New Children’s Book about the Hindenburg Disaster

A new children’s book has just been published about the Hindenburg disaster.

The publisher was very concerned about getting the facts right and the contents are scrupulously accurate.  Most of all, the book does not repeat any of the nonsense so often found in books about the Hindenburg (e.g., the United States wouldn’t sell helium to the Nazis; the ship’s fabric covering was highly flammable; etc.).

But there was one thing the publisher didn’t consult with me about: the title!

We made sure to avoid any use of the word “explosion” in the content and always referred to the ship “catching fire” or “bursting into flame,” so you can imagine my surprise when I saw the published book!  But that aside, it’s a great little book that explains the basics of the Hindenburg disaster to children, and also mentions other ships such as Graf Zeppelin, Akron, and R.101.


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Joseph DickEd RegisDavid Kolf Recent comment authors
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Joseph Dick
Joseph Dick

Regarding Harold Ickes, Hugo Eckener is quoted in an address as follows on 9 July 1938, in celebration of the 100th birthday of Graf Ferdinand von Zeppelin: “One cabinet member now has suddenly given the opinion that the helium promised us last year has military importance and therefore cannot be delivered. This seems a joke, for this gentleman is the secretary of the interior, while military experts of War and Navy Departments denied its military importance. The last word, however, has not been spoken, as President Roosevelt has assured me. There is no doubt that we shall get helium, becasue… Read more »

Ed Regis
Ed Regis

Well, the full story is a little more complicated than I described in my first post. John Duggan, in LZ129 Hindenburg (Zep Study Group, 2002), p. 194, says: “By late 1937, there was little prospect of helium’s monopoly producer, the USA, exporting helium to Germany. True, in the wake of the Lakehurst catastrophe, Americans had shown a willingness to amend their legislation to permit the export and sale of the gas, and matters had progressed so far as to permit the signing of a sales contract between the US government and the DZR, with the latter having arranged for gas… Read more »

David Kolf

Book titles are quite often selected by the publisher and not by the author, so there’s often a risk that the book title is dramatized. Regarding the Helium Control Act: The sale of helium required a government permission which the DZR almost got *after* the fire of the LZ 129 (and that was indeed canceled due to the aggressive politics of Germany). The situation before the disaster is not clear to me — I haven’t read of any decision before 1938 that gave an explicit no to helium sale. On the other hand the LZ 129 didn’t use the full… Read more »

Ed Regis
Ed Regis

Re “the nonsense so often found in books about the Hindenburg (e.g.the United States wouldn’t sell helium to the Nazis…” You don’t say why this is “nonsense.” The U.S. would not in fact sell helium to he Nazis, and the reason they wouldn’t is that the Helium Control Act of 1927 prohibited export of helium. That included export to the Nazis. Further, following the Anschluss (Germany’s annexation of Austria in 1938), U.S. Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes regarded Germany as a potential enemy and for that reason would not make an exception to the Act in the case… Read more »