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Deutsche Arbeitsfront (German Labour Front) invitation to Oskar Speck

Date: 1937
Overall: 105 x 150 mm
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from John Ferguson
Object Name: Invitation
Object No: ANMS1249[001]

User Terms

    This printed card was addressed to Oskar Speck from the Deutsche Arbeitsfront (DAF), the German Labour Front in 1937. Speck was invited to speak about his travel experiences at the event.
    SignificanceThis invitation relates to the remarkable story of Oskar Speck, who undertook an epic seven-year, 50,000 km voyage from Germany to Australia in his five-and-half metre collapsible kayak SUNNSCHIEN (SUNSHINE).
    HistoryWhen German electrical contractor Oskar Speck's business closed during the economic turmoil of the early 1930s, he decided to paddle down the Danube River in his five-and-half metre collapsible kayak SUNNSCHIEN (SUNSHINE) and head to Cyprus to find work. On 18 June 1932, aged 25, Speck departed from Ulm, Germany and eventually made his way through Austria, Hungary, the former Yugoslavia, Macedonia, Greece, Turkey and eventually to the Mediterranean. Upon reaching Cyprus, Speck decided rather than find work, he would continue his adventure describing his kayak as a "first class ticket to everywhere".

    Speck headed for Syria and from there across to Iran and Pakistan. By 1935, three years after leaving Germany, he had reached India and Sri Lanka. Speck paddled onward to Burma, Thailand and Malaysia, and arrived in Indonesia in 1937. There he acquired a 16mm cine-camera which allowed him to film the remainder of his voyage. Speck then progressed on to Dutch New Guinea. He arrived on Saibai Island (in the Northern Torres Strait) with a swastika pennant flying from the bow of his 5.3 metre German built Folbot kayak only a few days after Australia declared war with Germany.

    As Speck was travelling on a German passport, he was promptly arrested as an enemy alien on his arrival on Thursday Island (in the Western Islands of the Torres Strait off Cape York Peninsula). Speck was detained at the Tatura internment camp in Victoria, and after escaping and being recaptured he was sent to the Loveday Internment camps in South Australia for the duration of the war.

    Speck never returned to Germany. On his release he travelled to Lightning Ridge to learn the opal cutting trade before settling in Sydney. He died in 1993.

    Additional Titles

    Web title: Deutsche Arbeitsfront (German Labour Front) invitation to Oskar Speck

    Assigned title: Deutsche Arbeitsfront (German Labour Front) invitation

    Collection title: Oskar Speck memorabilia

    • [from Google Translate] German Labor Front Workends Camera The next meeting of D.A.F. will be held on Thursday 25 February The evening will commence at 9 o' clock punctually. As part of the event, the German Canoesist Oskar Speck will give a lecture about his travel experiences. Each A.K. member is expected and guests are welcomed.

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