Exploding fountain pen
Many newspaper articles appeared in Hungary after 1942 about fountain pens that exploded on contact. These pens were allegedly dropped from aircraft into enemy territory during the war. The latest is an article published in 2012 in Magyar Nemzet, which analyses whether such weapons existed at all. No physical evidence has survived, but there are stories and legends. A collection of newspaper articles on the subject will give the reader an idea of how much propaganda and how much reality the exploding fountain pen was.
Am I a target?
03.1942 ÚJSÁG The exploding fountain pen: medical soldiers are treating a Ukrainian boy who found a fountain pen in an evacuated house with great affection. When he started to twist it, the pen exploded. The little boy is better now, but he will never forget the greetings of Stalin's soldiers for the rest of his life, and he will carry the memory of those greetings on his hands and face for a very long time...
05.1943 ÚJSÁG (Rome, May 7, Slefani) The Tribuna describes the cunningly devised explosive devices that the attacking American and British planes are dropping on Italian towns and villages, which have already claimed many victims, especially children. The explosive devices are of three types: mine shells, explosive fountain pens and round metal boxes. The explosive mine-cases are smoothly polished metal tubes, measuring 10 x 12 centimetres, with a hook at the end, like the one used to attach a fountain pen or pencil to a pocket. This hook, which can be easily moved, is the safety lock of the explosive tool. When it is moved out of position, a firing pin is triggered, which strikes the firing pin and detonates the charge. The deceptive fountain pens are made like everyday fountain pens and explode when the cap is unscrewed. The metal used to make them is browned to make them easier to mistake for ebonite fountain pens. The metal cans are about 8 centimetres in diameter and explode when the lid is removed. The military authorities warn the population of bombed areas against these cleverly devised explosives, but unfortunately, children cannot resist the temptation and many are killed.
It's quite stylish and entirely in keeping with British and American cultural perceptions that they are destroying people with pencils and fountain pens these days. That's right, as we write: with pencils and fountain pens, known to mankind as the weapons of culture. The English and the Americans seem to have run out of ideas of killing; or perhaps they are very ingenious to resort to pencils and fountain pens. Not at home, of course, but in Italy, where planes drop them on city streets, expecting passers-by to pick up these found objects. They do pick it up, but when opened it explodes and kills. What a clever invention of first-half 20th century warfare. Pencils, fountain pens that explode and kill. It is true that there is a war, when it is customary to destroy the enemy; but it is not in the peaceful towns behind the front, but on the firing line, where humanity, honour and chivalry dictate. It is just that Germany is at war, Italy is at war, Hungary is at war, but we have never read of such dishonourable killing tools in connection with these warring nations. England, America, too, considers them permissible and compatible. It is true, a bird for its feather, a man for his friend. And those two nations are Stalin's friends. Knowing this, there is nothing to wonder about either the exploding pencil or the bullet hole.
1952 Tolna Diary (Hungary)
Berlin, June 27 (MTI) American agents smuggle explosive fountain pens into the German Democratic Republic.
The People's Police of the German Democratic Republic arrested three agents of the US spy service in Freiberg. One of the arrested men was found in possession of a suitcase full of fountain pens. Inside the fountain pens were extremely powerful explosives.
In a school in Berlin's democratic zone, an eight-year-old girl found similar pens in her desk in recent days. The pen exploded and injured the schoolgirl. The authorities have established that the US spy service is now using these explosive fountain pens to equip its malicious agents sent to the German Democratic Republic.
Am I a target?
2012. Magyar Nemzet (Budapest). According to the military historian, it is inconceivable that from an altitude of 6,000-8,000 metres, the attacking planes would drop toy pigs, slippers, fountain pens and brooches during the bombing. Not to mention that these objects would have been destroyed by the crash itself.? Today, the fate of the evidence collected at the time is untraceable, and the victims cannot be found. Pataky did not question the authenticity of some of the stories in police reports. In fact, during the Second World War, exploding fountain pens, cigarette cases, thermoses, pencils and clothes hangers were used by the Special Operations Executive (SOE), a secret organisation set up in Britain to carry out special operations. (Two Austrian researchers, Siegfried Beer and Stefan Karner, cite similar cases to those in Hungary in their book Der Krieg aus der Luft, Kärnten und Steiermark 1941-1945. The 'found objects' The British organisation recruited its members from emigrants in the Axis countries, mainly for sabotage operations; agents with top-level training also carried out other guerrilla and propaganda operations. (It was Czech resistance fighters from the SOE who mortally wounded Reinhard Heydrich, the ruthless German governor of the Czech-Moravian Protectorate, in May 1942.)
P.S. I found the following war leaflet on a Dutch website, unfortunately I could not find out any more information about whether it was propaganda or a real threat.