Sleuthing industrial wastelands: Praktica – Cameras from Saxonia

Everyone wanted one, not only in the GDR. Prakticas were much sought after in West Germany, too. The reflex cameras were placed on the market in 1949 – in the very year of the foundation of the republic. And that’s when they took off on their victory lap. For 40 years Prakticas were produced in Dresden in the nationally-owned company Pentacon in Dresden. A company with more than 9000 staff members. After the German reunification Pentacon – like many other East German nationally-owned companies – had to file insolvency in 1990. Although Praktica and Pentacon had really got somewhere: up into outer space. In the 1970s the plant was committed to participate in the Soviet space travel program. And so it happened that the Praktica was the first camera on a manned space mission. Sigmund Jähn (the first German in outer space), too, photographed the earth from above with a Praktica.
Through contemporary witnesses and so far unseen footage the film tells the partly unknown history of the East German foto camera industry which played an important role in early space research and military research.

Written by: Anna Schmidt
Direction: Anna Schmidt
Director or Photography: Jens Bungies
Editor: Mario Biehl
Air Date:2011

Foto, Quelle: Roth, Großröhrsdorf / OL; Stadtmuseum Dresden