Letter September 10, 1919 from David Eichel to Parents




Letter September 10, 1919 from David Eichel to Parents




WWI conscientious objection / objectors


Eichel, David


Swarthmore College Peace Collection


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Letter [#13] from David Eichel, U.S.D.B., Fort Douglas, Utah

[September 10, 1919]

Dear folks:

The boys have been receiving of late quite a lot of bewildering and perplexing information from their families in reference to statements made by officials at Washington concerning why we were brought here and what we were expected to do. The sum and substance of these communications are that objectors at Ft. Douglas were not required to do any work other than maintain themselves. Like everything else emanating from Wash. it is vague, indefinite, ambiguous and full of loop-holes. "Maintaining themselves" may easily be stretched to mean, doing any kind of work to pay for our imprisonment. Yet we were presumably transferred [sic] here because we refused to do just such labor. I would then be reasonable to conclude that by "maintaining ourselves" Wash. meant precisely what we are doing now. What we have always been willing to do, and that is take care of ourselves to the extent of keeping ourselves and surroundings clean and sanitary and cook our food. It seems to me that Wash. either consciously or unconsciously is trying to create the impression with those on the outside that nothing more than that (i.e., keeping ourselves and surroundings clean, cook our food, etc.) is required of us, and that if any punishment

is being meted out to us, it is being done because we have refused to do that. We were punished, and are being punished by forfeiture of "good-time" for refusing to do work other than "maintaining ourselves." If Wash. didn't mean to be vague and indefinite, to insinuate one thing and mean another, those men who are now serving "good-time" would now be home.

I'd like a little more light about my own case. In Phil's letter of Aug. 29 he stated that Sec'y Baker had notified you that my sentence had been cut to 1 yr. In his letter of Sept. 3 he states that he had learned that my sentence had been cut to 1 1/2 yrs. and dismisses the point without even an attempt to explain the discrepancy. Such carelessness is exasperating to say the least. In your next letter please explain who is at fault or better still send me a copy of your letters from Wash. We have repeatedly asked you to send us verbatim copies of your letters from Wash. They serve a double purpose. What information they contain would come direct and we could do our own interpreting and secondly these letters are invariably very humorous and we can stand a little of

it here. It also serves to minimize any errors you may make. So please do not forget to fulfil [sic] my request in your next letter.

We have learned thru various reliable sources that Baker had promised a Chicago woman that 78 objectors would be released on Sept. 1. We have also learned that Baker denies having made that promise, the tacit implication being that the Chicago woman is lying.

Will you please drop a line to George Robinson, 112 W. 144 St. and tell him I am receiving the N.Y. Globe regularly and I wish to thank him for his thoughtfulness in subscribing to the paper for me.

I have a great number of letters from friends and relatives but I cannot answer them. Please explain to those who are expecting letters from us the circumstances that hinder us from being more prompt in writing.

We have no news of any importance. We are all waiting until the mist hovering over the situation here is lifted by Wash. We are hoping that they will commit themselves one way or another. In the meanwhile we are very decidedly in the dark.

Please do not forget to make a more definite explana

regarding my sentence when you write again. It makes some difference just now whether my sentence is one your or a yr. and a half.

Our love and regards to all.



Eichel, David, “Letter September 10, 1919 from David Eichel to Parents ,” Conscientious Objection & the Great War: 1914-1920, accessed October 26, 2021, https://cosandgreatwar.swarthmore.edu/items/show/74.

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