About the Founders
"You should not take yourself too seriously”, was the conclusion Dr. Heinrich J. Klein drew at the end of his professional life – and just before his 80th birthday his mindset had not changed one bit. In view of his professional achievements this attitude is remarkably modest: from January 1974 until October 1988 he was a member of the SCHOTT Board of Management and for five years he was its chairman.
His commitment made it possible for the producer of special glass to change itself from a production-oriented company to a market-oriented company with an international outlook. This change was recognized and rewarded in 1984 when the company was awarded the German Marketing Prize. In the same year Dr. Heinrich J. Klein became first President of the Glass Industry Federation (Bundesverband Glas) and was a long time member of the Steering Committee of the Federation of German Industries (Bundesverband der Deutschen Industrie). Dr. Klein has gained much recognition for his work, with honors including the Great Federal Cross of Merit from the German Government and in France he was decorated with the medal “Chevalier de L`Ordre National du Mérite”. Furthermore, he is honorary citizen of the US state of Connecticut.
Dr. Heinrich J. Klein called himself a realistic optimist. While working at SCHOTT he always looked for the chances to act like an entrepreneur. This creative dimension of his personality was also reflected in his private life: Retirement gave him lots of time for his family and the performing arts – but also for his philanthropic endeavors, which is proven through his envolvement in the Heinrich J. Klein Foundation for the advancement of science for more than 10 years.
The impulse that led to the forming of this foundation can be found in H. J. Klein`s years as a student. Back then he really wanted to study in U.S. despite the difficulties of the postwar period. “You had to apply for a U.S. visa at the Travel Office in Berlin”, Dr. Klein remembers. “In 1951 there were no passports for Germans. To acquire the desired permission it was necessary to find and name two (American) citizens.” Heinrich J. Klein found the two citizens he needed; without their support his studies in the U. S. would never have been realized.
His stay in America laid the foundation for his entrepreneurial actions and social commitment. “It encouraged my cosmopolitan attitude and the awareness that the successful economic action of a company depends on multinational activity as well as openness towards different mentalities and cultures. This is why I committed myself so much to internationalization at SCHOTT.”
Dr. Heinrich J. Klein died on February 24, 2008 at the age of 84 years. His wife and co-founder, Dr. Liesel Klein, died in December 2014. SCHOTT will continue the foundation as originally intended by the couple Dr. Heinrich J. Klein and Dr. Liesel Klein.