Michel Navratil

Mr Michel Navratil (Louis M. Hoffman)

Michel Navratil

Mr Michel Navratil was born in Szered, Slowakia, he later moved to Hungary and then, in 1902, to Nice, France where he became a tailor.

He married Marcelle Caretto (died 1974), from Italy, in London, (District of Westminster), on 26 May 1907. They had two sons, Master Michel M. and Edmond Roger (Lolo and Momon), however, by 1912 the business was in trouble and Michel claimed that Marcelle had been having an affair. The couple separated, the boys going with their mother. They went to stay with their father over the Easter weekend, but when Marcelle came to collect them, they had disappeared.

Image
Marcelle Navratil

Navratil had decide to take the boys with him to America. After stopping in Monte Carlo, they sailed to England where they stayed at the Charing Cross Hotel, London. He purchased second class tickets (ticket No.230080, £26) and boarded the Titanic at Southampton, the boys being booked on as Loto and Louis. His assumed name of "Louis M. Hoffman" was adopted from his friend Louis Hoffman, who helped him to leave France.

He led his fellow passengers to believe "Mrs Hoffman" was dead and rarely let the boys out of sight. Once, he allowed himself to relax at a card game and let one of his tablemates, Bertha Lehmann, a Swiss girl who spoke French but no English, to watch the boys for a few hours.

Mr Navratil wrote to his mother in Hungary, while on board, asking if his sister and her husband could care for the boys; possibly as a backup plan if they couldn't stay in America.

On the night of the sinking, Michel aided by another passenger, dressed the boys and brought them to the boat deck. When Second Officer Charles Lightoller ordered a locked-arms circle of crew members around Collapsible D so that only women and children could get through, Navratil handed the boys through the ring of men. Margaret Hays took care for them in the lifeboat. Michel, Jr., recalled that just before placing him in the boat, his father gave a final message, "My child, when your mother comes for you, as she surely will, tell her that I loved her dearly and still do. Tell her I expected her to follow us, so that we might all live happily together in the peace and freedom of the New World."

He perished in the sinking. His body was recovered (#15) with a revolver in his pocket.

NO. 15 - MALE - ESTIMATED AGE 36 - HAIR & MOUSTACHE, BLACK

CLOTHING - Grey overcoat with green lining; brown suit.

EFFECTS - Pocket book; 1 gold watch and chain; silver sov. purse containing £6; receipt from Thos. Cook & Co. for notes exchanged; ticket; pipe in case; revolver (loaded); coins; keys, etc; bill for Charing Cross Hotel (Room 126, April 1912).

SECOND CLASS         NAME - LOUIS M. HOFFMAN.

Because he had used a Jewish surname on his ticket, Mr Navratil was interred (May 15th, 1912) in the Baron de Hirsch Cemetery which was designated for the Jewish victims.

Image
The grave of Michel Navratil in the Baron de Hirsch Cemetery.
Photo: © Doug North, Hamilton, Canada.

The "Navratil Orphans" were sheltered at the New York home of Margaret Hays under the auspices of the Children's Aid society. Marcelle Navratil, recognized her boys from the many newspaper stories about their plight and was brought over to America by the White Star Line where she was reunited with her sons on May 16. The three sailed back to France on the Oceanic.

Image
Lolo and Momon with their mother and officers of Oceanic.

Notes

aka "Louis M. Hoffman"

References and Sources

Record of Bodies and Effects: Passengers and Crew, S.S. Titanic (Public Archives of Nova Scotia) (#15)
Don Lynch & Ken Marschall (1992) Titanic: An Illustrated History. London, Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0 340 56271 4
John P. Eaton & Charles A. Haas (1994) Titanic: Triumph & Tragedy, 2nd ed. Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 1 85260 493 X
Public Archives of Nova Scotia
New York Tribune

Credits
Bob Knuckle, Canada

Pictures

Grave of Michel Navratil

GRAVE OF MICHEL NAVRATIL

 

Articles and Stories

FOR THE CHILDREN

The Daily Banner  (1912) 

FOR THE CHILDREN

 
A Tale of Hoffman

Titanic Research  (2005) 

A TALE OF HOFFMAN

 
ECHO OF THE TITANIC DISASTER

The Times  (1914) 

ECHO OF THE TITANIC DISASTER

 
 Miss Hayes' Wards Living in Poverty

The Washington Times  (1913) 

MISS HAYES' WARDS LIVING IN POVERTY

 
No Light on the Mystery Hiding the Identity Of Two Waifs of the Sea

Evening World  (1912) 

NO LIGHT ON THE MYSTERY HIDING THE IDENTITY OF TWO WAIFS OF THE SEA

 
  • Add new information or a comment


  • Help improve this biography

  • Link and cite this biography

    (2014) Michel Navratil Encyclopedia Titanica (ref: #523, accessed 23rd July 2014 04:42:32 AM)

    URL : http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-victim/michel-navratil.html