Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Writing’ Category

Courage Changes Every- thing

The Ernst Leitz Sr. Optics Company, founded in 1869 in Wetzler, Germany, was ahead of its time and had a tradition of enlightened behavior toward its workers.  Leitz hired people based on ability, without descrimination, and provided sick leave, and health insurance.

Following his dad’s example of altruism,  Ernst Leitz II risked his own–and his family’s safety by putting into place a wildly successful plan to help Jews escape Nazi Germany. He is known for designing the first Leitz camera lens

What can a wealthy business man (himself a Christian) do to save the lives of a large number of Jews living under the oppressive state of Hitler’s regime?  How about hire hundreds of Jews in his business and then send them on overseas assignments? This simple and brilliant plan was made a reality by Ernst Leitz II, and for his effort, countless Jews today have this courageous man to thank for life itself.  The Leica Freedom Train was a rescue effort in which hundreds of Jews were smuggled out of Nazi Germany before the Holocaust by Ernst Leitz II of the Leica Camera company, and his daughter Elsie Kuehn-Leitz.

Dr. Elsie Kühn-Leitz was imprisoned by the Gestapo after she was caught at the border, helping Jewish women cross into Switzerland. She eventually was freed, but endured rough treatment in the course of questioning. She also fell under suspicion when she attempted to improve the living conditions of 700 to 800 Ukrainian slave laborers, all of them women, who were assigned to work in the plant during the 1940s.

Incredibly,  the Leitz family wanted no publicity for their heroic efforts. And, only after the last member of the Leitz family was dead did the “Leica Freedom Train” finally come to light.

A great deal of talent is lost to the world for want of a little courage. Every day sends to their graves obscure men whose timidity prevented them from making a first effort. –Sydney Smith

…and suddenly I want to buy a Leitz camera.

Is there any regret worse than not acting on our core convictions?  I believe that the first leap of courage in doing what seems impossible, may feel insurmountably difficult…but what follows soon after is pure liberation from fear and from living life as an imposter. …and speaking of courage (and inspired by Elsie)…a song I’ve added to my list.

%d bloggers like this: