Illicit Distillery

Illicit Distillery

It was strongly recommended NOT to drink the final product as it could blind or at worst kill you.

This illicit distillery was found in a "Displaced Persons camp" following the end of the Second World War.

Close to four million people had been forced into working in Nazi factories during the war. When the war ended these people became known as “Displaced Persons”. It was the responsibility of the Allied Military Police to try to get Displaced Persons back home.  

Getting nearly four million people back to where they needed to go was not a quick task. As a result the Military Police set up “Displaced Persons Camps” in order to house the freed slave workers. It was in these camps that Military Police Officers would find illegal distilleries or stills, set up to produce very potent alcoholic drinks.

It was strongly recommended NOT to drink the final product of an illicit distillery as it could blind or at worst kill you. These stills had to be confiscated to prevent British troops and the Displaced Persons blinding themselves.

Quick Facts

  • Found at Geesthacht, Germany
  • Date of illicit distillery November 1948
  • Made of copper, glass and rubber
  • Dimensions Height 1415mm, Width 380mm
  • Accession number CHCMP:34


  • Illicit Stills would have been made from whatever spare parts the displaced persons could find. Often these parts contained poisonous materials, such as lead, which would make it into the final product. The alcohol was usually made from potato or grain and could be anything up to 98% proof. 
  • In the aftermath of the Second World War millions of refugees from all over Europe were coming to terms with what was left of their lives. The lucky ones tried their best to make it back to the homes they had left years before. Others were not so lucky.

Did you know?

The most common name for illicit alcohol is “Moonshine”, although many countries have their own terms. In Germany the word used is Schwarzgebrannter which translates as “black burned”. 

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