Zeiss Ikon

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Zeiss Ikon Werke Dresden - building label: "Photo Kino - Our work serves peace"
A stylized part of the Zeiss Tessar lens is the Zeiss Ikon logo
Zeiss Ikon AG share of more than 100 Reichsmarks from September 29, 1926

The Zeiss Ikon AG was up to the Second World War, one of the major camera and cinema projector manufacturer and the world leader in small format film cameras. In addition to optical devices, Zeiss Ikon also manufactured films, measurement technology, car parts, door locks , mirror lights and booking machines and was the owner of the first patent for the profile cylinder that is widely used today .

Founded in Dresden in 1926 , the company renamed Ikon AG in 1989 is now part of Assa Abloy Sicherheitstechnik GmbH and only manufactures locking and security technology products under the “IKON” brand. The “Zeiss Ikon” brand is also used for products that are not associated with the Dresden company or its legal successors.

Company and product history

From the foundation to 1945

Detailed view of a Zeiss Ikon Ikonta with Compur shutter and Carl Zeiss Tessar lens
Zeiss Ikon Telma
Zeiss Ikon Nettar 510

The founding of Zeiss Ikon AG represented one of the largest industrial mergers in the time of the Weimar Republic. The driving force behind the merger and majority shareholder of Zeiss Ikon AG was the Carl Zeiss company in Jena. The merger took place in several stages and began in 1909 with the establishment of the International Camera Actiengesellschaft in Dresden, initiated by Carl Zeiss. On September 14 and 15, 1926, the general meetings approved:

the previously concluded merger agreements. These had a validity backdated to October 1, 1925, so that 1925/26 was the first business year. It was founded by transferring assets to Goerz AG, which changed its name to "Zeiss Ikon AG" and moved its headquarters to Dresden. To emphasize the focus on photography, the Greek word εἰκών ( eikón or German "ikon" = image) became part of the company's brand and trademark . The addition of "Zeiss" to the name documents the affiliation and the claim to leadership of the parent company in Jena. The first complete catalog appeared in 1927 and still contained numerous products from the predecessor companies. The merger came to a close at the end of 1928 when the former Goerz subsidiaries joined:

Although the merger took place with considerable capital depreciation and very careful valuation of the assets, Zeiss Ikon AG was already worth 50 million Reichsmarks in 1929, more than the main shareholder Carl Zeiss (21.3 million). Due to the product portfolio of the founding companies, Zeiss Ikon was broadly diversified from the start. In 1930 production was carried out in six large plants in Dresden, Berlin and Stuttgart:

business production0
ICA plant (Dresden) Cameras, cinema recorders, projection apparatus
Ernemann factory (Dresden) Theater, school and home theater projection apparatus,

ballistic apparatus

Reick plant

("Wunsch-Werk", Dresden)

Photo accessories, tool standards,

Wood and metal working, foundry articles

Contessa factory (Stuttgart) Cameras and supplies
Goerzwerk (Berlin-Lichterfelde) Lights, locks, calculating machines, car accessories,

Instruments, cameras and accessories

Filmwerk (Berlin-Lichterfelde) Raw film and photographic films

In addition to the six main plants, Zeiss Ikon had numerous smaller locations and unused capacities. In the early years, the focus of corporate policy was on streamlining the range of cameras: in 1927, 100 basic models in over 1000 variants were still being manufactured; In 1929 there were 47 basic camera models, and in 1938 there were 14. The mechanical engineer Heinz Küppenbender (1901–1989), who previously worked at Carl Zeiss in Jena, was primarily responsible for the consolidation of production .

At the beginning of the 1930s, Zeiss Ikon was involved in numerous research and development projects and made important contributions to basic research in the precision mechanical-optical industry. One expression of this was, for example, the founding of the " Fernseh Aktiengesellschaft Berlin " (FESE) in June 1929, which was located in the Goerzwerk and became a pioneer in television technology. TV AG was founded as a joint venture between Bosch (Stuttgart), Baird Television (London), Loewe (Berlin) and Zeiss Ikon, each of which held a 25 percent stake.

Zeiss Ikon employed dozens of renowned scientists and top engineers, e. B. Ludwig Bertele , Wilhelm Winzenburg, Heinz Thiele, Otto Vierling, Paul Görlich , Alfred Krohs, Paul Gänsewein, Werner Haunstein, Heinrich Jacob, Herbert Brause and Hubert Nerwin. Emanuel Goldberg (1881–1970), who researched in all areas of image technology and developed pioneering media technology ("knowledge machine"), was one of the most outstanding people in the group . As a result of the National Socialist terror, Goldberg, who was Jewish, was persecuted and forced to emigrate.

One of the most important products from Zeiss Ikon is the Contax system camera , launched on the market in 1932, which competed with the famous Leica from Ernst Leitz GmbH . In 1936, the Contax II was the world's first rangefinder camera . In the early 1920s, engineers at Hahn AG in Ihringshausen near Kassel developed the profile cylinder, for which a patent was applied for in 1924. In 1928, Zeiss Ikon was granted patent no. 469 260 for the lock cylinder with a "cock profile". The Zeiss Ikon profile cylinder is standardized today in DIN 18252 and has become the standard in Europe and almost worldwide.

From 1930 to 1939, the most important cameras from Zeiss Ikon in terms of numbers were the folding cameras of the Ikonta type , which were offered in various negative formats, equipment and configurations. The series was supplemented at the bottom by the somewhat slimmed-down cameras of the Nettar and Bob series. Simple box cameras, such as the Box Tengor produced in Berlin, were also widespread .

As early as 1933, the company aligned itself with the new rulers and released the Baldur , a box camera named after the Nazi Reich youth leader Baldur von Schirach in the versions for recording formats of 4.5 cm × 6 cm and 6 cm × 9 cm . 1934 followed with the Super Nettel, a 135 mm folding camera with focal plane shutter "ideal for defense technology and sport". In 1936 the Contaflex appeared , a two-lens reflex camera for 35mm film and the first camera with a built-in photoelectric exposure meter . In 1938 Zeiss Ikon presented the Tengor II , a revised Goerz Box Tengor for the recording format 6 cm × 9 cm . In 1937 the Tenax came on the market, a high-speed camera for the format 24 mm × 24 mm on 135 film. It was followed shortly before the outbreak of war the simpler, held pocket-sized Tenax I .

From 1940 the entire German industry was converted to a war economy. Zeiss Ikon was only able to deliver special series of the so-called Kriegs-Tengor 54/2 and the Tengoflex until 1944. During the Second World War, the Dresden Zeiss Ikon works were the city's largest armaments factory with around 6,000 employees. Zeiss Ikon had a 400-strong Jewish department. In mid-January 1942, the factory management and the Wehrmacht successfully opposed the intended deportation of Jews to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp by threatening to close the factory .

The Goerz works in Berlin were badly damaged during the war. The Contessa-Nettel factory in Stuttgart was completely undamaged. The Dresden plants Ernemann and Ica suffered only minor bomb damage. After the end of the war, all plants were largely dismantled.

Forced laborers and subcamps of the Flossenbürg concentration camp at Zeiss Ikon

In October 1944, satellite camps of the Flossenbürg concentration camp were set up in the Goehle plant in Dresden at Riesaer Straße 32 and in the Reick plant of Zeiss Ikon AG .

Goehle factory

The Goehle-Werk (also Goehlewerk), named after the rear admiral of the German Navy Herbert Goehle (1878–1947), was built in 1940/41 as an ammunition manufacturing company. There were time bombs , Brandschrapnelle for flak and bomb detonators manufactured. In addition to the prisoners from the Flossenbürg and Ravensbrück concentration camps, the Goehle factory mainly employed unskilled female forced laborers, most of whom came from Poland and the Soviet Union. I.a. the Jewess Henny Brenner was forced to work there. Witnesses testified that the living conditions of the workers were extremely adverse: Their food was completely inadequate and consequently their state of health was poor. The warden de Hueber was described as tough and cruel. Numerous escape attempts speak of the great suffering of women. During the air raids on Dresden on February 14th, the women were locked up in the Goehle factory. Some escaped successfully in the turmoil that followed. The subcamp was "evacuated" in mid-April on foot along the Elbe and by train to Litoměřice (today Litoměřice) and liberated in the meantime. Many were able to flee beforehand. In the "Goehlewerk trial" in 1949 ten people were charged - u. a. the deputy works manager, several foremen and SS overseers - and sentenced to terms of between one and eight years in prison. There was no evidence of prisoner killings.

After 1945

In 1948 the company was expropriated and converted into a state-owned company based in Dresden. The headquarters of Zeiss Ikon AG were then legally relocated from Dresden to Stuttgart by a general meeting resolution on March 3, 1948. With that, all rights, especially naming rights, were in West Germany.

VEB Pentacon (GDR)

VEB Zeiss Ikon exhibition stand in Dresden (1952)
VEB Zeiss Ikon Pentacon with Tessar 50 f / 2.8
Ikoflex 1B 856/16 (1956)
Contax S: SLR with the correct viewfinder image

The remaining at the Dresden site operation was called from 1953 VEB Zeiss Ikon mechanics , from 1955 VEB Zeiss Ikon . In 1958 the company was renamed VEB Kinowerke Dresden . In the following year, under the name VEB Camera and Kinowerke Dresden , a new large company was established, in which other companies from the Dresden optical industry were integrated. From 1964 the company traded as VEB Pentacon Dresden . The VEB Feinoptisches Werk Görlitz was founded together with the Pentacon parent company in Dresden and the Ihagee Kamerawerk AG i. V. incorporated into the VEB PENTACON Dresden combine in 1968. In 1985, Pentacon became part of the VEB Carl Zeiss Jena combine .

In the post-war period, security locks and cameras, among other things, were manufactured. From 1951 to 1956, medium format or box cameras were produced under the name Zeiss Ikon. The last model of this type from Zeiss Ikon was the Tengor 56/2 .

The brand name Pentax , derived from the words "Pentaprisma" and "Contax" , was sold to Asahi Optical in 1957 .

Technical Collections Dresden : Single-lens reflex camera Pentax 1954 - prototype

Successor companies to the former Dresden combine VEB Pentacon Dresden and Pentacon GmbH are now producing special and digital cameras again, especially for the Chinese market. The successor companies include Kamerawerk Dresden GmbH, which was transferred back to Noble, and Pentacon GmbH , which was taken over and continued by Schneider Kreuznach after bankruptcy . In Great Britain there is Praktica (GB) Ltd , a subsidiary of Pentacon GmbH.

Zeiss Ikon AG (Federal Republic of Germany)

Zeiss Ikon Contessamatic
Zeiss Ikon Contaflex Super

Zeiss Ikon AG, relocated to Stuttgart, founded a factory in Kiel in 1950 for the production of the product line of cinema projectors from the Ernemann legacy ( Zeiss Ikon AG is taken over by the company Anschütz & Co. GmbH , Kiel, 1975 . Anschütz through the company Raytheon Marine GmbH 1995 and establishment of ERNEMANN CineTec GmbH 1999 ). The "Goerzwerk" in Berlin-Zehlendorf was rebuilt as a branch. The subsidiary Zeiss Ikon Büromaschinen GmbH was added as a new branch of the company .

In 1956, Zeiss Ikon was merged with Voigtländer in the Carl Zeiss Foundation , another plant was founded in Schelklingen and the Zett device plant in Braunschweig was taken over. After that, a whole range of incompatible camera systems were offered under the umbrella of a single company . These were essentially Contax II / IIIa, Bessamatic , Ultramatic , Contaflex , Contarex , Icarex 35 and the SL 706 .

Lens production was relocated to Braunschweig in 1970, camera production remained in Stuttgart. In 1972 the former Contessa-Nettel plant in Stuttgart was closed and the production of photographic equipment was completely discontinued.

Since around 1920, Zeiss Ikon's Goerzwerk in Berlin has also manufactured lights (including spotlights for illuminating shops and shop windows). Some of these models were designed by Adolf Meyer . The specialty of the Zeiss Ikon lights were the mirrored glass reflectors. The lighting division was spun off as ZI-Lichtsysteme in 1988 .

In 1989 Zeiss Ikon AG was taken over by the Finnish company Abloy OY and the company changed to Ikon AG . Today the company belongs to the Finnish-Swedish Assa-Abloy group. In January 2003 Ikon AG ("Goerzwerk") was converted into a GmbH. On April 1, 2005 Ikon GmbH Berlin merged with eff eff in Albstadt to form Assa Abloy Sicherheitstechnik GmbH based in Albstadt. It deals exclusively with the manufacture and sale of mechanical and electromechanical locking systems ( door openers ) and security fittings.

Zeiss Ikon cameras (2005)

Zeiss Ikon rangefinder camera ZI (2005)

In 2005 the Zeiss Ikon (ZI) brand was revived by Carl Zeiss AG . The new ZI is a completely newly developed, classic rangefinder camera for 35 mm film with high-quality interchangeable lenses compatible with the Leica M. It was developed by Zeiss , Oberkochen (design comes from Henssler & Schultheiss ). Series production took place in Japan at Cosina .

Product overview

Initially, camera series of the individual companies that were merged in 1926 were continued such as the Cocarette (Contessa-Nettel), the Icarette (ICA), the Box Tengor (Goerz) - which in various variants for the recording formats 6 × 9 cm, 4.5 × 6 cm and 6.5 × 11 cm (later the Box Tengor 54/18, also called Baby Box Tengor, in the 3 × 4 cm recording format) - or the Ermanox (Ernemann). The Ikonta , which was manufactured in a large variety of variants from 1929, should be considered the first joint development .

Other known models (pre-war):

  • Shake
  • Bobette
  • Cocarette
  • Contaflex (TLR)
  • Contax
  • Deck roll
  • Ergo
  • Ermanox
  • favourite
  • Hi H
  • Icarette
  • ideal
  • Ikoflex
  • Ikonta
  • humming-bird
  • Lilliput
  • Maximar
  • Movikon
  • Nettar
  • Nice
  • mermaid
  • Piccolette
  • Polyscope
  • simplex
  • siren
  • Taxo
  • Tenax
  • Trona
  • Volta

Other well-known series are the Ikoflex , a TLR and the Contarex, which was built by Zeiss Ikon AG (West) from 1959. Zeiss Ikon cameras were technological leaders in many areas: with the Contax , Zeiss Ikon built the first rangefinder camera and in 1935 with the Contaflex TLR, the first camera with a built-in selenium exposure meter. VEB Mechanik Zeiss Ikon in Dresden presented the Contax S (Spiegelcontax), the world's first single-lens reflex camera with a roof prism, from 1949.

Other well-known models (post-war):

VEB Zeiss Ikon (GDR):

  • Contax / Pentacon
  • Ercona / Exona
  • Taxona

Zeiss Ikon AG (Germany):

  • Box Tengor
  • Colora
  • Contaflex
  • Contarex
  • Contax
  • Contessa
  • Contina
  • Hologon Ultrawide
  • Icarex 35
  • Ikoflex
  • Ikomatic
  • Iconette
  • Ikonta
  • Movikon
  • Nettar
  • Nettax 6x6
  • S 310 / S 312
  • Symbolica
  • Tenax automatic

The products also included other optical devices and components. examples are

  • Film cameras ( Movikon , AK8 ) and film viewers ( Moviskop )
  • Lenses for film and slide projection ( Orikar , Talon ) or
  • Slide projectors ( Aspectar 150 , Ikolux , Perkeo , Paracolor , Unimat ).


  • Gerhard Jehmlich: The structure of Zeiss Ikon AG . In: Andre Beyermann, Technical Collections of the City of Dresden (Ed.): Zeiss lkon AG Dresden. Aspects of the development of the industrial company founded in 1926 (=  Thesaurus . Volume 3 ). Dresden 2001, ISBN 3-9806403-3-0  ( formally incorrect ) .
  • Michael Keeble Buckland: From microfilm to knowledge machine - Emanuel Goldberg between media technology and politics. Biography . Ed .: Frank Hartmann (=  research visual culture . Volume 1 ). Avinus-Verlag, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-86938-015-5 (English: Emanuel Goldberg and his knowledge machine . Westport 2006. Translated by Gernot Rieder).
  • Paul Gerhard Escher (Ed.): Carl Zeiss: Life and Work. Writings of the Jena City Museum, Jena 1966, OCLC 428382202 .
  • Gerhard Jehmlich: Zeiss Ikon AG from 1926 to 1972 . In: Andre Beyermann, Technical Collections of the City of Dresden (Ed.): Zeiss lkon AG Dresden. Aspects of the development of the industrial company founded in 1926 (=  Thesaurus . Volume 3 ). Dresden 2001, ISBN 3-9806403-3-0  ( formally incorrect ) , p. 19-36 .
  • Bernd K. Otto : Carl Zeiss Camera Register 1902–2012 . Verlag Rudolf Hillebrand, Neuss 2013, ISBN 978-3-9813746-4-3 .
  • Sebastian Stahn: From Goerz to Ikon. An outstanding chapter of German industrial history 1886–2016 . 1st edition. Assa Abloy Sicherheitstechnik, Berlin 2016, ISBN 978-3-00-053723-3 .

Web links

Commons : Cameras from Zeiss Ikon  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Model series and individual camera models:

Individual evidence

  1. a b c Sebastian Stahn: From Goerz to Icon. An outstanding chapter of German industrial history 1886-2016 . Ed .: ASSA ABLOY Sicherheitstechnik GmbH. Druckhaus Kay GmbH, Berlin / Kreuztal 2016, ISBN 978-3-00-053723-3 , p. 60-84 .
  2. ^ Gerhard Jehmlich: The structure of the Zeiss Ikon AG . In: Andre Beyermann, Technical Collections of the City of Dresden (Ed.): Zeiss Ikon AG Dresden. Aspects of the development of the industrial company founded in 1926 (=  Thesaurus . Volume 3 ). Dresden 2001, ISBN 3-9806403-3-0  ( formally incorrect ) , p. 13-14 .
  3. ^ Rolf Walter: Zeiss 1905-1945 . In: Wolfgang Mühlfriedel, Rolf Walter (ed.): Carl Zeiss. The story of a company . tape 2 . Böhlau, Cologne / Weimar / Vienna 2000, ISBN 3-412-11096-5 , pp. 302-303 .
  4. ^ Gerhard Jehmlich: The structure of the Zeiss Ikon AG . In: Andre Beyermann, Technical Collections of the City of Dresden (Ed.): Zeiss lkon AG Dresden. Aspects of the development of the industrial company founded in 1926 (=  Thesaurus . Volume 3 ). Dresden 2001, ISBN 3-9806403-3-0  ( formally incorrect ) , p. 21 .
  5. ^ Gert Redlich: 50 Years of Fese 01 (1979). German TV Museum Wiesbaden, 2007, accessed on June 12, 2017 .
  6. Michael Buckland: From microfilm to knowledge machine - Emanuel Goldberg between media technology and politics . In: Research on visual culture . No. 1 . Avinus-Verlag, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-86938-015-5 .
  7. Locking and hiding - locks and fittings of our time. ( Memento of November 1, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; p. 7), accessed on January 18, 2011
  8. 80 years of profile cylinder , ikon.de, p. 4 (PDF; 665 kB).
  9. a b Jewish forced labor in the armaments industry - the Goehlewerk of Zeiss Ikon AG. , audioscript. Part 12 of audioscript on the persecution and extermination of Jews in Dresden 1933–1945. Audio city tour January 2010, 13:02 min.
  10. Wolfgang Benz, Barbara Distel, Angelika Königseder (ed.): Places of Terror: History of the National Socialist Concentration Camps. Volume 4: Flossenbürg, Mauthausen, Ravensbrück. Munich 2006, CH Beck, p. 88 ff. ( Books.google.de )
  11. ^ Foundation of VEB Pentacon. Retrieved August 21, 2017 .
  12. exacta.photobutmore.de ( Memento from September 1, 2010 in the Internet Archive )