In December 1914, as the first Christmas of World War I approached, 101 British women suffragists sent a holiday message “To the Women of Germany and Austria.”
“Some of us wish to send you a word at this sad Christmastide,” it ran. “The Christmas message sounds like mockery to a world at war, but those of us who wished, and still wish, for peace may surely offer a solemn greeting to such of you who feel as we do.”
Though our sons are sent to slay each other, and our hearts are torn by the cruelty of this fate, yet through pain supreme we will be true to our common womanhood. We will let not bitterness enter into this tragedy, made sacred by the life-blood of our best, nor mar with hate the heroism of their sacrifice. Though much has been done on all sides you will, as deeply as ourselves, deplore — shall we not steadily refuse to give credence to those false tales so free told us, each of the other?
We hope it may lessen your anxiety to learn we are doing our utmost to soften the lot of your civilians and war prisoners within our shores, even as we rely on your goodness of heart to do the same for ours in Germany and Austria.
The following spring they received a reply:
If English women alleviated misery and distress at this time, relieved anxiety, and gave help irrespective of nationality, let them accept the warmest thanks of German women and the true assurance that they are and were prepared to do likewise. In war time we are united by the same unspeakable suffering of all nations taking part in the war. Women of all nations have the same love of justice, civilization and beauty, which are all destroyed by war. Women of all nations have the same hatred for barbarity, cruelty and destruction, which accompany every war.
Women, creators and guardians of life, must loathe war, which destroys life. Through the smoke of battle and thunder of cannon of hostile peoples, through death, terror, destruction, and unending pain and anxiety, there glows like the dawn of a coming better day the deep community of feeling of many women of all nations.
It was signed by 155 women of Germany and Austria.