Brothers Rescued From The Titanic; Kidnapped

Young brothers on the Titanic

                Two French brothers became known as The Titanic Orphans after the sinking of the RMS Titanic. Saved without their parents, they were the only children aboard to experience such a scenario. Once saved, those who rescued them believed that both their mother and father died aboard. However, it went far deeper than that.

The two only spoke French, and people called them by their nicknames, Lolo and Momon. The boys did not know their birth-given names, Edmond and Michel. Michel, who didn’t understand English, responded with “oui” to most questions. This led people to mistake him for having the name Louis. They called his brother “Lola”.  Those who rescued them were unable to communicate with the children.

Instead, they stayed with a woman who was also a Titanic survivor. She spoke French and while in New York, the boys lived with her. Soon, a strange story emerged from the boys. It was discovered that their mother was not at all present during the voyage.

brothers were Survivors
The young French Survivors of the Titanic with their mother

Michel and Edmond’s Survivor Story

               Eventually their rescuers learned that their parents divorced. It took many months to get through to the children about their story.

Finally, the pieces came together. Their mother, an Italian woman who lived in Nice, France, where her children were born, had to travel to America to claim her two stolen children. Their father had taken them without his ex. wife’s knowledge, and she was furious about it.

It all led back to how they ended up on the Titanic, and why their father took them in the first place.

The boys’ father, who could only see them on weekends and holidays, was desperate to be in their lives. Since full custody was given to their mother, he was unable to spend any good deal of time with them. After kidnapping them from their mother, their father took them to England in order to leave the country.

Their father had used the false name “Hoffman” after taking them one Holiday weekend. Their mother was outraged that he had taken the children. However, it never crossed her mind that the trio were immigrating to America. She did not believe that her ex-husband would go that far across the globe.

From England, they boarded the Titanic, their father wanting to start a new life in America with them. At the time, their mother had no clue that they were on the doomed Titanic when it sank.

twin Titanic survivors
The two boys were saved without their parents.

While aboard the doomed vessel, he refused to let Edmond and Michel out of his sight, only allowing so once, leaving them with a Swiss woman who was bilingual, but didn’t speak English. This was so he could play in a card game.

Remembering The Voyage

                Michel, who was older than Edmond, remembers the voyage fondly, oddly enough. He remembers the bright blue sea, playing with his younger brother, eating breakfast in 2nd class. Michel remembers Titanic as a magnificent ship overall. He did not feel any sense of fear while during the sinking, which is probably due to how young he was.

The two young boys only survived because crew allowed them on the collapsible D. However, their father wasn’t let on. It is believed that he put the boys on the boat and then told them, “tell your mother I love her deeply,” and that was the last they ever saw of him.

Placed next to the American daughter of a banker, Michel fell asleep in the lifeboat, having a sense of total calm while on the sinking Titanic that early morning.

After Titanic for the Twins

                Once their Italian-born mother found out what had happened to her children, she came to claim them. She traveled on the White Star Line liner America, and after that the family returned to France on the Oceanic.

Michel
Michel Navratil in his later life

Their father’s body was one of the few recovered; however, due to his fake last name, he was believed to be Jewish and was falsely buried in Baron de Hirsch cemetery in Halifax, Nova Scotia. They offered to move his body to a Catholic section of the graveyard, but his ex-wife was happy with his final resting place.

Michel lived a long life until his death in 2001. He was actually the last male survivor, leaving 4 female survivors to die after him. His daughter wrote a book about his Titanic experiences. He worked as a psychologist before his death at age 92.

Edmond lived a shorter life than his brother; he signed up to fight for the French troops in WW2 and was kept in a captive camp. He escaped, but in the following decade his health severely declined and he died at the young age of 43 in 1953.

No one in the family visited their father’s grave, not until an 88 year old Michel did so. He recalls from the sinking about his father, “My father entered our cabin where we were sleeping. He dressed me very warmly and took me in his arms. A stranger did the same for my brother. When I think of it now, I am very moved. They knew they were going to die

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