“Oh, the humanity!”


Photograph by: Gus Pasquarella Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

The day was May 7, 1936 and onlookers were mesmerised by the horrific scene that unfolded in front of them. The largest untethered airship, the LZ 129 Hindenburg, began its journey from Frankfurt, Germany, but exploded into flames and crashed to the ground, moments before it was due to land at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey, USA. 36 people died while 67 survived the crash. Several people were seen jumping to their deaths, while many more waited and managed to jump to safety after the ship descended further.

This image by Gus Pasquarella, captures the split second after the ship exploded. He was at the site along with other local photographers and newsreel men. Radio announcer Herbert Morrison, who was covering the event, sobbed as he announced the ship bursting into flames uttering, “Oh, the humanity and all the passengers screaming around here!” This was the first time all three non-print media recorded a tragedy of such scale, together. The Hindenburg disaster as it came to be known, remains one of the most tragic aviation disasters, and ended the era of airships. It effectively shattered public faith in transatlantic airship travel.