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On the death of Eveline Gottzein

Satellites, rockets, magnetic levitation trains

She helped to control satellites more precisely, co-developed rockets and helped to put the world's first maglev train on track more than 50 years ago: electrical engineer Eveline Gottzein was a pioneer in aerospace technology. And she was one of the few women to receive top honors for her inventions and publications as an engineer. Gottzein died at the end of December at the age of 92.

Eveline Gottzein sits on a chair and holds a satellite model

Eveline Gottzein with satellite model

Eveline Gottzein was born in Leipzig in 1931. As the daughter of a mechanical engineer, she was interested in technology from an early age. However, she was initially denied the opportunity to study in the GDR. It was only after she had completed an apprenticeship that she was put forward for university. In 1957, Gottzein fled the then socialist part of Germany shortly before graduating and completed her studies in West Germany at the Technical University of Darmstadt.

During her studies, she had already worked for an American company on the simulation of complex technical systems and made a name for herself. Gottzein actually wanted to move to the United States, but was courted by engineer and entrepreneur Ludwig Bölkow. In the early 1960s, she joined his company in Ottobrunn, Upper Bavaria. For more than 50 years, she remained loyal to the company, where she managed large departments.

Hands with ring and medal

Eveline Gottzein was honored with the Werner von Siemens Ring

Eveline Gottzein worked on armaments and space projects, including the "Roland" low-altitude air defense system, the Europa rocket - a precursor to the "Ariane" launch vehicle - and the first Franco-German communications satellite. On May 6, 1971, the then Federal Minister of Transport, Georg Leber, took the maiden voyage on a test track in Ottobrunn with the world's first magnetic levitation train, the control system for which Eveline Gottzein had been instrumental in developing. She is co-author of various patents.

The engineer received several important national and international awards for her pioneering work. In 1993, she was the first woman to receive the Werner von Siemens Ring - one of the most important honors for engineers in the German-speaking world.

Eveline Gottzein passed away on the evening of December 24, 2023. Last week, family, friends and companions bid her farewell at a funeral service in Höhenkirchen near Munich, where she had lived for many years.

Pictures: Laura Thiesbrummel

Last updated: 17 January 2024