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WWII: An Overview in Moving PicturesWWII: An Overview in Moving PicturesMany Voices, Many StoriesMany Voices, Many StoriesThe Home FrontThe Home FrontCritical PerspectivesCritical PerspectivesSee Everything, Hear Everything
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See Everything, Hear Everything
Watch films, excerpts and view archival artefacts—all chosen by
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Excerpt (3:21)
The Pacifist Who Went to War
2002, director: David Neufeld
WWII veterans within Canada's Mennonite communities find...
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Excerpt (3:23)
The Pacifist Who Went to War
2002, director: David Neufeld
Over 10,000 Canadians were conscientious objectors during...
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Excerpt (2:15)
The Pacifist Who Went to War
2002, director: David Neufeld
Veterans returning to Mennonite communities after WWII often...
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1
The Pacifist Who Went to War
Excerpt  (3:21) 2002, director: David Neufeld
Description The film
WWII veterans within Canada's Mennonite communities find themselves at odds with their church's pacifist tradition. While Ted Friesen became a conscientious objector, in line with his faith, his brother John felt compelled to enlist in the Canadian army. Young Mennonites discuss the implications of pacifism in recent times.

More info on this film in NFB catalogue »»


In 1939, as Canada joined World War II, a social crisis pulled apart the Mennonite communities of southern Manitoba. Thousands of young Mennonite men were forced to decide: in the face of 400 years of pacifist tradition, should they now go to war?

The controversy is brought to life as brothers Ted and John Friesen reflects on their choices. Ted became a conscientious objector, while his brother went into military service. Others were similarly divided, as the heart of Mennonite culture clashed with duty to one's country. Deep and raw, the rifts endured for decades.

Fifty years later, the town of Winkler dedicates its first war memorial and John begins to share his war experiences with Ted. Shedding light on the courage and conviction of both sides, this film features illuminating interviews with Mennonite author Rudy Wiebe, conscientious objectors, war veterans and a new generation of Canadian Mennonites. More than a half-century later, are the rifts beginning to heal?