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“Oh The Humanity”, Hindenburg Goes Down 75 Years Ago Today

Seventy-five years ago, the hydrogen-inflated Zeppelin airship “the Hindenburg”, measuring 2 football fields in length, caught fire and exploded while landing in Lakehurst, New Jersey.

The German made Zeppelin Airship was (and still is) one of the largest objects to ever have flown, it single-handley redefined luxury travel in the late 1930’s.

Passengers stepping aboard were treated to a variety of amenities: gourmet food, being serenaded by a baby grand piano, a writing room, and massive viewing windows that opened in flight for spectacular views. (Ironically these very windows allowed 62 survivors to escape with their lives.) Despite the fact that the Hindenburg was filled with flammable gas, it also included a smoking room for passengers.

A ticket didn’t come cheap, the price was $400 for a one way fare, that was about 3 times the price of an ocean voyage. (In todays dollars the price would be over $6000.)

The actual cause of the fire remains unknown, although a variety of theories exist including sabotage by a communist sympathizing member of the crew.

The coming war with Germany had a direct impact on the Hindenburg disaster. The Hindenburg was originally designed to run on much safer Helium, but because of the German embargo, the Hindenburg was refitted to run on hydrogen. (The United States controlled the world’s helium supply at the time and would not sell it to Germany.)

“The incident shattered public confidence and marked the end of the airship era.”

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The Nazi swatiska can clearly be seen on the Tail Fin of the ship. In the Hindenburg the Nazi’s saw a huge propaganda opportunity for Hitler and Germany. They insisted that the Hindenburg forgo needed test flights and begin flying propaganda missions, immediately. They even fired the developer of the Zeppelin program, Hugo Eckner, because he insisted on more tests. Tragically, they should have listened to him.

3. Chilled Melon Soup & Filet of Bass - The Hindenburg Menu

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This menu would have been typical of what was served on Zeppelin flights.

4. “Oh the Humanity”

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Radio announcer Herb Morrison witnessed the tragedy live on his broadcast and uttered the now iconic phrase, “Oh the Humanity.”

5. New York Newspaper Headline a Day after the Disaster

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“Queen of the Skies, Heading for Disaster.” New York Evening Journal, May 7, 1937.

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