Hindenburg Disaster Theories

Watch the video of the famous Hindenburg airship
crashing in flames in New Jersey (May 6, 1937).


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Home » Shocking » Hindenburg Disaster

The era of the commercial passenger Zeppelin came to an end in a few fiery minutes...


The Disaster of The Hindenburg

The was a major story in 1930s. The news of the crash was fueled by the video footage and photographs, as well as the memorable live radio transmission of Morrison. Herbert Morrison's memorable words "Oh, the humanity!" remained in history and resonate with the impact of the disaster.

The Hindenburg disaster took place on May 6 1937, as the German passenger Zeppelin LZ 129 Hindenburg caught fire and was shortly destroyed during its attempt to dock with its mooring mast at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey.


The Hindenburg Disaster Myths

Why the German passenger airship caught fire remains unknown, although a variety of Hindenburg disaster theories have been put forward. A few witnesses of the crash saw the fabric ahead of the upper fin flutter (a fin oscillating while in flight) as if gas were leaking. Other witnesses reported seeing blue discharges (static electricity?), while others suggested that the first flame appeared on the port side, just ahead of the port fin.

A variety of theories have been put forward, including the theory that a static spark ignited the hydrogen (nowadays helium is used on airships because of its lack of flammability). Wherever it started, the Hindenburg caught fire and quickly became engulfed in flames. The Zeppelin was the longest (240 meters, 800 feet) and largest by volume (200,000 m3, 7,000,000 cubic feet) flying machine of its kind.

hindenburg disaster picture

National Geographic's "Seconds from Disaster" came to a conclusion that the Hydrogen Puncture Theory was most probable cause of the Hindenburg disaster. A punctured cell could have freed hydrogen into the air and could have been ignited by a static discharge, or a broken bracing wire struck a girder and caused sparks to ignite the hydrogen.

It all took about 30 to 40 seconds and, despite the violent fire, many of the crew and passengers survived the crash. Of the 97 people on the Hindenburg, 35 died and one person was killed on the ground. Werner Franz, a 14 year-old cabin boy at the time, is one of the two survivors of the Hindenburg disaster who are still alive in 2008.


The Hindenburg Disaster Video

The following video is the original reel about the famous Hindenburg disaster in 1937, with radio commentary by Herbert Morrison. Morrison's broadcast remains one of the most famous in history, while his words "Oh, the humanity!" have been widely used in popular culture ever since. The Hindenburg disaster video was broadcasted the next day.

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 YouTube video of Hindenburg Disaster. Comments by Herbert Morrison. Watch in Full Screen.


Make sure you also watch this Hindenburg disaster video newsreel from 1937. The film contains some nice shots of the German airship Hindenburg flying over New York and also the natural sounds as the airship crashes to the ground, rather than the above radio commentary. Watch the video for some clear shots of the Hindenburg on fire.


The Hindenburg crash eliminated public confidence in the giant, passenger-carrying rigid airships, relatively successfully employed from the beginning of the 1900s, and marked the end of the airship era. If you liked this story please take a moment to share it. You may also be interested in Chernobyl Disaster in 1986.



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