Postcard featuring David Schwarz
This left-hand side of this postcard features a portrait of David Schwarz, pictured in a circle in the top-left corner, with his invention, later known as the Zeppelin. The aircraft appears in the sky over what seems to be a European city. The (German) text below the picture reads:
“David Schwarz The aluminium air vessel at 280 metres high.”
The other side of the postcard features a close-up image of the airship, which is being anchored by a large group of people who seem to be dressed in uniform.
David Schwarz was born in Hungary in 1850. A wood merchant by profession, he did not have any formal training but became interested in mechanics and invented the first all-metal airship. He unfortunately died before its inaugural flight. After his death, Schwarz’s wife sold the rights to his invention to the German general Ferdinand Adolf Heinrich August Graf von Zeppelin. (The contract between the two parties can be found in the David Schwarz archives at the NLI.)
The designs were adapted and led to the creation of the Zeppelin. The airship was initially used for civilian transport but then as bombers in World War I.
Science teachers can use this resource when discussing the mechanics of air transport. History teachers can use this postcard to discuss the significance of this invention, its role in World War I, and the Hindenburg Disaster.
Jewish Studies teachers can use this postcard when discussing European Jewish history in general and specifically about the Jews of Hungary in the nineteenth century and the involvement of Jews in science, engineering, and other spheres of modern life in their countries.
What can you see in these pictures?
What language is used on this postcard?
Who could the man in the photograph be?
What is the connection between the man in the picture and the aircraft?
What is the aircraft that is pictured in the sky (front) and on the ground (back)?
What are the people in the right-hand picture doing? How are they dressed?
Reading Between the Lines
The clipping used on this postcard came from German newspapers. Why do you think Germans were interested in this invention?
Research the Zeppelin in different sources.
Is Schwarz mentioned?
Why do you think this is so?
How is the man in the picture dressed?
What does that tell you about him?
What does the fact that a Jewish engineer invented such a significant aircraft tell us about the education and the integration of Jews in nineteenth-century Europe?
Have you ever met someone who invented something?
Describe your experience.
Have you ever invented anything?
Do you know of any other Jewish inventors?
David Schwarz is not often credited for his invention.
Design a memorial plaque that could be placed outside his house commemorating the inventor and his achievement.
What would you write? What design would you use?
How do you think transport will look in the future?
Draw a picture of what it will look like in 2040.