The Forerunners (Romain Rolland)/Supplementary Note to Chapter XX

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COMMENT is requisite upon the reproaches addressed by G. F. Nicolai to certain Christian sects. In the various countries of Europe, opposition to the war, on the part of those he names, was far more vigorous than has been commonly supposed. Inasmuch as the authorities ruthlessly but silently suppressed all opposition, it is only since the close of the war that we have been able to glean information concerning these conscientious revolts and sacrifices. Without dwelling upon the story of the thousands of conscientious objectors in the United States and in England (where Bertrand Russell has been their defender and interpreter), I wish to mention that Paul Birinkov has drawn my attention to the attitude of the Nazarenes in Hungary and Serbia, where large numbers of them were shot. He has also given me information concerning the doings of the Tolstoyans, the Dukhobors, the Adventists, the Young Baptists, etc., in Russia. As for the Mennonites, according to the reports of Dr. Pierre Kennel, in the United States most of them refused to subscribe to the war loans. They were not compelled to undertake combatant duties, but they accepted service in the battalions for the reconstruction of the devastated regions in northern France. In tsarist Russia, and in a number of the German states, they were granted exemption from combatant service, and did duty in the medical corps or other auxiliary drafts. In France, by a decree of the Convention (respected by Napoleon) they were likewise assigned to non-combatant service. But the Third Republic disregarded this decree.

R. R.