Extracts from B. J. Boothroyd’s court-martial statement.
“I have refused to acknowledge military authority because I do do not regard myself as a soldier. That the law says I am a soldier does not concern me; the law was passed for the immoral purpose of forcing men to commit murder and to expedite murder, and therefore, I have no option but to refuse to obey it.
“War is the sanction of every vice that human mind can imagine. Every form of bestiality, every category of sin that human history contains is encouraged by war an exemplified in this one. War inevitably creates a state of things in which lying, treachery and end theft are enforced by Act of Parliament – in which the torture and destruction of men’s and women’s bodies is made the subject of technical instruction, and in which every evil, the capacity for which is inherent in humanity, is taught as a virtue by civil, military and ecclesiastical authority. With this state of things I am out of harmony, and to every manifestation of it I must offer uncompromising opposition.
“To ask me to be a soldier is to ask me to throw away my humanity, to extinguish the spark of divinity that is the soul of every man, and to ask me to act contrary to what are to me fundamental ethical laws, namely, to return good for evil, to refrain from judging and punishing the sins of others, and to treat others as I would be treated myself.
“Further, war necessitates the denial of that liberty of choice and action and that insistence on the sanctity of individuality which is necessary to human growth and development, and substitiutes a course of training that reduces the race to a set of standardised automata, without wills or judgement, permanently subject to the interest of a ruling class.
“Moreover, I am convinced that if the people of England and Germany could know to-day what I know of the political and financial events which led up to this war, instead of being fed upon the lies and half-truths of our officially ordered press, the men who are now killing each other in their ignorance would refuse to fire another shot unless it were at the rulers who have deceived and exploited them.
“Until this spell of false morality, false facts and bad logic, appealed for under the name of patriotism is broken, I believe there is no future for the race, but chaos and destruction. For my part, I intend to do all I can to exemplify another way of life, based on a conception of human relationships which will render way impossible. My alternative to punishment, whether of men or nations, is the example of a better way; to antagonism – amicable co-operation based on the common interests of humanity; to armed defence – fearless trust of my neighbour; and any law which orders me to live contrary to these principles I shall disobey without hesitation and try to persuade others to do so.
“With all due respect, I must disclaim any interest in the opinions expressed by this Court as to my guiltiness or otherwise, for I regard myself as the accuser in this case, believing this Court to be both a symbol and an instrument of that system of militarism which has plunged the world into misery. I wish to say, however,- and this in conclusion – that I do not wish my attitude to be mistaken for discourtesy towards the members of this Court, or to any soldiers.
My attitude towards soldiers is one of hope that their splendid qualities may some day be diverted from unnecessary destruction to the enrichment of humanity, by a fuller appreciation of the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ and a better acquaintance with foreign politics.”
B. J. Boothroyd