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Against the Draft

Against the Draft: Essays on Conscientious Objection from the Radical Reformation to the Second World War

Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 544
  • Book Info
    Against the Draft
    Book Description:

    Against the Draftmakes an important contribution to the growing study of pacifism and conscientious objection, and represents a key work in the career of the field's foremost scholar.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-2721-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Martin Ceadel

    ‘No ideology owes more to one academic than pacifism owes to Peter Brock. That the scope and richness of its historical tradition can now be recognized is largely the result of Brock’s sympathetic and dedicated scholarship, which was begun, moreover, when pacifism was an unfashionable subject ...’¹ These were my words at a conference in Toronto in May 1991 to celebrate his distinguished career and to mark the publication of a second wave of what a representative of University of Toronto Press then told me were affectionately known in the trade as ‘Brockbusters,’ the major volumes that transformed our knowledge...

  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-2)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 3-13)

    The essays collected in this volume were written over a period of around three decades. They represent a by-product of my long-term research on the history of pacifismsensu strictofrom antiquity to the end of the twentieth century, which I began at the outset of the 1950s. I would refer readers to the books I have published on this subject for a consecutive account of the cluster of ideas that have inspired conscientious objectors to military service (COs).¹ Plenty of books and articles on the subject by other authors, not all of them easily accessible, will be found in...

  7. 1 Conscientious Objection among the Polish Antitrinitarians
    (pp. 14-34)

    In 1525 the idea of nonresistance (Wehrlosigkeit) emerged as a component of Reformation thought with the formation of the radical religious group known as the Swiss Brethren. Its founder was a young Zürich patrician and scholar, Conrad Grebel, who, along with the other Brethren, had accepted baptism of adult believers as the leading article of their creed. Although by no means all the early Anabaptists were pacifists, eventually nonparticipation in war became a central tenet of the whole sect. From Switzerland, Anabaptism spread to Germany and to the Netherlands, where the Frisian Menno Simons reorganized the movement, by this time...

  8. 2 A Polish Antitrinitarian in Defence of Conscientious Objection to Military Service (1575)
    (pp. 35-43)

    Marcin Czechowic¹ published hisChristian Colloquiesin Cracow in 1575 in the midst of the debate over the sword between various members of the Polish Brethren Church’s intellectual élite. Czechowic was at the time the minister of the important Antitrinitarian congregation at Lublin. He wrote his bulky volume in Polish. ‘A representative piece of pedagogical literature designed for the instruction of the young rather than ... a polemic with peers,’² the book was also intended for the use of adult Church members unacquainted with Latin. Indeed its learned author, endowed with a cooler disposition than the other leading protagonist of...

  9. 3 Conscientious Objection among the Doopsgezinden
    (pp. 44-51)

    Anabaptism spread to the Netherlands in the early 1530s. At first its adherents belonged to the chiliastic, millenarian branch of the movement; even if peaceable in their outward stance, they were far from being nonresistants in the sense the Swiss Brethren, who authored the Schleitheim Confession of 1527, understood that term. Eventually the Frisian ex-Catholic priest Menno Simons succeeded briefly in uniting Dutch Anabaptists into a congregation of Christians striving for perfection and modelling itself on the primitive church. Henceforward Anabaptists, not only in the Netherlands but in Germany and elsewhere too, became known as Mennonites, though their designation as...

  10. 4 Experiences of Quakers Pressed into the Royal Navy
    (pp. 52-64)

    Readers of Herman Melville’sBilly Budd, and those acquainted with Benjamin Britten’s hauntingly beautiful opera based on Melville’s story, will be familiar with the invidious form of conscription for England’s Royal Navy practised until the end of the Napoleonic Wars ushered in for Britain many decades of peace. Until that date, especially when the country was at war (which it often was), ‘press-gangs’ roamed the ports and fishing villages that dotted the coasts of England and seized able-bodied young men for the Royal Navy, which was always short of seamen.¹ The practice amounted in fact to a legal form of...

  11. 5 Conscientious Objectors in Revolutionary and Napoleonic France
    (pp. 65-83)

    The French Revolution, with thelevée-en-masse, introduced the idea of universal military service as an instrument of the modern nation-state. For the first time in history thousands of young men were now drafted into the French army to fight a series of wars against neighbouring states intent on restoring theancien régime. Casualties rose on an unprecedented scale. Alongside the fervent patriotism of wide sections of the populace there existed, especially in the countryside, extensive incidence of desertion from the Revolutionary armies and other forms of – usually passive – resistance to conscription. Recent studies of theseréfractaires, however, make little, if...

  12. 6 The Peace Sects of Upper Canada and the Military Question
    (pp. 84-95)

    The province of Upper Canada, when it came into existence in 1791, was still largely wilderness. It bordered on the south with the new American republic, which presented a potential threat to its continued existence under the British crown. A native population was spread thinly over the land; it did not represent, though, a serious obstacle in the way of settlement by persons of European origin. In these circumstances the British government at home as well as the administrators it sent out to govern this remote frontier province regarded the promotion of European settlement as one of their priorities. Skilled...

  13. 7 Militia Objectors in the Channel Islands
    (pp. 96-108)

    The Channel Islands constitute the last territories of the Duchy of Normandy still attached to the British crown. Divided administratively into the bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey (which includes the smaller islands of Alderney and Sark), they look politically to Britain, while geographically they belong to the European continent and, until the later nineteenth century, the mother tongue of the majority of the population was French. As a result of the frequent wars with France and intermittent war scares, the British government fortified the islands against possible invasion: the last time a defensive tower was erected was as late as...

  14. 8 When Seventh-day Adventists First Faced the Draft: Civil-War America
    (pp. 109-118)

    The church of the Seventh-day Adventists traced its origins back to the millenarium movement, led by William Miller (1782–1849), that had swept the northern United States during the early 1840s. When in 1844 the promised millennium failed to materialize, Miller was discredited. But his movement survived, though it remained a small denomination for some time: when the Civil War commenced, it numbered only some 3,500 members, with 125 congregations situated exclusively in the northern states. Prime responsibility for introducing the observance of Saturday as the Sabbath day of worship lay with a remarkable couple, Ellen and James White. From...

  15. 9 Quaker Conscientious Objectors in Norway, 1814–1902
    (pp. 119-140)

    Norwegian Quakerism dates back to the latter years of the Napoleonic Wars and has persisted, with various ups and downs, to the present day – unlike the other Quaker societies on the European continent in France, Germany, and Denmark that all died out in the course of the nineteenth century. The chief reason for this collapse lay in the oppressive burden of universal military service that became increasingly oppressive during the age ofRealpolitik. It is, therefore, worth examining how the small group of Friends managed to survive in conscriptionist Norway.

    Its birthplace was not Norway itself but a prisoner-of-war ship...

  16. 10 Nazarenes Confront Conscription in Dualist Hungary
    (pp. 141-154)

    The Nazarenes¹ originated as an offshoot of the SwissNeutäufer, or Evangelical Baptists,² a denomination which had come into existence in the early 1830s in part as a result of Mennonite influence. Its founder, Samuel Heinrich Frölich,³ taught nonresistance and rejection of oaths as well as adult baptism, and his followers, when conscripted, consistently refused combatant service in the army. Among Frölich’s converts in 1839–40 were three Hungarian locksmiths who had come to Zürich in connection with their craft. Their names were Lajos Hencsey, János Denkel, and János Kropacsek. These men returned immediately to Hungary and began to spread...

  17. 11 Tolstoy and the Imprisonment of Conscientious Objectors in Imperial Russia
    (pp. 155-171)

    In 1896, with his mind much occupied with the Dukhobor soldiers and their provocative burning of military weapons during the previous summer, Tolstoy set about writing a play which he calledAnd the Light Shineth in Darkness (I svet vo t’me svetit).¹ He continued intermittently into the following year, and even beyond, but he never completed the work. After finishing four acts, he abandoned it. Of the fifth act, he got barely a page onto paper.

    The hero of the drama is a young Russian prince, Boris (Boria) Aleksandrovich Cheremshanov, who, because of his belief in Tolstoyanstyle nonresistance, refused induction...

  18. 12 The Škarvan Case: The Trial and Imprisonment of a Slovak Tolstoyan
    (pp. 172-187)

    Early in February 1895 Tolstoy received a letter from his devoted Slovak disciple, Dušan Makovický, informing him that a young Slovak army doctor of peasant origin, Albert Škarvan (1869–1926), shortly before completing his conscript service in the Austro-Hungarian army had, on grounds of conscience, refused further service and was now under arrest. Through Makovický, Tolstoy was already acquainted with Škarvan’s name; he knew the young man had come under the spell of Tolstoyan ideas. But this influence had not been strong enough to prevent him from joining the army (though as a noncombatant, it is true) when, on completing...

  19. 13 The Emergence of Conscientious Objection in Japan
    (pp. 188-194)

    Paradoxically, the emergence in Japan of conscientious objection to military service reflected that country’s westernization: it represented one small link in the modernizing of Japan that took place during the later nineteenth and early twentieth century. British India, with its long tradition ofahimsa(nonviolence), experienced the impact of pacifist ideas, which originated in Europe and North America, more deeply than Japan was to do; however, because universal military service was never introduced in India, conscientious objection never became an issue there. India, indeed, produced Gandhi, but Japan produced the first conscientious objectors (COs) in the oriental (and African) world.¹...

  20. 14 ‘Boy Conscription’ in Australia and New Zealand: The Experiences of the Conscientious Resisters
    (pp. 195-221)

    Britain fought the Boer War on the voluntary system. But during the early years of the twentieth century, the movement to introduce compulsory military service, which prevailed throughout the European continent, gained in strength. It was led by Lord Roberts and the National Service League, of which the Boer War hero became president. The League gained wide support among Conservatives. But most liberals and left-wingers and the whole peace movement opposed its program: its realization, they believed, would lead to the militarization of youth and bring war a step nearer. Some British private schools included military training in the curriculum,...

  21. 15 Prison Samizdat of British Conscientious Objectors in Two World Wars
    (pp. 222-242)

    Prison samizdat has been described, I think correctly, as ‘the real prison press’ in contrast to the prison press sponsored by, or at least approved by, the jail administration. This samizdat constitutes an underground activity carried on by prisoners ‘without the sanction of prison officials,’ and often in conditions of ‘considerable adversity.’¹ The discovery of a samizdat journal is likely to lead to the punishment of those responsible for its production and distribution, and the destruction of all copies that the authorities have been able to discover. The unfettered expression of opinion in its pages represents a challenge to the...

  22. 16 Weaponless in the British Armed Forces: The Non-Combatant Corps in the First World War
    (pp. 243-256)

    The Non-Combatant Corps (NCC), established by the British government in the two world wars of the last century, was a striking phenomenon in the history of conscientious objection. Under the British conscription legislation of 1916 and 1939, service in the NCC was one among several forms of exemption that a conscientious objector (CO) might receive; and such service was open to any objector, religious or secular, who was considered to be sincere.

    Governments in other lands sometimes also made provision for COs, who were ready to serve in their country’s army or navy, to do so without bearing arms. But...

  23. 17 Hobhouse and Brockway: Conscientious Objectors as Pioneer Convict Criminologists
    (pp. 257-280)

    In the late twentieth century a New School of Convict Criminologists emerged in North America. Its roots went back earlier in the work of ex-convict academics like John Irwin, who published his path-breaking study,The Felon, in 1970. The two key characteristics of the research carried out by this school are the ‘centrality of ... ethnographic methods’ and the fact that the authors are all either themselves ex-prisoners or ‘fellow travellers,’ criminologists writing ‘from a convict perspective,’ so that the view from ‘inside’ always forms a significant component in penological theory.¹

    This essay deals with two convict criminologists whose work...

  24. 18 The Confinement of Conscientious Objectors as Psychiatric Patients in First-World-War Germany
    (pp. 281-300)

    A vigorous pacifist movement sprang up in Germany after that country’s defeat in November 1918 only to fall victim to Nazi repression when Hitler came to power in January 1933.¹ The Weimar pacifists drew their main inspiration from the war resistance of British conscientious objectors (COs), whose experiences received considerable publicity in post-war Germany, especially in the left-wing press. German pacifists in the Weimar Republic also knew of the existence of a few COs in wartime Germany, but little detailed information was then available. A pamphlet on the subject, covering the Habsburg Empire as well, was indeed published,² and articles...

  25. 19 Imperial Russia at War and the Conscientious Objector, August 1914 – February 1917
    (pp. 301-312)

    In the First World War, between the outbreak of hostilities in August 1914 and the fall of the monarchy in February 1917, the Russian Empire produced more conscientious objectors to military service (COs) than did any other country in Europe for the whole period of the war, except Great Britain. The basic cause of this phenomenon lay in the existence of a rich tradition of sectarianism within the Empire. True, not all these sects were pacifist. But some sects espoused nonviolence; in the case of others, a sizeable number of their adherents held that it was wrong for a Christian...

  26. 20 Vladimir Chertkov and the Tolstoyan Antimilitarist Movement in the Soviet Union
    (pp. 313-328)

    In October 1918, a year after the overthrow of Russia’s Provisional Government, Vladimir Chertkov (1854–1936),¹ the former Tsarist army officer who became leader of the Tolstoyan movement after the death of the Master, established an organization to defend the rights of conscientious objectors (COs), and he gained for it the collaboration of the chief sects then supporting a pacifist position. At the same time as this United Council of Religious Communities and Groups (Ob’edinennyi sovet religioznykh obshchin i grupp — OSROG) came into existence, the chairman of the revolutionary Military Council (Revvoensovet), Lev Trotskii, had issued a decree, dated 22...

  27. 21 Experiences of Conscientious Objectors in the Soviet Union to 1945
    (pp. 329-364)

    During the First World War, as shown in a previous essay, draftees in the Russian Empire refusing to bear arms continued to receive prison sentences as had been the rule in peacetime – unless they were Mennonites, who were assigned either to forestry work (Forsteidienst) or to Red Cross ambulance units alongside the troops, or the occasional lucky non-Mennonite conscientious objector (CO) permitted by his commanding officer to perform some kind of noncombatant service. The revolution of March 1917 had brought release from prison. Tolstoyan leaders, headed by Vladimir Chertkov, the Master’s closest associate, now began negotiations with the Provisional Government...

  28. 22 Conscientious Objectors in Interwar Poland
    (pp. 365-377)

    Interwar Poland, like most other countries in continental Europe, imposed conscription on its able-bodied young men, who were required to serve in the armed forces for a period of two years before being placed on army reserve. Conscientious objection to military service remained there a peculiarity of a small number of religious sects; for in Poland, unlike the Netherlands, no objectors appeared with a stance based on anarcho-syndicalist or humanist grounds. In 1924 the Polish Ministry of War issued a circular exempting birthright members of certain pacifist sects from combatant service.¹ Eventually such persons were assigned noncombatant duties in the...

  29. 23 Six Weeks at Hawkspur Green: A Pacifist Episode during the Battle of Britain
    (pp. 378-400)

    Early in the 1980s the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) asked freelance writer Noel Currer-Briggs to help prepare a program on conscientious objectors (COs) in Second-World-War Britain. It was, in fact, never used, but it led Currer-Briggs, by now in his early sixties, to consider a further project: to write an account of an incident in his own career – ‘a remarkable episode’ – when in the summer of 1940 at the height of the Battle of Britain a small group of Oxford and Cambridge undergraduates, all of them pacifists and liable at any moment to confront conscription into the armed forces, had...

  30. 24 British Conscientious Objectors as Medical Paratroopers in the Second World War
    (pp. 401-424)

    Lieutenant-General Sir Napier Crookenden, in his history of British and American airborne forces in the Normandy D-Day assault, praises the high standard of the medical personnel ‘doctors, surgeons and medical orderlies attached to the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC)’ who accompanied the paratroopers. Of the medical orderlies he writes: ‘Many of these men were conscientious objectors ... who refused to bear arms but were quite willing to jump or glide into action as medical orderlies. Their levels of education, skill and courage were exceptional and every man ... could feel confident he would be looked after, if wounded, as well...

  31. 25 Jehovah’s Witnesses as Conscientious Objectors in Nazi Germany
    (pp. 425-448)

    Early in 1940 Judge Richardson, chairman of the local tribunal for conscientious objectors (COs) situated at Newcastle in northern England, remarked concerning some Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs) who had appeared before the tribunal over which he presided: ‘I have the greatest contempt for your sort. You might pray and preach, but what good do you do?’¹ Such remarks were not unknown elsewhere in the case of officials dealing with COs either in Britain or North America. When Judge Richardson spoke, in wartime Nazi Germany JWs refusing to bear arms for Hitler’s Reich were already being executed, and the death penalty continued...

  32. Index
    (pp. 449-462)