Iceberg that sank the Titanic on photo taken by Czech seaman

Iceberg that sank the Titanic

It isn't often that a 90-year-old photograph causes a sensation, especially when all it seems to depict is a large block of ice. But that is just what has happened in the last few days here in the Czech Republic. All the Czech newspapers carried a photo showing an iceberg, said to be that which sank the Titanic and 90 years ago left nearly 1,600 people dead. The photo is thought to be the only surviving picture of the iceberg and was taken by a Czech sailor. In fact, it came to light two years ago, when German journalist Henning Pfeifer, a Titanic buff himself, bought it from a Czech collector, but only now has its full significance been realised. The photograph is to be shown publicly for the first time this month at a major exhibition on the Titanic, organized by the Maritime Volunteer Service in Dundee, Scotland. Earlier we spoke with David Kett, one of the curators of the exhibition:

Iceberg that sank the Titanic
"We were contacted by Henning Pfeifer of the German Titanic Society who has this unique photograph. It was taken by a seaman called Stepan Rehorek from what is now the Czech Republic, and we know that the ship that he was sailing through the area of sea which was covered in bodies and the debris from The Titanic, when he saw an iceberg which was - as it subsequently transpired - was identical to that described by the Titanic survivors, he took a photograph of this with his own camera and sent it home in the form of a postcard. From the marks on the iceberg we are virtually 90 percent sure that it's the actual iceberg that sank the Titanic."

So what do we actually know about Stepan Rehorek?

"We know that he was on one of the liners which was crossing the Atlantic at that time, and that he was writing back to his mother and father: 'Dear mother and father, this card is a view of the iceberg that collided with and sank the liner Titanic.' Josef was his brother and he wrote to him: 'Dear Josef, I'm sending you, too, a postcard of the sunk Titanic, we were following about a thousand miles behind it , next time we come home our parents will show you pictures of the iceberg which was photographed from my ship.'"

The photograph will be a centrepiece of the exhibition in Dundee, and it's set to become a major crowd-puller. David Kett again.

"The world-wide interest is being phenomenal, we've had contact from as far as Italy, Spain, yourselves in the Czech Republic, and there has been some interest from the United States as well. It's featured to a large extent in all national papers in this country, we've had contact from people who want to have copies of that picture, and again that interest has come from all around the world. We think a lot of people are going to come with the prime aim of seeing the picture but they will also enjoy what is going to be one of Europe's largest Titanic exhibitions here in Dundee."

And if you're interested in the exhibition and are able to travel to Scotland, it's running at Victoria Dock, Shed 25 in Dundee from the 10th August.