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Letter from Oskar Speck to his sister Grete

Date: 29 July 1937
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[008]

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    Description
    Letter from Oskar Speck to his sister Grete typed in German over one page with text on both sides. Dated 29 july 1937, the letter mentions money being received, the bad weather and filming that he has carried out. Also mentions local story about crocodiles.
    Translation
    • ANMS0534 [008] Kalabahi, Alor, 29 July 1937 Dear Grete, Thank you very much for your letter and the one lot of RM 10 you sent to Dilli. You must tell me how many times you have sent money to Timor. So far I have received only the one lot. I think I’ve already written and told you about the RM 20 I received in Soembawa. I arrived in Timor on 9 July. I spent two weeks in Dilli and then I went back to Alor. The weather has become too bad and I won’t be able to leave Dilli to continue my journey before 20 August. So I have returned to Alor to make better use of the time and I’ll be filming around 1000 foot again. You wrote that the last lot of money came from Hans L. and that I should write Hans a post card. I will certainly do that now, but I would like to ask you to stop doing this in future. In the end I won’t know who all the people are whom I owe money to. If it becomes too difficult to continue sending RM 10 per month, you don’t have to do it any longer. Even though the RM 10 does help me, I won’t be able to cover all my travel costs with it and I am forced to use the help of strangers anyway. Perhaps I am thinking of things the way they were 5 years ago, when RM 10 did not mean a big sum of money. If this is different today and if you have trouble getting the RM 10 from home, you will have to write and tell me honestly. Of course I don’t feel comfortable finding myself receiving money from my nephews and nieces, whom I haven’t heard from for over 5 years. If Hans had sent me the money himself, things would seem slightly different, but as it is, I feel really embarrassed. Maybe I am a bit strange, but that’s the way I am. I’ll add to this a letter from the Consulate General in Batavia. Would you please pass this letter on to Father and ask him to put it with all the other things he is keeping for me? It is a very important matter and must not go missing anywhere. Many thanks for the newspaper clipping from the A. N. I would just like to know where people get these marvelously rubbishy photos from. I’ll probably write to the A. N. from here and attach a photo, too. Since I am forced to contemplate having to earn my keep by showing my film in Germany after all, I have to make sure that people’s interest is being kept alive by keeping them informed about my journey through strangers who don’t know about my journey themselves. [second page] Yesterday I was able to shoot some very interesting footage on the island of Pantar. The people here all resemble much more the Papuan type, and they performed a few dances for us in honour of the Sultan and the Lieutenant with whom I was making this trip. Then the Sultan demanded that a dance group including some women, who normally only perform at night, should do a dance especially for me which I was able to film. In a few days I will travel to one of the most uncivilized areas on Alor and hope to be able to film these people performing dances as well. I’ll have to have the material sent to me from Karachi. It’s very difficult to deal with the people from Agfa. I made them another offer and hope that they will finally agree to it so that I will receive the 2000 foot of film for the rest of my journey. I have now already got 1500 foot of film deposited with Agfa. The agent tells me that the footage came out very well. In some respects the Solor and the Alor Islands are much more interesting than Bali. From the Kei and the Tannimber Islands, where I shall go once I’ve left Dilli, I’m not expecting as much any more. Those islands are supposed to be already much more civilized. But then after that there will be another interesting stretch, along the coast of New Guinea. There are a great many crocodiles there. I’m still hoping to catch one on camera, but these beasts are very clever and really show themselves only at night. But they did eat a couple of natives a few weeks ago. The natives don’t kill crocodiles because they believe that they might contain the spirit of one of their ancestors. Also, they believe very firmly that each crocodile that was killed will be avenged by another. I have now very often seen huge crocodiles swimming out into the ocean, even though people thought that they only live in freshwater.
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