Reflex-Korelle II 1939

Tomei Collection

This page showcases a camera.  However, perhaps it would be better to focus on the man who was responsible for its creation.  I believe that there is an as-yet untold story about a fascinating life.


Franz Isreal Kochmann, born 12 September 1872, was well known and respected in Dresden prior to WWI.  Shortly after the Great War, he founded the Franz Kochmann Fabrik in 1921 where a number of fine cameras were produced for the professional and advanced amateur markets.  Among the most notable are the Enolde and Korelle model series.  Perhaps the finest were the Reflex-Korelle models first introduced in 1935 which proved to be one of the most important cameras of the 1930's. 


Franz Kochmann and his family were driven to flee from the Nazis and the Holocaust.  Soon after Kochmann fled Germany some time in 1938, his art collection, his company, his identity were taken from him.  The Kochmann Fabrik was siezed and renamed Korellewerke KG in 1939.  Precisely how the "re-organization" of Kochmann's company was accomplished is not clear.  However, the Nazis did not like to nationalize companies, a practice that they believed to be communist.  It is known that by late 1939, controlling interest in the KorelleWerke was secured through the German government by G.H. Brandtman & Co. and production of the high quality Reflex-Korelle went on.  For a very brief time during 1939 immediately before the onset of WWII, the Reflex-Korelle II was marketed in the United States through an agreement between the "restructured" German company and Burke & James Inc. in Chicago who had previously marketed the Korelle cameras for Kochmann.


Here is an uncommon example of the last Reflex-Korelle cameras to be sold in the USA by Burke & James in 1939. It has a 40.5mm screw mounted Schneider Kreutznach Radionar 75mm f/2.9 triplet lens and has shutter speeds from 1/500 to 2 seconds.

This single lens reflex camera uses 120 film and has a focal plane shutter with fast speeds of 1/25 to 1/500 seconds, slow speeds of 1/10 to 2 seconds. The shutter is coupled to the mirror return. The self-timer is located with the cable release fitting on a small box located on the right side of the body. 


This last model is marked by the chrome top but curiously has the script logo similar to the earlier Reflex-Korelle I.  By 1942, allied bombing had destroyed the Korellewerke facilities but Franz Kochmann went on to design the Vena Venaret camera in Holland which was sold in 1948. Unfortunately, the Venaret did not reach the technical sophistication previously achieved by the Reflex-Korelle models of the 1930's and the Vena company filed for bankruptcy in 1951.

The Optische en Fotografische Apparatenfabriek Vena N.V. had been founded in 1940 but it is known that camera production was delayed until 1947 due to the fact that many Jewish employees had been deported to concentration camps and never returned.  The appearance of the Kochmann designed cameras from Vena in 1947 may have been related to that delay though it is not yet known whether Kochmann was associated with the Dutch manufacturer during the years of WWII.

This camera has a sad story behind it, one of a talented and energetic man who had his world and his future taken from him.  If you have an interest in these cameras and the history of photography, I would encourage you to go to for far more details than I have mentioned here. l