Crash of Hindenburg IV

Program Information

Series: A Moment in Time
Duration: 00:03:42
Year Produced: 2009
Description:

On May 6, 1937, the German airship Hindenburg--filled with 97 passengers and crew and tons of highly flammable hydrogen gas--was preparing to land at the U.S. Naval Station at Lakehurst, N.J., ending the uneventful first transatlantic trip of the season.

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Transcript

Lead: On May 6, 1937 the German airship Hindenburg--filled with 97 passengers and crew and tons of highly flammable hydrogen gas--was preparing to land at the U.S. Naval Station at Lakehurst, N.J., ending the uneventful first transatlantic trip of the season.

Intro: A Moment In Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Herbert Morrison was an announcer for the radio station WLS in Chicago. He was in Lakehurst to describe to a live radio audience the arrival of the Hindenburg on that overcast May afternoon. These are the words of Herbert Morrison:

"...It's practically standing still now. They've dropped ropes out of the nose of the ship, and it's been taken a hold of down on the field by a number of men. It's starting to rain again; the rain had slacked up a little bit. The back motors of the ship are just holding it.

"It burst into flames! Get this Charley, get this Charley! It's fire and it's crashing! It's crashing terrible! Oh, my! Get out of the way, please! It's burning, bursting into flames and is falling on the mooring mast, and all the folks agree that this is terrible. This is the worst of the worst catastrophes in the world! ...It’s a terrific crash, ladies and gentlemen! There's smoke, and there's flames, now, and the frame is crashing to the ground, not quite to the mooring mast. Oh, the humanity, and all the passengers screaming around here!"

The official investigation lay the blame on an atmospheric charge of static electricity, but speculation remains to this day that the incident was the result of anti-Nazi sabotage. Thirty-seven persons died that day, as did the reputation of the passenger airship.

The producer of A Moment In Time is Steve Clark. At the University of Richmond, this is Dan Roberts.