DID THE NAZIS REALLY KILL HARTMAN’S FRIEND, ROCKET SCIENTIST GERHARD ZUCKER?
Bob Hartman says they did in his Freedom to Live: The Robert Hartman Story, p. 36; but he may have been mistaken. What follows is some fascinating correspondence between amateur rocket builder and historian Richard Gollin in Scotland and Rem B. Edwards on this issue.
Subject: Hartman and Zucker
Date: Sat, 24 Jun 2000 06:29:26 -0400
From: richard gollin
Absolutely fascinating page on Hartman. Seems to have been a great moral hero. Wrong in the details of rocket man Gerhard Zucker who survived being
imprisoned and being put in an asylum by the nazis and died in East Germany
in 1985, I think. He produced more rockets for peace in East Germany in the
60s. Can not find Dombrowski his stamp dealer and partner in Britain,
All the best.
Enclose a photo of Zucker demonstrating a rocket for the Nazis who later
locked him up. Z never built a military rocket.
Date: Sat, 01 Jul 2000 18:02:45 0000
From: “Rem B. Edwards”
To: richard gollin
Please pardon the delayed response, but my wife and I have been out of
town. I am glad you appreciated the page on Robert S. Hartman on the
Hartman Institute Website. Hartman was indeed a great moral hero, as
well as a profound value theorist.
I am curious about a couple of things that you say about Gerhard Zucker.
First, what is the source of the picture of him that you sent as an
attachment to your note? When and where was it taken? There is a remote
chance that it was taken sufficiently early, or in England, so as to be
compatible with Hartman’s recollections. Also, what is the source of
your saying that Zucker died in 1985?
Second, are you familiar with Bob Hartman’s autobiography titled FREEDOM
TO LIVE: THE ROBERT HARTMAN STORY? Hartman gives many more details about
his connection with Zucker on pages 35-37 of his autobiography. If you
don’t have it, I will be glad to type out the relevant paragraphs and
e-mail them to you. In that source, Hartman wrote, “One day there was a
small notice in the HAMBURG FREMDENBLATT: Gerhard Zucker has been
executed for ‘an attempt to sell an invention important to Germany to a
The reason why I think you may be familiar with this is that you mention
Dumbrowsky, who, I believe, is not mentioned on the Institute website:
Any help you can give us with getting the facts straight about Zucker
would be most welcome. I will get something about this into a future
issue of the Hartman Institute’s NEWSLETTER. (I will add your name to
our mailing list to receive this, if you have no objections).
Thanks for contacting me!
Rem B. Edwards
Secretary, Hartman Institute
Date: Sat, 1 Jul 2000 19:18:50 -0400
Absolutely fascinating letter, thanks very much. Just finished a long
evenings work at our inn and am too tired to reply in detail.
Will try to write tomorrow. My degree (400 years ago) was
Psychology/sociology, one of my hobbies (and my late fathers profession) is
rocketry. Now, my sister is into philosophy (sorry, poor english) and is a
world expert on a German philosopher (20th C) with an Italian name..sorry
can’t remember it. Most keen to learn more on your chap and his link to
Zucker, plus anything you have on stamp dealer Domby Dombrowsky….Will
tell you all I know and guess at (and its weaknesses) asap.
Greetings from the Western Isles of Scotland
Date: Sat, 1 Jul 2000 19:45:14 -0400
PS: Adorno is the chap my (lunatic) sister writes about; there’s about ten
pages about him at Amazon’s philosophy section (no wonder Amazon is
broke!). I don’t understand a word of it which is the advantage of being as
thick as short planks. Did understand quite a lot of the stuff you write on
Hartman who isn’t in their 100 x twentieth century philosophers…..come
to think of it Zucker doesn’t make anyone’s list of 100 x twentieth century
rocketeers! Wonder how they met. Z was from Hasselfelde in the Hartz
Mountains, later in East Germany. I got interested ‘cos Z tried to send a
rocket from Scarp to Harris, having parlayed his way into being allowed to
try the experiment by the UK post office. I have some slightly burned
stamps and envelopes from the attempts.
Date: Sun, 2 Jul 2000 10:59:25 -0400
I live in the Western Isles of Scotland where ‘we’ still have one of our
main rocket ranges. In 1985 we found a target on a local beach and used it
as part of our playground here. In 1990 we had a landscape artist staying
and the weather was too bad for him to paint for 6 days in a row…so we
brought the target in and made him paint that (which he did
beautifully!).In ’95 we found a different kind of missile on another beach
complete with all sorts of explosives which, rather meanly, the bomb squad
insisted on removing. Last year I was invited to the range to watch them
firing Rapier at Falconette and Banshee 2000 targets. Now I have one of
each of the latter hanging from the ceiling of the restaurant of our
inn…So I was getting pretty interested in rockets in the Western Isles
and went back to the earliest example…
In 1934 rocket pioneer Gerhard Zucker came to our island and made 2
unsuccessful attempts to send mail across by rocket from Scarp to Harris,
about 15 miles from us and in one of the most remote places in Europe. At
the time he had made the largest rocket in the world but here he used
smaller models with a fuselage 22″ long and overall length with nose and
fins of 42″.Diameter about 7″.He used a solid fuel cartridge 22″ long and 2
1/2″ diameter.The rest of the fuselage was packed with the highly
profitable mail covers he had sold.He used asbestos to lag the copper
cartridge. We have started to make a replica and presumably we could use
something more modern and safe.
As the government sensibly took a blue print of the rocket in 1934, I have
been making my replica quite accurately out of aluminium and steel. Dont
know the total weight yet. My neighbour (who has obviously seen October Sky
too often) says my replica is a cop-out and that we should make a working
model Well Zucker’s rockets blew up or caught fire so we are really talking
about making something work which originally did not.
Hope this isnt too boring…just getting on to your specific questions
(time is freely available here!!).When I started to research Zucker I found
6 books with references to him. The first said that “Zucker was given
permission to cross a small stream in Scotland”. Well the Kyles of Scarp
are 1/2 mile of the most dangerous tidal races…hardly a small stream! Do
you know how he ended up here in the first place?
A mother was expecting twins on Scarp and, when her time came, she tried to
attract attention from the village of Huishnish on Harris so she could get
a doctor to their tiny island. But Huishnish is not directly opposite Scarp,
the weather was poor and noone spotted the calls for help. One twin was born
on Scarp. Then someone noticed the signals for help and the mother was
fetched by rowing boat to Huishnish, taken by horse and cart to Tarbert and
then bus to Stornoway, Isle of Lewis. Thus the mother had her twin girls on
different days, on different islands in different counties. Questions were
asked in Parliament as to how the greatest empire in history could have
such poor communications with its own people. Incidentally, Scarp was
evacuated and the last full-time inhabitants left in 1949, but last October
I found that one twin actually lives here about a mile away and is the
mother of our local council member. She told me that they used to have photo
of both twins with zucker in Harris but had lost the photo when moving
house a long time ago. Sadly the second sister died in Inverness a few years
Meanwhile there was a desperate economic depression in Germany and Zucker
was on the lookout for opportunities to use his ‘postal rocket’ which
allowed him to make a living essentially by selling unofficial stamps. He
wrote to the government and offered to demonstrate his rocket as a suitable
method of communication and sending medecines in remote areas. By July
Zucker and two companions were on their way to Harris (could that have been
Dombrowski and your man Hartman? I always thought Dombie was there as one
picture gives his name but I thought that perhaps Z was a ladies man and
used the then glamour of rocket travel to pick up crumpet!).
After he left Britain later in the year the trail went cold.3 of the
histories suggest that he joined Von Braun in making V2 rockets, one says
he later turned his hand to helping with V1 and V2 rockets and 2 sources
say he was later liquidated .The rocket stuff all looked balloney.V1 was a
ram jet and produced by a rival group to Von Braun’s V2 group which had
(along with the American Goddard) pioneered the modern liquid fuel
rocket. By 1934 when VB was blowing up big solid fuel fireworks and could
not go a half mile, VB could already go 10 miles with reliability. Why would
anyone need Zucker, a showman and stamp seller!? I set about finding the
truth last May. I entered Zucker on the search engines of the computer
(still do every 3 months – thats how I found yourselves) and found the
photo at a rocket postal history site run by a very nice guy called Paul .
He says that the picture was on a post card bought in New York in the 70s
and labelled Zucker demonstrating his rocket in 1934.The rocket looks
pretty big and a postal history magazine showed that he used smaller
rockets in the UK and for later post rockets as the charges were too
expensive in the big ones with 8 or ten cartridges. I wonder about whether
the photo was taken earlier or at least before he came to Britain in 1934.
I did not find much else from the site except that all his first firings
had been connecting villages of the Hartz mountains in Germany. Then I
bought 3 of the Scarp envelopes in a postal auction and hung them in our
Last August I had a teacher of German staying for 2 weeks and we e mailed
and phoned public libraries in all the villages featured in early Zucker
rocket trials. We asked if any of the family of Zucker lived near by.
Apparantly libraries have a strong community function in rural Germany. My
big fear was that Zucker, commonly a Jewish name, had, along with all my
cousins, gone to the gas chambers. Yet he looked tall blonde and very arryan
in the photo! On the guests last day (I kept him to one or two calls per
day – he was on family vacation!) we got a normal serious reply from
Hasselfeld; Zucker’s widow and daughter and her family were nearby. I made
the teacher ask some info. at once and then write a long letter with the
most basic questions, though I now have many , many more to ask.
By return I found that the Zucker family, only recently within East
Germany, spoke no English but were only too happy to write about their much
loved and sorely missed Gerhard. He did get into trouble and was accused of
spying for Britain during his trip. Ironically when I went to London last
October and requested all our government files on him, we found that he
was essentially banished from Britain as a threat to the income of the post
office and the security of this country. He cleared his name by showing
that he had at least one German with him at all times. They also tried to
put him in an asylum but he was saved from that as well. He was forbidden
to ever touch rockets again….
During the war he served in the air force and was in vallided out in 1944
and after 145 found himself a citizen of East Germany. Amazingly the East
Germans were used by the Russians to encourage ‘peace’ movements like CND
in the West . And Zucker had only ever built rockets for peaceful uses
(although WE know that he tried his darndest to sell his to the army but
did not know about VB). Zucker was encouraged again to make rockets for
peace. His family have sent me some of his covers from the 1970s which also
hang in the restaurant. He died in his sleep in 1985.And now I have so many
more questions I would like to ask the family. I have Zucker’s own version
of his life story which the family sent me and I will get together some
info. and send it. I would love any further info. on Hartman or Dombie that
you may have. My flying mad wife, Jo, and I hope to go to Hasselfelde in
March to see the family and ask any further questions we may have.
Incidentally, in February a pal and I flew an old Cesna rather too close to
the launch of the shuttle and we took some photos and sent them to the
Zuckers . By reply I received some more photos…including a shot of Gerhard
smiling with two tiny twin baby girls!
I will get together a pack of info for you. I wonder how Hartmann and
Zucker met. They obviously did not meet again after ’34 and I wonder if Z
got any of his trouble for associating with H ?
All the best
Sunday, July 2, 2000
Thanks so much for your three e-mails about the Zucker/Hartman connection, especially the last that is so informative about your own research on Zucker’s life. Apparently you are right that he was not executed by the Nazis, as Hartman sincerely believed. I am adding below the two pages or so that Hartman himself devoted to the Zucker/Hartman connection in his autobiography, FREEDOM TO LIVE: THE ROBERT HARTMAN STORY. As the following passage begins, Hartman has been telling us how he made a meager living for a while as a photographer, after escaping from Hitler. (Hartman actively opposed Hitler in print and in public while still in Germany. His father was Jewish. So he was a prime target for the Brown Shirts!) Here is what he had to say:
” I had taken a picture of a Paris boulevard scene, and one of my fellow refugees was inspired to try to sell it to a Paris newspaper. I was amazed to learn that the paper had bought it. This bit of luck eventually led to the setting up of a photographic agency, Agence Centrale, which sold pictures to news syndicates. That December I went to London and tried to set up an English branch of the agency. But the income was meager, and I couldn’t even afford pennies for the gas grate meter. I had to go to bed to get warm. And I can remember making a point of passing by bakeries just to be able to smell the bread. One minor miracle after another, though, kept me going, and one bright day in May, 1934, came a break. On a routine photographic trip to the opening of the London Air Post Exhibition, I met Gerhard Zucker, a young German of 34 who had invented a rocket, the forerunner of the lethal German V-2 rockets of World War II and of the rockets of today which are taking man into space. Zucker wanted his rocket to be used to carry mail. Hitler, he said, had wanted to use the rocket to deliver bombs, and he wouldn’t go along with that, so he got out of the country. Heplanned to interest the British government in his rocket, and that’s why he had set up a display at the Air Post Exhibition. I liked the guy, and he liked me, and I agreed to serve as his publicity man. Zucker, meanwhile, had obtained financial support from a postage stamp collection dealer named C. H. Dombrowski, who stood to gross several thousand dollars if the rocket venture turned out successfully.
The project, however, met many obstacles. Only in Germany was the proper rocket fuel produced, and the Nazis had banned its export. The cartridges had to be specially made, and no one in England knew how to pack the powder properly. The rocket runners also required a special lubricant which was not available in England. Efforts to elude the Nazi export ban, including a trip to Germany by Mrs. Dombrowski to bring fuel back in her hat box, failed. The vigilant eye of the Gestapo was watching every step taken by Zucker, as well as by Dombrowski and me. So substitute fuel (much less powerful), substitute cartridges (packed inexpertly), and substitute lubricant (butter) had to be used, and Zucker had to rebuild the rocket to accommodate the substitute materials. With German stubbornness, however, he plodded on. Finally, everything was set for the first trial. In the early morning of June 6,1934, six men — Zucker, Dombrowski, a reporter and a photographer from the London Daily Express, a philatelic magazine editor, and I –assembled secretly on a Sussex Downs hilltop. And, by golly, it worked! Three times, twice loaded with letters, the rocket flew for distances of a half-mile to a mile. The London Express next day had a big front page banner, FIRST BRITISH ROCKET MAIL, and a sub-headline,”Syndicate Plans 1-Minute Postal Service Between Dover and Calais.”
Now the government was interested, and a public demonstration was arranged. Zucker was to fire his rocket from the Isle of Harris in the Hebrides over one mile of water separating Harris from the Isle of Scarp. Government officials were present. It was to be the first over-water rocket flight ever tried. Alas, this time it was a failure. The rocket exploded and some 1,200 letters with rocket mail stamps affixed flew all over the beach. “It was the cartridge,” Zucker explained. “The powder had not been properly packed and air pockets caused the explosion.”
By the way, Hartman’s autobiography, from which the above was taken, was published by Editions-Rodopi of Amsterdam-Atlanta and is still in print and available for a modest price. Click on the “Books and Publications button on the Hartman Institute website for more information about how to contact Rodopi.
I am also enjoying the information about and photographs of your locale and hotel that you have attached to your notes!
Sun, 2 Jul 2000 17:37:43 -0400
That was absolutely the most fascinating thing! To find Zucker featured in
another’s life story is just amazing. I would like to read it again and then
get back to you. I will certainly forward Zucker’s own description of the
period. Much of it dovetails perfectly with Hartman’s.
It is clear that making a living in Germany or outside for a German was
absolutely desperate in the early 30s. The currency had been destroyed and
unemployment was vast. Zucker says their family sold a building plot to
finance his rocket and hope the state would be interested. He fired several
rockets in the Hartz mountains which seem to have worked but they were
large, expensive to make and brought in little income. Relatively
prosperous England was the possibility, the postal conference (also
mentioned by Zucker) was the opportunity to come to Britain and the Harris
baby story the actual chance for publicity. Hartman’s description of
sniffing bread to get some enjoyment and get near some nourishment is
You must remember that people were wildly excited by rockets at the
time. The aeroplane had come of age, Sikorski’s helicopter was 10 years away
and the rocket and space travel seemed the next big thing. Everyone had
read Jules Verne’s Journey to the Moon and in 4 countries boys had worked
out that Verne had not just been spinning a yarn but had worked out the
actual velocity needed for the journey. Even small boys also worked out
that Vernes method (a huge shell) would kill everyone on board with its
massive acceleration. Now a rocket takes off slowly…..
Great to see that Dombie features in both stories. My trail goes cold on
him. I know he was of German nationality and had a London stamp business. I
guess he was Jewish (on no evidence whatsoever) and I just hope that he was
imprisoned with other Germans on the Isle of Man. I will ask for the
relevant lists from our lovely government. The trail via Sussex to Harris
and back to Sussex again seems very accurate..except I don’t think any of
the early rockets worked very well…one did take off but went in the wrong
direction. I have most of the newspaper cuttings and will copy them for you
and check for any mention of Hartman.
The main problem both with Hartman and Zucker is the rocket technology
bit! Zucker made solid fuel powder rockets. Later in WW2 Britain and the US
made excellent small solid fuel rockets to fire from planes at railways,
boats etc. To digress, I once met the man who had designed them and who was
given an ex-gratia payment at the end of the war by a grateful government.
Russia also used solid fuel for an excellent and frightening artillery
rocket barrage called (parden my Russian) a Katushka.
At the end of the first world war Germany was expressly forbidden to
develop new aircraft, large warships, guns etc. No mention of
rockets……Hence by 1930 the Germans were very interested in Rocket
development and Zucker says that he built his rocket to try and interest
them so they would buy the rocket. He did not know (and neither did anyone
else till around 1941) that the German army had VB and his pals (VonBraun
only just out of his teens and a genuine genius rocket scientist)
developing liquid fuel rockets with their huge technical problems but far
As I said, when Z was released it was on condition that he gave up rocket
work. They were not trying to force him to work on rockets but to shut
up…presumably so as not to draw attention to their whizz kids who could
already do 10 miles with liquid fuels with some accuracy. So he did not hold
up rocket development or really contribute anything to solid fuel rocket
development. But he was a showman, had the largest rocket ever in 1931 and
the British Brocks Firework powder was undoubtably not suited to real
rockets,and by luck rather than judgement, he never made a rocket weapon.
The Shuttle and its one major disaster shows that trying to save money by
using solid fuel (yes, Nixon did that one; he was not going to be around by
the time it flew!) can still cause explosions by faulty packing or storage.
Zucker merely had to find a way to get powder to burn steadily; something
our army was doing with Congreve rockets when we had an army burning your
capital..”The Rockets Red Glare” is it in your anthem? We used them again
at the Battle of New Orleans but your General just kept the mens heads down
and achieved a huge victory..the day after the peace treaty was signed in
Paris! So Z wasnt the forerunner of anything – just a likeable show-man
trying not to starve!
VB and his young chaps had to find two fuels that would mix to give a
powerful rocket without blowing the whole thing up, make miniature turbines
to pump vast quantities of these explosive liquids, make gyros and heat
proof vanes to guide and control the rocket. Unfortunately he was in the SS
and had to use Polish and French slave labour to make the thing and 60,000
people died..much of which VB witnessed or even participated in…
Incidentally, in this age of revisionist history, I have read an account
that VB, far from being a war criminal, had single handedly won the allies
the war by getting Hitler to devote such a fantastic amount of money to his
rockets. They sounded and looked thoroughly Wagnerian to Hitler but his
threat to rain “800 tons of high explosives on London a year” was
pathetic. The British alone were already dropping that amount per NIGHT from
ordinary relatively cheap aircraft!
I will ask the family if there is any mention of Hartman (was he known as
that in London) in Z’s papers. Did Hartman get his parents out of Germany?
How much longer was he in Britain? Do not worry I will buy the book at once
.Will get some stuff together to send you. The British rockets with H and D
were much smaller than the one whose picture I sent you, and more
conventional. Will include some plans.
Please feel free to use anything I have sent and do ask any questions which
come to mind.
I need to answer your question about whether he got his family out of Germany. All I know is what he says in his FREEDOM TO LIVE: THE ROBERT HARTMAN STORY. There he tells us about how he agonized over the decision to leave Germany, and how he finally got out. The following paragraph from p. 34 should also answer your questions about his name while in England.
“Among my Social Democrat friends I passed the word that I was planning
to leave. One evening early in June a number of us were gathered around
a big wooden table in the smokefilled corner of a beer hall. In the
middle of the table was a pile of passports, obtained by one means or
another for would-be refugees. Someone reached over, pulled one of the
passports out of the pile, and said: “Here s one for a Robert Hartman.
Anyone want to use it?” “I ll take that one,” I said, and that s how I
was able to get out of Germany. You see, my real name was Robert
Schirokauer. That next winter, in London, chiefly to hamper the Nazis
in their efforts to keep track of me, I changed my name legally to
Robert S. (for Schirokauer) Hartman.”
Hartman also tells us (p. 370) that his father died`in Vienna in 1934, and that his brother Henry got out of Germany and lived in New York City (pp. 39-40). He did not marry his Swedish wife until 1936 (p. 38), so there was no issue of his having to get her out of Germany. His autobiography is really great reading!
I do not know how he would have had access to the Hamburg newspapers, but he still hand many friends and relatives in Germany during the war. About those who did not escape, he wrote that they “were claimed body and soul by the Nazi military state, and those who resisted in efforts to remain true to the real Germany paid for their loyalty strung up on piano wires.”
Thanks again for your interest in Bob Hartman, and for your fascinating information about Zucker.
Mon, 3 Jul 2000 19:14:44 -0400
Thanks for the E mail; have loved the correspondence. Am going to search my
press cuttings when I get time. Could not find a used copy of the Hartman
story on Abebooks.com, though plenty of his translations and philosophy.
Can you just tell me if he got any family out and when he moved from UK to
US? How would he have the news from the Hamburg papers and what was his
name while in the UK??
Here is your last letter; send me a copy of the magazine and find if
Tennessee are at home the first week of October. My pal got a first in
philosophy but I got a lower 2nd in psch. Had two jobs working in pubs and
loved the country pub life…Have been living it out for 21 years now. This
year am switching into ‘October Sky’ mode!
Date: Tue, 4 Jul 2000 15:42:45 -0400
Thank you so much for the info. and for the correspondence .Such a thrill for
me to add a name to the party which traveled with Gerhard Zucker!
I know this is a tiny backwater in RH’s life (which I have found second
hand in Amsterdam, wonderful invention the computer) but I have some small
info. to send you. I have checked my cuttings and have some tiny titbits
1. I was wrong on the photo caption of Z’s rocket. It should read
“Experimental Mail Rocket demonstrated by GZ before Nazi officials in the
winter of 1933/4 – the prototypes for all subsequent space achievements” (
a claim which we know to be rubbish).The postcard was published in the 70s
in New York and must have had Z family input! But the dates fit the story
that they tried to sell to the army because of the 1st war treaty but were
rejected for reasons we now know!
2. Have found the exclusive Express story of the first 2 Sussex rockets
exclusively launched as the first UK postal rocket in front of 6 people in
Rottingdean. Will send you a copy.
3. Have no less a paper than The Stornoway Gazette and West Coast Advertiser
(our local paper and notorious ‘snooze press’) for August 3rd 1934.Its very
small print and illegible but says:-
“Herr Zucher arrived in Tarbert (Harris) on Thursday accompanied by Herr
dombrowski who is financing him, Frau Dombrowski, an assistant and a
PUBLICITY AGENT” (my capitals , of course).So we know that your RH has been
to Tarbert, Huishnish and Scarp in August 1934. I have all sorts of photos
sent me by the Z family. They are crude photocopies but, when the book
arrives, I will see if I happen to have a photo of Robert Hartman !
All the best
Date: Wed, 05 Jul 2000 09:57:01 0000
The information you keep sending me about the Zucker/Hartman connection
is really exciting. Yes, Hartman doubtless was the “assistant” mentioned
in the newspaper article.
What a terrific discovery it would be if you could find Hartman and
Zucker together in one of the pictures that you obtained from Zucker’s
family. When you obtain a copy of Hartman’s FREEDOM TO LIVE, a good
picture of him as we knew him in the late 60s and early 70s is on the
back cover of the book. In addition, quite a number of pictures of him
and his family at different ages of his life are given at the end of the
book just before the “Index.” This should give you a lot to work with in
trying to recognize him in one of the pictures you have. You seem to
have the technology to scan pictures and put them on the Internet, so if
you find a picture, please e-mail it to me as an attachment, and I will
get it into our discussion.
A copy of the Hartman Institute NEWSLETTER will go out by e-mail shortly
after I send this note to you. When you read it, most of the stuff will
probably not be of interest to, but look at the last item on the second
page where I announce your discoveries and invite readers to look at the
“Rockets” section of our website.
It occurs to me that since the media were not invited to view the two or
three SUCCESSFUL flights of Zucker’s rocket that preceded the publicity
fiasco, Hartman’s recollection of them might be the only existing
Also, you are right that rocketry is not new to the military. Last night
(July 4th) we had a small family celebration of our independence and of
“the rocket’s red glare.”
I will continue to add to the “Rockets” discussion as our
Thanks again for everything!
Date: Wed, 5 Jul 2000
Yes, cant wait for the photos but (as I said elsewhere) I bet he was TAKING
the photos. The Daily Express had an exclusive on the first two rockets so
their journalist (unless Hartman was ‘their special correspondent’; did he
have good English at that time?) was one of the 6 present. The rocket
appears to have skidded along the grass to land. Low, low tech when others
had paraschutes.Ta, for the mention in the news letter. I will find photos
of the entourage, I just have to be patient.
Date: Thu, 6 Jul 2000
Have found a promising pair of photos in the group the Z family sent me.
One gives me a picture of Dombrowsky (who Z calls Domby) with Z and two
important MPs (politicians). Domby is wearing a big Scottish hat so you cant
see anything of his face at all.
The next picture shows a group around the wrecked rocket. There is a
caption in German but sods law has it that I do not have a single German
staying this week. Will translate it asap. In the group , left to right are
the main MP, Domby, a lady who could be Mrs Domby or the MP’s wife but Mrs
D., I guess, a smiling Zucker looking his usual VB double and , lastly a
very young handsome chap ; this fellow has fairly long dark hair and is
about 3″ shorter than GZ ie about 5’10”, I guess. Most importantly, even
though this is a photocopy of a picture dated 28/7/34, his face is the
opposite of Domby’s; it is completely clear and visible. If it is H, I will
be able to tell.
Actually I am very primitive on pictures at this end (the rocket came from
the postal history site I mentioned). Do you have any way to E mail me the
early photos of H in the book. Does anyone you know have a scanner??The
young man can only be H or the assistant. I know the odds are that H took
the pictures but it is worth the check. I cant wait to get to the Hartz
mountains and see the whole photo album!!!!
Yours, overexcited as ever!
Fri, 07 Jul 2000
Hartman did not take the pictures–at least not all of them–he is IN
them! I’ll explain how I know as I go along!
In the Special Collections Library at the University of Tennessee, we
have all of Robert S. Hartman’s papers. Mrs. Rita Hartman donated them
before she died a few years ago. The Hartman Institute has control over
them. The last 40 boxes or so of stuff were just recently catalogued and
I have spend the last day and a half searching the new material for
information about Zucker. I found two folders of stuff, much of which I
believe will be of great interest to you. I will have to send
photocopies of most of it by regular “snail mail,” so please send me
your postal address as soon as possible. I will, of course, send it by
I will send you three additional e-mails just after I send this one,
each consisting of nothing but an attachment. This is the third time I
have written this letter! My computer gets bogged down with too many
attachments, so I am going to try sending the following to you in
1. A picture of Zucker on left, Hartman in middle, and Dombey on the
right. Unfortunately, little of Hartman shows; but he marked another
copy in the folder to identify the three persons involved. You said you
don’t have a good picture of Dombey, so this is a good one. If you have
any more pictures with a tall, bald fellow who looks like this, it
probably is Dombey.
In addition, as soon as I get your mailing address, I will send you the
following, the first two of which are typescripts of articles that
Hartman wrote on Zucker.
1. An 8 page article titled “The First Dirigible Mail-Rocket”
2. A 16 page article titled “England Could Have Bought the German
3. An article titled “Exclusive Account of the First British Mail-Rocket
Trials” by Albert H. Harris, published in PHILATELIC MAGAZINE, June
15th, 1934, pp. 420-422.
4. A one page contract between Zucker and Hartman (in German) signed by
Zucker and written on the letterhead of “Dombey Bros., Stamp Merchants.”
5. A one page contract between Hartman and the London Daily Express
giving them exclusive rights to coverage.
6. A letter written by mostly in German (which I can’t read) by Dombey
that begins in English with “Dear funny little Ronny” (or perhaps it’s
“Bonny”). This is on a letterhead for “The British Rocket Syndicate,
If I’m luck, this will transmit this time, followed by three additional
e-mails consisting of one attachment each.
I hope all of this will keep you going for awhile!
Sun. 9 Jul 2000
I am also not with it on computers; ours has just packed up for 20 minutes and, just as
mysteriously, come on again. Thank you for the E mails and the kind thoughts.
We are at Baile na Cille, Timsgary, Isle of Lewis HS2 9JD (about 15 miles north of Huishnish,
Our web site is: http://ourworld.compuserve.com/randgollin/
Lots more pictures at: www.oiseval.demon.co.uk
Anyway, I know you are busy, so. All the best to you.
Thu Jul 13 09:06:32 2000
You really had me fooled! I thought you were Scottish with no USA
connections! Now I find out you are an expatriated Floridian (which may
not be entirely accurate)!
At any rate, I am delighted to learn that you will be in the US in
October. Just fly north from Florida, and you will get to Knoxville. We
are one of the four large cities in Tennessee (the other three being
Chattanooga, Nashville, and Memphis). We anchor the eastern end of the
state and keep it from floating off into outer space. And we have a
rather nice airport which is served by many major airlines. So you
really shouldn’t have any serious difficulty getting here from
Florida–unless Florida has another hurricane that week, as it did last
year during our meeting. I can’t promise you any football that weekend!
Since you are a psychologist as well as a rocket builder and innkeeper,
you really might find our fall meeting to be very interesting after all.
The Hartman Value Profile (HVP) that Hartman developed uses how people
rank values to reveal their personality traits. He discovered that our
values are the real key to understanding who we are. The HVP is a very
powerful instrument, and much of the time during our annual meeting is
spend discussing how our members, many of whom are professional
consultants, have been using it and what they have discovered. Check the
HVP out using the button on the Hartman Institute website.
We would all be honored and delighted if you could make a presentation
to us on what you have learned about Zucker, and drag in a little about
his connection with Hartman. At this point in time, you are probably the
world’s greatest expert on Zucker! I meant to suggest to you in earlier
correspondence that you should write a book on him! I’m serious! What
you present to us in October can be labeled as preliminary findings, not
as final results, if that is of concern to you. Let me know by early
August if I can put you on the program, the title of your presentation,
and how much (or little) time you will need–up to an hour and a half.
I am really curious about several related things, and maybe you have the
answers. You said in your first letter that Zucker never built a
military rocket. My questions are: How did he persuade the Nazis to let
him out of prison after they locked him up when he returned from
England? What did he do during W.W.II itself? Did he have no involvement
with rockets during that period? What kind of compromises with the Nazis
did he have to make to survive that terrible era?
I regret the delay in responding to your most recent e-mails. As editor
of the series, I am presently working on four books to be published in
the Hartman Institute Studies in Axiology series produced by Editions
Rodopi in Amsterdam-Atlanta. I am co-authoring one book, co-editing
another (Hartman’s last book manuscript), and fully editing two more.
This is a full time day-and-night job!
I have enjoyed our correspondence immensely. It is now on the Hartman
Institute website under the “What’s New?” button. I have not yet figured
out how to get the pictures to come up. They are there in the version I
edit, but they don’t show up on the website itself, so I don’t know what
to do. I’ll keep trying!
Date: Thu, 13 Jul 2000
You wont believe this but your package from the US arrived on our remote
island today! Many, many thanks for all the stuff. One of the articles is a
little difficult to read but the rest is just great!
Firstly to answer your questions.
1.Z. escaped further imprisonment or being kept in an assylum firstly
because family and friends pressed for his release and argued that he was
not mentally unwell and secondly he was able to convince the SS that he
could not be a spy because he never once during his stay in Britain was not
acompanied by German citizens. This is the account in his own story.
I believe that personal files from the period may be available from the old
East Germany and will try to get hold of this. Because it appears to me
that he was in the company of a known fugitive (RH) and (possibly) 2 other
He says that he had to swear to give up all rockets. All rocket histories
agree that every German amateur was made to surrender his equipment and
swear to give up all rocketry as “dangerous”. Valier(?) had been killed in
a rocket car and Tiling while packing rocket fuel. As it happens the German
army was already deeply in bed with VB and his pals and were well down the
road of developing liquid fuel rockets with their much greater power and
range.They were allowed this weapon after the first war when planes,
artillery and ships were forbidden. Senior German Generals had already put
forward the idea of a very long range rocket as a revenge weapon against
Europe and America to atone for the first world war defeat. They wanted
rockets to be a total secret and in this they were extremely successful. A
British book in 1936 said that all rocket research had stopped in
Germany…..when VB could already go 10 miles with reliability and had
already drawn the machine which would be the V2…..What he couldnt do and
never really did do was get it to being a reliable weapon. Right up to ’43
over 90% failed to take off or broke up on reentry!
2.In the second war he volunteered and was in the airforce, Stukas, i
think, though I will find this out easily from the family. He was badly
injured on the Eastern front and given a disability discharge and pension.
3.He never touched rockets again till well after the war when it became
convenient for the East Germans to have a ‘Rockets for Peace’ man.
Just a quick comment on the Hertman zucker papers – will write more when
the inn is less full.
1. The starting paper on Zucker at sea is very fascinating as his own life
story never mentions how he got into rockets.All the complicated guidance
stuff may be things Z talked about but his rockets were simple and very
primitive.ie the boomerang and photgraph rocket is pure fiction. Ditto v.
interesting on the drive to Scotland and the stay at the Harris Hotel! and
the meeting with the MPs, some of whose letters I have, and some of whom
are in the photos.
2.Poor RH was in the situation of any starving journalist. He needed to
sell stories to live!! Thus he is free and easy with the truth where it
might hinder the story. This is just journalism and not neccessarily
something very wrong!ie there were two firings not one in Harris, the
second rocket fared even worse than the first.The people did not ‘flee’
because the rocket had not ‘hissed and thundered into the air’ . The Brocks
firework powder was not up to the job. Luckily today thanks to the net, the
hobby of firing rockets etc I can buy rocket cartridges off the shelf!!
All the bit of Zuckers death is clearly wrong as is the interpretation of
the future. Hitler (although he was not yet personally involved) had an
army way down the road to making expensive and not particularly damaging
liquid fuel rockets. The Germans did not try to force Z to work for them
but to pack up , shut up and so not reveal what was really happening.
The official secret British reports I got hold of last October showed that
the British had nothing to gain from Z.As it happens in WW2 the British
and Russians had cheap and hugely successful solid fuel rockets which
terrified the Germans… while the Germans had a great white elephant made
by non-jewish slave labour, over 30,000 of whom died in making this rather
The British simply put out on the news just those V1s and V2s which landed
North of London…the Germans adjusted their range to be shorter! An
already ineffective weapon was made fairly useless. Just two did cause
major loss of life in London; one hit a cinema and one a crowded store.At
the time we were both utterly raising German cities with ordinary bombs and
superb quality bombers…
I would love to know what became of Dombie?? Are there any clues
Sorry to ramble on , will read all the stuff before replying again!! Its all
so fascinating..what a frightening time to be German and not a Nazi!Or
worse to beJewish or anti Nazi or both!!
PS Do you have a summary of the personality tests??
Still plotting a little trip to Knoxville.Will find out cost of a flight
from Tampa or FM. Are the football team at home the week before or after,
could explore a little between.
Richard Gollin is working on a book on Gerhard Zucker. His e-mail address appears above a number of times.