Reflections from Daniel Diener

Reflections from Daniel Diener

The following excerpt is from an account by Daniel Diener about CPS Camp 64:

"My work was with the Soil Conservation people. The government furnished the living facilities, the machinery and the tools for the job at hand. They also furnished most of the foremen for the project in the field. These men were paid by the government and gave the orders. They had their ranking as men who were responsible to men of more authority. They faced some stigma in their own communities as they were working with these 'yellow bellies,' as conscientious objectors were often called. However, most were rather sympathetic to our point of view. The COs really tried to please these foremen and do a good day's work. They sometimes would show appreciation for the COs' willingness to do as they were told, and for the quality of their work."


The following is an excerpt from his account about CPS Camp 90 which was the Ypsilanti Mental Hospital:

"Most of the state employees at the hospital were congenial most of the time. But they would often ask, 'Just how can you work here in safety while other young men your age are being killed?' That really was a hard question. One day as one of the state employees came to work she exclaimed, 'Wasn't that great? There had been a big naval battle; thousands of Japs were killed and great battleships of the enemy were sunk!' Those were times when real introspective thoughts went through your mind.

An incident at Ypsilanti which softened hostility happened when a state employee was attacked by a patient. In the scuffle her hip was broken. From the hospital in the city her husband tried to contact his friends to ask them to volunteer blood. He tried for hours to get his friends to donate, but to no avail. One of the ladies working at the hospital switchboard heard this man making all these calls, and she asked if she could be of any help. He told her of his plight. She said, 'Hold on. Let me see what I can do.' She called the ward on which the COs were living and reported the situation to one of them. The word was passed around among the fellows and soon there were several carloads of men reporting to the hospital to have their blood typed.

By the time the fellows had given their blood there was more than enough for her operation. This lady and her husband had been about the most critical of our presence. After she recuperated and was back on duty someone asked, 'Why is it that the Jones' don't have all that much negative to say about the COs?' Someone replied, 'Well, you know she is a half-blooded CO.'"


--Taken from Our CPS Stories. Elkhart, IN: Prairie Street Mennonite Church, 1996. p8-16.