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Antoinette Flegenheim

Discussion in 'Passenger Research' started by Jeffrey, Dec 13, 1999.

  1. Jeffrey

    Jeffrey Member

    Has anybody figured out Mrs Flegenheim's maiden name? Much thanks to those that know.
  2. Gavin Bell

    Gavin Bell Member

    Does anyone know Antoinette's age in 1912 or what became of her?


  3. Jeffrey

    Jeffrey Member

    I saw listed in some book that her age was 47. I was told by Phillip Gowan that it is believed she died in Europe as a Mrs White Hurst or Whitehurst. Hopefully somebody has learned more now.
  4. Jaques

    Jaques Guest

    Wasn't she the friend of Leo and Blanche Greenfield?
  5. Jeffrey

    Jeffrey Member

    That is a good question. She was probably friends with Mrs Ryerson, a fellow Philadelphia passenger. Mrs Flegenheim was from Philadelphia, although she did not give out her address and refused to be interviewed.
  6. Dear Jeffrey and others,

    Charles Haas, John Eaton and myself learned in 1985 that Mrs. Flegenheim was Mrs. P. E. White-Hurst in 1913. By the time she filed her claim against the White Star Line, she had evidently remarried and was living back in Europe.

    Mrs. Flegenheim was a friend of Mrs. Greenfield, but I know of no connection between she and Mrs. Ryerson. Mrs. Flegenheim lived in Philadelphia for a time but lived mainly in New York City and Europe.

    I'm sorry to say that I don't know what became of Antoinette Flegenheim after the disaster. Descendants of the Greenfield family never met her so even they cannot shed any light as to her eventual fate.

    We cannot say for sure that she died in Europe. Although she remarried, she lived alternately between homes in the United States and abroad. There also is no definite fact that she died as "Mrs. White-Hurst."

    Antoinette Flegenheim is one of the very few first-class passengers that we haven't been able to trace.


    Michael Findlay
  7. Jeffrey

    Jeffrey Member

    Thank you for the information. I wish you guys the best in tracking her down even further!
  8. Brian Ahern

    Brian Ahern Member

    Has anyone ever been able to dig up more info on the elusive Mrs. F? All I know is what's on this site - that she was a wealthy widow in her late forties who had immigrated from Germany with her husband while in her twenties, that she divided her time between Europe and the USA, was friends with the Greenfields, and married an Englishman named White-Hurst in late 1912.

    Threads have been started on this topic a few times over the years. At one point, valiant researchers even went so far as to scour the names of World War II concentration camp prisoners on the supposition that she was Jewish and might still have been alive and in Germany at that time. Thankfully, there is no record of her having met that fate, but details on what eventually befell this lady are nil.

    She interests me because she certainly seems to have got around a good deal and I'd like to know what sort of person she was and about the circumstances surrounding her second marriage.

    Any insights or info would be greatly appreciated.
    Brian Ahern
  9. Daniel Klistorner has info on this lady as, of course, does Phil Gowan and Brian Meister. Daniel shared her White Star Line claim with me, so I can tell you she had some fine clothes and jewelry with her on Titanic!
  10. Brian Ahern

    Brian Ahern Member

    Thanks, Randy. That's something at least. And it's not surprising that she treated herself to the finer things. I have the impression (albeit based on very little) that she was someone who got out and about and enjoyed life.

    I suppose the others are saving what they know for the book, which is fair enough.
    Thanks again,
  11. Sally Sorour

    Sally Sorour Member

    Brian , when will this book come out and where can I get a copy?
  12. Brian Ahern

    Brian Ahern Member

    Sorry to get your hopes up Sally. I meant that there are those on this site who have much as-yet-unrecorded info on various passengers - including, perhaps, Antoinette Flegenheim - who have a book in the works that won't be coming out for a long while.

    The rest of us just have to sit tight, which ain't easy!

    All the best,
  13. Phillip Gowan

    Phillip Gowan Senior Member

    Brian and Sally,
    Estimating a date of publication isn't really a cut and dry deal. We actually have plenty of never before made public information, photos, etc. and could go ahead and publish very quickly. But the dilemma is that we keep finding new (and sometimes important) information and documentation on a regular basis and that sort of keeps us continuing on in the research mode. Having retired slightly over a year ago, I spent this year traveling extensively on several continents and meeting unusual Titanic families in remote places (sometimes even traveling through mountain snowstorms and visiting countries not entirely friendly to Americans). We've shared an enormous amount of information during the last few years and much of it appears here on ET and elsewhere. While it may seem sometimes like we are purposefully holding back information that we understand a lot of people would like to see, our motive is not to hoard the information but to have some good stuff that will make the "book" (likely to be in several volumes) really worth buying when it does come out. Enigmatic people like Flegenheimer (the real name--she only shortened it to Flegenheim after her husband's death), Rosa Abbott, Imanita Shelley (wow what a story her life is!!) and others offer us opportunities to tempt Titanic buffs to be interested in our research in a "looking forward" sense while making public the biographies of people like Robert Hichens, Rosalie Bidois, Dorothy and Pauline Gibson, etc. give a clue that much more is yet to come as well.

    I hope this clarifies the whole issue of the book publication a little. Ours is not an issue of finding a publisher--rather it is an issue of reaching a day when we say "OK--that's a wrap. Let's make it all public." We realize we won't ever find everything and everybody we want to find--but we are trying anyway!

    Thanks for your interest and hang with us.

    Phil (and on behalf of Brian)
  14. Flegenheim(er) Antoinette, née Liche, later remarried Whitehurst, was the only passenger from Berlin, Germany. There she was born in May 1871. In the Berlin address books of this time I found several Liches but no indication which would have been her father. In 1891 and also in Berlin she married Alfred Flegenheimer (probably from Frankfurt/Main) and they went to New York City in 1892. They had no children. The mother of Mr Flegenheimer lived in Berlin, Regentenstrasse 2. He had a brother Hermann Flegenheimer (born 1878 in Frankfurt/Main) who was in film business (according to an exhibition about film pioneers of Berlin at the Centrum Judaicum Berlin). Later Hermann F. changed his name into Fellner, hat to emigrate when the Nazi terror began and died in London in 1936 (suicide).
    Antoinette's husband Alfred died in Manhattan on 23 November 1907 and his body was shipped to Germany (Frankfurt?) for burial. I looked into the books of the Jewish cemeteries in Berlin, there is no Flegenheimer to be found. Since the records of the Jewish community in Berlin were burned during the war I could not get information about her and her family from this source.
    She lived in Philadelphia, Pa, New York City (3458 Broadway) and in Berlin (according to the Berlin-Charlottenburg address book from 1912 at Windscheidstrasse 41).
    After she had survived the foundering of Titanic she married again. This time an Englishman Mr. Whitehurst/White-Hurst. Both were registered at Windscheidstr. in 1913. When WW I started they left Germany and probably went to England.
    It would be good if one of the readers could find out more about her about her life in Philadelphia, New York or Britain.
  15. Brian, I have a little nugget of information relating to the elusive Antoinette Flegenheim which might possibly provide you with a new lead in your research.

    A few years ago, I read Friederich Reck-Malleczewan's devastasting and savage wartime diaries. In effect one of the most brilliantly written and utterly damning indictments of the Nazi regime in existence, it is not perhaps the first source one would turn to for information on the 'Titanic'. Nevertheless, in one of his entries for 1942 or '43, Reck-Malleczewan records meeting in Berlin a 'Titanic' survivor, a lady, who told him that, as the ship sank, stewards circulated on deck, proffering trays of sandwiches to passengers taking to the boats. Reck-Malleczewan uses this anecdote to illustrate the proverbial 'stiff upper lip' attitude of the British in adversity, which in his analysis assures them eventual victory in the war.

    Now, most of us on this board know that this story is NOT based on fact...as far as I'm aware, no other survivor recorded the sandwich-serving stewards! Nevertheless, I find it intriguing and tantalising that Reck-Malleczewan would make any kind of reference to the 'Titanic' at all, particularly during the darkest hours of the darkest days Western Europe has ever experienced. Still more so when one considers that, in the 1940s, the disaster had not yet achieved its mythical status in pop culture.

    Which leads me to suppose that Reck-Malleczewan really HAD met an authentic survivor. Since he himself was a liberal aristocrat, it is likely that he moved in upper-crust circles where he might - just MIGHT - conceivably have stumbled upon Antoinette Flegenheim. How she was living during this horrendous period, and how she managed to remain at liberty when one considers both her marriage to an English husband and her status as a Jew I do not know. But it would be fascinating to think that this is a reference - albeit from a very unlikely source - to an obscure 'Titanic' survivor in later years.
  16. Brian Ahern

    Brian Ahern Member

    That is fascinating, Martin. It's difficult to imagine who the lady could have been. If it was Mrs. Flegenheim, perhaps she wasn't Jewish after all? And perhaps she was only the widow or ex-wife of an Englishman by that point?

    Otherwise, the only first class passenger I can think of who might have been able to travel round Germany with impunity (i.e. belonging to a neutral country) is Mrs. Lindstroem. And there is nothing in that lady's history (or what we know of it) to indicate that she had German relatives or any other reason for being there at such a time.
  17. Of course, it might not be a first class passenger at all. I'm basing that assumption purely on the fact that Reck-Malleczewan himself was of aristocratic birth and so presumably tended to associate more with people of his own class. From reading the diaries of Marie 'Missie' Vasiltchikov, I know that the status of Jews (of mixed parentage, at any rate) and alien nationals in wartime Berlin - or at least in what passed for 'Society' under the Nazi regime - was not as cut-and-dried as we might assume.

    Nevertheless, I still think it likely that this woman was Antoinette Flegenheim in old age. The last posts on this thread are several years ago. It is possible that additional information has since come to light regarding this mysterious woman...perhaps she was long dead by 1943!

    Reck-Malleczewan, an unrepentant liberal and aristocrat, was murdered - at Dauchau, I believe - just months before the end of the war.
  18. Martin

    There was an interview published in May 1912 where Mrs Flegenheim gave a fairly detailed (and in my opinion very interesting) account of the sinking. She did not mention any stewards circulating and giving out sandwiches. Then again, and perhaps this is only a minor note, in her claim she mentions going to the Purser's Office twice to request her valuables, but in the account only mentions it once.

    Given the reasonable detail in her account, I found it surprising that she only mentioned going there once. Perhaps she really only went once and exaggerated this in her claim by trying to indicate she tried to get her valuables on a number of occasions and therefore shifting the blame to WSL.


  19. Thanks for that, Daniel. My impression has always been that many survivors enhanced or embellished their stories in later years, incorporating elements which any serious 'Titanic' scholar would immediately recognise as sheer fantasy. I'm not saying that this was done to wilfully deceive - doubtless none of them could know the close scrutiny to which their testimonies would be put by people like us - but merely to make a better party piece. I would absolutely expect there to be inconsistencies between the version of events as told by Antoinette Flegenheim to the press in 1912 and that related by her (if Antoinette Flegenheim it was) to Friedrich Reck-Malleczewan in 1942 or 1943. One need only think of Edith Russell and the various discrepancies which became apparent in her accounts as the years went by.

    For myself, I am inclined to believe that Reck-Malleczewan really HAD met an authentic survivor in Berlin during the war. Whether or not it was Flegenheim is open to question. At that particular period in time, only thirty years after the fact and when most people in Europe and America had other things to think about, the 'Titanic' disaster had not yet assumed its position in the forefront of popular consciousness - indeed, it had become an event, as Reck-Malleczewan himself comments, 'shrouded in obscurity'. For this reason, I am inclined to think that the probability that he had met Flegenheim (or whoever) is high.

    It would, of course, help us immeasurably if we knew when the lady in question passed away. Does anybody out there have a date of death?