Letter August 3, 1919 from David Eichel to Parents




Letter August 3, 1919 from David Eichel to Parents




WWI conscientious objection / objectors


Eichel, David


Swarthmore College Peace Collection


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[August 3, 1919]

Dear folks:

This is being sent by another discharged C.O. From this you can see that men are leaving almost daily. There is no truth in Washington's statement that a man's case cannot be reopened until six months have elapsed. The fact of the matter is that most fellows are receiving their second reduction within periods of less than six months. Harry Lee got his immediate shortly after he received word that his sentence had been cut to two years. Jake Wortsmann got his one year sentence about 3 months after his three years sentence. Claude Grant got a 1 yr sentence in less than a month after receiving a 11/2 yr. sentence and so on I could keep citing any number of cases.

I do not fear having to do my complete sentence. I am mighty sure that the Chamberlain amnesty bill will receive favorable

consideration. I am pretty sure that public opinion is strongly and solidly behind it. I still expect to be home no later than Julius. If I am disappointed, I won't be upset for I am prepared for that too.

Most of the religious objectors have had their sentences cut to one year. As I have often remarked the Gov't is more tolerantly inclined towards them than to us. The reason is apparent.

We learn that the C.O's at Alcatraz are having a mighty hard time of it there and that Washington is being deluged with letters of protest. The administration will permit the mistreatment of objectors as long as they are in their hands.

In my last letter, I mentioned that one of our men was taken to the hospital suffering from digestive disorder. None of us then realized how serious his case was. Four days later we were notified that he was in a very critical condition, and had been given up by the army physicians. We immediately made efforts to obtain a civilian specialist, but before we could get one, he died. The doctor said he died of acute gastritis and gastric hemorrhage. The deceased said he had had two attacks of

acute indigestion in civilian life, but had recovered from them. He was continually suffering from constipation and stomach trouble. I knew him to be so afflicted at Riley, and in the stockade at Leavenworth. There is no doubt that our last stay in that basement hastened his end. Our trip here contributed greatly. Imagine travelling over 50 hours continually handcuffed, eating nothing but canned food and not having abed to rest in during all that time. Is it any wonder that when he reached here, he never once recovered his normal health. The poisonous food of Leavenworth, the devastating [sic] ride were taking their toll.

I don't know just what kind of treatment he received at the hospital here, but it is pretty certain he received as good as the army could offer. His body is being held by special order of Secy Baker. We do not know why. It has been embalmed and awaiting orders to be shipped to his home

in Chicago. His name is Frank Burke. He was the first objector I spoke to when I reached Leavenworth from Upton. He was a Socialist, and I was on very intimate terms with him. He has practically made me a partner to his most private affairs. I can hardly believe him dead, it all happened so suddenly.

Nothing more. Julius and I never felt better. Our food here is excellent and we are certainly doing our bit in making it so. Our menu this morning is oatmeal and milk, two fried-eggs, bran-muffins, cantaloupe, butter and pea-nut butter, and coffee. So you see we are not starving. The bunch has picked up wonderfully since reaching here. Their appearances have improved greatly.

I hope this finds you all well. Our love and regards to you all.

As ever affectionately


Eichel, David, “Letter August 3, 1919 from David Eichel to Parents ,” Conscientious Objection & the Great War: 1914-1920, accessed September 22, 2021, https://cosandgreatwar.swarthmore.edu/items/show/51.

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