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Letter from Oskar Speck to the German Consulate General, Batavia

Date: 16 October 1937
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Nancy Jean Steele Bequest
Object Copyright: © Australian National Maritime Museum
Object Name: Letter
Object No: ANMS0536[009]

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    Letter from Oskar Speck to the German Consulate General, Batavia typed in German, dated 16 October 1937. The letter provides an account of the incident in Lakor when Oskar was attacked and his eardrum was burst.
    • Oskar Speck Tepa, Babar 16 October 1937 German Consulate General Batavia Further to my telegram of 20 October, sent from a K.P.M. passenger ship rom Tepa, I am providing this report of the attack on the island of Lakor: On 12 October I left the island of Moa at approximately 6 o'clock and 16.10.37crossed over to the island of Lakor, which lay opposite. At approximately 10 o'clock I saw Kalapa Island, which I had to reach after Lakor. I was unable to make the crossing on the same day due to strong headwinds and had, therefore, to land on Lakor. To cross to Kalapa I had intended taking advantage of the southerly breeze which would come up the next day between 4 and 5 o'clock. Some natives assisted me in reaching the shore and proved to be quite friendly. In the course of the day various natives appeared to inspect the boat. Kaballa Kampong was amongst them, too. He tried to get some water bottles by begging, but I couldn't give them to him. As usual, everything in the boat was of interest to the natives, especially the pistol. At sunset I lay down to sleep and the natives departed. At approximately 11pm I was woken by a low voice. About 20 natives, armed with spears, swords and knives were standing around the boat. I asked them what they wanted, and because I couldn' t understand their reply, I told them that I wanted to sleep and that they should leave me alone. Then I lay down again under my tarpaulin. After a short while one of the natives opened the tarpaulin. This really alerted me and I felt that something was wrong. In a firm voice I told them that I wanted to go to sleep, and that if they didn't leave me alone I would "introduce them to my pistol". With these words I took hold of the gun. In my experience, this .. .* to keep natives away who are too insistent. I had just put the pistol down and was about to lie down again when I was attacked from behind. There were about five or six natives. They prevented me from getting the pistol and then I was pulled out of the boat and bound with a strap made of raw buffalo hide. While they were binding me I noticed other natives going for my belongings in the boat. I was then pulled along the beach, while they beat and kicked me continuously. One of them immediately put on my pith helmet and then went on rummaging through the boat. He ordered the boat to be pulled further up the beach and then he held his knife in front of my face and made a gesture of slitting my throat. Another pulled at my hair and screamed: " Die"! After that, some of the people left. After I had been left on the beach, nearly naked, for about two hours, one of them came over and beat and kicked me so severely that my eardrum probably split. In any case, I can,t hear anything on my left anymore. After another hour had gone by, those guarding me must have become bored. They pulled me under a rock and went away. It took me about 15 minutes to undo the knots that held me and within another 10 minutes I was able to get my boat back into the water. I was just preparing to leave when the natives returned with torches. They tried catching up to me, seeing as I still had to get past a coral reef, but then gave up, realising that they had no chance of catching me. I arrived at Tepa on 15 October via the island of Sermata. Unfortunately, the officer who was stationed there was on an inspection trip, so I now have to wait for his return on 18 October. A K.P.M. passenger ship which can send telegrams is supposed to arrive here on the 201h. I wrote to the captain, asking him to send a telegram for me to the Consulate General. I asked the captain to have K.P.M. seek payment from the Consulate General for the telegram. Please let me know the cost of the telegram. I will ensure the transfer of that amount to the Consulate General. I am currently unable to pay for the telegram Page 6 of 32as I do not have enough money with me. The attack has received much attention on Sermata, so the natives on Lakor will probably already know that the incident is likely to be investigated and will put together their own version of the story accordingly. From what I have heard, the natives are so-called civilised * natives who are all Christians. Furthermore, only one .. .* is supposed to be .. .* big village which has a missionary teacher. If the natives couldn't understand me and genuinely didn't intend to rob me, then they could have notified the missionary. The same goes for Kaballa from the big village. In addition, the maltreatment proves they wouldn't have let me go again because they would have been due for punishment anyway. I respectfully request the Consulate General to ask the Dutch Government to investigate the incident. It would be best to send my stolen belongings to the Consulate General in Sydney. My address is: Thursday Island, Australia, c/o Postmaster. Thanking you in advance for your kind assistance, German salutation Heil Hitler * illegible due to a hole in the paper or wear at the end of paper
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