David Jäkel


In June 1816 the «Medusa», the fastest frigate of its time, sets to sea. Its destination is Saint-Louis in Senegal. There are two hundred and forty people on board – besides the sailors, most of them are soldiers, but they also include the colony’s Governor and his family together with priests, teachers, doctors and engineers. Two days’ journey from their destination the ship runs aground on a sandbank and splits. As there is not enough room for everyone in the lifeboats, a raft is cobbled together for the lifeboats to tow on shore. But as soon as they set off, the rudderless and heavily overloaded raft is left behind by the boats on which the dignitaries are rescuing themselves. Of one hundred and seventeen men only fifteen will survive. Many of them will fall victim to their own comrades because the few goods they were able to save – barrels of wine, sodden biscuits, a few weapons and valuables – are as heavily fought over as the power the make decisions about possible rescue measures.

Der Schiffbruch der Fregatte Medusa (The shipwreck of the frigate Medusa)