1942 December 19

WW II Civilian Public Service Camps Open, Alternative for Conscientious Objectors


The Civilian Public Service Camps were an alternative form of service for conscientious objectors during World War II. About 12,000 draftees served in the CPSCs during the war, working in forestry, agriculture, and social services. Some participated in medical experiments, in some cases at the risk of their health. Church groups were responsible for the camps, paying for the directors, food and clothing, and a small allowance for the young men. Some conscientious objectors, however, rejected the CPSC alternative, seeing it as simply another way to participate in the war effort. They were convicted of refusing to cooperate with the draft and were sentenced to prison.

In prison, some members of this group staged successful hunger strikes to protest racial segregation (December 23, 1943) and censorship of mail (September 29, 1943) in the prisons.

Learn more about the hunger strike in the Danbury prison, The Good War: And Those Who Refused to Fight It: http://www.pbs.org/itvs/thegoodwar/bars.html

Learn even more: Cynthia Eller, Conscientious Objectors and the Second World War: Moral and Religious Arguments in Support of Pacifism (1991)

Read: David Dellinger, From Yale to Jail: the Life and Times of a Moral Dissenter (1993)

Learn about the rights of COs today at the GI Rights Hotline here.

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