The FED factory in Kharkov, Ukraine was founded as a children’s commune, for children orphaned or displaced by the combined upheavals of the First World War, the Revolution and the subsequent civil war. It was founded in 1926, immediately after the death of Felix E. Dzerzhinsky (founder of the Soviet secret police, the Cheka (ЧК, for чрезвыча́йная коми́ссия or ’emergency commission’) and named in his honour. Dzerzhinsky had used the power of the secret police to bring about government action to help children.
After the groundbreaking introduction of the Leica II in 1932, Soviet leaders stopped the import of photographic equipment and set the FED factory to its task of creating a Leica of their own.
In 1932, a work unit was set up to plan the production of cameras. By the end of 1933, the factory had made only about 30 of its cameras. In 1934, true production began of a Leica II copy with lenses made by FED. About 4000 were made in the first year.
Production of FED rangefinder cameras ended in the mid 1990s