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Re: [Rollei] What did you do in the war? (long)

Marc James Small wrote:

> Both Voigtl\änder and Franke & Heidecek were rather opposed to both the
> Nazi Party and to centrlaziation efforts of Speer.  Both attempted the
> taking of slave labor, though I believe that F&H was finally forced to
> some:  Voigtländer, to my knowledge, never had a one.
> There was no active Nazi support among ANY German camera concern, though
> some (Leica, F&H) were more able to resist than   were others (KW, Zeiss
> Ikon).  The Nobel concern (KW) came the closest to bieng a

It can be argued that all through the war, the Nobel concern wasn't really a
German camera concern. It was in Germany, yes, but not German-owned.
In 1937 the Swiss owner, Thorsch, of what was then called
"Kamera-Werkstätten Guthe & Thorsch" in Dresden-Niedersedlitz, had good
reasons to flee what was at that time the "nationalsozialistische Deutsche
Reich", and placed an advertisment in a Detroit newspaper offering the
company for sale. Processing lab-owner Charles A. Noble jumped at the
oppportunity, and bought the company, renaming it "Kamera-Werkstätten C.A.
Not being a German-owned company may have made a difference on company's
policies towards whoever had assumed the part of lord and master, as
evidently the Noble family thought when in July 1945 they (father Charles
and son John Noble) were arrested by the Sovjets. Being U.S. citizens, not
"conquered" Germans, they hadn't expected that, and the expropriation of the
company and trade-marks, at all.

Though i don't know of how far they may gone in trying to ensure good
relations with the Nazi rulers during the war, maybe the fact that they
(U.S. citizens after all) managed to run a thriving company during the whole
episode is telling?
But then, Charles Noble was indeed tried and convicted as a war criminal
during the "Waldheimer-Prozessen" in 1952. He was sentenced to the time he
had already spent in jail since his arrest in 1945, and was released. It is
extremely plausible, however, that this only served to justify the Sovjet
expropriation of the K.-W. C.A. Noble. This company, renamed
"Kamera-Werkstätten Niedersedlitz", and their products, among which the
Praktica, formed the basis for the emerging Dresdner Pentacon-Kombinat. The
Praktica camera itself was already bringing in lots of hard, western
currency. "Reason" enough for the Sovjets to brand the Nobles war criminals?
(By the way: the son John Noble remained in Sovjet prison until 1955, when
president Eisenhower, personaly intervening in this matter, secured his
In 1955, The U.S. government demanded the Sovjets pay damages and return
their property to the Noble family. So maybe they (The U.S. government) did
not regard the Nobles as war criminals? And if so, what would that tell us?
And in 1992, they were finally completely exonorated by the Senat of Appeal
of the Leipzig Court.

By then (but this is another story), the "Treuhandanstalt" responsible for
restoring the parts that had formed the Pentacon-Kameracombinat to their
rightful, former owners, had squandered best part of the K.-W. C.A. Noble
company (including patents and trademarks) to Jos. Schneider Feinwerktechnik
in Dresden.
This latter company has nothing to do with the well-known optical company of
the same name. The Dresden company was newly founded in 1991 by Heinrich
Manderman, West-German importer of Beroflex and other "East" products. This
Praktica representative, didn't mind the way he got sole right to the
patents and trademarks this easy, and for so little money, at all. There was
concensus that the Treuhandanstalt made some very serious mistakes in its
doings, and in 1994, the deal between the Treuhandanstalt and Jos. Schneider
was even deemed to be "immoral". Nevertheless...
In 1997 the "new"/restored "Kamera-Werke Noble" were finally sold and
renamed "Kamera-Werken Dresden". End of that story.