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Ms. "The First World War"

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page 24

of the C.O.’s working too hard. We soon learned to avoid this offence where we were not urged on by our “chasers”. It must have been about three weeks of our stay here before the trials began. Each one was tried separately and these trials lasted on the average of half a day. An attorney was appointed to defend us. No doubt he was able as an advocate but it’s natural that he lacked interest in our defence [sic]. He was not paid by his clients, who from the military standpoint were a stumbling block anyway; why should he exert himself to get us acquitted. Other officers even dubbed him a Conscientious Objector. He did not advise us that it was not likely to be to our advantage to take the witness stand. He said nothing of the right to object to irrelevant questions, but he did caution the court that the logic of a C.O.’s position is of far less important in the eyes of the law than the question of his sincerity. He also questioned the testimony of a psychologist who diagnosed me and found me twenty-five per cent sincere and seventy-five per cent German bias. The plea in my behalf was based on the fact that evidence of insincerity was Very Light, and emphasized the fact that I was a member of the Mennonite Church practically all my life. The manner in which the cross examination was conducted created in me a strong impression that the court tried to trap me into making some seditious utterance. Probably I am mistaken in this, for heretofor [sic] I had never been in a courtroom to witness a trial, except once where an unruly boy was tried before the Justice of The Peace. I believe it is a mark of good citizenship, if in their civil life people refrain from litigation, but rather settle their differences out of court, or if they are not hailed before magistrates. Here are some of the stock questions commonly asked a C.O. and used generously

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