Monday, July 03, 2006

Sometimes history sits quietly in a book...

...and sometimes it pokes you right in the eye.

Maintaining the contents of the Museum is an ongoing chore. Every few days I'll get all motivated and drag one or three of the relics out and give them a thorough going over, checking for rust, disassembling, oiling, and that sort of thing. Friday evening I turned up the iTunes, pulled out the Webley auto and wiped it down, then fetched out the Siamese Mauser, giving it the same thorough treatment. Then I fetched out my Radom.

I got my Radom from a friend; it's a GI bring-back "Type III", which indicates mid-war production. I had recently scored a guide rod assembly for it via eBay, as well as a full spring kit from Wolff, and was pleased to have the old pistol restored to shootable condition. While I had it stripped down, I noticed a marking on the recoil lug under the barrel: a single "S" rune. Now, I don't know from Radoms, but I knew that on Mauser rifles that mark signified SS contract guns that had been assembled by slave labor. A little chilled, I started researching on the internet. It seems that by the time my pistol was made, a lot of Radom parts were made under contract by Steyr, at their facility at the Mauthausen concentration camp.

I'd like to think that whoever made that barrel got out of the war alive. If they didn't, I'd like them to know that the pistol, usually issued to SS units, was reportedly retrieved from a German who "didn't need it anymore."

I reassembled the gun, oiled it, and returned it to its place in the museum.

But I'll never look at it quite the same way again. This is what separates a piece of history from 'just another gun'.

8 comments:

BobG said...

And that is why I enjoy collecting things; it makes you wish the pistol could speak, and tell you where it had been, and what had happened around it.
Very interesting post.

phlegmfatale said...

Wow.

B&N said...

In most other countries, that SS marking would be enough to have it labeled a deodand, and destroyed because of its symbolism.

I, as you, think there is more value in preserving these items as the artifacts that they are, and learning/remembering from them. Speculating on your Radom's origin, by applying your knowledge to known markings from other types is indeed interesting.

I've never understood the mentality of supposedly ridding the world of it's evil by means of destroying an artifact, yet it persists, even here in the US.

BobG said...

Interesting comment, b&n, because I have always thought that the anti-gun group seemed to be hooked on all firearms being potential deodands, or their version thereof.

B&N said...

bobg,

Of course, you are correct.

It is for our own good, ya know. They just can't get that message across to us, because we are just a bunch of Red-State, xenophobic, narrow-minded hillbillies, with little to no education. (In their dreams!)

It is the true illiberal liberal mindset. I'd like to destroy THAT instead of the firearm. Maybe someday after the shooting starts. ;)

phlegmfatale said...

Well, b&n, humans are so self-obsessed that they can anthropomorphize anything, thus spreading the blame rather than laying responsibility at the feet of the humans who acted in a very nasty way. And the people who want to destroy artifacts to make a point are usually the same ones telling me the earth is my mother, so forgive me if I dismiss them wholesale.

B&N said...

Phlegmy,

You may have misunderstood me, I agree with you, I'd rather shoot those bastards in the head than let them melt down an SS pistol that was used to kill innocent people.

I think that they are missing the point by trying to 'rid' the world of those nasty guns, as if it could even be done. Instead, put some of these things in a museum (even if privately owned) and maybe we can learn a few things by studying the history of it all. I liken what those on the far left want to do with guns to an osterich sticking its head in the sand. It won't all go away just because we (they) are willing to ignore the facts.

I tend to dismiss these people out of hand as well, when they even mention the words, "gun-control," because as you well know, what they really mean is "people-control."

Firehand said...

First military arm I bought was a #4 MkI Enfield. First, I found that it was so greased that a drop of water in the vicinity would have run away yelping; second, after cleaning, I found a row of small 'x' marks cut into the bottom edge of the buttstock.

Like you said, not just an arm, a piece of history