From Germany with Love, Train Sets Shipped Home during WWII

As discussed in previous articles, the Marklin factory continued production during WWII. American soldiers operating in the area are said to have visited the factory specifically.  Not only were they there to collect intelligence, but also indulge in some toy shopping for those back home.  The Marklin factory had an in-house showroom with all the latest models running and many promotional dioramas on display.  Although there are few first-hand accounts available to tell their stories, the memories are passed down to children and grandchildren. Several readers have sent in photos of PX (“Postal Exchange”) sets that were sent from Germany to the USA, typically dating from 1943-1947. The most common sets contained locomotives SK 800, HR 800, or the e-loco RS 800.  One such set retained the original receipt from the factory!


Marklin factory receipt dating 12 June, 1945

The receipt above likely was a return visit as the products are primarily track, accessories, some diecast cars, tons of rolling stock and passenger cars.  The first big purchase must have been a large set or a few locos and the smaller purchase came later!  As the main cover image of this article shows, many of the sets came in large brown cardboard boxes or heavy-duty wooden crates.  Crates filled with military equipment now contained toy, trains and accessories!  They were perfect in protecting the trains during the long journey from Germany back home to the USA. The sets commonly have an APO address (“Army Post Office”) and appear to have been sent through New York before reaching their final destinations.  All packages are careful to note that the crates contain “NO GOVERNMENT PROPERTY.”

Label affixed to crate shows packages were routed through New York


Sets included enough track, switches, and a transformer to make a layout

Marklin crate

Former military crate now contains trains!


Complete example of a SK 851/4 set dates to 1946


Sent from Sgt. G. Moeers 7711 of the 45th Air Repair Squadron in Hanau, Germany APO 757


Sent from Sgt. Hartley to Mrs. George Hartley of Medford, Oregon. Army APO stamp dates to 1946


Postage stamp dates to 1946




  • Hi,
    Many thanks – do you know the date when the first US troops arrived at the Marklin factory in Stuttgart in 1945 ?

    It was also being used by Daimler-Benz at the time as a dispersal site for their design office, which is one reason the Allies were interested to get to the Marklin factory quickly.

  • Hi,

    the first US troops arrived in Göppingen on April 20, about 6:00 am.

  • I was stationed in West Berlin, 1984 – 1988, the hobby shops were excellent as well as some in Austria, one of which is still there in Salzbrug. Plus 2 more that I have come across there.
    Most larger German and Austrian cities have hobby shops.
    Even at some smaller villages hardwhare stores.
    One excellent hobby shop is located in down town Munich.
    Another great hobby shop in Innsbruck. Close to the old city center.
    It use to be back in the 1980s that Marklin starter sets were sold at the airports in Germany as well as the PX’s and also during the pre Christmas PX toy catalog. 1980s to 1991 ?
    I travel often during the Christmas Market times in December.

  • Aksel Willumsen

    A very interesting article/fotos and comments, thanks!

  • I have the set SK 851/4 and I have the have the catalog from Carl Knoblauch. The catalog listed the set for 180.00. Great to see it on you website.

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