Letter August 20, 1919 from David Eichel to Parents




Letter August 20, 1919 from David Eichel to Parents




WWI conscientious objection / objectors


Eichel, David


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Letter from David Eichel, U.S.D.B., Fort Douglas, Utah

[August 20, 1919]

[at top of page] Received a letter from Helfer dated 7/13

Dear folks:

We are once more at odds with the military. The work question has come up again and that of us who refuse to do work have been deprived of good time. Grant who was to leave Monday, Wortsman[n], Lunde and Blaire who are to leave today have lost their good time and are to serve 60 days more. This is doubtless a new policy, since hitherto no man has lost his good time for refusing to work.

Monday morning Berman was placed in solitary confinement on Bread and water, without so much as a hearing from the officials, because he had written a note to Col. Graham, the Ex. Off. to the effect that since no shoes had been furnished him, he has been confined indoors constantly and his patience being exhausted he intended to protest against the delay by refusing to stand count.

That same evening Howard Moore was asked to carry Bread & water to Berman. However refused on the grounds that he would not aid in punishing a fellow C.O. We all felt as he did and would have refused to carry the B&W if we had been asked. Next morning, that is

Tuesday, Aug. 19, H. was punished for his refusal by being put in solitary on B&W. A little later some of the boys heard shrieks coming from the G.H. Of course we immediately realized that one of the boys was being beaten; we did not know which one, Moore or Berman.

Just before noon Col. Graham the Ex. Off. came into the compound to speak to us. I'll give you as nearly as I can recall, the gist of his talk. We were prisoners, he said, and he wanted to know how many of us were willing to abide by regulations, obey all orders, and do work. All who refused would lose their good time and he made it clear that even our complete sentence did not signify that our troubles were over. He could go on court-martialing us and adding to our sentences indefinitely. Ours at most would be indeterminate sentences. He pointed out that they held the whip hand and would win whatever issue we clashed on.

As a result of his talk some five men out of about 120 decided to go to work. In all there are now eleven men working. Without exception they all worked at the D.B's so that it is to be expected that they'd work here. Two of them are not C.O's, but were thrown in with us thru some inexplicable

turn of affairs.

This morning all the non-workers were placed on B&W. All our food supplies were taken out of the kitchen. We will probably be on restricted diet for the next fourteen days.

H. Moore saw Col. Graham this morning and informed him that he has been beaten while in solitary (I meant to say that Berman and Howard were returned to us today. Howard had been beaten for having refused to clean up the cell to which he had been assigned. There was some filth left from a prisoner previously confined there and the Sgt ordered H. to clean it up. Howard refused and the Sgt beat him.) The Col. answered that it was his own fault. If he'd obey orders he would not get into trouble. "Then this has your approval?" Howard asked. "Yes," answered the Col.

The Col. had told Lunde 2 or 3 days previous that we had been shown a sample of nice treatment. Now we would be given a little of the other kind.

I received a surprise in the form of a package from Greenfield. I write him from Leavenworth and have never heard from him since. Is it possible that his letters have gone astray? Thank him.

We received a five dollar money order from Anna Wenger. if you see her give her our thanks.

We also received a package of candies from Phil. I believe we have already acknowledged this.

Hold off sending anything to us until we ask for it. Tell our friends to do likewise.

Don't worry about us. Fourteen days of B&W is nothing new. We have never found it a great hardship. Understand we are being punished for refusing to work. This issue we had thought was settled once for all at Leavenworth, but apparently we will have to make it once more here.

With love and regards to all. I am

Affectionately your son


Eichel, David, “Letter August 20, 1919 from David Eichel to Parents ,” Conscientious Objection & the Great War: 1914-1920, accessed September 22, 2021, https://cosandgreatwar.swarthmore.edu/items/show/53.

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