Face to face with the Lilienthals


Even though the name Lilienthal is inseparable from the technological history of aircrafts - Otto and Gustav were far more than – in quotation marks – ‘just’ aviation pioneers. In fact, the brothers showed their creativity, ingenuity and above all their extensive social competence, in many other areas.

Otto Lilienthal, for example, began his career as an engineer in Berlin. Thanks to his technical know-how, alongside his ambition and entrepreneurial spirit, he founded his own machine factory, which provided him with a wholly lucrative income. Not just for him, but also for his employees. Because they received a share in the profits of Lilienthal's factory.

Like his brother Otto, with whom he shared his socio-political ideals, Gustav Lilienthal was also a jack of all trades: He was an architect, contractor, toy maker, educator - but moreover, he was a social reformer with all his heart and soul.

Gustav Lilienthal believed in social justice through technical advancement. He tried to change his contemporary society with his resources and ideas. For example, he fought for better training opportunities for women in applied arts. Or he campaigned on behalf of homeless people.

As an architect, Gustav saw building as a socio-political task – he wanted to build solidly, sustainably and inexpensively. Which he also went on to do: With modern buildings for the middle classes, as well as prefabricated housing elements for social housing estates and humane accommodation for the homeless.