Although there have been many disasters over the years, the Titanic is one that seems to still capture our attention, even over 100 years after it happened. There was even a blockbuster movie in 1997, and even though it was romanticized in numerous ways, they did get a few things right. That included some of the story associated with an elderly couple, Isidor and Ida Straus, who watched the ship sank as they held each other.
As it turns out, the depiction of the Strausses was on the right path. When the RMS Titanic struck an iceberg and sunk in the North Atlantic Ocean, they made the decision to die together. Now, their great-grandson, Paul A. Kurzman, is revealing more about the couple.
Although the law of “women and children first” is something that is understood, it is also something that was followed out when the Titanic began sinking in the ocean. Ida, a 63-year-old woman decided to forgo that option and gave up her life to stay with her husband, who she had been with for some four decades. Kurzman, who is a professor and social worker with a dual appointment at Hunter College and the Graduate Center at the City University of New York, spoke about his great-grandparents.
According to Today, he said: “My great-grandmother Ida stepped into the lifeboat expecting that her husband would follow. When he didn’t follow, she was very concerned and the ship’s officer in charge of lowering that particular lifeboat said, “Well, Mr. Straus, you’re an elderly man… and we all know who you are… Of course, you can enter the lifeboat with your wife”
His great-grandfather was courageous in saying that he would not get on board the lifeboat until he saw every woman and child was safe.
After hearing her husband take such a courageous stand, Ida got out of the lifeboat and stayed by his side. Kerzman went on to share more of their story, something he had heard from his grandmother, who was their oldest daughter, Sarah Straus Hess. She would often recount their story as they ate Sunday dinner.
Kurzman was fascinated by the story when he was younger but that fascination turned to honor, respect, and pride as he grew older. Today, he is sharing it with others.