8 December – Today in German History


  • The Kaiser called a meeting of his military and naval leaders, telling them that if Russia came to the aid of Serbia then Germany must be prepared to fight. He assumed that Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, and Turkey would all side with the Triple Alliance leaving Austria-Hungary free to concentrate against the Russians. Tirpitz, the head of the German Naval Office, declared that the Navy was not yet ready for war. Chancellor Bethmann Hollweg, who was anxious to maintain détente with the British, was not invited to the meeting thus leaving the political viewpoint out of the discussions.
German Admiral Maximilian Graf von Spee.


  • In World War I, the German Admiral Maximilian Graf von Spee is defeated by a British naval group near the Falkland Islands. Spee’s flagship is sunk and Spee dies.


  • Unable to prevent the growing importance of Hitler within the National Revolution he had wanted for Germany, Gregor Strasser abruptly resigned and withdrew almost entirely from politics.
Graf Zeppelin.


  • Graf Zeppelin, Aircraft Carrier, was launched.


  • Battleship Bismarck exited the Kiel Canal.
  • German armed merchant cruiser Orion sank the ships Triadic (1 killed, 11 captured) and Triaster (64 captured) off Nauru.
  • German submarine U-103 sank British liner Calabria 295 miles west of Ireland at 2058 hours. 360 were killed, 230 of whom were Indian sailors who were being ferried to Britain to crew other ships; 21 survived.
  • German submarine U-140 sank Finnish sail ship Penang 75 west of Ireland at 1226 hours, killing the entire crew of 18. At 2025 hours, U-140 struck again, sinking British ship Ashcrest, killing the entire crew of 37.
  • German armed merchant cruiser Komet sank Komata off Nauru, killing 2 and capturing 33.


  • Soviet offensive broke through German Armeegruppe Mitte near Moscow, Russia, cutting the Klin-Kalinin road. German units began making hasty withdrawals to prevent encirclement, abandoning large numbers of immobilized equipment in the process. Adolf Hitler issued Führer Directive 39 which called for German troops to hold their ground.
  • Adolf Hitler ordered the German Navy to begin attacking American shipping.
  • Galeazzo Ciano called Joachim von Ribbentrop to discuss the American entry into the war. Ciano later noted that Ribbentrop was happy with this latest development.
  • German bombers sank British minesweeping trawlers HMT Milford Earl (5 killed) and HMT Phineas Beard off the east coast of Scotland, United Kingdom.
  • The Japanese ambassador in Germany Hiroshi Oshima sent a note to Joachim von Ribbentrop, requesting Germany to declare war on the United States.


  • U-869 departed Norway for the Atlantic Ocean for her first and only war patrol.