80 years ago: Where pacifism is dangerous – war resistance in Europe

IssueJune - July 2016
Comment by Albert Beale

Though it goes by the formidable title of ‘An Appeal’, a pamphlet by the War Resisters’ International is in reality a valuable addition to the all too meagre information that is available concerning the heroic stand that is being made by pacifists in countries where the penalty for such views is exile, imprisonment, torture, or even death.

In French Guiana, France, Lithuania, Italy, Rumania, Germany, Yugoslavia, Poland, Switzerland and elsewhere it is the same story. ‘I may be broken, but I shall not be used’ (for military service), the cry of Gerard Vidal, is typical of the courageous attitude of these war resisters, who have to be prepared for anything.

The War Resisters’ International, which has affiliated sections in 24 countries, was founded 15 years ago....

The principal work of the International is to discover and link together war resisters in all part of the world. During the last few months the War Resisters’ International has met with extraordinary success in securing the release of a number or war resisters serving long terms of imprisonment....

Weapons ‘would make enemies’

Amid all the blatant propaganda for greater armaments now going on in many countries, it is well to remember that there are nations which believe disarmament is a good form of security.

The State of Luxemburg has frontiers bordering on France, Germany, and Belgium, yet refuses to be stampeded into arming for ‘self-defence’. The following extract from the Luxemburger Wort, the leading newspaper, shows why:

‘To arm and join in a military alliance would mean sacrificing our independence. It would make enemies for us among other nations. Armed France feels no more secure than unarmed Luxemburg.

‘If we are invaded our chances of good treatment are better if we have incurred no nation’s suspicion by arms and alliances. Should divine providence one day – let us hope that it will not be in the near future – want us to perish with the other nations in the universal fury of a new slaughter, then let us die free and innocent, keeping in our hands the sparkling weapon of our right, of our independence, our freedom and our neutrality, not as cowards who wanted to find a safety which nobody can give, who have sold their most beautiful good, their independence....’

Topics: War resisters
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