Ernst Gottlieb was born into a Jewish family in Brno, where his grandfather co-owned a factory that manufactured enamel utensils. (The Gottlieb family claimed German nationality.) Ernst served in the Czechoslovakian Army during World War I. After the war he worked in a company in Brno that manufactured rubber; he later became a director of this company.
Ernst Gottlieb was a registered member of the German Lawn Tennis Club in Brno, represented Czechoslovakia at the 1924 Summer Olympic Games in Paris and also represented Czechoslovakia in the Davis Cup. In addition to lawn tennis, he practised several other sports including rowing, cycling, fencing and skiing.
In 1939, Ernst Gottlieb emigrated to France, where he unsuccessfully attempted to join the French Army. In May 1940, he emigrated again, this time to Brazil, where his brother was already living. Ernst eventually settled in Sao Paolo, where he worked as a businessman.
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