Binoculars belonging to a passenger on the doomed maiden voyage of the Titanic sits in a display case at the Historical Museum of the Palatinate in Speyer, Germany. Legend has it that the two lookouts in the crow's nest the night the Titanic sank did not have binoculars. A pair was reportedly stored in a locker that no one knew about or that no one had the keys to. It's debatable, however, whether binoculars would have helped the lookout spot the iceberg sooner due to the conditions. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
"Iceberg directly ahead!" Just after 11 p.m. on April 14, 1912, lookout Frederick Fleet communicated these famous three words to the bridge. About 30 seconds later, the Titanic hit the iceberg on the starboard side of the bow, ripping a massive hole below waterline that doomed the luxury liner. The Titanic sank two hours and 40 minutes later. Of the ship's 2,215 passengers,1,505 perished, according to the passenger and crew list on display at the Historical Museum of the Palatinate in Speyer, Germany.
If Titanic's story can be summed up in three words, it would be the phrase which changed everything for 2,200 passengers and crew on the night of 14th April, 1912. After the words were communicated to the bridge by lookout, Frederick Fleet, Titanic's fate was sealed. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
The Historical Museum of the Palatinate in Speyer, Germany, is located in Cathedral Square across from the Speyer Cathedral. "Titanic - The Exhibition: Real Discoveries, True Fates" includes nearly 250 original artifacts salvaged from the sunken Titanic's wreckage by a series of deep sea expeditions over the years. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
A boy looks at a ship barometer, one of nearly 250 artifacts from the Titanic salvaged from the sea floor that are on display until June 28, 2015, at the Historical Museum of the Palatinate in Speyer, Germany. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
A visitor walks across a wooden bridge inside the Titanic exhibitio. The mood is somber throughout. A photograph of Titanic Captain Edward J. Smith, who went down with his ship, hangs on the wall. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
A large photograph of the grand staircase from the RMS Olympic is similar to the one built inside the Titanic. Only first-class passengers could use the staircase, which gives one the idea of the level of opulence found inside the ill-fated luxury liner. The photo is part of an exhibit on the Titanic at the Historical Museum of the Palatinate in Speyer, Germany. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
Many items salvaged from the Titanic's seabed wreckage remain remarkably well-preserved, including these two playing cards. Nearly 250 items recovered from the sunken liner are on display through most of June at the Historical Museum of the Palatinate in Speyer, Germany. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Strip)
One of the few items in the Titanic exhibition in English at the Historical Museum of the Palatinate in Speyer, Germany: A 2nd Class menu. The Titantic was known as a "Triple Screw Steamer" because it had three propellers. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
This delicate porcelain tea cup salvaged from the Titanic's sea-bottom wreckage remains remarkably intact, minus a small chip. It's on display at the Titanic exhibition. ()
Many items retrieved from the Titanic's wreckage, like this 1862 pottery marmalade jar, remain in excellent condition despite remaining at the bottom of the sea for many years. ()
Numerous bills and coins were pulled from the Titanic's wreckage, including this outdated U.S. $10 bill. It is on display along with other artifacts from the sunken ship. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Strip)
A map shows the approximate location in the North Atlantic Ocean where the RMS Titanic sank on April 15, 1912, after striking the side of a large iceberg. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
The Titanic exhibition at the Historical Museum of the Palatinate in Speyer, Germany, reconstructs several rooms aboard the luxury liner, including this first-class bedroom. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
A replica of the RMS Titanic shows a number of lifeboats tethered to the deck. The ship didn't have enough lifeboats to accommodate the 2,215 people on board. Only 710 passengers and crew were rescued after the ship hit an iceberg and sank in the frosty North Atlantic Ocean on April 15, 1912. The replica is part of the Titanic exhibition at the Historical Museum of the Palatinate in Speyer, Germany. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
Visitors to the Historical Museum of the Palatinate in Speyer, Germany, look at the list of passengers and crew aboard the ill-fated RMS Titanic. Passengers are divided by first, second and third class. More than half of those in first class survived. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
A customer browses in the gift shop after touring the Titanic exhibition at the Historical Museum of the Palatinate. About 63,000 visitors have gone through the exhibition since its opening in December. The exhibition runs through most of June. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
A month ago, if I had been asked in a game of Trivial Pursuit the date the Titanic sank, I’m not sure I would have answered precisely.
After touring the doomed ship’s exhibition at the Historical Museum of the Palatinate, April 15, 1912, will be forever stamped in my memory.
Not much stuck with me from the epic James Cameron movie, in which Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet proclaim their undying love as the mighty ship sinks into the frigid Atlantic.
But seeing the black-and-white photographs of real passengers and crew — the white-whiskered captain who went down with the ship, the family of seven who perished, and the countless personal belongings retrieved from the Titanic’s ocean grave — left an indelible impression.
“Titanic — The Exhibition: Real Discoveries, True Fates” runs until June 28. The exhibition includes about 250 items recovered from a series of deep-sea expeditions to the Titanic’s wide-strewn wreckage field since 1987. It’s the first time in Germany for this particular exhibition, according to the museum.
Photographs and reconstructions cast in sharp relief the opulence of the ship versus its cruel fate. After leaving Southampton, England, on April 10, the luxury liner was a playground at sea for some of the world’s wealthiest, replete with a heated swimming pool, Turkish bath, gymnasium and Parisian cafe.
When disaster struck, the lifeboats were more important than any amenity. Sadly, there were not enough for the 2,215 people on board. Only 710 passengers and crew were rescued after the Titanic hit an iceberg and sank.
The mood throughout the exhibition is somber. It’s divided into a series of rooms connected by long, dimly lit passageways. With no windows or natural light filtering through, it feels like you are walking through the bowels of a ship. Toward the end of the exhibition, the temperature drops in a stark room containing a chunk of ice etched with hand prints. Visitors are allowed to touch the cool display, an attempt to illustrate how cold the dark waters of the Atlantic were that night — reportedly about 28 degrees Fahrenheit.
In all, about 5,500 objects have been recovered from the Titanic site. Viewing the museum’s small trove, one is amazed at what has endured for nearly 100 years underwater: a leather suitcase, a pencil with an eraser top, postcards and playing cards, sherry glasses, a pair of spectacles, a jeweled hairpin, a shoe brush with bristles intact, a gold necklace, coins and bills, to name just some. Though stained by water spots, a sheet of piano music was still legible: “Pleasant Memories’ (Romance).”
Many small items were recovered, though it’s hard to quantify the smallest, said Marlene Hartmann, a museum volunteer. One of the more famous, on display at the museum, is the collection of perfume bottles, which belonged to German perfumer Adolphe Saalfeld, she said. The flasks still retained their scent when discovered some 90 years later.
One note: The exhibition is entirely in German. For non-German speakers, this means you won’t be able to read the history of the Titanic or the personal biographies of its passengers while there. But it’s still worth the visit for the visceral experience of seeing a tragic piece of history up close.
“Titanic — The Exhibition: Real Discoveries, True Fates”
Getting there: The Historical Museum of the Palatinate is located at Domplatz 4, 67346 Speyer, Germany
Times: During the exhibition, the museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The exhibition’s last day is June 28.
Costs: Weekdays: Adults 14.50 euros, family 39 euros, students and children 6.50 euros. Weekends and German school holidays: Adults 16.50 euros, family 45 euros, students and children 8.50 euros. Much of the parking in the vicinity is metered.
Food: The museum sells food at its cafe.
Information: Exhibition is in German.
Contact: Telephone: (+49) (0) 6232 13 25 0; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: www.museum.speyer.de; Facebook: www.facebook.com/Museum.Speyer