Hindenburg vs Titanic: Survival Rates

The Hindenburg disaster is often compared with the sinking of the Titanic, and there is a common misconception that the Hindenburg crash was more deadly.  In fact, the opposite is true.


Only 32% of those on the Titanic’s maiden voyage survived the sinking.  For certain groups of people, such as Third Class passengers and crew, the survival rate was even lower, and Second and Third Class men fared even worse; only 10% of Second Class men (15 of 157) and 14% of Third Class men (69 of 476) survived the sinking.

In contrast, the majority of passengers and crew on the Hindenburg’s last flight survived the disaster (which was not caused by the flammability of the Hindenburg’s covering, which is another misconception).

Survival Rate on Hindenburg

On Board Survived Died Percent Survived
Passengers 36 23 13 64%
Crew 61 39 22 64%
Total 97 62 35 64%



Survival Rate on Titanic

Figures for the Titanic tragedy differ slightly among various sources, but the numbers presented by the United States Senate Inquiry are generally representative:

On Board Survived Died Percent Survived
1st Class 329 199 130 60%
2nd Class 285 119 166 42%
3rd Class 710 174 536 25%
Passengers 1,324 492 832 37%
Crew 899 214 685 24%
Total 2,223 706 1,517 32%
Titanic survival rates as determined by Unites States Senate Inquiry (click to enlarge)

Titanic survival rates as determined by United States Senate Inquiry (click to enlarge)

A comparison of the two disasters reflects poorly on the officers of Titanic.

The Hindenburg disaster lasted about half a minute and survival was largely a matter of chance.

R.M.S. Titanic, on the other hand, took almost two and a half hours to sink and the ship remained level for much of that time.  If Titanic’s officers had acted with more competence and professionalism, there could have been an orderly evacuation, but instead many lifeboats were less than half full when launched and “women and children first” was interpreted by at least one officer as “woman and children only.” Given the shortage of lifeboats carried by Titanic, tragedy on a large scale was unavoidable, but an orderly evacuation — taking full advantage of the lifeboats’ capacity to hold 1,178 persons — would have saved almost 500 additional lives.

Titanic and Hindenburg: Similarities and Differences

People often compare Titanic and Hindenburg, but the two passenger ships had little in common. Read more about their similarities and differences.

Titanic Hindenburg Comparison




25 Comments on "Hindenburg vs Titanic: Survival Rates"

  1. I was 9 yrs.old when the Hindenberg flew over me while I was waiting for some friends to join me to play baseball on a field close to the Phila. Museum of Art.

    I didn’t see it until I heard its “putt putt” motors right over me.
    It was huge. I dropped down on my back which made it easier to watch it.

    Then as it started to fly over me, it began a slow left turn that it would send it down
    to Lakehurst, N.J where it would land.

    I’m not sure how it came to fly over Philadelphia , especially the route, but now realize that if came directly over downtown Phila.and giving the passengers the opportunity to see
    Independence Hall, etc.


    One year later at night, I’m playing soldiers on the living room rug when the radio announces that the Hindenberg has crashed.

    A lot speculation follows to this day, but the gas to lift these dirigible is Helium, not hydrogen.

    This was in 1936, the first year of its 4-5 day flights over the Atlantic

  2. It is so strange that the notion that hydrogen airships, and airships in general are very unsafe has stayed until the 21st century! I think that if a plane crashed when they were first being made people would think they were unsafe (Which they were back then) but eventually they thought it might be better than they thought and even more crashes happened as they became more popular so if it’s something that is not hurtling around at great speeds they might think it is more safe? But after the hindenburg disaster no one really thought of going on one again. So why not airships? Personally I have no idea but I wonder if airships could make a cameback if someone proved they were safe? There’s a lot of potential in these powered balloons! But still the idea goes around that even helium airships are unsafe… It’s really a shame.

  3. Dagmara Lizlovs | April 14, 2015 at 9:52 pm | Reply


    I just came upon an article that there is a call to consider the priest on board the Titanic, Father Thomas Byles for sainthood. I would have posted under the blog article on Ken Marschall’s Titanic and Hindenburg paintings; however, that article is dated from November 2013. Father Byles refused a place in a lifeboat and ministered to the needs of the persons, the second and third class passengers who remained on board as the ship sank. The article is from Zenit and here is the link:


  4. Also, both The Titanic and Hindenburg disasters preceded a world war by a few short years. World Wars I and II respectively.

  5. After the Titanic disaster they didn’t stop building oceanliners. So why after the Hindenburg did they cancel airship travel? People don’t stop flying after an airplane crash. I’d love to see a return of the zeppelin. With much more advanced technology it should be safer. Fill it with hydrogen, I’d ride in it.

  6. With the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic …my thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims and the survivors….may they all rest in peace…….sorry i mispelled peace…..

  7. Also you’re being very unfair. Titanic has 2,200 while the Hindenberg had about 200. So numbers are a bit skewed. Also it is true it took the ship 2 hours and 40 minutes to sink. However We have to take out about 40 minutes to find out what was going on and to deduce the ship would sink. You then lose about another 20 minutes or so at the end when it would have been impossible. So you’re dealing with about an hour and 40 minutes to get the lifeboats ready and sent off. Dealing with passengers who don’t know what’s going on to avoid a panic with time not on your side.

    Now that being said the officers are not blameless but a lot of this has to with Captain Smith. He canceled a lifeboat drill, had the officers seen the lifeboats full they would have been less afraid that they’d buckle something that they couldn’t deal with. The women and children first order wasn’t being followed the same way on both sides of the ship which further slowed the loading. Again Smith should have checked his orders were being followed the way he wanted. With one officer believing it was women and children first and should remain that way until no more women and children were on board while the other it was women and children first and then men when there were no more women and children in sight.

    The size of the ship doesn’t help either with third class being forgotten about until it was too late. Had they helped them up to boat deck right away more lives could have been saved.

    Honestly though this is more on Smith than the officers as a whole. No on recalls seeing him really that night. Cancelling the lifeboat drill was a killer, it was a new ship and people were still learning what their jobs were. Trying to learn it when the ship is sinking is a poor time to start learning. So yeah they failed but I believe had that happened on another voyage and the officers had time to gel it may have changed. Still the Hidenberg crew did a great job and honestly were amazing.

    There does have to be some fairness given to the Titanic officers though who were dealing with hubris and a clock that was against them.

  8. In fairness to the officers, many passengers very foolishly refused to get into the lifeboats.

  9. nate evans | May 2, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Reply

    interesting facts thanks

  10. What does it mean when it says “In fact, the opposite is true.”
    Also, what was the loss of property in the disaster? because i could not find it.

    • Melanie,

      It means the people who think the Hindenburg was more deadly than the Titanic are wrong. The survival rate on the Titanic was only 32%, where as the survival rate of the Hindenburg was 64%.

  11. If only the Titanic had been filled with Hydrogen like the Hindenberg,
    the tragic sinking could have been avoided!

    • Severin Olson | March 30, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Reply

      I like that! Funny.

      Both Titanic and Hindenburg had sister ships traveling home in the opposite direction. Olympic was going back to England while the Graf Zeppelin was on its way back to Germany from South America.

    • Dagmara Lizlovs | April 14, 2015 at 10:11 pm | Reply

      The iceberg would have been successfully melted! Sorry couldn’t help myself on that one.

  12. this is really great and will help me on my project on the Hindenburg!!! 🙂 PEACE OUT

  13. great page, wish the airship era was still with us – so much class

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