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The Believe That Conscientious Objectors Were Nothing But Cowards

2289 words - 10 pages

During the First World War Britain introduced conscription for the first time to massively increase the input of power of their army had and forced men aged 16-19 to serve in the army. However, a group of roughly 16,800 men refused to serve. These groups of people were called Conscientious Objectors; sometimes called COs or Conchies; and many were very religious and believed that thou shall not kill as it is a sin in the Bible. This was a main point that most Conscientious Objectors did not take any part during the First World War as they believed it would result in pointless bloodshed. The Government’s and general public’s view on Conscientious Objectors was that Conscientious Objectors were unpatriotic cowards and the Government used propaganda to manipulate the general public’s view on Conscientious Objectors by showing that they would not aid the Britain and were weak. As a result they were treated harshly. The Government made being a Conscientious Objector very hard and difficult as they would enforce tribunals which consisted of ex- military officials who were biased as they were for the First World War. Therefore, these people gave huge prison sentences to Conscientious Objectors as a scare tactic to reduce the number of Conscientious Objectors. Historians use interpretations to show the message behind each source to see it’s reliable or useful. Also this is done to see if the source itself is a primary or secondary interpretation which shows if the source’s view and meaning is from the author of sources (primary interpretation) or giving a generalised views on people who were there at the time (secondary interpretation).

However, in this extract from a history book published in 1928, it explains the “white feather” which is “the symbol of cowardice and failing one’s country” and shows that the Conscientious Objectors were seen as cowards by the general public. Source B1’s origin was from an historian, giving a secondary interpretation about the feelings of the general public concerning Conscientious Objectors. The book was released after a group of Conchies were set free from Gaol showing that the book has the benefit of hindsight as the historian has done some research to back up the points in the book, making the source is bias but still useful. Since the author is an historian whose main priority is to make sure that the information is relevant and accurate as the purpose is to educate. Therefore, there shouldn’t be any errors or mistakes when the book is published. The origin also affects the usefulness as the source is from a historian therefore, the source would contain information and views which are relevant to COs. It also affects the interpretation making it a secondary interpretation as it’s from a historian who wasn’t there however; he has researched to find the interpretation of the general public during the First World War therefore, increasing the reliability and usefulness. This also affects the usefulness, making it...

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