Treasures out of distress

Historical discovery: 15 large wooden boxes filled with knives

20 years ago, while cleaning up our old drying room for wooden handles in advance of a renovation, we discovered a total of 15 large wooden crates with products from Windmühlenmesser, mostly historic vegetable knives but also a sample collection of the most diverse large knives, forks, pocket knives, straight razors and blades. The forgotten wooden crates were stacked behind and on top of our large drying oven, which was no longer in use for already several years.

According to our research, there were originally even 28 boxes. Even during the war, with a view to the future, Günter Herder and our warehouse clerk at the time, Fritz Henkels, after returning home due to war injuries, gradually packed them.

locked wooden box number 12

Hiding the boxes

In view of the imminent loss of war and the progressive disintegration of everyday social order, Günter Herder painstakingly buried these boxes one by one to protect them from the increasing looting and to be able to use the knives later in exchange for food. He buried them on the premises in a two-chamber system like the Egyptian tombs Pyramids: the valuable in the rear chamber and the less valuable in the front chamber, so that loss through theft would not be as serious. This forward-looking approach proved to be correct and successful. The knives of the wooden boxes helped their own family and the remaining employees of the company and their families from starvation and also provided the basis for the reconstruction of the company.

Barter trade/Black Market - Surviving in the Post-War Era

In the post-war period (from 1945-1948) it was almost impossible to buy anything in the shops, so the „supermarket“ was the so-called black market. Everything that was available was traded here. So knives were exchanged for coffee, bread, meat and more. Without this market and the hidden knives, this difficult time could not have been survived.

Currency reform - things are looking up

The contents of these boxes not only saved lives, but also the company. When the currency reform came into effect on June 20, 1948, Windmühlenmesser was officially able to be sold again and at reasonable prices. The Deutsche Mark replaced the old inflationary Reichsmark and every citizen in Germany was paid 40 Deutsche Mark. Trading started again, as well the sale of the knives, primarily at the weekly markets, because most shops in Germany were damaged by the war.