The enchanted ship

S/S Kaiser Friedrich (with her three tall funnels bearing the Hamburg Amerika Linie-HAPAG insignia) at the port of Hamburg in 1901; painting by Karl Paul Themistokles von Eckenbrecher. The ship is portrayed during the first year of its twelve years of idle stay in the area of Baakenhafen, Hamburg. (KFB Collection).

by Gundula Hubrich-Messow

[During a conversation with master miniature artist Carlo Marquardt, he made a brief reference about the early “frozen” period of Burdigala, as Kaiser Friedrich, mothballed at the Baakenhafen area of Hamburg port for almost twelve years (1900 – 1912). Carlo recalled of a story that he had read in a book about this matter which he recounted to me. I sought and found the book titled “Legends and Myths from Hamburg” (Sagen und Märchen aus Hamburg). The book edited and written by Gundula Hubrich-Messow, is almost minimalist and contains myths and legends collected by the writer from the area of Hamburg, Germany’s largest port, condensed in literary miniatures in the form of short haiku narratives. One of these stories, titled “The enchanted ship”, was the one that Carlo had told me about. I translated the text from German and post it here below. D.G.]

The enchanted ship

Tied at the port of Hamburg for eleven years, a huge, almost dead ship, she was the ocean liner “Kaiser Friedrich”. Because she did not manage to meet the requirements which were expected of her, she was “hanged” resting abandoned in Baakenhafen, a giant relic, crew less and without her flags. A curse must hover over this ship: never to be sold. Even during the Russia-Japan war they did not manage to get rid of her. Remember when she was about to be sold to the Norwegians? A furious easterly wind blew on the Elba preventing the ship from inching away from her berth forcing her to remain fastened to the dock.  Her keepers are always leaving, no one staying on board for long since on this dead carcass they were haunted by unpleasant thoughts.

They say that on moonlit nights the entire deck appears to be full of people. Once upon a time when a full crew came to transfer the vessel to the shipyard, they fell ill with strange and suspect symptoms forcing the ship to be returned to her anchorage, where she always was tied.

%d bloggers like this: