This commemoration celebrates the collective conscience of the ‘new kids on the block’, the International Bible Students Association, explaining how their beliefs prepared them for conflict with ‘the powers that be’ prior to the British Government initiating conscription in 1916. From Richmond to France, how did this group, representing just over 2% of all COs in Britain, come to constitute almost 23% of the COs who faced the death sentence episode? Why did so many join the Home Office Scheme, and what happened to IBSA absolutists who suffered in Military Prisons in France? What was learned and shared internationally post-war when, as Jehovah’s Witnesses, they declined any future involvement with war at risk of losing popularity, liberty and even life itself? How did their stand in Nazi Germany become “unique in the history of conscientious objection”? Finally, what is their legacy and why did they become neglected in peace studies?
Gary Perkins is an independent researcher and author of the book Bible Student Conscientious Objectors in World War One – Britain