Three years after the Titanic disaster,  another equally horrific sinking of another luxury liner occurred: that of the Lusitania. This ship, however, was not the accidental victim of Mother Nature, but the calculated target of an Imperial German submarine, or U-boat, during World War I.

At the time,  the United States held a firm neutral stance towards the conflict raging overseas between the European powers.  Despite the war, sea voyages to and  from Great Britain to North America continued, in the belief that civilian crafts would not be considered military targets. Even when the German Embassy published a warning in 50 American newspapers, declaring that “vessels flying the flag of Great Britain, or any of her allies, are liable to destruction… and that travellers sailing in the war zone on the ships of Great Britain or her allies do so at their own risk,“  1,959  passengers and a crew of 696 set out from New York on May 1, 1915 for Liverpool, England.

On May 7, the ship neared the coast of Ireland. That afternoon, a torpedo fired by a

U-boat slammed into her side. The wounded ship took only eighteen minutes to sink: most passengers never had a chance to reach the lifeboats. 1,119 people died that day, including 128 Americans. This tragedy was one of the events that caused the United States to eventually enter the war.

Source: “A German U-Boat Sinks the Lusitania : May 7, 1915.” Global Events: Milestone Events Throughout History. Ed. Jennifer Stock. Vol. 6: North America. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale, 2014. U.S. History in Context. Web

To learn more about the Lusitania, click here  and here.



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