Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Print Block-Object of the Fortnight 16/7/2014
The object of the fortnight is an image taken from a print block of some of the delegates from the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) at their 1919 conference in Zurich.The women in the picture are: Antia Augspurg, Charlotte Despard, Rosa Genoni, Alice Hamilton, Lida Gustava Haymann and Leapolding Kulka. This image is taken from a printing block both are currently on display in the WWI gallery at the Museum.
History of the WILPF
The WILPF was established in 1915, it was first known as the ‘International Committee of Women for Permanent Peace’. 1,200 women from various countries and cultures gathered together for their first Conference during the First World War. This was held at The Hague and they discussed the causes of war. The second conference was then held in Zurich in May 1919. Here it was decided that the league should be permanent and the name was changed to what it is known as now ‘WILPF.’
The outcomes of the conference were that it reaffirmed the WILPF international links and that they denounced the final terms of the peace treaty ending First World War. They saw it as a scheme of revenge and (prophetically) felt this treatment would only lead to another war.
The conference itself had some issues. It had to be held in Switzerland because the French government refused to allow the German women entry. Some delegates also felt that the German women should give an apology for the part their nation played in starting the war.
The Women in the League
Anita Augspurg – a German woman who received a doctorate in law from Zurich University. She was a well-established member of the women’s movement.
Lida Gustava Heymann – also German. She taught at a charity school. She was active in the Germans women’s movement and met Augspurg in Berlin at an international congress for women. The two worked and lived together for the rest of their lives.
Charlotte Despard – a British woman who was a suffragette and novelist. She formed another organisation, ‘The Women’s Peace Crusade’ which opposed all wars.
Rosa Genoni – an Italian fashion designer, social journalist and lecturer who opposed the war. Alice Hamilton – an American women. She was a pioneer in industrial medicine.
Lepoldina Kolka – from Austria-Hungary. She advocated transnational female solidarity against national chauvinism.
The League today
There are now WILPF groups in 32 countries and this expands every day. The women are now involved campaign against militarism, racism, economic injustice and human rights violations. They are very well respected, and are consulted by several United Nations agencies.
Written by Charlotte Hall. Charlotte joined The Peace Museum in May 2014 as a collections intern. Charlotte has been leading a location audit of the collections and helped install and research objects in the newly developed WWI gallery. Charlotte is studying a Masters in Museum and Art Gallery studies at the University of Manchester.