Conducts research and collects data on the global history of labour, workers, and labour relations

Total Objectors Archive

On 24 September 2003 the Total Objectors Archive was officially handed over to the IISH. The archive is a remarkable collection of archival material from and about total objectors to military service after 1970.

Total objectors were young, usually radical antimilitarists who not only objected to the military service but also refused to perform any kind of alternative civil service. For this radical stand they had to appear before a court-martial board and were initially sentenced to prison for one year (later the sentence was for eight months). To assist these young men a network of support groups and other activities emerged. The loose action group 'Onkruit' played an important role by engaging in spectacular actions near military bases. When conscription was abolished in 1996, conscientious objection to military service ended as well.

The archival materials were collected and arranged after 1980 by a working group associated with the Antimilitarist Bureau in Nijmegen. Many former total objectors contributed to the archive by sending their personal papers. The core of the collection consists of the official and personal papers of about 175 total objectors. Some were associated with and were supported by the action group Onkruit. Others had family and friends that provided support groups. The archive also contains documents concerning these support groups, including the association of parents of imprisoned total objectors 'Antinor' (anti-jail), objectors' collectives, the Conscientious Objectors Society and other antimilitarist groups.

Finally, the archive contains information about the reactions of the authorities and the public to the phenomenon of total objections as well as about many other antimilitarist actions and protests. As such, the collection provides a nearly complete picture of total objection in the Netherlands between 1970 and 1996.
With the transfer of this archive, the most important collections concerning conscientious objection to military service in the Netherlands from the end of the nineteenth century until the end of the twentieth are now united under one roof. Other archives containing material on conscientious objection in the Netherlands are:

Text: Bernard Mantel, September 2003