Excerpts from the diary of Julius Eichel




Excerpts from the diary of Julius Eichel




Julius Eichel's journal entries about CO detention in 1918


Time spent in CO camps, WWI


Conscientious Objector camps in 1918


Eichel, Julius


DG 131: Eichel Family Papers


Swarthmore College Peace Collection


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


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A report came through today that a CO (CODY by name) was beaten up in the guard house. He was in the guard-house for refusing to take the innoculation. A seargent then took it upon himself to terrorize him into submission. Considerably bodily injury was inflicted according to the witness. His jaw was dislocated, his nose broken, his arm twisted, and a bayonet jabbed into his leg while a steady pummeling on the body and arms was carried out

[June 17, 1918] In the midst of a baseball game, Seargent Vaith told us that we were to receive a visit from the Farm Furlough Committee which we had been told had already visited other camps to interview objectors, and was going to visit us tomorrow.

[June 18, 1918] A committee composed of Julian W, Mack of the United States Court, Dean Haran F. Stone of Columbia University, and Major Stoddard took over the quarters directly underneath our barracks to interview the C.O's General Bell was with them in an advisory capacity, and he called the men in and would make the introductory remarks giving his own opinion on each man as he came before the committee. Most of the men called from our barracks refused to agree to any arrangement short of liberty. I, too, refused on the grounds that as a free man I must be permitted to make my own choice, and that I would refuse to serve in any capacity under military direction. General Bell then turned to the committee and conceded that in his opinion my brother and I were sincere objectors, and he then asked me to call my brother in. Some time before he had asked us to state in writing why we objected to non-combatant service and he had those letters before him, and he read them to the committee with the ecpress purpose of showing them that our convictions were sound. He then informed us that those letters would follow us to Leavensworth, for according to plans all C Os were to be concentrated at that place for the greater convenience of the committee which planned to deal further with them, and we were dismissed.

[June 20, 1918] We walked away without a guard. After we had gone about 100 yards Private Homstrom got Lieutenant Swobodin after us. Lieutenant Swobodin had orders to prevent our going without a guard, and after catching up to us argued that he could not permit us to go any further. We of course insisted that we were not dangerous nor mischievous and that our going would harm nobody, But orders were orders for a military man and he tried to tell us verypolitely that he was there to see that we were constantly under guard. All this took place in front of a company barracks. A strange Lieutenant unaccustomed to seeing civilians or soldiers argue with army officers was so shocked by the proceeding that he stuck his head out of the barracks window and cursed and screamed at us like a fish peddler. From his words you could not tell what he was after, but the situation being what it was, we could tell he was displeased with our insubordination.

[June 26, 1918] Seargent Vieth asked me if I still refused to be vacination and innoc-noculated. Upon saying yes, he told me I would have to tell it to Captain Morschauser, and thereupon led me to Brigade Intelligence Office to see him and he put the same question to me, and upon getting the same reply, dictated a letter to General Bell informing him that I still refused to to comply with his order to submit to vacination and innoculation.

[June 26, 1918] Captain Morschauser told us that hereafter our cisitors would have to sign a cisitors book, but the COo objected to that arrangement pointing out that our friends were intimidated as it is, and this added attention to our visitors woyld only serve to scare them away. He finally conceded that perhaps we and our visitors were safe enough under the present arrangement and the plan was dropped.

[June 26, 1918] A welfare worker, a certain Mr. Roth connected with the Hebrew Welfare Association, pair us a visit with the express purpose of discussing our objections to participating in the war effort. He was determined to show us the error of our ways. He thought we were extremely selfish in questioning a procedure voted upon and carried our by our representatives. He was willing to match his pacifism with any one, and even if we had our doubts as he certainly had, we had no business at such a critical period to pander to our own particular tastes. Right or wrong, everyone must fight when war is declared. He was particularly anxious to show us that the Hew must fight whether he liked or not if he was to retain his place in society. His contention was that the Jew had more to defend, and must not make himself, and must not make himself conspicuous by objecting to war. To illustrate that the Jew was at a disadvantage, he told us that a non Jewish soldier had gained access to a ladies room at Ecker, Merrill, Conditt, the general store and hotel at the camp, hid under her bed, and tried to attack the lady when she entered the room. The Ladies streams brought immediate help, the soldier was subdued and carried off ti the guard-house. Mr. Roth's contention was that if it had been a Jew this incident would have been publicized instead of suppressed and the camp Jew would have gotten a black eye.

[June 27, 1918] One of my molars which has been giving me considerable trouble is very painful today. I asked and received permission to go under guard to the base hospital to be treated by a dentist. The dentist was surprised to see me in civilian clothes and under guard. He asked me what this implied, and I explained that I was one of a goup of Conscientious objectors in camp. By that time he had located the bad molar and while he was busy grinding, he called me all the names imaginable including slacker and coward, and among other things screamed out where would America be if we all did as I did, and how would I like to have the Kaiser come over and enslave us. All this was of no help to my tooth and when I got back to the group and found that his tinkering had not in any way lessened the pain I got Campbell whose father had left some medicines around for just such an emergency to give me something to relieve the pain which he did, and the pain left.

[June 28, 1918] Captain Morschauer visited us and told us that all visitors must see him first before they could reach us, and in spite of all our complaints against this procedure, he told us that the order was definite and would be enforced.

[June 30, 1918] Today we saw Morschauer's rule enforced. About a dozen guards were posted around the building. The measure is aimed to intimidate our friends, for it would take courage to run the gauntlet of so many restrictions to reach us. Jasmagy's mother and lady friend stood outside the barracks, and seeing they were trying to get my attention, I attempted to talk to them through the window. Seargent Vieth was furious and threatened to use violence if I persisted in disobeying orders. I told him that I did not consider myself under orders, and whatever restrictions he thought he must impose, he would have to carry out without my cooperation. This created enough disturbance to chase the ladies away. No objector was permitted outside barracks today. Seargent Vieth who was ordinarily friendly stood on guard ready to kill if necessary the first man that attempted to disobey his orders. Such is army discipline, he was ready to kill his friend to carry out a stupid arrangement.

[July 1, 1918] Finished reading New Wars For Old by John Haynes Holmes.

[July 3, 1918] Walked to Yaphank and back.

[July 4, 1918] This is Independence day, and being a holiday, and the officers in charge expecting that some visitors may attempt to see us, posted guards around the barracks to prevent any unauthorized visits from friends. Considering that today's ceremonies are in commemoration of the Declaration of Independence, we are reminded that government can still be as despotic as ever. Finished reading Men in War by Andreas Latzko

[July 10, 1918] We found a large section of woods just full of blackberry bushes. Today we picked many quarts, and we decided that we would ship some home as a camp souvenir. We packed a few quarts in a tin and mailed it home. Rumors are abroad to the effect that all C. Oos will soon be sent to Leavensworth with the exception of few objectors whose sincerity has not been established, and who will be tried by court martial.

[July 10, 1918] Mr. Roth does not visit us, but his superior Mr. Roskin with the same organization, The Hebrew Welfare Association, came to our barracks, introduced himself, made himself at home and tried to the best of his ability to make us change our minds about objections to war. We have heard many arguments for participation, from it being a holy war, to it being a sporting activity, from its bringing out the noblest passions and for the need of suppressing ideals [?] when the country is in danger. But here was a man with an entirely new idea. War is creative he maintained, living and life are doomed to destruction, why prolong it by needless bickering about ideals. He maintained that he had considered war deeply, and as an intellectual had come to the conclusion that everything that is fine and noble in the human race can be expressed by war. Why worry about the rights or wrongs of the situation; it was imperative and right, and moral to fight in every country. What were ideals even to an intellectual compared to activity. In activity there is a certain swerve and momentum that would carry us in the right direction even if the forces were bent on destruction and pure deviltry. He was a dilettante, and he put great emphasis on that designation, who played with life as with art, and in all great mass movement saw nothing but good, and an individual to spend a full life, even if the life was short, must enter into its varied activities without coundting the cost or the consequences, and he could reel off a list of imposing historical figures to prove his point. There was no holding the man to any substantial or solid argument. All was vanity, all was inane, all was futile accept action with a majority, and good was sure to reult only if we joined with the spirit of occasion and helped in this great world madness . He would even concede it was a madness, and so is art when it is creative, and as a dilettante he was interested only in active expression. For downright intellectual hypocrisy he took the cake. When he saw how futile his efforts were, he conceded we were too staunch for him and wished us well.

[July 12, 1918] Mr. Roskin agin was invited to give us a talk on art, since that was his favorite subject. Again it took a war trend with his wnphasis on dilettantism, which according to his definition called for a full life with serious attention only to majority activities, heighteneing them wherecer possible for the greater enjoyment, but never sticking to ideals if they in any way ran counter to majority convictions. Let insipid idealists waste their time with such efforst. We with such strong convictions were worthy of greater activities, abd what was greater than thso world stage on which such greatevents and tremendous actions were waiting for stubborn individuals to take a hand. That is where objectors belongdd, on the battle fields, where action and opportunity for action could try the souls of men as staunch as we were. Our own stand was terribly illogical in his eyes, but he said he nevertheless thought we made up in our mental activity, whatevee that may mean. We found a good place to pick berries.

[July 12, 1918] Finished reading America's relation to the Great War, byy Joh n William Burgess.

[July 13, 1918] All the men went off today on their was to Leavensworth, except Sterenstein, Rudolph, Hartman, and me. The parting was not easy, we made at attempt at gaity, but the underlying sadness could not be suppressed. Dave was particularly sorry to part with me, but our paths from now on must diverge. He accepted the vacination and innoculation while I did not. After six months of living together, it was not easy to part with any of my camp friends. The men altogether, seemed orderly and cheerful and cooperated in collecting their belongings, but this being a Saturday, and a number of the men being Sabbath observers, a situation arose in which those men could not voluntarily cooperate with this activity. Anderson, a Seventh Day Adventist and Hyman Block a Sabbath observer were taken bodily and forced on a mule-team wagon waiting to receive the men, and the procession went off. Incidents too numerous to mention occured as the emen prepared and moved off. Captain Morschauer told me I was left behind because I had refused vacination and innoculation, Guards were placed all around the barracks after the men had left, ancd it seemed that hereafter extra precautions were going to be taken in guarding us. The following men left from the barracks:

Anderson, Joseph
Block, Hyman
Brex, Oscar
Breidert, William
Campbell, Carleton
Caplowitz, Philip
Eichel, David
Fernquist, Gustave
Haugen, Jacob E.
Jasmagy, William
Kaplan, Herman D.
Katz, Julius
Lahuta, Ignatz
Lasse, Knute
Lee, Harry
Lundin, Sol
Mair, Karl
Maller, John
Monsky, Henry
Moore, Howard
Seidenberg, Roderick
Solnitzky, Samuel
Thomas, Beven
Thomas, Evan
Wortsmann, Jacob
Briehl, Fred
Bernstein, Mayer
Krieger, Emanuel
Shaitoroff, J.
N. Berkowitz
Simmons, A.
Friedman, L.


Eichel, Julius
Hartmann, Isidore
Rodolph, Charles Carleton
Sterenstein, Samuel

[July 14, 1918] Today the excitement and sorrow of the parting of our friends has not worn off. Hartmann, especially, is taking it hard. In his extreme sorrow he has turned to Christianity for comfort. He has actually accepted the Bible as the Gospel truth and is amazed that we cannot see the light as he does. Clodi has been left behind, but I have not seen him since he fell into military hands. He is somewhere in camp, and his lady friend paid me a visit after seeing him, and is very pessimistic about our future welfare considering the brutal government attitude towards all objectors.


Eichel, Julius, “Excerpts from the diary of Julius Eichel,” Conscientious Objection & the Great War: 1914-1920, accessed January 19, 2022, https://cosandgreatwar.swarthmore.edu/items/show/83.

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