Collecting Military Binoculars
Moritz Hensoldt & Sons, of Wetzlar, Germany
In 1849 Moritz Carl Hensoldt (b. 1821 - d 1903) and his brother-in-law Carl Kellner (known best for his eyepiece design) began a business for the fabrication of telescopes. By 1850 Hensoldt formed his own company "M. Hensoldt & Soehne AG" for the manufacture of optical instruments. By 1928, the Hensoldt company with its factory in Wetzlar had the Carl Zeiss company as a shareholder. Zeiss thereby acquired a partnership with a manufacturer best known for their roof prism binoculars introduced in 1897, and in 1905 the "Dialyt" series of Abbe-Koenig in line prism binoculars, and rifle scopes. Hence the similarity between the appearance of traditional Hensoldt roof prism binoculars made since about 1905 and several Carl Zeiss roof prism products keep up to today. Improvements continued, including the 1933 shift from binocular housing construction of brass and zinc to light weight metals including aluminum and magnesium.
After the war the Zeiss company was divided. The Russian military forces occupied Jena and the remainder of what became East Germany (German Democratic Republic). By one year later, the Russians had evacuated much of the remaining technical and management staff and about 92% of the Carl Zeiss Jena manufacturing facilities to the east.
While Jena had resumed the manufacture of some products (by 1947 binoculars were back on line) it was on June 1, 1948 that the East Germans now independent of Carl Zeiss Oberkochen formally reorganized the original factory in Jena as a state owned corporation to be known as "V.E.B Carl Zeiss Jena" (peoples owned corporation). The reorganized Carl Zeiss Jena under the direction of the East German government gradually resumed production of microscopes, measuring instruments, astronomical telescopes, photographic lenses and military optics
After the war in West Germany, the "Zeiss Stiftung von Jena" was established at Heidenheim with the "Opton-Optische Werstatte Oberkochen GmbH" factory at Oberkochen on the banks of the Kocher River near Stuttgart, with the Schott Glass Works subsidiary located at Mainz. By 1947 the enterprise at Oberkochen was doing business as "Zeiss-Opton-Optische Werstatte Oberkochen GmbH". Soon, the Hensoldt facilities at Wetzlar resumed production.
By 1954, Carl Zeiss Oberkochen had acquired a majority stock holding in Hensoldt. By 1964 Zeiss of West Germany had moved all binocular production to its Hensoldt subsidiary works in Wetzlar. Then in 1968 Hensoldt became a fully owned member of the Carl Zeiss Oberkochen group. To this day, binoculars and riflescopes made there bear either the Zeiss or Hensoldt trademarks - the Hensoldt trademarked products being offered primarily for the military and law enforcement markets.
If you are looking for your Hensoldt bino, try this link: