Last Hindenburg Survivor Dies of Heart Failure

The last confirmed Hindenburg survivor has now passed away. Werner Franz was just fourteen years of age and working as a cabin boy when he managed to narrowly escape the crash of the airship with his life. Now, nearly eighty years later, he has died of heart failure while living in Frankfurt. The late Hindenburg survivor leaves behind a wife, Annerose, who confirmed that his death on August 13 was due to natural causes.

Franz was fairly lucky to have escaped the airship when it crashed. His luck started from the moment the flames began to engulf the zeppelin, as he happened to be standing underneath a rather large water tank. The tank burst above him, and the water kept him from being eaten by the flames. The Hindenburg survivor was then able to jump from the ship, timing his jump so that he sustained no damage. As he ran from the burning wreckage, he ran straight into the wind. Running the other way might have killed him, as it would have resulted in the flames blowing in his direction. As it was, he did precisely what he needed to in order to survive.

After living through the tragedy, Franz went on to serve in the Second World War as an aircraft technician. After that, he lived a fairly tame life. He coached both ice skating and roller skating. As a Hindenburg survivor, he occasionally met with inquisitive personalities, and he was always willing to share his stories with them when they asked him to do so. He also attended events that commemorated the tragedy, and spoke to people from historical societies who were interested to know more about his survival, the Mail Online reports.

Originally, Franz was not necessarily meant to be on the ship. His brother had worked for a Frankfurt hotel where the crew and their passengers were staying the night, and Franz’s brother happened to overhear that the crew was looking for a cabin boy. The future Hindenburg survivor joined the ship’s crew expecting a relatively boring job, and ended up becoming one of just over sixty survivors. He narrowly avoided becoming one of the three dozen victims of the tragedy.

Although Werner Franz may have been the last confirmed Hindenburg survivor, it is believed by some that there are others who remain. Two of them were young boys at the time of the disaster, while another was actually a member of the ground crew. If Werner Franz is indeed the final Hindenburg survivor, his passing marks the end of a long legacy that will still continue to live on in historical consciousness for some time to come.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE