Saturday, April 18, 2015

Lusitania Diary Now Published

It took more than 107 years to publish Lusitania Diary. For most of that time the slender, red booklet was tucked away in the attic of a family home in the American Midwest. This year, the 4,000 word diary was fully translated from Danish to English, revealing an eyewitness account of a trans-Atlantic voyage on the doomed British ocean liner. Christian Fredericksen travelled with his little sister when the ship was still new. Seven years after their safe passage, the Lusitania was sent to the bottom of the sea, sunk by a German submarine with an appalling loss of life. The international incident brought the United States one step closer to entering World War One. By coincidence, it was in the centennial year of that maritime tragedy when two of the American immigrant’s grandsons had the diary translated. In his own words, Christian speaks of the hardships, the joys, the onboard lifestyle and his impressions of the cultural diversity on the world’s largest emigrant ship. Frankly, some of it he found morally repugnant. The journal is a snapshot in time, an accurate depiction of two weeks in 1907. It includes the author’s observations of the primitive American countryside he watched pass by, as he travelled by train half way across the continent. Lusitania Diary is a priceless document for researchers and casual fans of historical nonfiction; for Americans, Danes and all of us who can relate to a bygone emigrant story.