As the last lifeboat was lowered from the Titanic, a second-class passenger, Mr Louis Hoffman, handed two angelic-looking boys to the women already in the boat. He then stepped back into the crowd of men on deck, and lost his life in the disaster. The two boys, aged two and three, proved to be the only children to survive the sinking without a parent. When it turned that Mr Hoffman had been travelling under a false name, and that the boys could speak no English, their identity became an international mystery. Newspapers all over the world printed photographs of the so-called “Titanic Orphans”, known as “Lolo” and “Lump”.
Their mother, Marcelle Navratil from Nice in France, eventually recognized them as her sons Michel and Edmond. “Mr Hoffman”, her estranged husband, had kidnapped the boys and was taking them to a new life in America.
The elder boy, Michel, eventually became a philosophy professor, and lived into the twenty-first century as the Titanic’s last male survivor. His reflections on the disaster remained bitter: “The people who came out alive often cheated and were aggressive, the honest didn’t stand a chance”.