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- Biographical Notes
Registered for draft on June 5, 1917, but not as a C.O.; had hose turned on him (along with Hennessey) for 15-20 mins. while at Ft. Riley*; interviewed by Board of Inquiry in July 1918 at Leavenworth; classed by Board of Inquiry as 2; charged with disobedience of orders; reason for stance = humanitarian; named on Judge Advocate General's card file entitled CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR - REFUSAL TO WEAR UNIFORM: "A conscientious objector, recognized as such, can not be required to wear the uniform 'pending final decision in each case as to their treatment.' Where the record fails to show that the case has been finally disposed of, conviction for disobedience of an order to wear a uniform must be disapproved. 12/5/1918"; court-martial trial #122223; granddaughter in July 2014 conversation said Breger was her mother's father, that he was a dentist at the time he was drafted but was going to school to become a playwright, and that he died young due to injuries received as a conscientious objector. Breger's wife, Lottie Fishbein, gave his diary to Norman Thomas while NT was writing his book about WWI conscientious objection and it was never returned; Breger's wife burned his letters to her before her death, stating they were personal and private. *Charles P. Larsen, in his diary, wrote: "On Sunday morning, August 25, 1918, about nine o'clock the prison sergeant and a lieutenant, the 'officer of the day,' came to the solitaries and took three of our seven men (namely Herman Kaplan and Benjamin Breger and Francis Hennessey), one at a time, into the corridor; a hemp rope slung over the railing of the upper tier was put about their necks, hoisting them off their feet until they were at the point of collapse. Meanwhile the officers punched them on their ankles and shins. They were lowered and the rope was tied to their arms, and again they were hoisted off their feet. This time a garden hose was played on their faces with the nozzle about six inches from them, until they collapsed completely, when they were carried and dumped screaming and moaning into the cage and dumped into bed. The next day the officers were transferred with their company to another post."