History of the Zeppelin-Stiftung

The count's vision was the conquest of the air. With this in mind, he founded the Zeppelin Foundation in 1908.
Historical airship
© Archiv der Luftschiffbau Zeppelin GmbH

With the ascent of the first airship LZ 1 on July 2, 1900, the starting shot was fired for Zeppelin aviation. The first trips were successful and the Zeppelin was predicted to have a great future. Then came the setback: in 1908 a storm destroyed the airship LZ 4 and Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin was on the brink of collapse with his company. In an unprecedented wave of willingness to help, the population and parts of the economy expressed their solidarity and donated a total of 6.2 million marks for the continuation of airship transport. With this donation, Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin founded Luftschiffbau Zeppelin GmbH and the foundation Zeppelin-Stiftung in 1908.

The original purpose of the Zeppelin-Stiftung was the construction of airships, the promotion of airship aviation and the participation in companies that were involved in the construction or sale of aircraft. Count Zeppelin also determined that the assets of the foundation should fall to the city of Friedrichshafen if one day the original purpose of the foundation could no longer be fulfilled. In this case – according to the Count's order – the proceeds of the foundation were to be used for charitable purposes.

After the Second World War, airships could no longer be built, so the original purpose of the Zeppelin-Stiftung was no longer possible. The foundation was therefore transferred to the city of Friedrichshafen, which has administered it in trust since 1947. The annual distributions of the foundation companies ZF Friedrichshafen AG, Luftschiffbau Zeppelin GmbH and Zeppelin GmbH are used by the Zeppelin-Stiftung exclusively for charitable purposes.

Today, the Zeppelin-Stiftung supports social and cultural commitment in Friedrichshafen in many areas. These include child and youth work, education and training, health and care services and the promotion of art and culture. The city council of Friedrichshafen decides in the budget discussions for which purposes the financial means of the Zeppelin-Stiftung will be used. Thanks to the annual dividends of ZF Friedrichshafen AG, Luftschiffbau Zeppelin GmbH and Zeppelin GmbH, the Zeppelin-Stiftung can help in a wide variety of life situations. In this way, the Zeppelin-Stiftung creates a better quality of life for all citizens of our city.