The question of the descent of Karl Arnstein, chief constructor at the Zeppelin works at Friedrichshafen and builder of the ZR-3, holds the attention of the German press today. Papers with an anti-Semitic tendency, while praising the achievement of the ZR-3, do not mention that Arnstein, Germany’s pride today, is of Jewish descent; some claim that he is only a half-Jew. However, the “Vassische Zeitung” declares emphatically that “the designer and builder of the latest, large peace Zeppelin is a Jew, Karl Arnstein, born of Jewish parents in Prague, Czechoslovakia.”
A report from Friedrichshafen states that the works at the Zeppelin plant, receiving news that the ZR-3 landed safely in Lakehurst have arranged a demonstration in honor of Arnstein.
Karl Arnstein was born in Uotich, a village near Prague. His parents were both deaf and dumb, having met in an institution for the deaf and dumb. Their children, however, were all normal. The necessity of communicating with their parents by signs had a peculiar effect upon their children. In his early youth Karl, who was shy, gave the empression that he was deaf and dumb. Naturally modest and retiring, caring little for the usual boys’ pleasures, he had one passion-mathematics.
At the age of 21 he became assistant to the famous Professor Melan of the German Technicum at Prague. He was considered for a lectureship at the Technicum but owing to his Jewish origin, he was not given the appointment. His fame, however, grew very rapidly. In 1910 he was invited to supervise the restoration work of the dome of Strasbourg. The dome was threatening to collapse and many engineers shrank from the task. Later, he built the famous bridge in Charlehausen, Switzerland. In 1914 he was invited to join the staff at the Zeppelin works, in Friedrichshafen.
Here, the only Jew in Friedrichshafen, he met a Christian girl with whom he fell in love and, after she had embraced Judaism, they were married. His wife’s love for Arnstein and their happiness made such an impression on her family that her three sisters, who never before knew anything of Jews or Judaism, decided to marry only Jews and they fulfilled their decision.
Arnstein has so far built 60 Zeppelins, including the ZR-3.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.