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Franz Jaeger's inventions still play an important role in the guns of today. He was born in 1876 in Rampitz, Merseburg County. Jaeger apprenticed as an action maker in Zella Mehlis, opened his own gunshop in Halle, then moved to America. He found employment as a gunsmith in New York, met and married Fanny Strauss, also from Germany. After their first son Paul was born, Franz began to develop his own ideas and he took out his first patent for a single trigger mechanism. Franz opened his own business with a partner (Bittner & Jaeger) on Broadway in New York.
Around the turn of the century, the family returned to Germany and settled in Suhl. Franz installed single triggers for other manufacturers and gun owners. Between 1901-1914, Franz Jaeger obtained eight patents. The catalogs of that period showed a wide variety of guns, most of them with Jaeger patents.
Franz Jaeger designed the "Jaeger Pistol" in a period of 3 months. It used steel stampings and castings, something unheard of at the time. The army rejected it for official use with one word: "Blech" (sheet metal). Nevertheless, the Jaeger factory produced about 15,000 of the pistols.
The following year Franz Jaeger was drafted into the army. Eventually, the "Hindenburg Proclamation" discharged skilled craftsmen and brought him home for the rest of the war. The post-war German economy and subsequent worldwide Great Depression had a very negative effect on his firearms business.
An order from abroad for good but reasonably priced stalking rifles brought the Magnus brothers together with Franz Jaeger to establish the Magnus-Jaeger Company. They set up manufacturing facilities in Maebendorf near Suhl, but soon barely escaped bankruptcy.
The Hitler years brought an improvement of the economy and work for Suhl's gunmakers. However, the extermination of Jews in Europe became a reality, and Fanny Jaeger was Jewish. She was transported to the concentration camp in Theresienstadt but survived.
During this time, Franz Jaeger and two to three loyal employees continued to make hunting guns, and the family was reunited after the war, but then the Americans left and the Russian troops arrived. Under a communist government, private initiative was not tolerated. Younger members of the family slipped to West Germany illegally, but Franz Jaeger and his wife turned down the offer to emigrate to America.
Two of his important patents are still used by major gun companies today.