English Quaker War Tax Resister Esther Marie Kitching

This brief article comes from the Nottingham Evening Post and highlights a Quaker war tax resister in England at a time when such resistance was relatively rare:

Income Tax Refused.

Will Not “Pay Tribute to War Chests.”

Furniture belonging to Miss Esther Marie Kitching, of New Barnet (Herts.), a sister of the late Commissioner Kitching, of the Salvation Army, has been distrained upon for income tax, and will be sold at Barnet on .

Miss Kitching, a worker for the Society of Friends, sent a cheque to the Inland Revenue authorities equal to 8s.d. in the £ of the amount demanded from her in income tax. She declined to pay the balance, stating that 11s.d. in the £ of tax went for war purposes. “It would ill become a missionary in the cause of peace,” she said in an interview, “to pay tribute to war chests.”

I haven’t been able to find out much more about Kitching. There are occasional mentions of her in Quaker publications that touch on some of the work she was doing with the Society of Friends, but none that I found say anything about her war tax resistance. Here’s a second article that’s a little more expansive, from the Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette of :

Objection to War Taxes

Willing to Go to Prison If Necessary

Miss Esther M. Kitching, of Shaftesbury Avenue, New Barnet, a sister of the late Commissioner Kitching of the Salvation Army, has sent to the income-tax authorities an amount equal to 1s.d. in the £ of the amount due from her in income-tax.

In an accompanying letter she stated that she will decline to pay the remainder as this represents the proportion used for war purposes.

In an interview she said that she was determined not to pay, and would let the law take its course.

“Imprisonment,” she said, “has no terror for me. Most of my time is spent on behalf of the Society of Friends, preaching disarmament, and it would ill become a missionary in the cause of peace to pay tribute to war chests.

“My conscience rebels against such a tribute, and if tens of thousands of taxpayers were to take the course I have adopted disarmament would soon be achieved.”

I found a reference at the Hull History Centre to a letter in their archives from Gerald Bailey of the National Peace Council/Congress to Winifred Holtby in which Kitching’s war tax resistance is discussed, as are Holtby’s intentions to follow suit. (I haven’t found any evidence that Holtby resisted her taxes, and she died within a few years of the letter.)

Here’s an interesting note carried by the Jewish Press Service that I found in the Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle:

Jews Refuse to Pay Tax to Vichy’s “Union of Jews”

 — For refusal to pay taxes for the upkeep of the Union of Jews of France, created by Vichy decree, many Jews were in concentration camps, interned and ordered held there until the tax is paid.

This Union (Union Generale des Israelites de France) was established by the Vichy (Nazi-collaborationist) government. It was ostensibly meant to coordinate social services for Jews by creating an umbrella organization over various Jewish organizations, but was really a phase in the Nazi-organized obsession with bureaucratically solving the “Jewish Problem” in Europe via elimination. As in other parts of Nazi-controlled Europe, Jews in France had to make hard decisions about how much to resist such organizations outright and how much to try to participate in them as potential tools of resistance or amelioration.

All French Jews were required to be members of the Union, which presumed to control all Jewish property. The Nazis might, for example, “fine” the whole of the Jews of France, and the Union in its representative capacity would borrow money to pay off the fine by pledging Jewish property as collateral, or, apparently, by taxing the membership base.

was a time when the last of the shipments of doomed French Jews to death camps were taking place, as, I suppose, the Nazis decided that they had better devote more of their resources to repelling the allied invasion at Normandy (which began in ).

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