Thursday, August 6, 2015


Elsie Kühn-Leitz, daughter of Ernst Leitz II received a special honor from the city of Wetzlar.  In Rasselberg, a new development of the city, a street was named after the former honorary citizen of city.

Her son, Dr. Knut Kühn-Leitz as well as other family members were present when Wetzlar Mayor Wolfram Dette revealed the new street sign.  An attached plaque gives a brief explanation: "1903 - 1985. Honorary Citizen of Avignon and Wetzlar. She promoted culture and international understanding."

One of the great accomplishments of Elsie Kühn-Leitz were her efforts to help Jewish citizens to escape to other countries during the second world war (see: The Leica FreedomTrain ).  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.

Immediately after the end of the war, she promoted education and culture as the Wetzlar city councilor for Education and Culture among other things.  In 1945 she was co-founder of the Wetzlar cultural community, of which she was chairman for many years.  In the culture they saw a way to bring normalcy in the post-war life.

In 1954, following a request from Konrad Adenauer, Germany’s first chancellor after WWII, she began her decades of commitment to the Franco-German friendship. This included the establishment of the Franco-German Society in Wetzlar, whose President she was. She also initiated for Wetzlar to become a sister city with Avignon in 1960. Both Avignon and Wetzlar thanked her with an honorary citizenship.  With remarkable assertiveness, she managed to overcome prejudices and made a significant contribution to international understanding. This commitment has been recognized with the highest honors that could be given by the town of Wetzlar, as well as the Federal Republic of Germany. 


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Next Friday - Cumberland: Island of Conflict and Change by Jeff Kauck

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