5 Facts You Didn't Know About The Hindenburg Disaster

This German-made zeppelin crashed in a horrific and fiery incident, leading to the death of 36 people.

The Hindenburg has to be one of the most famous aircraft of all time. Unfortunately, it is known for a terrible accident that happened in 1937. This German-made zeppelin crashed in a horrific and fiery incident, leading to the death of 36 people. 

5. Hindenburg Was Almost Named After Hitler

The infamous vessel almost carried the name of Adolf Hitler. This was proposed as an option by Joseph Goebbels, who was dealing with Nazi propaganda during that period. The Nazi’s even partially funded the making of Hindenburg. When it was finally finished, the chairman of the Zeppelin factory (located in Württemberg, Germany) Hugo Eckener decided to name the aircraft after the late German president called Paul von Hindenburg. 

4. Hindenburg Was Used For Nazi Propaganda

The Hindenburg flying low in salute of the Nazi hosts. Credit: Everett Historical /

Goebbels maybe did not succeed in naming the vessel after his beloved führer, but he definitely managed to exploit the Hindenburg to promote Nazi ideas before World War II started. Joseph Goebbels used the Hindenburg to join other aircraft that were equipped with speakers and fliers, all delivering the messages of Nazi Germany directly from the air. It was also used to display the power of the Nazi regime on the 1936 Olympic Games held in Berlin, Germany. During the opening ceremony, the Hindenburg flew across Berlin, carrying not only the Olympic Games logo, but the swastikas, the symbol of Nazi power, on its tail. 

3. Hydrogen And Smoking, Why Not?

Believe it or not, the Hindenburg had a special room where people (mostly men) could enjoy their cigarettes. This comes out as an unbelievable fact because the aircraft was filled with 7,000,000 cubic feet of hydrogen. Hydrogen is an extremely flammable gas, and the smallest spark would cause it to ignite. However, Hindenburg was an exclusive opportunity for rich people to travel from Europe to America, and it seems that the designers did not want to stop them from enjoying their tobacco. The designers placed that room on the very bottom of the aircraft because hydrogen is lighter than air, so they would prevent any leak of hydrogen into that smoking-designated room. The passengers, however, could not bring any kind of lighters or matches aboard. One guard was in charge of lighting all the cigarettes, and he also had to be sure that no one leaves the room before the cigarettes were extinguished. 

2. Why Did They Fill It With Hydrogen?

Hindenburg crash at Lake Hurst New Jersey

Previous to the creation of the Hindenburg, aircraft that were filled with hydrogen did not prove themselves as the safest option. The Zeppelin factory, where Hindenburg was built, had the plan to fill it up with helium, which is a non-flammable gas. At the time, the United States had control over the helium market, and laws were included that basically said how no helium would be exported from the US. In that scenario, the Germans decided to fill the Hindenburg with hydrogen, which would later be proved as a deadly decision. 

1. Most Of The People Onboard Survived The Crash

After you see the images of the Hindenburg burning and falling from the sky, you must think - no one could escape this fiery death trap. Actually, the majority of people got out of there alive once the aircraft hit the ground. As the Hindenburg crashed, people quickly escaped through the windows to save themselves from the fire. 62 people managed to escape death on May 3, 1937. Unfortunately, 13 passengers and 23 crew members, along with one member of the crew that was awaiting them on the ground, died in the crash. 

About the Author

Antonia is a sociologist and an anglicist by education, but a writer and a behavior enthusiast by inclination. If she's not writing, editing or reading, you can usually find her snuggling with her huge dog or being obsessed with a new true-crime podcast. She also has a (questionably) healthy appreciation for avocados and Seinfeld.


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