Ida Straus

Ida Straus

Ida Straus, née Rosalie Ida Blun (February 6, 1849 - April 15, 1912) was an American homemaker and wife of the co-owner of the Macy's department store. She and her husband Isidor died on board the RMS "Titanic".

Early life

Rosalie Ida Blun was born in 1849 in Worms, Germany to Nathan Blun (1815 - 1879) and his wife Mindel Wilhelmine Freudenberg (1814 - 1868). She was the fifth of seven children including Amanda (1839 - 1907), Elias Nathan (1842 - 1878), Louis (1843 - 1927), Augusta Carolina (1845 - 1905), Moritz (1850 - 1858) and Abraham Blun (1853 - 1881). She emigrated to the United States with her family.

In 1871, Ida Blun married Isidor Straus (1845 - 1912), a German-American businessman. She and Isidor had seven children (one of whom died in infancy):
* Jesse Isidor Straus (1872 - 1936) who married Irma Nathan (1877 - 1970)
* Clarence Elias Straus (1874 - 1876) who died in infancy
* Percy Selden Straus (1876 - 1944) who married Edith Abraham (1882 - 1957)
* Sara Straus (1878 - 1960) who married Dr. Alfred Fabian Hess (1875 - 1933)
* Minnie Straus (1880 - 1940) who married Richard Weil (1876 - 1918)
* Herbert Nathan Straus (1881 - 1933) who married Therese Kuhn (1884 - 1977)
* Vivian Straus (1886 - 1974) who married Dr. Herbert Adolph Scheftel (1875 - 1914) and George Dixon, Jr. (1891 - 1956)

The couple was considered especially close by their friends and family; when Isidor was forced to travel as part of his duties as a U.S. Representative for New York or as co-owner of Macy's, they exchanged letters daily.

Isidor and Ida Straus traveled with their fifteen-year-old granddaughter Beatrice Straus to Europe in early 1912 aboard the HAPAG liner "Amerika". The elder Strauses left their grandchild in Germany and, although they normally traveled aboard German ships only, decided to make their return voyage to the United States on the newly commissioned RMS "Titanic".

Death and legacy

On the night of the sinking, Isidor and Ida Straus were seen standing near Lifeboat No. 8 in the company of Mrs. Straus's maid, Ellen Bird. Although the officer in charge of the lifeboat was willing to allow the elderly couple to board the lifeboat with Miss Bird, Isidor Straus refused to do so as long as there were women still remaining on the ship. He urged his wife to board, but she refused, saying, "We have lived together for many years. Where you go, I go." Her words were witnessed by those already in Lifeboat No. 8 as well as many others who were on the boat deck at the time. Isidor and Ida Straus were last seen alive sitting together quietly on deck chairs on "Titanic"'s boat deck.

When the survivors of the disaster arrived in New York City aboard the RMS "Carpathia", many, including Ellen Bird, told reporters of Mrs. Straus's loyalty and fidelity to her husband. Her story struck a nerve in the Jewish community. Many American and British newspapers emphasized the bravery of the well-to-do white Anglo-Saxon Christian men who had voluntarily remained on board while the women and children were put into lifeboats; some had labeled men who panicked or attempted to save their own lives as "Mediterraneans", "Italians", "Jews", or "foreigners", and misidentified Jewish victims who acted bravely (such as Benjamin Guggenheim) as "Anglo-Saxons". Ida Straus's story was to the Jewish community not just a story of a brave woman but of a brave Jewish woman who refused to desert her husband even in the face of death. Rabbis spoke to their congregations about her sacrifice; articles in Yiddish and German-language newspapers extolled her courage; a popular song featuring the story of Ida Straus, "The Titanic's Disaster", became popular among Jewish-Americans.

Ida Straus's body, if it was recovered, was not identified.

In the 1997 film "Titanic", Ida Straus was portrayed by Elsa Raven. She was played by Helen Van Tuyl in the 1953 movie of the same name and by Helen Misener in "A Night to Remember". She was played by Janie Woods-Morris in the 1996 television miniseries based on the sinking.


There are four memorials to Isidor and Ida Straus in their adopted home of New York City.

* A memorial plaque can be seen on the main floor of Macy's Department Store in Manhattan.
* The Isidor and Ida Straus Memorial is located in Straus Park at the intersection of Broadway and West End Avenue at W. 106th Street (Duke Ellington Boulevard) in Manhattan.
* New York City public school P.S. 198 in Manhattan is also named after the Strauses.
* Isidor Straus's remains were recovered by the "Mackay-Bennett" and were buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx. His gravestone also serves as a cenotaph for his wife.

External links and references

* [ Straus's Memorial on]
* [ Encyclopedia Titanica Biography of Ida Straus]
* [ Straus article at]
* [ Judaic Treasures of the Library of Congress] - includes information on "The Titanic's Disaster" sheet music
* [ Straus Historical Society]
* "Titanic: Triumph and Tragedy", by John P. Eaton and Charles A. Haas, W.W. Newton & Company, 2nd edition 1995 ISBN 0-393-03697-9

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