Mr Alfred Theissinger

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 passageway 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 greatcoat. 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 the deck and watched boats being loaded toward the bow, but saw there was no chance to get into one. 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."

The account implies Theissinger was on board close to the Titanic's final moments but it is thought that he actually 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.

Alfred Theissinger and his sister lived in Hungen Germany where he passed away 6 August 1949. 

He was buried in Friedhof Hungen, Landkreis Gieben, Hessen, Germany, The grave has since been removed the whereabouts of his remains is unknown.

 

Articles and Stories

Washington Herald (1912) 
ALFRED THEISSINGER IS A SURVIVING STEWARD THAT SEEMED TO HAVE DISAPPEARED SHORTLY AFTER THE DISASTER. NEW RESEARCH FOUND BY MICHAEL POIRIER AND GAVIN CAMERON BELL LEADS TO HIS BEING FOUND.
 

Comment and discuss

  1. avatar

    Christophe Puttemans said:

    Alfred Theissinger is not listed in a particular lifeboat. His biography says he boarded Lifeboat 11. But he told his story to the Washington Herald just after arriving in New York. In that article, he says he was denied access to Lifeboat 15, which he watched being lowered. This makes little sense if he boarded lifeboat 11, because #11 was launched at 1:35 A.M., over 5 minutes before #15. Also, his story in the newspaper suggests he had been aboard Collapsible A or B, not #11. I swam as hard as I could go and finally near to me I saw a raft on which a few men were clinging. A... Read full post

  2. avatar

    Arun Vajpey said:

    Theissinger's bio again came up on "On this day" today and I wondered the same thing. He seems to have been unusually active after the collision - rushing to the mail room to see in flooding; knocking on doors of several passengers to wake them, Guggenheim and the Stausses among them; helping to drag Lifeboat #15 into position inly to be refused a place in it; clinging to a rail as the Titanic split into two and so on. After all those "heroics", the bio says that he entered Lifeboat #11 with a number of other stewards! How's that possible? Apart from the fact that #11 was launched before... Read full post

  3. Aaron_2016 said:

    His survivor account was very likely noted by reporters and some words would have been changed before it reached the newspapers. Survivors in the aft section of the boat deck thought lifeboats 13 and 15 were the last lifeboats to leave the ship. Passengers were unaware that there were just a few more lifeboats at the forward end (several hundred feet away, down hill and towards the sound of approaching water) and it was very dark, so dark that people said they could not identify who was standing next to them until the rockets burst and illuminated the deck, so I doubt all of the passengers... Read full post

  4. avatar

    Arun Vajpey said:

    OK, but which lifeboat did he survive in? Can't be #11 like his bio says because he could not then claim to have been on the last boat from the starboard aft section with #13 and #15 in plain sight behind it and being loaded even as #11 was launched. In any case, Theissinger's name does not appear on the survivor list of #11 here at ET despite the contradictory bio. Furthermore, if he was still clinging to a rail as the Titanic sank (as he is supposed to have claimed), he could only have swum to Collapsibles A or B but his name is not on those lists either. As I said before, #11 was at some... Read full post

  5. Ioannis Georgiou said:

    Theissinger left the ship with boat No. 11. He was never in the water.

  6. Aaron_2016 said:

    His newspaper account can be found here: .

  7. Ioannis Georgiou said:

    I know his newspaper account! He is mentioned by others as one of the crew members in No. 11 when it was lowered form the ship.

  8. avatar

    Arun Vajpey said:

    OK, I'll accept that, but why is he not on the survivor's list for #11 on the ET site? Also, that would mean that his claims - indeed if he made them - of being involved with #15 as it was launched and then hanging onto a rail as the Titanic's lights went out must have been fibs. I cannot imagine the press making up that much about one survivor. One thing I am certain of is that the claim that the band was playing Nearer My God Unto Thee as the ship sank is... Read full post

  9. George Jacub said:

    What is the source of this comment?

  10. Ioannis Georgiou said:

    Steward MacKay mentioned him in his testimony. There was also another one who mentioned him in a newspaper but can not remember out of my head who it was. Theissinger newspaper account is full of made up stuff, Theissinger seemed to had been everywhere including Dining Room, B & C Deck Cabins etc. Actually he was only for the aft E Deck cabins responsible. Testimony of MacKay 10782. Or of any other members of the crew that were in the boat? - Let me see. Yes, William Wilton was one. 10783. He was a steward? - Yes. McMicken. 10784. What was he? - A steward. Thessinger, Mr. Wheat and myself.... Read full post

  11. Aaron_2016 said:

    There are quite a number of survivors who heard the band play 'Nearer My God To Thee' and people were heard singing the hymn in groups. Survivors heard the band playing right up to the moment the first... Read full post

  12. Mikewriter said:

    New here so forgive me. I'm trying to learn more about the lifeboats.I hear so many conflicting things. Lifeboat #14 was the only LB to return, right? But LB #4 never left sinking site and picked up 7+ men. LB #4 rescued "7" men - Scott, McCarthy (?), Cunningham, Hemming, Ranger, Lyons, Smith, Foley, Prentice, and Dillon depending on the inquiry testimonies from what I read (yes me can count). Also, can someone say how far a lifeboat might be rowed without the sail. Trying to figure out if a LB could make it to the Californian and back again within a given time or distance - 3 miles to 19... Read full post

  13. Paul Burrell said:

    New here so forgive me. I'm trying to learn more about the lifeboats.I hear so many conflicting things. Lifeboat #14 was the only LB to return, right? But LB #4 never left sinking site and picked up 7+ men. LB #4 rescued "7" men - Scott, McCarthy (?), Cunningham, Hemming, Ranger, Lyons, Smith, Foley, Prentice, and Dillon depending on the inquiry testimonies from what I read (yes me can count). Also, can someone say how far a lifeboat might be rowed without the sail. Trying to figure out if a LB could make it to the Californian and back again... Read full post

  14. Mikewriter said:

    F smith is correct . Questions ANC073-83, ANC093-95, ANC101. My bad - missed Seibert. Hard to really understand testimony of people. Scott said 7 men pulled from water after him. Ranger said 7 men pulled from water after him. Dillion said 7 men pulled from water after him..

  15. Paul Burrell said:

    Cunningham’s testimony does indeed mention ‘F Smith’. However, Cunningham must be mistaken as there was no F Smith in boat 4 and no crew survivor with that name. I suspect his ‘F Smith’ is... Read full post

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Credits

Trevor Baxter, UK
Rosemarie Hughey
Michael Poirier, USA
Homer Thiel, USA

References and Sources

Cleveland Plain Dealer (Ohio) 21 April 1912, p. 5A
Crew Discharge Book
Search archive British and Irish newspapers online

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2020) Alfred Theissinger (ref: #2151, last updated: 11th April 2020, accessed 5th June 2020 07:55:57 AM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-survivor/alfred-theissinger.html