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EVENTS

22.08.2019

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Issue #1, commented by Knut Kühn-Leitz

In August 1949, the first issue of Leica Fotografie came onto the market. After that, it appeared every two months, selling for the price of one German mark. It was published by Umschau-Verlag, Frankfurt, and edited by Heinrich Stöckler, a well-known author specialising in photography.

The picture on the cover of that first issue showed a beach scene taken by Erich Bauer using Agfa colour film. The magazine had forty pages, and the first contribution came from Werner Mannsfeld and was titled Master of the Leica. From then on, each issue of Leica Fotografie would include a segment dedicated to one of the great masters of Leica photography. In addition, the first issue had articles by the well-known photographers Hans Saebens and Theo Kisselbach.

In 1948, just three years after the end of World War II and at a time when no Leica cameras and virtually no film were available in photo dealerships, it would have been too much to bring out a Leica magazine. By 1949, however, after the currency reform that introduced the German mark in June 1948, things were moving upwards, in particular thanks to the abolishment of management controls and the introduction of a free market economy by Ludwig Erhard. By 1949, 34 percent of Leitz production was being exported. On August 6 that same year, Ernst Leitz GmbH held a big celebration marking 100 years since the founding of the company. The first issue of Leica Fotografie also included a comprehensive report on this.

Another piece in Leica Fotografie No. 1, titled New from Leitz, dealt with the introduction of the Leica IIc and the new Summarex 85mm f/1.5, Summarit 50mm f/1.5 and Summaron 35mm f/3.5 lenses calculated by Max Berek. The new Reprovit II reproduction device was also described in detail.

At this point we should also make reference to the publication that preceded Leica Fotografie. In May, 1931, Die Leica appeared for the first time. It was a magazine for 35mm photography and projectors, published by Leica pioneer Curt Emmermann. It was directed to anyone photographing with a Leica: amateurs, professional photographers, reporters, scientists and technicians. This publication also presented the first masters of the Leica, with outstanding images for the times.

Considering it was still early days for the Leica, that first, 30-page issue was very comprehensive. It included a contribution by Oskar Barnack titled How the Leica came to be. Anton Baumann put together an article about animal photography and Gerhart Goebel presented pictures of stage performances and Vaudeville. Today, Die Leica, is a veritable treasure trove for Leica historians.

After the beginning of World War II, the magazine had to reduce its size due to the shortage of paper. The last issue appeared in December 1942. Just a few month later, Hitler ordered a halt to the production and further developments of the Leica, because it was not considered important for the war effort.

Knut Kühn-Leitz

The nephew of Ernst Leitz III was born in Frankfurt on the Main in 1936. He studied Business Administration in Munich and Fontainebleau, and later received his Doctorate in Political Science from Philipps University, Marburg. He joined Ernst Leitz GmbH as assistant to the director in 1966. In 1971 he became Managing Director.

In 1972, on behalf of the Leitz shareholder group, Knut Kühn-Leitz was responsible for the contractual agreement covering the collaboration between Ernst Leitz GmbH and Wild Heerbrugg AG, Switzerland, in the field of microscopy. Two years later, during a difficult economic period, Wild took over the majority of the Leitz family's shareholdings in Ernst Leitz GmbH. Knut Kühn-Leitz remained in charge of company planning, and when Wild took over all the shares of the Leitz family group in 1986, he moved from company management to the Board of Directors.

Knut Kühn-Leitz is currently Chairman of the Board of the Ernst Leitz Foundation in Wetzlar.
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