Bedroom Steward: Alfred Theissinger was born in Germany in 1865. He served on the Olympic before joining the Titanic on 6 April 1912. Theissinger was assigned to passenger cabins on C Deck.
After the Titanic struck the iceberg, Theissinger looked into the passage way and saw a fireman running past carrying a bag of clothing. The fireman shouted, "There is water forward!" Someone else shouted, "All watertight doors shut!". Theissinger rushed to his section, peering into the mailroom and watched water pouring in. The second steward Dodd was standing in the companionway and shouting, "All stewards call your people. Warn them to go on deck."
Theissinger went to C Deck and (he later reported to a newspaper) woke Mr Guggenheim first. Pounding on the door, Guggenheim called out "What is the matter?" Theissinger told him that the vessel was in danger, "get up quickly." Guggenheim asked if it was serious. "Yes," I said, "water is coming into the mailroom."
Next Theissinger went to the Taussigs' room, C 67 and 68. "You better put on your lifebelts and rush out on deck." "Is it as serious as all that?" asked Mr Taussig. Theissinger answered, "Yes, hurry." He told Ruth Taussig not to put on her coat, "Slip into this great coat. If you stop to dress you'll drown." He adjusted her lifebelt and moved on.
Knocking on the Strausses door, Theissinger heard Mr Strauss say, "What is it, steward?" He replied, "Water is coming in fast. The ship is sinking." Strauss answered, "I will get up, but I don't think it is as serious as that." Theissinger finished waking passengers and went to D deck, meeting with bedroom steward Brewster. Passengers were running about, and as he passed the Purser's office he saw men and women receiving their valuables.
He went up onto deck. He watched boats being loaded at the bow, but saw there was no chance to get it. He went aft and helped push lifeboat 15 over the side of the boat. The officer loading the boat said, "There is no chance for you. I am sorry." Theissinger watched the boat lower and row away. He stood with Storekeeper Ricks.
"The vessel seemed to break in two" to Theissinger and he lost sight of Ricks. The steward grabbed a rail and was not thrown into the water like other people. The stern of the ship rose up into the air, standing on end for a while. All of the lights had gone out except for one near where he stood. Around him were hundreds of men. Among them was steward Siebert who, like Theissinger, wore his lifebelt. Theissinger said to him, "Come, we had better get away and take our chance before she sinks."
Theissinger entered Lifeboat 11 with a large number of other stewards.
Theissinger was interviewed by a New York City newspaper on April 19th. His story was carried by many newspapers throughout the United States.
He dies in 1949.
References and Sources
Cleveland Plain Dealer (Ohio) 21 April 1912, p. 5A
Crew Discharge Book
Michael Poirier, USA
Homer Thiel, USA
Articles and Stories
Washington Herald (1912)
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(2015) Alfred Theissinger Encyclopedia Titanica (ref: #2151, accessed 1st December 2015 02:38:39 PM)
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