Skip to Content

Photographer: Becker, Murray


Murray Becker was one of the key photographers of the Hindenburg disaster, the crash of a Nazi dirigible at Lakehurst, NJ on May 6, 1937. The Murray Becker collection consists predominantly of sixteen silver gelatin prints of the Hindenburg disaster. It also includes an oversized scrapbook of newspaper articles and photos covering the disaster, as well as a well-known photograph of a teary-eyed Lou Gehrig announcing his retirement from baseball.

Keywords:  Hindenburg disaster, Associated Press, AP, Lou Gehrig, photojournalism, dirigible, flight disaster, photojournalism, media history, iconic photographs, scrapbooking

On May 6, 1937 Becker and a score of other photographers, including Sam Shere of the International News Photo (INP) and Charles Hoff of the New York Daily News, appeared for a routine night landing of the Hindenburg. As the dirigible pulled in, lines were dropped from the aircraft so that it could be safely reined in to the ground below. Without warning, an explosion was heard, and the entire aircraft was consumed by flame in about 47 seconds. During those 47 seconds, when other photographers present shot one photograph at the most, Murray Becker quickly took three slides using his 4x5 Speed Graphic camera. The following day pictures of the event were reproduced in thousands of newspapers around the globe.

The photographs of the Hindenburg exploding affected newspaper readers in a way that words could not. After those photographs were reproduced across the United States and around the world, many newspaper stories were not considered credible unless they had images to support the stories. Becker went on to produce a photograph of Lou Gehrig announcing his retirement in 1939 for which he also received awards. Becker served as Chief Photographer of the Associated Press for a full thirty-two years before he retired.

becker cover

NMAH Photographic History Collection

Severely Burned Man Being Escorted to Safety

National Museum of American History

Image of Hindenburg Airship Crash Site

National Museum of American History

Hindenburg Airship in Flames, Partially on the Ground

National Museum of American History

Hindenburg Airship in Flames on the Ground

National Museum of American History

Hindenburg Airship Aloft and in Flames; Unmounted

National Museum of American History