- "Numbers do not lie. Politics and poetry and promises, these are lies. Numbers are as close as we get to the handwriting of God."
- —Hermann to Pentecost
Hermann is the third of four children born to Dr. Lars Gottlieb and his wife. As a child, he was lonely and bullied. However, early on, he displayed an aptitude for abstract mathematics. He completed his engineering and applied sciences studies at TU in Berlin.
Hermann is twenty-four at the time of the August 10, 2013 Kaiju attack in San Francisco. During the start of the Kaiju attacks and the formation of the Pan Pacific Defense Corps, Hermann begins to communicate with Newton Geiszler through written correspondence. The two maintain a tight rapport through their letters for the next three years. In 2015, Hermann joins the Jaeger Academy.
In 2017, Hermann decides to meet Newton in person. However, when they come to face to face, they immediately dislike each other and presumably parted ways.
Pan Pacific Defense Corps.
Hermann is said to have written the programming code for the Mark-1 series of Jaegers. In 2020, he and Newton are assigned to the Hong Kong Shatterdome. He works alongside Newton to determine the weaknesses of the Kaiju and is responsible for determining the exact physics and nature of the breach. Gottlieb's expertise includes predicting the number of attacking Kaiju and determining the precise time and location of their next attack. By 2025, the Jaeger Program is considered a failure and is shut down by the United Nations. With eight months of funding left in the Jaeger Program and most of the Shatterdomes closed down, Hermann and Newton are the last of the research division.
Hermann arrives at the Hong Kong Shatterdome with Newton where they bring tanks of Kaiju organs to the lab. The two join Stacker Pentecost, Mako Mori and Raleigh Becket in the elevator. When Newton speaks enthusiastically to Raleigh about the Kaiju and his desire to meet one, Hermann apologizes on his friend's behalf and dismisses him as a "Kaiju Groupie". Newton insults Hermann by using his first name and mocking his accent.
Sometime later, he debriefs Herc Hansen and Pentecost on the increasing frequency of the Kaiju attacks; recounting that the attacks used to come every twenty-four weeks, then twelve weeks, followed by four weeks.
Hermann reminds them that the last Kaiju attack by Mutavore on the Kaiju Wall in Sydney, Australia, was a week. Hermann speculates that the next attacks would likely occur in days and hours before the PPDC is faced with a "Double Event" and "Triple Event."
However, Gottlieb believes that the increased traffic would cause the Breach to become stable enough that a thermonuclear bomb could be sent through its "throat" and collapse its structure. Newton, however, dismisses Hermann's conclusions because they are based on numbers. Instead, Newton shows Pentecost the information he gathered from studying Kaiju samples, despite Hermann's advice that he would only end up embarrassing himself.
When Newton suggests that he Drift with a Kaiju brain, neither Hermann or Pentecost believe that it’s possible. Pentecost decides to go with Hermann's proposal instead. As the officers leave the lab, Hermann belittles his colleague for wasting his life being a Kaiju Groupie, stating that even if he had the equipment, he'd most likely kill himself in the attempt. However, when he returns to the lab, he finds Newton Drifting with the Kaiju brain with a homemade Pons System. Hermann panics and heads for LOCCENT Mission Control to get Pentecost.
Hermann and Pentecost return to the lab, Newton tries to explain what he saw in the Drift, revealing that the Kaiju are actually attacking under orders. Despite the compelling evidence, Hermann dismisses his claims, which in turn triggers a shouting match between the two. Pentecost orders Hermann to shut up and tells Newton to continue talking.
Newton explains that the Kaiju are controlled by sentient beings looking to colonize the Earth after their failed attempt during the Triassic era. The Kaiju are used to weaken and eradicate humanity so that their masters can inhabit Earth. Hermann assists Pentecost in providing Newton information on the black marketeer, Hannibal Chau, in order to get another Kaiju Brain to Drift with.
During Otachi and Leatherback's attacks, Hermann states that Leatherback's electromagnetic pulse discharge is a sign of weaponization and not a natural progression of evolution. After Gipsy Danger's fight both Kaiju, Hermann is sent to find Newton. When he is informed by LOCCENT that two Kaiju, Scunner and Raiju, have exited the breach, instead of three as he had predicted, he decides to assist Newton by connecting his Pons systems to the Baby Kaiju.
The news distresses Hermann, but Newton reminds him that they need to Drift with the Baby Kaiju's brain before it rots. Determined to prove that his theory right, Hermann decides to Drift with Newton, reasoning that he had little choice with the world at stake. He suggests that his help will make it easier; similar to two Rangers Drifting to share the neural load. The two scientists Drift with the Kaiju's brain and discover that only objects containing Kaiju DNA have the ability to access the Breach, revealing why the previous attacks on the Breach have failed.
The experience makes Hermann sick and as a result he vomits. After he recovers, the two return to the Shatterdome and relay their discovery to Striker Eureka and Gipsy Danger. But at that moment, the first Category V Kaiju appears, validating Hermann's theory. Gipsy Danger is able to access the Breach using Slattern's corpse and destroys it. When Herc announces the news of their success, Herman and Newton celebrate with the rest of the PPDC.
Hermann is an analytic and fastidious scientist. His penchant for order makes him difficult to work with. Hermann is dismissive of Newton's enthusiasm for the Kaiju, and takes offense whenever Newton mocks his hesitation to act with little information and reliance on numbers. Burn Gorman cites that Hermann is a person that no one wants to be with in a small room.
His complete reliance on facts relative to Newton's unorthodox methods with regards to Kaiju research, usually puts them at odds. A PPDC psych evaluation suggests that Hermann's use of mathematics is a means of distancing himself from all problems. Hermann leads a relatively introverted lifestyle that is completely dedicated to his work. His neatness is a way of maintaining control of his environment. Initially, Hermann considers Newton an irritation, filing multiple harassment and compliant files against him, but the PPDC psychological staff chose not to act on it.[note 1] When he reluctantly decides to help Newton Drift with the Baby Kaiju, the two reconcile when Newton's Drifting theory is proven correct.
- Hermann is of Jewish descent but does not actively practice the religion.
- In the novelization, Hermann is blonde and described as a "stuffy variant on the lab-coat stereotype".
- In the novelization, during the Double Event, Hermann argued to sacrifice the populace of Hong Kong city in favor of preserving the Jaegers for Operation Pitfall. B-Roll footage from a behind the scenes featurette reveal that this scene was filmed but not included in the movie.
- "Inveterate filer of complaints, primarily against Kaiju Science colleague Dr. Newton Geiszler [q.v.]. PPDC psychological staff recommends accepting but not acting on these complaints."