Sunday, May 06, 2012
“Oh, the Humanity”
After writing so much last month about the 1912 sinking of the British luxury liner Titanic, I wasn’t prepared in the least to address another historical tragedy so soon. Nonetheless, I can’t forget to mention that 75 years ago today, the German passenger airship Hindenburg suddenly burst into flames and was quickly destroyed during what had seemed, up to that point, like a routine landing at New Jersey’s Lakehurst Naval Air Station.
“Seven million cubic feet of ignited hydrogen incinerated the dirigible before it hit the earth, killing 35 crew members and passengers and one person on the ground,” recalled Northeastern University history professor Ballard C. Campbell in his 2008 book, American Disaster: 201 Calamities That Shook the Nation. “News of the disaster shocked the world, dealt a blow to Nazi propaganda, and effectively ended the era of lighter-than-air travel.”
The black-and-white newsreel embedded above shows the whole sad spectacle of Thursday, May 6, 1937, with memorable landing-field narration from radio reporter Herbert Morrison.
(Hat tip to Amie-June Brumble.)
READ MORE: “10 Worst Airship Disasters in History,” by Yohani Kamarudin (Environmental Graffiti); “Over Half the People Involved in the Hindenburg Disaster Survived,” by Karl Smallwood (Today I Found Out); “1930s: Colour Photographs of the Hindenburg Interior” (Retronaut).