Saturday 19 August 2017

'Oh, the humanity!' - Hundreds mark 80th anniversary of Hindenburg airship disaster

Hundreds have honoured the victims of the Hindenburg airship disaster at a ceremony in New Jersey, 80 years on.

A wreath-laying ceremony was held on Saturday at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station, where the massive German airship crashed to the ground in flames on May 6 1937, after a transatlantic crossing.

The Hindenburg disaster is marked at the site of the airship crash 80 years ago (NJ Advance Media/AP)
The Hindenburg disaster is marked at the site of the airship crash 80 years ago (NJ Advance Media/AP)

Thirty-five of the 97 people on board died, along with one person on the ground.

Sixty-two others aboard the airship survived, but only one of them remains alive today.

The ceremony was organised by the Navy Lakehurst Historical Society, which preserves airship history. About 600 people attended the ceremony.

The event also paid tribute to military service members who have given their lives.

On Friday the historical society played newsreels of the disaster, and Herb Morrison's recorded report in which he uttered the now-immortal exclamation: "Oh, the humanity!"

Morrison's words were not heard live, nor were they initially linked to the film shot by newsreel crews.

But it was one of the first moments in media history that had a broadcaster reacting to something totally unexpected.

The US Commerce Department determined the accident was caused by a leak of the hydrogen that kept the airship aloft. It mixed with air, causing a fire.

"The theory that a brush discharge ignited such mixture appears most probable," the department's report said.

The New York City Fire Museum in Lower Manhattan unveiled the Hindenburg's Lloyd's of London insurance document on Thursday.

The policy for the airship, which lists underwriters and insurance brokers, was valued at six million Reichsmarks, which in 1937 amounted to nearly €13.7 million.

Now, according to Forbes, that would be about €73 million.

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