Das Luftschiff-Blimp oder Zeppelin

Der Passagier- the passenger

Der Schwimmende Palast- The Floating Palace

Brennbar- flammable


Feuer fangen-to catch fire

German Summary


In 1900 Count Ferdinand Von Zeppelin filled a metal frame with 17 bags of hydrogen and covered the structure with canvas. This sparked the era of Zeppelins, also known as blimps.

During WWI, these airships were used for military uses. It was not until the end of the war, when they were used for the transportation of passengers rather than solely cargo.

The Floating Palace

Costing $5 million, the ship was as largest of its kind reaching 804 ft wide and 10 stories tall. Many compare its grander with that of the Titanic. It hoisted four 12,000 horse-powered Mercedes Benz engines. It was developed for trans-Atlantic transportation of passengers, Zeppelin mail, and other cargo. In a single flight it could carry 50 passengers and 30 crew members. By the end of 1936, Hindenburg crossed the Atlantic 34 times, carrying 3,500 celebrities, wealthy travelers, journalists, Nazi elite and 66,000 pounds in mail and cargo.

Ironically, the Hindenburg was designed to carry Helium explaining its large size. The designers wanted to prevent an incident such as when the British airship Riol caught fire in October 1930 caused by flammable Hydrogen. Because of cost, the Hindenburg was switched to Hydrogen.

Money Conflicts

The Deutsche Zeppelin Reederei Company started the construction of Hindenburg in the Fall of 1931 but production was delayed as the company struggled financially. As an effect, Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels saw this opportunity as propaganda to promote the Nazi party and Hitlar’s Third Reich. The Nazi provided funds to finish the building of the Zeppelin. Ernest Lehmann was promoted to the newly created Deutsch Zeppelin- Reederei (DZR) over Hugo Eckner due to his National Socialist political views. Swastikas were placed on Hindenburg’s fins.


Hindenburg was featured in German Propaganda films, events such as the Nuremberg Party Rally, Hilter’s Remilitarization of Rhineland, and the final day of Der Parteitag der Ehre, the 8th NSDAP congress. The airship flew for one hour on August 1 over the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games. After Max Schmeling, a German boxer, defeated America’s boxer, he was flown back to Germany in the Hindenburg. Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels wanted to make the association between sports victory with the advanced German technology of the Zeppelin to create an image of total domination of Germany in all areas.


United States had the only possession of Helium needed for the Hindenburg. At the time, Americans were gaining suspicion that Germany may use Hindenburg for military purposes. As an effect, Americans raised the price of the Helium to $600,000. Thus, the DZR decided to use hydrogen rather than Helium pumping 7 million cubic feet of flammable hydrogen into the Zeppelin.

March 6, 1937

Due to storms in Frankfurt, Germany, Hindenburg was delayed for 10 hours. Finally at 7pm, Hindenburg came in to land in Lakehurst, New Jersey. Unexpectedly, the tail caught fire. The flames instantly engulfed the entire ship and ended in an explosion. After seconds, the ship was destroyed and 35 passengers were killed, as well as, a bystander on the ground. A famous quote broadcasted by Herb Morrison is, “Oh the humanity!” For all that witnessed the accident, they describe it as a terrible sight. Conspiracy Theories

The Hindenburg explosion could have been caused by lightning, an insurance fraud, or sabotage.


Through the production of the Hindenburg, we see the growing tensions and suspicions between the United States and Germany leasing up to WWII. The creation of the Hindenburg and its grander was a symbol of the impressiveness of German engineering. Yet, some questioned this after the accident. This ended the era of passenger Zeppelins and inspired museums dedicated to these airships. Some include the Albert –Sammt-Zeppelin-Museum, Deutsches Museum, Zeppelin Museum Friedrichschafen, Technik, and Kunst, and the Zeppelin Museum Meersburg-Heinz Urban. Thanks to Herb Morrison, this sparked “an age in which electronic media would routinely report shocking events in the moment they occur”(Garner 4). On a different note, some say Hindenburg served as inspiration for music genres such as Rock.

Hindenburg Bibliography

ger/102/2012/winter/kate_zumpf.txt · Last modified: 2012/03/08 22:01 by kbzumpf
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