Mr. Doehner was the last among 62 passengers and crew who escaped the May 6, 1937, fire, which killed his father, sister and 34 others. He was just 8 at the time.
“He did not talk about it,” his son said, adding that his father took him years later to visit Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey, where the disaster happened, but not the Hindenburg memorial itself. “It was definitely a repressed memory.”
As the 80th anniversary approached in 2017, Mr. Doehner told the Associated Press that he and his parents, older brother and sister were all on the 804-foot-long, German-made zeppelin when it departed Frankfurt on May 3, 1937.
As the Hindenburg neared New Jersey, Mr. Doehner’s father used his movie camera to shoot some scenes of the naval air station from the airship’s dining room and then headed to his cabin. That was the last time Mr. Doehner saw him.
Flames began to flicker on top of the ship as the Hindenburg reached its destination. Hydrogen, exposed to air, fueled an inferno. “Suddenly, the air was on fire,” Mr. Doehner recalled.
“We were close to a window, and my mother took my brother and threw him out. She grabbed me and fell back and then threw me out,” he said. “She tried to get my sister, but she was too heavy, and my mother decided to get out by the time the zeppelin was nearly on the ground.”
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His mother had broken her hip.
“I remember lying on the ground, and my brother told me to get up and to get out of there,” he recalled. Their mother joined them and asked a steward to get her daughter, whom he carried out of the burning wreckage.
Mr. Doehner would remain in the hospital for three months before going to another facility in New York for skin grafts.
The Commerce Department determined the accident was caused by a leak of the hydrogen that kept the airship aloft. It mixed with air, causing a fire.
Mr. Doehner and his family had been traveling back to Mexico City, where his father was a pharmaceutical executive. Funerals were held for his father and sister there.
Werner Gustav Doehner was born in Darmstadt, Germany, on March 14, 1929, and grew up in Mexico City. In 1984, he moved to the United States to work for General Electric as an electrical engineer, according to an obituary posted by the Cremation Society of New Hampshire. He also worked in Ecuador and Mexico before retiring in 1999 from New England Electric System in Westborough, Mass.
In addition to his son, survivors include his wife of 52 years, Elin Doehner.
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