20 January: Frank Dabba Smith, On Jews in the development of photography

As a study of both corporate and individual behaviour in the context of Nazi Germany, Frank Dabba Smith’s research concerning  Ernst Leitz II – the liberal-left entrepreneur who owned the Leica camera factory in Wetzlar – seeks to build on understandings of the behaviour of businesses during this period.  Very unusually, persecuted Jews and non-Jews were helped by Leitz through receiving training and or employment,  being supported to leave Germany and to gain employment when abroad  and, additionally, employees subjected to criminal prosecutions benefitting from  timely interventions.  Ambivalence is present, however, when considering the public face of Leitz during this period, the production of in-house designed armaments and utilising forced labour from Ukraine.

Frank Dabba Smith earned his first degree in Linguistic Anthropology at the University of California at Berkeley.   After working as a photographer and teacher, he trained to be a liberal rabbi at Leo Baeck College in London and has served since 1997 at Mosaic Liberal Synagogue (formerly known as Harrow and Wembley Progressive Synagogue). His PhD dissertation at University College London (UCL) is concerned with the behaviour of the camera manufacturer Ernst Leitz of Wetzlar during the Holocaust. He serves on the International Advisory Committee of EcoPeace-Middle East, as Vice-Chair of the Brent Multi-faith Forum, on the Independent Advisory Group of the Metropolitan Police in the London Borough of Brent and as a trustee for Berakah-Arts.


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