All posts by Mark Taylor

Harland & Wolff Gets Reprieve;Titanic Walking cane

RMS Titanic ready for launch(1911)
Public Domain (U.S. Library of Congress, digital id#cph.3a27541)

Titanic Builder Harland And Wolff Thrown Lifeline In £6m Deal (Financial Times, 1 Oct 2019)
Harland and Wolff, the Belfast shipyard that built the Titanic, has been saved from collapse after UK energy infrastructure group InfraStrata agreed a £6m deal to buy the struggling business from administrators. InfraStrata said the agreement would save the jobs of the remaining 79 Harland and Wolff workers who did not opt for voluntary redundancy earlier this year.

Titanic Survivor’s Famous Walking Cane Valued At Over $100,000 (JustCollecting, 1 Oct 2019)
A walking cane which survived the sinking of the Titanic is expected to sell for more more than $100,000 when it goes up for auction this month. The cane, which features an electric light in the tip, was used by passenger Ella Holmes White to signal to other lifeboats after the ship sank on April 15, 1912, killing more than 1,500 people. The historic cane will now be offered on October 19 at Henry Aldridge & Son, a world-renowned auction house which specializes in Titanic artifacts.

Poignant Photograph Of Two Passengers Taken On Board The Titanic As The Doomed Liner Set Off On Maiden Voyage Is Set To Go Under The Hammer (Daily Mail, 1 Oct 2019)
Photograph taken by a passenger on board the Titanic’s doomed maiden voyage is being put up for auction as part of a collection worth an estimated £6,000. The poignant image was taken by a first-class passenger who was stood on the boat deck as Titanic crossed the Solent about an hour after slipping its mooring. Father Francis Browne leant over the railing to capture the pilot boat leaving Titanic for the last time having picked up harbour pilot George Bowyer.

Happy October

Photo:David Wagner(publicdomainpictures.net)

October is the 10th month on both the old Julian and newer Gregorian calendar. It is the first full month of Autumn where harvests are being done and in the old days people began to make ready for the coming of winter. The southern hemisphere though October is the first full month of spring.  Harvest festivals are common at this time of year along with popular ones such as the German Oktoberfest.

Also for sports fans in the US you see the popular sports of basketball, American football, and baseball converge on the calendar. Football is kicking into gear, basketball is starting up and baseball enters its championship phase culminating with the World Series.

Of course the big day is Halloween on October 31st. Sadly it falls on a Thursday meaning kids have to be home early and back to school the next day. Halloween decorations are out there and of course scary movies are in demand again. October has as its flower the Calendula and the birthstone is the opal.

REMEMBERING HISTORY: BAbi yar

Handout dated September 28, 1941 in Russian, Ukrainian with German translation ordering all Kievan Jews to assemble for the supposed resettlement.
Public Domain

With German control over their portion of Poland now complete, the elimination of Jews and others began in earnest. To facilitate this, special task forces called Einsatgruppen were charged with carrying out the liquidation in occupied countries. They oversaw the implementation of the Final Solution (Die Endlosung). At the ravine near Kiev called Babi Yar would take place one one of the most documented massacres of Jews during World War 2. Between 29-30 September 1941, 33,741 Jews were exterminated by Nazi’s and their collaborators. One of the reasons for the exterminations is retaliation for Soviet explosives that caused damage to the city and to the army headquarters in that area.

Orders were issued and posted in numerous languages on 26 September 1941:

All Yids  of the city of Kiev and its vicinity must appear on Monday, September 29, by 8 o’clock in the morning at the corner of Mel’nikova and Dokterivskaya streets (near the Viis’kove cemetery). Bring documents, money and valuables, and also warm clothing, linen, etc. Any Yids who do not follow this order and are found elsewhere will be shot. Any civilians who enter the dwellings left by Yids and appropriate the things in them will be shot.

Jews were led to believe they were being resettled and believed it right up to the end. They were driven to a designated area where they passed through several stages before arriving at Babi Yar itself. At each stage they had to surrender luggage, valuables, and later their clothing. A special pile was kept for everything collected. Men, women and children were led to Babi Yar and then gunned down by machine gun fire. Most did not know at first what was happening since the crowd was so large. And it happened quickly. Ukrainian nationals would force anyone who attempted to linger to move on with swift kicks and threats of more violence. There was no chance to escape. They were driven down into a corridor of soldiers where they were killed 10 at a time.

“Once undressed, they were led into the ravine which was about 150 metres long and 30 metres wide and a good 15 metres deep … When they reached the bottom of the ravine they were seized by members of the Schutzpolizei and made to lie down on top of Jews who had already been shot … The corpses were literally in layers. A police marksman came along and shot each Jew in the neck with a submachine gun … I saw these marksmen stand on layers of corpses and shoot one after the other … The marksman would walk across the bodies of the executed Jews to the next Jew, who had meanwhile lain down, and shoot him.” (quote from Wikipedia. Source:  Berenbaum, Michael. The World Must Know, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, this edition 2006, pp. 97–98.)

Money and valuables taken from Jews were handed over to local ethnic Germans or to local German authorities. Those that were wounded or still alive were shot. One notable survivor, Dina Pronicheva, played dead and was spared to escape later. There are 29 known survivors. The identities of those killed at Babi Yar is still ongoing. The SS would cover the area with earth to cover up the bodies. Mass executions would continue until the day the Germans were forced to withdraw in 1943.

Sources:

Books

Gilbert, Martin  The Holocaust: A History of the Jews of Europe During the Second World War. Holt, Rinehart and Winston 1985

Snyder, Louis Dr. Encyclopedia of the Third Reich, Marlowe & Company, New York 1976

Internet

Titanic news for First day of autumn

An Escape from the Titanic That a Young Survivor Couldn’t Remember (CBC, 23 Sep 2019)

“The only thing I recall is the steward, or whoever it is, took Mother and me up and told my dad to hurry up and get his family up on deck because it was the second-last lifeboat,” she told Midday, when sharing her story with the program in September 1991.”And they put us into the lifeboat and of course, the men were supposed to stand back, but the boat was only half-full and they were lowering it already. So he jumped in.”

Local explorers uncover new information about the Titanic (WPTV, 20 Sep 2019)

“We were able to get incredibly high resolution images of the wreck, which will be part of a documentary, which is going to be made about our trip,” Lahey said. In dark, near-freezing waters, the team said it was struck by the size of the sunken ship. “There was this dark contrast between the wreck and all the corrosion you see, and all the beautiful animals that are all around it,” Lahey said. But the dives revealed parts of the Titanic are being consumed by the ocean, and the deterioration will continue.

 

Autumn Equinox Today

For those who watch the calendar, today marks the official end of summer and the beginning of autumn with the equinox today. It began today at 07:50 UTC (go here to see the time it began in your area). There are two equinoxes in the year: March and September. When these equinoxes occur the sun is directly on the equator, and the length of day and night is almost equal. In the Northern hemisphere, the September Equinox heralds autumn while in the South it is the beginning of spring.

For those of us in the North, it means a transition from summer to winter.  During this period  days start getting shorter and nights longer. Depending on where you live, you will likely have moderate warm days followed by long and cooler nights. Harvests of many crops often take place during the fall and in the old days you would make preparations to store food for the winter. Harvest festivals are very popular and in particular Halloween. Pumpkins begin appearing along with all kinds of Halloween decor culminating, of course, in All Hallows Eve (Halloween) on October 31.

English Autumn
George Hodan (publicdomainpictures.net)

Sunday Titanic News

Village Where Harold Bride Lived Will Have Memorial Plaque On Former Home (The Courier.UK, 20 Sep 2019)

Bride died of lung cancer in 1956 aged 66, and a plaque has been displayed in his honour at his childhood home in the London borough of Bromley and the house has become a popular pilgrimage site for Titanic enthusiasts. But Scone and District Historical Society believe that his home in the village should also bare a memorial in Bride’s honour. The group have applied to the council’s planning team to put up a plaque on the C-listed building, which is still a privately owned home. It’s owner is due to celebrate his 100th birthday on December 14 and the plaque would be a fantastic present to mark the occasion, according to the Historical Society.

Northern Ireland House Hides A Secret From The Titanic (New York Post, 20 Sept 2019)

Part of the Old School House near Belfast — a charming 1833 structure that has been converted into a four-bedroom single-family property — is made of wood from the fated ship. The house’s owner was told by a man who worked in a local salvage yard that the wood for the kitchen’s window seat was used in the building of the Titanic. The timber is said to came from Belfast’s Harland & Wolff shipyard, where the Titanic was constructed between 1909 and 1912. The link has never been confirmed, and it’s unclear when in the house’s 186-year history the bench was added. But it is plausible that the wood could have come from the famous Belfast shipbuilding hub — it’s less than 5 miles away.

5 Timepieces That Carry A Piece Of History (Economic Times, 15 Sept 2019)

Geneva watchmaker Romain Jerome purchased a piece of the hull of the Titanic, the oceanliner that sank in 1912, to make the Titanic-DNA collection. The watch has an alloy using the slab from the wreck that was retrieved in 1991. The black dial face is made of lacquer paint that includes coal recovered from the debris field of the wreck site. Jerome made 2,012 watches — costing between $7,800 and $173,100 — to coincide with the centenary anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking in 2012.

Happy Sunday

Autumn is not that far away now. Technically it is still summer but the days are starting to get shorter now. Warm days still abound but now some chilly nights as well. Of course that depends on where you live. Some areas actually get warmer such as California due to seasonal changes in wind direction. More offshore winds usually means lots more warm air over California.

Still the signs that autumn is approaching are showing up. Already some trees are starting to loose leaves. Summer produce is now disappearing from the shelves to be replaced soon with fall produce. Blueberries, mangos, peaches and watermelons will soon be replaced by apples, grapes, cranberries and pumpkins.  Of course since the growing season is different in the southern hemisphere, out of season produce here may appear on our shelves from places like Chile.

Have a nice Sunday everyone.

September In The Forest Larisa Koshkina (publicdomainpictures.net)

Being Kosher on titanic

Collapsible lifeboat D photographed by passenger on Carpathia on the morning of 15 April 1912.
Public Domain(Wikipedia)

One  of the underreported aspects of Titanic is that there were Jewish passengers aboard. Only 27 Jews survived and they were welcomed by the Hebrew Sheltering Home and Immigrant Aide in New York. Synagogues all over the country viewed the sinking as a tragedy. And inspired songs as well.

One of the problems encountered by Jewish passengers was staying true to Kashrut (religious dietary laws called kosher). Jews comprised a fair number of 3 rd class passengers on these ships but many ships had no facilities for kosher food preparation. That meant either you brought rations to eat on the voyage or you fasted. And fasting was not easy on a 5 day or more journey across the Atlantic ocean. In fact, some died from starvation.

The Hamburg-Amerika line started in 1905 having kosher food prepared aboard to serve to mainly 3rd class Jewish passengers. Other lines began to do the same because they could market that Jews would get kosher food aboard their ships to America. And since 3rd class was very profitable for the large liners, it was worth the cost to do so.

The Hebrew steerage passengers were looked after by a Hebrew who is employed by the company as a cook, and is at the same time appointed by Rabbi as guardian of such passengers. This particular man told me that he is a pioneer in this work. He was the first to receive such an appointment. It is his duty to see that all the Jewish passengers are assigned to sleeping quarters that are as comfortable and as good as any; to see that kosher food is provided and to prepare it. He has done duty on most of the ships of the White Star line. On each he has instituted this system of caring for the Hebrews and then has left it to be looked after by some successor. (U.S. Immigration Report, 1909)

Titanic had kosher service according to a recent article on jewishpress.com. “All kosher serving dinnerware and utensils for all classes on the Titanic were marked “milk” or “meat,” and mashgichim (supervising rabbis) were authorized by White Star to regularly inspect the ship’s catering departments in both England and New York. Those who ate kosher food used the same tables as everyone else, were served in the same manner, and were fed food of the same quality.” There was also a kosher butcher that supplied meat and rabbinical supervision to make sure the food was prepared according to Kashrut dietary laws.

Sadly no kosher menu has survived from the White Star Line but it is surmised they did exist. References to kosher meat and being served to Jewish passengers suggest that a menu had to exist. It is a fascinating bit of history to read about. And continues to show Titanic still has stories to tell.

Source: Sailing Aboard The Titanic: A Kosher Cruise? (jewish press.com, 11 Sep 2019)

Sunday Titanic News: Santa barbara Boat fire owners Using Titanic legal strategy

The tragic loss of life recently in a Santa Barbara boat fire is going to trigger lawsuits against the boat owner and perhaps other parties as well. It is being reported that the boat owner, Truth Aquatics Inc. has filed a lawsuit to limit its liability. It is suing under the Limitation of Liability Act of 1851 which says the owner of a ship can limit damage claims to the value of the ship. They must show that the owners had no knowledge of potentially dangerous flaws. The law was used to protect White Star Line from huge lawsuits back in 1912. And apparently has been used since then as well and survived legal challenges that took it to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Legal experts are stating it is not unexpected as they are trying to limit damage claims by the families of those who lost loved ones. Others criticize the decision as heartless. Since this occurred on water and involves maritime law, the legal action will take place in federal court which has jurisdiction on these matters. What is likely to occur will be confidential settlements between the company and the parties that sue for damages. While the lawyers for the parties seeking damages will talk publicly about trying to upend this law, in reality it will be more difficult then it first appears. And it will cost money if the parties seeking damages have to foot the bill for appealing it up if they lose at any stage of the process.

Source: Boat Owners In Deadly SoCal Fire Trying To Avoid Compensating Victims’ Families, Citing 168-Year-Old Law (SF First, 6 Sep 2019)

Today is Labor Day (U.S.)

Labor Day Postage Stamp (1956)
United States Post Office
Public Domain

Labor Day is a U.S. federal holiday observed on the first Monday in September. It became a federal holiday in 1894 to celebrate workers and their achievements. It has also become the unofficial end of summer as schools have reopened and summer vacations have ended. As a federal holiday, all federal offices are closed as are banks and the stock market. All states celebrate it as well so state, county, and city offices are closed as well. Nearly all professional offices are closed and most construction workers have the day off as well. Retail and fast food employees do not get the day off except in areas where due to the holiday they get virtually no business.

Have a nice Labor Day everyone!