Katharina Paulus

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Käthe Paulus
Käthe Paulus ca. 1890 Fotomontage 3256644 1450825047-e1450825180454.jpg
Born(1868-12-22)22 December 1868
Died26 July 1935(1935-07-26) (aged 66)
Known forInventor of Collapsable Parachute, Aerial Acrobatics Performer

Katharina “Käthe” Paulus (22 December 1868 – 26 July 1935)[1] was a German exhibition parachute jumper and the inventor of the first collapsible parachute.[2][3] At the time, 1910, the parachute was named 'rescue apparatus for aeronauts'.[4][5] The previous parachutes were not able to fit in a case like apparatus worn on the back,[6] thus Paulus' invention became of paramount importance for the Germans in World War I and she produced about 7000 parachutes for the German forces.[7][8] During World War I Paulus created approximately 125 parachutes a week. Paulus was also credited with inventing the drag 'chute, an intentional breakaway system where one small parachute opens to pull out the main parachute.[9][10][11]

Paulus was an avid aeronaut herself and logged over 510 balloon flights and over 165 parachute jumps in her lifetime. She was the first German to be a professional air pilot[12] and the first German woman aerial acrobat.[13][14]

Despite the fact that hot air balloons are currently known as a sort of tourist attraction, during the final decades of the 19th century these hot air balloons were on the cutting edge of technology, and were popular before the invention of airplane.[15]


Paulus' was born in Zellhausen, today part of Mainhausen, near Frankfurt, Germany into a working class family. Her father worked as a day laborer and died when she was nineteen years old.[16][17] After his death, Paulus picked up her mother's trade of seamstressing to help support the family. At 21, Paulus married Hermann Lattemann, a well-known balloonist, and began working as his assistant to repair the balloons with her skills as a seamstress. Paulus and Lattemann begun to develop their professional and personal relationship, until Paulus began to parachute herself, and the two eventually got married. They had a son, Willy Hermann Paulus, who later died of diphtheria. In 1895, the couple were on a joint jump when Lattlemann's parachute failed to deploy. Paulus watched him fall to his death.[18]

While grieving the death of her husband, Paulus stayed in bed for months. During this time thousands of fans mailed letters of support to Paulus to request she continue her career of being a ballooner. Paulus then bought four new parachutes and set off on a tour of Europe using the stage name Miss Polly. She performed theatrically, using acrobatic feats and even riding a bicycle suspending from a hot air balloon's basket. Paulus became an international success.[19][20]

Paulus completed her last balloon jump at age 63 (August 5, 1931).[21]


Paulus died at the age of 67 and is buried in a cemetery in Reinickendorf.


  • in 2006, a street in Berlin was named after Paulus titled "The Katharina-Paulus-Straße". It was formerly titled Lehrter station. It is located between Europaplatz in the north and Old Moabit in the south.[22]
  • Paulus was the first German woman to parachute out of a hot air balloon.
  • In 1917, Paulus received a Service Cross of Merit after twenty balloon German troops parachuted to safety.[23]


  1. ^ "Love, Parachutes, and Käthchen Paulus". Footnoting History. Retrieved 2018-07-27.
  2. ^ (www.dw.com), Deutsche Welle. "Germany's Female Inventors | DW | 08.03.2006". DW.COM. Retrieved 2018-07-27.
  3. ^ "History of the sport » British Parachute Association". www.bpa.org.uk. Retrieved 2018-07-27.
  4. ^ "The Parachute timeline". Timetoast. Retrieved 2018-07-27.
  5. ^ Hildebrandt, Alfred (1908). Airships Past and Present: Together with Chapters on the Use of Balloons in Connection with Meteorology, Photography and the Carrier Pigeon. D. Van Nostrand Company. paulus.
  6. ^ "FYI: Who invented the parachute and who did the first test?". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 2018-07-27.
  7. ^ "EARLY PARACHUTES - South African Military History Society". samilitaryhistory.org. Retrieved 2018-07-27.
  8. ^ Sweeting, C. G. (2015-04-03). United States Army Aviators' Equipment, 1917-1945. McFarland. ISBN 9780786497379.
  9. ^ Meyer, AEROSOFTWARE Jan. "Historical Review - ParachuteHistory.com". www.parachutehistory.com. Retrieved 2018-07-27.
  10. ^ Meyer, AEROSOFTWARE Jan. "Katchen Paulus - ParachuteHistory.com". www.parachutehistory.com. Retrieved 2018-07-27.
  11. ^ "Lady". www.megax.com. Retrieved 2018-07-27.
  12. ^ "Five noteworthy inventions created by women | OMEGA®". Omega. Retrieved 2018-07-27.
  13. ^ "Käthe Paulus". Berlin Brandenburg Airport. Retrieved 2018-07-27.
  14. ^ "P - Who's Who of Ballooning". www.ballooninghistory.com. Retrieved 2018-07-27.
  15. ^ Pike, John. "Parachute - History". www.globalsecurity.org. Retrieved 2018-07-27.
  16. ^ "Startseite - Frauenpersönlichkeiten in Berlin Mitte". www.kulturring.org (in German). Retrieved 2018-07-27.
  17. ^ "Deutschlands erste Fallschirmspringerin - Wie Käthe Paulus zur internationalen Sensation wurde". Tagesspiegel (in German). Retrieved 2018-12-21.
  18. ^ "EARLY PARACHUTES - South African Military History Society". samilitaryhistory.org. Retrieved 2018-07-27.
  19. ^ "Käthe Paulus – acrobat of the air in the service of the armament industries". www.uni-stuttgart.de. Retrieved 2018-07-27.
  20. ^ "Famous Female Skydiver Tiny Broadwick | Long Island Skydiving Center". Long Island Skydiving Center. Retrieved 2018-07-27.
  21. ^ David, Shayler; Moule, Ian A. (2006-08-29). Women in Space - Following Valentina. Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN 9781846280788.
  22. ^ "Startseite - Frauenpersönlichkeiten in Berlin Mitte". www.kulturring.org (in German). Retrieved 2018-07-27.
  23. ^ "1903 Early Balloon Postcard Kathe 'Katchen' Paulus". JustCollecting. Retrieved 2018-07-27.