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Nazi Sub Souvenir Surfaces

German Uboat binoculars on

Historians take note. We find eBay to be among the most effective research tools available. By tracking items sold, and writing to sellers, we often discover details about the past that could never be learned in a library. Case in point, these purloined binoculars come with a fascinating story.




Purloined German Binoculars on eBay

READ about Nazi Subs in Portsmouth 

In May 1945, US naval authorities expressed concern over the number of German military items that were disappearing from captured Nazi U-boats at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine. Among the pilfered items that found their way into American hands were dextrose "pep" pills, revolvers, canned goods, parts of German uniforms and more. Now we can add to that list, a pair of German binoculars taken as a souvenir by an American soldier. That item showed up on eBay more than 60 years later, and commanded a hefty price.

Four submarines surrendered at Portsmouth Harbor and, until now, we have not heard the back-story on the pilfered items. Although thousands of American servicemen took "souvenirs" during World War II, such activity was against military law. Soldiers who took the items did not go on the record.

"My father was worried for years that there would come a knock on the door from the military," says the son of the solider who obtained these binoculars. With his father now deceased, and thanks to the anonymity of eBay, we learn a bit more about this famous moment in Seacoast history.

"He also obtained two German lugers from two officers as they disembarked. He had to frisk the submariners as they walked off the gangplank. Some of the Germans didn't like him doing that and he had to be rough with some of them. They called him names as he did it."

The war was over, Germany was defeated, and after four years the soldiers, then as now, often pilfered a keepsake or two, or three. What happened to the German lugers? We asked our eBay contact.

"My father sold the pistols soon after to buy a silverware set for my mother as a wedding gift."

Underwasser Doppel Fernrohr from German Uboat on on

Photos and copy used by permission of owner on

My father was in the Marines during WWII and was stationed in Portsmouth, New Hampshire when the Germans surrendered. He was part of the escort party that was taken out to the surrendering U-Boats. I chuckle when I think about him concealing these binoculars in his coat because they are so heavy.

These U-Boat binoculars remained on the conning tower while the submarine was submerged. They were used for aiming torpedoes. You can see the vertical aiming line when you look through them. The binoculars are made of brass, weigh 12 pounds and are 8.5 inches long. The lenses are not scratched or smudged. The rubber eye-cups show a little deterioration on the inside, but not that much. The lever on the side says "Hell" and "Dunkel" (Night and Day) and I am not sure how it technically adjusts to the two light conditions.

The "U.D.P." abbreviation on the top is German for "Underwasser Doppel Fernrohr" or "Unterwasser-DoppelFernglas" (Underwater Double Telescope or Binoculars).

Nazi binoculars taken from German Uboat at Portsmouth, NH, May 1945 on / Used by permission of owner

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