In 1945, the British, American, French and Russians, and particularly the two former, investigated at great depth the extent of German technological knowledge both from the point of view of military use and also for commercial advantage.

I came across an intriguing report by Squadron Leader G.C. Brock of the Ministry of Aircraft Production on his inspection of the Agfa plant at Wolfen between 28 May and 9 June 1945, less than three weeks after VE day. Wolfen was a major film manufacturing plant and, later, was rebadged with the ORWO name for film exported to the west from East Germany.

The Agfa plant covered more than photographic goods. In his report, Brock described what he concentrated on:

The Agfa plant and laboratories are so large and cover so many fields, that a general policy had to be fixed for limiting the scope of the investigation and the samples to be removed. It was decided to examine only those processes and items of equipment which were of direct or indirect interest for the furtherance of air photography, and not to spend time on matters in which the Germans appeared to have no advantage over us…

In this respect, there was interest from somebody in the bakelite moulding of tanks because he goes on:

It was though (incorrectly) that an inspection of the Mipolam [synthetic floor covering] works [in the same Agfa complex at Wolfen] might provide information of value to D. Inst. P., who are interested in bakelite moulding of tanks etc. but apart from this examination of synthetic resin moulding, no attempt was made to cover the non-photographic sections of the Agfa plant. (Staple fibre and cellulose, viscose rayon etc).

He was not the first on the scene. Kodak Ltd (the UK subsidiary) and the US Army had removed the stocks of Agfacolor film, processing chemicals, an automatic plotting densitometer and a cine printer.

Clearly the quality of Agfa tanks, i.e. the Rondinax, had impressed somebody but I haven’t been able to find what D. Inst. P. was and whether they found what they were looking for at other Agfa plants.

The report, which is worth reading and shows such information as the industrial recipe for Rodinal developer, can be seen at: http://www.cdvandt.org/cios-xxx-15.htm

G. C. Brock MSc FRPS was an expert on aerial photography. He published a number of papers and books in the 1950s, 60s and 70s including Physical Aspects of Air Photography and Image Evaluation for Aerial Photography.

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