Anabaptist Response to Recruitment into the German Army
I had just turned three in January of 1945 when my father faces a challenge to his Anabaptist faith. He is a nonresistant Mennonite being conscripted into the German military near the end of WWII. Earlier he refused service in the Soviet army back in the Ukraine. The family fled west to escape being deported to Siberia by the Soviet army. Mother’s plea’s are ignored by the German recruiting officers. Father reports to the induction center as ordered but keeps in the shadows pretending to be oblivious to what is going on around him.. He remains silent when his name is called. When all of the recruits have been processed and the last transport has left, he is still standing there.
An officer barks, “What are you doing here?”
“I was ordered to report to this location but I don’t know why.”
“We don’t need the likes of you, you can go home.”
Father has the presence of mind to ask for an official document for his release. Failing to enlist can result in the death sentence.
Maria another refugee who witnesses the scene runs back to the camp shouting “Anna, he is coming, he has been released.”
Mother is relieved to have at least one man left among the women and children in the camp. “God has performed a miracle once again.”
Father is grateful to have been true to the long nonviolent tradition of his Anabaptist heritage that cost his father the ultimate price during the Russian civil war after WWI.
I am Johann Funk for First Mennonite Church in Kelowna