How the Hindenburg killed an entire industry

  • Published: 01 March 2019
  • A routine press photo-op in 1937 ended up recording the explosion of the greatest airship ever built.

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    Special thanks to David Fowler, who generously allowed us to use his drawing of the plan of the Hindenburg (00:13 of the video). See more of his work here:

    In May 1937, the airship Hindenburg burned up while approaching Lakehurst, New Jersey, on its first flight to the US that year. A flying symbol of pride for Nazi Germany, the Hindenburg was the biggest and most elaborate zeppelin ever built. At a time when airplanes were only carrying one or two people across the Atlantic Ocean, the Hindenburg was flying paid passengers, who enjoyed its dining room, reading room, passenger lounge, and even smoking room. It was an iconic luxury vessel, but it was filled with hydrogen, a flammable gas. And when it rushed its landing in New Jersey, it ended up exploding in front of a waiting group of newsreel cameras and becoming the first aviation disaster filmed as it was taking place. Sam Shere’s photo of the moment just before the ship was entirely engulfed is now an iconic snapshot that manages to perfectly frame the entire disaster.

    Darkroom is a new series from Vox producer Coleman Lowndes that digs into stories of the past, one photograph at a time. Watch all the episodes

    Note: The headline for this video has been updated since publishing.
    Previous headline: The first disaster caught on film is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Check out

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Comments • 1 126

  • Vox
    Vox   9 months back

    This is the second episode of Darkroom, our new series from producer Coleman Lowndes that digs into stories of the past, one photograph at a time.
    If you haven't seen it yet, you can watch the first episode here:

    Happy Friday!

    • DeluxeBestOfTheBest
      DeluxeBestOfTheBest  3 days back

      I was awe struck the first time i seen a 747, i cant imagine how people felt then when they seen the hindenburg

    • TheAtom¡CRose _
      TheAtom¡CRose _  4 months back

      Vox what's the name of the book?

    • Ms. R
      Ms. R  7 months back

      Can we talk about modern airships?

    • Ms. R
      Ms. R  7 months back

      Watching this again. Thank you.

  • Dominus Crystal
    Dominus Crystal  7 days back

    3:56 Watching this part with subtitles is much more understandable

    • GameBoiii Does Reddit
      GameBoiii Does Reddit  2 weeks back

      mommy look I drew the symbol on the Hindenburg

      • me ow
        me ow  1 months back

        This is like Boeing building the 777 out of cardboard because *it's cheaper*

        • John Grabowski
          John Grabowski  2 months back

          Hindenburg was "built" from 1933-35 and give trial flights late in '35. By 1936 it was already in service.

          • Enemy AC-130 Above
            Enemy AC-130 Above  2 months back


            • Arfan Eka Diandra
              Arfan Eka Diandra  2 months back

              (lots of hydrogen-powered aircraft explodes)
              America: Shouldn't we be carrying helium to German? Look at all of these.
              Also America: Nope.

              • Kelvin James Cayabyab
                Kelvin James Cayabyab  2 months back

                I would say that's a spaceship if I happen to see it in the modern times.

                • Jimbo
                  Jimbo  2 months back

                  Imagine just looking out the window then a huge shadow just appears.

                  • Jacob Trump
                    Jacob Trump  2 months back

                    Who esle didn't look at the title and thought it was about led zepplin

                    • Claude
                      Claude  2 months back

                      Oh the humanity

                      • Ben Morningstar
                        Ben Morningstar  2 months back

                        Kirov Reporting. 😇

                        • SAUCE
                          SAUCE  2 months back

                          Do you guys think this could be built again?

                        • nelson sy
                          nelson sy  2 months back

                          Hydrogen, 2/3rds of water, is flammable?

                          • Brad the impaler
                            Brad the impaler  2 months back

                            OH THE HUMANITY!!!!

                            • Jerome Reid
                              Jerome Reid  3 months back

                              *OH THE HUMANITY*

                              • TheKNIGHTELFMOHAWK
                                TheKNIGHTELFMOHAWK  3 months back

                                Led zeppelin was like hey this would make a sweet album cover

                                • Shouvik Roy
                                  Shouvik Roy  3 months back

                                  German Engineering and Technology <3

                                  • SloppyFx
                                    SloppyFx  3 months back

                                    Would have maken sense if the title said heisenberg

                                    • Loosewheel
                                      Loosewheel  3 months back

                                      i am still amazed 2/3 of people in that airship managed to escape

                                      • Argus Skyhawk
                                        Argus Skyhawk  3 months back

                                        Since this happened in 1937, does that mean it was an anachronism to show Indiana Jones riding a German airship in 1938 in The Last Crusade?

                                        • GOGA 18
                                          GOGA 18  3 months back

                                          this thing looks so advanced for 37 i wonder what could have been

                                          • Dylan Kikunaga
                                            Dylan Kikunaga  3 months back

                                            The Hindenburg is the airship that caused the Zeppelin era to end. It’s the last Zeppelin to be operated.
                                            Until decades later, the Zeppelin era is back, this time, the new Zeppelin is designated as the Zeppelin NT: with redesigned features and fixed the flaws that the original Zeppelin had. It’s filled with helium.

                                            • Pat Cavanaugh
                                              Pat Cavanaugh  3 months back

                                              These are evidently not a thing of the past. I saw one above my house one morning recently. I heard the noise of the engine and thought a plane was about to crash, so I ran to the front door and looked up at the sky and there was a craft with no wings, shaped like a blimp, and it had an orange glow on the side that was visible. It went behind a yellowish cloud and continued on rather slowly, compared to a jet plane. There was no stream behind it, just a loud humming motor. Quite curious. A man from Maryland or Delaware (I forget which) commented on the same thread I was on and said he saw the same thing earlier that same day, going southeast. It tied in with the day and time that I saw the "blimp." I live in south Jersey. Maybe not a UFO, but definitely something we know nothing about....I wonder where it was going and how many people were on it?

                                              • Jonas _5656
                                                Jonas _5656  3 months back

                                                I hate my LIFE my brother thinks it's made from plastic do u know what's the worst part he's 22 years old

                                                • Lala
                                                  Lala  3 months back


                                                  Boeing 737 MAX: crashes

                                                  • Marquis de Hoto
                                                    Marquis de Hoto  3 months back

                                                    It's almost like the other accidents didn't happen because they weren't filmed...

                                                    It's still amazing that anyone survived it.

                                                    • KaiWut
                                                      KaiWut  3 months back

                                                      Helium: **Exists**
                                                      Everyone: lol use hydrogen
                                                      **Their craft exploded**
                                                      Everyone: lol lets not use helium and not try again

                                                      • Galaxy Wulf
                                                        Galaxy Wulf  3 months back

                                                        Make another one. With our new technology.

                                                        • Mista Troodon
                                                          Mista Troodon  3 months back

                                                          Hindenburg: The Titanic of the skies

                                                          • MrCorvusC
                                                            MrCorvusC  3 months back

                                                            Hydrogen is a frightening thing to work with. Just the idea of flying in something where there's so much of it...With internal combustion engines strapped to it. Absolute madness.

                                                            • Ocean Cleaner
                                                              Ocean Cleaner  3 months back

                                                              Woah! I've always been super perplexed and curious about the Hindenburg. Thank you for this. I had no idea how cool airships were or even what they were designed to do. The incredible amenities they offered are astonishing and I had never even head of this passenger airship concept, until seeing this video. My parents talked about the hindenburg in the 90s, but I never had a clue what its purpose was. This is so interesting. 💖

                                                              • Cyber Punk
                                                                Cyber Punk  3 months back

                                                                Man, bet this would end up as a great album or a great name for a band.. wait

                                                                • ItsRDR
                                                                  ItsRDR  3 months back

                                                                  *GET THIS SCOTTY GET THIS SCOTTY*

                                                                  • The-Real Clorox-Bleach
                                                                    The-Real Clorox-Bleach  3 months back

                                                                    Reminds me of battlefield 1.

                                                                    • Jon MacDonald
                                                                      Jon MacDonald  3 months back

                                                                      Led Zeppelin!!!!

                                                                      • bulla da lulla
                                                                        bulla da lulla  3 months back

                                                                        The only reason I realized this photo is becuz of Led Zeppelin 😂

                                                                        • Brian Welch
                                                                          Brian Welch  3 months back

                                                                          Should bring these back and use Helium, not hydrogen

                                                                          • The Real Earth
                                                                            The Real Earth  3 months back

                                                                            Now they are blimps

                                                                            • I Eat Plastic
                                                                              I Eat Plastic  3 months back


                                                                              • Big Blue
                                                                                Big Blue  4 months back

                                                                                Actually the end was coming for airships. Despite the proclaimed luxury of the cabins they were in fact very sparse and basic. When caught in a storm they could rapidly rise and plummet hundreds of feet in a matter of moments, terrifying both passengers and crew.

                                                                                The other thing is that they could carry only a very limited number of passengers, especially compared to an ocean liner. Not to mention the amount of cargo an ocean liner could carry.

                                                                                And with pilots like Alcock and Brown in 1919 and then Charles Lindbergh in 1927 it was obvious that aircraft, not airships, were the future.

                                                                                In 1921 the airship R38 crashed into the River Humber less then half a mile from where I live. My late father used to know when of the men who went out into the Humber to help with the rescue and recovery of the died. At the time of the crash she was the biggest airship in the world.

                                                                                • Nirjona Jonsson
                                                                                  Nirjona Jonsson  4 months back

                                                                                  Don't you guys see the "biggest" things get destroyed.. Titanic.. This..

                                                                                  • Jockitoi
                                                                                    Jockitoi  4 months back

                                                                                    This is basically the Titanic of the sky.

                                                                                    • Shibin Mathew
                                                                                      Shibin Mathew  4 months back

                                                                                      *Led Zeppelin*

                                                                                      • JonessJack
                                                                                        JonessJack  4 months back

                                                                                        love this channel. keep up the great work

                                                                                        • Marian Dani
                                                                                          Marian Dani  4 months back

                                                                                          Did u see that? It’s safer than any plane

                                                                                          • Brandon Stennett
                                                                                            Brandon Stennett  4 months back

                                                                                            Hey ,favor could you guys explain the NO BAIL SWEDEN SITUATION ? would help us ASAP.

                                                                                            • skyscreeper
                                                                                              skyscreeper  4 months back

                                                                                              with all due respect, the only thing I see when I look at that famous picture is the debut album of the greatest rock n roll band of all time.

                                                                                              *"good times bad times" starts playing*