Some WW2 Leica history
Old 04-09-2009   #1
wblanchard
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Some WW2 Leica history

Here`s a link to some history of what the Leica was doing during WW2 in the hands of the Nazi`s. I found it pretty interesting and wanted to share.

Link

Especially good reading is the story of the Leitz "Freedom Train" the planned rescue of hundreds of Jews from Nazi Germany with the disguised help of Leitz NYC

And here`s some little KNOWN Wartime Leica facts

After Sept, 3rd 1939 Leica`s and their products from Leitz, Germany were forbidden to be sold in the UK, (hundreds of cameras were also commandeered by His Majesty`s Government) but soon the source for cameras and equipment dried up for the British Military
A top SECRET mission through Sweden (war barter) brought hundreds of camera`s through after 1940 to be put into the Service of the King (mostly Royal Navy) and for a while again the Government "ARROW" was seen stamped on the tops of many a Leica IIIB or IIIC

Leitz attached IIIC cameras to the top blades of prototype German Heilcopter`s to photograph some of the "first ever" high speed exposure and performance tests

Not just German Field and Combat Photographer`s were using Leica`s....the world famous US Army Photographer Robert Capa (1913-1954) used a Leica III and a Contax I to shoot some of his famous D-Day landing photos

The Leica was the first camera tested and working at temperatures of (minus) -45 degrees Fahrenheit (The Leica IIIC K "Kaltenfest" *Cold Proofed*) was first made for the rugged Norwegian "High Country" and NOT the Russian Front as so many collectors before had believed

General "Ike" Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969) was an avid Leica user during and after the war, after he was elected President the factory even made him special custom versions of the camera`s for him, it`s also believed Ike`s love of the Leica "spared" the factory from 8th Air Force and RAF bombs and the factory "very conveniently" fell into the American Sector of Germany after 1945

One of Eisenhower`s arch rivals German General Erwin Johannes Rommel "The Desert Fox" (1891-1944) kept a Leica in service with him until his death in 1944

It was also during the war that No 230873 Second Subaltern Elizabeth of Windsor, or Princess Elizabeth, future Queen of England picked up her first Leica during her time of Military service in the ATS and Her Majesty has had a love affair with photography AND the Leica that has continued to this very day......
*The company makes a new M camera for her every year*
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Old 04-09-2009   #2
furcafe
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Actually, Capa used a Contax II & Rolleiflex (not sure what model) to shoot his D-Day photos. The famous shots that were partially melted in the darkroom were Contax shots.

http://www.skylighters.org/photos/robertcapa.html

He used Leicas @ the start of his career & during the Spanish Civil War, but eventually switched to Contax for 35mm & had just begun using Nikon RFs, too, when he was killed in Indochina.

Of course, many of Capa's colleagues, like Cartier-Bresson, Chim, & Rodger, did use Leicas during WWII.

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Originally Posted by wblanchard View Post

Not just German Field and Combat Photographer`s were using Leica`s....the world famous US Army Photographer Robert Capa (1913-1954) used a Leica III and a Contax I to shoot some of his famous D-Day landing photos

*
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Five a Second. Chicago's Bell & Howell Co. (cameras) announced that it would put on sale this fall the world's most expensive still camera. Its "Foton" will take five 35-mm. pictures a second, sell for $700. Bell & Howell, which has found that "families of both low and high incomes now spend over $550" for movie equipment, hopes to sell 20,000 Fotons a year.
--Facts And Figures, Time magazine, Monday, October 4, 1948
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Old 04-09-2009   #3
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Interesting. I've been curious about this since finding that my 50/3.5 Elmar was made in 1942 so it must have had an interesting past....
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Old 04-09-2009   #4
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the Capa and Leica connection fallacy seems to never die.
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Old 04-09-2009   #5
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Well, he did use Leica for some of his most famous work before switching, it's just that people today forget that Zeiss Ikon even existed, let alone that the Contax system was actually the main professional choice for 35mm until the M3 came along.

It's the "if it's a RF it must be a Leica" fallacy that never seems to die.

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the Capa and Leica connection fallacy seems to never die.
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Five a Second. Chicago's Bell & Howell Co. (cameras) announced that it would put on sale this fall the world's most expensive still camera. Its "Foton" will take five 35-mm. pictures a second, sell for $700. Bell & Howell, which has found that "families of both low and high incomes now spend over $550" for movie equipment, hopes to sell 20,000 Fotons a year.
--Facts And Figures, Time magazine, Monday, October 4, 1948
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Old 04-09-2009   #6
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Poor Capa, what a way to die. Stepping on a land mine. He had survived so much and then that...
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Old 04-09-2009   #7
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Even sadder was that he wasn't even originally scheduled to go to Indochina, but Life was short-handed & he was in the area (visiting friends in Japan) & volunteered to replace another photographer.

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Poor Capa, what a way to die. Stepping on a land mine. He had survived so much and then that...
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Five a Second. Chicago's Bell & Howell Co. (cameras) announced that it would put on sale this fall the world's most expensive still camera. Its "Foton" will take five 35-mm. pictures a second, sell for $700. Bell & Howell, which has found that "families of both low and high incomes now spend over $550" for movie equipment, hopes to sell 20,000 Fotons a year.
--Facts And Figures, Time magazine, Monday, October 4, 1948
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Old 04-10-2009   #8
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The Contax as "main professional " camera is a statement I always found without any further information. SG comment on cameraquest that amateurs used Leicas and Pro's Contax seems also a bit farfetched to me as both were quite expensive. But I agree that the "If it's an RF it's a Leica" also can't be the whole truth. So perhpas somebody knows a site with additional info
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Old 04-10-2009   #9
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....Stern magazine (yes the ones with the faked Hitler diaries) gave a rather realistic version why Leitz hid the story of their "Life train": In the sixties there were still enough Germany who considered things like that anti patriotic e.g Marlene Dietrich was ostracized for a long time for the fact that she was on entertainment missions for US and other allied troops.
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Old 04-10-2009   #10
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Zeiss, as far as one can tell, were sympathetic to the Jews, many of whom worked in their factory in Dresden; Victor Klemperer, whose diaries are obligatory reading, was employed there.

Zeiss were in constant dispute with the Gestapo, who were attempting to deport their workers - and, alas, eventually succeeded.
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Old 04-10-2009   #11
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I was at the Leica School in 1970, stayed with a retired employee, he told me that
during the war Leitz himself absolutely forbade the engraving of nazi symbols on cameras or accessories. Any that were engraved so were done by firms that had no connection with Leitz. Leitz's daughter Lotte Kuhn Leitz was put in prison by the Gestapo for her activities helping Jews and others to escape.
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Old 04-10-2009   #12
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You're correct as I am working off "received wisdom." I should have @ least qualified my statement to "major system for professionals using 35mm." Before WWII, 35mm was still a niche format, as the vast majority of professional photographers were using large & medium format, even among those practicing the new field of photojournalism. Moreover, most photojournalists had to supply their own equipment. Not having access to sales & marketing data, assuming it still exists (I'm guessing much of Zeiss Ikon's data was destroyed during the firebombing of Dresden & the aftermath), I have no idea which system was most used in quantitative terms. Like today, the vast majority of cameras & lenses were purchased by wealthy amateurs, & yes, both Leica & Contax were expensive (the Contax especially so).

I do know from the writings of Marc James Small, IIRC, that Contax was the "house" system for Time-Life, though many of their shooters did use Leica & Rolleiflex gear. After the war, they gave some their prewar gear to the Hillary/Tenzing Everest expedition when they switched to the new IIa/IIIa models; I believe Alfred Gregory took the shots @ the summit w/a Kodak Retina II (Hillary had his own Retina I/118) & a Contax III, both loaded w/Kodachrome, & a Rolleiflex loaded w/B&W. Ansel Adams, who fell under the categories of both professional & wealthy amateur, also is known to have used the Contax system.

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Originally Posted by Spider67 View Post
The Contax as "main professional " camera is a statement I always found without any further information. SG comment on cameraquest that amateurs used Leicas and Pro's Contax seems also a bit farfetched to me as both were quite expensive. But I agree that the "If it's an RF it's a Leica" also can't be the whole truth. So perhpas somebody knows a site with additional info
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Five a Second. Chicago's Bell & Howell Co. (cameras) announced that it would put on sale this fall the world's most expensive still camera. Its "Foton" will take five 35-mm. pictures a second, sell for $700. Bell & Howell, which has found that "families of both low and high incomes now spend over $550" for movie equipment, hopes to sell 20,000 Fotons a year.
--Facts And Figures, Time magazine, Monday, October 4, 1948
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Old 04-10-2009   #13
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Didn't that person who ruined Bob Capa's D Day photos go on to be one of Lifes best known photographers? I could of sworn I ran across this info in a discussion thread one time.
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Old 04-10-2009   #14
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No, that's a photographic "urban myth." Larry Burrows did work in the lab as a gofer, but he wasn't a tech & therefore not responsible for the drying cabinet mishap. It was a 15-year old tech named Dennis Banks.

http://www.skylighters.org/photos/robertcapa.html

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Didn't that person who ruined Bob Capa's D Day photos go on to be one of Lifes best known photographers? I could of sworn I ran across this info in a discussion thread one time.
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Five a Second. Chicago's Bell & Howell Co. (cameras) announced that it would put on sale this fall the world's most expensive still camera. Its "Foton" will take five 35-mm. pictures a second, sell for $700. Bell & Howell, which has found that "families of both low and high incomes now spend over $550" for movie equipment, hopes to sell 20,000 Fotons a year.
--Facts And Figures, Time magazine, Monday, October 4, 1948
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re
Old 04-10-2009   #15
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re

You are just a wealth of knowledge! Thanks.

I was surprised to learn Leica and Contax were used in the War so much. I just assumed Speed Graph's and Kodak Medalists. Processing film in verichrome, etc.

It's just such a fascinating subject to read up on.
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Old 04-10-2009   #16
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Your basic assumption is correct; during WWII, most pro photographers, both civilian & military, didn't use 35mm @ all, they were using large format Speed Graphics or the European equivalents, medium format TLRs & RFs like the Kodak Medalist, etc. The little Leica & Contax cameras were mainly used by the artsy, avant garde "Euro" shooters like Capa, Cartier-Bresson, et al., most of whom became more famous after the war when their shooting style (& preferred format) became respectable.

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You are just a wealth of knowledge! Thanks.

I was surprised to learn Leica and Contax were used in the War so much. I just assumed Speed Graph's and Kodak Medalists. Processing film in verichrome, etc.

It's just such a fascinating subject to read up on.
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Five a Second. Chicago's Bell & Howell Co. (cameras) announced that it would put on sale this fall the world's most expensive still camera. Its "Foton" will take five 35-mm. pictures a second, sell for $700. Bell & Howell, which has found that "families of both low and high incomes now spend over $550" for movie equipment, hopes to sell 20,000 Fotons a year.
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Old 04-10-2009   #17
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Anyone know if Patton's photographs were ever seen? They said he carried a Leica with him everywhere. I was wondering if any were published.
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Old 04-10-2009   #18
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I don't believe the Leitz factory was spared by Allied bombers during the war. Anything to do with optics would be a prime target.
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Old 04-10-2009   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wblanchard View Post
Anyone know if Patton's photographs were ever seen? They said he carried a Leica with him everywhere. I was wondering if any were published.

http://www.amazon.com/Pattons-Photog.../dp/1574888714

I think that there are several such books on Patton's pics
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Old 04-10-2009   #20
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They were targeted, but were small fry compared to the giant Zeiss conglomerate & came out of the war w/much less damage than Zeiss Ikon.

See Larry Zeitlin's discussion here:

http://leica-users.org/v29/msg15270.html

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I don't believe the Leitz factory was spared by Allied bombers during the war. Anything to do with optics would be a prime target.
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Five a Second. Chicago's Bell & Howell Co. (cameras) announced that it would put on sale this fall the world's most expensive still camera. Its "Foton" will take five 35-mm. pictures a second, sell for $700. Bell & Howell, which has found that "families of both low and high incomes now spend over $550" for movie equipment, hopes to sell 20,000 Fotons a year.
--Facts And Figures, Time magazine, Monday, October 4, 1948
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Old 04-10-2009   #21
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I don't believe the Leitz factory was spared by Allied bombers during the war. Anything to do with optics would be a prime target.
The pre-war Leica factory still stands in Wetzlar. So far as I know, completely untouched by Allied bombings.

Leica sold it and moved out. The old factory is now used for the town hall, among other things. Its HUGE and still dominates the city with its size.

Stephen
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Old 04-10-2009   #22
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The original factory in Wetzlar was NEVER hit by bombs during WW2, it too was a factory spared by the Allied planners just as IG Farben`s Main Office in Frankfurt was saved for General Eisenhower`s HQ and later European Command HQ.
(building`s all around IG Fabren, were flattened, and the only major damage the IG building got has blown out windows and scrapnel damage.)

The whole Capa thing, is debatable, when he used what and when? But I know for a fact that his Black Leica II was offered by a BIG Leica dealer back in the 1980`s and no one wanted it @ like $6,000 ~ if that camera was offered again now at that price it would vaporize!

During WW2 The German PK companies that were in charge of Propaganda Photography used Leica and Contax very often ~ (my Kriegsmarine Leica IIIC was used by a Marine PK photographer on a U-Boat) ~ many major operations during the war were photographed using Leica`s and Contax`s, Poland, Norway, Crete, etc. by Luftwaffe and Wehrmacht personnel.

I know about those Helicopter tests, I read about them in German Leica Photography issues from the 1950`s......pretty wild!

Allied Combat Photographer`s used Leica`s manily as so called "personal" cameras, though some Leica IIIa`s and IIIb`s were issued to US Army Signal Corps Photographers, as the war was declared in late 1941.

No Leica IIIC`s were sold to Allied forces during the war, the Leica IIIC was a coveted War Trophy, with less than 200 cameras falling into Allied hands before May 1945. (a handful of cameras were smuggled into England over the "Shetland Ferry" via Sweden over Norway, and then inspected and put into use by the RAF and Royal Navy, some of these were stamped with Government usage markings, most of these IIIC`s didn`t survive the war, they were used to the ground..... )

General Patton did have a Leica, I think it`s a III or a IIIa? and it`s now in the US Army Armored Museum at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

I wonder what Queen Elizabeth thinks about the M8? ~ She`s come a long way with Leica history since her first offical gift from Leitz in 1954.

Tom
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Old 04-10-2009   #23
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As far as the period of the late 1930s until his death in 1954 is concerned, I don't think there's any debate that he used the Contax for 35mm, not Leica. Photographs of him on the job during this time period, like the famous 1 of him relaxing w/George Rodger, almost invariably show him w/a Contax (later a Nikon S) &/or Rolleiflex, along w/a cigarette. An earlier example, from when he was covering the Sino-Japanese unpleasantness in '38:

http://www.artecreha.com/Historia_Ar...obert_Capa.jpg

This is not to say that he never touched another Leica, just that he had moved on to a better camera.

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Originally Posted by LeicaTom View Post
The whole Capa thing, is debatable, when he used what and when? But I know for a fact that his Black Leica II was offered by a BIG Leica dealer back in the 1980`s and no one wanted it @ like $6,000 ~ if that camera was offered again now at that price it would vaporize!
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Five a Second. Chicago's Bell & Howell Co. (cameras) announced that it would put on sale this fall the world's most expensive still camera. Its "Foton" will take five 35-mm. pictures a second, sell for $700. Bell & Howell, which has found that "families of both low and high incomes now spend over $550" for movie equipment, hopes to sell 20,000 Fotons a year.
--Facts And Figures, Time magazine, Monday, October 4, 1948
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Old 04-10-2009   #24
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Quote:
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This is not to say that he never touched another Leica, just that he had moved on to a better camera.
Speaking of a better camera....I have a 1938 Contax II w/ a pristine F2/50 Sonnar (a WW2 "bringback"camera) where can I get it CLA`d in the USA? *The Shutter`s frozen up*

Tom
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Old 04-10-2009   #25
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Thank You Pan F!

I also need to find a Rollei repairman in the USA as well for the 1939 Automat I, I also have as a WW2 "bringback"......This is a cross section of three of the favorite cameras of the American GI in 1945.

The Leica IIIC K, Contax II and the Rolleiflex Automat I ~ my cameras were former Black Star/Life magazine shooter cameras.

Tom
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Old 04-10-2009   #26
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Another very good read for anyone interested in Leica in this period is "My life with Leica" by Walther Benser.

Benser had a job before and during the war demonstrating Leica camera's capabilities essentially by taking photos on its small format and then holding slide shows for people in various European countries. Many found it hard to believe back then that the "miniature format" could produce acceptable images. Benser was eventually called up and forced to serve in the German military as an enlisted man but was helped by a German Officer - Doctor to avoid going to the Russian front if memory serves me correct - its been a while since I read it.

Its hard for us at this remove to realise what it must have been to live under such a repressive regime if you opposed them - and there were those who did oppose them passively or actively like Leitz. I had an old German friend since passed away, from a distinguished and wealthy Prussian family who as a young man was also forced to serve but had the good luck and family connections that had him sent, quite deliberately to serve in Denmark or Sweden to avoid the horrible alternative of the eastern front. He was anti-nazi in his sympathies and this fortuitous event also allowed him to have a low profile and got him out of the sights of the Gestapo.

We tend to forget that some in Germans in war time Germany and before had the moral courage to take the path they knew to be right , even in the face of this monstrous and all powerful regime. As a Jew myself it gives me comfort to know that there were those who were opposed and some who laid their lives on the line for what they knew to be right. But I probably cannot be too starry eyed about it either. Leitz hid his wartime activities after the war, possibly partly because he knew he could be ostracized by many still in powerful positions in post war Germany who continued to harbor Nazi sympathies.

As to Capa he is a bit of a favourite of mine. I sometimes wonder how much of his drinking and womanising was driven by his lifelong sadness at losing the love of his life, Gerda Taro (Pohorylle ) in the Spanish Civil War. An interesting guy. A character. A real Mensh for all his failings.

PS I own a lovely Leica 111a with a prewar serial number and an Elmar 50 dating to 1936 and often wonder what they have seen and experienced. Both are in almost mint condition and the camera was clearly upgraded in the post war period to have the 111f standard flash sync arrangement - complete with the collar around the shutter speed dial. The Elmar was also very beautifully coated, presumably at the same time. Possibly it was little used given its lovely condition.

Last edited by peterm1 : 04-10-2009 at 15:09.
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Old 04-10-2009   #27
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Someone on photo.net is looking for knowledgeable historians and collectors dedicated to the Leica IIIC camera history. They are planning a book on Leica IIIC History Spanning 1940 to 1947 German and US Army Military Cameras and Combat Photographers in WW2. Here is a link. Too bad they don't come join our forums here. Such a collective wealth of knowledge by everyone here.
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Old 04-10-2009   #28
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I am actually a bit surprised that the Contax was preferred for wartime photogs. That shutter is one delicate little jewel.

Kent

ps- I really like the Contax IIs and IIIs by the way, I just find the curtains to be a bit delicate.
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Old 04-10-2009   #29
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Originally Posted by kdemas View Post
I am actually a bit surprised that the Contax was preferred for wartime photogs. That shutter is one delicate little jewel.

Kent

ps- I really like the Contax IIs and IIIs by the way, I just find the curtains to be a bit delicate.
Don't agree that the shutter is delicate- although the silk shutter tapes do tend to rot out after 30 or 40 years. The shutter curtain itself is brass on the Contax II and III, i.e., burn-proof.
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Old 04-10-2009   #30
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Thats our Leica Tom

LOL. I swear i live under a rock at times. :P
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Old 04-10-2009   #31
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I am currently reading Helmut Newtons autobiography, and his recollections of growing up in the 1930`s under the Nazis are chilling. I still cannot understand how a nation be seduced by such a ratbag.
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Old 04-10-2009   #32
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I am currently reading Helmut Newtons autobiography, and his recollections of growing up in the 1930`s under the Nazis are chilling. I still cannot understand how a nation be seduced by such a ratbag.


Unfortunately I think its in the make up of humans - well many humans. Too often at work during my career I have seen dysfunctional people - psychopathic bullies quite often, reach the very top of organisations. (I have myself suffered at their hand - they do not like people who are not sychophants and knowing they cannot control you, will harass and bully you relentlessly till you leave the group.)

Unfortunately, rather than stand up to them, the vast majority of the people below them often clamour for their attention and try gain advantage for themselves by trying to "out psychopath the psychopath." Fortunately this does not usually involve killing people but it does most certainly involve harming them in other ways. This behaviour is very common and I have seen it a lot in organsiations, both in the behaviour of the sociopaths at the top and in that of their many sychophantic underlings. (Look at the Enron case in USA for a very sad example of this - once the maniac has the society under his control it is very hard for most to speak up if not for fear of injury to themselves then for an even more powerful reason - fear of ostracization by the group.)

And then there were those famous experiments in the 1950s with people administering "electric shocks" to experimental subjects. Almost all were willing to keep ramping up the voltage and adminitering shocks even when they were told they were administering dangerous and painful shocks - as long as they were being told to do so by an authority figure. (In reality of course there were no shocks and the test "subejcts" were actors - they themselves, the people administering the shocks were the real subjects.

People are social animals and we cannot avoid our biological and evolutionary roots. At least not without great effort and a level of insight that most do not possess.

Not a very good conclusion about human nature , but there you are!
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Old 04-10-2009   #33
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Originally Posted by Chuck Albertson View Post
I don't believe the Leitz factory was spared by Allied bombers during the war. Anything to do with optics would be a prime target.
It wasn't, it was hit several times according to the former employee I stayed with in Wetzlahr, and in the last weeks of the war it was occupied by the British army , including Dr Stewart Bell, who used to test lenses for the AP (he did the first tests of the CV lenses ). Whilst they were there in control they were shelled by the US army, a tale that Dr Bell loved to retell!!
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Old 04-10-2009   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Robertson View Post
It wasn't, it was hit several times according to the former employee I stayed with in Wetzlahr, and in the last weeks of the war it was occupied by the British army , including Dr Stewart Bell, who used to test lenses for the AP (he did the first tests of the CV lenses ). Whilst they were there in control they were shelled by the US army, a tale that Dr Bell loved to retell!!
Is he still alive? I had read an interview with an English Officer who mentioned him and also had some colorful stories about as they came to the factory and found tables full of Grey IIIC K`s and Chrome IIId`s (the British were the first to Wetzlar, BUT THEY DIDN`T STAY) , to the best of my knowledge they did early postwar tests and also took in some cameras, but they left the majority of the production intact, while the US Army were to occupy the zone and they were the first to buy cameras directly from the factory, once the war was declared over, up till then the production was held in limbo until the capitulation, I`m sure before then some of the victors had sticky fingers and helped themselves to some equipment ......

But, on the most part, everything was done honorably at Leitz even with the Surrender and Forced Occupation, camera equipment transactions/sales were done 100% legal, with full bills of sale drawn on Reichmarks, paid in full to the company and cameras delivered out to the US Forces starting officially on May 8th 1945,* VE Day*

In early May 1945, a Brigadier General of the US Army Signal Corps put in an order for the remaining 500 "Grey" IIIC K cameras and the rest is history........

Tom

PS: John, your in Scotland, do you know anything about the FAMOUS 1960`s and 70`s Leica restorer George Gordon Carr of Renfrewshire?
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Old 04-11-2009   #35
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Sadly Dr Bell died about 6 or 7 years ago, the AP magazine did a life story on him at the time. He was a huge admirer of the new CV lenses and thoroughly tested all the first ones, describing some of them as "jewel like*" The cameras and data he and his team took from Wetzlahr were used to get the "bugs" out of the Reid camera, the Ilford Witness (see another thread) did not specially benefit from this, they had help from former Zeiss employees, however I saw a couple of wartime Leicas at the factory with a similar interrupted screw mount!!
* I keep these tests in a file, and I'm sure reprints can be ordered from the AP, so I won't scan them for the web!!
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Old 04-13-2009   #36
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Alternatives to the exalted Mr. Scherer for Contax repairs include Eddie Smolov/Smoloff (123camerarepair(at)gmail.com), Essex in NJ (www.essexcamera.com), & Ken Ruth of Photography on Bald Mountain (http://www.baldmtn.com/). A frozen shutter is usually not a big problem; per dexdog's post, it may just need new shutter tapes.

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Speaking of a better camera....I have a 1938 Contax II w/ a pristine F2/50 Sonnar (a WW2 "bringback"camera) where can I get it CLA`d in the USA? *The Shutter`s frozen up*

Tom
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Old 04-13-2009   #37
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In addition to the Rolleiflex repairmen mentioned by Fujinon, there's Harry Fleenor (http://www.rolleirepairs.com/).

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Thank You Pan F!

I also need to find a Rollei repairman in the USA as well for the 1939 Automat I, I also have as a WW2 "bringback"......This is a cross section of three of the favorite cameras of the American GI in 1945.

The Leica IIIC K, Contax II and the Rolleiflex Automat I ~ my cameras were former Black Star/Life magazine shooter cameras.

Tom
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Five a Second. Chicago's Bell & Howell Co. (cameras) announced that it would put on sale this fall the world's most expensive still camera. Its "Foton" will take five 35-mm. pictures a second, sell for $700. Bell & Howell, which has found that "families of both low and high incomes now spend over $550" for movie equipment, hopes to sell 20,000 Fotons a year.
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Old 04-13-2009   #38
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Tom: Have you run across any surviving military photographers who recall using the Kodak Ektra? I was able to find a working example that had only 1 owner (according to the eBay seller). The shutter seems to be some unholy combination of the Leica & Contax designs, which perhaps accounts for its legendary unreliability. It has the horizontal traveling cloth curtains & separate high & low speed dials of the Leica, but the shutter wind knob tension increases as the speeds decrease just like the Contax & sounds & behaves a lot like the Contax @ the high speeds, too (perhaps someone of a mechanical bent can decipher Joseph Mihalyi's patent application: http://www.bnphoto.org/bnphoto/EktraShutter1.htm). I don't know if mine was ever CLAed, but the Ektra shutter does appear to be very accurate, especially @ high speeds (i.e., 1/1000th is actually twice as fast as 1/500th), when compared to other cameras I have from roughly the same time period (Leica IIIc, Contax II & III, & Bell & Howell Foton, all CLAed in recent years).

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Originally Posted by LeicaTom View Post
This is a cross section of three of the favorite cameras of the American GI in 1945.

The Leica IIIC K, Contax II and the Rolleiflex Automat I ~ my cameras were former Black Star/Life magazine shooter cameras.

Tom
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Five a Second. Chicago's Bell & Howell Co. (cameras) announced that it would put on sale this fall the world's most expensive still camera. Its "Foton" will take five 35-mm. pictures a second, sell for $700. Bell & Howell, which has found that "families of both low and high incomes now spend over $550" for movie equipment, hopes to sell 20,000 Fotons a year.
--Facts And Figures, Time magazine, Monday, October 4, 1948
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Last edited by furcafe : 06-03-2010 at 12:48. Reason: Correction/clarification
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Old 06-17-2010   #39
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Anyone know if Patton's photographs were ever seen? They said he carried a Leica with him everywhere. I was wondering if any were published.
Here is the Leica Patton carried, along with a couple of his lenses and the original case. It's in the Patton Museum in Ft Knox, KY. A great place to visit for a closeup look at WWII hardware.
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Old 06-18-2010   #40
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This links has been the most interesting that I have read on RFF. The machine work on Leica Screwmount cameras is outstanding.
Joe
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