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Survivors

Frank Ward, Ground Crew Member
(1920-2015)
Hindenburg, May 6, 1937

Video of interview with Frank Ward [transcript (pdf)]

In 1937, Frank Ward was a high school student and one of the youngest civilians of the Hindenburg landing crew. Watch this video interview to share his experience as he held one of the mooring lines at the moment of the disaster.


Ferdinand Lammot Belin, Jr.
     © Dolan Family Archives

Ferdinand Lammot “Peter” Belin, Jr.
(1913-1982)

Hindenburg survivor Peter Belin's photographs and documents are published for the first time courtesy of Harry Lammot Belin and Susan Lenhard Belin.
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Hindenburg Crew Survivors

Hindenburg Crew Survivors
Hindenburg Crew Survivors, Lakehurst Naval Air Station, May 11th, 1937
Left to Right: Max Henneberg (steward); Fritz Deeg (steward); Max Zabel (navigator and postmaster); Jonny Dörflein (mechanic); Severin Klein (steward); Eduard Boetius (navigator); Egon Schweikardt (radio operator); Xaver Maier (chief cook); Werner Franz (cabin boy); Rudolf Sauter (chief engineer); Wilhelm Balla (steward); Eugen Nunnenmacher (steward); Albert Stöffler (pastry chef); Wilhelm Steeb (apprentice mechanic); Heinrich Kubis (chief steward); Captain Heinrich Bauer (watch officer); Kurt Bauer (elevatorman); Eugen Schäuble (engineering officer); Helmut Lau (helmsman); Alfred Grözinger (cook); German Zettel (lead mechanic)

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Captain Heinrich Bauer
(1902–1979)

Captain Heinrich Bauer

“In the gondola there was an oppressive calm; some crewmen were groaning, others fell to the floor and everyone attempted to hold onto something as the pitch became steeper.”

Bauer, a young Hindenburg captain, controlled the water ballast during the final approach. He tried to level the flaming ship to soften its landing. At the instant the landing wheel bounced, he jumped from the gondola’s portside window and ran to a place of safety. He suffered minor burns but returned to rescue passengers. After the disaster, Bauer worked in aviation and automobile industries.
(Photo courtesy Bill Schneider Photograph Collection)


Cabin Boy Werner Franz
(1922–      )

Cabin Boy Werner Franz

“When the next Zeppelin is ready, may I fly again with her?”

When the flaming Hindenburg sharply tilted, water from a ruptured ballast miraculously drenched fourteen-year-old cabin boy Werner Franz. Soaked and briefly protected from the flames, he kicked open a supply hatch and jumped. The gondola’s bounce provided the seconds he needed to escape the conflagration virtually unharmed. Franz spent his life after World War II working with precision instruments.
(Photo courtesy Navy Lakehurst Historical Society)


Passenger Nelson Morris
(1891–1955)

First Class Stewardess Violet Jessop

“The most remarkable thing that I know in my life, I took metal rods an inch thick in my hands and I broke them. They broke like paper.”

Armour Meat Packing executive Nelson Morris and business associate Burtis J. Dolan, both from the Chicago area, had watched lightning from the starboard passenger lounge before Hindenburg’s stern dropped sharply. The friends jumped from the flaming ship into a fiery tangle of girders. Morris survived, but Dolan became fatally trapped in the wreck. Morris secured financial support for Dolan’s family.

First Class Stewardess
Violet Jessop (1887–1971)

First Class Stewardess Violet Jessop

“Each day it was more difficult to ignore the pettiness, artificiality and frothy gaiety that encompassed a stewardess’ life aboard ship.”

Two weeks after the Titanic disaster, Jessop returned to the sea as a stewardess aboard Olympic. In 1916, as a World War I nurse, she survived the sinking of Titanic’s sister ship, HMHS Britannic, in the Aegean Sea. Jessop jumped from her lifeboat right before Britannic’s still-turning starboard propeller smashed it to pieces. She retired from shipboard service in 1950.


Passengers Michel (1908–2001)
and Edmond (1910–1953)
Navratil

Michel and Edmond Navratil

“There were vast differences of people's wealth on the ship, and I realized later that if we hadn't been in second-class, we’d have died.” –Michel Navratil

The toddler Navratil brothers were placed in Titanic’s last lifeboat and arrived in New York as “Louis and Lolo, the Titanic orphans.” When their mother spotted their photograph in a French newspaper, it was learned that they had been kidnapped by their father and were traveling under assumed names. From 1992 until his death, Michel (left) was Titanic’s last male survivor.
(Photo courtesy Navy Lakehurst Historical Society)


Second Officer
Charles Herbert Lightoller
(1874–1952)

Second Officer Charles Herbert Lightoller

“I never allowed my thoughts to dwell on . . . those ghastly moments.”

Lightoller supervised the launch of Titanic’s port side lifeboats. After the vessel sank, he clung to an overturned lifeboat until rescued. As Titanic’s senior surviving officer, he gave crucial testimony at the British and American inquiries. Lightoller commanded three Royal Navy ships during World War I, but the White Star Line never promoted him to captain because of his association with the Titanic disaster.


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