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Oxford Oath


The Oxford Oath, or Oxford Pledge, is the name commonly given to a resolution carried by students of the Oxford Union that "this House will in no circumstances fight for its King and Country". It was passed by 275 votes to 153 at the King and Country debate on 9 February 1933.

The resolution "made a lot of noise in the world" and "caused reverberations around the world". It has been claimed by one Joseph Alsop that the resolution made a tremendous impression upon Adolf Hitler; he regularly cited it when his general staff protested against his military decisions.

Winston Churchill, later Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, denounced the resolution as "that abject, squalid, shameless avowal". In the knowledge that ten days beforehand Hitler had become chancellor of Germany, he continued:

I think of Germany, with its splendid clear-eyed youths marching forward on all the roads of the Reich singing their ancient songs, demanding to be conscripted into an army; eagerly seeking the most terrible weapons of war; burning to suffer and die for their fatherland. I think of Italy, with her ardent Fascisti, her renowned Chief, and stern sense of national duty. I think of France, anxious, peace-loving, pacifist to the core, but armed to the teeth and determined to survive as a great nation in the world. One can almost feel the curl of contempt upon the lips of the manhood of these peoples when they read this message sent out by Oxford University in the name of young England.

On 12 April 1935, 60,000 college students signed a United States equivalent of the resolution, calling it the Oxford Oath, swearing never to take up arms on behalf of king or country. At Columbia University, 3,000 students took the Oath that day during a rally featuring Roger Baldwin, Reinhold Niebuhr and James Wechsler as speakers.



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