Letters April 26, 1919 from David Eichel to Parents




Letters April 26, 1919 from David Eichel to Parents




WWI conscientious objection / objectors


Eichel, David


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[April 26, 1919]

Dear folks:

Before I forget I wish to inform you that I have received another reduction in sentence so that I am now serving 21/2 years.

Your tracer on the paper reached here, and this morning both Julius and I were called up to the mail office. The package reached here according to the tracer and then disappeared. However, the mail serg't gave us a supply of his own paper & so the matter was compromised. Tho the paper we received was hardly equivalent to the paper sent us, yet the whole matter is too trivial to fuss about. Was there anything else besides paper & envelopes in that package?

We are still in the guard house under the same uncomfortable conditions. We are still wondering why we were taken out of the cantonment. Surely, the claim could not be advanced that we were not behaving ourselves, or that we were embarrassing [sic] the prison authorities. Now that we have been placed in this intolerable situation and are voicing our just resentment, perhaps the military will again make the claim that we groundlessly attempting to embarrass [sic] the administration. Apparently the cessation of active fighting means nothing to the military. The war is on yet and C.O's

must consequently be moved around and harassed as of old.

Col. Williams, an investigator from Wash. was at the D.B's yesterday. A major came down and told us if any of us had any complaint to make and wished to put our case before the Col. we would be permitted to do so. Accordingly 3 men acting as a committee were sent to put our grievances before the investigator. Howard Moore started to describe our conditions of sanitation, that is lack of exercise, poor toilet facilities etc. "You're a C.O.?" interrupted the Col. "Well if you'd behave yourself and go to work, you'd get sanitary conditions." Howard told the Col. he wasn't interested in anything beyond describing the inhuman conditions under which we were quartered, but the Col. waved him out. Thus the implication is obvious. They are still punishing the man of non-religious principles for his refusal to work. Since they have been compelled to take us out of solitary they now would make conditions equally unbearable for us, and put us in unavoidable contact with venereal diseases and other health destroying conditions.

Roderick Seidenberg was going to submit a written statement describing Wednesday's affair with the hose and water. But the Col. would'nt permit it. James the third man on the committee was just as rudely dismissed. Thus our committee having been called to lodge their protest, accomplished nothing.

This morning our adjutant general called for a committee to explain the circumstances of the dousing of the men with the hose. The men insisted upon submitting a written statement. The adjutant refused everything but an oral statement. Since the

men insisted on making a written statement only, they were sent back without having accomplished anything.

A little while later the adjutant general came down to our quarters, ordered that the wet straw mattresses be taken out and dry ones given the men [sentence crossed out by Eichel: "He then agreed to accept a written statement].

Last night the adjutant general and a doctor visited us when all the men were already in bed. He -- the doctor -- gave Bertstein, the fellow who had received the brunt of the water sprout, a thoro examination, and pronounced his whole bronchial region affected, but his being all right. It so happened that the guard house prisoners were making their customary racket last night when the two officers were in our cell, so that it refutes the notion that the men were given the dousing because they were disorderly.

I made an error in numbering my last letter, dated Apr. 22. It should be #33 instead of #21.

Nothing more. With love and regards to all. I am

Your loving son,

P.S. Just a point of correction. When the three

men went before the adjutant -- who I learn is now in contest[?] of the D.B's, during the absence of Col. Rice -- he permitted one of the men to submit a written statement after the three had persistently refused to make a verbal one.


Eichel, David, “Letters April 26, 1919 from David Eichel to Parents ,” Conscientious Objection & the Great War: 1914-1920, accessed September 22, 2021, https://cosandgreatwar.swarthmore.edu/items/show/50.

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