Life in Community

A Life That Answers War

The Story of Conscientious Objection and the Bruderhof

April 9, 2021 by

When I was six, our family moved within walking distance of my grandparents, and I loved visiting them several evenings a week. I would spend the time playing checkers with Opa, my grandfather, while Oma busied herself making us a plate of food: usually some slices of the hard, fermented German sausage that always hung on the sideboard, with a cup of maté, a South American tea, for Opa. The melding of cultures seemed normal to me, as was Opa and Oma’s lapsing into Spanish or German when they wanted to speak privately. As I grew, we moved on to chess, then various card games, and ultimately settled on conversation. Opa didn’t like to talk about himself, and even less about his past, but when the stories did come out they were captivating. Over time I began to piece together the route by which he’d acquired such diverse cultural tastes. I learned how the twists and turns along the way had been driven, in large part, by a committed opposition to violence in all forms. Opa was an ardent conscientious objector himself. But resistance to war had shaped his life from the cradle.

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