By John Duggan, Henry Cord Meyer (auth.)
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Additional resources for Airships in International Affairs, 1890–1940
A comparable enthusiasm was not seen at the Schütte-Lanz works because the charismatic leadership was lacking, the ﬁrm was in business so brieﬂy, and its products became notoriously unreliable. Yet even here Friedrichshafen designers were stubbornly reluctant to accept Schütte’s design improvements, while Schütte’s group persisted inﬂexibly too long with wood girder frames and then belatedly was stranded in a blind alley of tubular duralumin experiments. Comparable strains were even greater in Britain, where the initial informal contacts between the design teams for R100 and R101 later gave way to a defensive wall of silence between the two parties.
These two basic aspects constantly played into a third one – the workaday politics of the modern industrial world. Such political interactions were, of course, not limited to the rigid airship; but the role they played there became uniquely prominent. In common parlance both ‘politics’ and ‘politician’ have various derogatory connotations. Such use is not intended here. We will deal rather with politics as the arts and practicabilities of governance. Here we encounter the competing groups and interests seeking to inﬂuence that governance and also the forcefulness of individual personalities in those endeavours.
And now, almost miraculously, occurred a nationwide secular epiphany that is the very stuff of vivid social history. With its impression of success instantly transformed into catastrophe, and its awareness of the Count’s lonely work of nearly two decades turned to ashes, the German public released an avalanche of public compassion and ﬁnancial consolation. Telephone calls, telegrams, and letters poured into Friedrichshafen from all corners of Germany. Many are the stories of pennies taken from children’s money boxes, of marks squeezed from housewives’ kitchen budgets, and of a thousand other small, heartfelt contributions from the common man.