What were Captain Langsdorff’s orders?
Langsdorff was ordered to intercept and damage enemy supply routes in the South Atlantic and southern Indian Oceans. Engagements with enemy naval forces, even if inferior, were only to be undertaken if this furthered the main purpose of commerce raiding. Using their own judgement, commanders had the right to independent action provided it fitted in with their operational instructions. No blame would fall on commanders whose ships were sunk in combat or were run until their operational possibilities were exhausted. On no account should ships fall into enemy hands.