Category Archives: Historical Articles

MÄRKLIN – Fabrik feiner Metallspielwaren: A historical review



The founder of Märklin (also “Marklin” and “Maerklin” more commonly in the US) was Theodor Friedrich Wilhelm Märklin (1817-1866), a master tinsmith. He moved to the small southern German town of Göppingen with his second wife Caroline (his first wife had died) in 1856, where he purchased the “Resident-rights” from the city and was henceforth registered officially as a “tin-smith”. With Caroline he had 3 sons: Wilhem Friedrich, Carl Eugen and Carl Adolf.

Caroline Märklin: the traveling salesman

The firm “Wilhelm Märklin” was established in 1859. The main products consisted of dolls, kitchens, and similar accessories for girls. The firm was very successful and moved into a larger house. This house had a trapdoor into the cellar where the toys were produced. One evening an apprentice had not closed the trapdoor. Wilhelm did not see this and fell into the cellar and sustained broken ribs and other injuries. He died within a few days on December 20, 1866.

This was a very difficult time for Caroline: she had 3 young sons (the youngest merely 6 months old) and a young daughter from a previous marriage. She undertook the difficult task as salesperson to promote and sell their articles to toy-shops everywhere in the country. She died in 1893, and the helm of the firm was taken over by her son Eugen and his brother Carl under the name of “Gebrüder Märkin” (Wilhelm Friedrich had moved to Alaska. He never saw his family again and died there in an old folks home).

Laying down the tracks

In 1891 Eugen bought the firm Ludwig Lutz, a firm which at that time produced the finest metal toys, including the first trains. The first O Gauge Märklin locomotive was produced in 1893 with a strong clockwork mechanism that when wound up several times, would send a single locomotive flying around the track enough times to make your head spin. These O Gauge trains and subsequent standard gauges (O, I through V) were standardized by Märklin at the Leipzig Easter Fair where new innovations and produces were commonly first introduced.


In the early part of the 20th century Märklin built metal toys, including miniature stoves that actually worked, steam ships with clockwork or real steam power, steam engines, toy guns (Germany was of course geared towards war for many years), clockwork cars that could be disassembled to be fitted with other types of car bodies, electric slot-car systems, metal tops, and other non-train related metal toys, including die-cast cars, not unlike Dinky. Märklin produced toys of every kind, some playful and others built for realism: from shooting games with clown characters to realistic fountains and fire trucks that pumped water through tiny rubber hoses. During the years 1909 to 1914, Märklin produced a two-gate cattle rampe Nr. 2552/0 in Gauge-O that featured a cattle shepherd, two working gates, and even a little ramp to load the sheep! During this first period of rapid expansion, Märklin solidified itself in the toy industry and built its name in international markets as a produce of fine metal toys. When looking across the entire span of Märklin production from its founding to today, Märklin during this period offered some of the most diverse and interesting products that were unfortunately discontinued in later decades.

Such masterpieces took workers in the factories hours to meticulously build. Tin toys which represented a majority of the Märklin produce line during this period would begin as large sheets of tinplate which would be cut down to size using large presses and cutting dies. The next step would be to form these smaller cut sheets into desired shapes with some contour to them. This process was either done with a rubber hammer in hand or with a large die press. Tinplate sheets sandwiched between two large engraved plates would cut out window holes or doorways with force coming from both plates. After tin sheets were cut and formed to shape they would be soldered together by experience tinsmiths. Finally the painting phase would begin which perhaps required the most skill and attention to detail. An array of brilliant enamels would be applied to the tinplate and baked in an oven between coats to ensure the durability of the paint. Finally gold lining and finely detailed embellishments (such as painted rivets, destination signs, and flags) would be applied all by hand. Stamps and brass engraved name plates would be applied and the final produce sealed with a coat of varnish to ensure a brilliant finish that would last for decades (even centuries) to come. Surely pieces still existing today in excellent condition which were produced in this period are a testament to the skill of Märklin craftsmen.


The firm was growing! Eugen Märklin had 9 children, amongst whom Fritz, who later took over the business, Richard, who headed the firm’s branch in the US and Willy, who even later took over the firm. Claudius Märklin, son of Willy, later became editor of the Märklin Magazin. The firm expanded to its current location on Stuttgarter Strasse in Goppingen in approximately 1907 and had around 700 employees according to a newspaper article. The factory and Märklin’s business remained relatively in tact during both World Wars despite considerable losses of employees to the war effort and a temporary shift in production to war materials. During World War 1, Märklin produced shell casings, belt buckles, and various other manufactured items which could be made relatively easily with the already present metal stamping equipment. The Second World War forced the Märklin factory to stop production in approximately 1945 to yet again produce items for the war effort including pressure sensitive detonators and small engines for torpedo propulsion. More can be read about Märklin during WWII in the episode EP #11 – Märklin during World War II.

Other people that were important in the history of the firm include Richard Saft, whose command ot other languages helped in the export to foreign countries, and in post WW2 years Helmut Kilian and Otto Bang Kaupp who furter developed the H0 line.

After the death of Fritz Märklin in 1961 the Märklin family was no longer represented in the firm after a period of 102 years.

Export markets around the world

Of course Märklin toys circulated around the world during the very early years of production as Märklin was always known for its incredible quality, but the Golden Age period of Märklin brought many international importers of Märklin products. Märklin responded not only by supplying its toys to these importers in bulk but also by manufacturing toys and trains for specific markets. Toy enthusiasts of Great Britain enjoyed beautifully colored trains of the L.M.S, L.N.E.R, and G.N.W.R. railways and stations and platforms (many feet in length!) of all gauges delivered through distributors Gamages and W. Seeling of London. The American market was sustained by the flagship toy stores and distributers F.A.O. Schwarz in New York, Richard Maerklin Toys (see more EP #8 – Richard Maerklin Toys: A US Maerklin Legend), and Charles C. Merzbach in the late 40s and 50s. Toys for the American market not only had English lettering for signs and inscriptions but also featured cowcatchers instead of front buffers, bells, tunnel lights, and sometimes special paint schemes as was produced for Richard Maerklin Toys: a swiss crocodile CCS 66 12920 locomotive painted snow-white for the NEW YORK CENTRAL LINES and a French mountain locomotive ME 66 12920 painted apple-green. Political relations around the World War II era stunted the export production for Märklin which meant many planned models were never produced. However, the first customer catalog after the War featured in 1947 a series of 00 Scale wagons and locomotives produced specifically for the U.S. market including the ST 800 and DL 800 streamlined diesel-locomotives.


In their assorment of trains, Märklin standardized several gauges. The first trains were “floor runners”. The first “system-railroad” was developed as early as 1891 by Märklin, and the firm was instrumental in developing a standard for trains and tracks, accepted by other toy train makers, a novelty in the toy-train world. Their Gauge 1 had its culmination in the famous “crocodil”, first built in 1933. This electric loc became soon the “flag-ship” of the firm, produced in the pre-war gauge 1 and 0, and in the post war gauges 00/H0, Z and 1.

Gauge 0 started in 1896, and in the thirties this gauge became more popular than their gauge 1, which was abandoned in the mids thirties. All these trains, altough very realistic looking, were of course TOYS: the doors of the cars could be opened, signals and switches were often manually operated, and so on. Play-value was very important.

Märklin experimented with a smaller gauge than 0 in the late 20s, which they called 00 “Liliput-Bahn”, scale 1:70, (roughly equivalent to S-gauge) with one wind-up steamloc, later augmented with an electric 4V steamloc.

This experiment never came off the ground in significant numbers however. Even in the 30s a very detailed prototype steamloc was built for this scale but was never produced.

It was not until 1935 that Märklin came out with their first mass produced 00 scale, later in approximately 1947, the scale was dubbed H0 (or half-0). Trix, a competitor, was equally engaged in the early production of 00, and Marklin had to rush to present a display layout at the 1935 Leipzing spring toy fair to meet the competition. Märklin came out with a slew of 00 wagons and two electric locomotives: a steam 0-4-0 R 700 and an electric RS 700 of the same wheel arrangement (pictured right: top-to-bottom 1935 versions of RS 700 E-Lok, R 700 Steam, and 3600 AR regular track). Märklin always maintained its historically grown three-rail AC operation, which is more reliable and electrically less complicated than two-rail DC. An exception to this was the “Hamo” line, which ran on 2rail DC. Marklin purchased the Hamo company that made H0 streetcars in the 1964 and equipped some of the Märklin train models with DC 2-rail motors. The production of 0 gauge trains was phased out after WW2 and stopped completely in 1956.

The decrease of large-gauge production had several reasons:

  • After the war many people had moved into smaller houses where there was little place for an extensive 0-gauge layout.
  • People had more leasure time available for hobbies. H0 trains had become mass produced, and with the introduction of plastic, products had become more readily available to lower income people.
  • A smaller scale allowed for enthusiasts to build extensive layouts complete with buildings, track, small figures, and realistic trains in a relatively small space.
  • One must not forget that most Märklin products such as trains, steam engines, boats etc. were very expensive at the time and were mostly available only to the children of affluent families.

In 1969 Märklin introduced the new gauge 1 system with DC current.

In 1970 Marklin re- introduced an 0 gauge train that ran on H0 track: an 0H0 train for children, the “Minex”.

In 1972 the firm surprized the world with the production of the smallest system model railroad: The Z gauge.

Gauge Track Width
00 (1928) 16.5 mm
00 Liliput (1912) 26.5 mm
O 35mm
I 48mm
II 54mm
III 75mm


When Märklin introduced movement and motion to their toys, the excitement reached a whole new level of play-time entertainment. Toy trains in the late 1800s which moved by pulling a string attached to the front buffer were propelled down the tracks in the 1893 by clockwork motors and a little later by electric and steam ones. Today digital technologies allows precise control over toy locomotives and accessories that mimics the complexity and possibilities of a live railroad operation.


The development of a strong and compact clockwork motor which could be fitted inside a locomotive engine was a huge advancement in motive power. At first the motor was a bit primitive: when wound, the engine would shoot forward as the internal spring unwound, possibly derailing on the curves because of the high speeds. Although Märklin’s clockwork springs were known to be very efficient and could propel a train around a loop many times, a lot of winding was necessary and a train would be out of power in no time.


A novelty was that Märklin offered electric trains as early as 1895. In those days few cities in Europe had electric power available, but it was present in the halls of Göppingen! Electric power for the locs was either through high voltage (220V, reduced to 50V by means of lightbulbs) or 4V DC (battery). Eventually the 50V system (“Starkstrom”) was prohibited by the government. At that time the low voltage transformer had become feasible and the less dangerous 20V systen became the main power for 0 and even 00, from 1926 on. Advertisements of the 20s and 30s lauded the safety and ease-of-use of electric current for toy operation which undoubtedly was much more safe than live steam or gas-powered operation! And of course the digital age took control of the power in the Märklin H0 trains as early as 1980 and used the pathways of electricity to control the digital functions of the trains and railways operations.

Live steam

Another form of power was of course live steam: this was available in the Gauge 1 and 0 steam engines. Live steam engines could be found in many Märklin products including locomotives, ships, stationary steam plants (which generated electricity to power lamps and accessories), and rolling tractors. Almost all products running off live steam were powered by an alcohol burner which heated a boiler tank filled with water. These toys were vary dangerous for small children because of the open flame to burn the boiling hot water. Such live steam products were often sold in sturdy wooden crates and were packed with various tools to assist with maintenance of the engine: a small bucket to fill the water reserve, a funnel to pour the water and alcohol, and various wrenches to adjust the pressure valves.

Air and Lift

Worth mentioning here is the compressed air that Märklin used in the 20s to operate signals and switches by means of thin rubber hoses.


Toys for children, which had been Marklin’s main product from the inception of the firm, had by this time almost completely disappeared from their line. Children no longer played with the more sophisticated and delicate scale models: these were now sold to serious adult model railroaders. The era of toy trains for children to play with was over. Marklin recognised this waning market and made several attempts after the mid-fifties to rekindle the interest of children in trains and other toys, well expressed in many of their catalogues.

In 1953 Marklin introduced a clockwork H0 train, with a plastic streamlined 0-4-0 locomotive, the S870 (loosely built after a Pennsylvania RR streamliner), which came as a set with 2 passenger cars #327/2 in maroon-red, or as a freight set with a silver or red coloured dump-car and a #4503 gondola. The train could run on the common M-track. This track was offered for the clockwork train without the central power stud system, which could later be installed. The train did not sell well: it found only a limited market. The plastic locomotive (with plastic wheels!) broke quickly under the rough hands of childs play. By 1957 it had disappeared from the catalogue. H0 clockwork

In 1970 Marklin tried again to get children interested in H0 trains by producing an 0H0 train: “Marklin Minex”: this was an electric 0 scale train system which ran on the common H0 M-track. The engines ran on 16V AC and had the same reversing mechanism as the H0 engines. Two sets were offered: a set with a lighted 0-6-0 tank locomotive with 2 passenger cars, and a freight diesel engine set with a gondola and a dump car. A separate hand-operated semaphore signal with train control was also available. The engines and cars were very attractive. They were made of plastic and metal and were equipped with the regular Marklin H0 couplers. These large trains were easy to handle for children, but again they disappeared from the Marklin offerings after a few years in 1972. Minex

Märklin also re-introduced a slotcar set in the early 70’s” Märklin Sprint”, and plastic building blocks not unlike Lego, the “Märklin Plus”.


Marklin once more tried to capture the childrens market in the late 80s. This time the firm invited children to design their own “dream-train”, which resulted in the production of Marklin’s “Alpha adventure sets” in 1988. High-speed locomotives (an 0-6-0 with tender) and cars had a futuristic look, were equipped with the regular Marklin H0 couplers and ran on a new “three-rail” plastic-based track system, called the “2000 track”. The boxes in which the sets were sold could also be used to act as tunnels, mountains and other scenery. Cars could store futuristlic looking automobiles and trucks. These trains were indeed built for “high play” value. The system could be powered by rechargeable power units (which unfortunately did not function very well). The Alpha adventure sets were last seen in the 1995 catalogue. They were too expensive and did not sell as hoped for. However, the good news resulting from the Alpha sets was that Marklin developed the plastic base track system further into the “C-track”!

Sprint, Lego

In recent years The Marklin production line offers trains only. Three scales of trains are being produced: H0, 1 and Z. All other toys, once depicted in the early post war catalogues such as ,the Marklin construction sets (“Märklin Metall”), electric experiment sets (“Marklin Elex”), die cast cars, slot cars (“Marklin Sprint”) and even a Lego-like building blocks system (“Marklin Plus”) are no longer being offered. Once in a while Marklin produces nostalgic expensive replicas of their famous older toys, such as metal construction car and airplanes, a metal steam ship, a steam engine, a dolls pram and a carouyssel. These “toys” are meant for collectors only. The basic underlying message is that Marklin is no longer a maker of toys. Whether this is due to a changing world or to the vast array of different other, cheap mass produced toys available everywhere, is a matter of opinion.


The firm had some of its glory-days in the mid to late 30s. During WW2 production of trains etc. had stopped and Märklin was involved in the war machine with the production of mine-detonators and a few other mechanical devices. The factory was spared from a bomb-attack on the nearby railway in 1944. By the way, Hermann Goering was an avid Märklin enthusiast. He had an enormous 0 gauge Layout built in his estate, CarinHalle. The building was destroyed at the end of the war. No records remain of the collection other than in a few pictures. In the post war years the firm established itself once again as maker of high quality model trains and went through a period of growth and success (in 1959 the company had 2000 employees).
Märklin trains were considerd the “cadillac”in the model train world for eye to detail, reliablility and quality. Financial troubles started around the turn of the 21st century and around 2010 Märklin had to file for bankruptsy protection. It went through a series of staff reductions and the firm seems to have established itself once again, with this difference that numerous components and possibly complete trains are now……..”made in China” (like the famous German Leitz microscopes!).


With just over 150 years in existence, the firm Märklin has earned a reputation for top quality toys and model trains. The genuine toys have by now disappeared from their line of products. Arguably the firm is no longer a leader in fine model railroads, but is still an active producer. They have taken over Trix and even more recently LGB.

Märklin trains are being avidly collected: Old gauge 1 trains and larger gauges have become very expensive and rare. Gauge 0 is also becoming expensive and even the 00/H0 trains from the 40s and 50s have soared in value. For years, auction houses like Sotheby’s and Christies refused to handle these old trains: they were not “antique”. In more recent years however these auctioneers have a steady stream of valuable Märklin (and other) toy trains in their “toy-auctions”. The trains were always expensive new, and even now the old trains are very expensive.


Several books have been published (mostly by German authors) on antique toy trains, and more specifically on Märkln. These books offer a wealth of information.

Marklin “EXPERT” Series and W. Seelig of London, UK

It’s April 29, 1937 and you’re sitting at your desk trying to organize your Marklin purchase orders for the upcoming months at your sports and fishing tackle store in Hall Green, United Kingdom. The day is weary and the work is tough but do not worry, W. Seelig LTD, London’s leading sales organisation is there to help!

Last month, coming straight out of a UK estate, a wonderful collection of old dealer materials from the companies of W. Seelig LTD and 1930s Marklin dealer Eric Willmont was found.  The material gives an incredible insight into the operation of Marklin dealers and importers especially for the UK market which was quite different from other markets across Europe. Marklin dealers throughout the UK would submit a purchase order to W. Seelig LTD who acted as the middle man between the dealers and Marklin. W. Seelig, with the help of Marklin, produced what they called Marklin EXPERT series booklets, seven of them to be exact. These booklets were by no means meant to replace product catalogs but rather showed a glimpse of the Marklin product line which would be particularly interesting to UK purchasers. A listing of the EXPERT series library is listed in the 3rd expert series book:

These booklets were printed by W. Seeling LTD in the UK as advertising pieces specifically for the UK market. They featured Gauge O and Gauge I trains of the LMS, LNER, GW, and SR railways. The booklets all carry the common selling points that the new Marklin approved high-current safety railway is “SAFE, SIMPLE, and STRONG.”

SAFE – The Authorities and Electrical Experts have declared it to be perfectly safe. There is no possible danger of shock or fire, so efficient are the miniature sub-stations.
SIMPLE – As simple as switching on the electric light in the room. One touch and the train moves. Another notch and she gathers speed. Controlled from the sub-station switchboard. Can be started, stopped, and reversed at will.
STRONG – “MARKLIN Toys are Better Toys.” Only the finest materials are used and first-class workmen employed. So sturdily constructed that a MARKLIN model will last a life-time.

Marklin high-current safety railway ad

These documents also provide incredible insight in the Marklin “Better Toys” product line which was divided into two categories.  “A” Category: Mechanical Goods including electric, clockwork, and steam locos and train sets; electric signals, lamps, and search-lights; high current railway accessories; steam engines; clockwork boats and steamers; motor cars; and patent tops with driving sticks, etc, etc.  and “B” Category: Non-Mechanical Goods including model rolling-stock, rails, accessories, working models for any motive power, guns, howitzers, rifles, pistols, race-games, stoves, bedsteads, pumps, water-cans, etc, etc.

One brochure also states:

All Marklin toys are boxed and labelled, so that it is an easy matter to distinguish one class of toy from another.

  1. Working models (steam engines or electric motors) and artillery have a WHITE LABEL with 2 boys’ heads
  2. Marklin Tops have a WHITE LABEL with boy’s and girl’s head.
  3. Cooking stoves, pumps, bedsteads, model baths and bathrooms have a WHITE LABEL with 2 girls’ heads

All genuine Marklin “Better Toys” bear a label on the box showing the laughing heads.  (it is important to note that these labels were also used in the 1930s and early 1940s for the 00 scale product range). 

A letter address to Mr. Eric Willmont, the owner of the store inquiring about Marklin trains, also mentioned the prospect of having Marklin “00” Gauge in his store.  The letter from W. SEELIG Limited wrote in response that “Maerklin Miniature RAilway is proving to be an enormous success, and we look forward to being favoured with your esteemed order.”  This letter, dated 29th April 1937, is written at a crucial time in the export market for Marklin 00 Gauge railways.  First introduced in 1935, the entire product line was already being exported worldwide and the production of special export models (American versions, British versions, etc.) is a testament to its success.   From examining the box stamp codes of some British version models (LMS and LNER), I estimate that the first batch was produced in the fourth quarter of 1937 but surely normal production German outline trains were exported to other countries well before this date.

Marklin at Carinhall: Hermann Goring’s Miniature Railway

Much has been discussed about Hermann Goring’s miniature trains: how did he get them? how many trains did he have? where have the trains gone? In this article all of these questions will be discussed even though many of the questions will remain unanswered. Thanks to many months of research, incredible photos and documents were discovered relating to Hermann Goring’s railways and his house at Carinhall where they were contained. Research proved that many individual sources (books, magazine articles, etc.) were not all 100% accurate but that the information would only make sense when all of these smaller sources were put together and analyzed as a whole. It is my hope that this article will become the basis for further research to be done on this topic.

It is first important to understand that Hermann Goring, the commander of the Luftwaffe (German air force during WWII) and Reichsmarschall of the German forces, was a rather corpulent and certainly gregarious man. He made every effort to dramatize a situation and blur the details in order to make himself look all the better in the eyes of his admirers. As a self proclaimed top ace in WWI, Hermann Goring won countless medals for downing an incredible amount of enemy planes and in some stories, Goring supposedly was able to take on a French bomber all on his own. It was later found in his personal diaries that many of these accounts of incredible heroism and courage were ill-founded and in many cases entirely untrue and fraught with embellishments. This characteristic of Goring is very important to take into account when analyzing documents and other pieces of information which come from him alone and are not corroborated by other sources.

Figure 1 Goring standing in front of his plane during WWI

Goring also had a special liking for antiques and other priceless historical artifacts including Greek statues, Rembrandt paintings, art sculptures, and more. Most of these pieces were acquired (stolen) when German forces attacked a city. Special teams would be in charge of looting museums, libraries, and private collections and then taking an inventory of all the items to be dispersed across the Nazi chain of command. Many of these items ended up in Goring’s Carinhall, his summer hunting retreat located just northeast of Berlin. The cabin, modeled after a Swiss hunting lodge, underwent many renovations and expansions during its existance from roughly 1933 – 1945.

Figure 2 One of the many halls in Carinhall lined with priceless tapestries, paintings, and sculptures

As it so happens, Carinhall also housed Goring’s extensive model railway…model railways, that is. Yes, it is widely known that Goring had both Trix and Marklin railways, but many publications neglect to observe that Goring had two Marklin railways; one in his basement and one in his attic. One such book even shows a picture of Goring operating his Marklin O and I Gauge railway and the caption in the book states that this railway was in his attic. However, the differences between the attic railway and the basement layout can clearly be seen (not to mention the structure of the basement / attic — the basement has flat ceilings whereas the attic has sloped ceilings exactly as Carinhall had slanted roofs). The attic layout, which I believe was built first and then expanded into a basement layout, was probably put in place somewhere between 1933 (Carinhall’s initial building date) and 1938 (when this photo was taken).

Figure 3 Goring operating attic layout for house guests including Admiral von Horthy.

It is important to note that this is the attic layout because of the sloped ceilings seen at Goring’s left. Goring is wearing his typical outfit for his hunting cabin at Carinhall (vest with white shirt underneath). I date this picture to about 1938 because it if were any time after, Goring would have been wearing his Reichsmarschall uniform which he wore almost exclusively in photos after the date when he was promoted (February, 1938). The above photo also features what looks like the Marklin Rennbahn track on the inner elevated track sitting beside two regular O or I Gauge tracks. The car, however, does not look to be the typical red or white racing cars. Perhaps his Rennbahn system had a custom car / vehicle which went around the tracks. Whatever this vehicle was, it was most likely military-themed and possibly had some kind of weapon attached to it. The sloped ceilings of the attic are seen more clearly in the photo below, but the Rennbahn system is missing, meaning the photo was taken at an earlier date:

Figure 4 The attic layout probably mid to late 1930s featuring ME 70 12920 in gray and CCS 66 12921 (or 12920?)

The above photo might also be proof to the rumor that Goring had an overhead airplane system which could “bomb” trains below by dropping little wooden bombs at the push of a button. Supposedly he would put on a show for his guests by timing the track below and the plane above such that the little wooden bomb would land on the train. The left side of the photo above shows two wires which run the length of the room above and parallel to the tracks. This wiring would be perfect to string a plane to for a bombing run on the train below. A suitable mechanism for dropping wooden bombs would be an electromagnet on the bomb bay of the airplane which releases the bomb when the current is cut off (by way of a switch on the control panel). This might explain why there are two wires: one to hold the plane and the other to hold the wires which power the electromagnet.

The basement layout which I believe was created after the attic miniature railway was probably slightly larger than the attic layout and certainly became much more developed with elevated rails and a car racing system which was most likely borrowed from the attic layout. Rumor has it that as many as two Marklin employees also worked for an unknown period of time on Goring’s layout. Another first hand account states that the layout was built by Siemens & Halske, an electrical engineering company during that time. The play cellar which house the attic railway was approximately 240 square meters. Because no overall photos of the basement layout exist (as far as I know), I used 3D modeling and animation software to create a reconstruction of Goring’s basement layout. Using Goring’s approximate height (5 ft. 10 in.) and the known square-footage of the basement, the dimensions (Length X Width X Height) of the basement were calculated. Other features of the basement not seen in the historical photos are pure speculation. Whether he had expensive pieces of art or furniture in his basement is not known to me, but it certainly would fit with how the rest of Carinhall was decorated.

Figure 5 3D reconstruction of Goring

Figure 6 If the Carinhall basement were in fact rectangular, it would have been quite long!

Figure 7 CCS 12921 and TK 12921; It is not certain whether this photo is of the attic or basement layout, but I presume it was of the basement layout and taken by photographer Walter Frentz who visited Carinhall in 1945, when the attic layout had probably already been disassembled and moved into the basement

Figure 8 Basement railway: Goring at the controls smoking a cigar

Figure 9 Another view, Goring and some officers / soldiers observing Marklin railway in the basement (The book this image was found in incorrectly states

Figure 10 Basement layout — possibly later than previous photos as the layout is more developed with elevated tracks and racing system. In the background several models can be seen set up on the tabletop. The two on the left side look like artillery / mortar pieces while the on on the right is perhaps a tank or train-mountain gun piece.

What still remains unclear is where this train system and its pieces ended up after Carinhall was abandoned and destroyed in 1945. This is where much of the research turned up blank results: the itemized list of articles removed from Carinhall from workers could not be found, documents detailing the contents of Goring’s private train which was hidden in a tunnel for safety could also not be found, and the present-day grounds of Carinhall are supposedly protected which would circumvent any location research. Museums around the area do have Carinhall exhibits which contain old rusty trains which are literally torn to pieces and said to have been found at the site of the destroyed Carinhall. Others who have visited the site of Carinhall in present day also attest to the fact that train parts lay scattered in the dirt around the area. This does not, however, preclude the possibility of some of the more valuable trains being saved. An equal amount of stories exist which support the survival of some if not all of the train materials from Goring’s collection.

The idea that Goring had special production Marklin trains (e.g. Rheingold livery 40CM cars, 1930s Super-Modelle locomotives specially produced in I Gauge, etc.) still remains in question. It seems that these special order trains would have shown up in the pictures discovered in this article however none of them do. All of the trains pictured in this article are from normal production and typical of the time period in which the photos were taken.

Although this article hopefully presents a clear picture of Hermann Goring’s Marklin miniature railway, many questions still remain unanswered and particularly the most important question still has an unclear answer: where did all the trains end up?


  • Figure 1: Göring: A Biography by David Irving; first published February 1989; ISBN: 0688066062
  • Figure 2: Die Kunstsammlung des Reichsmarschalls Hermann Göring : eine Dokumentation by Haase, Günther; published 2000
  • Figure 3: Hermann Göring Collection (Library of Congress); Hermann Göring’s activities, May-August, 1938, Photoarchiv Generalfeldmarschall Hermann Göring, v. 27, p. 206, no. 6.
  • Figure 4: Private photo collection
  • Figure 5: Self-made in Google SketchUp 8
  • Figure 6: Self-made in Google SketchUp 8
  • Figure 7: Private photo collection, photographer probably Walter Frentz who was one of the few photographers to take photos in color of the Nazi high command (he was frequently Hitler’s photographer and cameraman). This photo was also taken by Walter Frentz supposedly in 1945. The same locomotive is featured in that photo.
  • Figure 8: RSL, Spiegel TV. exact source unknown. Another reference can be found here.
  • Figure 9: Göring: A Biography by David Irving; first published February 1989; ISBN: 0688066062
  • Figure 10: Private photo collection

Further Reading

  • Der Reichsmarschall im Kriege (Eitel Lange)
  • Görings Reich : Selbstinszenierungen in Carinhall (Knopf / Martens )
  • Altes Spielzeug (A. Bangert )
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Marklin “Miniatur-Autos” and the “Rennbahn” of the 1930s


The year 1935 brought several additions to the Marklin product range. Several cars under the “Miniatur-Autos” line were introduced for the first time as beautifully Zinc die-cast cars with rubber wheels and moving axles. The 1935/1936 main customer catalog offered a package of these cars numbered 5521 G/6 which included each of the non-clockwork cars that were released during that year. The base number 5521 would be the model number of many of the Marklin die-cast cars for years to come. The expanded product range in 1938/1939 brought a 8021 series which was for military vehicles and accessories. Such military vehicles included an 8021/1 camouflage tank and the 8021/14 G military persons transport vehicle. The inclusion of the letter “G” seems to indicate that the vehicle / motorcycle includes figures with the item, however, the 5521 G/6 package of 6 cars without figures is an exception.

1930s Marklin “Rennbahn”

Items from Marklin Rennbahn series are highly sought by collectors because they were only produced for a limited number of years and they were part of a very novel product line for Marklin. Sure Marklin produced tinplate vehicles and limousines since the turn of the century, but never had they made electric race car sets before that could run around on a slot track.  A brief overview of the product range for the Marklin Rennbahn system can be seen below:

Image Product details
The Marklin Rennbahn car 13301 offered in red (numbered “5”) or white (numbered “7”)
13329 G race clock for timing of track laps
13320 A curved slot track
13320 D straight slot track

Note that packaged sets including the 13301 G/1, 13301 G/2, 13301 G/12, 13301 G/22, and 13301 G/23 could also be purchased, each with different configurations of track and vehicles (white or red or both cars).

Dealer and Fair Promotions

The very nature of the Marklin “Miniatur-Autos” and the Rennbahn lends itself to an incredible array of promotional displays and layouts.  Since the vehicle toys were especially distinct from the Marklin trains of the period, they had to be cleverly incorporated into the Marklin dealer and toy fair promotions.  Much like the “elevated railway” and “rack railway” systems of the early 1900s, the new “Rennbahn” slot-racing cars would travel around the landscape of the main layout.  The display layout below “HIGHWAY-SHOWPIECE” of 1934 was probably the first layout to incorporate the Marklin Rennbahn into a well-designed layout.  The highway theme is supported by the inclusion of  an O-Gauge accessory, the 2620 B “Tankstelle.”  Although this piece was not intentionally built for the Rennbahn system, it goes well with the highway theme despite being in a proportionally smaller scale.

Marklin 1934 Display

The following year in 1935 a wonderful dealer layout probably custom built for select dealers who requested them can be found.  The layout features what looks like two independent Rennbahn tracks with two cars on each (can you spot all four cars?).   The two white cars with model number 13301 (in white, number “7” on the side) take the high track in the mountains while the two red cars also with model number 13301 (but numbered “5” on the side) take the tunnel route.

Marklin 1935 Display with Adler and Rennbahn

Several other aspects of the above layout are also important to note.  The layout features a wonderful assortment of trains including the historic “ADLERZUG” and also a locomotive which looks something like a TCE or TK variant which does not have a coal tender.  Among many custom built buildings and layout accessories, an incredibly famous piece can be spotted mid-mountain just under the Rennbahn bridge:  the majestic “MARKLIN VILLA.”  Perhaps in a future article this incredible piece will be more fully discussed, but it is important to note that we can see this building as early as 1935.  The villa is more commonly seen on the layout 700/210 from 00 catalog of 1936, but here we can see that it is possible the building was first made in 1935.  An even more important question is to consider what is around the villa.  One can spot what looks like two flags.  Perhaps they are the HK-Fahne 406?  It is very hard to say, but it is quite possible.  A black dot (presumably an HK-symbol) on a white circle can be made out against a dark rectangular background which is very characteristic of such flags.  The flag on the right is possibly turned away from the viewer, but nonetheless, the flags seem out of proportion because they look a little taller than the later released 406 Fahne.  Perhaps they care custom-made flags produced before the full-production ones.

Marklin Villa on 1935 Layout

The below 1939 Leipziger Messe layout which is famous for containing many known 406 flags does also, in fact, have many of the vehicles from the die-cast “Miniatur-Autos” line.  From left to right can be seen 5521/31 OMNIBUS, a 5521/32 OMNIBUS, a 5521/51 Adler, a 5521/7 N limousine (or possibly a 5522/4 convertible with clockwork?), a 5521/3 sports car, and finally the 5521/8 L convertible “HORCH.”  Set aside in front of steps of the large 00 Stuttgart station is the Marklin Fuhrerwagen 5521/10.

Marklin 1939 Leipziger Messe photo from the 1939 catalog

Transitioning to a time in which large dealer displays and layouts were less common as in the 1930s and 1940s, the small display pieces for individual dealers to purchase become much more common.  Displays with rotating wheels, lights, and many moving components were quite common in Marklin dealer display accessories of the 1950s.  Each of the displays below are from dealer display catalogs from which dealers can order display items to set up in their store to display the Marklin products.  Note that these items are not produced by Marklin in whole.  During the 1950s and possibly during other years, Marklin contracted out its advertising and display materials to various graphic and display companies across Germany.  Some pieces, however, are incorporated from the Marklin production line including the metal erector set pieces from the 1954 rotating display and the lamp lights from the 1955 display.

Marklin 1954 Rotating Miniatur-Autos display

Marklin 1955 Miniatur-Autos Display

Marklin 1956 Miniatur-Autos Display

Decline of the Rennbahn and the die-cast vehicles

It is often questioned why the Marklin Rennbahn was discontinued and did not again appear after the war, but it probably follows the same story as what happened to the O Gauge production in the post-war years.  Marklin was moving towards a miniature railway system which could be highly expandable and also be built on a small budget.  The 1930s Rennbahn system produced by Marklin was proportionally large and would not seem to go well on an 00/HO scale layout.  It also did not have much room for expansion as Marklin did not produce many accessories for it (as can be seen from the Rennbahn layouts in which accessories are either custom-built or borrowed from the O Gauge production line).  It is no surprise, then, that the Rennbahn was not continued after the war and only later reappeared in the 1960s under the Marklin SPRINT line.   The smaller die-cast cars of the pre-war years reappeared in the post-war years in the 1950s, but were produced in a much different matter.  Instead of the very expensive and difficult Zinc die-casting process as in the pre-war years, the newer 1950s cars were mostly produced by using plastic injection molds.

Marklin Spur 00 Miniature Railway [1938 – 1943]

By 1938, the Marklin’s 00 Scale was already well established with the 700 series locomotives and train and was ripe for technological improvements. One of these improvements would be found in the reversing system of the locomotives. The locomotives of 1938 were equipped with the “Perfect-Reverse” system which allowed for remote reversing without the need of a separate devise. The 280 A transformer had a small red button on it which, when pushed, would change the direction of the locomotive. The 800 series reversing a system is shown below:

New 800 Series Reversing System

The ingenious use of an electromagnet cleverly reverse the direction of the locomotive by use of a cylindrical device with contacts on it which changes the direction of the current. The electromagnet is concomitant under village when the locomotive is running put only moves the cylinder when the voltages exceed approximately 18 volts. A hand reversing switch is also located in the rear of all 800 series locomotives. The motor housing and hand reversing lever are shown here:

Marklin 800 Series Motor Housing

Along with changes to the internal reversing components, the chassis frames were altered dramatically to make room for the new reversing system. While the frames of the 700 series locomotives integrated the gears and motor housing all into one, the 800 series made it separate.

The boxes from 1938 – 1943 also looked much different from their predecessors. The boxes now featured a pattern design with Marklin’s “bicycle” logo and the stylized Marklin text. This Commonly featured an orange and white label for the locomotives and a white label for the passenger cars.  See the Guide to Boxes for more information.

The year 1938 also marked a new series of export models.  800-Series models such as the HR 800 LMS and the SLR 800 LNER were German outline locomotives painted in British livery (either LMS or LNER).  The first locomotive produced strictly for an export market was also introduced, the infamous E 800 LMS.  Today this locomotive is highly sought after by many collectors because the locomotive was only available to customers of Great Britain.  Other trains like the 342 and 343 Speisewagen and Schlafwagen cars were overpainted for the British market and market “LMS” above the 342 or 343 inscriptions.  Such cars are also good indicators of the different couplers Marklin used during the years of 1937 and 1938 (the years the 342 E LMS was produced).  Below, a picture of two 342 E LMS cars; one with nickel-plated claw coupler of 1938 and the other with a black claw coupler of 1937.   In addition to having different couplers, the two 342 E LMS cars from different years are quite distinguishable from each other despite being just one year apart.

Comparison of couplers of 342 E LMS

Using special equipment, we can see the overpainting of the 342 coach to become the special 342 E LMS

It is also very important to note the differences not only technological improvements within the time period 1938 – 1943 (700 series to 800 series), but also its contrast between the next time period known as “Postwar.”  Here I will explain the common production methods of the lat 1930s (Prewar) in contrast with materials produced directly after the war (Postwar).  It is important to note, however, that these changes occurred gradually.  Some of the items which are described as “Postwar” are actually from 1945 because Marklin commonly used Prewar leftovers.  Here some examples of Prewar / Postwar production methods in the transitional phase:

Comparison of Prewar / Postwar wheels

SK / HR 800 front trucks Postwar (top-left) Prewar (bottom-right)

Post war 350/340 series "Guss/blech" trucks (top-left) Pre war "Vollguss" truck (bottom-right)

Postwar 353 roof and prewar 351 roof

350 series roofs under UV-Lamp

Many of the Marklin items used above such as the pre-war roof pre-war SK 800 truck were actually found in an SK 851 set from 1945.  The bruniert version of the SK 800 distributed for American GIs often contained pre-war parts such as the front truck support and front/rear trucks.  The metal wheels also resembled pre-war ones.   The  set also included 4 of the 350 series cars all from 1945.  Two of these cars are the 353 and 351 cars whose roofs are pictured above.  Interesting to see that one is pre-war and one is post-war yet they were both sold after the war in 1945.

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