Titanic’s Isidor and Ida Straus

I’m sure everyone has seen the movie, “Titanic” at least a good dozen times in their lifetime. If the history behind the tragedy didn’t get your fancy, we all knew that our heartthrob sensation of Leo DiCaprio was good eye candy during the film. Before the sinking of the ship, there are two scenes that have always captured my heart and has made me cry so many tears. The first scene is where the string quartet stays behind to perform their hymn till their last breath, and the second scene is of the elderly couple that hold tight to each other on their deathbed as the ocean waters slowly start filling up their room.

It so happens though, that these two were supposedly based on a real couple, who said they wouldn’t board a lifeboat as long as there were younger people still aboard the ship.

Meet Isidor and Ida Straus. Records state that the couple had been married for 41 years at the time of the disaster. They raised six children together, and were almost inseparable. On the rare occasion that they were apart, they wrote to each other every day.

During the sinking, Titanic’s officers and other first class members pleaded with the 63 year old Ida to board a lifeboat and escape the disaster, but she repeatedly refused to leave her husband behind. Although Isidor was offered a seat in a lifeboat to accompany Ida, he strongly refused whilst there were still women and children on board.

Ida then, placed her newly hired maid (Ellen Bird) in a lifeboat, taking her fur coat off and and handing it to the maid to shield her from the cold noting that she no longer needed it. Ida is reported to have said, “I will not be separated from my husband. As we have lived, so will we die, together.” When last seen by witnesses, the couple were standing on deck, holding each other in a tight embrace accepting their fates together.

Isidor’s body was recovered but the funeral service was delayed for a few days in hopes that Ida’s body may too, be recovered, allowing the two who had lived and died together to also share a funeral — but sadly, Ida’s body was never found. Several days later, their funeral drew some 20,000 mourners at Carnegie Hall. A monument to them still stands at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, with the inscription from Song of Solomon 8:7 that quotes: “Many waters cannot quench love — neither can the floods drown it.”

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