Monday, November 5, 2012

The Airship President - Part 7

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FRANKFURT, Jan 12, 1940- In a ceremony today at Zeppelin-Goodyear International’s German Headquarters, former President of Germany Hugo Eckener was named the Honorary President of ZGI.  They day to day oppeartion’s of the company will be handled by Ernst Lehmann, who has headed the Zeppelin Company since Eckener entered politics 8 years ago. Eckener’s son, Knut, is the head of ZGI’s European Operations, and has overseen the design of the last several types of airships built in Germany.
-“Eckener Returns to Zeppelin-Goodyear,”  The New York Times, January 13, 1940.

            Eckener returned to Friedrichshafen amid great pomp and circumstance, as his hometown welcomed their favorite son. Eckener quickly got back to the Zeppelin Company, eager to get back to his life’s work, as he continued to refer to the ligher-than-air development. Named as the Honorary President of ZGI, he mainly worked in development, helping design teams come up with new innovations at the Friedrichshafen facility.
            However, his retirement would be short lived. The new regime in Berlin was lacking in the proper foreign affairs management that Eckener had excelled in. Germany was eyeing Austria and a possible unification of the two German-speaking nations, but feared ruffling the feathers of other European powers. And then Italy was wanting to expand into Africa and asking for German assistance. And the icing on the cake of mounting international issues was slowly souring relations between the Soviet Union and the new German Empire.
- Liebermann, Dr. William. The Zeppelin President."Chapter 8: From President to Foreign Minister ” Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003

The White House, January 30- President Roosevelt today announced that he would not seek reelection to a third term as President of the United States. Many had tried to convince the FDR to seek a third term, but he is quoted by a White House staffer as saying, “Every President since George Washington has only served two terms. I see no reason to break that tradition now. We are at peace, and I have served this country quite well, in my opinion. It is time for me to return to Hyde Park.”
            Now the question is, who will run against Republican favorite and likely nominee Wendell Wilkie. Most here in the capital believe that current Secretary of State Cordell Hull will be the likely choice. However there are others that say a more popular candidate with a better chance of winning over Wilkie would be Will Rogers of Oklahoma.
-“FDR: This is My Last Term,”  The Washington Post, February 1, 1940.

June 14, 1940- Chancellor Adenauer called me today, asking me to come to Berlin to meet with himself and the Emperor. Apparently they want me to help the new regime. I told them I’d consider it. I’m very torn as to what to do. I want to devote the rest of my life to the development of the airship, working out the kinks in current designs to further improve the technology, but at the same time, I do not want to see Germany in trouble. I devoted the last 8 years of my life to make sure that my country would succeed in the future.
June 17, 1940- I’m going to Berlin tomorrow, to meet with the Emperor and the Chancellor, flying on the LZ-134 Graf Zeppelin II.  I feel that, despite my desire to stay on here at ZGI, I must put my country first. And in all reality, since I’ve been out of the picture at Zeppelin for so long that the next generation has already taken the reigns, and me trying to step back in is really not a good idea.
So, with that said, I’m going back to Berlin, to serve as the pleasure of the Kaiser.
- From the personal diary of President Hugo Eckener “Personal Documents of President Eckener.” The Zeppelin Institute, Friedrichshafen.

BERLIN, JUNE 24- Emperor Louis Ferdinand today appointed former President Hugo Eckener as the new Foreign Minister of the German Empire. Chancellor Adenauer stated that, “Eckener’s ability to negotiate with people from around the world is an invaluable asset, one that is needed as we enter into this new decade. He proved that he can fullfill the duties of this office during the last 8 years, during which time he took on negotiations first hand that have benifited not only Germany, but all of the world.”
            Eckener told the press after the announcement, “I am willing to serve my homeland one more. My services are needed, and I humbly offer them to the Kaiser and the German people.”
            There are several issues facing the Imperial government. Chief among them is the desire of Emperor Louis Ferdinand to bring the German-speaking nation of Austria into the Empire to bring about the “Great-Germany” that was the vision of generations passed. Another worry of the new government is the slowly worsening relations with the Soviet Union. The Soviet ambassador in Berlin told the Foreign Ministry that they are concearned about the fact that the Emperor’s wife, Empress Kira Kirillovna, is the sister of Vladimir Kirillovich, the Pretender to the Russian throne.
-“Eckener Appointed as Foreign Minister,” Frankfurter Zeitung, June 25, 1940.

CHICAGO, JULY 18- The Democratic National Convention has come to a close, with current Secretary of State Cordell Hull being nominated as the Democratic candidate for the Presidency, with his running mate being well known radio personality Will Rogers.
            Rogers was the surprise for the ticket, but many here in Chicago hope that he will inject new enthusiasm behind this ticket as the country gears up for the next Presidential election in November.
-“Dems Nominate Hull, with Rogers as VP,” The New York Times, July 19, 1940.

VIENNA, AUG 19- German Foreign Minister Hugo Eckener was in Vienna today, meeting with officials from the Austrian government to discuss the topic of possible annexation of Austria by the German Empire. His Imperial Highness Kaiser Louis Ferdinand has stated that he would like to bring the Austrian’s into the German Empire, to achieve the “Great Germany” that was the dream of many Germans before German Unification in the 1870s.
            Eckener stated to reporters in Vienna that, “I am here just to gauge the plausability of some sort of union between Austria and Germany, in the interest of uniting the two largest German-speaking nations in the world in some form. This is just a preliminary visit, and I do not expect any sort of final agreement to be made this trip.”
            France has stated that they are very leery of any union between Germany and Austria, and may end up being a major roadblock to any plan eventually developed by the German and Austrian governments.
-“Eckener Goes to Vienna,” The Times (London), August 20, 1940.

TOKYO, SEP 1- The Japanese Imperial Airship Service launched it’s newest passenger airship, the JIAS-03 Amaterasu today at the Imperial Airship Works in Tokyo. Emperor Hirohito, who has taken an personal facinaction with Japan’s airship developments, attended the launch ceremony.
            Japan is not really known for it’s passenger airship service, this only being the third passenger vessel built by the JIAS since the airship program began in that country in 1931. Most airships produced by the IAW have been for the Imperial Navy, and are considered “expendable”. They are rather small (smaller that either the USS Akron or the LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin) and have what some airshipmen would call a skelaton crew of 30.
            This new ship, however, is quite a site, at nearly 1000 feet long it can rival most of the airships currently in service with PanAm or DELAG or the British Air Service, with room for 75 passengers in comparably spacious cabins. The Amaterasu will soon begin regular flights between Tokyo and Honolulu, an agreement recently worked out by the US and Imperal governments.
-“Japan Launches Newest Zep,” Honolulu Star-Bulliten, September 3, 1940

FRANKFURT- Zeppelin-Goodyear International has released plans for several new airships that will be muc larger than both the Hindenburg class or the GZ-9 class craft that the company currently builds. There are currently plans for two new types of passenger airships, both of which were unveiled today at ZGI-Germany. The German’s will be building the LZ-135 class ship, nicknamed the “Kronprinz” Class, and the American’s will be building the GZ-18 class ship, nicknamed the “Americana” Class. Both ships will be over 1,600 feet long and be capable of carrying over 150 passengers. Once built, these will be the largest aircraft ever built by human hands. As with all American airships the GZ-18 class will use helium as a lifting gas.  Unlike all previous German airships the LZ-135 class will use a mixture of hydrogen and helium and will be designed with an eye toward eventual conversion to using pure helium.
            Although the finer details of the amenities of these craft have not been officially released to the public, our sources inside ZGI has stated that one craft may have the option of being fitted with a small pool. Imagine, swimming in a pool while floating high in the sky above the world. What an amazing feat something like that will be.
-“ZGI Plans New Ships,” Popular Mechanics, October 1, 1940.

WASHINGTON, NOV 5- It was announced late this evening that Democratic Candidate Cordell Hull won the presidency, beating out his Republican opponent Wendell Willkie with roughly 52.3% of the vote, trumping Willkie’s 47.7%.
            Some here in the capital are giving much credit for Hull’s win to the now Vice President-elect Will Rogers, who travelled even more than Hull, visiting every state during the last several months, campaining for the democratic ticket. President Roosevelt stated that “I am delighted at the results of this election, and feel good knowing that this great nation of ours is in such good hands when I leave office in January.”
-“Hull Wins Presidency,” The New York Times, November 6, 1940

December 17, 1940- We had a secret meeting here in Berlin with the Austrian ambassador the last three days. And we’ve finally come to an agreement. Austria will become part of the German Empire next year. We’re going to make the formal announcement on January 1. The Emperor is quite pleased with the agreement, as is Konrad.
We are going to have the Austrian President in Berlin on January 1 to sign the formal treaty, which will establish a three month timeline for transition. It’s all very exciting, and I for one am glad everything has finally be settled. After the ceremony on the First, I am going to take some much needed vacation down in Friedrichshafen. I am very eager to see the progress on the LZ-135.
- From the personal diary of President Hugo Eckener “Personal Documents of President Eckener.” The Zeppelin Institute, Friedrichshafen.

BERLIN, JAN 1- During a surprise visit by the President of Austria, it was announced that Germany’s southern neigber would be annexed by the German Empire. Kaiser Louis Ferdinand and Austrian President Wilehlm Miklas today signed the Germanic Unification Treaty at the Imperial Palace in Berlin, which estabishes a three month timeline for the dissolution of the Austrain Republic as it becomes part of the German Empire.
            The other Powers in Europe now look wairly at Kaiser and his growing realm, and hope that the past expansionism that dragged Europe into the worst war in human history does not reawaken. German Foreign Minister Hugo Eckener as stated repeatedly to the foreign press here in the Germanic capital that the Empire means absolutely no ill will towards it’s European neighbors. Herr Eckener has a good reputation amongst the leaders of this continent from his time as President of Germany, and so most leaders, especially those in Britain, are somewhat soothed by his statements.
            Only time will tell how true they are however.
-“Germany and Austria Will Unite,” The Times (London), January 2, 1941.

WASHINGTON, JAN 20- Today, on the steps of the United States Capitol Building, Cordell Hull was sworn in as the 33rd President of the United States, as thousands of well-wishers and supporters gathered to hear his inagural address.
            “We are a nation of peace,” Hull stated during his speech, “We are a nation that seeks to promote peace wherever we can. Under no circumstance shall this nation ever willingly allow a conflict of the magnitude of the Great War to ever break out. But rest assured that while we seek peace, we will not grow weak. Should some fiend seek to disturb our security or our way of life, America will be ready.”
            President Hull went on to state that America would seek continued good relations with her allies around the world, especially the great Powers of Europe, and would also continue to push the boundaries of technological development. As he said this, the GZ-09 USS Eagle, the Presidential Airship, floated overhead, and later sprinkled red, white, and blue confettie when Hull finished his speech.
            Famed radio personality-turned Vice President of the United States Will Rogers of Oklahoma was also sworn in today, and those of us from his home state couldn’t be prouder. In attendance at the capital was Oklahoma governor Leon Phillips along with several other state officials.
-“Hull and Rogers Take Office,” The Daily Oklahoman, January 21, 1941

DANZIG, FEB 21- City officials in Danzig are reporting rioting between German and Polish residents after a young German boy was murdered by a member of the Polish National movement, which seeks to have the city joined to Poland. Citizens in the German quarter have tossed out local police officials from their neighborhoods, and are calling for assistance from abroad. Danzig’s mayor has yet to make a formal statement, but there are fears that he will ask for assistance from Poland, which could touch of some sort of conflict. Things are especially tense in Berlin, where Chancellor Adenauer and his cabinet have been at the Imperial Palace since the rioting began.
            The British Government has stated that should the City of Danzig need assistance, they should seek that help from a neutral party, not Poland or Germany, to avoid any possible conflict, and that should they be asked, Britain would send assistance.
-“Riots in Danzig,” The Times (London), February 22, 1941.

DANZIG, FEB 27- The situation in the Free City of Danzig is worsening as the area enters it’s 7th day of fighting between German and Polish citizens. Today, the mayor was shot in his home, and is in serious condition at a local hospital.
            The German neighborhoods have banded together and declared themselves to be the “Free State of Danzig”, claiming that the Danzig city government was overrun by nationalist Poles who would turn the city over to Poland.
            As of today, neither the Polish or German governments have taken any direct action to this worsening crisis, despite calls for involvment in both countries.
-“Riots in Danzig Worsen,” Frankfurter Zeitung, February 28, 1941.

DANZIG, MAR 1- The situation in Danzig has seriously deteriorated. The cities mayor died yesterday from wounds he suffered from on February 27. Since then, fighing between the Free City of Danzig and the so called Free State of Danzig has intensified. So much so that the Danzig city fathers have asked that Poland send troops to restore order. As of yet, troops from Poland have mobilzed and are expected in the city before nightfall. This has prompted the Free State to ask Germany to send troops, but Germany has yet to respond.
            If things do not improve and soon, open war could break out. Many members of the German Reichstag have been calling for the Emperor to send troops in to protect the German citizens of Danzig from the Poles, but as of yet the Imperial government has yet to respond to the situation. Some of the more radical members of the parliament are calling for Chancellor Adenauer’s resignation if action is not taken soon.
-“Poland Sends Troops,” Frankfurter Zeitung, March 2, 1941.

March 2, 1941- It seems as though the entire situation in Poland is going to hell in a handbasket. Polish troops have entered centeral Danzig, securing the Polish sector of the city. As of yet, they have not entered the so called Free State, but it’s bound to happen. Chancellor Adenauer is planning on asking the Emperor to send troops from East Prussia to secure the Free State. If that happens, I forsee war breaking out. Some of the cabinet members are calling for a declaration of war against Poland and an outright invasion. This could all get very bad.
- From the personal diary of President Hugo Eckener “Personal Documents of President Eckener.” The Zeppelin Institute, Friedrichshafen.

DANZIG, MARCH 5- With Polish troops occupying parts of Danzig, the German Foreign Minister Hugo Eckener has flown the Graf Zeppelin into the city. The Imperial Government has stated that Eckener is in the city to try and broker a peace deal before a conflict breaks out.
            The Foreign Office in London has stated that the Germans are asking the British to possibly come in as peace keepers between the Polish and German factions in Danzig. It seems likely that the the Navy and Army will accept the request and give assistance.
-“Eckener Flies to Danzig,” The Times (London). March 6, 1941.

DANZIG, MARCH 7- Foreign Minister Hugo Eckener has been able to broker a truce between the two sides of conflict. Right now, the Free State of Danzig and the newly renamed Free City of Gdansk are not fighting. Eckener is remaining in the city until a formal treaty can be worked out.
            “We cannot allow Europe to be dragged into conclict over one city, no mater how important it is. Both sides must come to the tabel of peace and negotiate. An agreement can be found. It must.” Eckener stated this to reporters outside the conflicted city where he’s maintaining a temporary office aboard the Graf Zeppelin.
            Poland has recalled it’s troops to the boarder of the the Free Zone, and Britain has sent in troops to maintain order between the two factions within Danzig.
-“Truce Called in Danzig,” Frankfurt Zeitung, March 8, 1941

DANZIG, MARCH 12- German officials are reporting that Foreign Minister Hugo Eckener is safe and unharmed after a disgruntled Polish citizen of “Gdansk”, also known as Polish Danzig planted a bomb in a package delivered to Eckener’s temporary office at the Graf Zeppelin. The bomb exploded while Eckener was meeting The entire craft was destoryed within seconds, engulfed in flame. 17 people were killed, and over 40 are recovering in a hospital in German Danzig.
            Minister Eckener has stated that he will not let this blatant attempt at terrorism stop him from pursuing peace in Danzig. “I did not let terror deterr me when I served the German people as their President, and I will not do it now as Foreign Minister,”
            Talks have been scheduled between the leaders of Gdansk, Danzig, Poland, Germany, and Great Britain, and are expected to be held in Copenhagen sometime later this month or in April.
-“Graf Bombed, Eckener Safe,” Washington Post, March 13, 1941.

            The early part of 1941 was a very dramatic time for Germany. The Danzig Crisis was the at the spotlight for months, overshadowing the unficiation of “Greater Germany” with the annexation of Austria on April 1. That transistion went off peacefully, with the Emperor and Chancellor attending a well done ceremony in Vienna where the Austrian state officially ceased to exist. Very few in that country had anything negative to say about it, and were happy to be part of “Greater Germany”. 
            After the bombing of the Graf Zeppelin on March 12, 1941, Hugo Eckener threw himself all the more at the task of bringing peace to this troubled city. And his work payed off. In mid April, Chancellor Adenauer and Dr. Eckener met with their Polish and British counterparts, along with leaders of both Gdansk and Danzig in the Copenhagen to work out a permanent solution to the problem of Danzig. On April 29, the leaders all signed the Copenhagen-Danzig Accord, which did the following:
            -Turned over the southern half of the “Polish Corridor” over to the German Empire, linking East Prussia to the rest of Germany.
            -Gave full passage rights to Poland to pass through the German section of the Vistula River.
            -Split Danzig and Gdansk leagly into two cities
            -Made Danzig into a German enclave within the Polish Corridor
            -Made the Port of Danzig/Gdansk controlled jointly between British, Polish, and German troops.
            While many feared that the situation would cause a major headache and in the end not solve any problems, the violence in the region subsided. Soon, things were back to normal and all parties involved adjusted quite well to the new situation. In reaction to his efforts, Hugo Eckener was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize the following year.
- Liebermann, Dr. William. The Zeppelin President."Chapter 8: From President to Foreign Minister ” Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003

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