How many men were on the Titanic?

Titanic: The last night on the Titanic

Ruth Becker survived the sinking of the steamer "Titanic" with over 2200 people on board. But only in old age did she begin to tell her children and grandchildren about it. It is the story of a girl who was not afraid when she was floating on the lifeboat on the North Atlantic

For four weeks on a ship halfway around the world. No, Ruth Becker no longer found it funny or exciting. At sea it was mostly cold, gusty and damp. Quite different from back home in hot, sunny India, where they had left their father, an evangelical missionary who ran an orphanage there.

After a stopover in England, they wanted to go to their parents' homeland, the USA. Ruth was already twelve, so no longer a little girl. So she took care of her younger siblings, the four-year-old Marion and the less than two-year-old Richard. Her mother knew that she could rely on the eldest.

The Titanic: high as a ten-story house

It was Sunday, April 14, 1912, when Ruth pushed her little brother across the promenade deck of the "Titanic" in a pram as usual. Admittedly, that was a great steamer: as high as a ten-story house and inside as huge and beautiful as a castle.

Wood-paneled ceilings and walls, carpeting, mirrors, chandeliers, several elevators, a gym and a real swimming pool - on one ship! The "Titanic" was completely new, it even smelled of paint. This was her first ride ever. Three more days and the passengers would go ashore in New York.

Suddenly there was dead silence on the ship

But Ruth woke late that night when her mother woke up. It wasn't a bad dream - it was the sudden silence on the ship. Dead silence. No more that calming, low hum from the belly of the steamer. The machines were turned off.

What did that mean? Ruth's mother quickly threw on a dressing gown, ran into the corridor and asked the next steward. "Everything is fine," said the. "It'll go on soon. Good night."

The Titanic rams the iceberg

But it turned out differently. The passengers were alerted: Put on life jackets immediately and go upstairs, on deck! There wasn't even time to dress the children. Ruth and her mother grabbed the two little ones and hurried up the stairs five stories to the deck. There they learned: The "Titanic" had rammed an iceberg.

The hull of the ship was torn open by the collision with the iceberg. Water seeped into the luxury steamer, too much water. The supposedly unsinkable "Titanic" could no longer be saved after the collision with the iceberg. The captain of the Titanic had the lifeboats prepared. His command was: "Women and children first!"

The sinking of the Titanic

It was freezing cold that night. The mother asked Ruth to quickly get some blankets from her cabin inside the Titanic. But when the girl returned, she found neither mother nor siblings. And when Ruth finally saw them, it was too late: They were sitting in lifeboat number 11, which was just being lowered into the water. Ruth heard her mother shout "Take the next lifeboat!" When a sailor grabbed her and lifted her into boat number 13.

It was the penultimate one ever - and on the "Titanic" there were still well over 1000 desperate passengers and crew. What should become of them? The front part of the luxury steamer was deep in the water. And very close up, the people in the lifeboats saw the huge ship rear up, break with a huge crash in the middle and sink - and with it over 1500 people.

Ruth comforted a mother

With Ruth in the boat sat stokers who only wore thin trousers and sleeveless shirts and were miserably cold. The girl gave them her blankets. With a large handkerchief from her father, which she found in her jacket, Ruth bandaged a sailor's bleeding hand.

And she tried to comfort a desperate young mother who had to give up her baby for a moment while boarding the lifeboat; and when she turned and stretched out her arms, the little bundle had already been passed on to another boat.

Would she ever see her child again? Ruth promised to help her find it. She was all alone herself, without her mother. But everyone who had seen her that night later reported that she was calm, fearless, and brave, unlike many of the adults.

The steamer "Carpathia" saved 701 survivors

So they drifted in the sea for hours. Until help finally came in the early hours of the morning, the steamer "Carpathia", and took in 701 survivors. Ruth was saved. Stiff from the cold, she had to be brought on board with a winch. Hours later, she found her mother and siblings. And the missing baby had survived the downfall too.

Ruth did not board a ship until she was 90

Little Ruth Becker became a grown woman, a teacher. She married her school friend Daniel Blanchard, had three children, retired at the age of 71 - and until then had not said a single word about the "Titanic".

Only in old age did she break her silence and tell how she had survived one of the greatest catastrophes of the 20th century. As a 90-year-old, she even went on a cruise to Mexico for the first time since 1912. Ruth Blanchard died on July 6, 1990 in California.

Bacteria eat up the wreck of the "Titanic"

It was not until 1985 that the wreck of the "Titanic" was located in the North Atlantic and photographed for the first time. It lies at a depth of more than 3800 meters, in freezing cold, in eternal darkness and is exposed to an unimaginably powerful pressure. Only a few fish and microorganisms can withstand it.

Since then, people have repeatedly undertaken expeditions to the sea floor in steel submersibles and recently used small robotic cameras with remote control to penetrate the interior of the wreck. So again in the summer of 2003. The pictures they brought show what has survived 91 years after the fall. But they also suggest the end of the legend: The "Titanic" is falling apart.

Masses of bacteria are eating away at the steel hull and wooden furnishings. Soon there will only be a pile of junk left of the once most famous ocean liner in the world. And a mountain of adventurous and amazing stories. Like Ruth Becker's.

Further background information about the Titanic:

The Titanic was the The flagship ship of the British shipping company White Star Line. The luxury steamer was around 270 meters long, around 30 meters wide and 53 meters high. The equipment was the newest of the newest and the steamer was hailed as a true marvel - the Titanic was, it was said, practically "unsinkable".

For passengers of the first class, the equipment on board the steamer left nothing to be desired. Comfort and luxury were very important on the Titanic. However, the ocean liner was not fully booked when it left the port of Southampton on April 10, 1912 and set sail.

Over 900 crew members and 1300 passengers were on board the Titanic. Among them is the shipowner Joseph Bruce Ismay, the director of the White Star Line at the time. At this point in time, no one suspected that the ship would never reach its destination New York.

Senan Molony: Was it a fire that caused the downfall?

The journalist Senan Molony has been researching the Titanic and its demise for many years. In his opinion, the history of the ship needs to be rewritten. Senan Molony believes that it was not the iceberg with which the steamer collided, but a fire that burned for several days in the ship's coal bunker that weakened the hull and thus sealed the sinking of the Titanic.

Senan Molony relies on original photos of the Titanic that a crew member took before the steamer left port. There are ten meter long black traces on the right, front outer hull of the ship. These tracks are exactly at the point on the ship where the Titanic was ripped open by the iceberg.