A letter written from doomed luxury liner the Titanic by a German Jew who perished in the Holocaust is going up for auction this month, and is reportedly expected to fetch up to £15,000 (approx. $21,000).
According to the Daily Mail, Paul Danby penned the missive in German to his wife as he toured the White Star Line’s ship with his uncle, a first-class passenger, on the day it set sail from Southampton on April 10, 1912.
Danby was not traveling on the liner, but took advantage of his relative’s ticket to see the boat before it began its ill-fated journey to the US.
“We are the first who write a letter from the ship, it is wonderfully appointed,” Danby wrote in German to Rose, his spouse 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.”
The “unsinkable” ship famously hit an iceberg four days into its journey, going down in North Atlantic Ocean with a loss of more than 1,500 lives. Danby’s uncle, London-based perfumer Adolphe Saalfeld, survived. Saalfeld’s leather bag, which held dozens of vials of essential oils, was recovered from the wreckage of the ship in 1985. Saalfeld never got over the tragedy of the sinking, the auction house claims in its blurb on the sale details.
Danby was later imprisoned in England throughout World War One, for being a German. After the war, the family moved to the Netherlands, where Danby, his wife and mother were rounded up by the Nazis after they invaded the country, and perished in the Sobibor death camp in Poland.
Danby’s two daughters survived the Holocaust. After the war, one daughter, Margaret, lived in Amsterdam, while the second, Ellen, moved to Canada. Margaret kept the letter sent by her father from the Titanic, and it passed to her sister, now aged 95, after her death.
Ellen’s children have now decided to sell the letter via an auction house in Wiltshire, southern England.
“This letter is exceptional for several reasons but principally due to the author writing that it is the first to be sent from on board,” the Mail quoted auctioneer Andrew Aldridge as saying. “It is a poignant photograph when you think about what was to happen to [the family] in the future.”