During the Cold War, Carl Zeiss suffered the same fate as Germany: there was an East-West separation. Following World Ward II, Thuringia was initially occupied by US forces. When the US troops withdrew to their diplomatically agreed region, they took with them 84 executives and scientists who founded "Optische Werke Oberkochen" in 1946, which later became Carl Zeiss. After nationalization in 1948, the factory in the East became known as VEB Carl Zeiss Jena.
Within just a few years, both companies became the technology leaders in optics in their respective economic systems. This was initially due to the productive cooperation between the two: Jena delivered documents for older products, while Oberkochen provided drawings for new developments. In some countries, the two companies even utilized joint sales channels until the East German government forbid all cooperation in early 1953.
It has now been 20 years since political changes enabled the reunification of not only Germany, but also the two companies. In 1990, the separated Zeiss families stated their intention to merge under a single Carl Zeiss Foundation. Carl Zeiss took over the precision mechanical-optical core business with Carl Zeiss Jena GmbH. Despite enormous difficulties, this unification process was a complete success. Since then, there has been only one Carl Zeiss — not only in Germany, but around the world.
October 6, 2009