Typewriter Talk

You are not logged in. Would you like to login or register?



13-5-2017 07:24:45  #11


Re: Possible Acquistions Thread

thetypewriterman wrote:

I have come across several pre-war German typewriters that have been part-converted to English keyboard - and often with a home-made carry case.  I am sure that these were 'spoils of war' or bought on the German 'Black Market' just after the war.  There was a chronic shortage of typewriters here in the years after WWII and anything that would type was saleable.

Interesting. That certainly makes sense for England. I'm not sure the demand was quite the same in the US, where there were already lots of typewiters, a sizable number of which didn't get sacrificed to the war effort. Plus there were already longstanding German-speaking populations across the Northeast and upper Midwest with their own needs. For instance, yesterday, I just happened to come across a pristine interwar Continental portable (pics soon) that was sold out of a German typewriter shop in NYC. 

Fleetwing wrote:

 Read the two blog postings in this link about a similar Robust -- ultimately donated to a Holocaust museum: https://myoldtypewriter.wordpress.com/category/olympia-robust/

 

An fascinating read, and fascinating journey. Thank you, Fleetwing. I've thought about donating one of my other typewriters to a museum, so I had one practical question for you about that process: did they give you some sort of amount of a tax write-off for your donation?

 

13-5-2017 09:19:24  #12


Re: Possible Acquistions Thread

Oh, that's not my blog! I suggest you contact Mary (whose blog it is) and ask her. And while you are there, check out her other posts -- very helpful and funny.

 

13-5-2017 13:12:30  #13


Re: Possible Acquistions Thread

I didn't read all of the blog entries, but it's clear that the author didn't understand what the Robust she owned was, or who would have used it, because historically speaking it's not an appropriate example of a typewriter for a holocaust museum. 

​When people discuss these machine in general, I particularly dislike when the generic description "Nazi typewriter" is used. The Olympia Robust was a German-made typewriter, not one produced by a group of card-carrying Nazis. Contrary to what some people think, Nazi and German are not interchangeable descriptions.


"To save time is to lengthen life."
     Thread Starter
 

13-5-2017 16:59:56  #14


Re: Possible Acquistions Thread

Uwe wrote:

I didn't read all of the blog entries, but it's clear that the author didn't understand what the Robust she owned was, or who would have used it, because historically speaking it's not an appropriate example of a typewriter for a holocaust museum.

I suspect they knew exactly who would have used this typewriter and for that reason thought it appropriate to include an example in a holocaust museum. The Schutzstaffel or SS included a division specially in charge of the concentration camps.

​When people discuss these machine in general, I particularly dislike when the generic description "Nazi typewriter" is used. The Olympia Robust was a German-made typewriter, not one produced by a group of card-carrying Nazis. Contrary to what some people think, Nazi and German are not interchangeable descriptions.

Perhaps the desire of most to distance themselves from this group in fact favors this kind of name, for if you simply referred to them as "German typewriter" offensive could be taken at the implication this was a typical product of Germany. It's all about that one symbol, without which it would simply be a wartime typewriter.

I looked up the history of this symbol, for without this particular association it looks to me like a pair of stylized art deco sparks and if you told me this symbol was to be found in the decoration of the 1931 GE building in NYC or had been removed after the war it would be quite plausible. I thought the suggestion of sparks might have been a reference to the use of radio propaganda -- they may have been based on mystic runes but this association was also in the air around the time they were adopted.


"Damn the torpedoes! Four bells, Captain Drayton".
 

13-5-2017 18:08:14  #15


Re: Possible Acquistions Thread

Uwe wrote:

I didn't read all of the blog entries, but it's clear that the author didn't understand what the Robust she owned was, or who would have used it, because historically speaking it's not an appropriate example of a typewriter for a holocaust museum. 

​When people discuss these machine in general, I particularly dislike when the generic description "Nazi typewriter" is used. The Olympia Robust was a German-made typewriter, not one produced by a group of card-carrying Nazis. Contrary to what some people think, Nazi and German are not interchangeable descriptions.

Uwe, she knew exactly what she had. That's why she made the blog posting in the first place. It was entirely historically appropriate for a holocaust museum, for that very reason.

I think the concept that "German" does not equal "Nazi" is well understood. But but here, "Nazi" is entirely appropriate. Why else would SS runes appear as a typewriter character, if not to be used in an official capacity under that regime?

 

13-5-2017 18:56:59  #16


Re: Possible Acquistions Thread

It is clear that the runes are specific to a particular political ideology and a particular regime in a particular country at a particular point in history.

As an aspie, I have a hard time in picking-up nuance in social cues, so I rely on my wife, who has no particular affinity for typewriters at all. I showed her the posting of the 1942 Olympia with the runes, and she was repulsed. (Apparently, I'd not be welcome in the home any more if I brought something like that home.) But, yesterday, when I bought a 1937 Continental (still "Nazi" era) without the runes, she was just fine with it. 

Indeed, I'd consider the Continental a "German" typewriter, while considering the Olympia (or any make) with the SS runes as a "Nazi" typewriter. 

Likewise, if the USSR had ever made a hammer-and-sickle type-slug, I'd consider those "Soviet" typewriters, but any Russian-made typewriter that didn't have that particular political symbol would be just "Russian."

The distinction for me is political, rather than national. 

 

14-5-2017 17:55:42  #17


Re: Possible Acquistions Thread

It’s not a surprise that all three replies to my previous post are harmonious in their opinion; when it comes to this subject, most arguments are the result of having sipped rather than deeply drunk from the Pierian Spring.

The Olympia Robust, like the one that was donated by the blogger, was a field typewriter, which means it was issued equipment used by front line troops. You only need to look at the construction of its travel case that was meant to endure the rigors of operating out of a communications truck, and its field grey camouflage paint for that to be obvious. As such, it’s a machine that might have been used by a Waffen SS unit, but not necessarily; there would have been a need too for other military units to have a typewriter with the double rune character too. In either case, these units had nothing to do with the operation of concentration camps and such a machine would never have been used inside of one.

 The typewriters that were actually used in concentration camp offices, or the offices of those communicating with those camps, machines that would be an appropriate exhibit about the machinations of evil, could have been made a number of different manufacturers and they would have been standard typewriters.

 As I previously stated, a portable field typewriter is not a historically correct example for a holocaust museum; not only didn’t the previous owner (the blogger) understand what the machine was or who might have used it, but she also wasn’t able to distinguish between military and political units.

 It is equally nonsensical to call the Robust by rote a Nazi typewriter. Less than ten percent of the German population were members of the Nazi party, and the majority of Waffen SS soldiers - those who most likely would have used that Robust - weren't Nazis either. To then call these typewriters, which in all likelihood weren't made or ever used by an actual Nazi, a Nazi typewriter, is to paint history in dangerously broad strokes, never mind that it imbues an inanimate object with a political belief. It makes about as much sense as calling every American-made typewriter from the early ‘40s a Democrat typewriter.

 Although I understand and appreciate why most people make immediate and negative associations with certain symbols, such as the double rune for example, it is often a product of black and white thinking and a lack of familiarity with history. Far more disturbing to me, it is also an example of how most people subscribe to convenient truths, and are guilty of picking and choosing which of the myriad atrocities that have been committed, and continue to be committed by mankind, to be offended by.


"To save time is to lengthen life."
     Thread Starter
 

15-5-2017 06:41:48  #18


Re: Possible Acquistions Thread

Uwe, thou dost protest too much, methinks.

We're of course all speculating here (yourself included) about what use this particular typewriter saw, but of course any machine with the SS runes would be one made for government, thus Nazi, use. As such, I think it fair to say this is a "Nazi" machine. The reputation of the SS, including its involvement in the Final Solution, is established more or less beyond contradiction at this point. So this is an appropriate exhibit for a museum on the Holocaust.

As for whether a field typewriter would not have been used in a concentration camp -- who is to say? And let us not forget the notorious SS Einsatzgruppen, who were at work in the newly occupied territories of eastern Europe rounding up and killing Jews and others deemed undesirable well before the Auschwitzes and Treblinkas were built. If the Einsatzgruppen used typewriters (and why wouldn't they?), they probably would have used a Robust or other portable machine.

As a symbol of "the banality of evil" as carried out by the Nazis, then, this typewriter surely qualifies. Arguing about which sort of typewriter would have been used in a concentration camp is rather beside the point.

Sorry if my words offend. 

 

15-5-2017 11:43:12  #19


Re: Possible Acquistions Thread

It is possible to both have a nuanced understanding of history and have a visceral reaction to particular political symbols (and have a nuanced understanding of symbolic politics writ large). 

Personally, I'm less concerned with the personality, political beliefs, and intentions of a person who owned a typewriter, and more concerned with what those symbols represent. (Typewriters, of course, being cast and manufactured by people professing a particular ideology.) Likewise if I came across an SS-Totenkopf epaulette, I'd be put off by it, regardless of whether the person who wore it was a "true believer" or not. 

I do appreciate the conversation, though. It certainly puts into perspective the complexity of history and politics in the seemingly apolitical realm of collecting typewriters. But perhaps it shouldn't be so surprising: since these machines are built as a mechanism of transmitting ideas, sometimes we have to consider alternative ideas and ideologies, in addition to alternative languages. 

Consequently, this debate has really made me think about what draws me to typewriters in general. They are gorgeous, intricate machines--yes--but there are far more people who obsess about antique cars or other intricate machines. Antique cars are cool to be sure--a well-restored one can get you from point A to point B as well today as in the 1920s--but typewriters are far more intimate, as they deal not with simple physical conveyance, but with the conveyance of thoughts, emotions and ideas. This is far more intimate. Perhaps that's why, every time I buy a new typewriter, I inquire about its backstory, so far as it is known. That is indeed part of the heritage of each piece, but for me, less so than what a particular machine was manufactured to do, or convey.  

 

21-5-2017 12:06:03  #20


Re: Possible Acquistions Thread

Okay, back on topic:
L.C. Smith #2--is it worth the $30 the owner is asking?

https://philadelphia.craigslist.org/atq/6097298921.html

This one has been advertised for months, with a price gradually dropping. When there were other pictures earlier, it looked like it was just dirty and dusty. The pic that they now have on the listing makes it look way worse--the typebars look especially rusted. On the other hand, the logos and graphics on it still look sharp. Any thoughts on whether it'd be worth reclaiming this one?

 

Board footera

 

Powered by Boardhost. Create a Free Forum

Typewriter Talk