Background Story

The development of Carl Zeiss between 1945 and 1989

The setup of Carl Zeiss in Oberkochen (former West Germany)

The factory grounds of Carl Zeiss Oberkochen in February 1950.
April 1945 American troops occupy Jena, Thuringia.
June 1945 When leaving Thuringia, the Americans took 77 executives and scientists with them to Heidenheim, Württemberg.
4October 1946
The Opton precision engineering factory was founded in Oberkochen and renamed to Zeiss-Opton Optische Werke Oberkochen GmbH in 1947.
23February 1949
The Württemberg government relocates the legal domicile of the Carl Zeiss Foundation to Heidenheim in response to the expropriation of the Carl Zeiss Foundation in Jena.
15January 1951
The firm Carl Zeiss is entered in the commercial register of the Heidenheim district court and takes over Zeiss-Opton GmbH on 1 October 1953.

Carl Zeiss in Jena and the precision mechanical and optical industry in East Germany

Dismantling of the Jena factory in February 1947.
22October 1946
Order to dismantle the Jena factory (92%) and deportation of about 245 employees with the obligation to set up the optical industry in the Soviet Union.
1June 1948
Expropriation of the Carl Zeiss Foundation and conversion of the Jena factory to VEB Carl Zeiss Jena, i.e. it was made into a state-owned enterprise.
1965 The VEB becomes the leading enterprise in the field of scientific instrument design/optics.The allocation of other enterprises to it initiates the formation of a combine.
1989 The combine includes 25 enterprises with 60,000 employees.
Sales totaling about 4.5 billion East German marks are generated, 43% of which is exported.The product line includes more than 1,000 main instruments in 30 product groups.

Locations of the 25 enterprises of the combine VEB Carl Zeiss Jena.

Locations of the 25 enterprises of the combine VEB Carl Zeiss Jena.

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Locations of the 25 enterprises of the combine VEB Carl Zeiss Jena.

The trademark dispute between Carl Zeiss East and West

Right: The trademark of Carl Zeiss, Jena. This corresponds to the original from the trademark registration in 1904. Left: This trademark was used by Carl Zeiss, Oberkochen, until the 1970s.
Year                               Event
July 1952
Foreign trade from Jena must be processed via the German Office of Domestic and Foreign Trade in Berlin.This decision was reversed in 1953.

Collaboration between Jena and Oberkochen is no longer desired by the East German leadership.Carl Zeiss, Oberkochen, and VEB Carl Zeiss Jena go their own separate ways from 1953.
21March 1953
Jena employees who collaborated with Oberkochen in the past are arrested as “spies”.
22February 1954
Carl Zeiss, Oberkochen, files a suit against the continued use by Carl Zeiss Jena of the name Carl Zeiss, the lens trademark and other trademarks such as product names in West Germany.

Trademark lawsuits are conducted all over the world. The dispute about the Carl Zeiss brand becomes the longest lawsuit in the history of East Germany.
1971 The London Agreement stipulates in what countries Carl Zeiss, Oberkochen, and VEB Carl Zeiss Jena may use the ZEISS brand and where not.