Arbeidsgroep van Doopsgezinden tegen de krijgsdienst
Toward the end of the 19th century the old principle of nonresistance had apparently died out among the Dutch Mennonites. When in 1898 compulsory military service was introduced and the possibility of employing a substitute no longer existed, there was no opposition worth mentioning in the Mennonite congregations, and the young Mennonite men who were subsequently called up for military service accepted the situation. There were, however, during World War I some Mennonites who had scruples and there were also some who refused to render military service, who came of Mennonite families. These scruples, however, were based on a Tolstoy-humanistic anti-militarism rather than the principle of Biblical nonresistance once held by the Mennonite peoplehood. The Mennonite objectors met in 1922 and created an Arbeidsgroep tot trouw aan het beginsel der weerloosheid onder Doopsgezinden (Work Group for Loyalty to the Principle of Nonresistance among the Dutch Mennonites). This work group, which was a division of the already existing Gemeentedag-Vereniging (see Gemeenschap voor Doopsgezind Broederschapswerk), soon adopted the name Arbeidsgroep van Doopsgezinden tegen de krijgsdienst (Mennonite Work Group Against Military Service). Their objections were based on the Bible in conjunction with the old tradition of the brotherhood. In 1924 a booklet was published in the name of the group, written by J. M. Leendertz, Een Doopsgezind getuigenis tegen militair geweld (a Mennonite witness against military force), 3,000 copies of which were distributed. There was among a large part of the Dutch Mennonite brotherhood deep-seated opposition to the Arbeidsgroep and its ideals, but the group continued its activity to carry into the congregations anew the old principle. It also assisted the conscientious objectors in Mennonite circles, among other things by giving information on the act concerning conscientious objectors passed by the legislature of the Netherlands (Dienstweigeringswet, 1925). They also co-operated with organizations having the same goal, such as the Kerk en Vrede and the Dutch Quakers. Leading figures in the Arbeidsgroep were J. M. Leendertz, Jan Gleijsteen, H. C. Barthel, F. Kuiper, C. P. Inja, G. J. A. van Staden, Jacob ter Meulen, and others. The membership reached about 300 at its highest point.
During World War II and the German occupation, positive peace work was done. As early as 1939 J. Gleijsteen and C. P. Inja began to organize relief work, at first in cooperation with some Quakers; their aid consisted in gathering money (1939-1946 about 80,000 fl), food and clothing for the benefit of severely damaged Rotterdam, for the numerous non-Aryan Christians and for Jewish refugees, and later for the Jewish concentration camp kept by the Germans at Westerbork in Drenthe, while through cooperation with the so-called Werkgemeenschap van Doopsgezinden en Geestverwanten (WDG) dozens of children from hungering cities could be sent to the rural congregations. For all this work the WDG had groups in many places in the Netherlands to assist it, and much of the work had to be done in secret.
In 1946 after the end of the war the Arbeidsgroep, though retaining its old purpose, changed its name to Doopsgezinde Vredesgroep, since this name expressed more positively and more exactly the nature of the organization. Some of the members of the former Arbeidsgroep did not join the new organization, but on the other hand many more new members were received.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p. 145. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: van der Zijpp, Nanne. "Arbeidsgroep van Doopsgezinden tegen de krijgsdienst ." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 25 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/A7248.html.
APA style: van der Zijpp, Nanne. (1957). Arbeidsgroep van Doopsgezinden tegen de krijgsdienst . Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 25 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/A7248.html.