Rosalie “Ida” Blun was born February 6, 1849 in Germany as the fifth of seven children. Her family emigrated to New York City while she was still a child.
In 1871, Ida married Isidor Straus, also a German emigrant.
Ida would become a mother to seven children, one of whom died in infancy.
Husband Isidor and his father Lazarus Straus formed a crockery importation company they named L. Straus & Son.
In 1874, Isidor’s younger brother Nathan joined the family business and convinced Rowland Macy to allow them to open a crockery department in the basement of his store.
Ida’s husband then served as a U.S. Congressman from January 30, 1894, to March 3, 1895, as a Democrat representative to New York’s 15th congressional district.
Ida Straus and her husband Isidor Straus were a devoted couple, 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.
By 1896, the Straus brothers had gained full ownership of R. H. Macy & Co.
Ida’s father-in-law Lazarus Straus died in 1898.
Ida and her beloved husband Isidor spent most of the winter of 1911-1912 at Cap martin in southern France.
The couple originally planned to return home on a different ship but there was a coal strike in England and all the coal was being diverted to Titanic.
That is why they were on the Titanic
Then on April 14, 1912, the Titanic hit an iceberg.
Once it was clear Titanic was sinking, Isidor and Ida Straus went to Lifeboat No. 8 in the company of Ida’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 and children still remaining on the ship.
Isidor urged his wife Ida to board the lifeboat, but she refused, saying;
“We have lived together for many years. I will not be separated from my husband. As we have lived, so will we die, together.” Ida turned to her husband adding – “Where you go, I go.”
Ida then ordered her newly hired English maid, Ellen Bird, get into lifeboat #8.
Ida also gave Ellen her fur coat stating she would not be needing it.
Ida’s 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 were last seen standing arm in arm on the deck.
Eyewitnesses later described the scene as a “most remarkable exhibition of love and devotion.”
Both Ida and Isidor Straus died when the Titanic sank.
When the survivors of the disaster arrived in New York City aboard the RMS Carpathia, many, including Ellen Bird, told reporters of Ida Straus’s loyalty and fidelity to her husband.
Ida’s story struck a chord with people around the world.
Jewish Rabbis spoke to their congregations about Ida’s 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.
Isidor Straus’ body was recovered by the cable ship Mackay-Bennett and brought to Halifax, Nova Scotia where it was identified before being shipped to New York.
Ida’s body was never found.
Isidor was first buried in the Straus-Kohns Mausoleum at Beth-El Cemetery in Brooklyn. His body was then moved to the Straus Mausoleum in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx in 1928.
Isidor and Ida are memorialized on a cenotaph outside the mausoleum,
“Many waters cannot quench love – neither can the floods drown it.” (Canticles 8:7)
Water lilies float serenely in the reflecting pool during the dedication of the Straus Memorial in 1915 — Library of Congress
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.
An orchestra played for the many who assembled for the dedication on April 12, 1915 — Library of Congress
The couple are portrayed in the 1953 film Titanic and the 1958 film A Night to Remember, in scenes that are faithful to the eyewitness accounts.
In the 1997 film Titanic, the Strauses are briefly depicted kissing and holding each other in their bed as their stateroom floods with water, along with a deleted scene showing Isidor (played by Lew Palter) attempting to persuade Ida (Elsa Raven) to enter the lifeboat.
Now WE know em