Historical Trivia: Rubber For Binoculars 

At the outbreak of the First World War it quickly became clear on both sides that despite their stockpiles and industrial capacities there were certain resources that they would soon be short of.

For Britain this was binoculars, used by officers and artillery observers to spot targets and gauge accuracy. However, Britain’s ability to make high grade lens and glass for these field glasses was limited. Germany before the war had been the European leader in many chemical and industrial sectors. Britain was not just short on binoculars but also camera lenses for aerial photography cameras, telescopes, rangefinders and naval periscopes. The British optical industry was simply incapable of meeting demand. 

British Army Binoculars c.1917 (source)

In contrast to this Germany, the world’s leading manufacturer of precision optics, was able to produce the vast quantities of military binoculars its army and its allies needed. By 1915 Britain’s need for optics had reached crisis point and a strange plan was decided upon. In what now seems like a highly unorthodox move the newly founded Ministry of Munitions sent a secret delegation to meet German representatives in neutral Switzerland. 

The German War Office allowed the optic company Zeiss to manufacture and sell precision optics to the British. An initial order for 8,000-10,000 pairs of binoculars for infantry officers and artillery observers was made. In return the German government asked for supplies of rubber. With German ports blockaded by the Royal Navy and no indigenous source German industry was in desperate need of rubber - something which the British Empire had vast stocks of.

Two British Officers inspect a German bicycle with spring tyres c.1918 (source)

The exchanges took place through Neutral Switzerland however, how long this clandestine arrangement lasted is unclear. While there are fragments of agreements and records which give us an indication of the scale of the Anglo-German deal the practicalities are not so clear. The exact amount of optics and rubber exchanged remains unknown. It seems that deal ended 1916, and may have even been a single transaction.

By 1916-1917 the German army was becoming desperate for tyres, increasingly trucks were fitted with steel rimmed wheels rather than tyres which churned up roads. Similarly German bicycles increasingly had their pneumatic tyres replaced by ‘spring typres/wheels’. These were made up of a large number of coil springs sandwiched between two metal bands to offer some comfort to the rider. 

While the clandestine rubber for optics deal was not strictly illegal it could have been seen as treacherous by the people of both countries. The Trading With the Enemy Act of November 1914 had ruled that German commercial assets in Britain were to be put in the Public Trust. However, trade through neutral intermediaries was not banned for instance a number of other goods such as German aeroplane magnetos were purchased through Swiss stockists up until 1916. The deal is one of the many lesser known quirks of the First World War. 


Image One Source

Image Two Source

To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918, A. Hochschild (2011)

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Leo leaves OOMPH!

After careful consideration, our longtime friend and colleague Leo has left his job as a drummer with OOMPH, in order to take on new musical challenges.

We wish him good luck and success, and above all hope that he will remain in the world of music for a lot longer!

We want to thank Leo for two decades of fun, 100% loyalty and reliability, and a lot of great humor.

Leo will play the upcoming festival in Kherson, Ukraine (on 09.01.2012).

Because Leo noticed us in time of his decision, we can assure you that the tour will go on as scheduled, of course! We have found in the meantime a replacement for Leo and in the next few days we will introduce our new drummer here.

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Bullets, Bombs and Bigotry
  • Bullets, Bombs and Bigotry

KMFDM - Bullets, Bombs & Bigotry

“One for hatred two for hell
Three for the lowest high that you sell
Gotta four for a try but don’t stop the lie
Five for the piss and poke in your eye
Six for the silver that you wrench
Seven for the gold that’ll never quench
Eight and nine for the thirsty fly
And ten for the one who drinks ‘til I die

I must receive and I’ll believe
Come on trust in me
With all my greed give to those in need
Come on lust with me
I will be true but still deceive
Come on lie with me
My little pill my guilty thrill
Come on die with me

Sin, sex, sodomy.
Time to end this parody.
Terror, torture, tyranny.
The carcass of democracy.
Power, pills, poverty.
Victors rewrite history.
Bullets, bombs & bigotry.
Brace yourself for World War Three.

This testament to the truest torture
Beg for release from the lie that I bought you
You started high your endings nigh
Get it hard for the lord of lard
I’m a vacuous and a callous whore
Bend right over and beg for more
A lie for a lie and a noose for a noose
Don’t complicate yourself with the truth

I’m designing I’m the master
Keep on waiting as I die of laughter
Get on down covered in fleas
I screw best in twos and threes
The teasing pleasing little thrill
The twisted knife that begs to kill
Wistful thinking and whiskey drinking
It all makes sense when your fists are thinking.”


German Goths are really hot


Einsturzende Neubauten - Z.N.S

I really like this song.
The more you know.