Airships in International Affairs, 1890–1940 by John Duggan, Henry Cord Meyer (auth.)

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By John Duggan, Henry Cord Meyer (auth.)

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There Zeppelin’s efforts rested until his humiliation in 1890. At that time the world of aerial hopes was lively with the knowledge of several generations of dirigible-balloon projects, notably in France. The armies of the major powers, however, had also been systematically perfecting the military capabilities of tethered observation balloons. By 1884, the Prussian military had established its Airship Battalion (captive balloons), fostering an infant industry in fabric production, mobile gas generation machinery, and instrumentation – altogether even then dubbed Kriegsaeronautik.

And one waits, patiently waits for another hour! And then after the long silence, the crowd cries out. Above the hilltops, just to the right of the Bismarck Tower, a silver, glimmering, wondrous entity appears. At first it seems to stand still, but then pushes itself slowly but steadily against the fresh morning breeze. One feels its power; we are overcome by a nervous trembling as we follow the flight of the ship in the air. As only with the greatest artistic experiences, we feel ourselves uplifted.

Similarly agitated were the Count’s negotiations with official and business circles. Prussian authorities regretted that they had not snapped up his despairing offer of early 1906. For his part, Zeppelin now held somewhat exaggerated views of the dimensions and rewards of airship enterprise. For months tripartite negotiations went on between the Count, several companies (Berg aluminium, Krupp steel, Daimler-Benz motors, ContinentalHannover rubber), and military and civilian authorities in Berlin.

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