Gertrude Bell

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Bell in front of her tent during excavations in Iraq (1909)

Gertrude Margaret Lowthian Bell CBE (born July 14, 1868 in Washington Hall, County Durham , † July 12, 1926 in Baghdad ) was a British explorer, historian , writer , archaeologist , alpinist , political advisor and member of the British secret service during the First World War . Due to her knowledge of the Middle East , gained on a number of trips , she played a major role in the political reorganization of this region, as did Thomas Edward Lawrence, who became known as Lawrence of Arabia, during and after the First World War. In 1917 she was awarded the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for her achievements . As an unofficial employee of the Secret Intelligence Service , later as a political liaison officer and Secretary of the Orient, she was instrumental in the founding of what is now Iraq and was one of the close confidants of the Iraqi King Faisal I. She also played an important role in the creation of the Iraqi National Museum in Baghdad .

Origin and youth (1868–1888)

Family background

Gertrude Bell came from a distinguished family of British industrialists. Her paternal grandfather was Sir Isaac Lowthian Bell , a founder and co-owner of the Northumbria- based Bell Brothers company, which produced a third of Britain's iron supplies in the 1870s. Sir Bell was not only one of Britain's wealthiest industrialists, but also a respected scientist who was, among other things, a Bessemer Gold Medalist and a member of the Royal Society. Charles Darwin , Thomas Henry Huxley , the social reformer John Ruskin and the artist William Morris were among the guests in his salon .

Gertrude Bell's father, Thomas Hugh Bell, was Lowthian Bell's eldest son and, like his father, had received a thorough education. He studied chemistry at the Sorbonne in Paris; in Germany organic chemistry and mathematics. After returning to the UK, he gradually took over the leadership of the corporate empire that Lowthian Bell had created. He was also politically active and represented liberal views for the time, especially in the education and health systems. In 1867 Thomas Hugh Bell married the merchant's daughter Mary Shield, who died shortly after the birth of their second child, Maurice Bell, in 1871. Gertrude Bell was not yet three years old at the time.

Youth and education

Eight year old Gertrude Bell with her father, painted by Edward Poynter , 1876

The two half-orphans Gertrude and Maurice Bell were mainly raised by nannies in the following years, even though their father spent a large part of his free time with them. In 1876 Thomas Hugh Bell married the writer Florence Ollife , with whom Gertrude Bell soon developed a close and intimate relationship. Gertrude Bell kept in close contact with her by letter until the end of her life. She also got on well with her three half-siblings who were born in the next few years.

Florence Ollife, like Thomas Hugh Bell, was progressive. The two sent the eager to learn Gertrude in 1884 to Queens College, a girls' school in London . This was an unusual step for the times; Girls of their social class were usually taught exclusively by private tutors.

What was even more unusual was that her parents also enabled her to study at the University of Oxford from 1886 onwards . “I would like to know and be able to do at least one thing in depth. I'm tired of this amateurish learning. I want to immerse myself in something, ”she explained to her father about her wish. Gertrude Bell was inducted into Lady Margaret Hall ; She and her fellow students only took part in the lectures as guest auditors and were usually accompanied to the lectures by a chaperone . In 1888, just before she turned twenty, she became the first woman to graduate with the highest honor. However, as a woman, she was not awarded a degree. It was not until 1920 that Oxford treated women equally with men on this point.

First travel and writing activities (1888–1899)

Farewell to the conventional way of life

Gertrude Bell spent the winter season 1888/1889 in Bucharest . Frank Lascelles , her stepmother's brother-in-law, was the British ambassador there. Her parents' intention to give their daughter a social polish was probably connected with the stay. Gertrude Bell took part in a number of diplomatic dinners as well as the ball season in Bucharest and met Bernhard von Bülow and Charles Hardinge , who later became the Viceroy of India , among others . It was also presented to the Romanian King Charles I and his wife Elisabeth . In Bucharest she met Valentine Chirol for the first time , with whom she had a lifelong friendship. Before she returned home on the Orient Express , she visited Constantinople .

After her return to Great Britain, Gertrude Bell was officially introduced to the British court by her parents. This was the usual step before a young woman on her shift entered London social life. The high point of London's social life was the ball season, which lasted from New Year's Eve to early summer. Young debutantes were expected to find a suitable spouse within three ball seasons. One of the most promising candidates for Bell's hand was her stepcousin Billy Lascelles for a while, but Gertrude Bell lost her interest in him after a few months. She also bored other applicants. Few could compete with their education; Due to her stay in Bucharest and Constantinople, she surpassed most of the men in question in cosmopolitanism. Letters to her stepmother show that Gertrude Bell was aware that she would be pushed into a marginalized existence if she remained unmarried, and that she suffered from this notion. In a letter to her stepmother, she envies the consolation of her spouse and ends the letter, alluding to a life as an old maid, with the words: "It takes a long time to be seventy, doesn't it?"

Gertrude Bell's third ball season ended in 1892. Neither of the potential candidates had asked for her hand, nor had she found anyone she had more than a passing interest in. In the fall of 1892 she began to learn Persian. In the spring of 1892 she traveled to Tehran , accompanied by her step aunt Mary Lascelles , where Frank Lascelles was now accredited as British ambassador at the court of Shah Nāser ad-Din .


Former Foreign Ministry of Tehran at the time of Nāser ad-Din Shah

Bell stayed in Tehran for six months and, like in Bucharest before, she took part in the extensive social life of her relatives. Gertrude Bell developed a deep fascination for the life of the locals, their hospitality and the surrounding landscape:

“I never knew what a desert was until I got here. It is something very wonderful! And suddenly, out of nowhere, out of a little cold water, a garden bursts out. And what a garden! Trees, fountains, pools, roses and a house in them, houses, like in our children's fairy tales! Occupied with tiny mirrors in magical patterns, blue tiles, carpet, the splashing of flowing water, and the fountain. Here sits the enchanted prince - solemn, dignified, dressed in long robes. He walks towards you when you enter, his house is yours, his garden is yours, his tea and his fruits - everything is yours. Your slave by the grace of God hopes your Highness’s health is good? She is very good thanks to His great kindness. Would your glory go to that pillow? Your glory sits down and spends ten minutes exchanging floral compliments with your host, which an interpreter translates while ice cream and coffee are served; and then you ride refreshed, enchanted and with many blessings on your happy head home. Oh, we know no hospitality in the West and no manners. "

One of her constant companions in Tehran was Henry Cadogan, one of the employees of the British Embassy. He was intelligent and well-read, an avid athlete and, like Gertrude Bell, was interested in history. The two fell in love, and after three months he asked for her hand. Hugh and Florence Bell, however, refused to consent to the marriage. Although Cadogan belonged to a British aristocratic family, his father was near bankruptcy and Cadogan lived only on his salary as a young diplomat. Hugh Bell had also learned that Cadogan was a gambler and in debt. Gertrude Bell bowed to her parents' negative decision - but also in the hope that Cadogan would make a career in the diplomatic service quickly enough to enable her to live the lifestyle her father demanded for her. She wrote to her stepmother:

"I'm [...] not afraid of being poor or of having to wait, although waiting is more difficult than I initially thought. At first it is not clear how much you long for the constant company of your loved one and how much you would like to withdraw to the security of marriage. Only now that I am walking does it become painfully clear to me [...] "

After six months, she returned to the UK as agreed. In London she shortened the wait for Cadogan by writing down her travel experiences in the book Persian Pictures and starting her translation of the poems of the Persian poet Hafiz, which is still valued for its literary quality. Nine months after her return from Tehran, she received a telegram from Tehran with the news that Henry Cadogan was no longer alive. He fell while riding in icy river water and contracted pneumonia, which he succumbed a little later.

The years leading up to his return to the Middle East

Gertrude Bell tried to climb the east face of the Finsteraarhorn together with two mountain guides . Shortly before the summit, icing prevented success

Her travelogue Persian Pictures was published in 1894, the translation of the Hafiz poems in 1897. She overcame her grief for Cadogan by traveling to Europe with family members and learning a number of different languages ​​in the following years. When Frank Lascelles was accredited as ambassador in Berlin, she spent a few months there and was introduced to Kaiser Wilhelm II. In Italy she met the archaeologists David George Hogarth and Wilhelm Dörpfeld . The encounters laid the foundation for their later archaeological work. Together with her brother Maurice, she also embarked on a six-month journey around the world in 1897, during which she made stops in Hong Kong and Tokyo .

She discovered mountaineering for herself and developed into a daring alpinist. The report to her father, in which she tells him how she was the first to try to climb the east face of the Finsteraarhorn in a skirt and accompanied by two mountain guides , getting caught in a thunderstorm in the middle of the wall and being forced to climb a tiny, sheltered one Spending the night on a rocky promontory is still one of the often cited mountaineering adventures today. In the Bernese Oberland , one of the Engelhorns bears the name “Gertrudspitze” after she and two local guides successfully climbed eight peaks in this mountain range for the first time. "One of the few mountains that has been given the name of a woman is the Gertrudspitze, which was climbed in 1901 by the British alpinist Gertrud Bell (...)."

Activity as travel writer and archaeologist (1899–1914)

Return to the Middle East

During her stay in Tehran in 1892, Gertrude Bell met the German consul general and orientalist Friedrich Rosen and his wife Nina, among others . With his stories, Rosen had made a major contribution to getting Gertrude Bell enthusiastic about Persian and Arab culture. When the couple were transferred to Jerusalem , Bell seized the opportunity and visited the couple for four months in 1899. She wanted to use the stay to improve her Arabic language skills and to get to know the region, hired a language teacher and bought a horse for her excursions in the area. Rosen, who had traveled the desert himself, helped her to plan her first excursions lasting several days, which she usually undertook only by a servant, two or three mule drivers and occasionally accompanied by a soldier as an escort. Rosen also convinced her to forego the side saddle and to take her rides in the more comfortable manor in the future. However, she assured her stepmother in writing that she still naturally wore an elegant and neatly split skirt.

Traveling alone

During this stay, she already penetrated into regions that had previously only been visited by a small number of Western men and no European women. Against the resistance of the Ottoman administrative officials, who wanted to prevent contact between her and the Druze , she penetrated the previously barely explored mountain region of Jabal ad-Duruz and rode from there to Damascus and the ruins of the ancient city of Palmyra . "It is sometimes a strange feeling to be all alone out in the world, but most of the time I take it for granted now that I've gotten used to it," she wrote home in one of her letters.

Characteristic of her way of traveling was her constant endeavor to contact the sheikhs and tribal leaders, whom she sought out confidently and without shyness or reserve, but whom she always treated with exquisite courtesy. Because of her language skills, she rarely had to rely on an interpreter when she exchanged politeness and information with them over cigarettes and bitter black Arabic coffee. In her letters to relatives and friends, she repeatedly reports in detail about these encounters. Her report of May 11, 1900, in which she tells of a meeting with the Beg of the Druze, who had only recently been released from his five-year imprisonment in the custody of the Ottomans, is characteristic:

“And so we reached Areh around 8:30 am. A few persons of apparent importance stood at their front doors at the foot of the mountain; I rode to them and greeted them with a salam. They took me by both hands and asked me to get down and have coffee with them. That was exactly what I wanted because I needed information. We walked hand in hand the Druze way, our little fingers, not our hands, clasped to the nearest houses…. With many Maschallah! They piled up all of their pillows in a raised seat for me, brought a stool for my feet and water to wash my hands, and then they sat in a circle on the clean, matted floor and made coffee for me ... After coffee (the was very good) I asked if I could see the Sheikh ... We went straight to his reception room, where he was sitting on a carpet and eating from a large platter with six or eight others. He asked me to take a seat in this circle, and I ate too, using the thin slices of bread as a spoon and fork. The meal consisted of laban and an excellent stew of beans and meat. I would have liked to have eaten a lot more of it, but the beg was done and I feared it would be rude. The panel was removed and he piled pillows on the floor for me. I waited very politely for him to sit down because he's a king, you see, and a very good king at that, although his kingdom doesn't happen to be very big. Then I had to tell my story all over again and the Beg closed his big eyes and every now and then bowed his head and murmured, 'Daghi, daghi' - it is true - while I spoke. I explained to him what I wanted to see and that I wanted to avoid Suweidah because of the Ottomans and also because of the telegraph there - the greatest of all dangers - and he was extremely compassionate and arranged all my trips for me, and said I could go count on his protection wherever I go. So we drank coffee ... "

During her travels, Gertrude Bell was always exposed to the danger of being attacked by predatory tribes. During her first excursions around Jerusalem she had only escaped a robbery by members of the Beni Sakhrs because she was escorted by Ottoman soldiers. When she traveled to regions where the Ottomans tolerated her, after sometimes lengthy negotiations with the responsible administrative officials, she repeatedly succeeded in engaging soldiers as escorts. However, many of their travels took them to regions where the Ottomans were reluctant to see them and where, had it been officially known, their progress would have been hindered. The protection promise of the sheikhs and tribal leaders was necessary for them in these regions in order to be able to travel unhindered and largely safe. If she stayed near predatory tribes on her later travels, she usually rode deliberately to her camp, stopped in front of the largest tent and entered it trusting the Arab hospitality. For the most part, she succeeded with this bold approach.

The red-haired and green-eyed Gertrude Bell also quickly became well-known among the tribes of the regions she traveled - she was treated as an "honorary man" and she herself always avoided entering a tent or house from the woman's side whenever possible . The Druze Beg, who placed her under his protection on her journey to Damascus, inquired weeks later about the progress of the "Queen" he had met. The Beni Sakhr, whose territory she had crossed, had given her the honorary title of "daughter of the desert".

Back from the Middle East - the years up to 1905

In the summer of 1900, Gertrude Bell returned to England. Apart from a two-month stay in Haifa and Jerusalem in 1902, where she stayed to intensify her Arabic and Persian studies, she did not return to the Middle East for a longer period until 1905. During these years she devoted herself to her family, intensified her studies of the Middle East and occasionally went mountaineering in the Alps.

Before returning to the Middle East, she set out on another trip around the world. Her younger stepbrother Hugo wanted to join a religious order and to dissuade him from this idea, Gertrude Bell , who was more atheistic , traveled with him to India in December 1902. There she met again with Valentine Chirol, whom she knew from her time in Bucharest. During her travels in the Middle East, she had sent him, who was now the editor-in-chief of the Times' foreign affairs department , many of her notes, which he used as background information in articles. Conversely, he provided her with the latest political developments in the Middle East and made her acquainted with Percy Cox , who was consul in Muscat at the time and played a significant role in her later life. Bell had been planning for a long time, including the Nedjd, to explore the great Arabian desert. However, the information that Cox and Chirol gave her made her postpone this project for a few years. After stops in Shanghai, Seoul and Vancouver and a few climbing tours in the Rocky Mountains , she and her stepbrother Hugo returned to Great Britain at the end of July 1903.

The encounters with the archaeologists David Hogarth and Wilhelm Dörpfeld had already established their interest in archeology in the 1890s. After returning from her circumnavigation of the world, she began to study this area more seriously. She sought out the famous French-Jewish scholar Salomon Reinach in Paris , who had coined the phrase " Ex oriente lux " for his view that civilization had developed in the East and that all major developments had their origin there. Reinach was editor of the prestigious Revue archéologique , an archaeological journal, and even before she returned to the Middle East, Gertrude Bell published an essay on the geometry of cruciform structures.

As an archaeologist in the Middle East

When Gertrude Bell set out again for the Middle East on January 4, 1905, she wanted to study mainly Byzantine and Roman ruins there. She also planned to write a book about the peoples and culture of the Middle East. It was planned that this book should also be extensively illustrated with photographs.

From Beirut, which was under Ottoman rule, she traveled again through the Beni Sakhr area to the Druze, who were in revolt against Ottoman suzerainty. She was accompanied by a few servants and a leader whose tribal affiliation sometimes embarrassed her. One of their mule handlers was Druze and was in danger of being killed in the area of ​​the Beni Sakhr, who were in blood feud with the Druze. Her leader in the Jebel Drus, in turn, was a member of the Dajah tribe, and she had to break off a dinner with members of the Sherarat tribes early to avoid a conflict. Only her special status as a European woman enabled her to travel relatively safely between the rival tribes and, one day after sharing cigarettes and coffee with the Beni Sakhr, to be hospitable to the Druze. Not only the tribal feuds caused her hardships, but also the weather.

"We had a devil ride yesterday [...] Everything went well for the first three hours, except that it was so cold that I rode in a sweater, a Norfolk jacket and a fur coat. But then we got into the snow and it was hideous. The mules fell in snowdrifts, the horses reared and bucked, and if I had been on a side saddle I would have fallen half a dozen times. "

Via Damascus, where Gertrude Bell , who is now known all over Syria, was met with great curiosity, she traveled on to Asia Minor, where she examined and photographed especially early Byzantine church ruins. In the spring of 1905 she returned to Great Britain via Istanbul. The results of their investigations appeared as a series of articles in the Revue Archéologique . She also wrote articles and book reviews for the London Times and worked extensively on her book At the End of the Lava Flow. Through the deserts and cultural sites of Syria , with which she graduated in December 1906. The book turned out to be a great success. David Hogarth called it one of the twelve best travelogues about the Middle East; positive reviews appeared in both The Times and The Times Literary Supplement . The New York Times commented on her work: “English women are strange. On the one hand, they are probably the greatest slaves of conventionality. But once they have broken with it, they do it right, as if they wanted to take revenge. "

By the time these reviews appeared in the newspapers in the spring of 1907, Bell was once again on his way to Asia Minor. In 1907, she discovered a field of ruins in northern Syria on the eastern bank of the upper reaches of the Euphrates above the steep slope of the former river valley. She made a plan of the ruins and described the ramparts: “ Munbayah , where my tents were pitched - the Arabic name only means a high place - was probably the Bersiba in Ptolemy's list of place names. It consists of a double wall, located on the river bank. ”Together with the archaeologist William Mitchell Ramsay , starting out from Konya , she researched the churches of Asia Minor and then published a study with him that was highly regarded in specialist circles.

In 1908 Gertrude Bell was elected the first secretary of the British anti- suffragette movement, the Women's National Anti-Suffrage League , which fought against the introduction of women's suffrage . She was an active member of this movement until around 1912.

From Syria via Mesopotamia to the Ottoman Empire

Photo taken by Bell of the excavations at Assur, 1909

In the winter of 1908 she had worked to improve her expedition skills. She had trained at the Royal Geographical Society in London to make maps, land surveys and make astronomical observations. This time the trip was to take them to areas of the desert of Mesopotamia that had not yet been explored . From Aleppo she would cross the Syrian Desert in the direction of Iraq, follow the course of the Euphrates southwards, travel to Baghdad and then follow the Tigris up to the Ottoman Empire. South of the city of Hit, which was already known in antiquity for its oil wells, she came across a huge ruin made of stone and wood, which at that time had not been scientifically described by any archaeologist. The Arabs called it “ Uchaidir ”, and Bell spent days carefully measuring the 6th-century castle, which, years later, she described as the finest example of Sassanid art. From Baghdad, where, among other things, she was received by the religious head of the Sunnis, her journey continued north. When she got to Istanbul, she found that another archaeologist had come before her. The Frenchman Massignon had already published his article on Uchaidir in the Gazette des Beaux Arts . Gertrude Bell had the better documentation of the ruin; however, the fame of the first scientific description went to Massignon.

In England she worked eighteen months on the book Amurath to Amurath , in which she described her travel impressions and archaeological finds. The book's reviews were less enthusiastic than those for her first. As soon as the work was published, Bell went to Syria again. Traveling in this region had meanwhile become a matter of course for her: "[We] crossed the Syrian Desert as if it had been the Sultan's highway," she wrote in one of her letters in February 1911. In May 1911 she first met the then 23-year-old TE Lawrence , at the time still an insignificant specialist in medieval pottery, who, together with Campbell Thompson, supported the well-known archaeologist David Hogarth in his excavations of the old Hittite metropolis Karkemisch . Thompson and Lawrence had mixed feelings about their meeting with the now famous Gertrude Bell, who is known for her sharp judgment. As Lawrence reported in a letter to his mother, however, they managed to impress her with their excavation successes.

Richard Doughty-Wylie

While Gertrude Bell, now over forty, was working on a book about the ruins of Uchaidir in 1911 and 1912, the crisis in the Balkans began to intensify. The First Balkan War in 1912 resulted in the Ottoman Empire losing its influence on Serbia, Greece, Bulgaria and Montenegro after four severe military defeats. In a letter to Valentine Chirol, Gertrude Bell correctly prophesied that in the next few years the Ottoman Empire would also collapse in Asia and that independent Arab states would emerge.

Gertrude Bell also experienced major changes in her private life. She had first met Major Charles Doughty-Wylie and his wife Judith in Konya in 1909 . The major, who was called Richard by his friends, was the British consul there. They met again in 1912 when Richard Doughty-Wylie organized relief efforts for the victims of the First Balkan War for the Red Cross. In the spring of 1913 the acquaintance intensified and Bell felt more and more drawn to Doughty-Wylie. He returned her feelings, but a divorce from his wife would have meant the end of his career. A passionate correspondence began between the two, however, which also continued when Bell made what was probably the most difficult trip of her life from Damascus in November 1913.

The trip to Ha'il

A trip from Damascus via Bajir to Ha'il to the headquarters of Ibn Rashid had been her dream for years. However, she had to postpone the realization of the plan again and again because the British-backed Ibn Saud and his tribesmen were at war with one another. It would take her about three months to travel from Damascus to Ha'il. Gangs of robbers were up to mischief in the desert, not sparing even the members of their own tribe and for whom the sheikh's promise of protection was probably worthless. In order not to have any cash with her during this dangerous journey, she acquired all the supplies she needed for the first part of the journey in Damascus and had an informant from Ibn Rashid write out a letter of credit which she could redeem in Ha'il for 200 pounds.

The journey she embarked on in December 1913 began under a bad star. They had barely left Damascus for a week when their caravan was attacked by a group of mountain glands, who robbed them of all weapons. Gertrude Bell would have had to return to Damascus had two Druze sheikhs not recognized their caravan leader. Over coffee and cigarettes and against payment of a baksheesh , Gertrude Bell managed to persuade the sheikhs to return the weapons to the caravan. A short time later it was found by Ottoman soldiers who wanted to stop their onward journey. As she rode deeper and deeper into the desert, she had become the subject of diplomatic efforts. The Ottoman government had turned to Louis Mallet, the British ambassador in Constantinople, with the request that Gertrude Bell be prevented from traveling to central Arabia. Mallet himself also considered their trip too dangerous, as the dispute between the tribes led by Ibn Rashid and Ibn Saud had increased again. He let her know that the UK Government would take no action if anything happened to her on the trip. Gertrude Bell had to explain to the Ottoman government that she was traveling at her own risk. Only then did the soldiers let them move on. In the diary that she began to keep for Richard Doughty-Wylie, she soberly noted about traveling at your own risk:

“That price is not really high, because the Ottomans could not be held responsible for me anyway, as I am traveling without a guard, and British protection is not much in these deserts. If my roommates get it into their heads to rob me, I don't think any diplomat would send an army to take back my property. "

In the Howeitat tribe , she managed to establish ties with Muhammad, the brother of the supreme leader Auda ibu Tayi . He not only assured her protection, but also accompanied her part of the long way to Ha'il. She had worse experiences with Arab hospitality with Sheikh Saijah, who, despite the shared coffee and the dates eaten together, rifled through her luggage and bragged to her servants about her planned murder. He finally let her go after she gave him her binoculars and pistol.

The involuntary stay in Ha'il

On February 24, 1914, she arrived in Ha'il, the old stopover on Incense Route and the headquarters of the Rashid family, the leaders of the Shammar tribe. They had long been in blood feud with the Saudis. Ibn Rashid, the sixteen-year-old emir, was on a raid when she arrived. Here, too, she had bad experiences with Arab hospitality. She waited at the gates of the city for her servants to announce her arrival and bring her presents.

Slaves escorted them to the Roschan, the reception hall of the palace. There she was greeted by the caretaker and one of the women from the harem of the late Emir Muhammad Ibn Raschid, who listened to her. A short time later, the ruling emir's uncle arrived and recommended that she not leave the Roschan until she was invited to the city. Her coming had aroused great displeasure among the religious leaders. She was left to wait nine days like a prisoner in the Roshan, the reception hall of the palace, while she insisted with increasing insistence on the redemption of her letter of credit. They were put off again and again for the return of the emir, who was expected back in a month. The only financial means she had left was what her servants could get from selling some of the camels in her caravan.

The turning point brought about an extremely brusque conversation with Said, the main eunuch. In the evening her camels were brought to her, and Said was brought a bag of gold equal to the value of her letter of credit. She was even allowed to tour and take photos of the city and palace during the day. When she recorded her experiences in her diary a little later, she prophesied correctly this time too: “I think the Raschids are nearing their end. Not a grown man in her house survived - the emir is only sixteen or seventeen, and everyone else is small, so cruel is the family feud. I would say that the future lies with Ibn Saud. ”The crossing of the Nefud , where Shiite tribes fought with the Ottomans, was uneventful. Contrary to her original plan, she did not dare to venture further south and meet Ibn Saud there. Instead, she returned to Baghdad via Karbala . She stayed there until the end of April 1914 and then traveled on to Damascus. On the way there she stopped at the tents of Fahad Bei ibn Hadhdhal, one of the chief sheikhs of the Anaseh. He was considered brutal and unscrupulous; however, she managed to win his trust, and he proudly introduced her to his youngest wife and children. He, too, later proved to be one of the most important allies in the uprising against the Ottomans.

She stopped in Constantinople to meet with the British ambassador Louis Mallet. Although he had previously denied her protection from the British government, the information she received from her trip about the presence and influence of the Ottomans in this region, the weakness of the Rashid family and the possible willingness of the Anaseh to oppose themselves in an uprising to ally the Ottomans with Ibn Saud, he thought was extremely important. He recorded the conversation with her in a telegram to the British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Gray.

At the end of May 1914, Gertrude Bell returned to London. The National Geographic Society awarded her a gold medal for her daring journey.

Activity during the First World War (1914–1918)

Beginning of the First World War

Sgt. Reeves. AFM and Gertrude Bell

A few weeks later the First World War broke out. The Ottoman Empire allied itself with the German Empire and was thus also Great Britain's war opponent. The British saw their way to India and their access to the Persian oil fields endangered. Gertrude Bell, with her intimate knowledge of northern Arabia and the people who lived there, was suddenly a sought-after source for determining the appropriate British tactics. She was asked to report on her experience. She recommended Ibn Saud as an ally of the British, reported the low esteem the Ottomans enjoyed on the Arabian Peninsula, and referred to the possibility of an Arab revolt against the Ottomans. She herself would have liked to travel to the Middle East again in 1914; however, their government prohibited this.

Like many other British women, she had volunteered to support her homeland's war effort. She first worked in France for the Red Cross, from where she looked after the families of missing soldiers and tried to find out whether the missing were in the hospital or had fallen. A little later she took over the management of this office in London. She was able to meet Charles Doughty-Wylie in London for four days and then exchanged passionate letters with him while he was on his way to the front in the Dardanelles . On May 1, 1915, she learned at an evening party that his expeditionary force had been subjected to machine gun fire on landing on Gallipoli and that Doughty-Wylie had been killed.

In Cairo

Her old friend, David Hogarth, ran a small department of the military intelligence service in Cairo since the outbreak of the war. In his information gathering, he had initially concentrated on gaining details about the Ottoman army, which was stationed in the Dardanelles. When, after the Gallipoli debacle, the secret service turned its interest to Mesopotamia, Arabia and the Gulf, Hogarth was able to convince his superiors to also recruit Gertrude Bell as an unofficial employee. In November 1915 she left for Cairo. She was glad to leave London, where few knew of her close relationship with Doughty-Wylie and where she could hardly share her grief over his death with anyone.

The headquarters of the British military in Cairo was the "Savoy" hotel and the military secret service was also located there. The British military were not prepared for the appearance of a woman in their ranks, and many reacted icy and irritated at her coming. However, she knew most of her immediate colleagues from her travels. Like David Hogarth and TE Lawrence, they were archaeologists and historians; like Philip Graves , they had worked as journalists in this region or, as scientists, had intensively studied the Middle East. Among them, Gertrude Bell was the one who knew best about the tribes in Iraq, the Gulf, and the Nejd. She had also been the last European to travel to the region, getting firsthand information about the thinking of the local tribes.

The idea of ​​an Arab uprising against the Ottomans had been discussed again and again since the Balkan War. However, the plan was fraught with uncertainties; the peoples of the Middle East were at odds with one another in many ways; it could not be ruled out that the majority of the Arab tribes decided to initially support their Ottoman fellow believers in the military conflicts of the First World War. Even a “holy war” against the “unbelievers” could not be ruled out. If a revolt by the Arabs against the Ottomans were to support the British war effort, one had to find suitable Arab leaders who were able to unite the majority of the Arabs behind them. To do this, one also had to understand the network of relationships between the tribes. While TE Lawrence was collecting everything that could be found about railroads, troop movements, the number of horses and camels available and the nature of the land, Gertrude Bell worked on the cataloging of the individual clans. The British soon succeeded in winning Sherif Hussein on their side. Bell felt that Ibn Saud's support was just as necessary for a successful revolt. Her view was shared by others, and that is how Ibn Saud got on the British payroll.

British interests in Mesopotamia

British troops had landed near Basra as early as October 1914 and by November the city and province of Basra were in British hands. Starting from Basra, the British would also conquer the Mesopotamian provinces of Mosul and Baghdad by the end of 1918. The political future of the Mesopotamian provinces conquered by the Ottomans and what role the British would play in this has been debated among British decision-makers since the first conquests in 1914. India was the example of direct British exercise of power and the influential British administration in India advocated a similar approach in the Middle East. Egypt proved that British interests could also be pursued through indirect influence. The British Arab office in Cairo planned accordingly an Arab kingdom that would extend from Arabia to Mesopotamia. This Arab kingdom would also belong to the British sphere of influence, but the influence would be exercised indirectly. The different points of view led to massive tensions between the British administration in Cairo and India, which made cooperation increasingly difficult. The Indian viceroy Charles Hardinge was particularly opposed to the plans for an Arab kingdom, since in his view there had never been cohesion between the Arab tribes and therefore an independent Arab state would not last. The success of the Arab uprising, which was mainly organized through the office in Cairo, was dependent on Hardinge's support with troops and weapons. At General Clayton's request , Gertrude Bell traveled to India aboard a troop transport in order to convey the views of the Cairo office to Hardinge, if possible. It wasn't an official mission, but Clayton could be sure that the Indian Viceroy would take the time to listen to Bell. Her long-time correspondent, Chirol, was a close friend of Hardinge's and was currently in India. Her social background and the influence of her family alike ensured that she would meet Hardinge during her stay. Bell rated her visit as a success in the letters to her family; Hardinge had not only visited her personally immediately after her arrival, she had also taken the opportunity to interact with members of the British-Indian secret service and to work through a number of their secret files. At the end of February 1916, at Hardinge's request, she traveled to Basra to unofficially assume the role of liaison officer between the British secret service in Cairo and the secret service in Delhi.

In Basra

The British troops in Mesopotamia faced a population that was reluctant to replace Ottoman rule with whatever British influence might be. Intensive trade relations had existed between the port city of Basra and Great Britain for more than half a century; the replacement of the Ottomans by British supremacy met with relatively little resistance here. Further inland, the Ottoman call for jihad against the British infidels met with little response, but many sheikhs and high-ranking Arab personalities found it difficult to switch to the British side. The British troops, however, were dependent on their support as they continued to advance towards Baghdad and Mosul. Maps were either missing entirely or inadequate; Without local guides and supplies of food from the local tribes, military success was questionable. The dramatic defeat of British troops at Kut in April 1916 clearly underscored this.

As before in Cairo, Gertrude Bell met with widespread rejection from the British military in Basra. Bell's unofficial status meant that she relied on gaining the esteem of the military - but her local knowledge, knowledge of and relationships with the more than fifty different tribes between Basra and Baghdad ensured that the British generals at least had work spaces provided. As in Cairo, apart from Percy Cox, there were only individual military personnel who worked closely with her. Despite her extensive isolation and attempts by the British office in Cairo to persuade Bell to return to Cairo, she preferred to remain in Basra. Unlike Cairo, Basra offered her more opportunities to get in direct contact with the locals. In addition, her growing dissatisfaction with her unofficial status had had an impact. Bell became a member of the political staff of Cox, was now officially a liaison officer with the rank of major and belonged to the Indian Expeditionary Corps D. She oversaw St. John Philby and instructed him on the intricacies of political maneuvering behind the scenes. A few months later, Percy Cox also awarded her the title of "Oriental Secretary", a key position in the secret service.

Baghdad - the new home

In March 1917, British troops captured Baghdad and Gertrude Bell moved her office from Basra to Baghdad. The city remained the center of her life until her death in 1926.

Bell's work in Baghdad was initially the classic work of a secret service employee: collecting information, evaluating and interpreting it for accuracy, condensing it and forwarding it. From today's perspective, it is difficult to judge whether she was disabled as a woman or whether the special status that she was able to assume was beneficial to her. As a rule, she was treated as an “honorary man” and was also admitted to the highest Muslim dignitaries. In any case, few had as up-to-date knowledge of tribal relationships, political rivalries and intentions as they did, and few were in a position to influence individual tribal leaders so significantly. In recognition of her services, she was awarded the title of " Commander of the British Empire " in October 1917 . David Hogarth, for whom she had worked in Cairo, later pointed out that her information contributed significantly to the success of the Arab uprisings in 1917 and 1918. Because of her precise knowledge of the country, the British Foreign Office also entrusted her with checking the demarcation of the future state of Iraq.

Political activity in Baghdad (1918–1926)

Political reorganization of Iraq

In 1918, AT Wilson was appointed acting civil commissioner of Iraq, while Bell's patron and supporter Cox was transferred to Tehran. Wilson was a supporter of direct British rule. Bell, who still held the position of Secretary of the Orient, increasingly took the view that, because of the strength of the Arab national movement, the long-term political solution for Iraq lay in the appointment of an Arab prince as ruler. In their view, the main task of Great Britain was to prepare and accompany Iraq for autocracy. These differing views led to a deep rift between Wilson and Bell. Wilson also resented her being able to convey her point of view past him to London because of her connections. Bell retained her post as Secretary of the Orient, but Wilson largely curtailed her powers.

However, the events of the coming years should prove Gertrude Bell right. In Iraq, resistance to the British military occupation began to rise. This resistance increased further when Great Britain was awarded the mandate over Iraq at the Sanremo Conference in April 1920 and it seemed at least conceivable that the country should be integrated into the British Empire. From June to October 1920 there were armed uprisings in which around 6,000 Iraqis and 500 British soldiers were killed. The motives of the individual tribes involved were very different - the preservation of political and economic autonomy played just as much a role as religious motives. However, the cost of the insurrection and its suppression also made the British government aware of the cost of exercising power directly.

A country on the way to autonomy

Wilson's term of office ended in September 1920, in October Cox returned to Baghdad as High Commissioner and Bell was restored to her old powers as Secretary of the Orient. Cox immediately began forming a provisional Arab government to prepare and hold the first general election in Iraq. Bell, who was to act as a liaison between the High Commissioner and the Arab government, supported and advised Cox in the selection of suitable government members. During the selection process, care was taken to ensure that representatives from all three provinces were equally represented in the government. The transitional government, however, consisted mainly of Sunnis, although the majority of the population were Shiites. From today's point of view, the ruling structures in Iraq were thus established for the long term. This is sometimes seen as a cause of Iraq's later problems. As the historian Charles Tripp showed, only the Sunnis, who had already administered the country under the Ottomans, had sufficient administrative experience. Another problem was the demarcation of the Kingdom of Iraq , whereby both the affiliation or the originally intended autonomy of the Kurdish populated areas in the north and the border to Ibn Saud's sphere of influence in the south had to be determined. In the face of these political problems, Gertrude Bell was closely involved in the negotiations as she knew the country very well. For example, on December 5, she wrote in a letter to her father:

“Dec. 5. We have had over 5 inches of rain in the last ten days and never in all my experience of Baghdad have I seen anything like the mud. I had a well spent morning at the office making out the southern desert frontier of the 'Iraq, with the help of a gentleman from Hail and of darling old Fahad Beg the paramount chief of the' Anizah. The latter's belief in my knowledge of the desert makes me blush. When he was asked by Mr Cornwallis to define his tribal boundaries all he said was: 'You ask the Khatun. She knows. ' In order to keep up this reputation for omniscience I've been careful to find out from Fahad all the wells claimed by the 'Anizah and from the Hail man all the wells claimed by the Shammar. One way and another, I think I've succeeded in compiling a reasonable frontier. The importance of the matter lies in the fact that Ibn Sa'ud has captured Hail and at the earliest possible opportunity Sir Percy wants to have a conference between him and Faisal to settle definitely what tribes and lands belong to the 'Iraq and what to Ibn Sa'ud. "

"5. Dec. We have had over 5 inches of rain in the past ten days, and I have never seen mud like this in all of my time in Baghdad. I had a good morning in the office trying to figure out the southern desert border of Iraq. I was helped by a gentleman from Ha'il and dear old Fahad Beg, the chief of the 'Anizah. The latter's belief in my knowledge of the desert makes me blush. When asked by Mr Cornwallis to define his tribal boundaries, all he said was: 'Ask Khatun. She knows.' In order to maintain this reputation for omniscience, I have carefully sought to find out from Fahad all the wells claimed by the 'Anizah, and from the man from Ha'il all the wells claimed by the Shammar . I think somehow I managed to derive a reasonable limit from this. The importance of the matter lies in the fact that Ibn Saud has conquered Ha'il and Sir Percy wants a conference between him and Faisal as soon as possible to finally clarify which tribes and countries belong to Iraq and which to Ibn Saud . "

In January 1921, Gertrude Bell's report, Review of the Civil Administration of Mesopotamia , was published, which she had written on behalf of the India Office as a white paper for the two houses of the British Parliament and which summarized the developments in Mesopotamia in recent years. The press responded positively to their work, but devoted much space to the fact that a woman was the author of the report. In a letter to her family in the UK, she commented angrily:

“The press in general seems to find it most remarkable that a dog can stand on its hind legs - that is, that a woman writes an intelligence report for the government. I hope that you will let go of your silly amazement and pay attention to the report itself so that it will help you understand what is going on in Mesopotamia. "

Nevertheless, Bell's arguments not only convinced Percy Cox, but also the participants in the Cairo conference that took place in March , which Faisal , son of the Sherif Hussein ibn Ali , appointed as King of Iraq. His coronation took place on August 23, but the country remained dependent on the United Kingdom. Bell had already had Faisal from the Arabian Peninsula in view as a candidate for the throne in 1920, through whom she wanted to secure the indirect rule of Great Britain over the region:

“I have no doubt that it would be best for us and avoid endless complications if the government offered the job to Faysal [...], but I don't think they will find the courage to do so. [...] It is not the mandate itself that bothers us here [...]; but the word mandate is unpopular and a freely negotiated contract would be infinitely better, and it would also give us a far freer hand. We always knew that Faisal would ultimately insist on a contract instead of the mandate - now we have the opportunity to make a beautiful gesture and of our own free will, which we would have to admit later anyway at his request. "

Last years of life

In the next two years, Bell played a formative role in Iraqi politics, especially as an advisor to the new King Faisal. She mediated on the one hand in its negotiations with the British colonial power, but on the other hand also in the disputes with the various local rulers of the country. Most of them were known to her personally from her travels. However, with the consolidation of political conditions, her influence quickly declined, especially after Percy Cox was replaced as High Commissioner of Mesopotamia in 1923. The successor was no longer interested in their advice, just as Faisal was less and less influenced in his politics. Nevertheless, Bell continued to hold public offices, according to the directorate of the Department of Antiquities founded in 1922 , which was supposed to regulate the excavations on Iraqi territory and the export of cultural goods excavated in the process. As an important step against the prevalent robbery excavations , she succeeded in passing a new law on the export of antiquities in 1924. She also founded the Iraqi National Museum , which opened in 1925.

During this time Gertrude Bell's health problems increased rapidly, to which depression was added. From 1925 she suffered from pleurisy . On the night of July 11-12, 1926, two days before her 58th birthday, she died as a result of an overdose of sleeping pills. Whether she took her own life remains unclear. A natural death was officially determined, but in his private records investigating officer Frank Stafford assumed a suicide. Her grave is in the Anglican cemetery in the Bar el-Sher Shi district of Baghdad.


  • True to the Prince. A tale of the sixteenth century, 1567-1575. Digby, Long & Co. London 1892.
  • Safar nameh. Persian Pictures. A book of travel. R. Bentley and Son, London 1894 ( digitized in the Internet Archive ).
    • German: Persian travel pictures. Translation by Karin von Schab. von Schröder, Hamburg 1949.
    • German: Miniatures from the Orient. Travel memories from Persia and the Ottoman Empire 1892. Ed. And foreword by Gabriele Habinger. Promedia, Vienna 1997, ISBN 3-85371-125-1 .
  • Poems from the Divan of Hafiz. Post-poetry from Persian. Heinemann, London 1897 ( digitized in the Internet Archive).
  • Syria. The Desert & the Sown. Heinemann, London 1907 ( digitized in the Internet Archive).
    • German: Through the deserts and cultural sites of Syria. Travel directions. Spamer, Leipzig 1908 ( digitized in the Internet Archive).
    • German: At the end of the lava flow. Through the deserts and cultural sites of Syria. Edited and foreword by Gabriele Habinger. Based on the translation from the English from 1908. 2nd edition Promedia, Vienna 2015, ISBN 978-3-85371-396-9 .
    • German: The murmuring and whispering of the desert. A journey through ancient Syria. Translation by Ebba D. Drolshagen. Edition Erdmann, Wiesbaden 2015, ISBN 978-3-7374-0019-0 .
  • The churches and monasteries of the Tur Abdin. In: Max van Berchem: Amida. Matériaux pour l'épigraphie et l'histoire musulmanes du Diyar-Bekr. Winter, Heidelberg 1910, pp. 224-262; German summary pp. 262–273 ( digitized in the Internet Archive).
  • Amurath to Amurath. Heinemann, London 1911 ( digitized in the Internet Archive).
  • The Palace and Mosque of Ukhaidir. A Study in Early Mohammadan Architecture. Clarendon Press, Oxford 1914 ( digitized from Internet Archives).
  • with William Mitchell Ramsay : The thousand and one churches. Hodder and Stoughton, London 1919 ( digitized in the Internet Archive).
  • Review of the Civil Administration of Mesopotamia. His Majesty's Stationery Office, London 1920 ( digitized from the Internet Archive).
  • The Arab War. Confidential information for General Headquarters from Gertrude Bell. Being despatches reprinted from the secret “Arab Bulletin”. Golden Cockerel Press, London 1940.

Letters and diaries

  • The letters of Gertrude Bell. Collected and edited by Lady Bell. Boni and Liveright, London 1927 (digital copies of Volume 1 and Volume 2 in the Internet Archive).
  • The earlier letters of Gertrude Bell. Collected and edited by Elsa Richmond. Liveright Publishing, New York 1937 ( digitized in the Internet Archive).
  • Gertrude Bell. From Her Personal Papers 1914-1926. Ernest Benn Ltd., London 1961.

Further book editions in German translation

  • I was a daughter of Arabia. The adventurous life of a woman between Orient and Occident. Translated by Gerda Bean. With a foreword by Gabriele Krone-Schmalz . Scherz, Munich 1993, ISBN 3-502-15039-7 .
  • Wild women travel differently. Travel stories. Edited by Christiane Landgrebe. Byblos, Berlin 1994, ISBN 3-929029-31-6 .


  • Caroline Alexander: The Woman Who Invented Iraq. In: National Geographic № 3/2008, pp. 138–153 (updated January 14, 2020, accessed April 28, 2020).
  • Julia M. Asher-Greve: Gertrude L. Bell. In: GM Cohen et al. (Ed.): Breaking ground. Pioneering women archaeologists. Ann Arbor 2004, pp. 142-197.
  • Martin Dennert: Gertrude Bell. In: Stefan Heid , Martin Dennert (Hrsg.): Personal Lexicon for Christian Archeology. Researchers and personalities from the 16th to the 21st century , Volume 1. Schnell & Steiner, Regensburg 2012, ISBN 978-3-7954-2620-0 , p. 148 f.
  • Stephen Hill (Ed.): Gertrude Bell (1868-1926). A selection from the photographic archive of an archaeologist and traveler. Department of Archeology, Newcastle upon Tyne 1977, ISBN 978-0-905-42300-5 .
  • Georgina Howell: Daughter of the Desert. The Remarkable Life of Gertrude Bell. Macmillan, London 2007, ISBN 1-405-04587-6 (new editions under the titles Gertrude Bell. Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations and Daughter of the Desert. The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell ).
  • Josephine Kamm: Daughter of the desert. The story of Gertrude Bell. The Bodley Head, London 1956.
  • Caroline Lahusen: Gertrude Bell: The first Iraqi woman. In: GEO № 03/2008, pp. 130–141.
  • Liora Lukitz: A quest in the Middle East: Gertrude Bell and the making of modern Iraq . Tauris, London 2006, ISBN 1-85043-415-8 .
  • Frank Patalong: Desert Queen Bell - Gertrude of Arabia. In: Der Spiegel from February 6, 2015.
  • Michael Sommer : "The Oriental is like a very old child" - Gertrude Bell, a traveler to the Orient. In: Travel to the Orient from the 13th to the 19th century. Winckelmann-Gesellschaft, Stendal 2007, pp. 233–241.
  • Charles Tripp: A history of Iraq . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2002, ISBN 0-521-52900-X .
  • Janet Wallach: Desert Queen: The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell: Adventurer, Adviser to Kings, Ally of Lawrence of Arabia. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London 1996, ISBN 0-297-81249-1 .


Web links

Commons : Gertrude Bell  - Collection of Images

References and comments

  1. Bell: I was a daughter of Arabia. 1993, p. 12.
  2. Bell: I was a daughter of Arabia. 1993, p. 13.
  3. Janet Wallach: Queen of the Desert. The extraordinary life of Gertrude Bell. New edition, Goldmann, Munich 2015, ISBN 978-3-442-15889-8 , p. 66.
  4. Janet Wallach: Queen of the Desert. The extraordinary life of Gertrude Bell. New edition, Goldmann, Munich 2015, ISBN 978-3-442-15889-8 , p. 67.
  5. Bell: I was a daughter of Arabia. 1993, p. 14.
  6. Janet Wallach: Queen of the Desert. The extraordinary life of Gertrude Bell. New edition, Goldmann, Munich 2015, ISBN 978-3-442-15889-8 , p. 71.
  7. Review of Gertrude Bell's mountaineering achievements in the Bernese Eastern Alps, Tages-Anzeiger / Berner Zeitung , August 16, 2012.
  8. Mountain names. “Oh look, see,” cried Heidi in great excitement, “all of a sudden they are pink! See the one with the snow and the one with the tall, pointed rocks! What's your name, Peter? " "Mountains are not called," replied the latter. (Johanna Spyri, Heidi, Chapter 3). November 27, 2017, accessed June 30, 2018 .
  9. Bell: I was a daughter of Arabia. 1993, p. 42.
  10. Bell: I was a daughter of Arabia. 1993, p. 49 f.
  11. Bell: I was a daughter of Arabia. 1993, p. 37.
  12. Janet Wallach: Queen of the Desert. The extraordinary life of Gertrude Bell. New edition, Goldmann, Munich 2015, ISBN 978-3-442-15889-8 , p. 98.
  13. Janet Wallach: Queen of the Desert. The extraordinary life of Gertrude Bell. New edition, Goldmann, Munich 2015, ISBN 978-3-442-15889-8 , p. 127.
  14. Janet Wallach: Queen of the Desert. The extraordinary life of Gertrude Bell. New edition, Goldmann, Munich 2015, ISBN 978-3-442-15889-8 , p. 119.
  15. Bell, pp. 69-70.
  16. Bell, p. 75.
  17. Quoted from Janet Wallach: Queen of the Desert. The extraordinary life of Gertrude Bell. New edition, Goldmann, Munich 2015, ISBN 978-3-442-15889-8 , p. 135.
  18. Cf. Alfred Werner Maurer : Mumbaqat 1977, report on the excavation undertaken by the German Orient Society with funds from the University of Saarbrücken. Philologus Verlag, Basel 2007.
  19. ^ British Anti-Suffrage and the Emancipation of Women in Iraq: The Case of Gertrude Bell. In: Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Special Issue on Literature, No. 4, October 2016, pp. 4–19, here p. 8
  20. Bell, p. 98.
  21. Janet Wallach: Queen of the Desert. The extraordinary life of Gertrude Bell. New edition, Goldmann, Munich 2015, ISBN 978-3-442-15889-8 , pp. 152–155.
  22. Bell: The Letters of Gertrude Bell, Volume 1 (1927) entry from February 4, 1914. Translation from: Bell: I was a daughter of Arabia. 1993, p. 105.
  23. Bell: The Letters of Gertrude Bell, Volume 1 (1927) entry from February 4, 1904.
  24. A detailed description of her involuntary stay in Ha'il can be found in Janet Wallach: Queen of the Desert. The extraordinary life of Gertrude Bell. New edition, Goldmann, Munich 2015, ISBN 978-3-442-15889-8 , pp. 193–199, or in your letters and diary entries: Bell: I was a daughter of Arabia. 1993, pp. 116-121.
  25. Tripp, p. 31 ff.
  26. Janet Wallach: Queen of the Desert. The extraordinary life of Gertrude Bell. New edition, Goldmann, Munich 2015, ISBN 978-3-442-15889-8 , p. 242 f.
  27. Tripp, p. 32 ff.
  28. On the strategic importance of information in war, see John Keegan , Intelligence at war. Pimlico 2004, ISBN 0-7126-6650-8 , pp. 1-29.
  29. Janet Wallach: Queen of the Desert. The extraordinary life of Gertrude Bell. New edition, Goldmann, Munich 2015, ISBN 978-3-442-15889-8 , p. 307.
  30. Tripp, p. 39.
  31. Tripp, p. 41 f.
  32. ^ Letter from Gertrude Bell about the demarcation of the border in Iraq Gertrude Bell Archive, Newcastle University
  33. Janet Wallach: Queen of the Desert. The extraordinary life of Gertrude Bell. New edition, Goldmann, Munich 2015, ISBN 978-3-442-15889-8 , p. 431.
  34. Bell's letters to her parents of December 25, 1920 and June 5, 1921, quoted from Sommer 2007, p. 238 f. (The English original text ibid p. 241, note 10 f.).
  35. Antonia Kleikamp: This woman brought the Iraq problem to the world. In: June 19, 2014, accessed on June 6, 2020 : “On July 12, 1926, she was found lifeless in her apartment in Baghdad. Apparently she had taken an overdose of sleeping pills. Whether accidentally or intentionally as a suicide is controversial. "
  36. Janet Wallach: Queen of the Desert. The extraordinary life of Gertrude Bell. New edition, Goldmann, Munich 2015, ISBN 978-3-442-15889-8 , p. 541.
  37. The Woman Who Made Iraq. In: Weser-Kurier , May 17, 2016.
  38. A Dangerous Man: Lawrence After Arabia in the Internet Movie Database (English)
  39. Queen of the Desert in the Internet Movie Database (English)
  40. ^ Arnold Hohmann: Gertrude Bell: Arte shows a strong documentary about a strong woman., August 22, 2017, accessed on September 29, 2017 .
  41. From Britain to Baghdad: Gertrude Bell. (No longer available online.) Arte, archived from the original on September 28, 2017 ; accessed on September 29, 2017 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  42. ^ Gertrude Bell - Letters from Baghdad on OTS from March 1, 2018, accessed on March 3, 2018.