Anton Loibl, Hitler's Chauffeur, Invented Bicycle Reflectors

By | May 26, 2020

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Many riders don't give a second thought to the reflectors on their bicycles, but that's only because they don't have to. Unlike accessories like headlights, they don't have to be purchased—they just come with the bike—but they're a crucial part of bicycle safety. They were also invented by a Nazi. Not just any Nazi, either, but Hitler's personal chauffeur, Anton Loibl. Bicycle reflectors were big business for the Nazis, earning them millions of Reichmarks as well as buckets of drama.

Part-Time Inventor, Full-Time Nazi

Anton Loibl was pretty much a shoo-in with the Nazis from the moment he agreed to take part in the Beer Hall Putsch, Hitler's failed coup d'état of the Bavarian government. Loibl went to prison right alongside the Führer following the disaster, and after they were released, he was given the job of carting Hitler around by Ernst Röhm, who was taking over as a Nazi military officer. Loibl performed his job admirably, but in his spare time, he fancied himself an inventor. Most of his private work involved updating carburetors, but he also had an interest in improving bicycle safety.

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(Factory 20)

Not The First, Just The Best-Connected

While brainstorming ways to keep cyclists safer at night, Loibl landed on the idea of installing panels of glass on their pedals to reflect the headlights of approaching cars. It's unclear if Loibl brought the invention to Heinrich Himmler or if Himmler just heard about the reflectors through the grapevine, but they quickly launched a plan to turn the equipment into Nazi goldLoibl's connection to the SS was vital to securing the patent. Another German inventor created bicycle reflectors around the same time as Loibl, but with Himmler's help, the alternate reflector patent was buried.