Original German WWII Afrika Korps Ernst Leitz Wetzlar 6x30 Dienstglas Binoculars with Bakelite Case

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. The 6x30 Dienstglas was one of the most used German issued binoculars of WWII. This example is fully functional, with mostly clear optics, complete with a range reticle in the right side. It is nicely marked as follows on the base of the barrels:


It is marked on the right side, with the model and serial information on the right:

6 x 30
H / 6400

E. Leitz is for Ernst Leitz GmbH a German corporation which is now divided into four independent companies. The fine mechanic Ernst Leitz I. (1843–1920) from Baden arrived at Wetzlar in 1864 and entered service at the Optisches Institut. He was trained as an instrument maker for physical and chemical apparatus and had several years' experience making watches in Switzerland. Initially, Leitz was a part shareholder of the business (in 1865), but took over as sole owner in 1869 and continued it under his own name. Leitz introduced serial production, raising sales volume rapidly after 1871. Consulting with his clients, he continued to refine the microscopes to their needs.

By the end of the 19th century, the company had a worldwide reputation. Its product range by this point included several optical instruments besides microscopes. At the beginning of the new century, Leitz introduced eight-hour days and founded a health insurance society for employees. In 1913 it introduced a first fully functional binocular microscope. After the First World War, the economic situation of Leitz was dire. Ernst Leitz died in July 1920 and the leadership of the company passed to his son, Ernst Leitz II.

In the late 1930s, Ernst Leitz II assisted a number of Jewish employees in fleeing Germany. In 1942, Ernst Leitz GmbH employed a total of 195 foreign citizens. By January 1945, there were 989 forced laborers, 643 of them "Ostarbeiter", predominantly from Ukraine, and 316 "Westarbeiter" from France and the Benelux.

Besides cameras and microscopes, Leitz developed further optical products that would define the mid-20th century, such as slide projectors of the "Prado" series and Leitz episcopes that were frequently used in schools.

One by one, the three sons (Ludwig, Ernst and Günther) of Ernst Leitz II began work at the company. Having remained intact through World War II, the production facilities could be restarted immediately after the war ended.

The original bakelite case retains the original carry strap which is worn in appearance but the leather is still very solid. The tan color indicates that these binos saw service within the Afrika Korps. The bottom of the case has a year of manufacture which is 1938.

These are a lovely service used example of the ever so popular Dienstglas binoculars!

Comes more than ready for display.

Binoculars used by the German military in the Second World War were made by a huge number of makers. The most well-known were Carl Zeiss, Ernst Leitz, Swarovski and Voightlander. Up to 1940 they carried the maker's name and as well as the word 'Dienstglas'which means service glass. From around 1940 the the maker's name was replaced by a three letter code.

There were three common types of binocular issued to the German military before and during the Second World War: 6x30, 7x50, 10x50.

The 6x30 was the type commonly issued to NCO and officers. According to 'Deutsche Soldaten' they were issued to the squad leader independent of rank. They often had a graticule which is a series of lines in the right-hand lens. It was used to estimate distances. If you knew the size of a man or a truck that you could see with the binoculars, you could estimate the distance based on the number of lines it measured in the graticule. It was a technique that soldiers had to learn.

Early binoculars were made from brass. Later ones were made from an alloy of magnesium and aluminum, which was extremely light. Towards the end of the War binoculars were sometimes made from bakelite.

These are the classic night vision binoculars preferred by sailors. However, this spec was also used by the Wehrmacht (Army) and Luftwaffe (Air Force) as well as the Kriegsmarine (Navy). They are larger and usually the classic Zeiss shape.

These are the most practical size for modern applications such as bird watching or spectator sport. They give you powerful magnification and bright lenses. They had specialized use in wartime and were issued to artillery units. Senior officers have also used this type of binocular.

Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, the Desert Fox, used a pair of 10x50 Dienstglas binoculars. His had the bakelite eyepiece caps missing. He more than likely had them removed to better fit his “trademarked” dust goggles.

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