On May 6, 1937, the infamous Hindenburg zeppelin made its final voyage from Nazi Germany to New Jersey, where it exploded over a landing field. The Hindenburg Explodes! follows that flight and its unusual crew and passengers
Runtime: 15 minutes
The Hindenburg Explodes! - Hindenburg Line - Netflix
The Hindenburg Line (Siegfriedstellung or Siegfried Position) was a German defensive position of World War I, built during the winter of 1916–1917 on the Western Front, from Arras to Laffaux, near Soissons on the Aisne. In 1916, the German offensive at the Battle of Verdun had been a costly failure. The Anglo-French offensive at the Battle of the Somme had forced a defensive battle on the Germans, leaving the western armies (Westheer) exhausted. On the Eastern Front, the Brusilov Offensive had inflicted huge losses on the Austro-Hungarian armies in Russia and forced the Germans to take over more of the front. The declaration of war by Romania had placed additional strain on the German army and war economy. Construction of the Hindenburg Line in France was begun by the Germans in September 1916 to make a retirement from the Somme front possible as a means to counter an anticipated increase in the power of Anglo-French attacks in 1917. The shorter defensive position behind the Noyon Salient was built to economise on manpower, contain an Allied breakthrough and make possible a deliberate withdrawal to prepared positions. By destroying the infrastructure and demolishing civilian buildings in the salient before a withdrawal, the Germans could dislocate Franco-British offensive preparations, by forcing them to advance into a wasteland. The British and French armies would need about eight weeks to rebuild roads, bridges and railways in the abandoned area before they could attack. A shorter Western Front could be held with fewer troops and by incorporating the lessons of defensive battle on the Somme, the importance of troop dispersal, reverse-slope positions, defence in depth and camouflage, German infantry casualties could be reduced. While the German army recuperated from the losses of 1916, protected by the Hindenburg Line and similar defensive positions on the rest of the Western Front, a return to unrestricted submarine warfare and a strategic bombing offensive against Britain were planned. By the beginning of 1917, the strategic outlook for the Germans made a retirement inevitable. German divisions on the Western Front numbered 133 on 25 January 1917, reducing the German manpower shortage but not by enough to contemplate an offensive. Greater output of explosives, ammunition and weapons by German industry to provide the means to counter the Allied Materialschlacht (battle of equipment) was attempted in the Hindenburg Programme of August 1916. Production did not sufficiently increase over the winter, with only 60 percent of the programme expected to be fulfilled by the summer of 1917. The German Friedensangebot (peace initiative) of December 1916, had been rejected by the Entente and the Auxiliary Service Law of December 1916, intended to further mobilise the civilian economy, had failed to supply the expected additional labour for war production. The retirement to the Hindenburg Line took place as part of the Alberich Bewegung (Operation Alberich/Alberich Manoeuvre) from February–March 1917, after local withdrawals on the Somme had been forced on the 1st Army in January and February, by British attacks up the Ancre valley. News of the demolitions and the deplorable condition of French civilians left behind by the Germans, were serious blows to German prestige in neutral countries. Labour was transferred south in February 1917 to work on the Hundingstellung, from La Fère to Rethel and on the forward positions on the Aisne front, which the Germans knew were due to be attacked by the French armies. Divisions released by Operation Alberich and other reinforcements increased the number of divisions on the Aisne front to 38 by early April. The Hindenburg Line was attacked several times in 1917, notably at St Quentin, Bullecourt, the Aisne and Cambrai and was broken in September 1918, during the Hundred Days Offensive.
The Hindenburg Explodes! - Air operations - Netflix
German air operations over the winter concentrated on reconnaissance to look for signs of Anglo-French offensive preparations, which were found at Messines, Arras, Roye, the Aisne and the Champagne region. By March the outline of the Anglo-French spring offensive had been observed from the air. German air units were concentrated around Arras and the Aisne, which left few to operate over the Noyon Salient during the retirement. When the retirement began British squadrons in the area were instructed to keep German rearguards under constant observation, harass German troops by ground attacks and to make long-range reconnaissance to search the area east of the Hindenburg Line, for signs of more defensive positions and indications that a further retreat was contemplated. A policy on rapid movement had been devised in September 1916, in which the Army Wing and Corps Wings not attached to the corps moving forward, would move with army headquarters and the Corps Wings attached to the corps that were advancing, would keep as close to their associated corps headquarters as possible. Squadrons would not need to move every day and could arrange temporary landing-grounds. On 21 March 1917 the use of temporary facilities was ordered with portable hangars to be built near corps headquarters and aircraft flown back to their normal aerodromes at night. IV and V Brigades were involved in the advance, with their squadrons attached to divisions for contact-patrols. Two cavalry divisions were attached to the Fourth and Fifth armies for the advance, with aircraft for reconnaissance of the ground that the cavalry was to traverse and to help the cavalry maintain touch with the rear. Suitable targets found by air observation were engaged by artillery using the “zone call” system. The cavalry divisions were issued with wireless stations to keep in touch with their attached aircraft but in the event good ground communications made them redundant. The German retirement was so swift and the amount of artillery fire was so small, that telephone wires were cut far less frequently than expected. German troop movements were well concealed and rarely seen from the air and it was usually ground fire that alerted aircrew to their presence. Pilots flew low over villages and strong points to invite German ground fire for their observers to plot, although this practice gave no indication of the strength of rearguards. A few attacks were made on German cavalry and infantry caught in the open but this had little influence on ground operations. The artillery wireless organisation broke down at times, due to delays in setting up ground stations, which led to missed opportunities for the direction of artillery fire from the air. The main influence of air operations was exerted through message carrying and reconnaissance, particularly in observing ground conditions in front of the advance and intermittent co-operation with artillery. Distant reconnaissance, some by single-seat fighters, found no evidence of German defences beyond the Hindenburg Line but many new aerodromes and supply dumps, indicating the permanence of the new position.
The Hindenburg Explodes! - References - Netflix