Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Richard Müller

Crew Member

Age: 25

Hometown: Friedrichshafen, Germany

Occupation: Assistant chef

Location at time of fire: Bow, stairs leading up to mooring shelf

Died in wreck

Richard Müller was born December 7th, 1911 in Paris. A professional baker and confectioner, Müller was hired by the Deutsche Zeppelin Reederei on April 28th, 1937 to serve under the Hindenburg's head chef Xaver Maier as a cook and confectioner. He joined Maier's kitchen staff for the first time as the Hindenburg made its first North American flight of the 1937 season during the first week of May.

Müller was off duty and sitting with some of his shipmates in the crew's mess when the Hindenburg was coming in to land at Lakehurst on May 6th. Shortly before the ship reached its mooring circle and dropped its landing ropes, Müller was ordered forward to the bow along with five other off-watch crewmen (fellow cook Alfred Grözinger, assistant cook Fritz Flackus, electrician Josef Leibrecht, and engine mechanics Walter Banholzer and Alfred Stöckle) in order to help trim the ship, which was tail-heavy. Müller took a position just forward of Ring 233, along the stairway leading up to the mooring shelf.

Richard Müller's approximate location at the time of the fire.
(Hindenburg structural diagram courtesy of David Fowler)

A few minutes later, when the ship caught fire, Müller and most of the others in the nose section suddenly found themselves engulfed in flame, at least 150 feet above the ground, and unable to jump to safety. Richard Müller, along with eight others out of the twelve men stationed in the bow, died either in the fire or else in the air station infirmary shortly afterward.

Special thanks 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 Müller's career, and to Dr. Cheryl Ganz for providing me with a copy of the article.

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