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“WWII Conscientious Objectors: Germfask, Michigan – Camp Alcatraz” is the topic of UP Notable Book Club’s virtual Q&A session on February 10. The author is Jane Kopecky of Manistique. (Photo courtesy of Upper Peninsula Association of Publishers and Authors)

MARQUETTE – The UP Notable Book Club will present a virtual Q&A session on February 10 with author Jane Kopecky about her book, “World War II Conscientious Objectors: Germfask, Michigan – The Alcatraz Camp.”

The free event, open to all UP residents, will begin at 7 p.m. on February 10 on the Zoom platform. Individuals are asked to contact Evelyn Gathu in advance at [email protected] or 906-875-3344.

The Crystal Falls Community Library, in partnership with the UP Publishers and Authors Association, has scheduled author events featuring UP’s Notable Book List winners. Kopecky’s session will mark the 14th such event.

Kopecky is a graduate of Manistique High School and holds a Bachelor of Science, Master of Arts, and specialist reading degrees from Northern Michigan University. She taught at community schools in Utica, public schools in Minneapolis, schools in the Tahquamenon area, and schools in the Manistique area, where she retired.

According to the UPPAA, Kopecky is a history buff who belongs to the Michigan Historical Society and the Newton Township Historical Society in Mackinac County, and is curator of the Schoolcraft County Historical Society in Manistique. Her interest in conscientious objectors prompted her to apply for a position on the Selective Service Board. She served on that board for 20 years, the maximum time allowed.

Jane Kopecky is the author of “World War II Conscious Objectors: Germfask, Michigan – The Alcatraz Camp”. (Photo courtesy of Upper Peninsula Association of Publishers and Authors)

Kopecky, who lives in Manistique, is also the author of “Huntspur and Along the Tracks”, the story of a small Upper Michigan community whose past is brought to life through interviews with local residents and countless historic photographs, the UPPAA said.

“I had heard local rumors about a draft dodger’s camp at Germfask during World War II, so I decided to find out.” Kopecky said in an email. “The locals I first interviewed all had negative comments about the men and the camp, but none saw

med to find out exactly what happened there.

“One person said to me, ‘They were young men from wealthy families who paid the government to keep them out of the war. We’re so far into the boonies that no one would find them. How could this happen? It was a mystery I was determined to solve.

She said she started the project in 1980 before the days of computers, using old-fashioned research techniques that included the use of library cards, microfiche and letter writing, and that she had finished in 2005 with the help of computers.

“Research became a passion that lasted more than 40 years”, Kopecky said. “In addition to learning about the history of the camp, I had the opportunity to meet interesting people and gain a new perspective on life.

The UPPAA provided this testimony about the World War II book by Howard Brick, Louis Evans Professor of History at the University of Michigan:

“Here, Jane Kopecky reveals the almost forgotten story of Camp Germfask, where some of the most ardent war resisters among World War II conscientious objectors were held for 13 months in 1944 and 1945. War opponents and conscription on a variety of religions For pacifist or political motives, these recalcitrant dissidents dared imprisonment because they refused to cooperate with the rules of Selective Service.Instead of prison, they ended up in what some men called the CO camps Alcatraz and their supporters elsewhere in the country called “American Siberia.”

“In the interview transcripts, memoirs, and documents collected by Jane Kopecky, their lives and relationships with their Germfask and other Upper Peninsula neighbors come to life. This book is a great read and a great service to the historical understanding.

Another testimony comes from Deborah K. Frontiera, author of “Upper Tapestry: Weaving the Threads of Upper Michigan History.”

She said: “Another issue the author spends a lot of time on was prejudice and violence towards these men. Although I understand that under the conditions of World War II, with so many men leaving their families to take up arms, people would have angry and negative feelings against those who chose not to fight, and prejudice was extremes.

“Kopecky reports several cases recorded in the newspapers and in the statements of these men. Leonard Lewis, one of the commanders, said: “After they knew us, they liked us.” To me, that says a lot – again in today’s world. The author also documents instances of false media reporting during this time. It’s no wonder the author received an award from the Michigan Historical Society for his book. I am proud to have added it to my personal collection.

More information about the UP Notable Book List, UP Book Review, and UPPAA can be found at www.UPNotable.com.

Christie Mastric can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. His email address is [email protected]

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