"From this moment until our enemies shall have been driven from the territory of the Republic, all Frenchmen are permanently requisitioned for service in the armies. The young men shall fight; the married men shall forge weapons and transport supplies; the women will make clothes and serve in the hospitals; the children will make up old linen into lint; the old men will have themselves carried into the public squares to rouse the courage of the fighting men, to preach the unity of the Republic and hatred against kings.

Convention decree French revolutionary party 1783





. Hence I must tell you candidly if I were a Belgian, I should not, in the present circumstances, refuse military service; rather, I should enter such service cheerfully in the belief that I would thereby be helping to save European civilization. This does not mean that I am surrendering the principle for which I have stood heretofore. I have no greater hope than that the time may ,not be far off when refusal of military service will once again be an effective method of serving the cause of human progress."


Einstein (letter to a young pacifist)

193?) Einstein on Peace P-229




"In the autumn of 1714 Peter order all noblemen between the ages of ten and thirty to appear in the course of the winter and register themselves at the Senate. This order was accompanied with the promise that whosoever denounced an absentee would receive all his wealth and estates, even if the informer was the nobleman's own serf. An ukaze of January 11th,1722, goes even further: a defaulter was 'degraded' or suffered 'political death' ; he was excluded from the society of honest men and declared an outlaw; he could be robbed, wounded, or killed with impunity. The public executioner affixed his name to the gallows in the market place, to the rolling of drums, so that 'the public learn that this man disobeyed an ukaze and is a traitor' . Whosever apprehended a defaulter and turned him in was to receive half his possessions, movable and immovable, even if he were the defaulter' s own serf. These severe measures were unsuccessful. Pososhkov, in an essay on 'Poverty and Wealth' written during the last years of Peter' s reign, vividly describes the deceptions and expedients indulged in by the nobility in order to evade service. On the eve of a military campaign both the metropolitan nobility and the courtiers would clutch hold of some 'trumped-up business' or insignificant police mission, under cover they spent the rest of the war living on their estates. The vast number of new commissaries and high officials helped the nobility in their subterfuges."


Vasili Klyuchevsky

Peter the Great

Vintage Russian Library





Back to Chrestomathy           Next Page