Torpedo Portable Typewriter

Torpedo No.15A

with SS Runes

ca.1939
Torpedo Werke AG.
Frankfurt, Germany



Torpedo typewriters were well made German machines with respectable commercial success. Nonetheless, the company was not impervious to the economic melee that was the Great Depression. With a need to restructure in order to stay in business, Remington-Rand, an American company based in New York City, bought a controlling share of the Torpedo company. Remington was already a behemoth within the typewriter industry and it regularly bought competitors to either eliminate them or, as in this case, expand their global dominance. 

What I find most interesting is that, Remington, an American company, had no moral issues profiting off of specially ordered typewriters for the Third Reich and the Nazi party. Note the keyboard of the Torpedo on this page, its "=" key was factory modified to type the double runes insignia of the Schutzstaffel, also known as the SS. Though, one should not expect anything different of Remington which was originally a gun manufacturer that sold to whichever side would pay. A case could be made that Remington didn't know and that the Torpedo branch of the business produced such typewriters independent of its parent company.

Torpedo Portable Typewriter

According to the seller from whom I purchased the Torpedo on this page, serial numbered 323,802, it belonged to her great-grandfather who served as a correspondent during WWII. He took the typewriter from a German POW and with the permission of his commanding officer he had the typewriter mailed back home. It was not uncommon for soldiers to ask their commanding officers for permission to mail home confiscated guns, helmets, daggers or any other artifact as a souvenir-of-sorts.

So what of the typewriter? Yes, it is a beautiful, precision-engineered machine, but was also used as a tool in one of the most heinous chapters of human history. If displayed out of context the typewriter is vile, but in context, it is significant piece of history. The typewriter itself is not evil, only some of its users. The typewriter is a reminder of our history in the same sense that photographs, artifacts and architecture are. All the same, I didn't feel comfortable with it in my home so I passed it along to a WWII vet.

Questions? Comments? Please fell free to email me at Antikey.Chop@gmail.com or call +1 860 729-2252

Torpedo Portable Typewriter