Maximilian von Spee Fact File Biography: Lifespan: 1861 – 1914 *** Full Name: Maximilian Johannes Maria Hubert von Spee *** Occupation: German Imperial Naval Officer *** Date of Birth: Maximilian von Spee was born on June 22nd 1861 *** Place of Birth: Maximilian von Spee was born in Copenhagen, Denmark *** Family background: Little is known of his family or background except that he was from an aristocratic background *** Education: Maximilian von Spee his education would have been the best money could buy ***
Maximilian von Spee Fact 1: Maximilian von Spee was born on June 22nd 1861 and during the 19th century period in history when significant developments were made in biology, science, physics, medicine and technology.
Maximilian von Spee Fact 2: Although he had been born in Copenhagen, Denmark, Maximilian was brought up on the family estate in Rhineland in Germany.
Maximilian von Spee Fact 3: In 1878 at the age of seventeen he joined the Imperial Navy and to begin with he served in the main naval base in Germany at Kiel.
Maximilian von Spee Fact 4: He joined as a commissioned officer and was given the rank of Leutnant zur See. He would be posted to the gunboat SMS Mowe and they were sent to West Africa.
Maximilian von Spee Fact 5: By 1887 he was given a transfer to Kamerun and made commander of the port of Duala.
Maximilian von Spee Fact 6: While stationed there he contracted rheumatic fever and would be sent back to Germany to fully recover, but would always suffer periodically with rheumatism throughout his life.
Maximilian von Spee Fact 7: Upon his return to Germany, he married Margareta Baroness von der Osten-Sacken, together they had three children, two sons, Otto and Heinrich and a daughter Huberta.
Maximilian von Spee Fact 8: In late 1897 he would be stationed to Germany’s East Asia Squadron once it had seized the businesses at Kiautschou Bay together with its port, Tsingtao.
Maximilian von Spee Fact 9: While he was there he served on the staff of one Vizeadmiral Otto von Diederichs.
Maximilian von Spee Fact 10: The Boxer Rebellion took place in 1900 and Maximilian would finally see action during this conflict at Tsingtao and on the Yangtze.
Maximilian von Spee Fact 11: Upon his return to Germany he was given a promotion to Korvettenkapitan and given the assignment of first officer on board the pre-dreadnought battleship Brandenburg.
Maximilian von Spee Fact 12: After 1900 he would be given command of several vessels including Aviso Hela, a minelayer Pelikan and another pre-dreadnought ship Wittelsbach.
Maximilian von Spee Fact 13: Around this time he received a further promotion to Fregattenkapitan and in January of 1904 was promoted to Kapitan zur See.
Maximilian von Spee Fact 14: By 1908 he posted to the North Sea Station as chief of staff to the commander and two years later promoted to Konteradmiral and reassigned to the reconnaissance forces on the High Seas Fleet as the deputy commander.
Maximilian von Spee Fact 15: In 1912 Maximilian von Spee would be given command of East Asia Squadron in December.
Maximilian von Spee Fact 16: As World War I approached he began to prepare his men for war and as the conflict began he recalled his ships in preparation for the upcoming battle on the sea.Maximilian von Spee Fact 17: The Battle of Coronel, as far as Spee was concerned, was a total success. Originally believing one British cruiser was on its own and easy pickings, he soon found it was accompanied by several other vessels, but after careful planning and tactical maneuvering, Spee won the day sinking at least two of the British vessels.
Maximilian von Spee Fact 18: The British sought revenge in the form of Vice Admiral Doveton Sturdee who caught up with the German fleet off of the Falkland Islands. After much maneuvering and gun fire, Spee was caught off balance and in order to try and save the day, he attempted to put his vessel in line with that of Sturdee and fire torpedoes but was sunk instead, of the four German vessels involved in this conflict only the Nurnberg escaped but would be sunk in the not too distant future.
Maximilian von Spee Fact 19: Maximilian von Spee went down with his vessel the Scharnhorst, his sons, Heinrich went down with the Gneisenau and Otto with the Nurnberg.
Maximilian von Spee Fact 20: Maximilian von Spee died on December the 8th 1914, bravely and at the helm of his ship at the age of fifty three years.
Influence & Legacy of Maximilian von Spee: A Mackensen class battlecruiser was built in his honor and named the Graf Spee, she was christened by Margaret, Spee’s widow. Unfortunately the Armistice of November 11th 1918 was signed before her completion and she was scrapped in 1921.
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