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Letter to Oskar Speck from his friend Georg Puschel

Date: 18 November 1936
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from John O'Donnell
Object Name: Letter
Object No: ANMS0535[017]

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    Letter to Oskar Speck from his friend Georg Puschel handwritten on grid paper, in German over three pages with text on all sides. Dated 18 November 1936, the letter talks about a German mountaineering expedition to the Himalayas, Georg’s attempts to have Oskar’s journey more widely publicised, and mentions the changes Germany is undergoing.
    • Dusseldorf, 18 November 1936 My dear Oskar, I am so glad to have received a sign of life from you after such a long time. When you receive this letter you will have safely reached Singapore, I hope. Another step on the way, one which would well and truly be a good one to finish up your long journey. It would be a jewel in your report. Are you really sure about going to Australia? I don’t really want to interfere, but this thing just keeps raising its head. When I go back to previous letters of yours and read between the lines, I realise how physically and psychologically demanding it all is. It gets me really worked up when I tell your story to some philistine here who listens with a mild degree of interest and asks me eventually, “Why is he actually doing it?” Today I went to the cinema with my dear wife to watch the movie “Nanga Parbat”. I presume you have read about this German mountaineering expedition in the Himalayas. They were unable to conquer the mountain. Four of them, including the leader of the expedition, did not return from the icy realm. The whole incident happened while you were struggling through the Persian Gulf. One would assume that the same question arises in their case, doesn’t it? But Mr Philistine doesn’t ask questions here. This particular story has been prepared for him in high places. The Reichssport Director himself appears [in the newsreel], reading the introduction. The story is propped up by the whole bunch, press, film, etc. The entire machinery is geared up, convincing our philistine to accept it without further questions. Coming back to your journey – this is exactly the problem with bringing it into focus, the mental inertia, which we will have to overcome. If you are trying to deal with it on a personal level, you will never be successful. Even if the disappointment is very big on a mental level, please don’t let it get you down. Look at it as a stream dragging you in the opposite direction [for a while]. You will eventually overcome it. I can imagine that you are quite bitter about those expatriates you came across in Calcutta. Even in this case one should not do anything but remember the famous saying of Götz von Berlichingen.* But let’s stop thinking about the issue now. Philosophical deliberations are not really a great help to our dear Oskar, are they? Thanks again for your letter from Penang dated 28 August 1936. The last one before that was from Calcutta, dated 13 June 1936. I wrote back once between these. I sent it along with a few newspapers. It was only a small parcel. I should not have sent it. It appears that it never reached you. Immediately after I received your last letter I submitted an extensive report to the Reichssport Director, including newspaper clippings and a fair few photographs. That was three weeks ago, but I haven’t received an answer yet. I had already sent a shorter report with pictures last spring. But that one went under in the excitement about the Olympics, I guess. There is nothing left to do but bide our time at this point. Don’t expect too much, either. The most important thing is that these authorities are made aware of what is going on. I have handed on your request for an eight mm film about German [illegible, possibly “canoe sport”]. The German Kayaking Enthusiasts’ Association wrote back that they could not help. I’ve handed in my resignation to this bunch since then. They lost their former standing when the “Deutscher Wassersportverband” [German Water Sports Association] was founded. I hope you have been informed about the results of the Olympics. Kayaking has stirred up a fair bit of interest. Germany got a gold medal in the double folding kayak** and in the classic double kayak. The next Olympics will take place in Tokyo in 1940. I hope that you will get a new boat in Singapore. One would think that Pionier will want to stay in the game considering how far you have got already. After all, they have made good use of you to push their products in the latest yearly catalogue. I am absolutely convinced that your trip will eventually find official recognition in Germany and that it will go down in the history of sport as a permanent feature. Don’t worry about the ins and outs of your return journey until you are really ready to return. Once you get to that point would you please let me know in time, ie. the town or the closest German consulate. I would make a submission to the [German] Foreign Affairs Department or apply to a large German shipping company. I do think that we can achieve something that way. After all, you have been on your way for over four years now. My boy, who would have thought that? You won’t recognise Germany when you return. Unemployment has been reduced from 6.5 mill. to less than one million, ie. almost dispensed with for good. There is already a lack of highly qualified staff. The entire industrial sector is working at full capacity. Delivery periods for machinery are at 12 to 18 months. At the same time, wages, salaries and prices have been stabilised. 16 December 1936: Only today do I get around to finishing my letter. Please don’t be angry with me. I can’t possibly describe how overwhelming the demands of business can be. I have been to Heidenheim in the meantime. We buried my dear mother back home. During that stay I got to read the letter you wrote to my sister. I concede that you are right in complaining about my laziness in writing back to you. I don’t mind your being upset about it. My dear boy, I can assure you that it is neither indifference nor lack of goodwill or anything like that. Quite on the contrary. I have come to know you so well that I feel very sincere and honest bonds of friendship between us. I hope that it will reach beyond our [daily] lives. I do feel bad about having achieved so little for you, almost nothing, really. I can see that you will overcome the mountain of difficulties before you if you stick to your guns. You are still sowing but the time to reap will surely come. Another thought crosses my mind now. You have provided so much public relations for the Pionier boat and the company as a whole that it must bear fruit eventually. How do you rate the market for Pionier boats in British India? One would think that there would be sufficient interest from a sporting point of view. If this interest coincided with sufficient numbers in the right parts of society with the necessary wealth, there would have to be a decent market for boats of this kind. Wouldn’t it be worthwhile to seriously consider starting a shop for Pionier collapsible boats and other sporting accessories in an appropriate town along the way? Pionier might even chip in. I reckon it’s worth a try. I’m sure Pionier would contribute if it looks like the idea has merit. Haven't you thought about this opportunity yourself? I want to finish up now. I’d rather write to you more promptly next time and in more detail. In future I want to avoid having any of your letters lying around anywhere unattended. I have been happily married since 6 July and I have found a true companion in my wife. I wish you a happy journey in your new boat. I hope that this letter will get to you in Batavia before Christmas. [marginal note:] By the way, I heard recently that the German consulates keep reporting about your travels most promptly in their monthly bulletins. Once again, all the best from myself and my wife, best wishes for Christmas and a happy journey. Yours truly, Georg Püschel

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