as the "moderator" has correctly pointed out that the discussion about a possible Lutjens decision to surrender the Bismarck is not the topic of the thread where it was initially opened (viewtopic.php?f=1&t=8725&start=45#p84886) and has (much less correctly, I must say) decided to delete all the useful, constructive and collaborative subsequent posts in the thread (viewtopic.php?f=1&t=8725&start=60#p84942 and following), I open this new thread to discuss about surrendering when faced to a desperate situation.
I wouldn't. I don't agree at all with this judgement from a military viewpoint.Wadinga wrote: "I personally would agree Langsdorff's approach, even if misinformed, was superior for an officer responsible for his mens' lives to Lutjens' Gotterdammerung "
To save the lifes of his crew, H.Langsdorff sacrificed a very valuable and scarce asset of his Navy, still able to fight, of which he had been given the command and the responsibility. In addition, even disregarding the "misinformation", he scuttled his ship in shallow waters, allowing inspections to the wreck...
Even if the British battlecruiser had actually arrived, he had the duty to try to escape at night, or, at least, to fight up to his best, scuttling his ship only when no further damage could be inflicted to the enemy anymore.
His suicide was a spectacular (but somehow polemic, see the chosen imperial flag...) gesture, saving his personal honour (I bow to his personal sacrifice of course), but, as a fighting officer, he had committed the worst possible errors.
As a consequence, Raeder's order (viewtopic.php?f=1&t=8725&start=60#p84904) gave to all German officers a clear indication of the behaviour required to a German commander under similar situations.
G.Lutjens, on the contrary, did his duty up to the end, as he could have never surrendered a battleship still able to fire her guns and to potentially damage the enemy (as she was actually close to do, during the night against Vian's destroyers and on May 27 against Tovey's battleships and heavy cruisers) .
Only after all the guns were silenced, he could have evaluated the option to surrender the Bismarck to save his remaining crew, scuttling the ship (going against Raeder's order anyway, and sinking himself with the Bismarck I guess...), but, at that point in time, he was probably already dead and could not take such a difficult decision: actually, his message to the Fuhrer (albeit inspired by Raeder's order above), just says he would have "fought up to the last shell", not that he would have "won or sunk with a waving flag", therefore we will never know what he would have decided, had he been still in command after Bismarck fired her last shell.... Just my 2 cents opinion of course...
Lutjens was subsequently criticised for having been too pessimistic (it can be the case with his crude messages to Berlin and to the crew), however he was still a military man doing his duty and aware of his position up to the end, when he answered the salute of the Baron in the morning of May 27 (while Lindemann did not answer, wearing an open safety jacket just before the battle...) .
Speaking of sacrifice and heroism, I guess E.C.Kennedy went to meet the same "Gotterdammerung" that seems so difficult to be understood from a military viewpoint.
He actually condemned the Rawalpindi's crew against the "twins", saying clearly to his men on the bridge: "We’ll fight them both, they’ll sink us, and that will be that. Good-bye", after the Germans had requested the surrender of the auxiliary cruiser. Please note that the "potential" damage the Rawalpindi could have possibly inflicted to the "twins" was reasonably much, much smaller that the damage that the Graf Spee could still have inflicted to any British force (battlecruiser included) at River Plate or Bismarck could still have inflicted to Tovey's ships on May 27....
Did Kennedy sacrificed 238 of his men out of 276 ? Undoubtedly yes.
Did he accomplish his duty from a military viewpoint ? Simply yes.
Was Kennedy's sacrifice the result of a "more simplistic definition of "heroic""behaviour, as someone has polemically stated (viewtopic.php?f=1&t=8725&start=45#p84886) ? Opinions are welcome....