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CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTORS MEMORIAL PLAQUE

This plaque records the names of 70 of the 81 British conscientious objectors known to have died as a result of their ill-treatment and privations whilst resisting in the First World War. Although no CO was executed (35 were formally sentenced to death but reprieved), men were brutally treated, half-starved, forcibly fed on hunger-strike and confined or forced to work in cold, damp conditions such that they succumbed to tuberculosis, pneumonia or influenza.

The tablet was carved by Dorothy Stevens in 1923 at the suggestion of Martha Steinitz, secretary of Bund der Kriegsdienstgegner (League of War Resisters), the German section of the War Resisters International. The words of the main inscription, “It is by the faith of the idealist that the ideal comes true”, are attributed to Royle Richmond, one of the COs commemorated.

The plaque was first erected at the headquarters of the Kriegsdienstgegner in Berlin. When Hitler came to power in 1933, Arnold Kalisch, then secretary of the Kriegsdienstgegner, fled to Denmark with the plaque, which he erected at the Peace House he founded in south Denmark. On the German occupation in 1940, Arnold Kalisch was interned, but eventually escaped to Sweden. The tablet was hidden by a friend, and re-erected by Arnold Kalisch in his re-opened Peace House after the war.

Following his death in 1957, his widow offered it to the WRI, who at the Council meeting in 1958 placed it on permanent loan to the Peace Pledge Union, the principal British section of WRI and with whom the No More War Movement, the lineal descendant of the No-Conscription Fellowship of WW1, formally merged in 1937.

The plaque was brought back to Britain by Harold Bing, himself a WW1 CO, and unveiled in the PPU offices on 3 January 1959 by Frederick Murfin, one of the COs who had been sentenced to be shot, in the presence of former Prisoners of Peace of both World Wars.

The names of those who died


CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTORS MEMORIAL PLAQUE London. This plaque and other CO related materials can be seen at 1 Peace Passage. It is advisable to call or email in advance of visiting.

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