Bishop Hein, you were 15 when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. What were you doing that day?
At the time, I was working in quartz glass production at Heraeus. It was my first summer job. I earned 2.50 deutschmarks an hour, which was a good hourly wage back then. I worked in one of the warehouses where glass tubes were stored. The atmosphere was incredible.
Why was that?
Simply because the employees were incredibly proud, and it was contagious! A part of us, a part of the company, and a part of our hometown of Hanau was on the moon! And I was in the middle of it all, thanks to the summer job.
Did you see the moon landing on television?
No, I listened to the transmission on my parent’s radio. It’s hard to imagine today, but at least for my parents, who considered themselves to be intellectuals, having a television at home was a little unrefined. Later on, I saw the pictures of course – fantastic.
What about it impressed you the most?
The technical achievement of bringing the astronauts back in one piece. I’m not a big technology freak, but I saw John Glenn’s space capsule at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. That thing looked very uncomfortable and not very well put together.
What did the Heraeus company stand for at the end of the ‘60s?
From the perspective of my 15-year-old self, I would say the company was known for the Hanau sunlamp. It was a lamp that could emit infrared or UV light and was mainly used to treat malnourished children who were suffering from rickets. The light helped the body make vitamins.
In your opinion, should we actually be going back to the moon?
I believe we should be taking care of the problems here on Earth. To me, the effects of climate change are serious. We must tackle them with all the wisdom and all the technical means that we have. But when I was young, space flight was the big thing everyone was talking about.
Did you want to be an astronaut when you were a teenager?
I think I probably lacked the courage. I wanted to be a soccer player (laughs).
Are you still a fan?
Of course. I’m a Eintracht Frankfurt fan, and nothing can change that.