Jump to content

Interesting obituaries


Recommended Posts

You thought everyone who was on the Hindenburg was dead, right?

Wrong :P

One of the passengers is still alive and the last surviving crewmember, Werner Franz, died only last month - here's his story from the Daily Telegraph obit:

As a 14-year-old cabin boy, Werner Franz was the youngest member of the Hindenburg’s 60-strong crew when the hydrogen-filled Zeppelin caught fire and crashed at Lakehurst, New Jersey, on May 6 1937. Of the 97 people on board, 36 passengers and crew and one person on the ground were killed when the airship crashed in an enormous fireball.



Named after the German president who appointed Hitler chancellor in 1933, the Hindenburg airship was a spectacular — and expensive — form of transport that could cross the Atlantic westbound in less than three days, at a time when even the swiftest ocean liners could take up to a week or more.

Having made its maiden voyage more than a year earlier, the Hindenburg had made 62 safe flights before its destruction. Werner had made four round-trip transatlantic crossings, to both North and South America, and had become familiar with the airship’s internal network of narrow wooden passageways that connected bow to stern, a distance of more than 800ft — almost the length of the Titanic.

He had been clearing the dinner dishes in the officer’s mess when, at 7.25pm, he heard a thud and felt the airship shake. The Hindenburg lurched, and its nose began tilting upwards. “Directly overhead there were flames,” Werner Franz remembered.

One memorable photograph of the disaster shows the airship buckling as a fireball rises from its back. Near the nose of the ship, what looks like a spray of water escaping was actually a torrent from the Hindenburg’s ruptured water tanks. Werner Franz believed that getting drenched when they burst protected him from the flames and heat and may have saved his life.

“At first I was shocked, but the water brought me back,” he recalled at a commemoration ceremony in 2004. Gripping both sides of a picture window as the airship sank towards the ground, he kicked open a service hatch used to load provisions, swung his feet out and jumped. He can be seen in newsreel footage of the disaster, leaping the few feet to the ground, and running for his life. “I was doing it instinctively. I didn’t think,” he said.

His timing could hardly have been better. The airship was just low enough to allow Franz to land on a canvas ballast bag, which cushioned his fall, but high enough for him to dash beneath the port side of the airship before it collapsed on the ground in a burning mass. Having jumped clear of the Hindenburg, Franz ran for his life away from the blazing wreckage, as the flames were driven in his direction by the wind. As a result he escaped with singed eyebrows and soaking wet clothes; otherwise he had barely a scratch.

Werner Franz was born in Frankfurt on May 22 1922. As a 14 year-old he landed his job on the Hindenburg quite by chance. His brother worked in a hotel where the passengers gathered before boarding the airship, and when the Zeppelin Company asked the hotel for a boy to serve the officers, Werner was chosen. The experience was an eye-opener for a boy from a humble background. His job was to make beds, set tables, wash dishes and clean uniforms, but for a brief few months he saw the world in a way usually enjoyed only by the airship’s affluent passengers. As well as huge picture windows affording breathtaking views, the Hindenburg offered passengers gourmet German and French cuisine to the musical accompaniment of an aluminium baby grand piano.

Although Werner worked a 14-hour day serving the officers’ meals and attending to their cabins, he was allowed to take breaks during which he could enjoy the spectacular panorama below. He would often visit the mechanics who manned the engines or the riggers who worked at the top of the airship. On the day of the disaster, he climbed up to his favourite small window for a bird’s-eye view of New York City, gazing over Manhattan’s “ocean of buildings far and wide” as the Hindenburg circled overhead, waiting for local thunderstorms to abate at Lakehurst.

But as the fireball exploded, Franz was busy on the mess deck and not at his preferred observation point further forward, where other crewmen waiting to prepare the ship for landing were incinerated by flames bursting through the nose.

The day after the disaster, as a US Navy search team picked through the smoking wreckage, Werner Franz asked them to look for his pocket-watch, a present from his grandfather. It was found amid the debris, a mangled scrap of blackened metal but still ticking.

Although sabotage was initially suspected, no convincing evidence of a plot to destroy the airship was ever found. A build-up of static electricity that ignited a hydrogen leak is now believed to be a possible explanation for the disaster.

During the Second World War, Franz served as a radio operator and instructor in the Luftwaffe. After the war he worked as a precision engineer for the German postal service and was also a skating coach.

Werner Franz, who considered his few months’ service aboard the Hindenburg as the happiest time of his life, is survived by his wife, Annerose, and several children. At least one other survivor of the disaster, Werner Doehner, then eight years old and who was thrown out of the stricken airship by his mother, is thought to be still living.

Werner Franz, born May 22 1922, died August 13 2014

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/11122050/Werner-Franz-obituary.html Edited by Zombie
  • Like 5
Link to comment

A very lucky lad indeed.  To have lived through something that terrible and then survived the World War as well to live to be 92 tells of a remarkable and very fortunate life.  Regrettably, there are many others whose lives were not that blessed. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment

LOL I can't escape the interesting dead people: Mr. Irri being a ghoul over the NYT obituaries in real life, and a virtual Zombie on GA. Edit: At least I'll have material for your thread... 

Edited by Irritable1
Link to comment
  • 1 month later...

When I drop dead, I want an obituary limerick.


Vulgar, crude and bawdy!



Some thought James was exceptionally rude,

Others thought the old boy was crude,

But if you got his bro-mance

And got into his pants

You would discover him exceptionally lewd!

Edited by jamessavik
  • Like 3
Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

Our Privacy Policy can be found here: Privacy Policy. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue..