Image : Amazon
Das Schiff Esperanza (The ship HOPE) is a powerful radio play written in 1953 by Fred von Hoerschelmann. It has lost none of its power and relevance in all these years. It was on our South Australian Year 12 curriculum for German for years and may well still be. I wonder how many ex German students think of it. It was way ahead of its time as were his other plays. Every time I hear of the untimely and awful end to some more asylum seekers, I think of this play. The ship's captain was making money by taking asylum seeks onboard who hoped and dreamed of making a new life in a new land. The brilliance of Hoerschelmann is that he can economically and succinctly capture the mood and far reaching implications of anything being said or done. The asylum seekers are tricked to being let off the boat saying they have to swim the last bit since the boat is not able to dock. They drown, of course, and the boat comes back for more asylum seekers. In the end, through a twist of plot , something far reaching and indelible happens in the own captain's life. Poetic justice. This radio play plays out time and time again. The asylum seekers in 2013 climb aboard the ships full of their hopes and dreams and somehow it all falls apart and the best we can do is bat them back and forth across the political divide.At no stage does the world get together and look seriously about managing this in a humane way. Yes, there will be undesirables amongst those who seek refuge and, yes, it is hard to house asylum seekers in large numbers. It is not a political issue. It's a humanitarian one. We need to address this far better without all the talk and squawk and come up with a proper regional plan and a proper global plan. I have no time for the predatory boat smugglers and the radio play has played a role in that. People need to get out and read more so we don't avoid dealing with reality in a competent manner.