Saturday, December 18, 2010

Edith Cavell by Diane Souhami

Review in the Financial Times:
The British nurse Edith Cavell worked as part of a Belgian resistance network during the first world war, operating from the training school she had been recruited to set up in Brussels in 1907. The Germans had turned her school into a Red Cross hospital, where she and her nurses treated German soldiers as well as French, Belgian and British. Cavell was asked to help injured British soldiers by resistance leaders who were members of the Belgian aristocracy. She hid soldiers in the hospital, and provided false papers, guides and safe houses en route to Holland.

The school, however, came under increasing scrutiny and suspicion until Cavell and several of her colleagues were arrested. She was tricked into making a false confession; a hasty trial followed, conducted in German, culminating in the death sentence. A series of diplomatic blunders and a lethargic response on the part of the US ambassador in Brussels were insufficient to divert proceedings and Cavell, along with her colleague Philippe Baucq, were executed at dawn on October 12 1915 at the national rifle range outside Brussels.

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