Did you know that there were once two separate companies called Carl Zeiss?

Did You Know…

… that There Were Once Two Separate Companies Called ZEISS?


During the Cold War, ZEISS was split up just like Germany, with one company in the east and one in the west of the divided republic. Thuringia was initially occupied by US forces following World War II. When the US troops withdrew to their diplomatically agreed region, they took 84 Zeiss executives and scientists with them to their occupation zone. These leaders founded “Optische Werke Oberkochen” in 1946, which later became ZEISS. After nationalization in 1948, the factory in East Germany became known as VEB Carl ZEISS Jena.

Within just a few years, the two companies in Oberkochen and Jena both became the technology leaders in optics in their respective economic systems. This was initially due to the productive collaboration between the two: Jena supplied documents for older products, while Oberkochen provided drawings for new developments. In some countries, the two companies even utilized joint sales channels until the East German government forbade all cooperation in early 1953.

It has now been 20 years since political changes enabled the reunification of not only Germany, but also the two companies. In 1990, the separated Zeiss families stated their intention to merge under a single Carl Zeiss Foundation. ZEISS took over the precision mechanics/optics core business along with Carl Zeiss Jena GmbH. Despite enormous difficulties, this unification process was eventually became a complete success. Since then, there has been only one ZEISS – not only in Germany, but around the world.

6 October 2009