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Can anyone ID this key?

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by K2HN, May 28, 2019.

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  1. K2HN

    K2HN Subscriber QRZ Page

    While at a flea market in Krakow Poland I found this key. Didn't see any more ham related items. This is not exactly a beauty although it still works. I haven't done anything with it. It appears to be some kind of training key with a buzzer on it? It is stamped "Fernleitung" on the front. Don't know if that's the original knob but the one on it appears to be worn or chewed away. Would be interesting whether someone has seen one of these etc. Thanks key1.JPG key2.JPG key3.JPG
  2. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Fernleitung means "long distance circuit" or similar, so I don't think that's a manufacturer name, more of a description.

    Never seen one like this.
    WB5YUZ likes this.
  3. WB5YUZ

    WB5YUZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    My guess would be an East German railroad landline key. I think perhaps the "buzzer" is a type of sounder. Note the paucity of materials used in the construction, which was typical of Eastern bloc manufactured products of all kind.

    Steve's translation of "fernlietung" is dead-on according to my source, whose first language is German. So the telegraph op perhaps had more than one circuit in front of him and a key for each circuit, including a long-distance one to connect with surrounding stations and cities. If I am correct and this dates from the DDR era, you can bet the Stasi were alerted every time someone keyed up on the long-distance line.
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  4. K2HN

    K2HN Subscriber QRZ Page

    Yes, there were many old German items at that flea market. I assume left over from the German occupation. Paucity for sure, not exactly a Schurr. Not sure what to do with it at this point. Another one for the China closet I guess. Lots of sures in there:)
    WB5YUZ likes this.
  5. K5VZD

    K5VZD Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm watching this thread,, u sure sparked my interest!
  6. K2HN

    K2HN Subscriber QRZ Page

    Good one for sure:)
    Last edited: May 28, 2019
  7. W1BR

    W1BR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

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  8. WB5YUZ

    WB5YUZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    It is far, far more likely that they dated from the post-war period.

    Seventy-five years ago this summer and fall, as the Germans retreated across Poland, they took with them everything they could. What they could not take they largely destroyed.

    After the war, the Western Allies were reluctant to saddle the parts of Germany under American and British occupation with excessive reparations, in large part because of the idea, which was very prevalent among American and British statesmen, that overly harsh reparations had doomed the Weimar Republic and thus allowed Hitler to come to power in the first place. In the French zone, reparations were somewhat harsher, but still not a critical part of the economy. Instead, the Marshall Plan facilitated the rebuilding of Western Europe.

    In the areas which became the Warsaw Pact, however, the Russians levied very heavy reparations on the German government/people; and goods manufactured in East Germany as part of the reparations scheme found their way all over Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Places like Poland and the Baltic Republics became dependent on cheap East German manufactured goods, and remained so even after the original reparations scheme ended. This system became so ingrained in the Warsaw Pact economy that in later years, in a belated attempt to address the balance, East Germany was forced to continue this trade and accept more basic and inferior goods from other Warsaw Pact economies, much of which the East Germans did not want or need, as "payment."

    No wonder East German discontent triggered the collapse of the Soviet system in 1989!

    The end result was that when it did collapse, East German cars (especially the Trabbant and the Wartburg) and radios and telephones and so on were common all across the Warsaw Pact, and dishes and furniture and other less sophisticated goods found their way from Poland and what was then Czechoslovakia and the Baltic Republics, etc. etc., into Eastern Germany. In areas where the local language used the Latin alphabet, such as Poland and the Czech Republic, educated people generally spoke a little German, and so it was common for these goods to appear with German labeling, instructions, etc. (In 1990, when I first visited newly liberated Czechoslovakia, one saw and heard German everywhere, but very few people spoke English, and there was no signage in English, anywhere.) However, in many cases they were labeled with Cyrillic. Many people in possession of older "Russian" radios and radio equipment who do not know the Cyrillic alphabet are unaware that the radio is actually an East German product.

    So, any goods for sale at flea markets, antique shops, etc., in the old Warsaw Pact area that have German on them are generally either German war surplus that was appropriated by the Russians right after the war and then redistributed, or (more likely) post-war manufacture using the ruins of the pre-war German industrial plant, very archaic-looking stuff by 1955 or so, and almost if not always very cheaply made.

    Yes, it does. In other cases, it might be tempting to conclude it is a toy. But in the Warsaw Pact economy, many if not most goods were so cheaply made they had/have that appearance; and I think the lable "fernlietung" instead of, say, "kinderlietung" makes it being a toy unlikely.

    In fact, this brings us to a very important point. Non-consumer goods manufactured in Nazi Germany almost always continued the practice of having a manufacturer's name or trademark on them somewhere, as well as patent numbers, serial numbers, etc. Commercial goods manufactured in the former Warsaw pact often lack these kinds of markings; and there appear to be none on this key.
    Last edited: May 29, 2019
    K5VZD and KA0HCP like this.
  9. K2HN

    K2HN Subscriber QRZ Page

    Many thanks Daniel for all the details. Your knowledge of the history of that area convinces me regarding the key. With all respect let me guess; an International Studies or History professor with several letters after his name and a ham radio operator. Regardless, thank you.
    WB5YUZ likes this.
  10. WB5YUZ

    WB5YUZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    You're welcome.

    I don't have a higher degree; but most if not all of what I speak of, especially the tremendous frugality of raw materials present in almost everything manufactured east of the Iron Curtain, was once common knowledge. Their coins, for example, were frequently made out of pot metal and/or aluminum!

    Incidentally, like anyone truly interested in history, it is important to my understanding for me to learn from my mistakes. If you find out later I was wrong about this key, please contact me and let me know what you found out!
    Last edited: May 30, 2019

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