On this day in 1915 the British ocean liner R.M.S. Lusitania was torpedoed by a German submarine.
For those who might be interested, here is a piece I wrote about ocean liners and the Anglo-German rivalry in the years before World War I:
As I wrote in the introduction:
The famous transatlantic ocean liners of the early 20th century were important national symbols in the rivalry between Britain and Germany.
Or at least, that’s the traditional view.
But the construction and interior design of these ships indicate that their owners were actually more concerned with profits than with patriotism. While the shipping lines may have paid lip service to nationalism, especially when it helped them win public support and government subsidies, their real motivation was a simple desire to appeal to fare-paying passengers.
An examination of ships like the Mauretania, Lusitania, Olympic, Titanic, Imperator, Vaterland, and others reveal a striking dichotomy between the way the ships were described at the time and the way they were actually designed.