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This Incredible Footage Of New Jersey’s Most Publicized Disaster Will Blow Your Mind

Almost every New Jersey resident has heard of the Hindenburg disaster. Even non-New Jerseyans are familiar with this tragedy. The 1937 fire and subsequent crash in Lakehurst resulted in 36 deaths, fairly miraculous considering there were 97 passengers and crew members. The “pride of Nazi Germany,” the airship was the world’s largest dirigible (blimp). The press had been covering its flight from Frankfort for days, and swarmed the scene after the blimp ignited.

Radio announcer Herb Morrison was already at Naval Air Station Lakehurst to record a routine voice-over for an NBC newsreel. After witnessing the airship burst into flames, he emotionally explained, “Oh, the humanity!” when covering the event on-air; his reaction immortalized the event. The recording of Morrison’s commentary was immediately flown to New York and aired as part of America’s first coast-to-coast radio news broadcast. To see live footage from the event, watch the incredible video from British Pathe below.

Seeing this footage really brings the event to life. It’s almost impossible to believe that there were so many survivors. While the exact cause of the fire is unknown, it was very likely preventable. The airship was designed to be filled with helium gas but because of U.S. export restrictions on helium, it was filled with highly flammable hydrogen.

You can still visit the Hindenburg crash site, along with other interesting spots on Joint Base Lakehurst. While you will need to arrange tours in advance for security purposes (it is still an active military installation), all tours are free! Visit the Navy Lakehurst Historical Society to learn more.

Kristen Koennemann
Kristen is a freelance writer, editor and social-media manager who really loves her state. She's here to share all that New Jersey has to offer with residents and the rest of the world.