ADOLPHE SAALFELD-TITANIC SURVIVOR AND HIS WIFE GERTRUDE LAZARUS

Adolphe Saalfeld – Titanic survivor and his wife Gertrude Lazarus by Dr Kirby

The story of Adolphe Saalfeld as one of the survivors of the Titanic sinking has been documented in a wide variety of sources including by those of his family relatives. However, the issue about his wife Gertrude family origins has not been fully documented and this article provides data on this. The article is divided into three main parts:

Titanic (Wikipedia)

1 Gertrude Lazarus b abt 1854-1929
2 Adolphe Saalfeld 1866-1926
3 Adolphe’s nephew Paul Danby and his family, victims of the Shoah

One key reason why Gertrude his wife has not been identified in terms of her origins is because the records are part of Jewish sources such as JewishGen and the Jewish Chronicle. These sources require registration and in the case of Jewish Chronicle Archive data a payment. The sources are not on Ancestry or other sites currently and researchers have not identified these.

Gertrude Lazarus abt 1854-1929

Gertrude was the daughter of Moses Lazarus and Rebecca Shultz. She was born in Exeter, Devon circa 1854. The dates for her birth vary between census and marriage records. To date I have been unable to locate her in the GRO Birth Index Records.
Gertrude was married twice- first to Hillel Lippmann Harris and second to Adolphe Saalfeld.

Her first marriage is recorded in the Jewish Chronicle- Married 30.10.1872 14 Grafton Street, Bond Street 3rd daughter of MOSES LAZARUS 46 Woburn Place Russell Square to HILLEL HARRIS of Lisbon, Portugal.

Gertrude’s relatives are listed and include sister Kate and brother Samuel.
(GRO Marriage Index Record- GERTRUDE LAZARUS-HILLEL LIPPMANN HARRIS Dec qtr. 1872 Marylebone 1a 1074).

The Jewish Chronicle provides confirmation regarding Gertrude’s father through his death notice:
1.10.1873 at 46 Woburn Place WC after a short illness, Moses Lazarus late of Exeter aged 61 years
Probate: Moses Lazarus 46 Woburn Place Russell Square Middlesex Jeweller died 1 October 1873 wife Rebecca, son Barnett 63 Camden Street, Birmingham.

Gertrude’s second marriage can be seen on JewishGen UK Data base;
Marriage West London Synagogue 22 February,1888
GERTRUDE HARRIS widow age 28 -65 Sutherland Avenue-father MOSES LAZARUS deceased
ADOLPHE SAALFELD bachelor 22- 65 Sutherland Avenue-father SOLOMON SAALFELD
Witnesses Isaiah Lazarus; Samuel Lazarus.

The second marriage identified Gertrude as a widow and this maybe a death record for Hillel Harris- Death Gibraltar 8 October 1886 Hillel Hary ( Harris,Hanis) age 42 Jeweller, England (JewishGen Gibraltar Data base).

There is not a lot of data on Hillel Lippmann Harris but his UK Naturalisation Certificates and Declaration record provides some information.
HILLEL LIPPMANN HARRIS
44 Frederick Street, Birmingham Warwick Subject of Russia age 31 Married, merchant no children Certificate issued 24 August 1874.

He was in financial trouble the following year.
HILLEL HARRIS 44 Frederick Street Birmingham Warwick Merchant trading as Harris and Co- Bankrupt and Liquidation The London Gazette 18 June 1875.

The Freemason registers record his entry at the Israel Lodge, Birmingham age34 initiation 8 February 1874 occupation Factor.

It is unclear what he was doing in Gibraltar and he and Gertrude do not appear in the 1881 Census.

Gertrude’s parents and siblings
Gertrude’s parents and siblings can be seen on JewishGen UK 1851 Anglo Jewry Data base:
Moses Lazarus ID 1062-1812-1873 (Parents Eleazer Lazarus 1789-1845; Julia Solomon 1791-1836)
Moses married Rebecca SCHULTZ -Exeter Synagogue Marriage Register 10 January, 1838. They appear in the 1841 Census records Exeter, Devon.

Moses Lazarus 25 watch maker born in county, Rebecca 20,Barnett 2, Julia 1 and Samuel 15 optician. The 1851 Anglo Jewry data base records the children of Moses and Rebecca as:
Barnett b 1839; Julia 1841; Joseph 1843; Samuel 1845; Elezaer 1848; Nathan 1849; Rachel ( Kate) 1852; GERTRUDE 1853; Edith 1855. The family are living at 5 Lansdowne Terrace, Exeter, Devon in 1851 but moved to London by 1861 where the family are at 15 Bernard Street, Russell Square Bloomsbury, Middlesex. Gertrude is age 7 b Exeter, Devon. Her mother was born Poland and father born Exeter.

Searches of the GRO Birth Index records (both on Free BMD and the General Register Office site) have Barnett b 1838; Julia b 1840; Samuel b 1844. Currently, there appears to be no record for Gertrude even with the omission of her first name and later siblings are not recorded.

Moses and Rebecca records appear on Cemetery Scribes ID 16811 and 16816 (Rebecca’s tombstone photograph with inscription is recorded).


The father of Moses Lazarus was Eleazer Lazarus 1789-1845 who was married twice-1 Julia 2 Esther Jacobs. Eleazer is Cemetery Scribes ID 5071; Julia ID 5072; Esther ID 5082. There are children from both marriages.

Following the death of Moses Lazarus in 1872 his relationship to other family members were recorded as- Caroline Barnett sister; Rev A Barnett brother in law; Mrs Joseph Marks sister; N. Lawrence half-brother; Mrs Myer Solomon half-sister (Caroline Barnett is the sister of N Lawrence and wife of Rev A Barnett-she died in 1871); Julia Lazarus eldest daughter of Moses Lazarus married Bernard Rubenstein; Barnett Lazarus eldest son of Moses Lazarus married Rosetta Harris in 1866 she was the eldest daughter of Abraham Harris of Glasgow.

(The Jewish Victorian. Genealogical Information from the Jewish Newspapers 1871-1880 transcribed and edited by Doreen Berger, 1999 Publisher Robert Boyd).

Gertrude’s mother Rebecca appears as a widow born Warsaw Poland in later census living in 1881 Paddington with her daughter Edith, son in law Herman Hurwitz and granddaughter Florence. By 1891 she is living in Paddington at the home of her daughter Julia, and son in law Bernard J Rubinstein and their children. She died in London 1893 age 77.

Adolphe Saalfeld

The UK Naturalisation Certificate (24 July, 1896) for Adolphe Saalfeld records he was living at Clarence Lodge, Victoria Park, Manchester a chemical merchant. Age 31, married no children. He was born in Oranienbaum, Anholt, Germany. His parents were Heinemann Salomon and Rosalie Saalfeld (nee Michaelis).

He had a sibling Eric aka Erich and German records suggest that other siblings may have been Max and Richard.

His brother Erich aka Eric was a chemist age 42 single b Germany living in South Manchester in 1911. He appears to have been interned as an alien in WW1 in the Douglas Camp Isle of Man. It is unclear what happened to Erich and the other siblings.

Following their marriage Adolphe and Gertrude appear in the 1901 Census in South Manchester. He was 35 a chemical merchant and Gertrude 38. In the same house are Kate Rubinstein 28 Adolphe’s niece; Eric 32 Adolphe’s brother born Germany and Frederick Saville 5 Adolphe’s nephew born Germany. A visitor is Abraham Wolf 24 Professor of Philosophy b Russia (Naturalised British Subject).

Adolphe and Gertrude appear in the 1911 census at Saville House, Victoria Park Manchester. He was age 46 a Chemist merchant and Gertrude age 49 married 23 years no children. Adolphe became chairman of the chemists and distillers Sparks-White & Co. Ltd a London company formed in the early 1800s which became a limited liability company circa 1907.In his senior role he assumed responsibility for developing new products and markets.

He sailed on the Titanic from Southampton travelling first class with a sample of perfume phials containing a new perfume to be used for sales in America. . His nephew Paul Joseph Danby went on board the ship as a visitor prior to sailing. Danby wrote a brief letter to his wife Rose (née Goldstein) in Manchester.

“Uncle has a very large cabin, nearly a living room with sofa and an electric ventilator. I will tell you all in detail later. I embrace you and kiss you dearly. Your very loving Paul. Love from Uncle.”

Whilst on board Adolphe wrote to his wife describing his cabin and life on board. The letter written on three pages later sold in auction in 2009.

When the Titanic hit the iceberg Saalfeld had returned to his cabin from the smoking room. He left his perfume samples in his cabin and got into a lifeboat with others.

Eighty years later a recovery expedition to the wreck of the Titanic found a small leather pouch containing Saalfeld’s perfumes, most were intact but some broken. The scents had retained their smell. They were analysed and made into a new perfume Legacy 1912 Titanic.

Following the Titanic sinking Saalfeld commented…. “I saw a few men and women go into a boat and I followed and when lowered, pushed off and rowed some distance, fearing…Titanic sinking… As we drifted away gradually, saw Titanic sink lower and lower and finally her lights went out, and others in my boat said they saw her disappear. Our boat was nearly two miles away but pitiful cries could be plainly heard. No one in our boat knew how many lifeboats were on Titanic but…there was ample time for saving every soul on board had there been sufficient boats… The Captain and Officers of the Carpathia did all that was possible to make us comfortable and to those that were sick or injured, they gave their tenderest care. The icebergs were huge and the weather extremely rough on the voyage to New York”.

On his return to the UK Saalfeld was poorly treated by society accused of being a male survivor when women and children had died. Family accounts said that he slept badly after the sinking and his chauffeur used to drive him around at night until he fell asleep.

Adolphe Saalfeld died at Courtlands, Kew Road, Kew; Surrey on 5 June 1926 aged 61. His probate was valued at £46,902, 19s, 6d administered by his widow Gertrude, his nephew Frederick Hans Saville (a druggist) and Max Wiseman optician. Saalfeld had been the President of Manchester Congregation of British Jews between 1900-1907 and was highly regarded.

The Jewish Chronicle (October 26, 1928) included an obituary.  “By the sudden death of Adolphe Saalfeld, .the community has lost an unobtrusive personality whose integrity, ability and warm humanity did much to maintain its soundness inside, and its good repute outside Born near the birthplaces of Moses Mendelssohn and Hermann Cohen Saalfeld shared some of the characteristics of these great Jews. Like Mendelssohn, he knew how to combine business with intellectual interests; and, like Hermann Cohen, whose kinsman he was; he also resembled Mendelssohn in his combination of a liberal mind with a conservative-heart. His aptitudes were many and varied. A successful business organiser, he also shone in many kinds of games, ranging from golf to billiards and from cards to chess. He had a keen sense of humour and it was very entertaining to listen to his witty attempts to convince some grateful beneficiary that the benefactor was acting in his own self interests. I have enjoyed his friendship for something like a quarter of a century, and could unfold a story of extraordinary devotion; but it would be against his spirit to lift the veil. With the whole-hearted cooperation of his devoted wife, he was a father to the fatherless, and a ready help to those in trouble. If Tsedakah saves from death, then assuredly he is among the immortals”.—From Professor A. WOLF. A memorial service to Mr. Saalfeld was held in the Park Place Synagogue, Manchester, on Sabbath last.-

At the Jewish Hospital on Sunday the Rev.Jacob Phillips officiated at the Ceremony of naming a bed endowed by Mrs Adolph Saalfeld in memory of her husband. Mr R.Barrow-Sicree (Treasurer) spoke in eulogistic terms of the good work done by the deceased gentleman.

Gertrude never re-married and died age 76 (June qtr.1929 Kensington 1a 128). Adolphe and Gertrude are buried Hoop Lane Jewish Cemetery Plots B 30-30 and B 30-31- (JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry).

When Gertrude died she left probate to be administered by a nephew Frederick Saville.


Gertrude Saalfeld 20 Kensington Palace Mansions, Kensington, Middlesex widow died 27 April, 1929. Probate to Frederick Hans Saville director and Victor Politi confectioner Effects £ 3825 18s. Her tombstone was consecrated at Golders Green Cemetery
on Sunday April 27th1930.

Paul Danby aka Dambitsch and his wife Rosie Goldstein

Paul Josef Danby aka Dambitsch 1886-1943 was the son of Louis Dambitsch 1842-1904 and Clara Daniel 1859-1943. He married Rose aka Rosie Goldstein in Lancashire, 1910. They had two daughters Margaret aka Marguerite 1911-1990 and Ellen Ruth 1921-2016. He was living with his wife, mother (a widow) and young baby in Woodgreen, Middlesex working as a wholesale chemist clerk born Germany. His wife Rose and mother Clara were also born Germany (1911 Census).

Paul Danby was later interned in England on the Isle of Man during World War One for being an ethnic German. After the war he and his family returned to the Netherlands. During WW2, Paul, Rose aka Rosie and Clara his mother were deported from the Netherlands by the Nazis. Rosie was born Ostrowo 16 April 1888 and both she and Paul murdered in Sobibor on the 16 July, 1943. Clara was murdered in Sobibor 2 July 1943.

His two daughters were sent to Westerbrook and Theresienstadt concentration camps. Both survived the Holocaust and after the war one daughter, Margaret became a doctor and lived in Amsterdam where she died in 1990. The second daughter, Ellen, moved to Canada where she died in 2016 aged 95. Margaret kept the letter sent by her father from the Titanic in a shoe box in her attic and it was passed to her sister after her death. The letter was later auctioned.

Ellen and her husband Jan Burka a Czech artist emigrated to Canada after the war. Ellen become a famous ice skating coach .Her daughter, Petra Burka, became a world figure skating champion and Olympic medallist.


Astra Burka wrote a short film My Titanic Uncle about her great, great uncle Adolphe. The film contains b/w photographs of Adolphe and Gertrude plus a reading from his letters. She directed Another film Skate for Life describing the life of Ellen.

The USC Shoah Foundation (JewishGen) provides data on the family members Burka, Goldstein and Kohn taken from the testimony of Ellen Ruth Burka nee Danby. The Jood Monument data base contains details on the Danby family including photographs of individuals.

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