For this assignment I have decided to research the history/family history behind a pair of Panzer Tank Binoculars. Before starting this assignment I had wrongly assumed that my family didn’t have many family heirlooms, due mainly to the fact that anything I know about my family has come from stories told to me by my mom and that any heirlooms we did have were given to my Uncle or in the possession of my Grandma. However, when I asked my mom if we had any heirloom, she said yes proving my assumption incorrect and told me that she had tons.
Upon doing my research about the Panzer Tank Binoculars I was able to learn that they had been used by German Tank Crews during World War II. Finding this out immediately led me to wonder how my family had gotten in possession of a pair of binoculars used by Nazi soldiers during WWII. Prior to my research, I had already known that my great grandma, on my mother’s side, had left Germany to come to America, right as Hitler had been taking power before WWII. She had been worried , rightfully so, about what Hitler would do, which was sadly not the case for many others who had eventually been affected by the hatred that Hitler had spread throughout Germany and the rest of Europe. It is from this, and from further confirmation by my mom, that I know that the binoculars hadn’t been in my family’s possession due to their involvement as Nazis during WWII. In fact, my mom has always told me that my great grandmother wouldn’t teach her German because of what had happened in Germany making it clear that my family was not in support of anything that Hitler had done prior to and during WWII.
The binoculars are extremely heavy and weigh about 20 pounds, holding them is like holding at least 2 big science textbooks at the same time. They are made of metal and have a rubber guard surrounding the two eyepieces that protrude out from the binoculars. At the base of the eyepieces are visible adjusters, mostly likely for adjusting the focus of the binoculars. On the top of the binoculars is another adjustor knob, but I am unsure of its use. The binoculars appear to have been painted gold over top a brick red color, which has started to come through in multiple places. The bottom of the binoculars is flat, most likely to allow for the binoculars to rest on a surface without being wrecked. The lenses themselves take up the whole front of the binoculars. The binoculars at the lenses are approximately 8 inches wide and are almost a foot long, 11.5 inches, from the base of the eye piece to the lenses,
On the right side of the binoculars is an engraving reading, “D.F 10X 80, cxn, 76532, 51117, F.” While conducting my research I was able to learn that the D.F stands for Doppelfernrohr, a German word meaning “double telescope”. I was also able to find out that “cxn” isn’t just some random engraving, it’s the manufacturer’s code standing for E. Busch, Rathenow. This engraving is also able to tell me that these binoculars were made post 1942, and they were used by Luftwaffe Flak Artillery ground crews who had used them to spot and identify enemy aircraft. They had also been used on the battlefield for tactical observation.
After completing this research and learning who the binoculars had been used by and when the binoculars were used, I am still left with more questions, mainly why did my family have these binoculars that had been used by a horrible group of people, why did my family have binoculars that at one time had been used by Nazis? I know that no one in my family had been Nazi sympathizers or Nazis themselves, my great grandmother left Germany because of her fear and worry surrounding Hitler, proving that my great grandmother hadn’t received these from her involvement in the war or as an heirloom from a family member or friend that had been involved. This doesn’t answer the question of why and how my family had these.
When I asked my mom why we had them, I received a disappointing, but also somewhat relieving, answer cutting my research short significantly: she had bought them as an addition to her military collection, which I wasn’t aware was so expansive until doing this research. So while the historical significance behind these binoculars is a dark one and one representing severe hate, my family had no role in perpetuating this hate. The fact that the binoculars had just been an addition to a military collection also makes sense when I think about it, because my family has this immense interest in history and my mom and uncles often share different books on history with each other. The binoculars are no longer a vehicle of hate, but now serve as a reminder of a horrible period of time in history that sits in the library of my childhood home.