nazi germany

Wayback Wednesday: Hindenburg Disaster 1937

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Hindenburg Image One
Photo Credit: airships.net

Eighty-three years ago, today, the Nazi German dirigible, the LZ-129 Hindenburg, exploded at Naval Air Station Lakehurst in Manchester Township, New Jersey.

[T]he largest dirigible ever built, [it burst] into flames upon touching its mooring mast […]. There were 35 fatalities (13 passengers and 22 crewmen) from the 97 people on board (36 passengers and 61 crewmen) and an additional fatality on the ground.

The rigid airship, often known as the Zeppelin after the last name of its innovator, Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, was developed by the Germans in the late 19th century. [It] had a light framework of metal girders that protected a gas-filled interior [of] highly flammable hydrogen gas, vulnerable to explosion.

Hindenburg Image Two
Photo Credit: Nationaal Archief/Spaarnestad Photo
Nationaal Archief Flickr
Sam Shere
Wikipedia & Wikimedia

On May 3, the Hindenburg left Frankfurt, Germany, for a journey across the Atlantic to Lakehurst’s Navy Air Base. While attempting to moor, […] the airship suddenly burst into flames, probably after a spark ignited its hydrogen core. Rapidly falling 200 feet to the ground, the hull of the airship incinerated within seconds. [M]ost of the survivors suffered substantial injuries.

The disaster was the subject of newsreel coverage, photographs and [radio announcer] Herbert Morrison‘s recorded […] eyewitness reports from the landing field, which were broadcast the next day. He is known for his famous emotional declaration “Oh, the humanity!”

A variety of hypotheses have been put forward for both the cause of ignition and the initial fuel for the ensuing fire. The event shattered public confidence in the giant, passenger-carrying rigid airship and marked the abrupt end of [that] era.

Additional Reading & Sources:
Hindenburg Survivors & Crew (Airships website)
LZ-129 Hindenburg: A Detailed History (Airships Website)
The Hindenburg Disaster (Airships Website)
The Hindenburg Disaster (History Channel)
The Hindenburg: Nine Surprising Facts (History Channel)
Hindenburg Disaster (Wikipedia)
Zeppelin (Wikipedia)

British Pathé News Footage

National Geographic Documentary

Flashback Friday: Paris, Lithuania & Tarnów 1940

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June 14 was a banner day for the countries of France, Lithuania and Poland. Except for reading the words, we, today, have no clue what these people went through. ~Vic

Paris Occupied Image One
Image Credit: wikipedia.org

[Source]

Paris started mobilizing for war in September 1939 when Nazi Germany, and their allied Soviet Union, according to the Ribbentrop-Molotov Treaty, invaded Poland. […] the war seemed far away until May 10, 1940, when the Germans attacked France and quickly defeated the French army. The French government departed Paris on June 10 and the Germans occupied the city on June 14.

In the spring of 1939, war with Germany already seemed inevitable. On March 10, the city began to distribute gas masks to civilians and on March 19, signs were posted guiding Parisians to the nearest shelters. On August 31, anticipating bombardment, the French government began to evacuate 30,000 children out of the city […]. On September 1, news reached Paris that Germany had invaded Poland, and France, as expected, promptly declared war on Germany. […] in February 1940, ration cards for food were issued [..].

The French defense plan was purely passive, waiting for the Germans to attack. After eight months of relative calm, […] the Germans struck France on May 10, 1940, bypassing the Maginot Line and slipping through the Ardennes. On June 3, the Germans bombed Paris and its suburbs for the first time […]. On June 8, the sound of distant artillery fire could be heard in the capital. On 10 June, the French government fled Paris […]. On June 12, the French government, in Tours, declared Paris to be an open city [and] that there would be no resistance. At 5:30 in the morning of June 14, the first German advance guard entered the city […]. By the end of the afternoon, the Germans had hung a swastika flag at the Arc de Triomphe […].

Lithuania Image Two
Image Credit: wikipedia.org & Renata3
According to the Soviet–Lithuanian Mutual Assistance Treaty, Lithuania agreed to allow Soviet military bases (marked in black stars) in exchange for a portion of the Vilnius Region (in orange).

[Source]

The Soviet Union issued an ultimatum to Lithuania before midnight of June 14, 1940. The Soviets, using a formal pretext, demanded to allow an unspecified number of Soviet soldiers to enter the Lithuanian territory and to form a new pro-Soviet government […]. The ultimatum and subsequent incorporation of Lithuania into the Soviet Union stemmed from the division of Eastern Europe into the German and Russian spheres of influence in the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939. Lithuania, along with Latvia and Estonia, fell into the Russian sphere. Despite the threat to the independence, Lithuanian authorities did little to plan for contingencies and were unprepared for the ultimatum. With Soviet troops already stationed in the country according to the Mutual Assistance Treaty, it was impossible to mount effective military resistance. On June 15, Lithuania unconditionally accepted the ultimatum and lost its independence.

Auschwitz Image Three
Photo Credit: wikipedia.org & flickr.com

[Source]

The first mass transport of prisoners by Nazi Germany to Auschwitz Concentration Camp was organized in occupied Poland on June 14, 1940, during World War II. The transport departed from the southern Polish city of Tarnów and, consisted of 728 Poles and 20 Polish Jews. They were dubbed ‘political prisoners’ and members of the Polish resistance. Most were Catholics, since the mass deportations of Jews had not yet begun. All were sent to Auschwitz by the German Security Police. They were transported there from a regular prison in Tarnów where they had been incarcerated as enemies of the Nazi regime. Numbers were tattooed on the prisoners’ arms in the order of their arrival […]. These inmates were assigned the numbers 31 through 758, with numbers 1 through 30 having been reserved for a group of German criminals who were brought to Auschwitz from Sachsenhausen on May 20 and became the first Auschwitz kapos.