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Edith Cavell, the heroine who lives on in Hillbrow

Edith Cavell statue in London. pic: Alec Hogg

By Alec Hogg

London has many statues, all with interesting stories. Among my favourites is Edith Cavell, whose name lives on through the busy Johannesburg street named after her, was a nurse during World War One. She ran a nursing school in Brussels which treated soldiers from both sides.

Cavell was arrested by the Germans after helping 200 Allied soldiers escape Belgium, and was sentenced to death for treason. Despite an international uproar, she was duly executed by a firing squad on October 12, 1915.

The part of her story that lives on strongest is what she wrote the night before her death: “Patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness for anyone.”

Given how much that sounds like the South African whose 100th “birthday” is less than a month away, it’s appropriate that Cavell’s statue looks towards South Africa House. And Trafalgar Square where so many demonstrated so often for Madiba’s release.

Biznews community member Alexander Smith

I am in my early 70s and a retired bank manager (not of the Banker Extraordinaire kind!).  However, I do enjoy your homilies and other writings.

As a teenager living in the South I ventured into another world (Hillbrow) and soon came across that rather indescript street named Edith Cavell. My parents rented a room to an elderly woman who told me the story of Edith’s sacrifice.

Thanks for reminding us of her deeds. At that time I saw a movie “Carve her name with pride” a portrayal of Odette Churchill who took on the Nazis. The world has its heroines and heroes and desperate times usually throws up such brave persons. Let us hope in our time of relative peace but in a desperate economy our country produces them.

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