HISTORIC DISASTERS: THE HINDENBURG

Hindenburg Disaster

Being just over eight hundred and three feet in length, and one hundred and thirty-five feet in diameter, the German zeppelin, Hindenburg, was the largest airship ever flown. But it was more than just an airship. Germany’s Nazi party had paid for its construction and with the swastika emblem emblazoned on its tail fins, the Hindenburg was a symbol of Nazi pride and a terrific source of pre-war propaganda. In addition to carrying various celebrities, it appeared at public events such as the Nuremberg Party rally and the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin and, in company with its predecessor, the Graf Zeppelin, dropped leaflets encouraging Germans to vote in favour of Adolf Hitler in a Rhineland referendum.
The Hindenburg also, of course, carried passengers, and made its first flight to the United States of America on May 6th, 1936. On May 6th, 1937, exactly a year later, a storm delayed the airship’s landing at the Naval Air Station in Lakehurst, New Jersey and when its captain, Max Pruss, was finally able to make an attempt, the Hindenburg burst into flames and plummeted to earth, killing thirty-five of the ninety-seven people aboard (twenty-two crew members and thirteen passengers). Many of the survivors suffered serious injury as a result of jumping from the blazing ship before it crashed, but they did survive.
Though theories abound as to why the Hindenburg caught fire, including pilot error, a lightning strike, and even sabotage (a bomb planted by a member of an anti-Nazi faction), the cause has never really been determined.
News footage of the disaster can be found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgWHbpMVQ1U

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