The story of conscientious objection in Britain begins in 1916, when conscription was introduced for the first time. Some 16,000 men refused conscription because they believed on grounds of conscience that it was wrong to kill and wrong of any government to force them to do so. As historians mark the centenary of the First World War much emphasis is placed on the bravery of those men who fought and died in the trenches. But those who refused to kill could also be courageous. ‘Conchies’ were treated brutally: they were widely seen as cowards and traitors, vilified, abused, forced into the army, and brutalised. Some were even sentenced to death in an attempt to break their resistance. Many spent long months and years in prison.
Conscientious Objectors of the First World War: A Determined Resistance tells the stories of these men. It looks at who they were, why they took the stand they did, and how they were treated. To bring their voices and experiences to life, author Ann Kramer has used extensive prime source material, including interviews, memoirs and contemporary newspapers. She describes what it was like for COs to face hostile tribunals, defy the authorities and army regulations alike, be brutalised and endure repeated terms of imprisonment. She concludes by looking at their legacy, which was profound, inspiring a second generation of conscientious objectors during the Second World War.
CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTORS OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR A Determined Resistance
A comprehensive account of Conscientious Objectors in the Great War, who defied peer pressure and official persecution because of their belief that it was wrong to fight and kill. The book concentrates on the hard core absolutist ‘Conchies’ who refused even non-combatant service, and suffered abuse, brutalisation and repeated imprisonment for their stand. This is a subject that is still misunderstood by many but which deserves a wider understanding.