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Hindenberg over the English channel
The Hindenburg, Germany's latest and the biggest Zeppelin photographed from an aeroplane, over the English channel near Beachy Head on March 31, 1936. (AP Photo)

A swatch of fabric from the Hindenburg sold for more than $36K



A swatch of canvas recovered from the wreckage of the Hindenburg has sold for more than $36,000 at auction.

The Hindenburg was a 804-foot long airship of conventional zeppelin design that was launched at Friedrichshafen, Germany, in March 1936.

On May 6, 1937, while landing at Lakehurst, N.J., on the first of its scheduled 1937 trans-Atlantic crossings, the Hindenburg burst into flames and was completely destroyed. Thirty-six of the 97 persons on board were killed.

Though it was designed to be filled with helium gas, the airship was filled with highly flammable hydrogen.

The fire was officially attributed to a discharge of atmospheric electricity in the vicinity of a hydrogen gas leak from the airship, though it was speculated that it was the victim of an anti-Nazi act of sabotage.

The Hindenburg disaster marked the end of the use of rigid airships in commercial air transportation.

Boston-based RR Auction says the piece of red cotton canvas was picked up at the disaster site by a teenager whose father was working the dock when the German airship exploded.

The auction house says a known collector of Americana, who does not want to be identified, paid $36,282 for the 6.25 by 5-inch piece of fabric during the auction. The pre-auction estimate was up to $5,000.

Auction officials say the piece is unique because it is not gray, like most of the canvas from the airship, and must have come from the giant Nazi flags that were emblazoned on the tailfins.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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