Encyclopedia Titanica

Michel Navratil

Michel Navratil

Mr Michel Navratil was born in Szered, Slowakia on 13 August 1880, 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.

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, probably cabin F-4 1) and boarded the Titanic at Southampton, the boys being booked on as John and Fred. His assumed name of "Charles Hoffman" was probably 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 brought them to the boat deck.

When Second Officer Charles Lightoller ordered a locked-arms circle of crew members around the boat so that only women and children could get through, Navratil handed the boys through the ring of men.  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.


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).


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.

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.

Lolo and Momon with their mother and officers of Oceanic.


  1. Concerning their cabin placement: Ruth Becker Blanchard remembered them being directly across from her cabin, which would place them in F-4.

Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Mr Michel Navratil (Louis M. Hoffman)
Age: 31 years 8 months and 2 days (Male)
Nationality: Slovakian French
Marital Status: Married to Marcelle Caretto
Last Residence: in Nice, France
Embarked: Southampton on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 230080, £26
Cabin No. F4
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body recovered by: Mackay-Bennett (No. 15)
Buried: Baron de Hirsch Cemtery, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada on Wednesday 15th May 1912

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Research Articles

Senan Molony Titanica! (2005) A Tale of Hoffman

Newspaper Articles

Nixola Greeley-Smith Evening World (22 April 1912) No Light on the Mystery Hiding the Identity of Two Waifs of the Sea
New York Tribune (24 April 1912) Who are they? The Two Children Saved from the Sinking Titanic?
The Daily Banner (9 May 1912) FOR THE CHILDREN
The Salt Lake Tribune (27 February 1913) TITANIC SURVIVOR COMES TO SALT LAKE
The Salt Lake Tribune (28 February 1913) TITANIC SURVIVOR IN SALT LAKE
The Washington Times (10 April 1913) Miss Hayes' Wards Living in Poverty
The Times (10 February 1914) ECHO OF THE TITANIC DISASTER


Grave of Michel Navratil
Michel Navratil

Documents and Certificates

(1912) Contract Ticket List, White Star Line (Southampton, Queenstown), National Archives, London; BT27/776,780
(1912) Record of Bodies and Effects (Passengers and Crew S.S. "Titanic") Recovered by Cable Steamer "MacKay Bennett" Including Bodies Buried at Sea and Bodies Delivered at Morgue in Halifax, N.S.


Limitation of Liability Hearings Claim of the Beneficiaries of Michael Navratil (Also Known as Ludwig Hoffman) Deceased, National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55(279)-L
David Lean S.S. Algerine joins the recovery effort


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, Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 1 85260 493 X
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Gavin Bell, UK
Bob Knuckle, Canada
Don Lynch, USA
Michael Poirier, USA