Parents, siblings and pacifism : the Baxter family and others (World War One and World War Two)
Cumming, Belinda C.
Before she died, Millicent Baxter, wife of notorious New Zealand conscientious objector Archibald Baxter, wrote a letter confessing one of her final wishes: “I hope to live long enough to see the production of the documentary of my husband's book, We Will Not Cease ... I think it has a message for the young. The future of the world is in their hands …” Clearly pacifism was a shared commitment in her family, not just the passion of one individual member. This essay will seek to explore the importance of family in a pacifist stance. I will examine influences of, and effects on, various members of the family unit, and investigate the importance of familial support in aiding a conscientious objector to take the pacifist stance and cope with the consequent hardships confronted. My dissertation examines both the first and second World Wars. This focus on the family distinguishes my research from scholarship which precedes it.(…)While available scholarship provides a significant wealth of detail on conscientious objection in New Zealand, this narrow focus on administration has led to neglect of the families of the pacifists, the people who actually felt the affects of the policies formulated by politicians in Parliament and who witnessed the persecution and punishment of their loved ones. Attention has not been paid to the role of the family and I endeavour to remedy this neglect. I wish to explore how the family members in both wars were affected by the pacifist stance adopted by men in their families, and how they responded. (…) The stand of a conscientious objector is 'a protest against war and leads inevitably to conflict with the State.' 3 When a man elected to object to war and go against prevailing opinion at the time, he was putting himself forward to be ostracised, harassed and abused by the community, and be punished officially by the Government. This radical and life-changing decision to be a conscientious objector would likely have been a gradual process of thought and debate during the objector's life, not a spontaneous snap decision. I wish to explore the role that upbringing played in this decision-making process, and to investigate the influence that parents consciously or sub-consciously had over their children's views regarding peace and war. (…) By focusing on the family in research regarding conscientious objection in New Zealand over both Wars, this dissertation sheds light on hitherto neglected areas of investigation, and gives a voice to mothers, fathers, siblings and children who have until now often remained unheard. [extract from Introduction]
Degree Name: Bachelor of Arts with Honours
Degree Discipline: History
Publisher: University of Otago
Research Type: Thesis