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The Zeppelin Offensive (Paperback)

A German Perspective in Pictures and Postcards

Aviation > WWI Colour Books Photographic Books WWI > German Forces & Weaponry WWI > Photographic Books

By David Marks
Imprint: Air World
Pages: 98
Illustrations: 100
ISBN: 9781526737199
Published: 7th October 2019



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‘Fly, Zeppelin! Help us in the war. Fly to England, England shall be destroyed by fire. Zeppelin, fly!’ Such was the hymn which the children sang; such the refrain which greeted the aged inventor, Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, wherever he went. Why was there this reaction across Germany? How did a handful of aircraft giving pleasure cruises become a fearsome fleet of rapacious giants encouraged to punish Germany’s enemies? What were the images that became part of the public’s wartime consciousness?

Books on the Zeppelin raids during the First World War have, traditionally, focused on the direct impact of Britain, from the devastating effects on undefended towns and cities, the psychological impact of this first weapon of total war to the technological and strategic advances that eventually defeated the ‘Baby Killers’. Now, drawing on the largest postcard collection of its kind and other period memorabilia, David Marks tells the story of the Zeppelin during the First World War from a viewpoint that has rarely been considered: Germany itself.

From its maiden flight in July 1900, the Zeppelin evolved into a symbol of technology and national pride that, once war was declared, was at the forefront of German’s propaganda campaign. The Zeppelin links the rampant xenophobia at the outbreak of the conflict against England (it almost never called Britain), France, Russia and their allies to the political doctrines of the day. The postcards that profusely illustrate this book show the wide-ranging types of propaganda from strident Teutonic imagery, myths and legends, biting satire and a surprising amount of humour. This book is a unique contribution to our understanding of the place of the Zeppelin in Germany’s culture and society during the First World War.

"...highly recommended for anyone interested in World War I propaganda and for those interested in popular and material culture of the war years."

Read the review here

Roads to the Great War

Reading these colourful pages, you will not only learn of these fearful giants of the sky and experience humour, satire, and patriotism but you will better appreciate the propaganda war through the high-quality German postcards sent home by soldiers at the front to form part of collections.

Western Front Assoc., Essex Branch Newsletter

As featured on Flightline Book Review

Flightline Book Review

The Zeppelin Offensive is a quick but interesting read that provides a peek inside the German mind during the Great War.

Read the full review here


A beautifully presented book. With many images of postcards from the First World War and a great narrative interwoven throughout.

An enlightening and original story of the Zeppelin airships.

Read the full review here

Vintage Airfix

...a story that is fresh and crisp and is told in a light, but satisfying, style that leaves the reader hungry for more.

Air Power History, Winter 2020

Review by Alex Revel

This is an interesting and informative book; well designed and produced. The author tells the story well, both through his explanatory text and his excellent captions to the postcards. Highly recommended.

Western Front Association

A curious and very interesting book.

Read the full Spanish review here

Miniaturas JM

A wealth of images, many in full colour, from the time providing a German perspective. This is the story of the first air war in history, including not only German artwork but also British counterparts, with good supporting text. – Highly Recommended.

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This is a thoroughly well-produced and lavishly illustrated publication which is underpinned by a balanced narrative which perfectly conveys both the early optimism of the Zeppelin as both a symbol of national prestige and the weapon which would win the War. The book presupposes no previous knowledge, and it can be read by anyone with either a passing, or developed interest in Airships and the propaganda effort of the First World War.

Read the full review here

Donna's Book Blog

The author's knowledge of the Medieval period in these islands shines through as he or she takes us on a journey through the minefield of opposing factions fighting for the crown of England. Authoritative, educational and extremely entertaining.

Books Monthly

Mr Marks’ book is filled with a lot of interesting information and the artwork is often appealing and always fascinating. Highly recommended.

Read the full review here

War History Online, Mark Barnes

As featured on The View From the Turret

The View From The Turret Vlog

This book is an interesting look at a theme (the Zeppelins) and a means of communication or propaganda (postcards) which, through drawings or reproductions, tell a forgotten side of that great and terrible war.

Read the full Italian review here

Old Barbed Wire Blog

Featured 'ON THE SHELF' by Neil Smith

Wargames Illustrated, September 2019

This book is a very interesting take on the Zeppelin from the German perspective. The colour and monochrome images of the postcards and cartoons in circulation during the war trace the shift of enmity from the French and Russians towards a decided focus on the English (British). As ever men who are to one side ‘Heros’ are to the other side ‘Terrorists’ and it was ever so. This book offers a balanced view of the subject but the propaganda value of the images and cartoons is very much in the forefront, as indeed it has to be.

Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide

Michael McCarthy

About David Marks

David Marks lives and works in London. He is a member of the Airship Heritage Trust and a committee member of Cross & Cockade International (The First World War Aviation Historical Society). He regularly lectures on behalf these organisations on the subject of Zeppelin raids on Britain, drawing on a unique and extensive collection of postcards and contemporary memorabilia. David also writes Cross & Cockade’s quarterly email newsletter, Wind in the Wires, which has over 1,250 subscribers. In 2016, David was proud to be a member of the committee set up by the Northaw & Cuffley Parish Council to commemorate the centenary of the shooting down of airship SL11 by Lieutenant William Leefe Robinson, who won the Victoria Cross for his bravery. David is also a regular contributor to many books, journals, magazines and projects relating to Zeppelin raids, the war in the air, as well as the First World War in general. His first book, Let the Zeppelins Come, focusing on the morale boosting impact of comic postcards to the British public, was published in March 2017 and received national press coverage.

World War I: the last German air raid on England occurs

5th August 1918

World War I: the last German air raid on England occurs, with four Zeppelin airships dropping bombs in the Midlands and North East England

View all events View all anniversaries

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