The April Fool Archive

German Zeppelin Lands in France    (April Fool's Day - 1913)

In Reims, France a newspaper printed a story claiming that a German Zeppelin dirigible balloon, which had been cruising along the border over the fortresses at Toulon and Verdun, had lost both its propellors and fallen to earth near the local barracks.

Because of the recent increase in military tensions between Germany and France, the report generated enormous excitement, and a large crowd rushed to the spot indicated. However, when they found no Zeppelin, it gradually dawned on the crowd that it was the first of April. Many took the joke badly, and a mob marched to the office of the newspaper and smashed its windows. The military had to be called out to suppress the disturbance. Government officials said they intended to prosecute the paper on the charge of publishing false news likely to cause a breach of the peace.

By coincidence, a few days later on April 4, a German Zeppelin actually was blown off course and was forced to land in France, at the military parade ground at Luneville. The German crew managed to convince French authorities that the landing was an accident. However, a battalion of infantry was required to keep an angry crowd of locals at a distance.

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