Letter August 30, 1919 from David Eichel to Parents

Date

1919-08-30

Title

Letter August 30, 1919 from David Eichel to Parents

Date

1919-08-30

Subject

WWI conscientious objection / objectors

Creator

Eichel, David

Publisher

Swarthmore College Peace Collection

Rights

Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Language

English

Type

text

Transcription

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

[August 30, 1919]

Dear folks:

The situation has not changed here as yet. We are now completing our 10th day on Bread & Water, and will probably continue on restricted diet for 14 days. Men are being called before the Commandant and Executive officer, now and then, and asked whether the new treatment has'nt made an effective appeal to their common sense. None seem ready to change their minds.

On our bulletin is a copy of an extract of a letter said to be written to the Ex. Off. by the adjutant of the army. It is captioned "warning to prisoners" & the Ex. Off. is urged to post it where it can be in our view. It reads: "Assure prisoners that conduct while in confinement will have material effect upon date when clemency may be extended to them individually." It may be wise to give you a short account of our "conduct" here. Of course I need not talk of our behavior. We are human, and our behavior would be tolerated by any unprejudiced minds. We cook our own food (when they are generous enough to supply us with ration) manage our barracks and latrine and take care of the ground we occupy. That is all we will do as long as we are in confinement. We are here, under the

jurisdiction of the military against our will. We have compromised to the extent of caring for ourselves, without their direction or interference. We will do no work for them. Whether conduct depends upon working or not working for the military is a question that would interest us. We imagine it does. If so, we have never behaved commendably, since we were avowedly opposed to military work of any kind, even if it is in jail. That has been the basis of our whole stand, and Wash. at one time recognized our position, when it abolished shackeling [sic] at Leavenworth and then took us out of solitary. It seems that there is an attempt afoot to discredit us before Wash. Wash. knows what our behavior has been in the past. It has'nt changed. Has Wash. suddenly decided upon a new policy? It seems so, or else how can we explain the depriving of the men of their good time. This is an unprecedented punishment for the C.O. It amounts to nothing more nor less than increasing or putting an additional sentence to the sentence decided upon by the reviewing board. This adding to our sentences is ever in their power, if we are to believe the Ex. Off. who warned us that our sentence here never expires; he can keep on courtmartialing[sic] us and adding to our sentences, so that at best our sentence is an indefinite one and would terminate only at the arbit

generosity of the officials here.

We're having anther investigation here. You know what military investigations have been in the past. There has'nt been a single instance where the military were'nt beautifully white-washed and we were in the wrong. This time the Investigator came here obviously to get the evidence and testimony concerning the beating of Howard Moore. Of course we can only hope that for once the Investigator will be unbiased and will make a truthful report.

I have quite a collection of letters which I am unable to answer because of restrictions. I have letters from Helfer, Fruchthman, Ornstein, Miss Lerner, Greenspan, Jack Uhr, and others. I also owe a letter to Philip Greenfield, but I must wait.

We are'nt feeling any the worse for our bread and water diet. We were receiving a decidedly poor quality of bread for a while, bread which the officials themselves condemned & which was probably responsible for the internal ailments of the men. The bread I believe has been better.

I'll bet it must be startling and novel to people who have always had faith in the liberalism of our institutions to learn of the delightful way one of our so-called democratic institutions has of

persuading those in their control to obey them. Coercion, by starving into submission, must be pleasant and attractive to read about.

I can think of nothing else. Give our regards to our friends and tell them we cannot write them directly. With love to you, Phil, Clara, baby, Rose, Will and Abe. I am

Affectionately,
Dave

Citation

Eichel, David, “Letter August 30, 1919 from David Eichel to Parents ,” Conscientious Objection & the Great War: 1914-1920, accessed September 22, 2021, https://cosandgreatwar.swarthmore.edu/items/show/54.

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