruisers Monmouth and Good Hope in the Battle of Coronel off the coast of Chile (November 1, 1914)
    Died in the Battle of the Falkland Islands
    He doubted that his plan -- sailing the East Asia fleet across the Pacific, around the Cape of Horn, and then through the Atlantic to Germany -- would work.
    When Germans in Chile presented him with a bouquet of flowers following the Battle of Coronel, he replied, 'They will do nicely for my grave.'
    He showed no urgency after Coronel, allowing the British to send reinforcements to the area.
    In the Battle of the Falklands, he lost four of his six ships with 2,200 men, including his two sons.
    His ships were inferior to those of the Japanese and Australian navies, making a defense of German possessions in the Pacific hopeless, so making a run for the Atlantic was the best option out of a bad lot.
    At Coronel, he inflicted the first defeat on the Royal Navy since the War of 1812.
    His dawdling after Coronel was partly caused by the difficulties in scrounging up enough coal for the ships in his fleet.
    British intelligence may have lured him into a trap by reinforcing the Falklands, then using a German naval code they had broken to send Spee a fake telegram ordering him to attack the coaling station there.

Credit: C. Fishel

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