Some time ago, I mentioned to my Dad that I was looking for public domain pictures of airships for the cover of an upcoming Pegasus Pulp e-book. And my Dad casually mentioned that we have original photos of the LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin, which my grandfather took when she visited Bremen.
“Well, where are they then?”, I asked. “In the big box of photos in the basement”, my Dad said.
So tonight I dug up a big metal tin full of vintage photos from among lots of other boxes in my parents’ basement and sorted through dozens of historical photographs of the sport club my grandparents were members of (with the unfortunate name of MTV Bremen), holiday snapshots from the 1950s, lots of photos of parties my grandparents attended (they must have been quite the party animals) and old family photos. Finally, I found this:
As you can see, my grandfather, Adolf Buhlert Sr., was not the world’s best photographer, although he must have been enthusiastic, considering he had his own camera in the late 1920s. And being stored in a metal box that not just survived WWII but smells of it, too, didn’t exactly help the condition of the photos either, though they were in better shape than many others.
I will see if I can restore the photos a bit via the magic of Photoshop, but for now I wanted to post them as they are, specks, fingerprints and all.
Both the Graf Zeppelin and the Hindenburg as well as LZ-130 Graf Zeppelin II visited Bremen several times in the 1920s and 1930s. So how to find out when these photos were taken?
First of all, this is clearly LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin, because the Hindenburg and her sister ship, the proposed Graf Zeppelin II, had a subtly different shape and layout.
Now the Graf Zeppelin visited Bremen at least twice, once during her trial flights in September and October of 1928 and then again during a propaganda trip in 1936. Since the tail fins are not marked with the swastika nor any other insignia, I would say that these photos were indeed taken during the trial flights in 1928, because the airship would have been marked (and marred) with the swastika in 1936.
My grandparents lived (and my uncle still lives) in a house directly under the approach to Bremen airport since the late 1920s. There is not a whole lot of the surroundings visible, but it looks as if the photos were taken on the street in front of my grandparents’ house.
My grandfather died much too early in January 1967. I never met him. My grandmother died shortly before Christmas 1985, when I was twelve years old. If either of them had any stories about how awesome it was to see a zeppelin flying over their house, I never heard them.