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Isidor and 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'smarker department store. She and her husband Isidor died on board the RMS Titanicmarker.

Early life

Rosalie Ida Blun was born in 1849 in Wormsmarker, Germanymarker to Nathan Blun (1815–1879) and his wife Wilhelmine "Mindel" 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 Statesmarker 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 Dr. Richard Weil (1876–1917)
  • 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 Yorkmarker 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 Straus' left their grandchild in Germany and, although they normally traveled aboard German ships only, fatally decided to make their return voyage to the United States on the newly commissioned RMS Titanic.

Death and legacy

The Titanic's Disaster, published in 1912
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 go 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 1953 film Titanic, Ida was portrayed by Helen Van Tuyl, and in the 1958 film A Night to Remember by Helen Misener. She was played by Nancy Nevinson in the 1979 film S.O.S. Titanic, and in the 1996 TV miniseries Titanic by Janie Woods-Morris. In the 1997 film Titanic, she was portrayed by Elsa Raven. Ironically, she was also portrayed in a scene in the 1943 Nazi Propaganda film, Titanic. The fact that she was Jewish was conveniently omitted.

106th Street memorial


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

  • A memorial plaque was located on the main floor of Macy's Department Store in Manhattan until approximately 2005 when it was returned to living Straus family members when the area was remodeled.
  • The Isidor and Ida Straus Memorial is located in Straus Parkmarker at the intersection of Broadwaymarker and West End Avenue at W. 106th Street (Duke Ellington Boulevard) in Manhattan.
  • New York City public school P.S. 198 in Manhattanmarker is also named after the Straus'.
  • Isidor Straus' remains were recovered by the Mackay-Bennett and were buried at Woodlawn Cemeterymarker in the Bronx. His gravestone also serves as a cenotaphmarker for his wife.

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