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Letter from Hermann Kroger to Oskar Speck

Date: 24 March 1987
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Nancy Jean Steele Bequest
Classification:Ephemera
Object Name: Letter
Object No: ANMS0540[021]

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    Description
    Letter from Hermann Kroger to Oskar Speck with a short report of Oskar’s journey attached. The letter consist of one page typed in German on Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany's letterhead and dated 24 march 1987. The letter notes the return of some documents to Oskar and has a short two page report attached written for the local press which Kroger would like Oskar to approve. The report also in German, provides an outline of Oskar’s journey, has sections which are whited out.
    Translation
    • Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany Sydney, , 24 March 1987 To Mr. Oskar Speck 21-23 Scenic Road Killcare NSW 2056 Dear Mr. Speck, I am returning your documents about your adventurous trip to Australia in a paddlepaddleboat which you handed over to the Consul General, Dr. Pagenstert, , at the end of last year.. I made it into a short report for the local press and I ask you to look through it and send it back with your approval. If you should come to Sydney, I’d be delighted if you came to visit me at the Consulate. Please ring ahead, , though. Best regards [Signature] (Hermann F. Kroeger) To Australia in a folding boat Today, , it takes hardly more that 24 hours to fly from Germany to Australia. The first immigrants to Australia needed to spend several months at sea around 200 years ago. A unique journey to Australia is what Oskar Walter Speck can look back on, , a journey he undertook 50 years ago, and which haswas never been repeated, , and is matter-of-factly listed in the Guinness Book of Records as “Folding boat trip to Australia/Oskar Speck”, , “travel time”: 7 years and 5 months. Born in Hamburg in 1907, , he started his folding boat trip to Australia at the heightin the throws of the effects of the world economic crisis, unemployment and social hardship in Germany in May 1932. He set out in his kayak, , “a brittle wooden frame covered with tent fabric”, from Ulm and paddled down the Danube. People thought of his undertaking as the monstrous product of an eccentric and adventurous imaginatione fantasy. And as it turned out, , his trip held a plethora of fantastical adventures in store for him. Oskar Speck’s route led him down the Danube and the Vardar rivers on to Macedonia, , into the Mediterranean at Salonika, then along the coast line into the Near East. From the Syrian Coast he went on a short bus trip to Meskene on the upper Euphrates, , down the Euphrates to Bazra, , then along the Persian coast to Baluchistan. He continued along the Persian coast for 500 miles to Bandar Abbas on the Persian Gulf and to the coast of India. Three years after setting out from Ulm, Oskar Speck reached Colombo in May 1935. By then, he already had his fair share of dangerous experiences. He was able to overcome them with his greatstrong common sense, , his readiness to adapt to the lifestyle of other peoples, , his great experience in kayak paddling and a largebig dose of good fortune. The dangerous episodes included encounters with sea pirates, , but mainly consisted of the constant necessity to cross unknown waters. His small sail turned out to be of great help there. “Only due to good luck” is how Oskar Speck described the successful conclusion of his journey, “was I able to survive and to acquire the skills of a kayaker, which helped me to overcome the treacherous waters I encountered later on my journey.” is how Oskar Speck described the successful conclusion of his journey. Later, Oskar Speck touched on Rangoon, , Mergui and Singapore. From there he went to Batavia on the way to Sumatra, , followed the coastline line of Java to Surabaya and arrived at northern Bali. Beyond that he went to Lakor, , Ambon, , Saumlaki and Madang before he arrived at Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea. Oskar Speck was absolutely inundated with signs of hospitality all along his adventurous journey. He encountered natives far from civilisation, , fell ill with malaria, , and fought against criminals on the Moluccan Islands. When Oskar Speck arrived on Australian soil at Saibai, , the northernmost island of the continent, , after having travelled for more than 30, 000 miles overand after 7 years and 5 months, , he was greeted by three Australian policemen in uniform with the words “Well done, , feller!”. They shook his hand warmly, , congratulated him on completing his journey from Germany to Australia in “that thing”, pointing to the kayak, and then proceeded to announce that they had bad news for him. Australia had joined forces with the Allies against Germany three days ago, , and he was therefore an “alien enemy”. So Oskar Speck, the folding boat traveller, Oskar Speck was put into an Australian internment camp for the next 6 ½ years. Oskar Speck stayed in Australia and it became his home. He recently celebrated the completion of histhe 8th decade of his life in great health and high spirits. Oskar Speck mightay be right to in attributinge his success to the fact that he’d “been lucky”,. butNevertheless he must have stuck faithfully to the old saying: ”Don’t leave your boat to the mercy of the waves on the ocean of fate. Take the paddle in your own hand, , but don’t be inept at paddling” (Quote from Platen’s Rules of Life)

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