As for my reasoning chain on this week's document: I saw it was a Zepplin postcard; I
knew the Hindenburg exploded in 1937 after a little over a year's service (I watched
The Waltons religiously as a child. John Boy was there!), so I made some logical
assumptions about your questions. Since it was a European post card, I guess I just
presumed the dating would be European.
It was a blast to answer! I'll have to try my luck with the old challenges on my own,
and I'll definitely be back next Monday. Pam Melder
The date style is not just European. Only the USA, to my knowledge, uses the dopey
month/day/year format which has caused confusion to the rest of the world ever since
presumably the American Revolution. There was a sad story years ago about a couple
planning to meet and being betrayed by the date format. He was to meet her on 5th
June and wrote 6/5/1942 and she, in England, interpreted that as the sixth of May. They
failed to meet and marry. ;(
I think the Canadians also use day/month/year format as we do here in Australia. As a
major user of data management for many years I invariably use the international
convention YYYYMMDD which invariably sorts my data into chronological order. I am
cross that my watch and my blood sugar monitor display dates in the USA format. In
respect of the Quiz, the give-aways were the German stamp and the post-mark (I was
a philatelist in my early days.) A quick Google check of the Hindenburg was all I
needed to confirm that she was lost shortly after my birth on 19370410.
N.B. I sincerely apologize for our country's wanton disregard for the date format
used by the rest of the world. Enough said. - Q. Gen.
I did get confused by the date as I had assumed it would be the opposite to how we do
it in England so first of all I tried the 4 July. It didn't seem right though and during my
searches I saw a picture of another card on the internet with an explanation of the date
which then made me realise I was reading the date backwards.
It was good to learn something new and I'm looking forward to the next quiz.
Yep, I certainly had noticed the date ... but the funny thing is that I didn't even notice
the derigible on the stamp until AFTER I had solved the problem!!
And I'm not sure that the "new" me [without calustrophia and fear of heights] would
have taken the HIndenburg across an ocean!!!!! Elaine C. Hebert
This was fun! Does this postcard belong to one of your quiz fans? Shirley Hamblin
N.B. No, but I wish it belonged to me! -Q. Gen.
I had my answers to this quiz fairly quickly, but have spent a heck of a lot of time this
week trying to translate the postcard. Unfortunately, I never learned German in high
school or college, and even for some of my friends who were German professors, the
translation was rather difficult because of the old style German script. If I didn’t learn
much more than I already knew about the Hindenburg, I did learn a lot about the old
German script alphabet. Daniel Jolley
I went astray on reading the date correctly. I originally took it from the handwritten
note and not the cancellation stamp. Now, I’m taking the date to be April 7, 1936
which, according to the Hindenburg flight schedule at http://www.airships.
net/hindenburg/flight-schedule would be during the return trip from the airship’s first
transatlantic flight from Germany to South America. Barbara Mroz
N.B. Viel mehr besser! Ich gratuliere Sie. - Q. Gen.
The date was a confusion - but, it really didn't apply to much of anything as written on
the card - the key is that postmark.
What I got out of the text, and it wasn't too much (again -- languages aren't my strong
suite) - it mentioned the airship, and the places it was going and from, etc - I think I
saw the name of perhaps the Captain, etc., and the date was the easiest to see and
interpret. The postmark is definitely the day/month/year - and, from doing the
genealogy, I know to look at that when looking at something 'non-American'. It's so
easy to get goofed-up, and for me it's 'the exception', and that's how I remember it.
Go figure? Everybody's mind works a little differently, doesn't it?
may want to read what the card says, if you can make-out all the text. The card may
have been written on board - and, perhaps, there is a list of passengers. We're looking
for "Carl Somebody(?)" - yes, I know that's not really the name - but, it is "Carl",
which is not the usual German spelling on that, it would be Karl. I'm still thinking that
"Carl" may be something other than German. It's just a fun thing, and I was very
curious. This is certainly the time that I wish I knew German.
I did a little reading on the Hindenburg, and was thoroughly amazed that they allowed
people to smoke onboard - and, with all that combustible stuff. You know, though, the
people who went on that were courageous, but, then again - hindsight is 20/20, and
nobody thought the thing would explode! This is sort of like 'Titanic' - nobody thought
that would ever sink, it was even featured as being 'unsinkable'. Yeah, right up until
they found out so many years later that the steel was brittle and a collision with an
iceberg would be enough to do it. And, think about those folks who traveled first to
The Americas - they could have sailed off the edge of the earth. Nothing new about
daredevils, is there? Kelly Fetherlin
Oh!!...The humanity!!!!!, Excellent Quiz!, I couldn't pass this one up, since I have
been an avid stamp collector since I was a child. My great-grandfather actually owned
a stamp store in Queens, and my father got me into philately and it is one of my favorite
hobbies....and I have quite a few. My interests & specialties are Aland (a stamp issuing
entity located within Finland), Saar (a "dead country"-no longer issues stamps, a heavily
contested region on the German-French border-now an industrialized region in
Germany), and duck stamps or any wildlife conservation, hunting or fishing stamps.
Robert W. Steinmann Jr.
There is a very interesting museum in Meersburg, Germany on the Zepplin..It is a small
store front about a block from the drawbridge entrance to Meersburg Schloss. There is also
a bar with memoribilia of Graf von Lepplin, the brother, at the Insel Hotel in Konstance,
CH. Meersburg, Germany. The European dates are backwards to us but I did not even
look at the date. After being to that neat museum I immediately knew the answer.
Interesting fact: the early zeppelins carried the swastika on the side. This was evident in
the original grainy motion picture shown at the museum. All the items for sale and more
recently produced had blanked out the swastika.
They had motion pictures of the earlier flights showing the patrons dining in full
evening dress with overcoats on the china produced just for that flight.
Why is the china from the Hindenburg not displayed? Yes, these voyages had
china made for them.
Zepplin rides are currently available but are very expensive.
Hindenburg Flight to North America
May 6-9, 1936
|If you have a picture you'd like us to feature a picture in a future quiz, please
email it to us at CFitzp@aol.com. If we use it, you will receive a free analysis of
your picture. You will also receive a free Forensic Genealogy CD or a 10%
discount towards the purchase of the Forensic Genealogy book.
|Many Clues from the Photo
|If you enjoy our quizzes, don't forget to order our books!
1. Onboard the Hindenburg
2. It was the maiden voyage of the airship,
from the UK to South America in April 1936
3. The Hindenburg exploded at Lakehurst, NJ airfield in May 1937
essentially ending the era of the zeppelin in favor of air transport.
1. How did this card travel from the sender to the recipient?
2. What was the historic significance of the trip?
3. Why was this kind of delivery service discontinued about a year later?
|Answers to Quiz #328
October 30, 2011
|Congratulations to Our Winners
Rachel Joy Richard Wakeham
Marilyn Hamill Elaine C. Hebert
Barbara Mroz Peter Norton
Mike Dalton Wayne Douglas
Kelly Fetherlin Arthur Hartwell
Stephen Jolley Dawn Carlile
Pam Melder Gary Sterne
Shirley Hamblin Sherry Marshall
Sally Garrison Betty Chambers
Don Draper Daniel Jolley
Debbie Sterbinsky Margaret Paxton
Dennis Brann Robert W. Steinmann Jr.
Diane Burkett Jim Kiser
|Comments from Our Readers
|How Arthur Solved the Puzzle
|Actually the german date wasn't a bother, but knowing it didn't bring
up your image. It finally dawned on me that farhen was the german
verb to go. 1. farht meant first trip. Adding first trip to my requests
brought up your image site. Harold G. Dick made many zeppelin
flights. I found a list of 20 postcards he wrote to himself to record
the trip. He must have really liked zeppelin travel.
|Interesting Note from Don Draper
|On Monday of this week I was travelling by air from Orlando to
Detroit and I subscribed to the Go Go internet service for my I-pad.
It seemed to be an appropriate way to take a first look at this week's
It was interesting to find out how many post cards there are like this
one which was delivered by an airship or zeppelin. Many of them
command a hefty price on auction sites. It appears this card was
written on Aril 3rd, 1936 (3.4.36)and was meant to be delivered from
Rio De Janeiro to Germany on the L.Z. 129 Hindenburg which was
famous for its fiery crash on May 6, 1937. I believe this particular
trip was the historically significant first for the Hindenburg to
South America and the return voyage, which included this post card,
went from April 6 - 10. (Rio to Lowental).
I read that Pan American Airlines started mail delivery in May, 1939
which provided speedier delivery for mail. Zeppelins were faster than
ocean ships and airplanes were faster that zeppelins. Quicker mail
N.B. So you sent in your answer by airmail email, so to speak? Do
you think that sending it from the plane made the email arrive
more quickly and that had you been traveling on a zeppelin it
would not have reached me in time? - Q. Gen.
"Mit LZ129 nach
with a picture of a zeppelin
|Stamp Cancellation Marks
Top: Deutsche Luftpost,
Bottom: Deutsche Luftpost,
picture of zepplin
submitted by Daniel E. Jolley
|Mention of "Rio" and "Buenos" (Buenos Aires) in the message
|Handwritten date: L.Z.129 Hindenburg, den 3.4.36
|Postcard annotations: LZ129, Lichtbildabteilung Luftshiffbau Zeppelin
|Herr Christopher Aug. Lehmann
Strasse _ Budenburg ____
An Board das L.Z. 129 Hindenburg,
Lieber Herr Lehmann! Die Farht ist
bis jetzt gut verlaufen. Morgan steigen
wir nach 100 stundiger Fahrt in Rio
aus. Am Sontag geht es mittels
Flugzeug weiter nach Buenos. An Bord
alles wohl. Mit bestem Gruss ihr Carl
On board the L.Z. 129 Hindeburg, 3
Dear Mr. Lehmann! The trip has been
going well until now. Tomorrow we
get out in Rio after a 100 hour trip.
On Sunday we travel by plane to
Buenos Aires. Everthing is well on
board. With best regards, your Carl
submitted by Robert W. Steinmann Jr.
Via Deutche Luftpost or German Airmail, specifically
via Zeppelin. This is known as a 'zeppelin card' in the
business, as opposed to a 'cover' which is what stamp
collectors call envelopes. It features a double 75 Pfennig
German airmail stamp with a Europe-South America
cancellation dated 07 April 1936. The stamp issued on
16 March, 1936, itself, commemorates the first long-
term test flight of the airship Hindenburg [Zeppelin LZ
129] from Friedrichshafen-Friedrichshafen (22 hr 45
min) in Germany on 17-18 March 1936. The catalog
number of this stamp would be Scott C58 Type AP10-
USA or Michel 607 (Europe) (mint, postally unused,
unhinged, original gum) or 607X (postally used or
canceled) Perforation 14 1/2:14, Watermark: Swastika Type X (Watermark left), Color:
dull green. The stamp is also available in a 50 Pfennig variety; Scott C57 Type AP10 or
Michel 606 & 606X, Color: dark blue, also Perforation 14 1/2:14-Watermark: Swastika,
Type Y (Watermark left).
LZ 129 Hindenburg (Luftschiff Zeppelin
#129; Registration: D-LZ 129) was a large
German commercial passenger-carrying
rigid airship, the lead ship of the
Hindenburg class, the longest class of
flying machine and the largest airship by
envelope volume. Designed and built by
the Zeppelin Company (Luftschiffbau
Zeppelin GmbH) on the shores of the
Bodensee (Lake Constance) in
Friedrichshafen, the airship flew from
March 1936 until destroyed by fire 14
months later on May 6, 1937, at the end of
the first North American transatlantic journey of its second season of service. Thirty-
six people died in the accident, which occurred while landing at Lakehurst Naval Air
Station in Manchester Township, New Jersey, United States.
Hindenburg was named after the late Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg (1847–1934),
President of Germany (1925–1934).
The interior furnishings of the Hindenburg were designed by Fritz August Breuhaus,
whose design experience included Pullman
coaches, ocean liners, and warships of the
German Navy. The upper A Deck contained
small passenger quarters in the middle flanked
by large public rooms: a dining room to port
and a lounge and writing room to starboard.
Paintings on the dining room walls portrayed
the Graf Zeppelin's trips to South America. A
stylized world map covered the wall of the
lounge. Long slanted windows ran the length
of both decks. The passengers were expected
to spend most of their time in the public areas,
rather than their cramped cabins.
The lower B Deck contained washrooms, a
mess hall for the crew, and a smoking lounge.
Harold G. Dick, an American representative
from the Goodyear Zeppelin Company,
recalled "The only entrance to the smoking
room, which was pressurized to prevent the
admission of any leaking hydrogen, was via
the bar, which had a swiveling air lock door,
and all departing passengers were scrutinized
by the bar steward to make sure they were
not carrying out a lighted cigarette or pipe."
Use of Hydrogen instead of Helium
Helium was initially selected for the lifting gas
because it was the safest to use in airships, as
it is not flammable. At the time it was
extremely expensive, and was only available
from natural gas reserves in the United States.
Hydrogen, by comparison, could be cheaply
produced by any industrialized nation and had
more lift. American rigid airships using helium
were forced to conserve the gas at all costs
and this hampered their operation. While a
hydrogen-filled ship could routinely vent gas
as necessary, a helium-filled ship had to resort
to dynamic force if it was too light to
descend, a measure that took a toll on its
Despite a U.S. ban on helium exports, the
Germans designed the ship to use the gas in
the belief that the ban would be lifted; when
the designers learned that the ban was to
remain in place, they were forced to
re-engineer the Hindenburg to use hydrogen
for lift. Despite the danger of using flammable
hydrogen, no alternative gases that could
provide sufficient lift could be produced in
sufficient quantities. One beneficial side effect
of employing hydrogen was that more
passenger cabins could be added. The
Germans' long history of flying
hydrogen-filled passenger airships without a
single injury or fatality engendered a widely
held belief they had mastered the safe use of
hydrogen. The Hindenburg's first season
performance appeared to demonstrate this.
First Commercial Passenger Flights
|Promenade and Dining Area
|Pressurized Smoking Room aboard
LZ-129 Hindenburg, showing door to the
bar, with the air lock doors beyond.
The Hindenburg returned to Löwenthal on March 29,
1936 to prepare for its first commercial passenger flight,
a transatlantic passage to Rio de Janeiro scheduled to
depart from there on March 31. Ernst Lehmann had
command of the ship.
The Hindenburg made 17 round trips across the Atlantic
Ocean in 1936, its first and only full year of service, with
10 trips to the United States and seven to Brazil. In July
1936, the airship also completed a record Atlantic double
crossing in five days, 19 hours and 51 minutes. Among
the famous passengers who traveled on the airship was
German heavyweight boxing champion Max Schmeling,
who returned home on the Hindenburg to a hero's
welcome after knocking out Joe Louis in New York on
June 19, 1936. During the 1936 season the airship flew
191,583 miles (308,323 km), carried 2,798 passengers,
and transported 160 tons of freight and mail, a level of
success that encouraged the Luftschiffbau Zeppelin
Company to plan the expansion of its airship fleet and
The ship was reportedly so stable that a pen or pencil
could be stood on a table without falling. Its launches
were so smooth that passengers often missed them,
believing that the airship was still on the ground. The cost
of a ticket between Germany and the United States was
US$400 (about US$6,300 in 2010 dollars), a considerable
sum in the Depression era. Hindenburg passengers were
generally affluent, including many public figures,
entertainers, noted sportsmen, political figures, and
leaders of industry.
The Hindenburg was used for propaganda purposes and on August 1 it flew over the
Olympic Stadium in Berlin during the opening ceremonies of the 1936 Summer Olympic
Games. Shortly before the arrival of Adolf Hitler to declare the Games open, the airship
crossed low over the packed stadium while trailing the Olympic flag on a long weighted
line suspended from its gondola.
During 1936 the Hindenburg had a special aluminium Blüthner grand piano placed on
board in the music salon, although the instrument was removed after the first year to
Over the winter of 1936–37, several changes were made. The greater lift capacity
allowed 10 passenger cabins to be added, nine with two beds and one with four beds,
increasing the total passenger capacity to 72. In addition, "gutters" were installed to
collect rain for use as water ballast.
Another change was the installation of an experimental aircraft hook-on trapeze based
on the system similar to the one used on the US Navy Goodyear-Zeppelin built airships
USS Akron (ZRS-4) and USS Macon (ZRS-5). This was intended to allow customs
officials to be flown out to the Hindenburg to process passengers before landing and to
retrieve mail from the ship for early delivery. Experimental hook-ons and takeoffs were
attempted on March 11 and April 27, 1937, but were not very successful, owing to
turbulence around the area where the hook-up trapeze had been mounted. The loss of
the ship ended all prospects of further testing.
After opening its 1937 season by completing a single round trip passage to Rio de
Janeiro in late March, the Hindenburg departed from Frankfurt on the evening of May 3
on the first of its 10 round trips between Europe and the United States scheduled for its
second year of commercial service. The United States' American Airlines, which had
contracted with the operators of the Hindenburg, was prepared to shuttle fliers from
Lakehurst to Newark for connections to airplane flights.
Except for strong headwinds which slowed its passage, the Hindenburg's crossing was
otherwise unremarkable until the airship's attempted early evening landing at Lakehurst
three days later on May 6. Although carrying only half its full capacity of passengers
(36 of 70) and 61 crew members (including 21 training crew members), the
Hindenburg's return flight was fully booked with many of those passengers planning to
attend the festivities for the coronation of King George VI in London the following
The airship was hours behind schedule when it passed over Boston on the morning of 6
May, and its landing at Lakehurst was expected to be further delayed because of
afternoon thunderstorms. Advised of the poor weather conditions at Lakehurst, Captain
Max Pruss charted a course over Manhattan, causing a public spectacle as people
rushed out into the street to catch sight of the airship. After passing over the field at 4 p.
m., Captain Pruss took passengers on a tour over the seasides of New Jersey while
waiting for the weather to clear. After finally being notified at 6:22 p.m. that the storms
had passed, the airship headed back to Lakehurst to make its landing almost half a day
Explosion and Crash
At 7:25;p.m. local time the Hindenburg
caught fire and quickly became engulfed
in flames. Eyewitness reports conflict on
where the fire started. Although there
were five newsreel cameramen and at
least one spectator known to be filming
the landing, no camera was rolling when
the fire started and therefore there is no
motion picture record of where it first
broke out at the instant of ignition.
Wherever it started, the flames quickly spread forward. Instantly, a water tank and a
fuel tank burst out of the hull due to the shock of the blast. This shock also caused a
crack behind the passenger decks, and the rear of the structure imploded. The
buoyancy was lost on the stern of the ship, and the bow lurched upwards as the falling
stern stayed in trim.
As the Hindenburg's tail crashed into the ground, a burst of flame came out of the nose,
killing nine of the 12 crew members in the the bow. There was still gas in the bow
section of the ship, so the bow continued to point upward as the stern collapsed down.
The crack behind the passenger decks collapsed inward, causing the gas cell to
explode. The scarlet lettering "Hindenburg" became erased by flames while the airship's
bow lowered. The airship's gondola wheel touched the ground, causing the bow to
bounce up slightly as one final gas cell burned away. At this point, most of the fabric
on the hull had also burned away and the bow finally crashed to the ground. Although
the hydrogen had finished burning, the Hindenburg's diesel fuel burned for several more
The time it took for the airship to be completely destroyed has been disputed. Some
observers believe it took 34 seconds, others say it took 32 or 37 seconds. Since none
of the newsreel cameras were filming the airship when the fire started, the time of the
start of the fire can only be estimated from various eyewitness accounts, and will never
be known accurately. Some of the duralumin framework of the airship was salvaged
and shipped back to Germany where it was recycled and used in the construction of
military aircraft for the Luftwaffe as were the frames of the LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin and
LZ 130 Graf Zeppelin II as well when both were scrapped in 1940.
|See newsreel of explosion. Click here.
|Herbert Morrison, describing the events, as transcribed for
broadcast by WLS radio.
Click here to hear broadcast.
It's practically standing still now they've dropped ropes out of the
nose of the ship; and (uh) they've been taken ahold of down on
the field by a number of men. It's starting to rain again; it's... the
rain had (uh) slacked up a little bit. The back motors of the ship
are just holding it (uh) just enough to keep it from...It's burst into
flames! It's burst into flames and it's falling it's crashing! Watch
it; watch it! Get out of the way; Get out of the way! Get this,
Charlie; get this, Charlie! It's fire... and it's crashing! It's crashing
terrible! Oh, my! Get out of the way, please! It's burning and
bursting into flames and the... and it's falling on the mooring mast.
And all the folks agree that this is terrible; this is the one of the
worst catastrophes in the world. [indecipherable] its flames...
Crashing, oh! Four- or five-hundred feet into the sky and it... it's
a terrific crash, ladies and gentlemen. It's smoke, and it's in
flames now; and the frame is crashing to the ground, not quite to
the mooring mast. Oh, the humanity! And all the passengers
screaming around here. I told you; it—I can't even talk to people,
their friends are out there! Ah! It's... it... it's a... ah! I... I can't
talk, ladies and gentlemen. Honest: it's just laying there, mass of
smoking wreckage. Ah! And everybody can hardly breathe and
talk and the screaming. 0000000, I... I... I'm sorry. Honest: I... I
can hardly breathe. I... I'm going to step inside, where I cannot
see it. Charlie, that's terrible. Ah, ah... I can't. Listen, folks; I...
I'm gonna have to stop for a minute because [indecipherable] I've
lost my voice. This is the worst thing I've ever witnessed.