Reflections from Bent Andresen

Reflections from Bent Andresen

The following is taken from a questionnaire sent to CPS men by Paul A. Wilhelm and compiled in 1990. This excerpt is Bent Andresen's response to the section asking the men to reflect back on their time in CPS:


"When the U.S. dropped the Bomb on Hiroshima on August 6th, I had recently arrived at Minersville, CA, a government camp, on transfer from the government camp at Germfask, MI.

I drafted and mimeographed the enclosed [see Swarthmore College Peace Library] "walk-out" statement and took off to hitch-hike to NYC, where my wife was living. I gave out hundreds of copies on street corners in cities I passed thru [sic]; single copies to all those who gave me rides. Only once was I ejected. And only once did the police apprehend me, on the assumption that I was wanted by the FBI. That was in Rochester, NY, where Rev. Robert Horton had me released into his custody.

In NYC I told the D.A. where I was staying and offered to come in when he wanted to see me. Eventually he told me to report to Sacramento, CA, for trial. When I refused to provide my own transportation, I was locked up, until two deputies were assigned to transport me. They put me in leg irons and handcuffs at night in the RR sleeper. When we got to San Francisco City Jail I stopped eating. When the authorities in Sacramento County Jail found I wasn't eating, they took me to court. The Judge ordered me to County Hospital for forced feeding and psychiatric exam. Subsequently the Judge sentenced me to 2 years.

Before long I was transported by marshalls to Medical Center for Federal Prisoners at Springfield, MO. I was on total fast--no food or water--for 8 months. When I had served 7 months the Deputy Warden told me they were going to let me go. I brought my accumulated papers to his office for his examination. He found 2 things he wouldn't permit me to remove. One was a copy of the warden's memo to his staff announcing my imminent arrival that specified that nothing should happen to me that would bring adverse publicity to the institution. The other was the minutes of a union meeting dealing with guards' complaints about the "special treatment" accorded Don DeVault and myself. I said I wouldn't leave without them, so eventually the B[ureau] of P[risons] in Washington overruled the local officials and I was put on a train for NYC.

I enjoyed showing those papers around the War Resisters League office in NYC!"


From Wilhelm, Paul A. Civilian Public Servants: A Report on 210 World War II Conscientious Objectors. Washington, D.C.: National Interreligious Service Board for Conscientious Objectors, 1990.