Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Today -100: January 14, 1915: What wife or mother does not better love a dead hero than a living shirker?

Earthquake in central Italy destroys the town of Avezzano and kills 12,000 people.

Austria’s Foreign Minister Count Leopold von Berchtold is forced out. Others in government thought he was offering too much to Italy to try to keep it out of the war (they’re claiming he’s retiring for personal reasons, of course). He is replaced by the more hardline Baron Stephan Freiherr Burián von Rajecz.

The Servian legation in London informs the press that Servia would now like to be called Serbia. In fact, they say, the former spelling, the only one I’ve come across up until now, “is highly offensive to our people, because it suggests a false derivation from the Latin root meaning ‘to serve.’ It is a source of hidden pain to Serbians to see that some journals persist in using the corrupt forms.” They’d also like to hear the Serbian national hymn played more often.

Cuba has finally decided to start its own currency (which the US Mint will make for them).

The national convention in Mexico reappoints Gen. Eulalio Gutiérrez as provisional president, to serve out the rest of Díaz’s term (Díaz! that’s like four or five presidents ago!), until November 1916.

The Russian Council of Empire is reorganized, with anyone with German names replaced. Most of those men were officials in Russian Poland.

Russia is expelling all Germans and Austrians aged 16 to 60 from Petrograd and parts of Russia along its western borders.

Carrie Chapman Catt points out that many of the Southern congresscritters who claimed they voted against the women’s suffrage amendment because they believedin state’s rights were somehow able to bring themselves to vote for a prohibition amendment. Funny, that.

Christabel Pankhurst gives a speech at Carnegie Hall. There was some heckling, interjected questions which she responded to. One of the hecklers was playwright August Strindberg’s widow (I think this means his divorced second wife, who was Austrian, rather than his third); another was Edith Ellis, the (lesbian) wife of sexologist Havelock Ellis.

Christabel begins by placing the war in some sort of continuity with her own pre-war militant suffrage tactics: “We are here to-night to consider the militancy in which some countries are engaged for the sake of ideals which are as precious to America as they are to Europe itself.”

She notes that “We British women have not yet entered into our inheritance, but that inheritance exists, having been won for us by our forefathers and foremothers. That Mr. Asquith has not handed over our inheritance to us will not blind us to the fact that the Kaiser, if he could, would destroy it altogether. Why, the men in Germany have not got real votes yet. If the men of Germany had followed the example of the British suffragettes and agitated for full political liberty in Germany, that would have been a better policy than attacking the free and freedom-loving nations of Europe. ... We know now where anti-suffragism has its home. We know where it has its real leader. It has its home in Berlin and its leader in the Kaiser. Our Prime Ministers can be changed, but you can never change the House of Hohenzollern.”

She hasn’t buried her enmity towards Asquith, who she accuses of having kept secret the fact that Germany announced two years before the war that it intended to dominate all of Europe. I have no idea what she’s talking about here.

Asked about Britain’s not-so-democratic ally Russia, she claims that everything tyrannical about Russia is actually an import from Prussia, whose influence “has brought out all the worst in Russian life and has repressed all the best in Russian life.” “The Russian people know how to fight for freedom, and the Germans don’t.”

Echoing that War Office ad from yesterday, she says the women of Britain want their menfolk to fight: “what wife or mother does not better love a dead hero than a living shirker?”

Finally, she suggests that the peace movement in the US is being got up by German agents.

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