Was there a special treatment for conscientious objectors in Germany during WWI? I know that Britain had a process of exemptions, which was however rather harshly and sparingly administered (see wiki). However wikipedia is silent on Germany at the same time (or maybe I didn't know where to look).

Also, how prevalent was conscientious objection in Germany then? Again, we have statistics for Britain readily available online but the German information is not lying close to the surface.

1 Answer 1


The german Wikipedia has a bit about this. In short: No - it was illegal in WWI. And during the Nazis it was deadly.


Den Ersten Weltkrieg betrachtete die Deutsche Friedensgesellschaft ebenso wie die SPD als deutschen Verteidigungskrieg und lehnte die Kriegsdienstverweigerung deshalb weiterhin ab. Sie erlitt mit anderen deutschen pazifistischen Gruppen hohe Mitgliederverluste und wurde trotz ihrer an der Regierung orientierten Forderungen 1915 verboten. Anders als etwa in Großbritannien entstand in Deutschland keine organisierte und politisch wirksame Verweigerungsbewegung. Nur einzelne Intellektuelle, wenige Anarchisten und etwa 50 Adventisten verweigerten im August 1914 die Einberufung zum deutschen Militär. Sie wurden deswegen als Geistesgestörte inhaftiert oder – häufiger – zu schweren Zuchthausstrafen verurteilt, die einige von ihnen nicht überlebten.

The first World War was viewed by both the German Peace Society (Deutsche Friedensgesellschaft, society against war) and the SPD (left party) as a war of defense against allied aggressors and therefore continued to refuse supporting conscientious objection. Both of them suffered along other German pacifist groups high losses of members and although their calls suited the government they were forbidden in 1915. In contrast to Great Britain Germany was not able to rise an organized and politically powerful conscientious objection movement. Only some isolated intellectuals, few anarchists and 50 adventists objected their draft call to the German military at August 1914. They were either treated as mentally disturbed and incarcerated or more often sentenced to excessive prison sentences which some of them did not survive.

  • 4
    This could be improved by pasting cites from Wikipedia. Not everyone here can read German :)
    – DVK
    Nov 30, 2013 at 13:41

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