Former German Stewardess Turned Stowaway on Steamship

The pluck and cleverness shown by Miss Christiana Wilhelmina Ida Klingemann, 41 years, of Berlin, Germany, in digging herself in among 200 tons of gravel balast down No. 7 hold aft on the White Star Liner Pittsburgh and remaining below for seven days and nights, was related yesterday to -12-1the reporters when the liner arrived at Pier 59, North River, from Bremen.

During that time, the woman subsisted on some black bread and sausages and quenched her thirst with a large bottle of vinegar and water. When the supply was exhausted and the stowaway felt that the vessel was well on her way to New York, she knocked at the hatch covers with the empty bottle until one of the steerage passengers heard the noise and called the attention of the stewards, who reported it to the Chief Officer.

In spite of her having been practically a week down in the hold, the German woman was able to walk on deck and tell her story. She had a canvas bag with a change of linen and some extra stocking and a man's suit, in which she had expected to make her escape after the Pittsburgh had arrived at her pier in New York.

Miss Klingemann, who appared to be an intelligent woman, said that she had served eight years as stewardess on the Hamburg-American liners in the New York service before the war. Since the armistice, she said that things had gone from bad to worse in Germany and it was difficult to earn enough money to buy food and clothing with. She had to support an invalid widowed mother and brother and had decided to come to America to join relatives living in California. There are three cousins, she added, one of these, Emil Masserbach, a school teacher at Petaluma, had promised to pay her fare across the continent if she could reach Ellis Island and be admitted.

She made a previous attempt when she stowed away on the Hamburg-American liner Wuerttemburg and was sent back to Germany. She carried no passport, but had an identification card and a book showing her service as stewardess. Several people have taken an interest in her case and will endeavor today to get the Commissioner of Immigration at Ellis Island, Robert E. Tod, to permit her to land and will also find her work so she can send money to her family.

Source: The New York Times, December 13, 1922

Return to Top of Page