Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Hometown: Elmenau, Germany
Occupation: Chief mechanic
Location at time of fire: Engine gondola #1 - starboard aft
Died, either in wreck or in infirmary
Josef Schreibmüller was one of the Hindenburg's chief mechanics, along with German Zettel and Eugen Bentele. Born in Elmenau (just east of Friedrichshafen) on July 15th, 1902, Schreibmüller had been a Zeppelin mechanic since July of 1929, when he was hired by Luftschiffbau Zeppelin to serve as an engine mechanic on the LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin. The following month, Schreibmüller was aboard for the Graf Zeppelin's record-breaking flight around the globe. Subsequently, he made virtually every Graf Zeppelin flight until March, 1936. At that time, he transferred to the new ship, the LZ 129 Hindenburg, where he served as a chief mechanic.
Schreibmüller was aboard the Hindenburg's first North American flight of 1937, and stood watch in engine gondola #3, starboard side aft, rotating watches with mechanics Walter Banholzer and Rudi Bialas. As the ship came in to land at Lakehurst on May 6th, Schreibmüller and Banholzer were at their landing stations in engine car #1 when the fire broke out. Unfortunately, with the engine gondola #1 slung low under the ship's hull as it was, the whole thing ended up with a large section of the hull collapsing over it when the ship's stern hit the ground.
Josef Schreibmüller was trapped in the engine car and was fatally burned. He either died in the wreck, or in the air station's infirmary shortly thereafter.
Thanks also to Herr Manfred Sauter of the Freundeskreis zur Förderung des Zeppelin Museums e.V., whose memorial article on the Hindenburg crew members who lost their lives at Lakehurst (Zeppelin Brief, No. 59, June 2011) provided additional details on Schreibmüller's career, and to Dr. Cheryl Ganz for providing me with a copy of the article.