On September 16, 1939, August Dickmann was the first Conscientious Objector to be executed by the Germans in World War II. Following the execution of the 29 year old Dickmann, the Nazis executed another 270 Conscientious Objector Jehovah Witnesses.
A brief artice on the Peace History web site says:
August Dickmann, a German and a Jehovah's Witness, became the first conscientious objector (CO) to be executed by the Nazis during World War II. The execution by firing squad took place in Sachsenhausen concentration camp before all prisoners, including 400 Jehovah's Witness inmates. Threatened by Commandant Hermann Baranowsky with the same fate, none of the remaining 400 Witnesses renounced their CO position. Later, the Nazis commonly executed Witnesses by guillotine or hanging, not wanting to spend bullets on COs. German military courts sentenced and executed 270 Jehovah's Witnesses, the largest number of COs executed from any victim group during World War II.
Conscientious Objectors continue to be prosecuted and persecuted in most countries at war even the United States. During the Iraq war there have been soldiers who have refused to fight and kill such as Ehren Watada who is scheduled for court martial on October 9, 2007.
How is it that we live in a society and a time in history where people who refuse to attack, injure, and kill others are themselves killed for that refusal? What are we teaching our children?
What passes for history in most schools is a history of generals and war, conquerors and the conquered, winners and loosers, dominators and the dominated. It is time to teach a new history of peace and justice. Conscientious objectors are the saints among us who have lived based on values that our current sinful world rejects. Where the world sees domination and vengeance, conscientious objectors see partnership, peace, and love.
Link: This Week In Peace History.