For amateur historians and trivia collectors everywhere

Location: Masterton, New Zealand

I survived school history despite the best efforts of the education system to bore me to death. Many years later, I discovered Treaties, dates, the movement of nations, are mere context. The fascination is in the details.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Belgium 1915. On this day, English nurse Edith Cavell was executed by a German firing squad. 'The Great World War, A History', Vol. 5 - written too close to the event to be objective - said

".... the utter inability of Prussian militarism to understand why the shooting of Nurse Cavell should have sent a thrill of horror and disgust throughout the civilized world .... was the most damning commentary on German Kultur since the sinking of the Lusitania. ....
The charge brought against Miss Cavell was that she had sheltered fugitive British and French soldiers and helped them, as well as some young Belgians, to escape across the frontier into Holland. This, apparently, was freely admitted by Miss Cavell, who, scorning to conceal anything, furnished her accusers with information which she alone could have given, and probably sealed her fate.
She had, it is true, violated a military law, and incurred some penalty, possibly imprisonment until the end of the war. But this was no drum-head court martial on a field of battle. This was Brussels, where.... the Germans claimed to have established orderly rule comparable with their own government, and to have appointed a Civil Governor. And their victim was no unknown adventuress, without a claim on their generous consideration, but one who had proved a good Samaritan to many a wounded German since the beginning of the war."

All true according to the values of the time. Of course, what the Gestapo would have done to her in the Second World War doesn't bear thinking about.


Post a Comment

<< Home