The Agfa Isolette - The "Soldatenkamera"

If today we can collect original photos taken by German soldiers in World War 2, giving us an insight into the day to day aspects of the life of a soldier in the tumultuous years of the war that raged over Europe, we owe it in great part to the "Agfa Isolette" - a camera mass produced by the still existing Agfa Kamerawerk AG photography corporation in the late 1930's. 

In Germany, the early successes of the war were met with enthusiasm and soldiers excited to share their war experience "Dienstzeit" or "Tour of Duty" with their family and progeny emptied the shelves of these cheap but reliable cameras that would accompany millions of soldiers to the frontlines and return to tell the stories they have not yet ceased to tell to this day.

The original "Isolette" produced between 1937 and 1942, allowed the soldier to take photos on 120 Film - a format remaining popular today for film photography enthusiasts. The camera differed from its later post-war models in 2 significant ways: it was encased in a distinctive black top housing made of Bakelite and it included two loops through which a strap could be fastened allowing for easier carrying of the camera, handy for a soldier. Technically the camera was versatile allowing for different lens and shutter combinations, giving the camera a range of different conditions under which to operate

It was over the course of the war that the camera got its nickname of "Soldatenkamera" after its widespread usage by members of the Wehrmacht and other branches of the German military. 

So as we look through our collections of captured moments from the war giving us a unique insight into the lives of soldiers in times of rest and battle, let's take a moment and remember that behind all these photos must have been a handy Soldatenkamera!