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Edith Cavell

Edith Cavell
Ink and watercolor on 9″ x 12″ watercolor paper

Edith Cavell (1865-1915) was a nurse who put her own safety at risk to save the lives of soldiers and civilians during the First World War. Cavell grew up in England, the eldest of four children of a reverend. She spent her adult life as a nurse, first in London, then in 1907 she moved to Brussels to be the matron of a nursing school. Within a year she was a training nurse for multiple hospitals and schools in Belgium.

In 1914 the Germans occupied Brussels and Cavell began sheltering Allied soldiers and funneling them back to Britain, while also caring for German soldiers. She’s believed to have helped around 200 Allied troops escape before she was caught by the Germans. Edith was jailed for ten weeks for treason awaiting judgment. During the time of her imprisonment multiple Allied ambassadors pleaded with the Germans to show leniency, but she was ultimately found guilty and executed.

The Allies propagandized her case and her story became one of the chief recruiting tools they had and helped sway sentiment towards their side, while the Germans held that it was a clear-cut case and they acted within the confines of the laws of that time. The night before her execution, Edith told her chaplain, “Patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.” In the final review, she set partisanship aside and instead cared for all of humanity, saving the lives of any who needed her.