Graf Spee (Deutschland class) was clearly not a battleship, but a cruiser. The Reichsmarine used the allowed criteria for "armored ships" to design a large cruiser. The armor was on a typical cruiser level (for the 1920s), the belt was 60-80 mm, the deck 18-40 mm. The design was optimized for range to attack trade, therefore the Diesel engines.
Scharnhorst was a battleship - and the reason for using improved 11" guns was that they were faster available and it was thought that the ships would be more acceptable to Britain if armed only with 11" guns. They were designed to be able to refit them with 15" guns.