The love of Isidor and Ida Straus

“I will not be separated from my husband. As we have lived, so will we die, together.” – Ida Straus

Isidor Straus was co-owner of Macy’s Department Store. Ida Straus was a homemaker and his wife. Married for more than forty years, they were known for their shared love, almost always together and writing daily to each other when apart. Though four years part, they even had the same birthday, February 6.

On April 14th, 1912, they were passengers on the RMS Titanic, the largest ship afloat at the time. As the ship began to sink after striking an iceberg, chaos and panic ensued, with not enough lifeboats for all of the passengers. Ida alone was offered a seat in a lifeboat, a chance for survival. She refused. “We have lived together for many years. Where you go, I go,” Ida said to her husband.

Black and white historical photograph of Isidor and Ida Straus, a couple standing closely together. Isidor is wearing a suit with a bow tie and a full beard, while Ida is in a dark, high-collared dress with ornate details. Both are looking directly at the camera with solemn expressions, indicative of early 20th-century portraiture.
Isidor and Ida Straus

The two were then offered a seat together in another lifeboat. But with many women and children still on the sinking ship, Isidor refused to take the seat, unwilling to prioritize his safety over the lives of others. Once again, his wife refused a seat as well.

Passengers remarked that what they saw was a “most remarkable exhibition of love and devotion.”

The couple was last seen sitting side by side on Titanic’s Boat Deck.

“The love of Isidor and Ida Straus” sources:

  • Greenbaum, Samuel. “Isidor Straus.” Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society, no. 22, 1914, pp. 235–39. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/43057958. Accessed 14 Mar. 2024.

Notes:

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  • This story was updated on March 13th, 2024.