The History of a Company and its Employees

Stefan Richard – a 22-year-old industrial mechanic who works at Carl Zeiss in Jena – and his younger brother Harald are the fourth generation of their family to work at Carl Zeiss. Their father worked here, as did their aunt, their uncle, all of their grandparents and two of their great-grandfathers. In February 2011, three members of the family talked in an interview to editors of the Carl Zeiss employee magazine about their work at the company.


 
Herbert Blumentritt

Herbert Blumentritt (75 years old)

Worked from 1950 to 1992 at Carl Zeiss in Jena

“My father worked at Carl Zeiss before me. He originally came from Bad Kösen in Saxony-Anhalt, where he trained as a lathe operator at a lime works. In 1925, one of his school friends was leaving for Jena to apply for a job at Carl Zeiss, so my father decided to go with him. They didn’t hire his friend, but they did want my father, since they were urgently looking for lathe operators in the grinding shop for planetarium construction.

After I finished school in 1950, I began training at Carl Zeiss as a precision mechanic and through a fortunate chain of events soon ended up working in the testing workshop. But actually I always had a different dream: I really wanted to join the fire department. My father had been in the company fire department at Carl Zeiss since 1930 – that was contagious!

Every time I went to get my bicycle from in front of the plant, I could see the firemen practicing.

 

Once I completed my apprenticeship in 1952, I applied to the volunteer fire department and worked there in my spare time at first.

Then in 1968, I became deputy fire chief and was finally a full-time fireman. The shifts were 24 hours long – from seven to seven. A night watch team stayed overnight and then went right on working. I worked something like 500 extra hours a year for the fire department, which was often hard on my family. But my wife knew the fire department was a top priority for me before she married me. Everything was reorganized after reunification, even the fire department. In 1992, my wife and I were given the opportunity to take early retirement. That was a good opportunity back then.”

Frank Richard

Frank Richard (50 years old)

Worked from 1977 to 1992 at Carl Zeiss in Jena

“I’ve known Carl Zeiss for as long as I can remember.” My grandfather worked at Carl Zeiss, as did my father; what’s more, my school was sponsored by the M-plant, where microscopes were made. All of the older students worked there twice a month. So Carl Zeiss was simply everywhere.

As a child, I was really interested in building model airplanes. I attended the group that made model airplanes and built all sorts of things, even without instructions. After I finished school I joined Carl Zeiss to do my apprenticeship as a toolmaker. After that I had to go into the army for three years. What I really wanted was to join the air force, and there I worked as an airplane mechanic. Finally I returned to Carl Zeiss where I stayed until 1992.

When the main plant was shut down, I was laid off, which was an incredible disappointment.

 

My oldest son was just two at the time, his younger brother one-and-a-half, and my wife was at home with them.

I was put on the “waiting list.” Once a month I had to go and ask whether there was any work for me. During this time I started working in a friend’s motorcycle workshop. But after 15 years the business was no longer profitable. Since 2007, I’ve been working at LUCAS, which was founded by a former Zeissian. I’m very proud of my sons, who have really turned out well. I was able to pass on my interests and abilities to them, especially my mechanical skills. I would love to work at Carl Zeiss again one day because I still feel as though I really belong there!”


Stefan Richard

Stefan Richard (22 years old)

Began working in 2005 at Carl Zeiss in Jena

“I inherited my enthusiasm for the fire department from my grandfathers. When we were younger we used to pick up my father from work and we would often go and see how our granddad was doing in the fire department. It's one of my most vivid memories – we were drawn to it like moths to a flame! But making models also fascinated me from early on. I loved to play with Lego blocks. I can still remember that the Lego blocks were sorted according to color in old Carl Zeiss crates. An organized workplace was always very important to our father: the tweezers and other tools were always neatly arranged on the table. I remember when we got a model kit that the three of us built together. That was so much fun that from then on I spent my time making models.

Filing, grinding, filling with a putty knife, and painting was the coolest thing.

 

School was easy for me, and my good grades when I finished school meant that I could pretty much choose any career I liked.

I had already been accepted to train as an industrial mechanic in the German armed forces. However, after doing a trial apprenticeship at the Jena Training Center, I decided to go to Carl Zeiss instead. I started my apprenticeship in 2005 and worked my way through all sorts of different departments during the three-and-a-half year training period. When I finally became a full-fledged industrial mechanic working on functional prototypes it was like hitting the jackpot! I was spending my days assembling things, turning, milling, everything that I really enjoyed! And instead of military or community service I signed up as part of the fire department's disaster relief team for the next six years.”