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Johan Steenbergen was a transnational citizen par excellence. In 1909 at the age of 23 he moved from a relatively small town in eastern Holland, Meppel, to Dresden, at the time the center of fine-mechanics.

In 1913 he started a manufacturing business making photo cameras, known as Ihagee Kamera Werke. The business survived through WWI, hyper-inflation, stock-market crash and economic depression.

In the mid-1930’s the company became world-renown with the development of the Exakta camera: the world’s very first single-lens reflex camera using 36mm negatives and the trapezoid body that would remain the shape of cameras since.

Johan had married a German-Jewish lady, daughter of a famous medical professor and grand-daughter of Adolf Sutro, mayor of San Francisco in the late 1890’s. As such and as Consul for the Netherlands in Dresden Johan was early and intimately aware of the Nazi’s agenda.

In 1940, when Germany invaded Holland, the Ihagee was put under Nazi management. He continued to live in Dresden until 1942 when thanks to his position as Consul and his wife’s US passport they were part of a diplomatic exchange with the US.

Johan and his wife lived in San Francisco during WWII. After the war, Johan returned to Germany as liaison officer for the Dutch Government in first the French occupation zone and later the US zone.

Johan finished his career as Consul for the Netherlands in various cities in northeast Germany, where he died in 1967.