Alternative Service in World War II Oral History Project

Classification scheme: 

Title: Alternative service in World War II oral history project

Dates of creation: 1940s, 1974-1975; predominant 1974-1975

Physical desciption: 2 cm of textual records; 20 cassette tapes; 3 reels of 8mm film; 16 cm of graphic material (4 photograph albums; ca. 100 individual photographs) 
Note: Interviews marked with an asterisk (*) have been digitally copied.

Administrative history: In 1974/75 the Institute of Anabaptist-Mennonite Studies at Conrad Grebel College sponsored an oral history project to interview Mennonite men who has served in Alternative Service Camps during World War II. David Fransen, a graduate student studying at the College, carried out the interviews in 1974/75.

Custodial history: Tapes created by the Mennonite Archives of Ontario in 1974/75; scrapbooks, photos and miscellaneous items donated by interviewees in 1974/75.

Scope and content: The fonds consists of taped interviews plus, in some cases that are noted below, photographs, scrapbooks, clippings, etc.

The original finding aid was a set of 4" by 6" cards that summarized the contents of the interviews and provided biographical sketches of the interviewees. In 2006, the biographical sketches were transcribed.  The content summaries of the interviews are listed with each interview in the file list, below.

Note: Interviews marked with an asterisk have been copied to CD in a wav audio format.

The numbers indicated on the tapes follow the counter used on the portable tape recorder used by the interviewer.

File list:

  1. Interview, John Willms, Abe W. Bergen, Gerhard Tiessen, September 26, 1974 by Frank H. Epp and David Fransen (Approx. 150 minutes) Summary (PDF) 
    Tape 1 (Side A/B); Tape 2 (Side A, 0-342) ** Tape 1 of 2 is missing
  2. *Interview, Otto Giesbrecht, Peter Neufeld, September 30, 1974 by David Fransen (approx. 100 minutes) Summary (PDF) 
    Tape 2 (345-end); Tape 3 (0-120)
  3. *Interview, Wilson Hunsberger, Oct. 21, 1974 by David Fransen. (approx 100 minutes) Tape 3 (A120-B821); Also includes scrapbook of newsclippings, 1943-1944; photos of Montreal River Alternative Service Camp; Photos of Vancouver Island Camp, ca. 1943; K-W record, Sept. 2, 1944 list of area casualties (in map case); envelopes from National Service Board. Summary (PDF)
  4. *Interview, Ed Bearinger, Elias Brubacher, Norman Weber, Oct. 24, 1974 by David Fransen (approx. 150 minutes) Summary (PDF)
    Tape 4 (A,B); Tape 5(A0-A338)
  5. *Interview, Doug Millar, Donald Millar, Oct. 31, 1974 by David Fransen (approx. 90 minutes) Summary (PDF)
    Tape 5 (A555-B912)
  6. *Interview, Isaac Brubacher, Ray Good, Nov. 21, 1974 by David Fransen (approx. 80 minutes) Summary (PDF)
    Tape 6 (A0-B236)
  7. *Interview, Fred Cressman, Dec. 5, 1974 by David Fransen (approx 150 minutes)
    Tape 6 (B240-end); Tape 7 (A0-B800) Summary (PDF)
  8. Interview, Rufus Jutzi, Dec. 13, 1974 by David Fransen 
    Summary only; interview not taped Summary (PDF)
  9. *Interview, Clayton Burkholder, January 9, 1975 by David Fransen (approx. 100 minutes)
    Tape 8 (A0-B605); also includes photo album of Alternative Service Camp experience Summary (PDF)
  10. Interview, Tobias Bowman, Len Witmer, January 13, 1975 by David Fransen (approx. 80 minutes) Summary (PDF)
    Tape 8 (B610-end); Tape 9 (Side A)
  11. Interview, Orvie Shantz, Aaron Weber, Jan. 17, 1975 by David Fransen
    Summary only; interview not taped (These were Old Order Mennonite men) Summary (PDF)
  12. *Interview, Andrew Bowman, Jacob Peters, Jan. 30, 1975 by David Fransen (approx. 150 minutes) Summary (PDF) 
    Tape 9 (Side B); Tape 10 (A0-B495)
  13. *Interview, David Wiens, February 6, 1975 by David Fransen (approx. 90 minutes)
    Tape 10 (B550-end); Tape 11 (A0-A860) Summary (PDF)
  14. *Interview, Len Bechtel, February 11, 1975 by David Fransen (approx. 90 minutes)
    Tape 11 (Side B); Tape 12 (A0-A500); Also includes photos, including group photo of Emory Lake group Summary (PDF)
  15. *Interview, Frank Rempel, February 27, 1975 by David Fransen (approx. 90 minutes)
    Tape 12 (A505-B (end)) Summary (PDF)
  16. *Interview, Morgan Baer, Harold Schmidt, March 2, 1975 by David Fransen (approx. 170 minutes) 
    Tape 13 (A/B); Tape 14 (A0-A772) Summary (PDF)
  17. *Interview, Andrew Steckly, March 10, 1975 by David Fransen (approx. 100 minutes)
    Tape 14 (Side B); Tape 15 (A0-A673); Includes 3 reels (one color) of 8mm film (also copied to professional video) from the British Columbia Alternative Service Camp.
    Summary (PDF)
  18. *Interview, Ward Shantz,  March 19, 1975 by David Fransen (approx. 80 minutes)
    Tape 15 (A680-B end); includes list of men at Montreal River Camp and poem by Albert Bachert, "Camp Life at Montreal" Summary (PDF)
  19. Interview, Michael Gerber, Andrew Steckly, March 24, 1975 by David Fransen (approx. 120 minutes)
    Tape 16 (A/B); includes Gerber's list of men serving four months at Montreal River, 1941 Summary (PDF)
  20. *Interview, David Jantzi, March 26, 1975, by David Fransen (approx 120 minutes)
    Tape 17 (A/B) Summary (PDF) 
    Note: See also Hist.Mss.1.63
  21. *Interview, Albert Erb, April 16, 1975, by David Fransen (approx. 120 minutes)
    Tape 18 (A/B) Summary (PDF)
  22. *Interview, Elven Shantz, April 24, 1975 by David Fransen (approx 60 minutes)
    Tape 19 (Side A) Summary (PDF) 
    Note: See also Hist.Mss.1.111
  23. Presentation, Elven Shantz, October 29, 1975 to Donovan Smucker's Class on Nonviolence Summary (PDF) 
    Tape 20 (A0-B142)
  24. Letter, John L. Fretz, 1978 recalling B.C. ASW camp as well as a trip to the camp in the 1970s.

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Mennonite Archives of Ontario
Conrad Grebel University College
140 Westmount Road North
Waterloo, ON N2L 3G6

Phone: 519-885-0220 x24238