Second International 1916

A Cry from Interned British Women

First Published: between April 1916 and March 1917;
Source: Women’s Dreadnought, p.603;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.

The following pathetic communication has reached us. Comment is needless

Interned at Aylesbury through friendship with V. Chakspadhyaha (Indian) and Dr. Hafis (Afghan), Mrs. M. Eizie and Miss M. Howsin (English), and Miss Meta Brunner (Swiss), Government accuse them of German Associations, they know this to be false, but are terrified of any public suggestion of discontent in India. Absolutely false. Interested solely in Indian Independence. No German sympathies whatever. If the Irish Members are really going into opposition this session it would be well to get some of the English members up on these cases.

Already, Trevelyan, Jowett, Outhwaite, Byles, and O'Grady are interested and keen on the habeas corpus aspect of it. H. M. Hyndman and Holford, of the Nation, know particulars. We believe Government is desperately anxious to keep cases of all persons here secret. In some cases Government has admitted having no charge, but having once interned them, does not wish to let them go, for fear of scandal they might create by giving details of their arrest and subsequent treatment.

Two Belgians are also amongst these, husband of one on active service in Belgian Army, and she is not allowed to write to him. Son of the other one is also on active service in the Belgian Army, and Mrs. Elzie’s son, although only seventeen, is already on active service in the English army, and his mother is not even allowed his address, therefore does not know if he is living or dead.

No prisoner here allowed legal advice or help regarding her interment, except we three Irish who had already fought for it, and were granted this concession before coming here. Some prisoners are allowed solicitors for their private affairs, but contrary to all prison rules a wardress is present during lawyer’s visits, so that the most delicate and private matters have to be discussed before a third party.

There are 24 women in all interned here, of all classes and nationalities, some of them of infamous character – one in particular – an Englishwoman (Piccadilly), who makes no secret of her profession, and was interned because, on account of her commerce with military men, there was danger of her tapping Government and War Office secrets and passing them on to her husband, who is a German waiter. She came here suffering from a loathsome disease, was put to sleep on the same landing, using the same bath, lavatory,. etc., as other prisoners.

Methods of supervision here are absolutely Russian. No mention of condition of place, other prisoners or state of own health allowed either in letters or conversations with visitors.

No visitor allowed who might be suspected of raising the question outside. Every obstacle put in the way of having visitors “approved.” Home Office have black list of undesirables, but don’t want to admit this. Visitors once approved may have permission for writing or visiting cancelled because of sympathetic activities. For example, Holford Knight and in our cases certain Irish priests, Mrs. Darrel Figgis, and Arthur O'Brien, and Mrs. Gonne McBride. ... In cases of prisoners trying to evade restrictions by passing uncensored notes or giving forbidden information – about health, prison, etc., to a visitor, she is punished by loss of letters and visits for a period of three months, or more according to whim of Governor.

Conditions of life here very uncomfortable. Everyone has to do own w, including cooking and washing up. Small cells with only bed and table, and usual prison window. Lavatory accommodation inadequate. No complaints allowed! Above facts are indisputable, and can be proved to the letter. If they are denied demand production of the prisoners.

We have selected above cases of English and friendly aliens, because they can be discussed without arousing the violent prejudice which would certainly be aroused at the mention of Germans. As well as those there are several German ladies of good birth and education. Some of them naturalised English ladies of good birth and education. Some of them naturalised English by reason of their marriage with Englishmen. Widows with no charge whatever made against them. In the meantime their property outside going to ruin or being confiscated, and in some ‘instances – even regarding property – legal help is denied.


The news from Greece shows that, though her Government still clings to neutrality, the Allies have arrogated to themselves a tyrannical overlordship at Athens. They have deported the representatives of Germany, Austria, Bulgaria and Turkey who, in the natural course of events, would have remained in Athens until and unless war should be declared between their Governments and that of Greece. The Entente has also demanded from the Greek- Government all its artillery, rifles and munitions “in excess of the requirements of the armed forces of the State of Athens.” None but the Greeks have the right to decide what arms Athens needs. We should like to see the disarmament of all nations, but disarmament forced on a people by a stronger Power will only intensify the desire to arm.

It cannot profit the people of Britain that Greece should be drawn into the War. What we need is that the War should be stopped!

* * *

Lord Bryce, at the English Mayflower Club, expressed admiration of the way in which the American Election had been conducted.

He did not refer to the fact that three million women were voters in the election. He said we “love freedom and desire to see it everywhere prevail,” yet his name was appearing attached to a Press manifesto protesting against political freedom for women.. He added that hitherto the United States had kept free of entangling alliances but urged that ii should join a league of peace-loving nations. There can be no genuine League of Peace that does not include all nations ; if any are excluded from it, it will be but another sectional alliance and instead of being a League of Peace .h will ultimately prove a- League of War.


Sir Wilfred Lauder, ex-Prime Minister of Canada and Liberal leader has announced his conversion to votes for women, he said, five years ago, whilst on a visit to this country, he watched the suffrage procession of 40,000 women in London, “I was, moved by the spectacle, by the intensity of their earnestness. I felt that if I had been in the British Parliament I would have voted at once women suffrage.”