Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Jena, home of Carl Zeiss Optics

Jena, a city of about 100,000 people, is in the Thuringia region of Germany and became the home of the Carl Zeiss Optic Company in 1848 when the company was founded by Carl Zeiss and two others. At the end of WWII, Jena was briefly under US control but was subsequently ceded to the Soviets as part of Eastern Germany. At that time, the Zeiss operation was split up, with the Americans taking a group of optical specialists to Oberkochen and restarting the business there, while the Russians moved everything else - people and equipment to Kiev in Russia. The two companies co-existed throughout the cold war era and went in quite different business directions.
The most prominent building in Jena is probably what has come to be known as the Jen Tower - another political monument to urban ugliness. Built in the early seventies, it seems to have been a solution in search of a problem for a while, as it changed names several times, making its purpose unclear. Nowadays it appears to be gainfully occupied, although it still does not blend too well with the rest of the city. The Zeiss company is back in town - with reduced significance - and the entire area is fast emerging from it's forty year sentence of socialism as a technical center for electronics and light engineering. A pleasant place for an overnight stay and a great dinner at a Russian Restaurant.

Jena church

The old Town Hall on the market square

Another view of the market square

Johann Friedrich - possibly the Dean of the
University in the early twentieth century

A Guinness outlet - a real social gem!

The Volkhaus, 1903, at the north end of town

Next to the Volkhaus stands another elegant traditional building

Across the street from the Volkhaus is Carl Zeiss Street

A detail from a corner of the Carl Zeiss building

The Rapid Response Team assisting an errant parker

The campsite office and breakfast room. Not untypical
of the "getting by" condition of many businesses yet to
benefit from the improving economy

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