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Conscientious Objectors during World War II

The lives of Conscientious Objectors during World War II, including Desmond Doss, a Medal of Honor recipient, and hero during the Battle of Okinawa.

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Welcome to the Civilian Public Service story, a website created by CPS alumni to help tell the story of conscientious objectors choosing to live peace in the World War II era.
To learn more about our experiences, I invite you to read Work of National Importance, a brief overview of Civilian Public Service.
I hope this history will add inspiration and courage to our common efforts to continue the story.

Desmond Doss, Medal of Honor, WWII

Army medic Desmond Doss single-handedly brought 75 wounded troops to safety while under constant fire on Okinawa on May 5, 1945. President Truman awarded him...

C.O. Website: History, Swarthmore College Peace Collection

A great resource for finding out information about the lives of conscientious objectors. Also includes links to other useful websites; both primary and secondary.

The History of Conscientious Objection

Historically,
many conscientious objectors have been executed,
imprisoned or sanctioned when their beliefs led
to actions conflicting with their society's
legal system or government. The legal definition
and status of conscientious objection has varied
over the years and from nation to nation.
Religious beliefs were a starting point in many
nations for legally granting conscientious
objection status. Acceptable grounds for
granting conscientious objector status have
broadened in many countries.

Conscientious Objectors during World War II

The question was what to do with these objectors when the country was fighting for its survival. During the Civil War, Quakers pressured Congress to allow members of the peace churches to perform alternate service, usually acting as medics who would care for wounded soldiers but not fight themselves.

NebraskaStudies.Org

A look at the lives of CO's in Nebraska. Some of the country oriented services they provided. All while being treated very poorly.

Experiences in a conscientious objector camp during WWII

Rodenko describes his experiences in a camp for conscientious objectors during World War II. The camp Rodenko stayed at was in Colorado, but several such camps were scattered around the nation. Rodenko explains that these work camps, which were run by the Selective Service, were organized by the federal government to stave off anti-war activism and organization.

America Experimented on Conscientious Objectors During World War II

The vast majority of Americans supported involvement in World War II, but a small minority refused to serve in combat because of their religious, philosophical, political or moral beliefs.

The Perilous Fight . Conscientious Objectors | PBS

African Americans, Asian-Americans, women, conscientious objectors and anti-Semitism in WWII. PBS website.

Spartacus Educational

Conscientious Objectors

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Desmond Doss during his time in the Army.

Desmond Doss during his time in the Army.
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CO camp in Virginia

CO camp in Virginia
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Anti-CO propaganda poking fun at CO's during WWII

Anti-CO propaganda poking fun at CO's during WWII
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CO's in a government run "work camp"

CO's in a government run "work camp"