The Doopsgezinde Vredesgroep (Mennonite Peace Association) was a postwar continuation of the Arbeidsgroep van Doopsgezinden tegen de Krijgsdienst, which was a Dutch Mennonite anti-militaristic association, founded in 1922, which during the war co-operated with Quakers and other nonresistant groups to relieve the needs of the war times: help to Jews, to enable them to leave the Netherlands secretly, and later in sending food to the Jewish concentration camp at Westerbork, where the German Nazis had confined a large number of Jews (each week 700 packets of 10 lbs. were sent); to the population of Rotterdam after the severe German bombardment of 14 May 1940; in 1943-44, when food became scarce, by moving children out of the larger cities of the Western Netherlands to the country; and helping the onderduikers, i.e., persons who were in hiding because of the Gestapo, etc.
After the war, on 31 August and 1-2 September 1945, the Vredesgroep was founded during a peace meeting in the Elspeet Brotherhood Home. The aims of the Peace Group were as follows: In loyal obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ they wished to give a testimony to the world by acknowledging Christ's command of love even to enemies, and the obligation of Biblical nonresistance; to strengthen the peace convictions in Mennonite congregations; to give spiritual and material help to those who were in trouble in consequence of their nonresistance, and especially to those who refused military service for the sake of Christ; to contribute to a form of service of love, substituting for military service, like the Civilian Public Service of the Mennonites in the United States; they were willing to co-operate with other nonresistant organizations.
An important support for conscientious objectors was the Doopsgezind Vredes-Bureau (Mennonite Peace Office), founded by the Peace Group in 1946 (leaders: T. O. Hylkema and C. P. Inja), which gives assistance and instruction to all who wished to refuse military service, or who as conscientious objectors were in trouble. The number of C.O.'s to whom assistance was rendered from September 1946 to 1 January 1953, totaled 700 (Mennonites 250, other Christian denominations 283, no church 167). Besides this, relief work was taken up "in the name of Christ." Supported by the whole Mennonite community, food was sent to Vienna, Austria, 1947-1950, and from then to Emden, East Friesland. This relief work was largely stimulated by the example of the Mennonite Central Committee which had much impressed the Dutch Mennonites. The members of the Peace Group felt much allied to the American Mennonites, both groups holding the principles of nonresistance. By this positive principle the Dutch Mennonite Peace Group had much influence in similar non-Mennonite organizations.
The membership of the Peace Group, when founded in 1946, numbered 50; in May 1947 it had increased to 250; on 1 January 1953, the membership was 607. Besides this there were about 100 belangstellende leden (sympathizing members, who did not agree on all points with the constitution of the group). Among the members in 1953 there were 40 ministers (32 per cent of all Dutch Mennonite ministers). -- CPI
Since the mid-1950s there has been a significant increase in conscientious objection to military service in The Netherlands. This was correlated with the "church and peace" movement, a branch of the Dutch International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR). Since 1980 the emphasis of the peace group has moved into the center of congregational life. This was caused, in part, by the increasing polarization of opinion surrounding the placing of atomic weapons in The Netherlands. The Algemene Doopsgezinde Sociëteit (ADS; Dutch Mennonite general conference) joined the Interkerkelijke Vredesberaad (IKV; Inter-Church Peace Council), which launched a campaign against placing of Cruise Missiles in The Netherlands in 1977. Literature to this end was also distributed by the ADS. De Vredesbrief (The Peace Letter), which had been published since 1967 by the peace group, was now placed as an insert in the Mennonite weekly paper (ADW), which enlarged the readership but also led to polarization and increasing polemics about the relationship of faith and politics.
Contacts was also maintained with those who refuse to pay taxes for defense, as well as with other Mennonite and interconfessional groups both in Europe and elsewhere, e.g., Eirene and Church and Peace. In The Netherlands the peace group is part of the united committee to this end. -- LLau
See also Peace Education.
40 jaar Dopers en Dwars published by Doopsgezinde Vredesgroep, 1986.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, pp. 88-89; v. 5, p. 243. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
©1996-2013 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.
MLA style: Inja, Corn P. and Leo Laurense. "Doopsgezinde Vredesgroep." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1990. Web. 20 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/D664.html.
APA style: Inja, Corn P. and Leo Laurense. (1990). Doopsgezinde Vredesgroep. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 20 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/D664.html.