Welcome, fellow genealogists! My blog will teach you about U.S. land records and United Kingdom research. My family has roots in Niagara County, New York; Norfolk, England; and northeast Germany.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Wisdom Wednesday – Lusitania Sinks 7 May 1915

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, the Lusitania sank one hundred years ago tomorrow. I hope my post will beat the deluge of bloggers commenting. This ship lives in American myth and legend. Most historians and genealogists would love to know more and love to know the real story.

Here are some facts from the RMS Lusitania website:

-Owned by Cunard Company, Lusitania was launched of 7 Jun 1906. She would make 101 round-trip voyages (or 202 crossings) during her 7-year-and-9-month career.

-On 7 May 1915, there were about 2000 people on board and 1200 perished. The wreck of the Lusitania lies at 51°25N 8°33W, about 300 feet underwater and approximately 11 miles south of the Old Head of Kinsale, Ireland.

Lusitania was carrying a great number of Americans and women and children as well as war materiel for the British Army. The sinking of the Lusitania and resulting deaths of civilians and neutral nationals aboard the ship is considered one of the first modern examples of “total war” and a turning point in World War I.

Many Americans believe that the Lusitania disaster was the tipping point that caused this country to enter the First World War. However, most historians do not agree. The sinking of the steamship is often credited for turning American public opinion against the Axis Powers. Germany, fearing American wrath, restrained itself in submarine warfare, which may have been its best chance to win the war.  “Yet, it was Germany’s very resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare in early 1917 (in addition to the decoding of the Zimmerman Telegram) that finally forced the United States to declare war.” From www.rmslusitania.info

I am anticipating reading the new book timed to appear for the centennial, Dead Wake by Erik Larson, the author of Devil in the White City and In the Garden of Beasts. According to the review by Alexandra Alter in the New York Times, it took Larson five years to do the research, always a good sign. He was able to find war telegrams, love letters, diaries and autopsy reports.   It is available from the usual online and bricks and mortar book sellers.

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