Thursday, October 9, 2008

Erich Knöcher


Age: 38

Residence: Zeulenroda, Germany

Occupation: Manufacturer

Location at time of fire: Passenger decks

Died in hospital

Erich Knöcher was born on September 9
th, 1898 in Zeulenroda, Germany. As a young man he served as a soldier in WWI, and then returned home to Zeulenroda where he married and had three daughters, and where he eventually built a small wire-weaving factory. Erich Knöcher & Co. produced various wire mesh products, including mosquito netting. Knöcher would occasionally make business trips out of the country, and had sailed to the United States in 1934 aboard the steamship Europa. When he needed to make another such business trip to the States in the Spring of 1937, Knöcher chose to book passage on the Hindenburg's first North American flight of the year, which left Frankfurt on the evening of May 3rd.

Eric Knöcher's possible location in the starboard lounge at the time of the fire.

As the Hindenburg approached the landing field at Lakehurst, NJ three days later on the evening of May 6th, Knöcher was on the passenger decks along with his fellow travelers. It is not certain precisely where Knöcher was at the time of the fire, however – probably somewhere on the starboard side. Once the ship was on the ground he did manage to escape from the wreckage, but was apparently badly injured in the process. He was, however, able to walk away from the wreck with the assistance of rescuers, and to later send a telegram to his family letting them know that he had survived.

Two men lead Erich Knöcher (far left) and Captain Albert Sammt (in uniform) from the Hindenburg wreck.

Erich Knöcher (center) leans dazedly on the shoulder of a badly burned survivor (probably crewman Ludwig Felber) as sailors load them into an ambulance to be taken to the Lakehurst air station's infirmary.

He was taken to Fitkin Memorial Hospital in Asbury Park, NJ where he lingered for the next couple of days. Though he had been given a blood transfusion shortly before midnight, Erich Knöcher passed away sometime around 7:00 on the morning of Saturday, May 8th, 1937. His body was sent back home onboard the steamship Hamburg, which sailed from New York on May 13th, 1937. He is buried in Zeulenroda.

(Special thanks to Herr Knöcher's daughter Jutta, who was kind enough to provide biographical information and a photo of her father.)

1 comment:

Julia said...

Some of the survivors don`t seem to have been badly injured but are described as "dazed" like Knöcher or Ernst. As a doctor I would presume that these survivors suffered heavy intoxications of carbon monoxide and smoke gases which would explain their condition and their "fading away" during the following hours and days. In 1937 the treatment of severe smoe gas intoxication would have been quite limited.