The Lusitania Resource > People > Second Cabin (Second Class) Passenger List > Miss Kathleen Kaye (Hannah Ermine Kathleen Kirschbaum)

Miss Kathleen Kaye (Hannah Ermine Kathleen Kirschbaum)

Kathleen Kaye Second Cabin Passenger Saved
image credit:  New York Times, Sunday, 18 May 1915.  Click for full image.
Born Hannah Ermine Kathleen Kirschbaum 30 June 1898 Hampstead, England, United Kingdom
Died 24 September 1963 (age 65) Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States
Age on Lusitania 16
Cabin number unknown
Rescued by unknown
Citizenship British, later United States
Other name(s) - Kathleen Kirschbau - Kathleen Brandien (after marriage)
Spouse(s) Carl William Brandien (1937 - 1963, her death)
Kathleen Kaye, 16, was a Jewess returning to Britain after visiting relatives in Canada and New York.  She is listed as being from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, but had been born in London, England, and was traveling alone aboard Lusitania.  She survived the sinking and was hailed as a hero for taking charge of a lifeboat and comforting her fellow survivors.
  1. Background
  2. Lusitania
  3. Love
  4. Vagabondage: a quest for life
  5. Settling down
  6. Links of interest


Kathleen Kaye was born Hannah Ermine Kathleen Kirschbaum in Hampstead, England on 30 June 1898, which would have made her 16 at the time of the Lusitania disaster and not 14 as commonly reported. She was the descendant of Polish Jews from the line of Jacob Kirschbaum, a ritual slaughterer who emigrated from Krakow, Poland to Wales in 1855 and changed their names to Kaye.  London's Jewish Chronicle of 14 May 1915, page 11, reported her name as "Kathleen Kaye (Kirschbaum)."


From the New York Times, Monday, 10 May 1915:
QUEENSTOWN, May 9 -- the brief time elapsing between the torpedoing and sinking of the Lusitania was enough to develop a heroine in the person of Miss Kathleen Kaye, 14 [sic, she was 16] years old, who was returning from New York, where she had been visiting relatives. With smiling words and reassurances she aided stewards in filling a boat with women and children.  When all were in she climbed aboard the lifeboat as cooly [sic] as an able seaman. One sailor fainted at his oar as a result of a hard race to escape swamping. The girl took his place and rowed until the boat was out of danger. None among the survivors bears as little sign of her terrible experience as Miss Kaye, who spends most of her time comforting and assisting her sisters in misfortune.


Kathleen's Lusitania experience did not prevent her from sailing once more, and in her early thirties she set off for California by ship with only 10 pounds sterling (some accounts say 10 US dollars) in her pocket.  On board the ship, she met a Danish-American artist by the name of Carl William Brandien.  Brandien was born on 24 July 1886 in New York City to Danish immgrants.  His father died when Carl was still a child, and Carl was placed in an institution.  During World War I, Carl Brandien served with the American Expeditionary Forces in France and Tunisia and was honorably discharged on 4 June 1919.  He was a world traveler, and a story of his had already been published in the New York Sunday Herald on 8 July 1923.  Brandien was twelve years Kathleen's senior, but he was intrigued by the woman's courage and sense of adventure with setting out to California with so little money.

Vagabondage: a quest for life

Carl and Kathleen teamed up and decided to travel the world, discovering and painting "beauty in all corners of the world."  Together they became the "Vagabonds" and their trip around the world was dubbed the "Vagabondage" or "quest for life," which lasted from 1930 to 1937. Their journey began in the American West and Hawaii, and continued to Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and the South Pacific.  Carl Brandien became celebrated as the Vagabond Artist, with a trademark 42 pound knapsack.  Kathleen and Carl carried all their essentials in their knapsacks, living out of them for seven years.  Stories about their travels and adventures were published in newspapers around the world. While in Tunisia, Carl was caught painting a Muslim burial ritual.  A mob siezed Carl and almost killed him until a local recognized him as a veteran of the First World War and whisked him away from danger.  Carl recalled the events of that day in an interview and did a painting of the event by memory. State Department warnings about the impending war in Europe cut Carl and Kathleen's adventures short, and they returned to the United States, stopping over once more in Hawaii.

Settling down

At the end of their travels, Kathleen and Carl settled down in New York.  They were married on 27 January 1937 by the Reverend Harold F. Lemoine at the Church of the Transfiguration on East 29th Street in New York City.  Kathleen was 38 years old at the time and Carl was 50.  Kathleen became a naturalized American citizen on 20 May 1944.  Brandien held shows at the Barbizon Plaza Art Gallery in conjunction with the 1939 World's Fair in New York City, and did more shows throughout the United States.  Brandien's work celebrates the combination of natural and architectural beauty, often churches.  He reestablished himself with the New York art community in the 1940s with colorful and bright paintings, showing the best of humanity in a dark period of world history.  He won many awards, including some with the National Academy of Design. In their later years, Kathleen and Carl moved to Georgia and Florida to live out their golden years.  Kathleen passed away on 24 September 1963 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at the age of 65.  Carl followed Kathleen two years later on 1 January 1965, presumably also in Fort Lauderdale. The majority of Brandien's artwork is in a large collection in the Augusta Curtis Cultural Center of Meriden, Connecticut, which held a 120-plus exhibition of his works in 2005.  His commission to paint the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets for President Franklin Roosevelt is now a part of the Hyde Park presidential collection, and a portrait of the opening night of the Metropolitan Opera still hangs in the Met.

Links of Interest

Carl Brandien's Hawaiian landscapes (click on image or "view details" to see more of his work)
Contributors: Carl Brechlin Judy Wolkovitch References: "Carl Brandien."  Ask Art.  <> "A Jewish Survivor's Narrative."  Jewish Chronicle (London, England), Tuesday, 11 May 1915, page 11. "The Life and Work of the Vagabond Artist:  Carl W. Brandien." Luv2Bid. <> "Lusitania Heroine is a Girl of 14." New York Times, Monday, 10 May 1915. "Carl W. Brandien (1886 - 1965)."  Vallejo Maritime Gallery. <> Wolkovitch, Judy.  "Kathleen Kaye and the Sinking of the Lusitania."  British-Jewry News, Issue 13, page 9.  <>

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