The Titanic Orphans

There were over 700 survivors of the Titanic disaster, and each one had a unique story. Among the most poignant tales is that of Michel and Edmond Navratil, who were known as the "Titanic orphans." The two boys were only two and four years old at the...
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There were over 700 survivors of the Titanic disaster, and each one had a unique story. Among the most poignant tales is that of Michel and Edmond Navratil, who were known as the "Titanic orphans." The two boys were only two and four years old at the...
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There were over 700 survivors of the Titanic disaster, and each one had a unique story. Among the most poignant tales is that of Michel and Edmond Navratil, who were known as the "Titanic orphans." The two boys were only two and four years old at the time they boarded the ship with their father, Michel Navratil, Sr., a Slovakian tailor who was recently separated from their French mother, Marcell. She had allowed Navratil, Sr. to take the boys over Easter break. Little did she know that he had arrived on the Titanic on April 12, 1912, under the alias "Louis Hoffman" with the intention of moving to the United States. After the boat hit the iceberg, the boys were placed on the last lifeboat and then were rescued by the ship Carpathia. Their father tragically perished. When the boys arrived in New York City, they were identified as "Louis" and "Lola"—names their father had given for the passage across the Atlantic. Fellow survivor Margaret Hays took them in while a frenzied search to find their mother began. But since the boys spoke French, it took weeks for their story to circulate back to their mother in Europe. Finally, just over a month later, she arrived in New York City where they were joyously reunited. Their mother, only 21 years old, did not ask them about the wreck but instead said, "I do not want them to think about that," she said. "They must only be happy from now on—only happy; no more distress." Edmond died at the age of 43 after fighting in the French Army during World War II. Michel Jr. lived longer than any other male Titanic survivor. He died in 2001 at the age of 92.