The following are short articles
written by Thomas Salazar of Ostfront Militaria.
These articles were originally found in his monthly
Ostfront Feldpost Newsletter. They highlight a few of the interesting things
he has found in the catalogs. Some of them will be funny,
some will be educational and some will probably annoy or
agitate the collectors who think they know “everything
Thomas has a large collection
of pre-war and wartime German catalogs for products
ranging from footwear, military equipment, and tools to
shaving supplies, and other personal items. He often uses
these to authenticate items listed on his website: www.ostfront.com.
The greatest thing about
these catalogs is they are unbiased and have no agenda.
Many modern militaria reference books have bits of
disinformation. Some of them contain honest mistakes but
others contain misinformation that I believe is
intentionally added to deceive the collector.
Regardless, collector’s reference books are written by
collectors and may contain the individual prejudices and
conclusions held by that particular author(s).
Thomas' intensive use of these 1930’s- 40’s German product
catalogs in the authentication of the items he sells has
been a FIRST in militaria collecting.
Many items once considered “modern”
have actually been found to be quite old. After
seeing the items in these catalogs we have been forced
to change the way we think about German products in the
1930s and 40s. Mr. Salazar has generously allowed
us to post his short articles from his newsletters here
on our website.
We would like to thank him for his kindness which allows
us to share this information with the rest of you.
Butterdishes are NOT FARBY
“butterdishes” were originally designed for use by
hikers and campers and were produced by the same
companies who made German army canteens and other
aluminum items such as fork/spoon sets, etc. These came
with both glass and pressed paper inserts for
insulation. These were commonly used by the German army
during the early war years to supplement supplies of
butterdishes to the soldiers and were also used in field
kitchens. These can be seen in early war photos and we
recovered these on a regular basis while excavating
German fighting trenches and bunkers on the northern
Russian front. A variation of these was produced after
the war by the German army and many collectors have
incorrectly concluded that these pre-war and wartime
examples were postwar in production. Obviously, these
are not as common as the bakelite examples, however,
they should not be considered “FARBY”. Pictured
below are examples in wartime photographs, scans from
wartime catalogs, and some that were recovered from
German positions in the eastern front.
As stated before we are
constantly surprised at the items we encounter in the
period catalogs we have acquired. The shear number of
different types of flashlights is a very good example of
this. There are several types of flashlight which are
considered “Military” or “Issue” due to
photographic evidence or particular features. But what
of private purchase flashlights? Well it appears that
just about any type, style or color was available at the
time. Of particular interest is the flashlight
illustrated below with simulated “snake skin” cover!
Even our current production “D” size batteries were
being used in flashlights in Germany during this period
along with the square 4.5 volt and long round 3 volt.
Goggles Were NOT Developed Specifically for the
Contrary to popular
belief, the Augenschützer 42 disposable style goggles
were not developed specifically for the German armed
forces during WW2. These were civilian goggles that were
later adopted and manufactured for the Wehrmacht. See
the scan below of these from a pre-war German goggles
is NOT FARBY
It was less common than
cigarettes or cigars, but chewing tobacco was in fact an
official Wehrmacht issued tobacco item. See the scan
from a German Army Rations manual dated 1942 below. Also
below is a scan of chewing tobacco from a 1938 German
products catalog. The most common form of the tobacco we
have seen in period advertisements and package labels is
the “twist” style pictured below. We also have a
receipt/ packing list from a German chewing tobacco
company for a shipment of chewing tobacco sold to a
store in Germany in 1944. Whether or not it remained an
Army issue item as late as 1944, this receipt
demonstrates that it was still being produced and sold
to the civilian population as late as 1944.
with Small Fold out Scissors Are NOT FARBY
These were produced
before and during WW2 and although they might have been
too expensive for the average Landser to afford, they
are categorized as “military pocketknives” in the
catalog scan below. The catalog scans below are from a
catalog for a German knife company dated 1935.
BUNNIES ARE NOT FARBY!
Not a JOKE!, We often
think of Germany in the 1930’s & 40’s with our
black and white, old fashioned minds, but Germany was
very similar to the modern consumer driven world of
today. The pictures below are from a 1941 grocery store
display magazine. I know that it might not have been
very common (but we don’t really know, do we?, it
might have been VERY common) but I am sure that families
purchased chocolate Easter bunnies (and chocolate Easter
eggs!) for their family members in military service and
mailed them by Feldpost. It appears they were sold
without outer wrapping and also packaged in cellophane
and the aluminum style wrap that is used today. So Farb
out all the other soldiers in your unit and send one to
yourself by Feldpost this year, and when someone tells
you that your wrong, tell them “halt die klappe” and
show them this photo below.
Wrenches are NOT FARBY:
the standard every day, adjustable crescent wrench was
in fact used in Germany during WW2. Even if these were
not an official part of any of the Wehrmacht tool kits,
its definite that these ended up in military mechanics'
toolboxes during the war. How many mechanics do you know
who don’t seriously horde different types of tools in
their boxes, etc? The following picture is a scan of
three different models that appear in an German tools
catalog dated 1935. They also appear in other catalogs
that we have as well, one of those is dated 1939. So
throw one in your reenacting mechanics toolbox, truck,
or werkzeug crate and if someone tells you its wrong
tell them to “pass auf” and show them this picture.
(By the way, you can resist the urge to spray paint
yours field gray, ordinance tan, etc.. none of the
originals were painted field gray and many had a shiny
“chrome” finish to them, some of them with molded
rubber handles... How FARBY!…)"
and Half Erasers are NOT FARBY:
First, I should explain
what “FARBY” means for those of you who do not know.
Farby is a word used by reenactors/ living historians to
describe something that is not correct, not authentic,
etc. Something or someone can be “Farby” and a
person can also be a FARB, etc.
I participated in a WW2
living history display for the public back in 1995, at
that time a friend of mine brought with him a German WW2
map case that was a vet bring back from a family member.
It was full of different items and he took them out and
neatly displayed them with the map case. One of the
items in that map case was a simple pencil eraser
one-half black (for ink) and the other half white (for
pencils). One of the veteran reenactors and collectors
saw this and told us that this was a postwar item likely
put in there by the soldier after the war. My friend
promptly threw out the eraser and didn’t think twice
about it. It seemed to us highly plausible that this
type of eraser is a modern invention (1960s right?).
Well we were all wrong and my friend was wrong for
listening to the “know it all”. This exact type
eraser was manufactured in the 1920s in Germany and they
appear in several of the pre-war and wartime German
products catalogs we have. They come in black &
pink, black & white, black & gray, etc… So
stick one in your map case and then when the Professor
“know it all” Reenactor in your unit tells you that
you’re a FARB for doing it, tell him “pass auf”
and give him a copy of the scans from the German
catalogs/ advertisements below. One catalog is dated
1938, another is Christmas 1939 and the color
advertisement is from the 1920s- 1930s.
Note: If using a modern version of this eraser, be sure to remove
any possible modern markings on it prior to using it in
one's map case.
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