Glossary

This glossary defines key terms in the reunification process of Carl Zeiss East and West. Moreover, terms and institutions are explained that are relevant for understanding the history of this special reunification.


  • A

    Auerbach Agreement
    In September 1990, the Auerbach Agreement redefined the usage rights for the Carl Zeiss trademarks. The former London agreement of 1971 was based on the existence of two German states. With reunification on 3 October, therefore, there was a danger that both companies would operate in the German market under the name "Carl Zeiss". This would have led to repeated legal disputes. The western Group was to use the name “Carl Zeiss.” It continued to use a rectangular trademark containing the lettering “ZEISS” and the geographic label “West Germany.” The former nationally-owned VEB Carl Zeiss was to be called "Jenoptik Carl Zeiss Jena GmbH” and use the lens trademark with the lettering "Carl Zeiss Jena".


  • B

    Biebelried
    Biebelried is a small town in the region of Lower Franconia at the A3/A7 motorway interchange between Oberkochen and Jena. In the unification process between Carl Zeiss East and West the negotiation partners met several times at this location. Before 1989 Biebelried had already been regularly used as a venue for meetings between representatives of the West German foundation companies Carl Zeiss, Oberkochen and Schott, Mainz.


    Biebelried Declaration of Intent
    The agreement on 29 May 1990, in which Carl Zeiss, Oberkochen, VEB Carl Zeiss JENA, VEB Jenaer Glaswerk and SCHOTT Glaswerke, Mainz, declared their mutual intention to merge to form one Carl Zeiss Foundation as soon as this was viable from both economic and social standpoints.


  • C

    Carl Zeiss Foundation
    The Carl Zeiss Foundation was founded by Ernst Abbe in 1889. The Foundation is the sole owner of the companies Carl Zeiss and Schott. The Carl Zeiss Foundation has been the sole shareholder in the stock corporations SCHOTT AG and Carl Zeiss AG. The goal and mission of the Foundation is to safeguard and promote the two companies. The companies are tasked with supporting general economic and non-profit interests and institutions. The Foundation itself aims to directly cultivate research and teaching, particularly in the natural and engineering sciences.

  • D
  • E

    Ernst Abbe Foundation
    This non-profit foundation was founded in Jena in June 1992. The non-industrial assets of the Carl Zeiss Foundation in Jena were transferred to it after the fusion of the Carl Zeiss Foundations in Baden-Württemberg and Thuringia. The Ernst Abbe Foundation serves to promote science, research and innovation as well as social activities.
    Ernst Abbe Foundation

  • F
  • G

    G-Plant
    This plant for precision optical instrument construction, also known as the G-plant, was the largest Jena operation of VEB Carl Zeiss JENA. Production at the G-plant included optical precision instruments for the semiconductor industry, metrology for use in industry, planetarium projectors, telescopes and optical medical technology. The most important manufacturing site was located in building 6/70, where most of the Carl Zeiss employees of Carl Zeiss in Jena currently work.

    General Director
    In East Germany, General Director was the title used for the head of a combine.


  • H
  • I
  • J

    Jenaer Glaswerk VEB
    (Jena Glass Works)In 1884, Otto Schott, Ernst Abbe, Carl and Roderich Zeiss founded the Glastechnische Laboratorium Schott & Genossen, which was later renamed Jenaer Glaswerk SCHOTT & Genossen. The Carl Zeiss Foundation has been sole owner of the company since 1981. The glass works were expropriated in 1948 and transformed into a VEB (People's Own Enterprise). The manufacturer of special glass, e.g. optical glass, thermometer glass and heat-resistant domestic glass, was called VEB Jenaer Glaswerk from this time. It was later incorporated in the combine VEB Carl Zeiss JENA.

    On 29 June 1990 the combine was dissolved and VEB Jenaer Glaswerk was transformed into Jenaer Glaswerk GmbH.
    During the partition of Germany two companies existed that had emerged from the former Jenaer Glaswerk SCHOTT & Genossen: VEB Jenaer Glaswerk and die Schott Glaswerke Mainz. Today, SCHOTT is also reunited and is headquartered in Mainz.

  • K

    Combine
    A combine was a corporation-like group of nationally-owned enterprises within the centrally planned economy of East Germany. In its role as the parent enterprise, the largest VEB generally gave the combine its name. The combined enterprises had similar product profiles. The combine encompassed production, research, development and sales of a business sector.

    The combine VEB Carl Zeiss JENA combined almost the entire precision-mechanical industry of East Germany and had a workforce of some 60,000 people. In addition to VEB Carl Zeiss JENA, the combine was composed of the following members: VEB Elektromat Dresden, VEB Feinmess Dresden, VEB Feinmesszeugfabrik Suhl, VEB Forschungszentrum Mikroelektronik Dresden, VEB Freiberger Präzisionsmechanik, VEB Generalauftragnehmer Elektroinvest Jena, VEB Hochvakuum Dresden, VEB Jenaer Glaswerk, VEB Kamerafabrik Freital, VEB Pentacon Dresden, VEB Pentacon Feinoptisches Werk Görlitz, VEB Rathenower Optische Werke.

  • L

    London Agreement
    After years of global legal disputes, the London Agreement signed in April 1971 regulated the use of the trademark and the company name of Carl Zeiss in the East and West. According to this agreement, VEB Carl Zeiss Jena was to use the name "Carl Zeiss" in the Eastern bloc. Carl Zeiss, Oberkochen operated under the name "Opton" there. In most west European states and the USA the West German company operated under the name "Carl Zeiss". The VEB used the name "Jenoptik". In other countries, such as in Great Britain and in the states of the British Commonwealth, the two companies led an orderly coexistence. Here, both companies used the name "Carl Zeiss", but supplemented by the addition "West Germany" or "Jena" respectively.

  • M

    Marathon Meeting
    The “Marathon Meeting” is the term used to describe the more than twelve-hour meeting on the night of 11 to 12 June 1991, in which representatives of the Carl Zeiss Foundation, Carl Zeiss, Oberkochen, Jenoptik Carl Zeiss Jena GmbH, Schott, Mainz, and Jenaer Glaswerk GmbH negotiated with a trustee concerning the future of Carl Zeiss. Dr. Horst Skoludek, then spokesmen for the Oberkochen Executive Board, announced the successful result: “Zeiss is becoming a family again.”

    Monday Demonstrations
    The Monday demonstrations became a symbol of the peaceful revolution taking place in East Germany. With the call "We are the people", hundreds of thousands of East German citizens took to the streets week after week, and not only on Mondays. The Monday demonstrations received their name from the demonstrations that were held every Monday from September 1989 after the prayers for peace that took place in Leipzig's Nicolai Church. From October 1989 the people of Jena also demonstrated on the streets.

  • N
  • O
  • P
  • Q
  • R
  • S
  • T

    Treuhandanstalt
    The "Anstalt zur treuhänderischen Verwaltung des Volkseigentums"(agency for the fiduciary administration of state-owned property) was founded by the Council of Ministers of East Germany in March 1990. It took over the combines and therefore the People's Own enterprises (VEBs) with the goal of demerging them and transforming their successors into joint stock companies. The privatization of the state-owned enterprises and the "utilization of state-owned assets in accordance with the principles of a social market economy" (Trust Act 2, Paragraph 1) increasingly became the focus of attention from the summer of 1990 onwards.


    Trust Act
    In the Trust Act of 1 July 1990 the government of East Germany sought the privatization of nationally-owned property – including enterprises – as quickly as possible, i.e. selling them to interested parties. With the passing of this law, the material and financial assets of the combine VEB Carl Zeiss Jena were transferred to the possession of the subsequent Carl Zeiss JENA GmbH. The sole shareholder was the privatization agency.
    You can find details at the German Federal Agency for Civic Education.

  • U
  • V

    VEB Carl Zeiss JENA
    Carl Zeiss Jena was nationalized on 1 July 1948 despite the resistance of the workforce. VEB Carl Zeiss JENA included the operations for optical precision instrument construction, microscopes and scientific instrument construction, optics, subcontracting, technical equipment development and rationalization. In addition, the research center, the foreign trade operation, the Gera, Saalfeld, Eisfeld and Lommatzsch operations and the engineering operation for plant construction in Suhl belonged to VEB Carl Zeiss JENA, which became East Germany's leading enterprise in the precision engineering and optical industry in 1965.

    Volkskammer
    German term for the Parliament of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), officially the highest legislative organ. In actuality, until the opening of the Wall, the Volkskammer had only limited political power that was pitted against more important bodies, the Council of Ministers, and the State Council and was further restricted by the leading role of the German Socialist Unity Party.


  • W

    Economic and Monetary Union
    With the Economic and Monetary Union of 1 July 1990, the German mark was introduced as the new currency in East Germany.


  • X
  • Y
  • Z
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