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While looking around on the net for buying a Tochka 9.2mm camera, I happened upon this page here:

The claim is that Minox Riga is a Russian or USSR invention (not at all clear which is which and why). The website is advertising a book called “1000 Russian & USSR cameras”.

Not good, tovarisch. From 1922 to 1939 Latvia was an independent state. In 1932, living in Estonia, Zapp began developing the subminiature camera, culminating with the appearance of the first prototype in 1936. Estonian patent had the serial No. 2628,issued by Estonian authorities, not USSR’s. Zapp went back to Riga in Latvia and start working closely with Valsts Elektrotehniskā Fabrika for starting production of Minox cameras in 1938.


According to the resettlement agreed between the USSR and Latvia, german ethnics (Zapp was a member of this community, being a Baltic german, going by the Latvian name of Valters Caps) left Latvia for Germany. Zapp was to follow in the spring of 1941. At no time during these years, did he, his collaborators, or Valsts Elektrotehniskā Fabrika for that matter, worked under any Soviet administration.

Long story short: at the time of inventing the Minox, Latvia was, er, Latvian, and Estonia , Estonian. Neither USSR republics. The Sovietisation of the Baltic countries came to pass in 1945. At that time, however, Zapp was already in Germany, having established his headquarters in Wetzlar, and founding Minox GmbH in 1945.

Moreover, In 2001 Zapp got the honorary doctorate of the Latvian Academy of Sciences and was decorated with the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana for his special services to the Republic of Estonia. Nothing from the USSR (FSU actually).

I rest my case, if there was ever one :-).

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