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DocFilm

Ship of Hope - The MS Helgoland during the Vietnam War

The “Helgoland” was a German passenger ship that had been converted into a floating hospital to treat civilian casualties during the Vietnam War. It was the final hope for many people.

The “Helgoland” mission was Germany’s largest-ever humanitarian operation in a foreign war zone. It was also a symbol of political compromise. In December 1965, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson called for German participation in the Vietnam War. The Americans wanted Bonn to deploy several thousand troops to assist their own forces fighting in Vietnam. But Germany refused this request from its American ally and sent a hospital ship to Vietnam instead.

A Floating Hospital with Three Operating Theaters

DRK-Hospitalschiff Helgoland

Hope for civilians: Two nurses from the “MS Helgoland” with a Vietnamese child.

It took just six months to convert the passenger vessel into a hospital ship. Thealmost 100-meter-long ship had enough space for three operating theaters, 150 beds and four medical departments on board. Eight doctors and almost 30 nurses lived in the narrow bunks for months and provided around-the-clock for injured patients. Over five years, from September 1966 until the end of 1971, the “Helgoland” fulfilled its neutral mission of providing medical care for the civilian population in Vietnam, treating anyone who turned up unarmed and as a non-combatant. That meant supporters of the Vietcong and members of the South Vietnamese army were often in adjacent beds. The "Helgoland" is still known for its impartial treatment of all-comers in Vietnam today.

Doctors and Patients Look Back

Vietnamkrieg - Flüchtlingsfrau mit Kindern

The drama of the Vietnam War: a refugee family in 1968.

The “Helgoland’s” mission drew to a close on 31 December 1971,donating all its medical equipment to three Vietnamese hospitals and a leper colony. The German ship disappeared from Vietnam before the war was over. This documentary tells the story of Germany’s largest humanitarian operation in a war zone to date. German doctors and nurses look back on their dangerous mission on board, and their private photos and films from this period allow us to experience events firsthand. Former Vietnamese patients remember the war, their fears and what they called Germany’s “white ship of hope.”


Broadcasting Hours:

DW


THU 30.04.2015 – 22:15 UTC
FRI 01.05.2015 – 06:15 UTC
FRI 01.05.2015 – 13:15 UTC
FRI 01.05.2015 – 17:15 UTC
SAT 02.05.2015 – 04:15 UTC
SAT 02.05.2015 – 10:15 UTC
TUE 05.05.2015 – 16:15 UTC
TUE 05.05.2015 – 20:15 UTC
TUE 05.05.2015 – 23:15 UTC
WED 06.05.2015 – 02:15 UTC
WED 06.05.2015 – 05:15 UTC
WED 06.05.2015 – 08:15 UTC
WED 06.05.2015 – 12:15 UTC

Cape Town UTC +2 | Delhi UTC +5,5 | Hong Kong UTC +8
San Francisco UTC -7 | Edmonton UTC -6 | New York UTC -4

DW (Europe)

FRI 01.05.2015 – 04:15 UTC
FRI 01.05.2015 – 17:15 UTC
SAT 02.05.2015 – 06:15 UTC
SAT 02.05.2015 – 13:15 UTC
TUE 05.05.2015 – 16:15 UTC
TUE 05.05.2015 – 23:15 UTC
WED 06.05.2015 – 02:15 UTC
WED 06.05.2015 – 05:15 UTC
WED 06.05.2015 – 12:15 UTC

London UTC +1 | Berlin UTC +2 | Moscow UTC +3

DW (Arabia)

FRI 01.05.2015 – 04:15 UTC
TUE 05.05.2015 – 23:15 UTC
WED 06.05.2015 – 02:15 UTC
WED 06.05.2015 – 05:15 UTC

Tunis UTC +1 | Cairo UTC + 2 | Dubai UTC +4

DW (Amerika)

FRI 01.05.2015 – 06:15 UTC
WED 06.05.2015 – 08:15 UTC

Vancouver UTC -7 | New York UTC -4 | Sao Paulo UTC -3