View-Masters Were Invented By A Nazi

View-Masters are a great way to distract a child for up to ten seconds at a time, and for those brief, precious moments of silence, we have to thank William Gruber. He was a dedicated family man, amateur photographer, and registered member of the Nazi Party.

Gruber joined the Nazis in 1921, and by all accounts was an ardent believer in Hitler’s cause. He moved to Oregon in 1924, but soon came under investigation for his involvement with pro-German groups, ultimately leading to an exile to Idaho. Do you have any idea how hard it was to get kicked out of Oregon for being racist back in 1924?

Giuseppe Porzani/Abode StockThe original name was “View-Master Race.”

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Gruber’s Nazi connections haunted him for decades to come, but his invention of the View-Master in 1938 gave him a good in with the U.S. government. A few years after the toy’s debut at the New York World’s Fair, the military realized it could be a useful tool to train the influx of new recruits brought on to fight Gruber’s former hero.

The problem was that these fresh-faced kids barely knew which end of the rifle went “bang,” let alone what the silhouette of a German JU-87 bomber looked like. Needing a quick, cheap way of teaching servicemen which vague shapes on the horizon were okay to shoot at and which weren’t, the government purchased tens of thousands of View-Masters, along with millions of accompanying reels.

Giuseppe Porzani/Abode Stock“Holy shit, Mickey Mouse is a Ratzi?!”
“Wrong disk.”