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, New Jersey, USA - 1937 - May 6 – Hindenburg disaster:

In the United States, the German airship Hindenburg bursts into flame when mooring to a mast in Lakehurst, New Jersey. Of the 36 passengers and 61 crew on board, 13 passengers and 22 crew die, as well as one member of the ground crew. (Wikipedia)


Lakehurst, N. J. - All but seven bodies of those who perished in the blazing wreckage of the zeppelin HINDENBURG were believed to have been recovered today.

Bare-headed survivors of the German crew climbed among the smoking debris searching for missing comrades.

Lieut. GEORGE WATSON, naval communications officer here, said it was possible that the seven missing bodies were entirely consumed in the blazing hydrogen and motor fuel that destroyed the airship last night.
Sentries with ready rifles encircled the heap of metal, keeping everyone thirty feet away.

None was allowed to speak to survivors of the disaster who searched the ruins nor did they appear to even notice those who stood outside the guard.

Now and then one of the Germans - dressed in white steward's jackets - paused to pick up some bit from the wreckage, perhaps a reminder of some one cremated there.

The sun shone grudgingly on the twisted frame work, hazing the green blue, black and silver of the zepplin's skeleton, colors painted by fire and chemicals on the once silver duralumin.

Along the east side of the wreck toward the Lakehurst naval station's big zeppelin hangers that stands 800 yards away, lay two of the HINDENBURG'S motors. As large as one-car garage, they were buried in the soft ground. Their propeller blades were red splinters.

Overhead like the webbing of some giant spider, wires and shredded silver fabric were entangled.

Cotton padding, designed to keep a motor from tearing through the paper-thin sides of the zeppelin in event of its tearing loose, hung grotesquely alongside the fallen motor gondolas. In some unexplained manner it had not burned in the white-heat that seared the faces of rescue workers when they ventured within 70 feet of the blazing ship last night.

The windows of the salons and passengers' promenades, made of a celulose substance, had melted and hung from the HINDENBURG thin like silver tinsel.

Naval Air Station, Lakehurst, N. J. - The HINDENBURG death toll reached thirty-two today while lighter-than-air experts gathered around the wreckage of the former queen of the skies to ascertain what caused her to crash in flames as she was completing her first voyage of the season across the North Atlantic.

Lakehurst, N. J. - Scores of witnesses who watched the flaming hulk of the dirigible HINDENBURG fall described the scene today as like a "horrible nightmare," impossible to believe but made real by the screams of trapped victims.

WILLIAM VON MEISTER, vice-president of the Zeppelin company, and HARRY A. BRUNO, press agent, were standing directly under the nose of the big ship as it settled close to the ground.

"Suddenly there was a terrific explosion under the tail flippers," BRUNO said. "Flames shot through the ship in a fraction of a second."

"I saw two passengers hurled out of the window."

"We turned and ran as fast as we could to get out from under the big hulk that was enveloped in flame and was descending upon us."

From a hospital bed, twenty-two year old THEODORE RITTER mechanic aboard the dirigible, called out in broken English:
"Gertrude, Gertrude, Gertrude."

Authorities sent for an interpreter. RITTER, slightly injured, explained that he wanted his sweetheart back home in Halle-Schwaeblach, Germany, to know that he had survived.

"I was in one of the engine gondolas," he said. "There was no indication that anything was wrong."

"We stopped the engine. Suddenly there was a flash of flame."

"Our gondola was ripped from the ship. When it hit the ground I picked myself up and ran as fast as I could."

Another survivor, HERBERT O'LAUGHLIN, of Lake Forest, Ill., was in a Newark, N. J., hospital. He had been in his cabin, preparing to disembark, when he felt the HINDENBURG away dizzily.

"It's all like a nightmare," he said. "A light lit up the whole ship. Fire seemed to break out all about the ground."

Lakehurst, N. J. - "We had just been given the order to 'slack off' the port lead rope as the big dirigible HINDENBURG settled gently down to earth," EDWARD GILES, member of the HINDENBURG ground crew, said today. "I saw flame on the top of the big ship and an instant later there was an explosion."

"Before I had time to run, the HINDENBURG lay smashed and flaming on the ground."

"The shrieks from within the wreckage rose above the roar of burning fabric - it burned like a paper balloon."

"It seemed that there was nothing we could do. We were helpless against the flames that seared our faces. Some of the passengers jumped from the cabin windows after the first explosion."

"Others were blown through the sides of the ship. I saw a man emerge from the wreckage, every bit of clothing torn from his body. Shreds of flesh hung from his face."

"He walked 10 or 20 feet, so numbed and dazed he seemed not to feel the red hot debris through which he staggered."

"He staggered into the arms of a man only a few feet ahead of me."

Olean Times Herald
New York
May 7, 1937

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