A book of letters written by a young American girl named Lilian McCarron to her sister detailing a trip she made around Europe in the latter half of 1913. A year later and Europe would be plunged into the beginnings of the First World War which would last 4 years and claim the lives of more than 9 million soldiers and devastate the lands on which it was played out. A certain sense of dramatic irony permeates the diary entries now, in which she describes the "pleasant" and "charming" cities of France and Germany, knowing as we do the horrors that would come in the following years. McCarron spends a large proportion of the trip in Germany, and in particular Berlin, arriving there only a few days after a military airship (a Zeppelin, the kind which would be instrumental in WW1) had crashed killing many experienced German Navy personnel. Her trip also coincided with the Empress's birthday which saw much of the army on the streets, a sight which gave McCarron the impression that Berlin was a "city of militia", an unintended allusion perhaps to the increasing militarisation of Germany that preceded the outbreak of the war.
For another account of travelling through Europe in 1913 see the book Travel Films: being pen pictures of Europe. In one part the author describes making "a delightful excursion into East and West Flanders where we have been able to dream of the medieval past in Ghent and Bruges, and see the frivolities of fashion in Ostend, the unrivalled queen of watering places."
December 29, 2013