Encyclopedia Titanica

Alfred Nourney

Alfred Nourney
Alfred Nourney

Mr Alfred Nourney, 20, an unmarried "gentleman" from Köln (Cologne), Germany, was born in 1892 in Nijmegen, Netherlands. He boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg as a second class passenger (ticket number SC PARIS 2166, £13 17s 3d).

Nourney was placed in a second class cabin with which he was apparently dissatisfied. He went to the purser and asked to be transferred to first class. He was then assigned cabin D-38 (for about £38 surcharge). He clearly enjoyed being in first class, as he wrote to his mother in a postcard from Queenstown:

 

Liebe Mutter
Ich bin so glücklich auf meiner ersten Klasse!
Ich kenne schon sehr nette Leute! Einen Brillantenkönig!
Mister Astor einer der reichsten Amerikaner ist an Bord!
Tausend Küsse
Alfred

[Dear Mother, I'm so happy being first class! I already know some nice people! A Diamondking! Mister Astor, one of the wealthiest Americans, is on board!
Thousand Kisses Alfred]

Frau Adele Wolff

Cöln

Sachsenring 99

Germany

(Günter Bäbler collection)

Mr Nourney travelled under his pseudonym "Baron Alfred von Drachstedt". To underline this, he had spent a lot of money (possibly as much as $2,133) for his wardrobe, that consisted of, among other things, jewellery, walking sticks, two sets of toilet articles and a fountain pen.

During the trip he sent two telegrams back home, which left the Titanic on 13 April 1912. The first at 12.20 p.m.

Wolff Sachsenring Cöln
Drahtlosen Grus.
(wireless greetings)

The second, also at 12.20. p.m.

Jarkonska Rothgerberbach Cöln
Drahtlosen Kuss in liebe Alfred.
(Wireless kiss, in love Alfred)

The second was apparently to his friend, a Miss Jarkonska, who lived at Rothgerberbach, Köln.

On the night of the sinking, he was playing cards together with William B. Greenfield and Henry Blank in the first-class smoke room. They interrupted their game for a short while but soon continued playing. Nevertheless, they were among the first who entered a lifeboat, No.7. They did that without any difficulties. The boat was lowered at 0.45 am and they rowed away, but Nourney just sat there smoking. Afterwards, he fired off all his cartridges in his revolver, he carried with him "to defend himself in the wild west".

The boat was picked up by the Carpathia at 5.10 am. Onboard that ship, Nourney behaved quite unlike a gentleman. Just after lunch, he went to the smoking-room and made himself comfortable on a pile of blankets, which were to be distributed amongst the survivors. Some young women entered the room and noticed that. One of them approached him and drew the uppermost blanket away to the effect, Nourney rolled on the floor. All persons around gave applause and Nourney disappeared. Most likely the same day (15 April) he tried to sent a telegram to Cologne, but it was not transmitted because of the enormous lot of work Cottam and Bride had to do. It read:

Wolff
Cöln Sachsenring
Titanic gesunken! Gerettet an Bord
von Carpathia. Cunard Line. Vollständig
mittel und kleiderlos. Alfred
(Titanic sunk! Saved on board Cunard Line Carpathia. Completely destitute, no clothes. Alfred)

According to Nourney all his money, 750 German Marks, sank with the Titanic. He had just a few Marks left on him. After arriving in New York, he intended to make his way back to Europe soon (according to himself to Paris, France, where he came from). He gave an interview to the press, where he stated that he had a widowed mother, living in Cologne. He informed the Immigration Officer that she lived at 11 Weiden Strasse, Cologne, Germany but in reality, she lived at Sachsenring 99, Cologne. Her name was Adele Wolff.

Later he married and had two daughters.

In 1960, he was interviewed by German-TV (Süddeutscher Rundfunk). He said the noise of 1500 people in the water struggling for their lives sounded like a siren.

Alfred Nourney died 15 November 1972.  He is buried in the Melaten-Friedhof Cemetery, Cologne, Germany (plot 309/310).

Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Mr Alfred Nourney (Baron von Drachstedt)
Age: 20 years 1 month and 18 days (Male)
Nationality: German
Marital Status: Single
Last Residence: in Köln (Cologne), Germany
Occupation: Gentleman
Embarked: Cherbourg on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 2166, £13 17s 3d
Cabin No. D38
Rescued (boat 7)  
Disembarked Carpathia: New York City on Thursday 18th April 1912
Died: Wednesday 15th November 1972 aged 80 years

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References and Sources

Günter Bäbler (1998) Reise auf der Titanic. Chronos, Zürich
John Booth & Sean Coughlan (1993) Titanic Signals of Disaster. White
Star Publicatons, Westbury, Wiltshire. ISBN 0 9518190 1 1
Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York;
NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55[279])
Marshall Everett (ed.) (1998). Story of the Wreck of the Titanic. New
Yersey, Castle Books. ISBN 9 780785 810117
Peter Boyd-Smith (1994) Titanic, From Rare Historical Reports. Southampton,
Steamship Publications.
Don Lynch & Ken Marschall (1992) Titanic: An Illustrated History. London,
Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0 340 56271 4
Don Lynch (1992) Titanic Königin der Meere. Heyne, München
John P. Eaton & Charles A. Haas (1994) Titanic: Triumph & Tragedy,
2nd ed. Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 1 85260 493 X John P. Eaton & Charles A. Haas (1997) Titanic, Triumph und Tragödie.
Heyne, München
List or Manifest of Alien Passengers for the United States Immigration Officer
At Port of Arrival (Date: 18th-19th June 1912, Ship:
Carpathia) ? National Archives, NWCTB-85-T715-Vol. 4183
Titanic Exhibition Munich 1999.

Newspaper Articles

La Science et la Vie Cologne train station
Alfred Nourney left Cologne, Germany, from this train station
The Times (20 April 1912) FRENCHMEN'S ACCOUNT
PASSENGERS' FAITH IN THE SHIP
Brooklyn Daily Eagle (23 April 1912) TO SUE FOR CLOTHES LOST ON TITANIC
Stars and Stripes (16 April 1955) The Ship That Couldn't Sink: Survivor Recalls Titanic Disaster

Miscellaneous

Arne Mjåland (1972) Alfred Nourney obituary
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Comment and discuss

  1. Arne Mjåland

    Arne Mjåland said:

    I inform you that a video casette with an Alfred Nourney interview (08.08.1962) (49 minutes) is available from SWR Media, Stuttgart. The price is DM 150 postage included.Buyers have to sign a declaration not to distribute,copy or lend the video to others. The punishment for that is DM 5000. The Nourney family had a wine shop in Koln right back to 1885 according to Koln adressbook. That explains that his mother was able to give him a lot of money before travelling on the Ttianic.

  2. Arne Mjåland

    Arne Mjåland said:

    I noticed that on November 15 this year it was 30 years since he died. You have probably read his biography here in ET where you get an impression of a not right grown up man in 1912. I want to draw your attention to the fact that he turned up to be a very respectable man in later life. From Herr Rollenmiller, Stadt Bad Honnef, Dienstelle Schul-, Sport- und Kulturabteilung I got sent a copy of a telefax sent by Herr Bott in December 2001 in the firm "Rheinische Kraftwagen Gmbh", in Bonn. It was a copy of a letter to Bonner Rundschau, 59 Bonn-Bad Godesberg dated February 23 1972: 80... Read full post

  3. Arne Mjåland

    Arne Mjåland said:

    Honnefer Volkszeitung situated in Bad Honnef, Germany has issued an online article about the journalist and editor Franz Josef Kayser dated April 17 1999. Kayser was celebrated and honoured for having worked for the newspaper for 45 years. According to the article he got a good start with news from the local area when he interviewed Titanic passenger Alfred Nourney: Translated into English by Arne Mjåland: "How Honnefer Alfred Nourney survived the Titanic. Thar was possible to read in an April 1954 edition of HVZ. The author Franz Josef Kayser. This was the very first large newspaper... Read full post

  4. Ben Lemmon

    Ben Lemmon said:

    I was wondering if it could have been Alfred's shots that some of the passengers heard. I know Lowe fired three shots to scare passengers, but did they hear Alfred shooting his revolver out in the distance? His biography said he shot them at regular intervals. So what do you think?

  5. Alfred Nourney

    Alfred Nourney said:

    I've researched on his life during World War II, and he MUST have been a Nazi but to no avail. I didn't find anything. By Nazi, I'm not inherently claiming or accusing him of war crimes, but simply as belonging to the Nazi Party.

  6. Adam Went

    Adam Went said:

    Hi Alfred, I can't answer definitely but only to say that many Germans were members of the NSDAP during the 1920's - 1940's even if they didn't support their ideas, simply because to oppose them was to become essentially an outcast of society and later on, punishable by internment in a labour camp or similar. I'm surprised though that there is no mention of his activities during World War II, especially in 1945 when virtually everybody who could hold a gun under the age of 60 was called to the defence of the Reich - and Alfred would have fitted into this category, being born in 1892.... Read full post

  7. Christine Pahlmann

    Christine Pahlmann said:

    The translation of the postcard is awful... Or rather the re-translation...as the "original" in German is the one which is clearly wrong. Same goes for the other "originals"... Apart from that this man was a sorry excuse for a human being...and I am ashamed that he was even connected to Germany in any way. Even if he was born in the Netherlands...

  8. Alfred Nourney

    Alfred Nourney said:

    Hello! I have been doing research on one of my favourite passengers on board (for which I named my nickname). In real life, I'm a 29-year-old guy from Argentina. I have looked intensely into the internet and I couldn't find what happened to Nourney (who was 20 when the Titanic sank), so 22 when World War I broke out and, after surviving it, lived in Nazi Germany. Is there anyone on here who knows of his either, service during World War I (which he surely did for the Kaiser) or possible membership to the NSDAP (Nazi Party)?. His life is rather interesting and enigmatic. Kindest regards.

  9. Arun Vajpey

    Arun Vajpey said:

    Nourney was born in Holland from a Dutch father and German mother. By the time he was an adult, he was living in Koln, Germany, with his mother and was certainly a German national when he boarded the reports that he joined the Nazi Party in the 1930s and went on to become an officer of the SS. But that information is from Tabloid-like sources and so could well be exaggerated.

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Credits

Trevor Baxter, UK
Peter Engberg-Klarström, Sweden
Hermann Söldner, Germany

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2020) Alfred Nourney (ref: #220, last updated: 29th January 2020, accessed 6th December 2021 20:58:39 PM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-survivor/alfred-nourney.html