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

[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


Sachsenring 99


(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:

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).

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;
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
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


Alfred Nourney : Informal Photograph
Alfred Nourney : Titanic Telegram
Alfred Nourney Photograph
(1912) Alfred Nourney Titanic Postcard
Postcard sent by Alfred Nourney to his mother from the Titanic


Arne Mjåland (1972) Alfred Nourney obituary
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Comment and discuss

Baron of Von Drachsted Madame de Villiers (11 posts)
An account from The Liverpool Echo 25412 (5 posts)
Remember Alfred Nourney (2 posts)
Alfred Nourney (2 posts)
Was Alfred Nourney, a German citizen, a Nazi during WWII? (2 posts)
Alfred Nourney's shots (1 post)


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 29th July 2021 21:04:24 PM)

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