Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Franz Herzog




Crew Member

Age: 29

Hometown: Munich, Germany

Occupation: Navigator

Location at time of fire: Control car

Survived








Franz Herzog was one of the Hindenburg's navigators. He had flown the previous year as a navigator on the ship’s maiden flight on March 4, 1936. On the Hindenburg's first North American flight of the 1937 season, Herzog was one of four navigators aboard, the others being Max Zabel, Eduard Boetius, and Christian Nielsen.

As the Hindenburg approached the mooring area at Lakehurst at the end of its last flight Herzog was off watch, up in the mail room above the control car canceling some souvenir letters. When the signal for landing stations was sounded, he climbed down into the control car and took his landing station at the the engine telegraphs on the starboard side of the forward area of the control car, where he would relay commands from Captain Max Pruss to the mechanics in the engine gondolas. When the ship caught fire a short time later, Herzog jumped out one of the control car windows along with the rest of the command crew. He escaped the fire, but was hurt seriously enough to be hospitalized for weeks afterwards at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. His injuries were such that his doctors advised that he not be interviewed by the Board of Inquiry when they visited Lenox Hill Hospital three weeks after the disaster.


Franz Herzog and fellow crew survivor Josef Leibrecht (w/ bandaged hands) outside of Lenox Hill Hospital.


Though he did recover from his injuries and return to Germany that summer, Herzog bore scars long afterwards. This did not stop him, however, from joining the crew of the Hindenburg’s sister ship, the LZ-130 Graf Zeppelin, on its maiden flight on September 14th, 1938. Along with Captain Albert Sammt, another Hindenburg survivor, Herzog flew as a watch officer.

It has been variously reported that Franz Herzog later died in a Russian prisoner of war camp during World War II, and that he was killed during the Russian assault on Vienna during the last weeks of the war.



Thanks to John Tabert for the photos of Franz Herzog, and for the information about Herzog having been in the mail room prior to taking his landing station. John's father was a patient in the same room as Herzog at Lenox Hill Hospital and the two men struck up a friendship and continued to keep in touch even after they had left the hospital.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Herzog was next to my grandfather in the hospital after the fire. They became friends.

Patrick Russell said...

Very interesting! Did they remain in touch after they left the hospital and went their separate ways?

(Please feel free to email me at Rumi68@gmail.com if you'd like to discuss this in more detail. I'm always interested in hearing stories like this.)

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