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Oh, the humanity

Posted by Pamela on January 25, 2006

In Reply to: Oh, the humanity posted by Smokey Stover on January 24, 2006

: : : : Does the phrase 'Oh, the humanity of it all' mean the same like 'Oh God' or something?
: : : : Thanks :)

: : : One of the technological marvels of the 20th century was the fleet of giant airships using light gas developed in Germany (actually only three were built). Although the developers wanted to use inert helium, for safety, they could not obtain it from the U.S. Therefore the airships, notably the Graf Zeppelin and the Hindenburg, used flammable hydrogen. The Hindeburg made a number of successful flights between Frankfurt and Lakehurst, New Jersey, in 1936. However, its first flight in 1937 ended on May 3 with a fiery crash as it was landing at Lakehurst. A radio reporter who was there to cover the landing, Herbert Morrison, was recorded as he described the routine landing of the ship and its 70 passengers. When the giant airship suddenly burst into flame, Morrison lost his calm and exclaimed in an agonized voice, "Oh, the humanity!" What did he mean? I suppose he was thinking of the passengers and crew engulfed in flames. Actually, brave crew members and Lakehurst personnel managed to save a large number of the passengers. To this day no one knows exactly how the fire started. But if you hear the phrase, "Oh, the humanity!" this is where it comes from. SS

: : The fire started as a result of static electricity generated in the fabric. A few years ago some of the original Hindenburg fabric was submitted to a variety of tests. Static was the petty inevitable conclusion of the fabric's nature.
: : See:

: Thanks, Doc, for the information. I was completely unaware of this paper. SS

In a contempory context I have never heard the phrase used in any way except hyperbollically. Example: WHO Magazine Worst Dressed 2005 ("A yellow crepe cape? Oh! The humanity!") or "How was the movie?" "The humanity!". So perhaps "Oh my Gawd!" is a better meaning than "Oh, my God!" I remember hearing a recording of the Zeppelin crash and finding the commentary very moving, so its a pity that it has been reduced to something quite trite. Pamela