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OBJECTING TO WAR
FIRST CO TO DIE
2 EUROPE GOES TO WAR
3 COUNTDOWN TO CONSCRIPTION
4 FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE IN SOCIETY
5 NO CONSCRIPTION FELLOWSHIP
6 THE SECRET PRESS
7 MANY TRADITIONS
8 THE TRIBUNALS
9 TRANSCRIPTS
10 THE 'won't-fight-funks'
11 THE COST OF CONSCIENCE
12 UNWILLING SOLDIERS
13 ALTERNATIVES AND DILEMMAS
14 PRISON
15 THE MEN SENTENCED TO DEATH
16 COERCION FAILS
17 DYCE
18 DARTMOOR
19 THEY WORK IN OVERCOATS
20 THE MEN WHO DIED
21 WINDING DOWN
21 SELECTION OF BOOKS
22 FROM CALL UP TO DISCHARGE


WHY WAR? supplement


Fred remembers a conversation with a murderer.

Fred Murfin, a conscientious objector in WW1 was sentenced to death. The sentence was commuted and when finally released from prison in 1919 he went to live in London. He became involved in the Friends Adult School and joined the Society of Friends.

He contributed to the Appeal for Famine Victims in Europe by giving an overcoat. In one of the coat pockets he put a note of his address. After some months a brief note arrived signed by 'Willi Plaffe', expressing thanks for the warm coat and a desire to correspond in English as he wished to learn the language. This correspondence continued for many years with a break during World War Two. In 1960 Willi came to England and finally met Fred, by then retired and living in Cornwall.
Fred died in 1972.

OBJECTING TO WAR

Ever since wars have been fought, people have argued against them, and many have objected to fighting in them.

Some people did not like the idea of risking their lives and so did their best to keep out of going to war. Some were naturally afraid of being wounded or killed. Some did not support the cause of a particular war or war leader. Some thought that providing a livelihood for their family was more important. Yet others did not want such an interruption to their comfortable lives.

There was also a group of people who had more complicated reasons for refusing to participate in war. These were the conscientious objectors (‘COs’) nicknamed 'conchies’ – a term of abuse. At the time of the First World War the COs were called cowards for refusing to go to France as part of the British Army. But they were not cowards. For religious, ethical, moral or humanitarian reasons, they believed it to be wrong to take part in anything that involved killing fellow human beings.

Back in 1793, revolutionaries in France had overthrown the king and the aristocracy. They then formed a ‘people’s’ government. For the first time, men were conscripted: forced to become soldiers in the people’s army. Many of France’s new ‘citizens’ accepted this. Before, they had had no say in their country’s affairs or their own fates. Now, they felt they had a personal stake in France’s future. Fighting for their country was now, they believed, the duty of good citizens and not just the job of professional soldiers.

Until the 20th century personal refusal to military service had a religious motivation. But the introduction of compulsory military service in Britain and the United States with their liberal governments gave impetus for a humanitarian outlook which saw the killing of fellow human beings as wrong of itself rather than because of religious injunction which in any case seemed to favour all warring sides.

'I know what it is to kill a pig; I won't kill a man.
Stephen Winsten

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