Great Britain Secretly Traded With Germany During World War I

From 1914 to 1919, Great Britain used its naval power to impose a blockade upon Germany. That blockade was so successful that, according to Wikipedia,

The German Board of Public Health in December 1918 claimed that 763,000 German civilians died from starvation and disease caused by the blockade up until the end of December 1918. An academic study done in 1928 put the death toll at 424,000.

Both of those death tolls are disputed today, but Great Britain went to great lengths to keep shipments of pretty much anything from reaching Germany.

And yet, the British government itself secretly engaged in trade with Germany during World War I. The Great War Project highlights this peculiar episode.

The British army needed binoculars, which it wanted to obtain from Germany’s famous Zeiss Optics company. Germany, in turn, needed rubber. And so, the two belligerents reached an agreement to trade British rubber for German binoculars.

Tyler Cowen has also written briefly about this episode along with speculation on what each side got out of trading with the enemy.