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Founder of the Leica Camera

Ernst Leitz II

Business person and humanitarian

1871. március 1.

1956. június 15.

"Ich entscheide hiermit: Es wird riskiert" (I herewith decide: We’ll risk it) - Ernst Leitz II


Ernst Leitz II (1 March 1871 – 15 June 1956) was a German business person and humanitarian. He was the second head of the optics company now known as Leica Camera and organized the Leica Freedom Train to allow people, most of whom were Jewish, to escape from Germany during Nazi times.

Wikipedia, last updated 2022.08.21

“I hereby decide: it will be risked”. With this determination, Ernst Leitz Jr. achieved far more than writing company history; his instruction to go ahead with the construction of the Leica would lead, above all, to the establishment of 35mm photography, and would change the history of photography, forever. To advocate the manufacturing of a novel type of camera in June, 1924 - contrary to the advice of numerous company representatives - was a courageous decision that meant an entrepreneurial risk. Leitz had a good feeling for innovation, having already experienced the initial Ur-Leica, ten years earlier during a business trip to New York. The Ur-Leica was the prototype that Oskar Barnack, then Head of Research and Development, had constructed. It was in no way perfect, but Leitz immediately recognised the potential of the Lilliput camera, as it was called at the time. He continued to follow work on the Ur-Leica very closely, and supported all the necessary technical improvements.


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