Merv Browne and Chris Palmer

Merv Browne and Chris Palmer were conscientious objectors who spent time in detention camps for their decision to refuse to serve in the Second World War. In 1944 they escaped and publicised their grievances to the inhumane treatment they were receiving, as well as writing a leaflet which explained their opposition to the war.

We fully appreciate the courage and self-sacrifice of the men and women in the armed forces. The stand we have taken is in no way critical of these people, but it is an emphatic protest against a system which breeds war, a system which demands as the price of its existence that millions of young lives must be destroyed by the beastliness of war, instead of being committed to develop to the full in some peaceful, creative work.

We urge… peace now, by negotiation.

Sooner or later the peoples of the world will have to get together and discuss peace terms. Why not now? Stop and think what every day of the war means in terms of human life, in suffering and tragedy, in the collapse of morality, and prostitution of ideals and principles. Wars are man-made, and can therefore be stopped when men decide to stop them.

We appeal to you to demand an immediate armistice. Only by collaboration between the common peoples of the world, on the basis of the ending of exploitation and the determined effort to build a free co-operative commonwealth of all nations, can we hope to establish permanent peace – the federation of mankind.

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Further Reading:

W.J. Foote, Bread and Water: the Escape and Ordeal of Two New Zealand World War II Conscientious Objectors. Wellington: Philip Garside, 2000.

David Grant, A Question of Faith: A History of the New Zealand Christian Pacifist Society. Wellington: Philip Garside Publishing, 2004.