May 6

73 Years Ago Today: Hindenburg, “Oh the Humanity”

Thursday, May 6, 2010 12:44 AM


It was the early evening of May 6, 1937 when the German Hindenburg made its fatal descent into Naval Air Station Lakehurst in New Jersey. Radio broadcaster Herbert Morrison famously wept for the humanity as the airship burst into flames and crashed to the ground. 35 passengers and one member of the ground crew were killed. Amazingly, 62 people managed to escape the fiery wreck.

The cause of the accident is still a fiercely debated topic, with competing theories blaming sabotage, static electricity, gas leaks and malfunctioning engines.

Often overlooked is the fact that the tragic crash over the Atlantic of the airship USS Akron on April 3 1933 took a bigger toll, claiming the lives of 73 of the vessel’s 76 US Navy crew members. The Hindenburg is better remembered because of the spectacular footage that captured its final moments.

Interestingly, the three survivors of the Akron were rescued by German sailors, while US sailors pulled German passengers from the wreckage of the Hindenburg.

U.S. Sailors Guide a severely burned victim to medical assistance

U.S. Navy Sailor assists passenger Marie Kleemann

U.S. Navy Sailors aid a survivor as Hindenburg smolders in the background

The body of a crewman who died after jumping from 100 ft to escape the flames

A guard protects the wreck from scavengers

Radio announcer Herb Morrison of WLS reports on the aftermath of the crash

Ground crews remove the Hindenburg wreckage

The burned out hulk of the Hindenburg

h/t Faces of the Hindenburg