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Archive 2663

The case “TOLO”

By Michael Mertins

Before I get down to business, I want to ask you: Do you know what career I wanted to take? Not to be cartographer was a graduate student, my heart’s desire, but the career with the criminal investigation department, I had targeted more specifically at the crime scene! The necessary instinct was present, but for health reasons (wear glasses!) Was at the time nothing came of it. Serendipity and powers of deduction are not unlearn and both can be suppressed even in the long term is difficult. Towards evening while surfing the Internet these qualities are activated and there to solve for me on the PC screen as some case! From a very exciting event, led its traces even to the Nuremberg Tribunal against the Nazi war criminals, I want to tell you today. 

A few years ago I came in the late 1930s bicycle brochures on so-called “Tolo-Tretstrahler”. This unusual name, I could not tell me. Also ask for experienced bicycle collectors of the association Historical bikes eV brought me any “relevant indications”. In my conversations with Martin Rabeneick I asked specifically whether he knew an explanation for this name. The senior chief believed to remember that the abbreviation “TOLO” would have been for a SS-personality. This response was vague, but exciting! The only Nazi personality that “literally” came my modest knowledge, in question, was the Reich Sports Leader of Tschammer-east. After all, the “TO” would be explained so! But this man had ever had anything to do with its function with reflectors on bicycle pedals? In a  Radmarkt -Heft of 1933 the distinctive name is mentioned in connection with the NS Patrol long-distance cycle because this reliability test was under the protectorate of the Reich sports leader. But a connection with reflective pedals could be characterized with the best will not be produced. So I put this unsolved case only once on the file.

When I in the local city archives Company catalogs Bielefeld precision-Werke (PWB) looked through from the Nazi period a few weeks ago, my eyes fell back to just such “TOLO-Tretstrahler” that were at the time touted as technical innovation. They wore different test numbers of the Physical-Technical Institute (PTR 310 and 322, respectively) and differed in the type something from one another. Even the pedal that I found from the same Zeitrum in Stricker Prospect was performed again different in detail and bore the mark PTR 300 (manufacturer Union).


Fig. Left:. Block pedal No. 114 (PTR 322) from precision-Werke Bielefeld (PWB) 1938

Fig center:.. PeWeBe TOLO-Tretstrahler No. 115 (PTR 310), 1938 

Fig. Right: Tretstrahler (PTR 300) from Union Fröndenberg 1938 


From this I combined that behind “TOLO” could hide any manufacturer, but rather a functional principle or a patent. The legal requirement to equip Neufahrräder with these pedals, gained legal force by changing the Empire Road Traffic Act of 13 November 1937. My premonition told me that at this time a realm patent or utility model may have been granted. After I quickly booted my PC, I was surfing the information system of the German Patent Office  Depatisnet. Through an in-depth collection of patent and utility model data search possibilities are recently improved. The entries “Reflector” and “Pedal reflectors” brought no usable success. But typing “Tretstrahler” showed, among other things for 1937 German Empire patent (DRP), the one Anton Loibl had submitted on 11 June 1937th The exact patent title was: “On the inside of the long side of a frame of a bicycle pedal mounted reflectors”. In other patents, this inventor also named Toni Loibl. BINGO! Now it was immediately clear where the name “TOLO” came: It was the first letter of the name inventor, who was then living according to the information in the patent document in Munich!

Fig. Patent drawings for patent of Anton Loibl, 1937 

Text claim: “On the inside of the longitudinal side of a frame pedal of a bicycle mounted reflectors, characterized in that the shape of the pedal longitudinal sides adapted reflecting bodies are mounted laterally and backwards in an elastic bed, which is situated between the frame longitudinal side, and a to located after the frame center frame piece wherein the frame parts respectively, one or more window-like apertures have. “


Quite satisfied with the solution of this case, I wanted to know about this Toni Loibl more. The presumption of “SS-size” was still unresolved in the room. And already taken beforehand, now my case “TOLO” went really begins! From the “Google Search Engine” and forthwith the name “Anton Loibl” entered. Besides the usual misses as a Bavarian real estate brokers and a Munich wedding Jubilar same name brought the Internet to the third page out something that gave me goose bumps: “So the SS recycled for example, developed by Anton Loibl, former chauffeur Hitler patent for Fahrradtretstrahler . “On the seventh page I found on the  Axis History Forum  the sentence:” hauptsturmführer Anton Loibl invented Those illuminated discs you put on bicycles at night, Which Himmler made ??mandatory in 1939 to reduce road accidents. “(Translation:”  SS Hauptsturmführer Anton Loibl invented these luminous disks that are attached to bicycles at night, which Himmler made ??mandatory in order to reduce traffic accidents. “)  Had the senior Rabeneick quite reminiscent of an SS-size! Candles I just sat in front of the screen.

I clicked back to the first occurrence, and came over to the authored by Andreas Mix review of the book “The economy of the SS” by Hermann Kaienburg. Here the core set of this editorial: “The humble beginnings of the SS Economic made 1933 the craft shops in the Dachau concentration camp, where had to work for their own use of the camp and the local units of the Totenkopf SS prisoners. Other economic activities, such as the porcelain factory was produced in Allach, in the handicraft knick-knacks, and the acquisition of Deutsche letterbox advertising GmbH, sprang coincidences or Himmler’s enthusiasm for inventions from outsiders. So the SS recycled for example, developed by Anton Loibl, former chauffeur Hitler patent for Fahrradtretstrahler. ”

That was already something, which offered me the Internet, but it should become even more hard facts to light. I clicked forward to the Google-output side back and chose another obscure link in connection with the Anton Loibl GmbH:  “The Mazal Library”. Seconds later, I found myself on the digital side of the Nuremberg Trials (Nuernberg Military Tribunal Volume V, Page 535). Here the companies were named in the possession of the SS, which they produced and which sales were achieved in the 1940s. The Anton Loibl GmbH belonged thereafter to 100 percent of the SS and continued in 1942 at least 550 000 to RM. Which bad movie I was actually advised here?

To the thing to go to the bottom, I ordered via the library, the more than 1,100-page book “The economy of the SS” to learn more details about TOLO and the machinations of the SS in the hope. And I was not disappointed! The author Hermann Kaienburg portrays there beside other in detail, the case “TOLO”. Just the Tretstrahler project he sees as one of the few truly successful gambits of the SS, to get money. With the TOLO-Tretstrahlern the protective relay funded life of their own and related associations such as the “Lebensborn” and “Ahnenerbe e. V.” More on that later! Here is a summary of key facts that Kaienburg in elaborate detail work over many years researched away.

The business empire of the SS consisted of 30 companies with more than 100 farms, where in addition to “normal” labor also 40 000 concentration camp prisoners were employed. The farms were often associated with the various activities and spheres of influence of Heinrich Himmler, since January 1929 Reichsführer the Schutzstaffel (SS). In addition to these manufacturing companies also existed societies which were geared to the collection of royalties. Which included the Anton Loibl GmbH to bring tried to patent inventions Loibls maturity and then to market. So it was in addition to the already mentioned Tretstrahlern on patents for carburetor, lockhopper and other products which should be exploited industrially.

Kaienburg founded Himmler’s commitment to Loibl as follows: “The SS would march also in technical terms at the forefront with. A way there he saw (Himmler) in picking up and delivering inventions. It corresponded to his (Himmler) mindset, this work not only with the leading in this field business enterprises, but also and especially to promote small, neglected inventor. “(P.198)

Fig.: Portrait of Anton Loibl 

How it came precisely Anton Loibl qualify for this promotion? From professional machinist and driving instructor, he was active in the early NSDAP. During his military service made him a General Staff Officer Ernst Röhm as a driver of Adolf Hitler. Loibl adopted in November 1923 at the Hitler putsch in Munich in part and had become some SS-sizes known it after his conviction by imprisonment. From 1932 on, he was driving the Reich Youth Leader Baldur von Schirach.

The beginning of the cooperation between the SS and the inventor describes Kaienburg so:

“The cooperation between Loibl and SS in 1936 institutionalized in the form of a joint-GmbH was founded. The on September 17, 1936 upscale from the baptism “Tolo GmbH” based in Berlin should manufacture and sell technical products of all kinds, in particular by patent protected objects, according to Social Contract. The share capital was 25 000, – RM; it took Loibl 12 000, – and Galke as representatives of the SS-guide 13 000, – RM. The fact that it was initially paid only 25%, points to the close financial situation on both sides. Loibl brought as contribution in kind four patents in the value of 5 000, – a RM. He also undertook to provide the company with any additional inventions and improvements for free. Galke and Loibl were also directors of the company. The administration was virtually but in the hands Galkes. This also secured legally as from that in case of conflict, he ultimately could decide alone. The shareholders’ meeting was always held under his chairmanship and took their decisions in accordance with the equity shares. (…) From the generated profits should first be transferred to a reserve fund to be constituted 5%, until it reached a total of 50% of the share capital. The rest of the profit should be subject to, are paid half each to the shareholders otherwise decisions of the shareholders’ meeting or the supervisory board. One week after the establishment of the company’s name was changed to “Anton Loibl GmbH”. The reasons are unknown. “(P.199 / 200).

On June 11, 1937 Anton Loibl filed his patent to a Tretstrahlern, made known by the Patent Office, it was but until December 22, 1938! With the recognition of its patent, there was probably trouble because a Dresdner inventor had come Loibls invention previously. Whose opposition to the Reich Patent Office thus delayed the grant of a patent by about 1 ½ years. The Dresdner inventor was moved to renounce his patent and should be 15 000, – receive for the sale of rights RM. However condition had different evidence that the inventor finally could not teach. A similar English patent, which had priority rights, was a patent annulment ineffective gemacht.Weiterer obstacle to a patent utilization of Tretstrahler was the lack of rights to the use of reflective glass stones. Loibls patent referring only be concluded on the arrangement of such stones in the metal frame of the pedals, so had to licensing agreements on the use of glass reflectors. These related patents 692 562 and 697 207, the inventor Dr. phil. R. and F. Sewig Krautschneider from Dresden dating back to 1935. The Anton Loibl GmbH for the contract the exclusive right to operate Patent evaluation for reflectors on bicycles and light motorcycles. At Dresdner patentee had Loibls society per bike and 1.5 penny for each Ersatzglassteinchen 1/6 penny up to a total amount of 100.000, – to pay RM.

Now missing the successful patent licensing only one thing: The change in the Reich highway code that reflective Tretstrahler belonged to the mandatory equipment of Neufahrrädern! This took place on 11 November 1937 on arrangement of Heinrich Himmler. Galke, the second managing director of Loibl GmbH should have submitted a proposal to Himmler. Or so it researched Kaienburg and adds: “The Reichsfuhrer SS used his position as Chief of the German police, to give the SS a secure, risk-free source of income, in which he prevailed, that the attachment of Tretstrahlern on new bikes in late 1937 in a complement to road traffic regulations prescribed by the police. This was the prospect of significant royalty income. ”

Figure:.. Order of the Day No. 5 Bielefeld police, February 4, 1939 


For the years before the Second World War were quantitatively the strongest in the German bicycle industry. The annual production figures of wheels and frames should have guessed located at 2 million pieces. In the monthly magazine of the SS High Command for supporting members, called shortly FM, Loibl is praised in Issue 1 of the 5th vintage 1938: “obersturmführer Anton Loibl, the inventor of Tretstrahlers. The new Empire Road Traffic Act, which comes into force on 1 January 1938 brings to the security of millions of army of cyclists an innovation is that instead of the so-called cat’s eye Tretstrahler (Pedal reflectors) are introduced. This new law enshrined in the invention is due to our SS comrades Anton Loibl, who was one of the first driver of the leader, in 1922 participated in the “march to Coburg” and 1923 stood at the Feldherrnhalle. ”

Participation in the latter two political events was in Nazi circles as a special sign of loyalty to the regime. To secure the recovery of the Loibl patent also in neighboring European countries, were obtained in May and June 1938 in Austria, France, Denmark and Switzerland, patent rights, such as their own Internet research revealed. As the matter now developed in the course of 1938 further? Kaienburg describes the events in his book as follows:

“Once these conditions  (note: clarification of patent rights, royalties and supplement the Highway Code)  were created, made ??the Loibl GmbH with the help of specialized groups, manufacturers of bicycle pedals and their suppliers locate to ask them royalties. In May 1938, ten companies had acquired licenses, a year later there were 48, including 16 Glasstein-, 19 frame and 13 pedal factories. The pedal manufacturers had to pay 15 pfennig per pair delivered Tretstrahler. From the glass brick factory the Loibl GmbH also got 0.39 Pfennig per stone. Replaced by factories, provided the replacement stones to wholesalers had to pay 0.61 cent per unit. The manufacturer of glass bricks had to bear the costs of the ongoing examination of the products by the staff of Loibl GmbH and to acquire the necessary test equipment. That all of these contractual agreements were enforced within a few months, suggesting that sometimes pressure was exerted on the contractor. From another SS company is aware that sometimes even a letterhead with the words “Reichsfuehrer SS” was sufficient to enable the business partner in terror. As early as 1938 provided the licensing of 1.5 million pairs Tretstrahler with almost 20 million glass stones revenue of about 310 000, – RM. The expenses for the acquired General licenses amounted contrast only about 37 900, – RM “(p 203).

Now what you started in the SS with these unforeseen high income? In the licensing agreements was that surpluses for “charitable purposes according to the destination of the Reichsfuhrer SS” had to be used. However, the agreements with the licensors, the glass brick manufacturer and pedal factories differed significantly in the agreements, such as the collecting society should deal with the profits. Kaienburg are following this issue again: “All three formulations contradicting the statutes of Loibl GmbH, according to which the profit for the year after transfer of five percent in a reserve fund should be distributed each half to the shareholders. A previous diversion of large amounts of SS institutions was not provided therein. Whether Anton Loibl was ever involved in the formation of contracts, seems questionable. ”

Nevertheless fins 1938 and the following years until 1943, considerable sums standing to the SS-related institutions such as registered associations “Ancestral Heritage” and “Lebensborn”. Bakeland received around 450 000, – RM and used them for research to Germanic history and the German folklore to demonstrate the spiritual world domination of the Aryan Gedankentums. The other club supported the children’s wealth of SS members and the support of needy mothers and children “good blood” in the club’s own homes. For this he received in the mentioned period 460 000, – RM. Who would have guessed that have been so self-involved harmless bicycle parts in the “brown” machinations?

Parallel to the initial success of the GmbH were to separate from Loibl in the leadership of the SS as an indication. The development of its other patents especially the carburetor came forward not quite, but devoured capital. “Galke and the middle of 1937 as the third managing director ordered obersturmführer target man it held in 1938 for appropriate to go to the idiosyncratic, less successful inventor at a distance and to increase through targeted pinpricks conflicts with him to oust him.” Thus reported it in any event, the savvy author Kaienburg. Also seemed Loibl proper accounts to be a stranger what made him continue to fall from grace. His two co-managing the annual financial statements drawn up in 1938 so that despite the high revenue remained a small minus, so the inventor could claim no hälftigen dividend. Although he lodged a complaint, but to no avail. His star was temporarily dropped deep in the highest circles of the SS. 1939 left the inventors, the GmbH by order of Himmler and his experimental workshop in Dachau was closed. Reich Treasurer Oswald Pohl paid to Loibl still a generous settlement of an unknown amount. What happened to the inventor, has not yet been determined. The continuing GmbH was able to conclude additional license agreements and took the trade in bulbs and other accessories added until the unconditional surrender of Germany in particular an end setzte.Was for a sneaky approach of Anton Loibl and the SS.

Topped the story is further that the Patent probably not even based on Loibls idea. Klaus Budzinski, son of the famous cycling journalist Fredy Budzinski expressed, years ago, that his father was said to be the actual inventor of the reflecting Tretstrahler  (J. Franke, Illustrated Bicycle History 1987, p 32 f). The “old fighters” who should have his father stole the idea, will be then probably been Anton Loibl. Unfortunately Renate Franz could determine no further facts to make their search in Budzinski archive. Thus the statement of the son must first meet. Perhaps readers can contribute more facts to clarify the case “Tolo”. For more valuable information I am always grateful. Otherwise, I consider this matter closed.

This post was originally published in “The bone shaker” members magazine eV Historic Bicycles, Issue No. 36, pp. 16 – 19th

More on this topic in the article “The introduction of the” TOLO “-Tretstrahler 1938/39