Lower Deck Passengers Didn’t Stand a Chance
This article was published in the Yiddish-language Forward on April 21, 1912.
Among the many tragedies that are now being described by those who were rescued, this is one of the most horrible. It was described by one of the rescued sailors, whose name is being withheld at his request.
“I saw it with my own eyes,” the sailor said, “how 50 steerage passengers were shut behind a water-tight steel door. This door enclosed a room of steerage-deck passengers from the area where the ship’s crew slept. The door was sealed so that water wouldn’t get into that room, and the ship could stay afloat a little bit longer. The 50 unlucky passengers were abandoned there, and went under with the ship.
“I saw how the door was closed, and I spoke about it with my officers on the ship. I told them that 50 people were in that room. I stubbornly insisted that we had to open the door for a few minutes so that they could have one chance to save themselves like the above-deck passengers. But the officers answered me that they couldn’t do it. “If we don’t open the door,” one of them said to me, “the ship will stay afloat for longer.”
And so the door was not opened and they were abandoned; and the 50 third-class passengers died without the least chance of saving themselves.