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Otto Lilienthal to Moritz von Egidy

(Translation of a letter, not dated but about January 1894)

Dear Lieutenant Colonel,

It was your essay about trade contracts in the journal "Versöhnung", which I regularly read, that has lead me to write to you and I trust this letter will be met with a warm reception. I have often listened to you with enthusiasm, when you refer to the borders not as separating the countries but rather as connecting them. I, too, have made it a lifelong task of mine to add a cultural element to my work that should result in uniting countries and reconciling their people. Our experience of today's civilisation suffers from the fact that it only happens on the surface of the earth. We have invented barricades between our countries, custom regulations and constraints, and complicated traffic laws. These are only possible because we are not in control of the 'kingdom of the air', and not as 'free as a bird'.

Numerous technicians in every nation are doing their utmost to achieve the dream of free, unlimited flight and it is precisely here where changes can be made that would have a radical effect on our whole way of life. The borders between countries would lose their significance because they could not be closed off from each other. Linguistic differences would disappear, as human mobility increased. National defence would cease to devour the best resources of nations as it would become impossible in itself. And the necessity of resolving disagreements among nations in some other way than by bloody battles would, in its turn, lead us to eternal peace.

We are getting closer to this goal. When we will reach it, I do not know. The little bit that I have contributed to this is enclosed with this letter. I would be glad to be able to make a real contribution to the distinguished and ideal cultural tasks that you have taken on.

Yours Sincerely
Otto Lilienthal

(translated by a group of final year pupils as a project at the Lilienthal Grammar School)