Captain Langsdorf of the Graf Spee believed he was trapped in Montevideo harbour by a strong Royal Naval task force. He telegraphed Germany:
1. Strategic position off Montevideo: Besides the cruisers and destroyers, Ark Royal and Renown. Close blockade at night. Escape into open sea and break-through to home waters hopeless.
2. Propose putting out as far as neutral boundary. If it is possible to fight our way through to Buenos Aires, using remaining ammunition, this will be attempted..
3. If a break-through would result in certain destruction of Graf Spee, without opportunity of damaging enemy, request decision on whether the ship should be scuttled in spite of insufficient depth in the estuary of the La Plata, or whether internment is to be preferred.
4. Decision requested by radiogram..
(signed) Captain, GRAF SPEE.
The reply came later that day:
1. Attempt by all means to extend the time in neutral waters in order to guarantee freedom of action as long as possible.
2. With reference to No.2: Approved.
3. With reference to No.3: No internment in Uruguay. Attempt effective destruction if ship is scuttled.
MaritimeQuest has an excellent collection of images of the Admiral Graf Spee.