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There´s More Than Birds In The Sky

Once back in Europe, Victor continued his travels; first in Holland, then France and Morocco, tracking and photographing rare birds. He took part in a major photo exhibition in Gothenburg in 1928 and in 1934 he met and married then 19 year old Erna Nathorst. In 1935 Victor published a book, entitled ‘Migratory Bird Passages’, containing a great number of photos of birds in flight, a rarity at the time.

Victor’s return to work in the family firm had not been a great success, and was troubled by family conflict and disagreement with his father. It was only a matter of time before Victor left to form his own company. In 1937 Victor Hasselblad opened his own photo shop, aptly named 'Victor Foto', in central Gothenburg. The shop was complete with a photo lab and was his first business step independent of his family. Victor had a talent for business and marketing and both the shop, and its newly wed owner, were a success.

1939 brought the outbreak of war and the German invasions of Denmark and Norway followed. By the early 1940s, Europe was fully enmeshed in the Second World War. The German invasion of the surrounding Scandinavian countries prompted the total mobilization of the unprepared Swedish military. The defiantly neutral nation hurried to equip and prepare itself.

Meanwhile, German troops were poised just across the Norwegian border. German surveillance planes violated Swedish air space and several went down on Swedish soil. Most of the planes – and their equipment – were destroyed. It would seem that one of them however, surrendered its cargo intact: a fully functioning German aerial surveillance camera. Exactly where and how the Swedish military gained the camera is perhaps uncertain, but one thing is clear: this was a piece of equipment that the Swedish military could sorely use. Capturing a German camera, however, and knowing how to produce similar cameras were two separate things. A fact the Swedish government soon realized.

By this time, Victor Hasselblad was in his thirties and had gained quite a reputation for himself as a camera expert. He had published several articles on photography and technical issues and, of course, his family’s name was on the most successful photo supply chain in the country. It was almost a given that the Swedish military would turn to Victor for help.