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Great Men in History Hugo Eckener

vintage 1930s zeppelin airship hindenburg

Eckener in control car of Hindenburg, arriving at Lakehurst after flight to North American. May 9, 1936.  (Ernst Lehmann at right.)

Hugo Eckener

Airship pioneer Hugo Eckener was an early associate of Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, and earned worldwide fame as a zeppelin commander and tireless advocate for passenger airships.
Dr. Eckener’s contribution to zeppelin aviation had two equally crucial aspects; his skill in technical matters, such as the development of rigorous operating standards and his understanding of meteorology and pressure pattern navigation, and his sharp business acumen and ability to inspire public enthusiasm and support for airship travel.
Eckener was born on August 10, 1868, in the city of Flensburg, on Germany’s Baltic coast, and his experience sailing in the waters of the Baltic gave him important insights into weather and meteorology which were later crucial to his approach to airship operations.
Eckener’s formal education was in the field of psychology, in which he earned his doctoral degree, and he had no formal training in physics, engineering, or aeronautics. He moved to Friedrichshafen on the shore of the Bodensee (Lake Constance) for its healthy climate and the opportunity to continue his sailing.
Working as a journalist for the Frankfurter Zeitung, Eckener first saw an airship when he was assigned to cover the second flight of Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin’s first ship, LZ-1, on October 7, 1900.  Eckener found himself inspired by Count von Zeppelin — if not entirely impressed with the performance of the Count’s airship — and agreed to work for Zeppelin as a writer and publicist. Before long, however, Eckener became deeply involved in the technical and operational aspects of zeppelin flight, and by 1911 he was given his first airship command, the zeppelin LZ-8 Deutschland II.
The very first flight of Eckener’s very first command, LZ-8, ended in a crash.  On May 16, 1911, as LZ-8 was being moved from its hangar, a gust of wind tore the ship away from its ground crew and smashed it against the roof of the hangar; there were no injuries, but the passengers and crew had to be rescued by a long fire ladder.
Crash of Deutschland II, under the command of Hugo Eckener
Crash of Deutschland II, under the command of Hugo Eckener
It has been said that Eckener’s most notable characteristics as an airship commander — his almost obsessive caution, and determination always to put safety above all commercial or political considerations — were born of this experience.  Eckener did not believe in taking risks, or hoping to chance: “It is absolutely necessary to know an operation will be successful before proceeding,” he said.
Count Zeppelin and Hugo in control car of LZ-10 Schwaben
Eckener and Count Zeppelin in control car of LZ-10 Schwaben
As a commander, Eckener was known as strict, almost severe officer, who had little patience for incompetence or lack of effort.  His was a formidable, imposing, formal personality, and even his closest colleagues and officers called him Herr Doktor and Sie, and never Hugo or du.  But he was also known for fairness to his officers and crew, and calmness during moments of crisis and tension, and for his ability to remain on the bridge for literally days at a time when conditions were difficult.

Eckener and World War I

Though he remained a civilian during World War I, Eckener was deeply involved in Germany’s use of zeppelins during the war.  Eckener was the senior advisor to the German Navy’s airship chief, Peter Strasser, and as director of airship training for the German Navy, Eckener trained more than 50 flight crews, comprising more than 1,000 men.
Eckener with Count Zeppelin and Peter Strasser
Eckener with Count Zeppelin and Peter Strasser
After World War I, the Allies’ reaction to the bombing of civilians by German airships (both those of the Zeppelin Company and the other principal German dirigible builder, Schutte-Lanz) caused the Allies to place harsh restrictions on all German aviation, and in particular on lighter-than-air actvities.  The Zeppelin Company was effectively put out of business by the Versailles Treaty and the Allies policies after the War;  strict restrictions limited the size of airships that could be built by the Germans, making the construction of a new intercontinental airship impossible, and DELAG‘s two commercial airships were given to the allies; the highly successful LZ-120 Bodensee to Italy, and the newly-built LZ-121 Nordstern to France.

Eckener and LZ-126 Los Angeles

Eckener and zeppelin designer Ludwig Duerr aboard LZ-126
Eckener and zeppelin designer Ludwig Duerr aboard LZ-126
It was in the wake of World War I that Eckener made perhaps his greatest contribution to the survival of the zeppelin.  After the War, Germany was required to pay heavy reparations, not only for the war itself, but also for the destruction of German zeppelins by their crews, who preferred to destroy their own ships rather than allow them to fall into the hands of the Allies (in the way German sailors scuttled their ships at Scapa Flow).  Eckener convinced the Allies to allow the Zeppelin Company to build a new ship, LZ-126, to be delivered to the Americans as ZR-3 USS Los Angeles in partial satisfaction of these reparation obligations.
Hugo Eckener being greeted by U.S. President Calvin Coolidge after the successful transatlantic delivery flight of LZ-126.
Hugo Eckener being greeted by U.S. President Calvin Coolidge after the successful transatlantic delivery flight of LZ-126 in October, 1924. (Ernst Lehmann at far left; Hans Flemming behind Coolidge.)
The construction of LZ-126 kept the Zeppelin Company alive, maintaining not only its plant and equipment, but also its workforce of its highly skilled employees. The construction and operation of LZ-126 also provided Eckener and his colleagues with the knowledge and experience they would use to build Graf Zeppelin and Hindenburg.
The transatlantic flight of LZ-126 from Germany to America was an aviation triumph, and Eckener and his crew were given a ticker-tape parade up Broadway in New York City, and were greeted at the White House by U.S. President Calvin Coolidge.


To finance LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin, Eckener and his fellow Zeppelin officers — Hans Flemming, Hans von Schiller, Anton Wittemann, and Max Pruss — traveled throughout Germany giving hundreds of lectures and raising funds for the Zeppelin-Eckener-Spende (the Zeppelin Eckener Fund).  While the Spende raised only 2.5 million of the 7 million marks needed to build LZ-127, with an additional million marks from the government, and financing from its other operations, the Zeppelin Company was able to begin construction.

LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin

Eckener on the cover of Time Magazine, September, 1929.
Eckener on Time Magazine, 1929.
Graf Zeppelin was built under Eckener’s driven leadership, and became the most successful zeppelin in history, completing many important and pioneering flights under Eckener’s command.
Eckener’s flights in Graf Zeppelin — including transatlantic crossings, a Round-the-World flight, and an exploration of the North Pole — brought him international fame and acclaim in the 1920’s and early 1930’s, and public opinion polls indicated that Eckener was one of the most famous men in the world at the time.
It was suggested that Eckener use his almost universal popularity in Germany to run for political office in the unsettled closing days of the Weimar Republic, but Eckener declined all appeals to become involve in politics so that he could devote himself completely to the development of the zeppelin.

Hugo Eckener and the Nazis

Hugo Eckener was noted for his early opposition to Hitler and the Nazis, and he was eventually removed from his position as leader of zeppelin operations because of his opposition to National Socialism.  Eckener had infuriated the Nazis by refusing permission for a political rally at the Zeppelin hangar at Friedrichshafen at which Hitler would have spoken, and in 1931, Eckener made a national radio speech in support of German Centre Party Chancellor Heinrich Brüning which contained veiled but obvious criticism of the Nazis.
Considered politically troublesome by the National Socialists, Eckener gradually lost influence as the Nazis solidified their hold on German life after Hitler’s appointment as chancellor in 1933.  Despite his dislike of the new regime, Eckener’s devotion to zeppelins had led him to seek and accept government support, but the increasing involvement of the Nazi government further reduced his authority.
Emblem of the Deutsche Zeppelin Reederei
Emblem of the Deutsche Zeppelin Reederei
The establishment of the Deutsche Zeppelin-Reederei (DZR) in 1935 signaled Eckener’s final loss of any real power over the zeppelin enterprise.  To build LZ-129 Hindenburg, the Zeppelin Company had accepted 2 million marks from the Propaganda Ministry of Joseph Goebbels and 9 million marks from the Air Ministry of Herman Goering, but as a condition of the Air Ministry’s support, the Zeppelin Company was split in two parts in March, 1935; the original Luftschiffbau Zeppelin would be responsible solely for the construction of airships, while airship operations would be handled by the Deutsche Zeppelin-Reederei, affiliated with the German national airline Lufthansa.  While Eckener officially remained the head of both companies, he was mainly a figurehead, and Captain Ernst Lehmann, who was much more supportive of the Nazi government, was given leadership of the DZR.
Damage to Hindenburg during Nazi propaganda flight
Damage to Hindenburg during Nazi propaganda flight
Eckener’s final and most notable break with the Nazi’s occurred in March, 1936, when Propaganda Minister Goebbels heard of Eckener’s outburst at Ernst Lehmann for canceling test flights to take Hindenburg on a propaganda flight during unfavorable weather conditions, which resulted to damage to the ship.  The obsessively cautious Eckener was furious at Lehmann for jeopardizing the ship — and thus the entire Zeppelin program — by putting political considerations ahead of flight safety, because the three day propganda flight meant there would be no time to conduct important test flights before the ship’s first transatlantic crossing.  Eckener reportedly lambasted Lehmann for risking the ship to make a “scheissfahrt” (shit flight) for the Nazis.  Furious at Eckener, Goebbels decreed that Eckener’s name and picture could no longer be mentioned by the German press.  Only a compromise brokered by Herman Goering (a letter from Eckener explaining that his concerns were solely technical, and not political), as well as Eckener’s international fame, protected Eckener from more serious consequences, and allowed him to continue to serve as commander of Hindenburg on various flights.
Eckener in control car of Hindenburg, arriving at Lakehurst after flight to North American. May 9, 1936.  (Ernst Lehmann at right.)
Eckener in control car of Hindenburg, arriving at Lakehurst after first flight to North America. May 9, 1936. (Ernst Lehmann at right.)

The Hindenburg Disaster

Hugo Eckener was in Graz, Austria when he received a telephone call from a reporter informing him that the Hindenburg had “exploded” at Lakehurst.  Eckener’s initial reaction was that an “explosion” had to be the result of sabotage, which was reported in the press.
At the request of the German Air Ministry, Eckener hurried to Berlin, where he was told that the official government position rejected the possibility of any anti-Nazi sabotage.
Eckener proceeded by ocean liner to New York along with five other members of a German investigating commission, which included Hindenburg designer Ludwig Durr, and headed directly to Lakehurst to view the wreckage and join the American inquiry being conducted by the U.S. Department of Commerce.
After reviewing the witness reports and examining the wreckage, Eckener came to believe that the most likely explanation for the Hindenburg crash was that the sharp S-turn made by Captain Pruss during the landing procedure stressed the ship, causing a bracing wire to break and slash gas cell 4 or 5, releasing hydrogen which then combined with air to form a highly flammable mixture, which was likely ignited by an electrostatic discharge.
The sincerity of Eckener’s belief that the disaster was an accident, and not an act of sabotage, has often been challenged in light of the instructions he received from Goering’s Air Ministry to deny the possibility of a bomb, but Eckener reiterated this view in the memoirs he published after the war.

Eckener’s Final Years

Like many other Germans, Hugo Eckener and his family suffered significant privations in the years during and after the Second World War.
While other zeppelin pioneers, notably Max Pruss, tried to revive interest in the zeppelin in the early 1950’s, Eckener was convinced that the dramatic advances in heavier-than-air technology meant that the airship would never again be able to compete with the airplane.
Eckener died peacefully at his home by the shore of the Bodensee on August 14, 1954, at the age of 86.
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{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }
Dagmara Lizlovs February 22, 2015 at 2:28 pm
This is the First Sunday in Lent and once again I am reflecting on these words of Dr. Eckener: “But today it could be the mission of an entire people to preach to the whole world and to show it that they have not lost, and must not lose, their belief in the victory of good and in a noble humanity in spite of all that has happened and what is still going on. Let us continue our self-contemplation and find therein the resolution and courage to acknowledge freely and openly our belief in such ideals and to demonstrate them practically by our actions in both domestic and foreign policy. Let us live by their example in a world devoid of ideals and beliefs which seems to recognize only the policy of naked power.”
Eckener wrote these words in 1948. Igor Sikorsky wrote his reflections of those times in “The Invisible Encounter – A Plea for Spiritual Rather Than Material Power as the Great Need of Our Day” which he wrote in 1947. Today, in the liturgy, we read about the temptations of Christ in the wilderness – to turn stones into bread, to throw himself down from a pinnacle in a demonstration of divinity and to receive all the earthly kingdoms if he would worship the devil. In other words, the misuse of one’s power to obtain an apparent good. The first four chapters of Sikorsky’s book are in depth essays on these three temptations. Sikorsky points out that these temptations are the temptations to use power to accomplish a heaven here on earth. No doubt the Bolshevik Revolution which had set out to do just that and ended in the Stalinist horrors was very much on his mind in this writing. The attempts to set up Utopias throughout history have frequently ended in dystopian nightmares such as the earlier French Revolution. These first four chapters are very well worth our reading today. Sikorsky’s work does not come across as optimistic about the future as in this quote from Chapter 7 “Good and Evil” – “Nazism and Communism with their active ideological relations in other countries and their collective offspring – the Second World War – are only the first manifestations, the early gentle flowers of radical intellectual materialism at work. The real fruits are still to come.”
In the creation of any hoped for Utopia, there is always the breaking of eggs to make the omelette, hence the resort to naked power with all its horrors.
LUIS OTAVIO NASCIMENTO December 9, 2014 at 9:44 am
LUIS OTAVIO NASCIMENTO December 5, 2014 at 2:14 pm
Congratulations on the wonderful website and pages that I just read
I’m 53, work as ATCO and since the age of four years, my grandfather told me stories of sightings of Graff Zeppelin. I grew up listening to those wonderful stories and grew up with it deep in the heart.
I was born and live in Rio de Janeiro Brazil and to this day the oldest remember the zeppelin and hindenburg in the skies of our city whitin it, my mother 88.
Rio de janeiro was regular destination of zeppelins, with the maidenl flight of the LZ-129 Hindengurg 129. The only thing I miss here was the fact that I haven`t read anything about my city or fact that Rio exists the only ORIGINAL hangar built 100% by the GErman zeppelin company that housed the hindenbug and the graff zeppelin by numerous times ..
yet, with this lack, I enjoyed the site.
Dan Grossman December 6, 2014 at 9:24 pm
There are references to the South American service of LZ-127 and LZ-129 on the pages about the histories of those ships, but you raise a good point; Rio was very important to the German zeppelin enterprise and deserves more attention. If only I had more time! But I will keep that in mind for future additions to the site.
LUIS OTAVIO NASCIMENTO December 9, 2014 at 9:21 am
I understand, time is short for us all these days.
I am atco by profession and an aviation enthusiast. I research the history of aviation in Brazil and am passionate about the history of the great airships.
Brazil was the longest route that zeppelins, lz127 and lz 129 traveled regularly, was not only the more longest and distant route, Brazil route was more complex than the North Atlantic route. The difficulties were enormous at that time, the difficulties of Brazil were huge due lack of communication net and navigation support.
The zeppelin hangar in Rio de Janeiro City, today, is located inside a Brazilian AFB, ( Santa Cruz AFB-SBSC), and the unbelievable hangar is perfectly preserved not changed or can be changed on it by force of law.
Its huge and heavy doors works perfectly today with the German original engines. It was built to house the Hindenburg and the Graff Zeppelin II, and for 7 times it housed the LZ 129 Hindenburg. An other wonderful detail is the fact thate can be found next to the large hangar, a huge inox sphere tank gas to house the hydrogen produced there to fill the gas bags of our old graff and the hindenburg.
The site houses a fighter squadron of the Brazilian Air Force and is perfectly accessible, although it is in the west sector of the city and distant 1 hour of down town car. VISITORS ARE WELLCOME THERE!
Until this day the great Zeppelins are remembered in Rio de Janeiro.
My mother -88- saw the hindenburg once and today, after 89 years, describes it with emotion and joy.
large Brazilians personalities traveled on both zepps.
in the 30s Brazil was ruled by a “president” called GETULIO VARGAS, for once, he flew aboard the Graff Zeppelin from Rio to Recife, Pernambuco state, 1800 km northeast of Brazil. As far As I know Getulio Vargas was s the only President of a State who flew in a zeppelin, a fact that few know bout and never mentioned.
For another occasion, in 1930, due to a political revolution where this “president” took power, the Graff Zeppelin Was about to land in Recife but it was radioed an order demanding and forbidden her to land, which made it to remain 5 consecutive days in the air, which seems to have been , as long as I know, the longest times passengers and crew had to remain aboard of a large zeppelin in the air or any other flying machine till today.
The water and the food was rationed; at the end of four ebduring days they received landing permission and continued the trip to the Rio de Janeiro in the next morning.
I want to let my gratitude for your attention and let my invitation: where possible, please, come to visit my city, where you will be welcomed with affection for our people and I personally, where I will be happy to accompany you and together visit the ZEPPELIN hangar and the Rio´s aviation museum here in Rio de Janeiro.
Luís Otávio Nascimento
+55 21 92657319
LUIS OTAVIO NASCIMENTO December 9, 2014 at 9:49 am
(21) 3078-0389/ 3078-0302/ 97617-2952
Dagmara Lizlovs August 14, 2014 at 11:28 pm
Today the 14th of August 2014 marks the 60th anniversary of the passing of Dr. Hugo Eckener. It is also the feast day of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, a contemporary of Dr. Eckener’s. To mark this day, I wish to commemorate both men.
Maximilian Kolbe was a member of the Franciscan Order and an ordained priest in Poland. Because his monastery had enough land, he planned to use it as an airfield and to have several of the monks trained as pilots to distribute literature. Two of the monks did indeed become pilots. This endeavor was halted by the German invasion of Poland at the start of World War II. During the German occupation of Poland, Kolbe hid some 2000 Jews in his friary. Eventually he was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to Auschwitz. At this time three prisoners disappeared from the camp, and to punish the alleged escapes ten prisoners were to be starved to death. Among the prisoners selected for death by starvation was a man who had a wife and children. Father Kolbe offered to take his place and this was done. Kolbe and the other prisoners endured 2 weeks of starvation, dehydration and neglect and during this time Kolbe tended to the spiritual needs of these dying men. After two weeks Kolbe was the last man alive, and the Nazis dispatched him with a lethal injection on the 14th of August 1941. Maximilian Kolbe was canonized in 1982. Today we celebrated the Mass for Maximilian Kolbe.
An excellent article is found here:
Incidentally, Maximilian Kolbe is also a patron saint of journalists and Dr. Eckener had been a journalist.
After Mass the priest showed me an article on his tablet on Maximilian Kolbe. I told him that it was also the anniversary of the passing of Dr. Eckener and showed him a brief article on Eckener on my smart phone. Then I mentioned the rose that was named after Dr. Eckener. I told him that I had found a bud on the Eckener rose in my garden on Eckener’s birthday, and that today, the anniversary of his passing, this bud had blossomed. The priest told me that this was a sign of the fullness of life.
Here are the closing words of Dr. Eckener in his autobiography “My Zeppelins” translated by Douglas Robinson from “Im Zeppelin uber Lander und Meere” – “But today it could be the mission of an entire people to preach to the whole world and to show it that they have not lost, and must not lose, their belief in the victory of good and in a noble humanity in spite of all that has happened and what is still going on. Let us continue our self-contemplation and find therein the resolution and courage to acknowledge freely and openly our belief in such ideals and to demonstrate them practically by our actions in both domestic and foreign policy. Let us live by their example in a world devoid of ideals and beliefs which seems to recognize only the policy of naked power.”
LUIS OTAVIO NASCIMENTO December 9, 2014 at 9:34 am
wonderful story and deep emotional…
heckner is fantastic man, inspiring personality and must be remmembered always…..!!!!!
Dagmara Lizlovs December 22, 2014 at 11:08 pm
Thank you kindly for your reply. I ordered Dr. Eckener’s autobiography “Im Zeppelin über Länder und Meere. Erlebnisse und Erinnerungen.” for my mother for Christmas. Since my mother speaks German, having studied at the University of Würzburg, I’m sure she’ll enjoy it. Although it looks like it will arrive after Christmas.
Here are several other anti-Nazi contemporaries of Dr. Eckener and some of their writings:
Blessed Franz Jägerstätter’s “Letters and Writings from Prison”
Father Alfred Delp’s writings for Advent, some of which were written in prison. These are collected in “Advent of the Heart, Seasonal Sermons and Prison Writings – 1941-1944.” published by Ignatius Press.
The White Rose anti-Nazi group whose members included Saint Alexander Schmorell (canonized by the Orthodox Church)
Blessed Clemens August Graf von Galen, Bishop of Munster
Orchestral Conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler
Another contemporary of Hugo Eckener’s, Igor Sikorsky (yes the helicopter guy) did just such self-contemplation as Eckener described during World War II and shortly afterward in two of his theological books: “The Message of the Lord’s Prayer” and the “Invisible Encounter” That is correct, Igor Sikorsky wrote theological works.
You can download them at this link:
In “The Message of the Lord’s Prayer”, Sikorsky writes that we have deep within us a divine spark. Let us take this Advent and this Christmas to fan that divine spark into a flame, and from there that flame into the fire of great charity which burns within the souls of saints. Have a blessed Advent and Christmas.
David B.Couts July 28, 2014 at 9:17 pm
I just purchased a small bust that I believe is of Hugo Eckener. It is about 12 inches square, and seems to be made of artificial bronze over plaster. This bust seems to be of Eckener when he was younger. It has him in his nautical cap, bow tie and holding binoculars. I know nothing about where it came from, or when it was made. Does anyone know anything about this bust? Thanks, D.B.C.
John Lee January 28, 2012 at 2:04 pm
I have just watched an American TV prog. entitled ” When weather changed the world” with contributions from Patrick Russell and Herbert Morrison, which I found fascinating — due largely to the fact that I possess two first flight covers bearing US postage stamps for first flights on Graf Zeppelin and Hindenberg – both to Ireland. So these SAE’s wennt from Chicago & NY to Friedrichstraffen – Paris, London and then to DUblin Ireland.
I have Mooney’s book on Hindenberg.
Allan Monzietti May 15, 2011 at 2:57 am
I am hoping that someone in Eckner family might be able to shed some light on this.I am in possession of a 4-color silver pencil made by the NORMA Pen Co. in Germany. It has a patent number of .009 .The top side of the barrel has an inscription in German which reads ‘Gift bought on board the Airship Hindenburg’. If you have any information regarding this pencil or if you may be able to direct me to someone who might have any information, it would be greatly appreciated. I can send hi-res photos if you can receive them.
Thank you. Allan Monzietti
Albert Pawlowski February 1, 2011 at 11:29 am
I’m, trying to find out in which cemetery Dr. Hugo Eckener is buried. I know that he died in Friedrichshaven on August 14, 1954. Many thanks for any help that may be provided.
Ed Regis December 3, 2012 at 2:59 pm
Baden-Württemberg, Germany
You can see a picture of the gravesite and headstone at:
Lolka Esbolka May 15, 2010 at 12:44 pm
There are relatives of Dr. Eckner Hugo living in Budapest Hungary!
You can reach one of them at (, his name is Dr. Andras Poppe and he is the vice head of the Electronic Department of the Budapest University of Technology and Economics.
I even can see similarity between Eckner and Andras.
I hope I am not wrong.
Frank April 2, 2010 at 8:36 pm
Is there any statement by Eckener that actually tells of him being against the Nazis? Because Andreas Horn told me how he hasn’t seen one. So we don’t really know Eckener’s real political views.
And according to a biography, in 1945 he was caught by French occupation forces for “collaboration with the Nazi Party” and fined, and had to be (politically) rehabilitated.
Hendrick Stoops May 16, 2012 at 12:00 pm
Eckener specifically refused the Nazi’s suggestion to use the Freidrichshafen hangar as a rally site (Hitler would have been present at the planned rally), he was careful to fly the Graf Zeppelin around (I think) the San Francisco World’s Fair so that the Swastika painted on one side wouldn’t be seen by people going to the Fair. Eckener also had a pretty dim view of Hitler even though they only met once. In reality, he was arrested by the French government on the charges you mentioned however, he was released and the charges were dropped. By the way would you have the name of the biography? I’d like to give it a read :)
Ed Regis December 3, 2012 at 2:50 pm
A 1955 biography of Eckener by Thor Nielsen (The Zeppelin Story: The Life of Hugo Eckener; London: Alan Wingate; tr. from the German), contains several anti-Nazi statements from Eckener; see pp. 207-210. A problem with this bio is that it’s rather fictionalized at points and its quotes cannot always be trusted. Douglas Botting’s Dr Eckener’s Dream Machine also includes material showing that Eckener disapproved of the Nazis from the very beginning.
Dan December 3, 2012 at 6:23 pm
(Although Botting’s book is certainly an enjoyable read, it should not be considered a scholarly reference.)
Marvyn Turrell March 15, 2010 at 1:56 pm
Thanks for providing such brilliant information on airships.
Have you written a book on the topic?
Zach Anderson February 20, 2010 at 9:06 am
Hey Dan,
Do you (or anybody else reading this) know what became of Eckener’s family?
Dan ( February 22, 2010 at 9:05 am
Goodyear airshipman Harold Dick wrote about a visit to Eckener’s son, Knut Eckener, in 1967, in which Knut expressed concern for the family name since his son, the sole survivor with the Eckener name, was unmarried. Knut died in 1968 of heart problems which had been diagnosed many years earlier.
Unfortunately I don’t know what actually became of Hugo Eckener’s sole grandson (Knut’s son). My friend, writer and historian Patrick Russell, who has done extensive research into the individuals associated with zeppelin history, may be able to post additional details.
Hilary Wright February 28, 2010 at 12:38 am
Many thanks for you comments on Knut Eckener. I am related the Hugo Eckener and have therefore always been keen follower of anything to do with Airships. My brother is a pilot (helicopters) and has a very keen interest also.
Our Great Great Grandfather Frederick Nicholas Lange (born in Flensburgh & died in Clifton New Zealand) His sister Louise married Dr Hugo Eckener. We are not sure but Hugo may have married twice. We would be very interested in your friend, Patrick Russell’s input into on going history of this event.
Kind Regards
Hilary Wright
Patrick Russell February 28, 2010 at 3:52 pm
Hi there,
I don’t know anything about this off the top of my head, but I’ll look through my files and see what I can come up with. I have a German-language biography of Dr. Eckener by Rolf Italiaander that might shed a little light on this. Hopefully I’ll have some time this week to read through and see if anything comes up regarding Dr. Eckener’s marriage(s). I’ll let you know what I find out.
Take care,
Raewyn Hansen October 8, 2011 at 7:13 am
Hilary – I am also a great great grand-daughter of related Frederick , therefore related to the Eckener family. I have Family Tree Maker and have many Lange relatives entered but I don’t have you. I wonder where you fit in? I’d love you to contact me
Many thanks
Hilary Wright December 5, 2011 at 11:36 pm
Hello Raewyn,
Wow, asking questions about Airships has given another way of sourcing info on my family history !
My Mother was Marjorie Snell (nee Lange) b 1929 Invercargill NZ. Her father was Christian Carfrae Lange, born 7 Jan 1897 in Pukerau NZ d 5 Feb 1990 (Lange’s Bread). His father was Christian Lange b 10.3.1863 Tuapeka NZ d 1931 Invercargill NZ. His Parents were Frederick Nicholas Lange b 27.7.1832 in Flensburg, Denmark d Clifton NZ 1971. One of his sisters Anna Louise, married Hugo Eckner and her other sister Catherine, married a H. Joosten.
I do have other bits & pieces going back a bit further but more research is needed to fill this out. I also have some photos. I am happy to start sharing things with you. My email is Even our emails addresses have similarity !
Kind Regards Hilary
HELMUT MROZIK September 3, 2012 at 9:55 am
Hugo Eckener must have married a second time. My mother told me some time ago he was married to a member of the Simon family, a very distant relation of ours. I met some members of that family, actually two dentists, as a little boy either in Fredrichshafen or Konstanz. If you go to the Zeppelin Museum in Friedrichshafen you can hear a recording of Hugo Eckener’s voice.
Best Regards Helmut Mrozik
Jürgen Wehner April 6, 2010 at 1:19 pm
At – a Flensburg Association preparing a permanent Eckener-exhibit at our cities landmark ‘Nordertor’ starting May, 5th, 2010 – we are in touch with Hugo Eckeners grandson, Dr.Uwe Eckener. For more information: /
Jürgen Wehner
Rheanna November 2, 2014 at 5:23 am
I have a photograph of Hugo that has been handed down from my family. My grandmothers name was Viola Eichner/Dazy. My dad said the picture is of one of his relatives and I am trying to follow the lineage. I assume that when one of the Eckeners came to the US the spelling of the name was changed. Viola’s fathers name was William.
Susan M January 27, 2010 at 11:04 am
Great information. I have a large photograph of Graf Zeppelin with a cameo of Eckener in the corner from my great grandmother — looks to be possibly from one of the stops the Graf Zeppelin made on its round the world trip.
Luis Lapique November 3, 2009 at 9:36 am
I am writing from Uruguay, in South America.
I have a cap from an officer of the Zeppelin, with a badge that says “Zeppelin Eckener Spende” given to my grandfather, when the Zeppelin came down to Buenos Aires.
My question is if you may know where can I sell it and what could be an estimated price.
I can´t include a picture in this message, would you be interested in receiving the picture, let me know where should I send it.
Thanks and best regards.
Luis Lapique
Hareedy Graz July 10, 2009 at 7:13 pm
I found your blog by chance . but i have to say that it’s great blog very useful information and very interesting subjects just greetings and good luck
i’m not going i will be always checking for the way Graz is a very lovely city I enjoyed it so much.
Rudolph W. Wittemann June 19, 2009 at 5:36 pm
Do you have any information on Anton Wittemann, the engineer on the Hindenburg ? He may be a very distant relative !
Dan ( June 19, 2009 at 6:09 pm
Thank you for your comment!
There are a few references to Captain Wittemann on this site:
I do have additional biographical information about him, and I might do a short page about him when I get a chance. In the meantime, if you have any specific questions, perhaps I can help.
Rudolph W. Wittemann June 20, 2009 at 9:15 pm
There is a connection between Anton and Wendelin Wittemann, who was born also in Mingolsheim, in 1813, died 1862. I believe there is a connection between George Anton Euring (1857 – 1912 ) and his father Franz (Francis) Euring (1784 – 1843 )
Franz had a brother Martin, and a connection to Anton, born Nov. 1887 , father was Robert Elsen., these from my Grandfather’s records.
George Anthony Euring, III July 1, 2011 at 10:53 pm
My name is George Anthony Euring III and my great-grandfather’s name was George A. Euring and his father’s name (as well as his brother’s) was Francis. I wonder if these are the same Euring’s that you are referring to and if so what their connection to the Hindenberg was.
Patrick Russell February 28, 2010 at 3:57 pm
I don’t know if it will help you to establish a family connection, but I have an article about Captain Wittemann on my web page (
Most of the information in the article concerns Captain Wittemann’s airship career, but perhaps you’ll find something there that might help you.
Stewart Beveridge June 1, 2009 at 5:48 am
Very good documentary on ABC TV australia 31/05/09 ‘The Airships’, ‘Ship of Dreams’ show footage from the Trans-Atlantic trip and the first Round the World flight with the Graf Zeppelin with Hugo Eckner.
I knew a llittle about the Zeppelins and the LTA R1 and R2 airships as well as the crash of the Hindenberg, but this gave considerable detail of which I was not aware. I had previously seen a documentary investigating the fire of the Hindenberg which concluded (and demonstrated) that one of the causes was the dope impregnated outer-skin which had Aluminium included in it. This aluminium assisted in the fire similar to the effect of burning Magnesium.
My 4th Year Freench of many years ago requires me to comment in English.
Well written article.
Dan ( June 10, 2009 at 8:22 am
Thank you for the comment.
The role played by Hindenburg’s dope (which contained aluminum powder) in the ship’s 1937 crash has been the subject of a lot of discussion; unfortunately, many media outlets have given a lot of attention to Addison Bain’s “Incendiary Paint Theory” perhaps because it is “surprising” and therefore attracts public interest, but it is not supported by the scientific evidence. I will be discussing this at greater length on the Hindenburg Disaster page, and the issue is discussed in some comments on the Hindenburg History page.
Maurice COLLET April 1, 2009 at 3:37 am
Je suis admiratif devant votre site!!. Vieux collectionneur de 79 ans je possède une vingtaine de cartes et d’enveloppes de ZEPPELIN
Dan ( April 2, 2009 at 5:31 pm
Une vingtaine de cartes zeppelin? Pour moi? Vous êtes trop aimable! Quel merveilleux cadeau!
(Je vous taquine, bien sûr!)
Merci bien de visiter mon site Web.
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