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FED RANGEFINDER CAMERAS


The history of the FED factory is very interesting. The major goal of the Soviet Union, after the revolution,was to become totally self sufficient. This goal was to be realized in all areas of manufacture as soon as possible. The intention was to make the " REVOLUTION " totally independent of the outside world. Anton Makarenko was a Ukrainian educator who had a vision of a different type of a school. He felt that the best form of education was to combine classroom studies with productive labor. He also envisioned a military style discipline system with the institution organized into multiple production units. The intention was that the production units would compete with each other. The second player in this drama is by far the most unlikely. Felix Edmondovich Dzerzhinsky was a Polish nobleman who wholeheartedly embraced Communism and the revolution. He was to rise high in the early communist government. His most long lasting contribution was as the founder of the secret police, the CHEKA. CHEKA is the initials of the official title, All-Russian Extraordinary commission for combating counter-revolution,sabotage and speculation. This organization was to change its' name several times over the years becoming first the GPU, then the OGPU, then the NKVD and finally the KGB. After the revolution there were great numbers of children whose parents were missing or dead. These "besprizorniki" as they were called were considered to be a great problem to the revolution. After reading a paper on the problem Dzerzhinsky offered to put himself and the CHEKA behind an effort to solve this problem. After Dzerzhinskys' death in 1926 the OGPU decided to build a childrens' commune as a memorial. In December of 1927 the " Trudkommuna imeni F.E. Dzerzhinskogo " (F.E. Dzerzhinsky Labor Commune) was opened with Makarenko as its' head. Initially the commune manufactured wooden furniture and later copies of Black & Decker electric drills. In 1932 it was decided to make copies of the "Leica". This was a very optimistic undertaking as this represented a level of complexity and fine tolerances never before seen in Russia. The Leica was selected because it was the most respected camera in the world. Initially approximately 30 copies of the Leica A were made as the first prototype run in late 1932 and 1933. However Leitz had the Leica II with a coupled rangefinder in production by this time and full production was switched to this model in 1934. None of these cameras have lugs to mount a strap.


The pre-war cameras were not strictly Leica Thread Mount(LTM). LTM is 39mmx26 turns/inch whitworth while these pre-war FEDs were 39mmX26 turns/mm which is slightly different.

© Nathan Dayton 2000