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Confinement of Conscientious Objectors as Psychiatric Patients in World War I Germany

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This article deals with a subject hitherto almost totally ignored in historical literature: the fate of those German conscientious objectors (COs), both religious and political, who were confined as psychiatric patients during World War I. Reports by psychiatrists examining these men, which were printed in medical journals during the war years, form the chief source on which the author bases his article. Some of these psychiatrists regarded their CO “patients” as mostly sane (though mistaken in their views), while others considered that, with a few exceptions perhaps, they were suffering from some form of mental disorder which had led them to refuse military service. The end of the war brought the men release from confinement. Such treatment, the author concludes, though short-lived, contained dangerous implications for human rights.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Toronto

Publication date: July 1, 1998

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