Manitoba Mennonites and the Winnipeg Mobilization Board in World War II

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Reddig, Ken.
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This thesis attempts to describe the impact of the Mennonite community in Manitoba, vis-a-vis the machinations of the chairman of the Manitoba Mobillization Board. The war divided the Mennonites into several groups. There were those conscientious objectors willing to cooperate with the government 1n alternative service programs, versus those holding to the 1873 agreement with the Canadian government exempting them from all forms of government service. Complicating the situation was the fact that a large percentage of Mennonite men joined the armed forces, in spite of the church's 425-year tradition of non-resistance (pacifism). For those Mennonites pleading postponement as conscientious objectors, appearance was required before the Mobilization Board Chairman, Judge John E. Adamson, a man of stern Christian temperament, with strong pro-military and pro-British sentiments. Not only was he the government's arbiter of men's conscience, but he also assumed the role of self-appointed mllitary recruiter. In the thesis the Manitoba Mennonite experience is examined through use of the minutes of the various Mennonite peace committees, personal records, as well as from available federal government records. It is concluded that the war was the most divisive event Mennonites in Canada ever experienced. While popular interpretation has pointed to Judge Adamson as the major problem Mennonites faced during the war, it is concluded that the real problem was Mennonite disunity in interpretation of their traditional doctrine of non-resistance.