Leica in Peace and War

Sep 1943 Popular Photography ad for E. Leitz, Inc. NY

Toronto. Before and for awhile after the second world war, the Leica was the most popular high-end 35mm camera sold. As many readers know, before WW2, the German camera industry was the undisputed world leader. During WW2, German technology was no longer exported to the west. Dresden, the city central to Zeiss-Ikon was flattened by Allied bombs. Worse, post war, Jena and the famous Zeiss works fell in East Germany, a part of the Soviet Union. Fortunately, Leitz in Wetzlar was not bombed, and was assigned to the western part of Germany.

During America’s participation in the war, foreign European branches were removed from their parent organizations and operated under the US government. Leitz was no different. They survived by repairing Leicas, selling American made Wollensak lenses that mimicked their German counter parts – except the long focus 135mm became a long focus 127 mm. And made and sold popular accessories like viewfinders, extension tubes, and the ‘Sliding, Focusing, Copying Attachment’ shown in this ad in the September, 1943 issue of Popular Photography. And of course Leitz NY sold the famous Leica Manual published by Morgan & Morgan too.

A huge thanks to good friend and fellow PHSC member (and photographic historian), George Dunbar for sharing his findings.

Note: The post title is a riff on a then famous American radio show, ‘The FBI in Peace and War“. Ironically to me, the theme of the program was Prokofiev’s march from, “The Love for Three Oranges“. Prokofiev was Russian …

This entry was posted in history and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.