109 years ago, the Titanic sank, taking at least 1,500 lives to the bottom of the Atlantic. That was the very first voyage of the technological wonder of ship-building expertise of its time. The number of fatalities includes both the crew members and passengers. Approximately 1,317 passengers were on board, and the majority was assigned the third class, reserved for the poor, bottom social class. The Titanic was traveling to the USA from the UK, and many of the passengers climbed aboard, hoping to be greeted to a better life in the States. Given the historical circumstances and social and political turbulence which troubled the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, which Croatia was part of in 1912, it’s no wonder there were Croats on board as well. Thirty passengers were Croatian (actually thirty-one, but one is was registered in Hungary), and only three of them survived.
In honour of the fallen victims of the Titanic, the country has a Titanic Memorial House in the village of Bratina, around 45 minutes drive from Zagreb, towards Karlovac. This discrete historical memory which is also an unpromoted but potential huge tourist spot caught the attention of a journalist Petra Balija from Večernji List in 2018. She visited the house and got in touch with one of the founders of the memorial house as well as the Titanic 100 Association founded in Bartina in 2012 (on a 100th year anniversary no less) because of the historical connection the place shares with this iconic and tragic ship.
The surname Turčin is a well-renowned name in Bratine, and Stjepan Turčin one of the thirty passengers and sadly one of the casualties of the shipwreck.
„It was exactly him, a hundred years since the sinking, who inspired the residents of Bratina to come up with an exhibition in his honour. Until 2021, his fellow citizens were not introduced to the fact someone from their area died on a big ship“, says the article on Večernji.
One of the founders of the association Andrea Žunec was connected by accident while searching the Internet and coming across the passenger’s name list. This lead to Žunec contacting perhaps the biggest expert on Titanic in Croatia and the author of several books on the subject who also joined the association, Slobodan Novković, and soon, the one-time exhibition became the regular feature of the village. The association, back in 2018, counted over 180 members from over 54 different countries, and the exhibition hosts replicas of various items from the Titanic-both from reality and from a movie by James Cameron.
„We have the original piece of coal from the Titanic that dropped from the ship when it sunk. I got it from a Swiss acquaintance“, told Novković to Večernji List.
This year, marking the upper mentioned 109 anniversary, Renata Rašović, again for Večernji List, tracked the experiences of the surviving Croats which they described to various world press shortly after the shipwreck.
One of them was Ivan Jalševac, who was 29 at the time, and he told the journalists that were interviewing him how he was awakened by the event.
„At first, I had no idea what happened. I dressed up peacefully and lit up a cigarette. I’m telling you honestly, I wasn’t afraid. On the deck, I saw panic and chaos. I returned back to the cabin to grab my suitcase but it was too late. Everything was flooded with water. I saw this is not a joke and that the ship needs to be abandoned as soon as possible. I thought in the worst case, I will jump in the sea and swim to a boat“, quoted Večernji List.
Jalševac managed to get to the lifeboat and he saw the ship sinking and vertically rising up before he heard three explosions.
„ I saw bodies of people that didn’t manage to rescue themselves flying in the air. We stayed in the boat, scared and tired. Women were quiet as if they are mute. Understandable, their husbands stayed on the Titanic, they encountered gruesome death“, said Jalševac.
Večernji goes on to remind that while Croatians were only passengers on the Titanic, the stunning number of 56 Croatians From Istria and the Croatian coast were crew members of Carpathia, which saved 716 shipwreckers.
All Croatian passengers on the Titanic were traveling third class. Just like Andrea Žunec, you can track them down as well on the Titanic passenger list. Keep in mind someone is more difficult to find given they were signed under other countries, such as Hungary, which was the case for Mara Osman Banski. You can learn more about Croatians’ faith on the Titanic in one of our previous articles on TCN.
The full names of Croatians on Titanic, separated by survival status on the dreadful night of April 15, 1912, and place go as follows:
Topolovo: Ivan Jalševac
Vagovina: Mara Osman Banski
Brezik: Jego Grga Čačić, Luka Čačić, Marija Čačić, Jovo Čalić, Petar Čalić
Kričina: Bartol Cor, Ivan Cor, Liudevit (Ljudevit) Cor
Kula: Manda Čačić
Lipova Glavica: Jesa Ćulumović
Podgori: Mirko Dika
Ostrovica: Jovan Dimić
Hrastelnica: Jozef Draženovic
Vagovina: Ignjac Hendeković, Štefo Pavlović, Matilda Petranec
Topolovac: Ivan Jalševac
Bukovac: Mate Pocruic, Tome Pocruic
Písac, Peru : Jakob Mile Smiljanović
Galdovo: Ivan Stanković,
Široka Kula: Ivan Strilić
Bratina: Stjepan Turčin
Konjsko Brdo: Nikola Lulić, Luka Orešković, Marija Orešković, Jelka Orešković (from Konjsko Brdo),
Learn more about modern Croatian history on our TC page.
For more about news from Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.