Hindenburg Disaster – List of Officers and Crew

In addition to its 36 passengers, Hindenburg carried 61 other persons on its last flight; the regular crew of 40, plus 21 additional individuals who were aboard as observers or in training for upcoming assignment to Hindenburg’s sister ship, LZ-130, which was nearing completion.

Captain Max Pruss was in command, with three other qualified captains as watch officers; Captain Albert Sammt (who would later command LZ-130 Graf Zeppelin),  Captain Heinrich Bauer, and Captain Walter Ziegler.  Two other airship captains were also on board as observers; Captain Ernst Lehmann, who had commanded Hindenburg on many flights and was director of the DZR, and Captain Anton Wittemann, who was the regular captain of LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin.  (Wittemann would have been in command of Graf Zeppelin at the time of the Hindenburg disaster, but he had switched positions with Captain Hans von Schiller, who took Graf Zeppelin on a roundtrip to South America so he could attend a reunion in Germany.)  In all, there were six qualified zeppelin captains in the control car when Hindenburg crashed at Lakehurst.

The following list of officers and crew appeared as part of the Accident Investigation report published by the the United States Department of Commerce in the Air Commerce Bulletin of August 15, 1937 (vol. 9, no. 2):

* Indicates those who died as a result of the crash

OFFICERS
Captain Max Pruss, Commanding
Captain Albert Sammt (watch officer)
Captain Heinrich Bauer (watch officer)
[Captain] Walter Ziegler, Watch Officer
Captain Ernst Lehmann (observer)*
Captain Anton Wittemann (observer)

NAVIGATORS
Max Zabel, Navigator
Christian Nielsen, Navigator
Franz Herzog, Navigator
Kurt Bauer, Navigator

RADIO OFFICERS
Willy Speck, Chief Radio Officer*
Herbert Dowe, Radio Officer
Franz Eichelmann, Radio Officer*
Egon Schweikart, Radio Officer

ENGINEERING OFFICERS

Rudolf Sauter, Chief Engineer
Eugen Schäubel, Engineering Officer
Wilhelm Dimmler, Engineering Officer*

ELEVATORMEN
Ludwig Felber*
Ernst Huchel*
Eduard Boetius

HELMSMEN
Alfred Bernhard*
Helmut Lau
Kurt Schönherr

ELECTRICIANS
Philip Lenz, Chief Electrician
Joseph Leibrecht
Ernst Schlapp*

ENGINE MECHANICS
Walter Bahnholzer*
Eugen Bentele
August Deutschle
Rudy Bialas*
Jonny Doerflein
Adolf Fischer
Albert Holderried*
Richard Kollmer
Robert Moser*
Alois Reisacher*
Theodor Ritter
Raphael Schädler
Willy Scheef*
Josef Schreibmüller*
Wilhelm Steeb
Alfred Stöckle*
German Zettel

RIGGERS
Ludwig Knorr, Chief Rigger*
Hans Freund
Erich Spehl*

STEWARDS
Heinrich Kubis, Chief Steward
Wilhelm Balla
Fritz Deeg
Max Henneberg
Severin Klein
Eugen Nunnenmacher
Max Schulze*
Emilie Imhoff (Stewardess)*

SHIP’S DOCTOR
Dr. Kurt Rüdiger

COOKS
Xaver Maier, Chief Cook
Richard Müller*
Albert Stöffler
Alfred Grözinger
Fritz Flackus*
Werner Franz (mess boy)

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    { 16 comments… read them below or add one }

    richard foley April 1, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    i have a postcard from The Hindenburg signed on the back by either a…

    Willi Dalblery
    Willi Dalbley
    Willi Daelbler

    Does anyone recognize any one of these names?

    Reply

    Dan April 19, 2014 at 10:28 am

    Could it be Dimmler?

    Reply

    Robert L. Miner March 25, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    Would like more information on the naval men that were on duty that day attempting to pull the ship down. My father was one of them. A list of those men should be made available.
    Thank you, Bob

    Reply

    Suzanna February 26, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    I think I may be related to Captain Sammt. That was my mother’s maiden name. She was born in Germany in 1924. her name was Anna. How can I find out more? Where are the Captain’s descendants now?

    Reply

    Kurt Lau October 26, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    Hello,
    I came across finding this list of crew members aboard the Hindenburg out of my son and I’s curiosity about whether we had any “famous” people in our family tree or not. I told him that I had heard that there was a crew member with the last name of “LAU” aboard the ill-fated airship, Helmsman HELMUT LAU. I know that he is not really “famous”, but it would be interesting to know if he is somehow distantly related to me through my ancestors who came over from Germany to the U.S. back in the 1850′s. Good work on this website.

    Thanks, Kurt Lau

    Reply

    William E. Flackus Jr. December 24, 2012 at 10:29 am

    I think I may be a relative of one of the crew of the Hindenburg. Would it be possible to email or otherwise contact Patrick Russel? Author of “The Faces Of The Hindenburg” ?

    Reply

    Dan December 30, 2012 at 9:47 am

    I will pass your email address along to Patrick so he can reply directly. Who was the relative? Best regards! Dan

    Reply

    Karen Erickson December 17, 2012 at 12:31 am

    Hi, this is going to seem random, but I was watching a program about The Hindenburg, and it peaked my interest. When I was younger, my mother had a telegram from her Uncle Walter Zimmerman saying that he was ok, not on The Hindenburg. I noticed someone said something about Walter Zimmerman’s observer notes, and I wondered if it could be my mom’s uncle. Just wondering….

    Reply

    Gladys August 1, 2011 at 2:00 am

    I really appreciate your hardwork for coming up with this, Pardon me but I need to tell you this,, since I was a child, this has been in my dreams, I have no idea of how this thing is called or what this is…but when i grew up, i finally saw this on TV..i ignored it but there were also times that I dreamt of what I have seen in the Schindler’s list, that my name is Feliza and that I came from Berlin…this is weird but there is a strong feeling of me to look at the list of the passengers…I am wondering why…it has been a long time since I saw this on TV but now that I am here in CA for a visit, I watched the disaster on TV, and i searched this on the net and found your site…my mom was born a year after that, it happened May 6, 1937, if ever you have found a name Feliza I would be glad to know it…I need to answer some of my questions….Thank you so much

    Reply

    Dennis jacobs March 21, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    Watching tv special came on became interested in the poor souls on board. Keep up the good work.

    Reply

    Katrin Reichhold March 9, 2011 at 11:38 pm

    My uncle (father’s brother) was on the Hindenburg that crashed in 1937, with my father and a friend patiently waiting his arrival. They witnessed the whole ordeal and spent the rest of the night and next day searching the hospitals for him, in hopes that he had been among the survivors. Not only did they not find him alive, but they were never able to identify his corpse either, presumably because of the magnitude of the burn injuries.

    Reply

    Dan (Airships.net) March 10, 2011 at 7:35 am

    Thank you for your comment!

    May I assume from your last name that your uncle was Otto Reichhold, and that perhaps your father was Henry (Helmuth) Reichhold?

    It is a pleasure to have you visit the blog.

    Reply

    James Yeske August 21, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    Thanks for all your hard work. The dates of birth are important to me. If you should find out any more of them, please let me know.

    Reply

    Patrick Russell May 20, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    Always glad to lend a hand, Dan! This body of knowledge only continues to grow if we all share what we know and help one another to fill in blanks like this, after all.

    I’ve got a number of the US Naval observer reports from 1936 (though I don’t think I necessarily have them all) and they’re just fascinating in the amount of detail they go into in terms of the layout and operation of the ship. So many of the little details that I’d have loved to have had the chance to ask the crewmen themselves turn up in some form in those reports.

    One thing that has given me a lot of food for thought is a section in one of the Naval observer reports (I’m thinking it may have been Zimmerman’s, but I’ll have to look back through my notes) that lays out the standard command crew procedure for landings.

    Contrary to what Captain Sammt spoke of as the customary watch officer arrangement in his Board of Inquiry testimony (Ship’s Commander giving the orders for horizontal movement – engine speed, helm, etc. – and the on-duty Watch Officer giving orders for vertical movement – elevators, ballast, gas valving, etc.) the 1936 Naval observer report I refer to has the on-duty Watch Officer handling the horizontal plane, the standby-watch Watch Officer handling the vertical plane, and the Ship’s Commander overseeing the whole operation.

    I find this to be of interest, because assuming the Naval observer report was accurate (and it would seem to be, as having the Commander watching the “big picture” with two of his watch officers handling the movement of the ship is certainly the most logical way of doing it, given the number of personnel available in a three-watch system) then this would tend to indicate that something changed for that last landing approach, in which the Ship’s Commander was handling the duties normally associated with the First Officer.

    My suspicion, and it is completely unsupported by anything but this circumstantial evidence I’ve mentioned, is that for who knows what reason, Lehmann took some sort of “senior officer’s privilege” and took over command of the ship during the landing approach on May 6th, 1937 – thus bumping Pruss down to the First Officer’s landing position overseeing the helm and engines, and bumping Sammt down from the on-duty Watch Officer’s landing position to the standby-watch position handling the elevator, ballast, and gas valving.

    I have no idea IF this was actually done, and if so then WHY it was done, but the discrepancy between the standard landing duties of the Captains and the actual landing duties of Pruss and Sammt on that last flight certainly have me wondering.

    Reply

    Patrick Russell May 20, 2009 at 1:01 am

    Hi Dan,

    Good to see you compiling all the passengers and crew from that last Hindenburg flight. The site is really growing nicely.

    A quick note: Walter Ziegler was also a qualified Captain, and was in the watch rotation with Sammt and Bauer. This is an omission that goes clear back to Hoehling. For some reason, when he wrote up the crew list at the front of his book he listed all of the senior officers (Lehmann, Pruss, Wittemann, Sammt, and Bauer) as Captains except for Ziegler, who was simply listed as “watch officer.”

    Ziegler is, however, referred to in the Board of Inquiry testimony transcripts as Captain, and beyond that the Zeppelin Company (to my knowledge) didn’t assign anyone as a watch officer unless they were rated as a Captain.

    Reply

    Dan (Airships.net) May 20, 2009 at 7:23 am

    I always appreciate corrections and criticisms, but I am especially grateful for a visit by Patrick, the force behind the brilliant Faces of the Hindenburg blog.

    Thank you for your comments; since there are few people who have researched the passengers and crew of the final voyage more thoroughly than Patrick, I have made the changes he suggested.

    I was not aware that all watch officers were necessarily rated as captain, but German watch officers did have a lot more responsibility than their American counterparts, so it would not be surprising. (The July 23, 1936 memo to the Navy prepared by Lt. Cdr. Sachse, Lt. Reppy, and Lt. Weintraub about their observations aboard Hindenburg discusses the extremely high level of authority and responsibility delegated to Zeppelin watch officers.)

    Thank you again for you help, Patrick. :-)

    Reply

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