The Battle for Berlin, Ontario
An Historical Drama
Paper 192 pp.
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In August 1914, Berlin, Ontario, settled largely by people of German origin, was a thriving, peaceful city. By the spring of 1915 it was a city torn apart by the tensions of war. By September 1916, Berlin had become Kitchener. It began with the need to raise a battalion of 1,100 men to support the British war effort.
Meeting with resistance from a peace-loving community and spurred on by the jingoistic nationalism that demanded troops to fight the hated “Hun,” frustrated soldiers began assaulting citizens in the streets and, on one infamous occasion, a Lutheran clergyman in his parsonage. Out of this turmoil arose a movement to rid the city of its German name, and this campaign, together with the recruiting efforts, made 1916 the most turbulent year in Kitchener’s history.
This is the story of the men and women involved in these battles, the soldiers, the civic officials, the business leaders, and the innocent bystanders, and how they behaved in the face of conditions they had never before experienced.
W.R. Chadwick taught drama at the University of Waterloo. He has written several plays, including Emma Orr which won the Ontario Playwight’s Showcase, The Cyclone, and A Question of Degree, winner of the National Playwriting Competition. He has also won a CBC Radio Literary Award for his poetry.
“This book is the first detailed account of what happened, and why. It is dramatic, even partisan, in its review of the events leading up to the name change. It is anti-jingoism and anti-war and tells the story that for too long has been a skeleton in Kitchener’s closet. You will not be able to put it down.”