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Letter from Oskar Speck to his friend Sonja

Date: 4 June 1936
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Nancy Jean Steele Bequest
Object Copyright: © Australian National Maritime Museum
Classification:Ephemera
Object Name: Letter
Object No: ANMS0534[003]

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    Description
    Letter from Oskar Speck to his fiend Sonya handwritten in German over five pages, with text on one side only. The letter is about his journey being important for Germany, and he not being in Germany for the reconstruction is not such a bad thing. He is planning to cross over to Siam [Thailand] in 1 or 2 days.
    Translation
    • Victoria Point 14 June 1936 Dear Sonja, [I] received the letter you sent to Rangoonxx. Many thanks. [I’ve] arrived in V.P., which lies on the Burmese borderfrontier of Burma, and am well. I’ll be crossing over to Siam [Thailand] in one or two days. The weather is very bad – it’s the monsoon season – and it’s an act of sheer madness to be travelling in a collapsible boat at this time of year. But what am I to do? Now I’m going to have to hold a long sermon about that one sentence you wrote in your last letter: ”"Maybe the expatriate Germans are so unkind to you because you continue to paddle on, although life here has become well-organised.") You expressed it in those or similar words. Well, now listen to me:! I am very well aware that that statement is due to the influence of certain people. Were it not so, I believe I would not be answering your letter at all. A person with such a low degree of sympathyunderstanding for my journey cannot be a friend of mine. Jealousy, jealousy, a dominant major characteristicfeature of weourus Germans, has now also crept into one of my friends. (At least I always thought she was a friend of mine.) Do you really believe my journey is something our fellow countrymen, whether in Germany or abroad, need to be ashamed of?? Do you really think it’s a crime not to physically take part in the reconstruction of Germany, when Germany has over one million unemployed people? (And now to the main point, i.e.: for whom am I risking my life, what am I promoting with my spectacular sports achievement? It's the new Germany. Based on pure jealousy and foolishness that very same Germany [sic] feels the need to give me a kick. If I were to change my nationality and became an Englishman or American today, tomorrow all those German hypocrites and alehouse patriots would regard me as a great person and woo me. Now, I hope you’ll get that into your thick head, and you can pass the messagexx on to whoever made those insinuations, either indirectly or directly. Decent Germans will feel pride when I reach my destinationgoal and will assist me inat achieving itgetting there. The scum will criticise me and place obstacles in my way. However, once the goal hasi beens attainedreached they will beat their breasts and say: “Aren’t we Germans great!" Do you think it’s a disgrace if the highest English officials, who would never share the same table with the German clerks [sic] located posted here, invite me to visit and ask me to tell them about Germany? Or is it a disgrace if, after decades, thousands of Indians, Burmese and others remember that Germanyxx[sic] who, in a strange little boat, went where the native fishermen wouldn’t (for their life)xx dare to go, despite having in spite of the large boats? Or are you now involveddid you get in with people who think that, having little money, I do things here in overseas of which one would haveneeds to be ashamed of? I’d like to yellshout atto all those people that they are judging me according to their yardstick and that’s why they can’t achieveachieve a anything decent. Dear Sonya, I do not want to hurt you. Nevertheless, I shall repeat the factsay again that I would never have written to you anymore, were I not convinced that your attitude towards my journey originates from a certain person I have in mind. You’ve touched my most sensitive spot. I can take a lot of crude jokes, but people only get to insult me once. Now let’s put an end to this story and never speak about it againxx. I will be reaching Penang in about 4 weeks. By the way, Schmidt hasn’t answered me up to this day. I received his last letter in Madras last year. As I understand from your letter he has also received my reply. I hope you are happy and well in Altona and that you are really takeing advantage of this year’s paddling season. Elli is now already married and my congratulations will reach her much too late. But such is my fate: either too early or too late, but never at the right time. Thank you for the news papers. That about ”Bartenderxx in hot Ceylon” really was translated superbly [writing partially illegible/destroyedpaper torn]. In Altona xx they seem to have quite some ideas about the “The Boy from Altona” [writing partially illegible/paper torndestroyed]. By the way, in future I will have to ( xx…[illegible]) because in the Hamburg news papers of Hamburg they call me “The Boy from Hamburg” [writing partially illegible/paper torndestroyed]. My God, how naïve these people are! I have the feeling all of Hamburg-Altona is [just] a [small] village. My next stop will be Penang. (Airmail) With the kindest regards to you, your parents and brother, Your Oskar
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