In 1914, Edith Cavell had already finished her nurse training and was giving four lectures a week to doctors and nurses, taking care for her friend’s daughter who was a morphia addict, a runaway girl, and also her two dogs. She lived a fairly mundane and busy life as a nurse; however, that changed on August 3rd, 1914 when she was back in Brussels dispatching the Dutch and German nurse homes and also making sure everyone knew that his or her first duty as a nurse was to take care for the wounded irrespective of nationality. The place she worked in became a Red Cross Hospital and so she treated anyone – including the Germans and Belgians. With war going on – Brussels fell and so the Germans commanded for the wounded and sixty nurses to go back home. Edith Cavell was one of the two people who remained in Brussels. By autumn of 1914, two stranded British soldiers discovered Edith Cavell’s training school and stayed there for two weeks. Others followed suit and then came the birth of an ‘underground’ lifeline created by the Prince and Princess de Croy at a chateau at Mons.
Within this ‘underground’ lifeline, about two hundred allied soldiers were helped to escape and this secret organization lasted for one year, despite all the risks. Many of those who took part in this dangerous covert ‘mission’ knew that once they were caught for harboring allied soldiers, they’d definitely die. And Edith Cavell was one of them. Although Edith Cavell knew better to not stay involves, as she was a ‘protected’ member of the Red Cross, she made the strong decision to sacrifice her own life for the sake of her fellow men – her country. She thought her action to protect and hide the allied soldiers to be the same as tending for the sick and wounded. Edith Cavell knew very well of the consequences and by august 1915, only just a year after all the events; someone from Belgian found out and uncovered the truth. Her nursing school was searched at the same time as the soldiers escaped out through the back garden.
Edith Cavell was calm throughout the whole search and not a single bit of evidence was found of such actions. She had managed through the year of keeping her ‘underground’ activities well hidden. Nurse Cavell may have been successful of not getting caught; the group of soldiers that had escaped was not. On July 31st, 1915, two members who were escaping were caught and arrested. Five days later, Edith Cavell was arrested and ready to be interrogated. After hearing that several people had already confessed, she too admitted to all the charges against her and confessed. Following the confession, she was going to be executed. United Stated and Spain heard the news about Edith Cavell and tried their hardest to commute her sentence, but failed to do so.
And so on October 13th, 1915, Edith Cavell was sentenced to death for hiding and protecting allied soldiers. It was revealed that Edith Cavell was very willing to use anything in her power to save the soldiers. She has said she would have rather died and sacrificed herself than have the soldiers get shot. Her whole life, she had been trained to protect others and heal them and even risk her own life – and so she did. On the night before her execution, Edith Cavell had said to Reverend Horace Graham one of her now most famous quotes: “I realize that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred of bitterness towards anyone.” Her execution led people in the United States and Great Britain to form an anti-German group. They used her as a heroic martyr to the war and honored with a statue.
“British nurse Edith Cavell executed .” 2013. The History Channel website. Oct 31 2013, 7:00 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/british-nurse-edith-cavell-executed. “War Declared.” War Declared. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Oct. 2013. http://www.revdc.net/cavell/page41.html
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Topic: Edith Cavell
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