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111 years ago: 30 Croatians on the Titanic, 3 survived

111 years on: 30 Croatians aboard the Titanic, 3 survived

RMS Titanic (Photo credit: Francis Godolphin Osbourne Stuart/Public Domain)

Last week marked the anniversary of the Titanic disaster. On the Titanic, there were 30 Croatian passengers, and only three of them survived. 

It has been 111 years since the disaster that is still talked about today. On Sunday, April 14, 1912, just before midnight, the Titanic sank in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. 

Of the 2229 passengers, only 713 survived. There were 30 passengers from Croatia on the then-largest ship in the world. Some of the survivors later recounted how three Croatians, while the ship was sinking and dragging most of the passengers to certain death, lit their last cigarette and sang, daily 24sata writes.

In Europe, there is only one protective vest from that ship, and it is kept in the Maritime and History Museum of the Croatian Littoral in Rijeka. It was brought by the survivor, Josip Car, who worked on the Carpathia, the only ship that responded to the Titanic’s distress signal. 

Car donated a framed picture collage of several newspaper reports on the sinking of the Titanic and the rescue of people, as well as a vow gifts of the Franciscan monastery in Trsat to the museum.

Three Croatians survived 

On the Titanic, Croatians were exclusively passengers. Of the thirty or so, only three survived. Mara Osman-Banski (1881-1930) from Vagovina, the municipality of Čazma, who was traveling to America to visit her husband, who had been working in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, for several years. She survived the sinking of the Titanic in lifeboat number 15.

Ivan Jalševac (1883-1945) from Topolovac near Sisak also survived the sinking. He left the sinking ship half an hour before it sank by getting into a boat that was descending from the upper deck, most likely lifeboat number 15. In later statements, he always claimed that he jumped into the sea, from which he was later rescued.

The third survivor was Nikola Lulić-Draja (1883-1962), originally from the Lika village of Konjsko Brdo near Perušić. He lived and worked in a mine in Chisholm, Minnesota for years. He boarded in Southampton. The Titanic journey was his third trip to America, so he was the leader and translator for most of the Croatian immigrants due to his experience and knowledge of the English language. He also survived by getting into lifeboat number 15.

Months after the catastrophe, Ivan Jalševac spoke about his survival on the Titanic to the public. He then returned to Croatia, where he lived with occasional work in France. He spent his old age in Perušić, where he died at the age of 81. As evidence, there are certain curiosities from the Titanic and Carpathia, one of which is the testimony of Ivan Jalševac, in which he described his rescue in detail.

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