1908: The miracle of Echterdingen – or how the Zeppelin Foundation was formed

On August 5, 1908, the airship LZ 4 built by Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin burst into flames on the plains of Filderstadt (today known as Stuttgart-Echterdingen) after it had been ripped from its moorings because of the weather and the hydrogen in the hull had ignited due to electrostatic discharges. “I’m a doomed man,” the Count supposedly said when he saw the wreckage. But the tragedy of the airship was seen as a national tragedy by the population. Germans raised a total of 6.25 million gold marks for the Count in order to support him in his inventiveness and entrepreneurial spirit – the so-called “Zeppelin Fund of the German People”. The Zeppelin Foundation that still exists today and Luftschiffbau Zeppelin GmbH (“Airship Travel Corporation”) were established and a new zeppelin was built using these donations.

LZ 4 which burst into flames in 1908.
©Archiv der Luftschiffbau Zeppelin GmbH

Other companies such as Maybach Motorenbau GmbH, ZF Friedrichshafen AG and Dornier GmbH subsequently originated from the Zeppelin Foundation. The present Zeppelin Group was founded in Friedrichshafen in 1950 in homage to the Count’s entrepreneurial spirit.

Further information

1900: Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin and his vision of an airship

Zeppelin Foundation (German language only)

Zeppelin Museum in Friedrichshafen (Germany)

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