Two men in their mid-sixties. They’ve seen numerous places around the world and experienced a great deal - as sales representatives for Carl Zeiss. One of them on behalf of Oberkochen in former West Germany, the other for the former VEB Carl Zeiss Jena, former East Germany. In summer 2010 they told their story.
Teheran, late 1978. Curfew. The usually lively city is pitch-black. Out of the darkness, voices rise, melding into loud choruses. “The Iranians all prayed on their roofs,” recalled Hartmut Pache, speaking of the political unrest at the time.
Pache, who had recently completed his studies in foreign trade, was soon sent to Iran by VEB Carl Zeiss Jena to set up a sales office there, accompanied by his wife, who also worked for ZEISS, and their four-year-old son. “Business was good, despite the tense situation,” said Pache.
Once in a while, the institutions he visited showed him ZEISS instruments that were not made in Jena. “Once a potential customer showed me the defective lighting on his ZEISS microscope,” said Pache, now 63. “It wasn’t manufactured in Jena, so I called the Oberkochen representative in Teheran.” There, Pache met Dieter Noedl for the first time, who had just arrived from Ankara with his pregnant wife, likewise a Zeissian.
Both families were evacuated from Iran with all the other foreigners right before Christmas. A short time later, Pache returned to Teheran, remaining there for a total of seven years.
Then came German reunification. The initial euphoria was soon followed by the fear of losing his job, shared by many at that time. “I had already been given notice,” said Pache, who later found a job in the reunified company in Jena. In 1995 he became the head of microscope sale in the Middle East. In 1992 the paths of Pache and Noedl crossed once again.
After Noedl had left Iran and his daughter was born in Heidenheim, Carl Zeiss offered him a position in Singapore. “There I was responsible for sales in Thailand and Malaysia, among other things, starting in 1979,” explained Noedl, who lived in Southeast Asia for 15 years altogether. During this time he concluded numerous orders, including one for a planetarium in eastern Malaysia. He has fond memories of his time in Asia.
Asked about the best period of his career, he replied, “That was when I worked in Africa during the 1960s.” Shortly after completing his training in precision mechanical engineering at Carl Zeiss in Oberkochen, he went to Kenya. There he was employed with the German Development Service in Nairobi, where he was initially responsible for a wide range of scientific instruments throughout the country. Later he became the head of customer service for the Carl Zeiss office in Kenya. “That was an adventure. I was young, I got to know the country and the people, and even climbed Mount Kilimanjaro,” Noedl, now 66, explained enthusiastically.
In 1993 Noedl was given the opportunity to work in North Africa, more precisely in Algeria. But there the situation escalated due to the civil war, so that he returned to Oberkochen in 1994.
He began working in the microscopy sales division in Jena in 1997 and was responsible for the Asian and African markets. Three years later, the division was moved - Noedl and Pache both went to Göttingen and remained there until they retired.