Friday, 27 March 2009

Bands of Hope

Temperance Societies was recruiting young children at the time of the Great War. Lily Siebenhüner, whose pledge certificate this is, was born in 1908, so would only have been six when it was issued. Her nephew John Walling is a member of the congregation at St George’s, Bradley, and he gave me the certificate on Sunday because he knew it would fascinate me.

The Blenheim at the top appears to indicate that the particular Band of Hope branch was that at Blenheim Chapel in Leeds; the great Methodist preacher Dr Leslie Weatherhead was Minister there in the 1930s before beginning his famous ministry at the City Temple in London. The illustration of children safely clinging to their sober mother is quite a feature too.

But what interest me most is the way her German surname has been updated with a new English surname in ballpoint scoring out the original name. John has written interestingly about the internment of German nationals during the Great War including her father (his grandfather). This was one aspect of the anti-German feeling which made the Royal Family adopt the name Windsor in 1917 and led to German Shepherd dogs being called Alsatians. Oswald was in fact her father’s forename (so he became Oswald Oswald, but probably not until after his release after the end of the war).

All in all, an extraordinary amount of social history from just one card. John’s book is The Internment and Treatment of German Nationals during the 1st World War 2005 (ISBN 0-952-38482-5), and he has also wrote last year about Oswald and Lily’s wider family in Coming Home 2008 (ISBN 978-0952-3948-3-0).

Meanwhile 80% of those who voted in yesterday’s Council by-election in this Ward did so for one of the three mainstream parties, and it was the Liberal Democrat who was elected; the by-election was caused by the death of his Liberal Democrat predecessor, and it is the largest party in the Council. There does seem to be a democratic deficit when three quarters of registered voters don’t vote and there are multiple candidates in a ‘first past the post’ system so a local Councillor can be elected by a clear margin but in fact only have the direct support of 9% of the registered electors.

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