The Tragic Love Story Of Isidor And Ida Straus Aboard The Titanic

Isidor and Ida Straus were a wealthy German-American couple who passed up seats in the lifeboats and instead chose to stay together on the RMS Titanic when it sank on April 15, 1912.

Wikimedia Commons Isidor and Ida Straus on their wedding day in 1871.

You probably remember the movie Titanic the old couple quietly crawled into bed and waited to die as the ship began to flood. They are a real-life couple named Isidor and Ida Straus from New York – and the movie actually takes most of their story.

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Although the couple probably did not die in their beds, it is true that they did not try to escape from the Titanic when it sank in the Atlantic Ocean. First class passengers have their own reasons for staying on board, and those reasons will break your heart.

The love story of Isidor and Ida Straus

You can tell that this pair of lovers is really destined for each other. They share a February 6 birthday, are both of Jewish descent, and both immigrated from Germany to America early in life.

The couple married in 1871. Isidor worked for his father’s company – L. Straus & Sons – which was a pottery brand that later became part of Macy’s glass and china department. He worked hard until he became part owner of the entire Macy’s chain.

Ida Straus is a busy wife and mother, as the couple has seven children. (A son, Clarence, died at age 2.) Although Isidor also had his hands full at work — in addition to his duties as a US congressman for a year — the couple reportedly very close.

Ida Isidor Straus Family

New York Public Library
Photo of the entire Straus family.

Whenever Isidor traveled on business, the couple faithfully wrote to each other. They are very much in love and really hate to be apart.

“This is the love of a beautiful husband and wife among old couples who have weathered the storms of life together. You will hardly find two more devoted lovers,” remembers Isidor’s cousin, Mrs. Samuel Bessinger.

As things unfolded after the news of the sinking of the Titanic in the United States, Bessinger apparently already knew the couple’s fate.

“Knowing Ms Straus as we know her, we are sure that instead of leaving her husband, she stayed on the ship. If she was not allowed to enter one of the small boats, both would undoubtedly be lost.”

The wrong place at the wrong time

Ida Isidore Strauss

Wikimedia Commons
Ida Straus with her husband, Isidor.

As ticket holders #17483 assigned to cabin C55, Isidor and Ida Straus were not originally scheduled to travel aboard the RMS Titanic from Southampton. In fact, they were never supposed to be in Europe before, according to the Encyclopedia Titanica.

Any other year, the couple vacations in Southern California with Isidor’s business partner, A. Abraham. However, Abraham’s sudden death led to a last-minute vacation in Europe.

They return to New York with their newly hired English maid, Ellen Bird. However, due to a coal strike in England at that time, the ship they planned to bring home had to give its coal to another ship. This highly publicized new ship is on its maiden voyage, and it’s likely to be an exciting change to plans to board the luxury liner RMS Titanic.

As we know, this trip brings tragedy instead of excitement. The hubris of calling the Titanic an “unsinkable ship” is too obvious a temptation to ignore fate.

Ida Strraus and an unforgettable evening

Strauss Drawing

Wikimedia CommonsPainting by Paul Thiriat, published in the French daily Excelsior in April 1912, depicting the last moments of Ida and Isidor Straus during the sinking of the Titanic.

After the evacuations began on the fateful night of April 15, 1912, Ida Straus and her husband stood on the deck near lifeboat 8. Colonel Archibald Gracie, a passenger who had befriended Isidor, tried to convince Ida Straus to come aboard. and lifeboats.

He almost does – but when Gracie offers Isidor a place on the boat because of his wealth and status, Isidor flatly refuses, because there are women and children who aren’t already in the lifeboats. “I don’t get ahead of other guys,” he said. Ida stood next to Isidor saying, “We lived together for many years. Where are you going I will go”.

The couple made sure their new helper got a place in a lifeboat and gave her Ida’s long mink fur coat to keep her warm. Ida told Mrs. Bird that he himself will not need it.

Again, a man in the lifeboats offered Ida a seat. Knowing that her husband would not board until all the women and children were evacuated, she continued to refuse. “As we live, we die together,” he promised.

The last time anyone saw Ida and Isidor they were sitting side by side on the deckchairs while the ship was sinking. Eventually, they were swallowed by the sea.

The legacy of Ida and Isidor Straus

Straus Memorial Statue

Wikimedia CommonsStraus Memorial Statue in Manhattan, New York.

After being rescued from her lifeboat, Ellen Bird transmitted the devotion of Isidor and Ida Straus, and it was heard by people all over the world.

Searchers found Isidor’s body. In his pocket was a gold and onyx locket with pictures of his eldest children. He is still wearing a fur coat.

Ida Straus’ body has never been found, nor has the couple’s valet, John Farthing.

Straus Park in Manhattan is named after the couple. A bronze statue of a nymph overlooking the water within the park is also dedicated to them. (The model for the statue was Audrey Munson, widely considered America’s first fashion model.)

History will not soon forget the legacy of love and devotion that was the hallmark of Isidor and Ida Straus. They expect no special treatment because of their first-class status and would rather die together than separate.

After Ellen Bird was rescued, she contacted the couple’s daughter, Sara, to return Ida’s mink fur coat. Sara thanked him but said, “That coat is yours. I want you to keep it in memory of my mother”.

Isidor is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, New York – with a cenotaph that reads, “Many waters cannot quench love – nor can a flood drown it.”


Next, learn about another famous RMS Titanic passenger, the unsinkable Molly Brown. Then, learn the tragic stories behind the Titanic artifacts.

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