On Friday, 7th May, 1915, the the German U-boat U-20, torpedoed and sank the Cunard ocean liner RMS Lusitania, resulting in the loss of 1,198 lives.
The sinking was met with international outrage.
It turned many nations against Germany, and was also a contributing factor in America’s decision to enter the First World War two years later.
Newspapers were universal in their condemnation of the act, including The Suffragette, which, on Friday, 11th June, 1915 published an article which made a surprising comparison between Germany’s act of war and the unknown miscreant who, in 1888, had perpetrated the Whitechapel murders:-
A “JACK THE RIPPER” NATION
“That Germany would offer excuses for the villainy of which she has been guilty in sinking the Lusitania no one could have had much doubt. The deed itself shows that Germany has sunk too low in the moral scale to be able to confess even so manifest a wickedness as this crime of her blood-lust.
But what in far different circumstances would be amusing is the plea that Germany is putting forth that she warned all and sundry of what she intended to do, and therefore not Germany but- Germany’s victims are to blame for disregarding the warning.
WARNINGS OF THE MURDERS
Some years ago there haunted the streets of London a somewhat mysterious criminal who was subsequently found to be suffering from one of the most terrible mental aberrations known to alienists.
One of the features of Jack the Ripper’s crimes was that he always preceded them by scrawling in chalk on some street wall a warning to the police that some poor wretch was about to be sacrificed. This notice doubtless soothed what little conscience disease had left the murderous beast in human shape; it was a sure sign of the nature of his crimes, arising from egoism gone mad and megalomania brought to the point of lunacy.
We commend the analogy to the German people and to their sympathisers here and in America.
NOT MENTIONED IN WARNINGS
The excuses that the Lusitania was an armed vessel, that she carried reservists, or that she brought munitions of war in her holds are clearly afterthoughts. Because, had they been otherwise, the facts as alleged would have been mentioned in the warning advertisement issued in America on behalf of the German Government.
The advertisement said nothing of the sort, so that, as usual, Germans are lying in an endeavour to cover their terrible sin. One word more – and we say it for the benefit of sympathisers with Germany – “Jack the Ripper” was, in the end found to be a man who once had been highly cultured.
DECADENT AND DEMENTED
Evidently a nation, like an individual, can become decadent and demented, when we see the people that produced Goethe and Schiller, Lessing and Heine, and all the noble band of great Germans producing the “Jack the Ripper” murderers of the Lusitania.”