Was the Hindenburg Adorned With a Swastika?

The German airship crashed into a New Jersey township in May 1937.

  • Published
Airplane, Aircraft, Vehicle
Image via Fox Photos / Stringer

Claim

The German airship Hindenburg, known for crashing into a New Jersey township in May 1937, was adorned with a swastika symbol, the logo of the German Nazi Party.

Origin

Many remember the German airship the Hindenburg for its spectacular disaster on May 1937. The dirigible balloon burst into flames upon attempting to land in a New Jersey township, resulting in the deaths of 36 passengers and crew members. 

Photographs of the airship on fire are so ubiquitous that few remember it had another association: The airship was seen emblazoned with the swastika, used as the emblem of the German Nazi Party. 

Historic photographs of the airship from Getty Images can be seen below:

April 1936: Over 800 feet long, the German airship Hindenburg (LZ-129) runs a sceduled transatlantic service between Friedrichshafen, Germany, and Lakehurst, New Jersey, America. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)
14th May 1936: The German hydrogen filled airship Hindenburg (LZ-129). The airship runs scheduled services between Friedrichshafen, Germany and Lakehurst, New Jersey, America. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

More archival photographs of the Hindenburg can be seen in this story by The Smithsonian, including one taken right before the disaster, and in posters advertising the airship in the archives of the National Air and Space Museum.

The state of the art, luxury Hindenburg airship was considered to be a point of pride and propaganda for the Nazi Party. The ship itself was a commercial passenger flight operated by the Deutsche Zeppelin-Reederei company.The Zeppelin Company began construction for the airship in 1931, years before Adolf Hitler became the chancellor of Germany. Named after the late German President Paul von Hindenburg, it began transatlantic flights in 1936 and operated for around 14 months before the disaster.

In 1935, a few years after Hitler was made chancellor, the Nazi Party announced that the swastika flag was now the national flag. The airship subsequently operated under the new German swastika flag until its untimely demise.  

Given the extensive archival evidence showing the airship emblazoned with the Nazi swastika flag, we rate this claim as “True.”