When the German airship Hindenburg exploded over Lakehurst, New Jersey on May 6,1937, there was a single dog on board.
Joseph Späh, a German acrobatic performer, was bringing the German shepherd named Ulla to the United States as a surprise for his children. Ulla was kept in a restricted freight area of the ship and she did not survive the fire.
At one stage of the investigation into the disaster, Mr Späh was considered a possible saboteur because he had made trips into the restricted area on a regular basis (to feed Ulla). These allegations were never proven.
I find it really interesting that some people refer to this dog as a German Shepherd (sometimes GSD – standing for ‘German Shepherd Dog’) and others as the Alsatian.
Strictly speaking, the name Alsatian is no longer valid. It was officially removed as an identifier in 2010 by the American Kennel Club.
The change in name from German Shepherd dates back to the years after World War I, when it as felt that the name ‘German’ in the dog’s breed would affect its acceptability in society. So, the UK Kennel Club decided to call the dog the ‘Alsatian Wolf Dog.’ The name caught on with other kennel clubs.
Over time, ‘wolf dog’ was dropped and the breed was simply referred to as the ‘Alsatian.’ (Alsace is the region of France in the north-east corner, bordering Germany.)
In the 1970s, there was a successful campaign to again have the dogs referred to as German Shepherd Dogs and the word (Alsatian) in parentheses followed.
Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand