Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1999/11/26

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Subject: Re: [Leica] Nazi Leicas
From: "Jeffrey Frankel" <>
Date: Fri, 26 Nov 1999 13:13:20 -0500


I didn't mean to move the LUG further off center of its mission, but I
thought I might show that there are stories that personalize the historic
footnotes that we append to inanimate objects.

Mark, you asked a pointed question and I will answer it (and let the thread
drop)  I've deconstructed the scenario from several aspects to try and
discover the source of my feelings.  Here is my honest analysis.

I was not repulsed by the contractor.  It would be naive to think that
soldiers aren't killed during war.
I think that the feeling came from some very personal connections.

Photography, both the taking of pictures and the appreciation of fine
equipment has been a source of great enjoyment for me for the most of my
life.  As such, there is a connection inside me that relates my hobby to
that which makes me feel good.  This is a sacred area in my psyche that is
usually protected.

The story was told to me as I was examining and appreciating the workmanship
of the equipment.  The story got inside past all of my "guards".  It took
some of the "purity"out of the equipment.
So much for self psychoanalysis.


- ----- Original Message -----
From: Mark Rabiner <>
To: <>
Sent: Thursday, November 25, 1999 1:04 AM
Subject: Re: [Leica] Nazi Leicas

> Jeffrey Frankel wrote:
> >
> > I had an unusual incident at work a few months ago.
> >
> > I was discussing my LTM camera in the maintenance department of my plant
> > when an electrical contractor came in a listened in.  An elderly Polish
> > he smiled and asked if I would like to see his screw mount.  I said
> >
> > About two weeks later he returned with a fairly beat up IIIA (?I think)
> > an uncoated 50 elmar.
> >
> > He went on to tell me the following story (paraphrased):
> >
> > He had just taken an SS officer as prisoner and found the camera on his
> > posession.  When the prisoner swore at him in German (Not realizing that
> > spoke German), he took him out back, told him he would not need the
> > any more, and shot him in the head.
> >
> > I just stared at the camera in my hands, as a wave of revulsion came
> > me.  The quiet calm of that well used piece of German photographic
> > perfection was shattered by the reality of the story.
> >
> > I handed the camera back to him and washed my hands as soon as I was out
> > the room.
> >
> > Boy, It's good to get that off my chest.  Saved me a visit to the
> >
> > Jeff
> I'm sorry to have to respond to this overly loaded but not exactly off
> thread on the eve of a relatively light hearted American holiday but I
feel like
> I must ask:
> What specifically did you find revolting?
> A. the electrical contractor's actions?
> B. the horrific realization of mans humanity to man?
> C. the dumb metal of the camera itself?
> I'm a little vague on where you're coming from with this story.
> Spell it out for me/us because it sounds a little like you are repulsed by
your contractor.
> He might have been having a bad day that day long ago.
> I owned a IIIA and I sometimes wondered what horrible atrocities it might
> been used to gleefully document.
> Or could it have been used to document mushrooms growing.
> What did the SS officer like to document with that camera?
> If cloud formations had been his main genre he might still be doing it
> Collecting guns might make for less loaded conversation might it?
> Mark Rabiner
> Is it me that is missing the point? I hope not and I don't think so.