Conscientious Objectors

Conscientious Objection, as defined by the United States Department of Defense, is the “opposition to participation in war in any form, based on a firm, fixed, sincere and deeply held moral, ethical, or religious belief.” Conscientious Objectors (COs) use their constitutional right to practice civil disobedience to protest the American government and its involvement in wars by refusing to contribute any work of military value, even during a draft. Because of this peaceful act of resistance, some COs were punished, starved, and discriminated against by employers to the point of termination. COs fall under the broader category of war resisters (which also includes pacifists, draft and/or tax resisters, and draft-dodgers).

This digital library consists of original materials gathered from three existing World War II collections.

  1. In Montague MA, Carl Walz was terminated from his tenured position as a German, Latin, and History teacher at Turners Falls High School due to his position regarding the war. The Massachusetts Civil Liberties Union helped Walz sue the Montague School Committee for wrongful dismissal. The transcript from his unsuccessful lawsuit, Carl Walz v. Albert E. Clark et al, is represented in this library.
  2. The Civilian Public Service Camp (CPSC) Newsletters provide a detailed account of life as a CPSC assignee.
  3. The correspondences of Robert and Waldemar Schultze describe punishment and starvation at the Fort Niagara barracks in New York and their attempts to be sent to Civilian Public Service Camps.

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