May 7, 2012 – Seventy-five years ago today the skies were set aflame with burning hydrogen when the Hindenburg, the pride of the German air fleet, ignited over New Jersey. Many grainy black and white films exist of the night the Hindenburg fell, but one line from radio resonated above them all.
"Oh the humanity," was spoken by WLS radio announcer Herbert Morrison who broadcasted live for entire 60 seconds it took the airship to burn. His full response according to History.com was, "Oh, oh, oh. It's burst into flames. Get out of the way, please . . . this is terrible . . . it's burning, bursting into flames, and is falling . . . Oh! This is one of the worst . . . it's a terrific sight . . .oh, the humanity."
The question remains as to the origin of the fire, with no clear answer available. Theories range from a bomb, to lightning to static electricity.
Debate also still rages over how the fire was able to spread through the dirigible so quickly. Hydrogen is the obvious choice. In fact, looking at the films you can see the separation between the various gas bags (16 in all) as each one bursts into flames. The skin of the aircraft can hardly be called to blame as some of it was able to survive the fire, the heat of which could be felt up to a mile away. Additionally, this fantastic photo shows the skin mainly intact while fire belches from the nose of the doomed ship.