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[#66818] Andersen,Jacobsen og Johansen - 3 kannibaler - 1893

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Gjest Nina Möller Nordby

Olaf Andersen,Christian Hjalmar Jacobsen og svensken Alexander Johanssen-----CANNIBAL SAILORS. Tuapeka Times, Volume XXV, Issue 1990, 19 April 1893, Page 3CANNIBAL SAILORS.A DREADFUL STORY OF THE SEA.[Fkom the Evening Stab's Correspondent.]London, February 24.The horrors of Mr Clark Russell's most sensational sea stories are constantly dwarfed by realities infinitely more ghastly and revolting. At the present moment there lie in prison at Ribzebuttel, in Germany, three sailors, who, after drifting about on the wreck of the ship Thekla for thirteen days in a starving condition, killed and partially ate a Dutchman, their companion. All three are quite young, and tell an apparently straightfonvard tale. So far as ravenous and starving men could act fairly, they did so. Lots for life or death were drawn, and the fate fell on the Dutchman. A correspondent avlio intervieAved these cannibals giA'es an account from which I abbreviate the folloAving : — The first to step into the small court is Olaf Andersen. He is of middling height, and of broad build, stoops slightly, and has long, swinging arms. His head, covered Avith fair, curly hair, is a massive one, the forehead high, and his face, which is not without some intelligence, is beardless, bloated, and colorless, and his fleshy underlip hangs down. His steel-grey eyes, with the tired and sad look, only raise themselves now and then, and very unwillingly, from the ground. The impression that Olaf Andersen makes is not an unfavorable one. One might imagine him to be an uncouth fellow, but by no means a Avicked one. ' Olaf Andersen, sit doAvn and tell me your story.' — 'You mean about the Dutchman, sir?'' Yes, about the Dutchman.'Olaf Andersen looks down and begins to speak. His voice sounds hoarse, but he speaks without hesitating, as if he knew that there was only one thing now and for ever that he could relate, and that was about the Dutchman. Andersen commenced :—': — ' We left Philadelphia on the Ist of December. Up to the 20th we had a good voyage. Then in the North Sea the bad weather began. Great seas broke over the vessel, and the ship was lost. She began to break up. Two masts had gone by the board, but that did no good. We were to take to the boats ; but whilst they were being lowered they capsized, all but one. Those who could manage it jumped in, the captain and some others — altogether eight. Those who remained behind climbed into the rigging. We did not see much of «ach other, and at first did not even know who had stopped on the wreck. For what with the continual rolling of the vessel, and the billows dashing over her, we had as much as we could do to prevent ourselves being washed away. When we were able to look about a bit we saw that there ivere four of us, Jacobsen, Johanssen, the Dutchman, and I. • This was on the 22nd of December. We all four had nothing to eat, not even a tobacco leaf, not a slice of bread. It had all happened so suddenly. Besides being hungry we could not sleep, for Aye sat in the scuttle, and it Avas very small. When sleep got the better of one a wave came and struck one on the head and face Avhich caused great pain, so sleep Avas not to be thought of. This made us feel very bad. We suffered greatly. Ships passed us, but did not see us, for Aye had a deal of foggy Aveather, or it Avas night. We certainly saw them, these strange ships, even in the darkest night, for our sufferings made our eyes sharp, but the others had not such eyes, so they passed on and saw us not.'Olaf Andersen of course related all this in broken sentences. The questions had to be put to him singly, whereupon he answered without any hesitation. In his statements he made the impression of a man who, although not quite sure how to express himself, was yet quite sure about what he wanted to say. He continued: 'On the thirteenth day — it was a Friday — the sea had calmed down ; the weather was clear. Dew had fallen in the morning, and we licked it off the topmasts and the manila ropes as far as we could reach. This gave some of us courage. But not all. The Dutchman, for instance, was quite desperate.'' Could you make yourselves understood with the Dutchman? Did you speak his language, or he yours?' — 'There was not much talking going on. Nobody cared to talk, and had scarcely the strength to do so. In order to prevent ourselves being frozen to death we climbed from the scuttle to the forecastle, which at this time stood above water, amd from the forecastle back again to the scuttle. Whilst standing there somebody spoke the first time of it. Who it was I don't know. It is sufficient to know that it was spoken. One of us was to die so that the others could live. The Dutchman said he did not care anything about his life. He would die. But we others said that if it had to be, it must be done fairly, as is the custom in such cases.' . ' Custom ! Why, have you ever heard of such a frightful custom?' — 'Yes; and we decided to do it that way. First, we waited from morning till noon. Perhaps after all a ship would come. But none came. Then the Dutchman began again. He said that we were to make an end of the matter, one way or the other ; he could not bear it any longer. So we descended again to the forecastle, one after the other. When there, one of us tore off a piece of linen and divided it into four parts, one of which was shorter than the others. This short one meant death. The man who drew that was to die, and the Dutchman drew it.'Olaf Andersen passed the back of his hand over his brow. This was indeed the only sign of excitement shown by him. He still spoke in the same hollow tone as in the beginning. He continued : ' The Dutchman became very still, and we remained so too. All at once he turned his face to the sea and his back to us, and that was the sign. None of us liked to look in his face. I from behind passed my arms round his chest, Jacobsen did the same Avith his lejs, and Johanssen stabbed at him with his knife.'' And you really ate ? '—'' — ' Yes, we ate of it on that day and 1 on the others till the Danes arrived and took us off.''And you did not think of anything whilst doing so — not of God, not of your parents ;_ not that you were depriving yourselves of the right to live amongst men, aye, even of callingyourselves human beings ?' — ' No, sir. We thought of nothing.' 'And not even before this?' — 'Thirst hunger, and sleeplessness — these were all we could think of.'He pressed both hands to his head, as if he would like to banish the demons which were cilled up by the memory of those awful days.Christian Hjalmar Jacobsen, the second sailor who partook of that dreadful meal, is somewhat smaller, but thick-set, and much .more versatile than his companion. He is also broad, and has a heavy gait, sways his body and swings his arms. His hair, coarse and dark, is combed over his low forehead, his eyes are black and piercing and very restless. ' His face, beardless, like Olaf Andersen's, is bloated and somewhat swollen round the chin. His manner is more determined than his comrades, and his statements are also more decided. He accompanies his words with lively gesticulations, but his hearers do not gain the impression that the remembrance of his crime makes him suffer, as was noticed now and then in his companion Olaf. Thegeneral impression that this fellow makes is much more unfavorable, especially when, whilst speaking, his thick lips part and show his powerful set of teeth. But the third man is the most uncanny looking — namely, the Swede, Alexander Johanssen. He is thick set, with a figure resembling somewhat that of Jacobsen, but much more agile. The bristling reddish light hair surrounds a square forehead. His face, covered with spots, is set in a thin beard of a light-red color ; his eyes, overshadowed by short yellow bristling eyelashes, are washed out and colorless, reminding one of a common jelly fish. His eyes flicker like a light blown by the wind. This wicked eye seems with one look to try to learn the intentions of those present. Alexander Johanssen had on landing been sent to the Seaman's Hospital on account of bis frostbitten feet, and has only just returned to his companions. Christian Jacobsen and Alexander Johanssen are both convinced that what they did is natural and excusable under the circumstances. One of them was obliged to die if the others were to live. 'At such a price ! Are your lives more valuable than that of the murdered man ? And what can your lives in future be when you think of what has happened ? Even if the remembrance makes no impression upon you, do you think that you will ever find work again in your calling, or new comrades who will work side by side with you ? ' They seemed surprised for a moment. They had up to now not considered their position in this light. But they soon answered in the same dull, imperturbable manner: 'Oh, yes, sir; we shall find work again, and comrades too ; for, you see, the great hunger and thirst and want of sleep were the reason of it. If the Dansk had only come three days sooner we should have liked it better, but she did not.' - Click here to view this newspaper article-----

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