Plaquette for David Schwartz
By Manfred Anson
1932, when I was ten years old, the newspaper of the small
Bavarian village in which I lived wrote that the Graf Zeppelin
would fly over our town on a certain day of the month. Everyone
of course, had seen pictures of this cigar shaped dirigible
balloon, and now we would actually see it floating in the
air over us. Almost all of the 4500 inhabitants gathered in
the streets, on the walls and towers surrounding the town,
to greet this wonderful invention and its master pilot Dr.
Hugo Eckner when it appeared on the horizon and sailed towards
our mediaeval town.
was about noontime when the Zeppelin was almost in the center
of the town. It blotted out the sun, and a great shadow fell
across it, much wider than the actual width of the aircraft.
It flew only a couple hundred meters above ground and many
people ran into their houses fearing that it might perhaps
fall into the streets and kill them all.
monster hovered for a few minutes, turned around and flew
off in the direction of Munich and I never saw it again. A
few years later, I learned that a sister airship, the Hindenberg,
crashed on landing in an. Obscure town in New Jersey called
Lakehurst. Little did I know that one day, I would live in
New Jersey a bit north of that airbase.
could I have known then, that many years later, I would become
a collector of medals of famous Jews or Jewish events as well
as Jewish institutions, with a parallel interest in stamps.
three years ago, I acquired two stamps issued in Hungary.
One portrays a man named David Schwarz and a peculiar looking
pencil shaped airship. The other, a recognizable portrait
of both Schwarz and Count von Zeppelin with a familiar zeppelin
aircraft in the background.
confirmed that Schwarz was Jewish through the Encyclopedia
Judaica, where he is named as the actual inventor of the first
dirigible airship with a solid metallic frame.
almost 100 years, balloonists had tried to create a gas filled
vehicle which could be maneuvered in all directions and up
and down, flying in all kinds of weather. It was fate that
a Jewish timber merchant from Zagreb, Croatia, but born in
Keszthely, Hungary, would take up the hobby of aeronautics
and experiment with the construction of a rigid airship.
the late 19th century, this idea was not a new one, and several
inventors had similar conceptions in mind, amongst them a
German Count Ferdinand Von Zeppelin, who had recently returned
from the Franco Prussian war. David Schwarz, born in either
1845 or 1850 or 1852 since accounts vary, was the first to
use a metallic frame, with a gondola and engine hanging beneath
had been discovered but was very expensive. A newly found
process, recently perfected, enabled the cost to be considerably
reduced, and with the addition of various alloys, made stronger.
In his endeavor to get his invention literally "off the ground"
Schwarz was fortunate to become acquainted with Carl Berg,
owner of a metal factory in Westphalia, Germany. Berg was
able to produce the metallic frame, and also to contribute
to the finance of the project. Without the expertise and perseverances
of Carl Berg and his factory, Schwarz might not have been
able to construct his invention.
idea of a steerable airship must have been on the mind of
many great intellectuals and thinkers of that period. Another
Hungarian, born at the other end of that country wrote in
his diary on May 12th, 1896, on page 398 of the German edition:
great things do not need a firm foundation, the earth floats
in the air therefore I can establish the Jewish State without
a firm support and yet fortify it. The secret lays in the
movement. I believe that somehow, somewhere, the steerable
airship will be found, the weight will be overcome by the
movement and not the ship but its movement has to be steered."
P.O. Box 20255
Fountain Hills, AZ 85268