Home / US / The last survivor of the Hindenburg disaster has died, says the family

The last survivor of the Hindenburg disaster has died, says the family

Doehner, age 90, died at a hospital in Laconia, New Hampshire, on November 8, his son, Bernie Doehner, told CNN.

Werner Doehner was 8 years old on May 6, 1937, when the infamous airship went up in flames and crashed in Lakehurst, New Jersey, killing 36 people. Doehner's sister and father were among them. 62 people survived.

"It basically robbed him of his father and sister and left him with permanent scars," Bernie Doehner said, adding that his father generally did not talk about the incident. "He had one at the bottom of his leg and he had nine transplant operations and one of his ears was badly injured," he said.

"He was so badly burned, he was blind for many months," he said.

In a 201
7 interview with the Associated Press, Elder Doehner talked about what happened when the airship, the pride of Nazi Germany, arrived from Germany and hovered over the New Jersey airfield. Hydrogen burned an inferno.

"We were near a window, and my mother took my brother and threw him out. She grabbed me and fell back and then threw me out," he said. "She tried to get my sister, but she was too heavy, and my mom decided to come out when the zeppelin was almost on the ground."

His mother and older brother survived.

During the first half of the 20th century, aircraft – some measuring longer than two football pitches – crossed the world's oceans. Hindenburg had seating for 72 passengers, dining, a lounge, a bar and a boardwalk.

Although modern aircraft use non-flammable helium to achieve flight, the Hindenburg tragedy made any return to the widespread use of airships for travel unlikely, experts say. It was largely attributed to the famous black and white news images of the airship that crashed and burned in New Jersey on the tragic day of 1937.

Werner Doehner experienced lasting trauma from the disaster, his son said. For example, he didn't like pancakes because they were served at the hospital where he was taken for treatment, Bernie said.

According to his death, Doehner was born in Darmstadt, Germany, but spent his childhood in Mexico City. He married his wife, Elin, in July 1967.

In 1984, the family moved to the United States, where Doehner worked for General Electric as an electrical engineer, the obituary says. He eventually retired in 1999 from the New England Electric System.

Bernie said he wants his father to be remembered as a "good family man who definitely believed in his children and a strong work ethic."

CNN's Phil Gast contributed to this report.

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