Death to Militarism! / Død over militarismen

written by Jamie on March 20, 2013 in Europeana 1914-1918 with no comments

Women’s Peace Party (the later “Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom”, WILPF), was founded in 1915 as a reaction to the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914. This association was founded at the Women’s Peace Conference in The Hague, which was attended by several Danish women, including Thora Daugaard (1874-1951), Eline Hansen (1859-1919), Clara Tybjerg (1864-1941), Louise Wright (1861-1935) and Eva Moltesen (1871-1934).

Eline Hansen (1859-1919), teacher, school kitchen responsible, advocate of feminism and in 1916 co-founder of "Danish Women's Peace Chain" (Danske Kvinders Fredskæde). Photo: Gebhardt & Matzen

Eline Hansen (1859-1919), teacher, school dinner lady, advocate of feminism and in 1916 co-founder of “Danish Women’s Peace Chain” (Danske Kvinders Fredskæde). Photo: Gebhardt & Matzen

All of these came all from the middle classes –  typically independent women, but with different political and religious backgrounds: Tybjerg and Hansen were both school teachers and candidates for the Social-Liberal Party; Moltesen, was an author and candidate for the Danish Liberals in 1918 (the very first election in Denmark in which women got the right to stand for Parliament and to vote); Daugaard was an editor; and Wright was a philanthropist of a Christian background.  Despite these differences, the women engaged themselves in common activities for peace. In 1916 they founded a Danish branch of Women’s Peace Party, Danish Women’s Peace Chain (Danske kvinder Fredskæde), and very successfully recruited members not just from among their peers, but also from the typically social-democrat women of the working class, including Henriette Crone (1874-1933), chairman of the Women’s Printing Union.

Henriette Crone (1874-1933), chairman of Women's Printing Union, c. 1910

Henriette Crone (1874-1933), chair of Women’s Printing Union, c. 1910

The Danish Women’s Peace Chain was not a pacifist movement. In the journal Kvinden og Samfundet (“Woman and Society”) as well as in various pamphlets, it was made clear that the Peace Chain “isn’t an association opposed to the national defence”, and that the members “on a par with women in other countries will devote themselves to the duty of upholding the independence of their country”. It is probably fair to define the movement as “defencist” – as expressed by the British historian, Martin Ceadel, i.e. accepting a Danish defence – but only in case of a breach of the peace from abroad.

Antimilitarist demonstration. Unknown photographer

Antimilitarist demonstration. Unknown photographer

The Danish peace movement had a tradition for such a policy of defensive neutrality. Likewise Fredrik Bajer (1837-1922), founder of Association for a Neutralized Denmark (Foreningen til Danmarks Nevtralisering) in 1882 and the later Danish Peace Movement (Dansk Fredsforening), was of the conviction that Denmark had to defend its neutrality by military means. In a broader perspective, though, he had an optimistic view on progress and nurtured the almost evolutionary idea that wars were about to be replaced by legal disputes. Violent, military confrontations were concepts from a remote, barbaric past. But by the end of the1800s he still advocated for the need of safeguarding peace by military means. As a consequence of the outbreak of the First World War, Bajer’s dream of peace was destroyed, and he withdrew from the peace movement.

Fredrik Bajer (1837-1922), author, teacher and, in 1882, founder of Association for a Neutralized Denmark (later: Danish Peace Movement). In 1908 awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Unknown photographer.

Fredrik Bajer (1837-1922), author, teacher and, in 1882, founder of Association for a Neutralized Denmark (later: Danish Peace Movement). In 1908 awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Unknown photographer.

Yet, Danish Peace Movement lived on and – quite tragicomically – ended up in a harsh distpute with the newly established association, when a number of members critizised  the foundation of Danish Women’s Peace Chain. For several years this battle was fought through the columns of Fredsbladet (the “Peace Journal”) in a barrage of arguments for and against one united or a number of smaller movements. Even as late as 1918 Henriette Beenfeldt (1878-1949) wrote, “Through the Danish Peace Movement we will seriously hinder our common noble aim if we don’t stop the discussion about this very soon and hereafter with sympathy look upon the foundation of the new movements, let alone the fact that such approach will serve us to a much greater honour”.

In short, neither the Danish Peace Movement nor Danish Women’s Peace Chain were basically pacifist movements and, at least from the outset, didn’t question the general conscript as did the syndicalists and members of the National League of Consistent Antimilitarists.  Other politicsans also argued against war, such as the liberal politician Peter Munch (1870-1948) who advocated the solution of conflicts through parliamentary negociations, arbitration and disarmament. Both he and the liberal internationalism, as pointed out by the Danish historian Karen Gram-Skjoldager, supported the rise of the pacifist movements in Europe and Russia through their antimilitarism.

 

P. Munch (1870-1948)

P. Munch (1870-1948), liberal Minister of Defence from 1913 to 1920 leading the official Danish policy of neutrality. Unknown photographer.

For Munch, however, the outbreak of WW1 also meant the collapse of the grand illusions. In 1916, when Danish Women’s Peace Chain was founded, he was certainly Minister of Defence in a neutral Denmark, but at the same time in a country that spent an enormous amount of resources on defending this neutrality. Munch was responsible for a defence force of 50,000 men and the further development of a major fortification around Copenhagen (from Klampenborg in the north to Sydamager in the south). In his memoirs he himself  agued, “From a bright time of progress in which our peace initiatives could be developed in a climate of relative security, we were forced into a climate of misfortune and hatred marked by complete insecurity”.

 

Mette Kia Krabbe Meyer, Research Librarian, Department of Maps, Prints and Photographs, Royal Library

Død over militarismen

Women’s Peace Party (senere Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, WILPF), blev grundlagt i 1915 som en reaktion på 1. Verdenskrigs udbrud i august 1914. Foreningen blev stiftet på Kvindefredskongressen i Haag, og i kongressen deltog flere danske kvinder, deriblandt med stor sandsynlighed Thora Daugaard (1874-1951), Eline Hansen (1859-1919), Clara Tybjerg (1864-1941), Louise Wright (1861-1935) og Eva Moltesen (1871-1934).

Eline Hansen (1859-1919), teacher, school kitchen responsible, advocate of feminism and in 1916 co-founder of "Danish Women's Peace Chain" (Danske Kvinders Fredskæde). Photo: Gebhardt & Matzen

Eline Hansen (1859-1919), lærerinde, skolekøkkeninspektør, aktiv i kvindesagen, medstifter af Danske Kvinders Fredskæde i 1916. Fotograf: Gebhardt & Matzen.

Det var kvinder fra borgerskabet, de fleste med eget erhverv, men de havde forskellige politiske og religiøse baggrunde. Tybjerg og Hansen var skolelærere og Radikale, Moltesen, forfatter og opstillet for Venstre i 1918 (det første valg, hvor kvinder havde opstillings- og stemmeret), Daugaard var redaktør, og Wright kristent funderet filantrop. Til trods for disse forskelligheder engagerede kvinderne sig i et fælles fredsarbejde. I 1916 grundlagde de en dansk afdeling af Women’s Peace Party, Danske Kvinders Fredskæde, og fik succes med at hverve medlemmer ikke blot fra deres eget sociale lag, men også blandt arbejderklassens socialdemokratiske kvinder, deriblandt formanden for De kvindelige Trykkeriarbejderes Fagforening, Henriette Crone (1874-1933).

Henriette Crone (1874-1933), chairman of Women's Printing Union, c. 1910

Henriette Crone (1874-1933), formand for De kvindelige Trykkeriarbejderes Fagforening. Ca. 1910.

Danske Kvinders Fredskæde var ikke en pacifistisk forening. I tidsskriftet Kvinden og Samfundet og i forskellige tryksager understreges det, at Fredskæden ikke er en anti-forsvars forening, og at medlemmerne ”ligesaa fuldt som andre Landes Kvinder vil bringe de største Ofre for at bevare deres Lands Selvstændighed”. Vi skal formentlig forstå foreningen som ”defencist” – med den britiske professor, Martin Ceadels betegnelse, dvs. som accepterende et dansk forsvar – men udelukkende i tilfælde af udenlandsk angreb.

Antimilitarist demonstration. Unknown photographer

Antimilitarisk demonstration. Fotograf ubekendt.

Der var tradition for en sådan defensiv neutralitetspolitik i den danske fredsbevægelse. Fredrik Bajer (1837-1922), der i 1882 stiftede Foreningen til Danmarks Nevtralisering, senere kaldet Dansk Fredsforening, mente også, at Danmark skulle forsvare sin neutralitet militært. Set i et længere perspektiv havde han ganske vist en fremskridtsoptimistisk og nærmest evolutionær tro på, at krige ville afløses af retslige tvister, og at voldelige, militære konfrontationer hørte en fjern, barbarisk fortid til. Men i slutningen af 1800-tallet havde han en tro på, at der var behov for en militær sikring af freden. 1. Verdenskrigs udbrud aflivede Bajers fredsutopi, og han trak sig ud af fredarbejdet.

Dansk Fredsforening bestod imidlertid og kom tragikomisk nok i konflikt med den ny forening, fordi flere medlemmer kritiserede Danske Kvinders Fredskædes oprettelse. Slaget stod gennem en årrække i Fredsbladet, hvor argumenterne for og i mod én stor eller flere små foreninger føg frem og tilbage.  Så sent som i 1918 skrev Henriette Beenfeldt (1878-1949): ”Vi indenfor Dansk Fredsforening vil staa vort fælles smukke Formaal alvorligt i vejen om vi ikke snarest indstiller Diskussionen herom og herefter med Sympati ser de nye Sammenslutninger opstaa, rent bortset fra, at en saadan Optræden vil tjene os til langt større Hæder”.

Hverken Dansk Fredsforening eller Danske Kvinders Fredskæde var altså i udgangspunktet pacifistiske og satte f.eks. ikke indledningsvis spørgsmålstegn ved værnepligten således som syndikalister og medlemmerne af Landsforeningen for Konsekvente Antimilitarister gjorde det.

Eller således som forskellige politikere faktisk havde gjort det i tiden op til 1. Verdenskrig. Den radikale P. Munch (1870-1948) var således før verdenskrigen fortaler for konfliktløsning gennem parlamentarisme, voldgift og nedrustning. Han og den radikale internationalisme knyttede, som den danske historiker Karen Gram-Skjoldager har påpeget, an til en pacifistisk opblomstring i Europa og Rusland med deres antimilitarisme.

P. Munch (1870-1948)

P. Munch (1870-1948), radikal forsvarsminister i perioden 1913-1920 og i spidsen for den danske neutralitetspolitik. Fotograf ubekendt.

For Munch blev 1. Verdenskrigs udbrud imidlertid også de store illusioners sammenbrud. I 1916, da Danske Kvinders Fredskæde blev stiftet, var han ganske vist forsvarsminister i det neutrale Danmark, men samtidig et land, der brugte enorme ressourcer på at forsvare sin neutralitet. Munch administrerede således en sikringsstyrke på 50.000 mand og et fæstningsanlæg under udbygning fra Klampenborg til Sydamager. Han skrev selv i sine erindringer: ”Fra en lys fremgangstid, hvor (fred)arbejdet kunne øves i rimelig tryghed, gik vi over til en ulykkernes og hadets tid, hvor alt var utryghed”.

Defence forces at the barracks in Sølvgade (Copenhagen), 1914. Unknown photographer.

Sikringsstyrker ved Sølvgades kaserne, 1914. Fotograf ubekendt.

Trenches along Strandvejen (northern outskirts of Copenhagen), 1914. Photo: Holger Damgaard.

Skyttegrav ved Strandvejen, 1914. Fotograf Holger Damgaard.

 – Mette Kia Krabbe Meyer, Research Librarian, Department of Maps, Prints and Photographs, Royal Library