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1929 __ « SOS ... Rao rao ... Foyn - Krassin rettet Italia »
Friedrich Wolf (1888-1953)
Comment : Friedrich Wolf’s “SOS ... Rao rao ... Foyn - Krassin rettet Italia” was based upon widely publicized events from summer of 1928. The Italian engineer and air force general Umberto Nobile, who had been part of the crew that first flew over the North Pole in 1926, set off with much fanfare as leader of the dirigible “Italia” in order to explore uncharted regions of the Arctic. The exploit was supposed to be a public relations coup for Mussolini’s Italy, but it turned sour when radio contact with the team was lost. For weeks radio stations and ships throughout the North Atlantic tried frantically to contact the party. As luck would have it, it was a peasant in a hamlet in Russia’s far north -- a radio buff who had built his own shortwave set -- who happened to pick up the weak distress calls of the surviving crewmen, who were stranded on an ice floe after ejecting from the dirigible. Several nations sent out plane to drop packages, and one was able to land and evacuate Nobile, but there was not enough room on board to take on the entire crew. Several countries this launched ships to rescue the remaining members, and after two months the Soviet icebreaker “Krassin” was able to reach them. The story was highly dramatic and ran in the newspapers for weeks. It even was was mentioned in “Berlin Alexanderplatz” [by Alfred Döblin]. [...] The crucial role of the wireless in locating the survivors made the story an obvious choice for a radio play. Moreover, the fact that key parts were played by a Russian peasant as well as a Soviet icebreaker made the tale especially attractive to a Communist playwright like Friedrich Wolf. In the introduction to the published version of the work, he wrote that the story “is certainly the dirst heroic tale of our time, of our technology, or our “solidarity”. Not the impulses of a superman, not the ‘ethos’ of a religion or a state enabled this rescue, but rather the “solidarity of all productive people inspired by technology” .... Without hesitating one day, a politically totally different system (the Union of Soviet Republics) lent fraternal aid to on enemy system (the fascists). And this aid was possible only by means of the most modern means of communcation : “by means of radio !”” . Since broadcasting was so crucial to the rescue’s success, parts of Wolf’s script consisted of wireless transmissions among the various parties; the audience could, as it were, listen to the drama as if it were unfolding over the airwaves. Predictably, the work highlighted the Soviet scenes : the enthusiasm of the radio buff, the overcoming of doubts about the advisability of aiding fascists, and the Russian proletariat’s willingness to work overtime to launch the icebreaker as soon as possible. “SOS” sownplayed the roles of famous individuals like Nobile and focused instead on the common people who made the rescue possible as a collective effort, in the name of international solidarity. Though the rescue of the “Italia” crew seemed made for a radio, it was surprising that the Berlin station aired a work written by a known Communist; indeed, Wolf would soon be fighting highly publicized censorship battles concerning the stage and screen visions of his proabortion play, “Cyankali”. By broadcasting “SOS”, Flesch, the Radio Hour’s new director, made clear his artistic (though not political) preferences. [...] Since German radio studios were “socail products like all other capitalist institutions”, Wolf argued that “if we want to get anything done through them, if we want to make ouselves heard, then we “cannot” shoot “directly” from an open position, but rather we must shoot tactically, in an arc, from a hidden position”. He called his work an “indirect play, which under the mask of literature says everything that cannot yet be said directly on radio”. Wolf’s tactical concessions allowed “SOS” to pass muster and not just at the Radio Hour: the work was produced and aired by several stations throughout Germany. Not only was it one of the outstanding leftist radio plays broadcast in the Weimar era, but it also was a model of the collectivist spirit and the fascination with technology that marked the New Objectivity. (Peter Jelavich)
German comment : « SOS ... Rao rao ... Foyn - Krassin rettet Italia » (64'09), Produktion RRG 1929; Darsteller: Funker des Expeditionsschiffes Cittàdi Ilano: Peter Ihle, Funker in Leningrad: Meinhard Maur, Funker in New York: Robert Aßmann, erster Redakteur: Hugo Schuster, zweiter Redakteur: Fritz Ritter, Trojani: Manfred Fürst, Biagi: Richard Duschinski, Nicolai: Karl-Heinz Stroux, Fjodor: Ernst Busch, verschiedene Anrufer: Erwin Kleist, Bruno Fritz, Robert Aßmann, Peter Ihle, Karl Haas, Fritz Alten, Alfred Braun, Josef Bunzl, Walter Fried, Viktor Heinz, Fuchs, Günther Hadank, Otto Kronburger, Hans Sternberg, Gillis van Rappard, Gustav von Wangenheim. Musik: Walter Goehr, Regie: Alfred Braun. Das Hörspiel beruht auf einer wahren Begebenheit. 1928 hört der russische Funkamateur Nikolai Reinhold Schmidt über einen selbst gebastelten Kurzwellenempfänger den Notruf des Luftschiffs Italia. Beim Flug über den Nordpol ist der italienische Polarforscher Umberto Nobile mit der Italia in einen Schneesturm geraten und nördlich von Spitzbergen abgestürzt. Die Überlebenden treiben auf einer Eisscholle. Eine weltweite Rettungsaktion setzt ein, die ohne das Medium Funk nicht möglich gewesen wäre. Die älteste komplett erhaltene Hörspielproduktion des deutschen Rundfunks macht das Radio und den Funk selbst zum Thema. Der Nordpol-Flug war vom italienischen Duce als faschistische Propaganda-Aktion geplant. Dass ausgerechnet der sowjetische Eisbrecher Krassin die Verunglückten rettete, war für Friedrich Wolf Anlass zu einem Appell an die Weltsolidarität. Die Uraufführung des auch von ausländischen Stationen mit Erfolg gespielten Hörspiels SOS … rao rao … Foyn fand am 8. November 1929 in Köln unter der Regie des damaligen Oberspielleiters Rudolf Rieth und in Berlin unter der Regie von Alfred Braun statt. Die Inszenierung von Alfred Braun ist im Deutschen Rundfunkarchiv erhalten und vermittelt einen authentischen Eindruck von den Realisierungspraktiken der Frühzeit des deutschen Hörspiels. Die Radio-Euphorie der Zwanziger Jahre, die das Hörspiel transportiert, erinnert an den Kommunikationsrausch des Internets der Neunziger.« „Dies Spiel – eine Synthese von Bühne, Funk und Film – wurde geschrieben, weil der Stoff hierzu herausforderte. Die Tragödie des Luftschiffs ‚Italia‘, das vergebliche Suchen sämtlicher großer Funkstationen, die Aufnahme des verstümmelten Hilfrerufes: SOS… rao rao …Foyn durch den selbstgebastelten Kurzwellenapparat des Amateurfunkers Nikolai Schmidt in einem einsamen Dorf im Norden von Murmansk ist wohl das erste Heldenlied unserer Zeit, unserer Technik, unserer Solidarität.“ ». (Friedrich Wolf)
Source : Wolf, Friedrich (1929), “SOS … rao rao … Foyn – Krassin rettet Italia”, In: Bodo Würffel (Hrsg.): Frühe sozialistische Hörspiele. Frankfurt a.M. 1982, pp. 41–66.
Source : Wolf, Friedrich (1929), “SOS … rao rao … Foyn – Krassin rettet Italia - Katastrophe des Luftschiffs ›Italia‹ während des Nordpolfluges. Die ›Pionier Hörspiele‹ beziehen Reportage-Techniken und dokumentarische Elemente als medienzspezifische Elemente mit ein”, Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1930.
Source : Kreuzer, Helmut (2003), “Deutschsprachige Hörspiele 1924–1933” (Vergleich der Pol-Hörspiele von Friedrich Wolf, Walter Erich Schäfer und Arno Schirokauer), Frankfurt a.M., 2003, p. 46 ff.
Source : Jelavich, Peter (2006), "Berlin Alexanderplatz : radio, film, and the death of Weimar culture” University of California Press, 2006, pp. 87-89.
Urls : http://www.zeppelin-museum.de/fileadmin/user_upload/Pressematerial/PM_Altestes_Hoerspiel_der_Welt.doc (last visited ) http://modules.drs.ch/data/attachments/0805_06_spielplan_hoerspiel_drs2.pdf (last visited ) http://www.sos-rao-rao.net/ (last visited )

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