The Austrian diving pioneer Lotte Hass is dead. She died last Wednesday at the age of 86 in Vienna, her family announced on Monday.
Mrs. Hass was much more than the wife of Hans Hass, one of the greatest dive pioneers, underwater explorer and one of the last great naturalists of the last century; she was a pioneer, role model and trail blazer in her own right.
She was the first woman to dive with autonomous diving equipment and in doing so Lotte Hass opened up a formerly male dominated field for the female world. Against strong opposition she first starred as underwater photo model before moving behind the camera to become an underwater photographer, subsequently opening up a whole new world for women and entering the history books of diving. Spectacular film scenes that showed her diving fearlessly with sharks certainly contributed to the big success of her husband Hans Hass’ movies in the 1950s.
With his many books, films and lectures - he has published 32 books and produced 73 films - Hans Hass was considered a legend but Lotte Hass was behind, or rather beside, him all the way. It started all the way back in 1947 when she, as Lotte Baierl applied for a job as secretary for her future husband. She learned quickly how to deal with underwater cameras and diving equipment and starred in the films of Hans Hass, such as in the award-winning film "Adventures in the Red Sea." (1951) which opened up the marine and underwater worldto a much wider audience.
The importance of her extraordinary lifetime achievements has been highlighted once again by the ZDF/ORF screen adaption of her autobiography “A girl on the ocean floor” in 2011, in which Yvonne Catterfeld starred as Lotte.