The Leica Camera in 1946: Report by British Inspectors

May 15, 2018  By Richard Rejino

By Mike Evans

“The Leitz factory is a well-run, happy organisation, this being due in no small measure to the family nature of the business and to its importance in the neighbourhood. Discipline is strict without being severe and one gets the impression of great interest by employees of every grade in the work being performed.”

This is the start of the conclusion of a report on the Leitz factory prepared in late 1946 following an inspection of the factory by the British Intelligence Objectives Sub-Committee. A team, of four, Messrs. Big, Cantle, Tyler and Sturrock, investigated the Leitz works on the 19th, 21st and 22nd of November that year. They were greeted by Herr Ernst Leitz (Senior), the chairman, Herr Ludwig Leitz, technical director and Herr Dumar, the commercial director. Plus, “various members of the technical staff of E.Leitz”.


Jolly time

It seems that a jolly good time was had by all: “We received every help and courtesy from these persons and a considerable amount of assistance from Dr. Dumar.”

In late 1946, just 19 months after the capitulation of Germany, Wetzlar was under US administration as part of the American zone of western Germany. A systematic investigation of German industry was undertaken by the Allies, ostensibly to estimate the period of rebuilding necessary following the conflict. To some extent, also, there was the opportunity to acquire German know-how for use domestically, if not the chance to acquire assets at bargain-basement prices. In some cases whole factories were taken over lock, stock and barrel.

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Richard Rejino
Richard is the Executive Director of LHSA - The International Leica Society and a part-time professional photographer. He is also a classically trained pianist, writer and published author. His book, "What Music Means to Me" is available from Hal Leonard Corporation.

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