Paul Guthe and Benno Thorsch establish the:
Kamera-Werkstaetten Guthe & Thorsch
The company has great succes with the very flat "Patent-Etui" folding
The company needs more space and moves to Baerensteiner Strasse 30 in
Striesen, near the Ica-Werk of the Zeiss Ikon AG.
150 workers produce more than 100 cameras per day.
KW introduces the first reflexcamera, the twin-lens folding "Pilot"
followed by the "KW-Reflexbox" 6x9cm and the "Pilot
In the late thirties the "Pilot Super" was introduced.
The enlarger "Praxidos" is introduced at the Leipzig Fair
Paul Guthe emigrates to Switzerland. As a jew he is not feeling safe in
Benno Thorsch emigrates to the USA because of the same reason.
He makes a deal with Charles A.Noble.
Benno Thorsch buys Mr. Nobles Photocopy Company in Detroit/USA and Mr.
buys the KW in Dresden.
Charles A.Noble realizes that the 35mm SLR-camera will become the
the future and he orderes the engineer Alois Hoheisel to design the
The first "Praktiflex" 35mm SLR-camera is shown at the Leipzig fair,
The KW moves to the building of a former factory for drops and sweets
is now called:
Kamera-Werkstaetten Charles A. Noble
From 1939 untill the end of WWII in May 1945 the KW produces 11.000
Praktiflex cameras. As all other companies in Germany the KW is forced
to produce more
end more military items.
Charles A.Noble and his son
The KW in Niedersedlitz is not hitten by the heavy bombing of Dresden
The soviet administration in the Russian zone of eastern Germany
production of 25.000 Praktiflex cameras.
Under great difficulties Charles A.Noble and his son John H.Noble take
Carl Zeiss in Jena for negotiating about the delivery of lenses for
cameras. Jena is still occupied by US-troops at that time. When they
to Dresden, Charles A. Noble and his son are arrested by the Russians
sent to prisoner-camps.
In 1952 Charles A.Noble is sentenced to 7 years imprisonment but
released soon after. His son John H.Noble was already in 1950 sentenced
to 15 years imprisonment and deported to Russia. By the intervention of
president Eisenhower he is released in 1955.
Arround 1955 the communists spread the infamous lie that Mr. Noble from
house in Dresden-Weisser Hirsch has been leading the bomb attack of
February 1945 on Dresden.
The factory is confiscated by the government and named:
VEB Kamera-Werkstaetten Niedersedlitz
(VEB = Volkseigener Betrieb = peobles own enterprice)
Under the leadership of the clever young engineer Siegfried Boehm a new
is developed from the Praktiflex. The camera receives a M42x1mm
for the interchangable lenses. Through the following years the camera
is modified to the different models of the Praktica FX.
The Praktina is introduced, a professional 35mm SLR-camera with
bayonet-mount, interchangable lenses, viewfinders, motordrives and a
The company has now more than 1000 employees end changes the name to:
VEB Kamera-Werk Niedersedlitz
In general the factory is called KWN.
The Praktica FX2 is introduced.
The new professional 6x6cm "Praktisix" is introduced at the Photokina
Together with 4 other camera-factories the KWN is merged to:
VEB Kamera- und Kinowerke Dresden
The name and logo "KW" disappeares for ever.
From 1964 the merged company is called:
VEB Pentacon Dresden
Many different models of the Praktica are produced untill 1990.
My own relation to the KWN
From 1956 to 1957 I have been employed at the company.
I worked as a toolsmaker and I also did work in the tempering plant
parts and tools were hardened.
When the new medium-format SLR-camera Praktisix was developed and in a
finished to be shown at the Photokina 1956, I was asked to help in the
to finish some small parts.
The name of Mr.Noble I did hear first time when the communists spread
grazy story about his responsibility for the bombing of Dresden.
1956 my father returned efter 10 years as a prisoner of the communists.
told me that he under terrible circumstances in the prisoner-camp
Muehlberg had met Mr.Noble, the former owner of the KW.
The KW today
The premises still do exist at the same address.
To day the "Noblex" panorama-camera is produced in the factory.
the KW today
More detailed information about the history of the KW
will find in these 2 books:
Herbert Blumtritt "Geschichte der Dresdner Fotoindustrie"
Richard Hummel "Spiegelreflexkameras aus Dresden"