Saturday, November 13, 2010

Adventures in Microfilm-Reading

I've been working my way through a newspaper whose title translates to the "Berlin Local Advertiser."  During my time period, it was run by a far-right-wing wealthy industrialist who ended up throwing his support behind Hitler, and under his direction the newspaper was a mix of mundane local news and international news, a giant classifieds section, and Crazy Right-Wing Spin (Blame Everything On Communists variety).  I've been reading it as a counterpoint to the liberal paper that I researched last year. 

Reading this paper has been fascinating (especially because of its conflicted portrayal of Berlin women), but it got mysterious as I got near the end of the microfilm.  I was looking forward to looking through the July 1932 newspapers, to compare its portrayal of the July 31st election with the Berliner Tageblatt's.  However, I discovered that the June and July 1932 papers are missing from the microfilm.  It's not that there's a roll missing: a single roll of microfilm skips straight from May 31st to August 1st.  I looked through my box of microfilm a little more and discovered that a couple more months were missing: January 1933 (the month that Hitler was appointed as chancellor) and June 1933 (the month when Hitler disavowed Hugenberg, the industrialist who ran this paper, and Hugenberg resigned from his cabinet post).  It's always full months that are missing.

This is simultaneously frustrating and fascinating.  Were these papers lost, damaged or destroyed?  Do hard copies of them exist anymore?  (I do know that most libraries in Germany have just identical sets of microfilm to this one.)  If they were destroyed, did it happen when the Nazis bought out Hugenberg's publishing empire, or after the war?  Or is it just a coincidence that the months that are missing were really historically important ones?  Is this just limited to the microfilm and are there hard copies out there in some archive?


In other related news, I may or may not have caused the breakdown of an expensive machine this week. 

So, you know how I said a couple of weeks ago that the microfilm scanner had developed a quirk?  Well, it broke down entirely on Friday, while I have only three rolls left to read.  It no longer advances at all, and the IT guy and I suspect that one of its motors burned out.  The fact that the scanner broke down after I'd been using it constantly for four hours makes me worry a little.  Also, the possibility that I might have to use the 20-cents-per-copy old-timey scanner for the last three rolls worries me a little more. 

But the library's bringing in a technician to fix the digital scanner, and I may have convinced them to temporarily replace it with the still-functioning scanner that they currently have in storage. I'll see what's happened when I go to school on Monday.

That (and the recent parade of visiting friends) has been keeping my hands full lately. 

1 comment:

The Blog Fodder said...

Now you are getting into real historical research. This is exciting stuff you are finding out. Keep us posted on what you learn about why it is missing and if there are actually hard copies in some non-descript library in rural Germany somewhere.

If my mother had been there at the time, SHE would still have all the papers.