viernes, 28 de octubre de 2011

Peter Tamm, the prince of the tides

Author: Bruno Pasarelli.
Source: “Conozca Más” review, 1996

(sorry, my English is very basic)

He is a magnate of the German press and owner of the biggest naval museum in the world. In their palace of Hamburgo he gathered 18.000 miniatures of ships, 1.000 flags, 80.000 books and an arsenal that it could equip a fleet.
The love to the sea is contagious and it takes to the men to make venturous, unusual and chancy things. To navigate is necessary, the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa said, and he added that it was still it more than to live. Some navigators were allowed to take for the sea lover and they discovered continents. Others looked for adventures bending the end of Hornos cape in small sailing ships, or giving the turn to the alone world. And there are those that love the sea through the objects and the ships with which the men travel him.
In Deutschland, among the trees of the avenue Elbchaussee of Hamburgo, next to the outlet of the Elba in the Baltic sea, an old and historical mansion is the monument to the love for the sea of a naval former-cadet, former-journalist and millionaire, Peter Tamm. The large house houses the biggest collection in the world of naval scale models, one of those bigger than flags, uniforms and documents, and an arsenal that it would be the envy of some smaller countries. In their garden, as warning what the visitor will find when entering, guard mounts a shuttle boat of the Armada of the missing Oriental Germany.
Peter Tamm began his collection of naval devices when he was hardly six years old and it armed his first scale model. To the 17 years, in 1945, he was a young naval cadet that was congratulated of having survived the Second World War and he wondered how new career to choose, since their defeated country won't have a Marina of war more for many years. With the years, Tamm became a high manager of the group Springer, the biggest editorial in Germany that the daily Bild publishes. Already retired, it gathered their collections and created the Institute of Sailing and Marine’s history. The first step was the purchase, in 1988, of the large house of Elbchaussee, a mansion built in 1865 for a shipping builder and that then outside of the prince Otto of Bismarck and of the kaiser Guillermo II. The house contains many works of art, fresh and unique ornamentations, and it was carefully restored to its original condition. The Bulgarian historian Anna Nikoloff began in 1993 to classify the pieces of the Institute and to prepare them for her exhibition and study. The first thing in getting ready, clear, they were the 18.000 scale models in miniature (the scale is of hardly 1 in 1.250) of ships of all the times. The collection includes all the main types of ships used in the history, from the Egyptian galleys until the nuclear airplane carrier. These miniatures share the living rooms of the mansion with more scale models —45 to 48 smaller times that the original— that stand out for the perfection of their details. Some, also, are only: the collection includes a reproduction in pure gold of the Santa María, Christopher Columbus (Cristóbal Colón) caravel badge, next to small ships made of amber, ivory and silver. In a room the biggest existent collection in the ships made in human bones by sailors French prisoners from England during the wars napoleonic wars.
The biggest models, those of scale 1 in 45 or 1 in 48, include some of the most outstanding ships in the world naval history. There ships like the Yamato can be appreciated, the biggest battleship never built that was thrown away in 1940 and collapsed by the North Americans in 1945. He also can the Meteor IV, sailing ship of the German kaiser it turns Guillermo II, and the Chesapeake, the North American frigate captured a lot in 1813 by a ship smaller than the British Army, in one of the most famous actions in combat of the anglo-American war of 1812-1814.
The scale model of the Chesapeake is exactly famous: it measures 144 centimeters long, and it was built in colored whale bones by the sailors of the frigate captured in the combat. The naval historians consider this scale model at some time the most perfect carried out.
Argentina is present in the Institute that has miniatures of almost all the ships of the fleet of sea of the Army and with reproductions of foreign ships related with its history. For example, one can see a detailed reproduction of the pocket battleship Graf Von Spee that was put in a corner in the Río de la Plata by English cruises in 1939. His commandant, captain Langsdorff, sank the ship in the central channel of the river, it put safe his company in Buenos Aires, and he in a hotel of Retiro. It is also in exhibition the Deutschland, a twin ship of the lost one in the river.
Near the Spee and the Deutschland, one can see a true curiosity, the first German airplane carrier. Commissioner toward the end of the war, when the politics of the Nazi weapons industry was already erratic, the carriers was never thrown away neither baptized. The Russians captured him almost finished in their navy in May of 1945, and they took it to tow to their Nordic port of Leningrado. The unfortunate ship neither ended up serving in the Red Army, because he collapsed before arriving to its new port. To have their scale model, Tamm had to get the original planes of the ship, and to send to make its scale model in scale.
In the same living room they can be seen model of submarines of the highest technology. One of them is a Soviet ship that is never the great submergible built, big as a surface cruise and able to lower until the 1.000 meters deep, navigating to 80 kilometers per hour. Next to the submarines, a collection of ship-tank reproductions that history their evolution from the first one built, a model of 1889 that transported 1.390 tons of petroleum, until the great bounced at some time, the Cristina Onassis, able to transport more than 500.000. The historical series include reproductions of the English admiral's ships Nelson —el winner of Trafalgar—, of Américo Vespucci's ship, of a Russian cruise that participated in the revolution of 1905, and of the brig of war Jamaica, bounced in 1710, and the first ship in hoisting the North American flag, in 1790.
Another room of the Institute harbors the biggest existent collection in the world of paintings on naval topics that it includes pieces of the 1500 until our days. To the side, they are already available the 80.000 books of the specialized library, and the historians work classifying the thousands of naval letters of the collection that include some of the first ones that have been drawn. Hundred of file boxes keep an immense mass of documents related with the history of the sailing, including 500 autographs of famous admirals admiral's Nelson —50 of them—, 30.000 original planes of old and modern ships, a million pictures, and 2.000 documental movies and of fiction. The documental collection is completed with badges, commemorative lockets, porcelains and 1.000 flags of war, among them a badge of combat of the Argentina Army and the imperial banner of the kaiser Guillermo II.
The restorers of the institute work preparing the section uniforms that it includes actively original and reproductions that will be exhibited in mannequins that reproduce celebrated marines of all the times. The section includes a true jewel, an original uniform of a marine of the lord company Nelson that dates of principles of last century. Another original is Argentinean naval captain's uniform centennial that admiral Ferrer gave to Peter Tamm for his museum. In 1992, Tamm visited this country and it was entertained as a lover of the sea he dreams: it navigated in Argentinean ships, and he dove in a submarine of the Armada built in the German navy Nordseewerke.
In special cabinets, the Institute exhibits unique pieces. For example, a small collection of strange canes of supreme commandants of the German Army control that they include that of Enrique from Prusia —kaiser Guillermo’s brother and major naval during the First World War—fused by a goldsmith in 1909. Other outstanding pieces are the canes of the admirals of the Second War Erich Raeder and Karl Donitz. This last one gave their cane personally to Tamm and it is a special historical piece: Donitz commanded the fleets of German submarines that attacked the traffic naval ally in the North Atlantic between 1940 and 1944, and it was the successor of Hitler, after the dictator, taking charge him in his testament to surrender the country.
Finally, clear, the weapons are. The collection includes from the invaluable, as the 3.000 year-old Persian swords, until the enormous one and still weapon boat of Oriental Germany that receives the visitors in the garden of the Institute. They also call the attention the weapons of hand of all type, like a tanaka —a samurai sword— given by emperor Hirohito to a high German naval boss. Next to this true arsenal, the technical instruments of the war are exhibited: communications, optic apparatuses and of sailing, machines to decipher keys and, more innocently, the machinery used to build replicas to scale of ships.
Almost a dream, this Institute, is a true Eden for the lovers of the sea. It is not casual, since the large house of Hamburgo houses the biggest collection in naval pieces of the planet: there is not anything that it is compared to what Peter Tamm was able to gather in 61 years of collections.

For their founder, the Institute is much more than a museum: it is a tool of investigation of the naval history.
For Peter Tamm, to exhibit their collections is to give a bigger sense to a passion that dominated all their life. “My life will be lived in the sea, I will be army”, the manager says, “but the end of the Second War left the adolescent that was me without career, because the German Army stopped to exist for several years. So I followed my passion for other means.”
Tamm continued accumulating devices, reproductions and naval weapons, and investing fortunes —without the German state help, like it proclaims a poster proudly to the entrance of the Institute— in getting documents, planes and pictures. “More than a museum, what I seek is that my Institute of Sailing and Army History is an investigation institution, a real tool for all those that are interested in the sea”, Tamm says.
“Especially, they are welcome the youths, because it is fundamental that they have conscience that the ships were the means for which the humanity's history was mobilized. Without ships America had not been discovered, without ships the Argentina would not exist. Without them anything would be same.” While he smokes cigarettes unfailingly, Tamm gives another definition on its institute: “Neither we can only enable it as museum, because we would need a hundred places for parking and we only have five, that is to say that, if they come to visit one another, please they come in taxi.”

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