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Leica Freedom Train!

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Old Saturday 2nd February 2019, 01:55   #1
quincy88
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Leica Freedom Train!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leica_Freedom_Train

Holy smokes. I just stumbled across this. Leica and the Leitz family were reportedly smuggling Jewish people out of Nazi Germany leading up to and during World War II. I couldn't believe it when I read the Wikipedia page.

I knew that Leica History was long and storied, but my goodness, this is incredible.

If any of you know more about this please share.

This makes me proud to own their products.

Thank you Leica.
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Old Saturday 2nd February 2019, 16:20   #2
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Wow... who knew. I certainly didn't. Thank you so much for sharing this...
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Old Saturday 2nd February 2019, 18:09   #3
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Great find. I'd like to know more about it. Leitz seems never have mentioned this in Germany? At least I was not aware of the story reading a lot of news in Germany all the time.
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Old Saturday 2nd February 2019, 19:20   #4
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It is described in some books about the history of Leica and in Holland I know that for some in our country it is well known.
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Old Saturday 2nd February 2019, 19:21   #5
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Leica created the 35mm camera. Leica created the modern binocular as we know it today. And now we learn Leica was doing their best under the Nazi regime to do humanitarian deeds.

Yeah, I like supporting a company like that. The bonus is they make really great stuff. Cheers Leica
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Old Saturday 2nd February 2019, 21:13   #6
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How extraordinary. You'd really think it would be more well known: thanks for telling us quincy.
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Old Saturday 2nd February 2019, 23:02   #7
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Yeah, I like supporting a company like that. The bonus is they make really great stuff. Cheers Leica
All of the above.
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Old Saturday 2nd February 2019, 23:30   #8
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Yes, Leica products have a good karma!

It's also interesting to read how Leitz cared for the company's workmen during the world economic crisis around 1928, when there was hyper-inflation in Germany and the currency completely collapsed. Mr. Leitz spent a substantial part of the company's (at that time extremely important) foreign currency income to finance food and necessary things for his workers and their families.
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Old Saturday 2nd February 2019, 23:40   #9
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Really a cool thing to learn about.

With the obvious tactical application of their products I always assumed that the German optics companies had a role to play in the war. I never would have guessed that one of them went so far out of their way to help truly desperate people.

Inspiring.

-as you were, q
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Old Sunday 3rd February 2019, 10:03   #10
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quincy88, post 9,
All German binocular makers were producing equipment for the German army, also Leitz. Nevertheless Leitz tried to do something for some Jewish coworkers. There is also some information that Zeiss tried to help a Jewish coworker. If you know the studies by Dr. Hans Seeger about the optical industry in both World Wars you can see how much effort was done by the different optical companies for the German warfare. In 1945 (also very well described) US army forces took as much as possible all information and top designers from Zeiss to the US, what remained was taken by Soviet forces and transported to Russia and that was a lot of stuff. Quite a few Zeiss coworkers did not want to go Russia and took their own life. If you are interested I can supply references.
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Old Sunday 3rd February 2019, 11:05   #11
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Hello,

E. Leitz, New York, continued to operate during WWII and produced some products for the American market. Lenses from Wollensak, in Rochester, were assembled for use on Leica cameras, and some other accessories were produced.
.
In Germany, the Leitz plant was put under the direction of a pro-Nazi family member. I have been told by another BF member, that Leitz in Germany received a contract for cleaning and collimating US Army binoculars after the occupation started.The firm's connections to the USA and its activities before the war probably helped getting that boost for post war success. My Leitz Marseptit 7x50 binocular was made in 1948. I do not think that Zeiss in West Germany got back on its feet as quickly.

The story of the Leica Freedom train was published in Leica Photography, a publication of E. Leitz, New York, not Leica Fotografie, three or four decades, ago. My recollection of that article differs from the Wikipedia article, in that anti-Nazi individuals, as well a Jews, were helped and that they were given a camera before leaving Germany. The Nazis had restrictions on what an emigre could take from Germanys. Cameras were allowed. A friend's father took Leica and Contax cameras, when he emigrated before WWII, which were worth a substantial amount of money in the USA,

Happy bird watching,
Arthur Pinewood
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Old Monday 4th February 2019, 00:15   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Conville View Post
Leica created the 35mm camera. Leica created the modern binocular as we know it today. And now we learn Leica was doing their best under the Nazi regime to do humanitarian deeds.

Yeah, I like supporting a company like that. The bonus is they make really great stuff. Cheers Leica
Kevin:

Tell us more about the creation of modern binocular design from Leitz, what does that mean?
Leitz came before Leica, and that is important.

Jerry

Last edited by NDhunter : Monday 4th February 2019 at 00:19.
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Old Monday 4th February 2019, 05:31   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NDhunter View Post
Kevin:

Tell us more about the creation of modern binocular design from Leitz, what does that mean?
Leitz came before Leica, and that is important.

Jerry
It's in reference to the Leica Trinovid Ultra, commonly known as the BA.

When it came out (1990?), it had:
*Submersible fog/water proofing (5m)
*Nitrogen gas filling
*Substantial armor
*Pop up eyecups
*Hard lens coatings
*Central diopter adjustment
*Focuser that was unaffected by cold
*Phase correcting coatings

It was the future of roof prism binoculars and there was nothing else even close at the time. The best binoculars today, with the exception of dielectric prism coatings and the occasional bins w/ Abbe Koenig prisms that don't require phase coatings, have the same features set.

As a testimony to how good they were (are), there are many that are still perfectly satisfied with them in 2019.
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Old Monday 4th February 2019, 07:43   #14
Gijs van Ginkel
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Kevin Conville, post 5,
Yes Leitz designed and built the famous Leitz 35 mm camara,s but it did not invenbt the modern binoculars as they are today.
It was Zeiss which invented and built modern porro prism binoculars around 1894-1895 and hensoldt was the company which invented and made roof prism binoculars around that same time. Both companies had already made many binoculars when Leitz came on the market around 1907-1908 and that Leitz model was a simple porro prism binocular. World War-1 gave the optical companies in Germany a boost and that also affected the production programme from Leitz, but it was only in the sixties-seventies that Leitz-Leica converted production of porro binoculars into roof prism binoculars. The company always had a kind of struggle between camera production and binocular production as told by a Leica official during a meeting about the history of Leitz-Leica.
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Old Monday 4th February 2019, 09:57   #15
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Leitz was not the first to make 35mm film still cameras. Several different 35mm film cameras were made from 1905.
Commercial production of the Simplex and Tourist were just before WW1.
Leitz commercial production was from about 1925.
Many of these early 35mm still cameras were not reliable and did not have interchangeable parts, being hand made.
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Old Monday 4th February 2019, 14:24   #16
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Originally Posted by Binastro View Post
Leitz was not the first to make 35mm film still cameras.
Do you have any literature on that, David? The first Leica (LEitz CAmera) was developed by Oskar Barnack in 1913/14 and according to German Wikipedia was the first 24x36 mm format miniature camera to use 35 mm film.
It went into production in 1924 and came on the market in 1925. Oskar Barnack, apparently, was an amateur nature photographer, who suffered from asthma and was unable to carry the contemporary large format cameras.

John
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Old Monday 4th February 2019, 15:51   #17
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Hi John,
I am not a Leica expert but my friend wrote the original Leica checklists long ago.
I spoke to him yesterday about Ivor Matanle, who just passed away, and don't want to bother him again.
Bob White, another person with encyclopaedic knowledge just passed away also, a lovely man.

The Wikipedia 'History of the camera' has some information, but I don't know who wrote that.

See also 'Simplex Cameraquest'.
Only 5 or 6 Simplex apparently still exist. It could take 400 24x36mm exposures on 50ft of film. Made Long Island U.S.A. In production 1914.
I am not sure if Jack Naylor had one. I visited in 1988 his amazing museum air controlled humidity temperature in the basement of his lovely house.
There were about 20,000 cameras with more in his aircraft hangers.
I monitored his Kodak Ektras. He didn't know the lenses were made of thorium glass.
Gulliver's Contax, maybe the nickname.
He asked if I wanted them removed from the glass case, but this wasn't necessary as they gave good readings remotely through the glass windows.
He had some unique cameras.
Thousands of his cameras went to Thailand when he became unwell.

It is well known in the camera collecting world that Leica were not the first to make 35mm film still cameras.

Actually, I don't think I have had a Leica camera, although I had some Leica lenses.

Two early Leicas sold about a year ago for $2 million each, such is the lure of Leicas, probably to Far East collectors. I don't think that any binocular has made a million.

The McKewon's Camera Collectors guide (bible) got so big, now perhaps 4 large volumes that I gave up getting it long ago.

The number of cameras made is truly enormous and what are thought to be firsts usually aren't.

The Photographic Collectors Club Great Britain also has articles going back years, but we are all getting older.
Few young members seem to join, although even digital cameras now have a collectors following.

Last edited by Binastro : Monday 4th February 2019 at 16:27.
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Old Monday 4th February 2019, 19:49   #18
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I was under the (apparently) common misconception that Leitz had created the 35mm camera. Sorry for spreading incorrect information.

Regarding my comment in post #5, Gijs, about Leica creating the binocular we know today, I put that into context in my post #13.

It's dangerous wading into these waters.
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Old Monday 4th February 2019, 21:09   #19
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It may be correct that Leitz made the first 'Miniature' 35mm film camera, depending how 'Miniature' is defined.

At that time 35mm movie full frame was 24x18mm and 24x36mm was double frame.
Later, Still cameras called 24x36mm full frame and 24x18mm half frame.
Some still cameras had 24x32mm or 24x34mm frames and these were also called full frame. Some took 40 photos on a roll of film instead of 36, although I always got 37 24x36mm frames on my Minoltas.

Some Simplex took either 400 24x36mm frames or 800 24x18mm frames.
The Simplex was quite large because it took 50ft of film.

However, some of the still 35mm cameras invented from about 1905 were smaller than the Simplex but I don't know what the sizes of these cameras were.

There were very many different film formats and the first, now very valuable Kodak box cameras took circular images.

The Robots motor wind and other cameras took 24x24mm negatives, although some Robots I think took 24x36mm frames. Maybe the Robot Royal.

I love the crazy Konica Autoreflex camera that takes both half and full 35mm still pictures on the same roll of film.
One can change the format mid film following the mad instructions that come with the camera.
In actual use I found it a bit of a nightmare.

The Olympus Pen D2 with 32mm f/1.9 lens gave wonderful 24x18mm photos, 72 per roll.

History is often rewritten, depending on definition.
Dollond did not make the first achromatic doublets, but he was a clever businessman and patented it.

Prof Vaisala of Turku Finland invented the Schmidt camera about seven years before Schmidt invented it.
His journals describe it clearly, although the handwritten notes in Finnish are difficult.

I also don't think that the Dutch invented the telescope, although Gijs would disagree.
I think it was probably made, or known about, in India and China much earlier, before books were printed.

We don't have time travel machines so may never know.

Last edited by Binastro : Monday 4th February 2019 at 21:16.
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Old Tuesday 5th February 2019, 17:46   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Conville View Post
It's in reference to the Leica Trinovid Ultra, commonly known as the BA.

When it came out (1990?), it had:
*Submersible fog/water proofing (5m)
*Nitrogen gas filling
*Substantial armor
*Pop up eyecups
*Hard lens coatings
*Central diopter adjustment
*Focuser that was unaffected by cold
*Phase correcting coatings

It was the future of roof prism binoculars and there was nothing else even close at the time. The best binoculars today, with the exception of dielectric prism coatings and the occasional bins w/ Abbe Koenig prisms that don't require phase coatings, have the same features set.

As a testimony to how good they were (are), there are many that are still perfectly satisfied with them in 2019.
It may be that, strictly speaking, other companies invented the 35 mm camera and the modern binocular, but when it comes to popular consumer goods and trends, I'm in agreement that Leica was the leader in getting these things to market and to establishing them as the baseline for future popular or coveted designs. One detail that you left out was that the Leica BA had internal focusing (It was the first birding bin that I ever saw with that design).

One mistake in your comment (quoted above): AK prisms _do_ require phase coatings. What they don't need are dielectric mirror coatings.

--AP

Last edited by Alexis Powell : Tuesday 5th February 2019 at 17:50.
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