Kurt Gottlieb was born in Graz (Austria) and studied engineering at university in Brno, Czechoslovakia (now in Slovakia). He was a Jewish refugee who fled the Nazis and arrived in Sydney at the outbreak of the war (on the same ship as F. Lord).
The optical munitions work at the Commonwealth Solar Observatory (CSO) required a mechanical designer and draftsman. The Director, R. v.d.R. Woolley desperately scoured Australian technical colleges looking for the person with the qualifications required. Thus, Gottlieb and his talents were discovered; he joined the staff at the CSO and made a significant contribution to the success of the optical munitions work.
Gottlieb lived in the Bachelors' Quarters at the CSO on Mount Stromlo, along with N.A. Chamberlain, J. Dooley, F. Lord and S.C. 'Ben' Gascoigne.
In 1943, Gottlieb married Isley (a fifth generation Australian), and they had two children, Paul and Miriam. When his Czechoslovakian academic qualifications in mechanical engineering were recognised, Gottlieb was made a Research Fellow at Mount Stromlo Observatory and was also put in charge of the workshops. He was also a founding member of the ACT Jewish community.
One of Gottlieb's better known achievements was the first photograph taken in the west of the first Sputnik. This photo was taken by Gottlieb using one of the telescopes at Mount Stromlo Observatory and was even on the front page of the New York Times!
The family continued to live on Mount Stromlo until Gottlieb's retirement, when they moved to Curtin, ACT.