Letter September 28, 1918 from David Eichel to Julius Eichel

Date

1918-09-28

Title

Letter September 28, 1918 from David Eichel to Julius Eichel

Date

1918-09-28

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 [#1] to Julius Eichel from David Eichel, Camp Funston, Kansas

[September 28, 1918]

Dear Julius:

Circumstances have prevented my writing sooner, but don't for a moment imagine that I and those with me have forgotten you. Believe me we have been thinking of you constantly, especially so, since our present plight.

A word concerning our present status. Immediately after the boys has been returned from hospital, conditions at the tent colony became strained. The boys were threatening to again stop cooking for us, and a repetition of our previous experience appeared inevitable. Added to this Thomas, E. and Moore, who had been indirectly promised all sorts of things had issued an ultimatum that if they are not taken from the tent colony within a week, they would go on another hunger strike for liberty or death, and this time nothing would turn them from their course.

Well, one Sunday, Col. Waterman, the commander of the post, spoke to us and made it clear that hereafter

he expected us to work around the colony and again read the President's offer of non-com. service, and asked those who wanted it to step forth. I feared dreadfully for the Col's safety. I thought he'd be killed in the rush. Not a man stepped forth. He promised to call to morrow, and advised that we think it over in the meanwhile. I tell you I was highly amused by the whole performance.

Accordingly, next afternoon we were lined up awaiting the Col. Previous to his coming, seven men were singled out and told to stand at the left of the formation. Of course I was one of the seven. The Col. came and asked those who are ready to accept non-com. service to step forth. The silence and rigidity of all was intense. He then asked eight men at the left to follow him. We do so. He led us to a spot where lay a pile of tin cans. Nearby was a truck with some shovels. One by one, he sternly ordered us to take a shovel & throw the rubbish in the truck, and one by one we insisted that such work was contrary to our conscience. Result we were sent off to the guard house at Fort Riley.

A day or two later our charges were read us. I was charged with two counts -- Violation of Art. 64, which

I have reason to believe you know this thoroughly - and writing an insubordinate letter. The last charge - by all fairness should be taken out of you for you were indirectly responsible for it. I had been thoroughly dismayed at your wretched treatment at Jay and I wrote Hon. Koeppel a vehement and bitter letter. The Secy. replied, thanked me for the information I had furnished him and promised to investigate the matter. I was thoroughly overwhelmed by its kindly tone. In fact I felt perfectly ashamed and miserable, and I thought the least I could do is to send the Hon. Secy. a personal letter of thanks. I did so promptly. After four days the letter was returned to me with directions scribbled across its face, instructing me how to write in military fashion. In righteous indignation, I spoke to the company commander and told him I could not write my letter in any other fashion than its present. He told me to write a note and enclose it in the letter. I took advantage to question anybody's right to direct my personal correspondence. And this in the insubordinate letter. I cannot say whether the Hon. Secy. received my letter. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that he regards me an ingrate.

We were transfered from the

Riley guard house, which was a regular prison - with solitary confinement cells - to the guard house here where just now conditions are more bearable. Before leaving we received a talk from Major Kellog, who is taking Stoddards place on the "Board", regarding the accepting of farm furloughs.

I have a good deal more to write - but I am limited to one sheet per letter. Hence I will onlz state such things as are most important. Wortsmann, Moore, Thomas, Monsky, Block, Katz, are in confinement, but are not with me just now. I am quartered with the Class II men, among whom is your deadly checker rival, Kaplan.

My next letter will contain more details as to my treatment and the various doings of the boys. In the meanwhile I am earnestly hoping that Mr. Keppel's promise has been realized that you, Sam and Robinson are receiving humane treatment. We are all with you heart and soul, and apparently it is now the administrations policy to make us with you corporally.

With kindest regards, and good wishes to you, Sam, Robinson & others with you, I am

Your brother,
Dave

Camp Funston, Kans.

Military Police, Guard House

Haven't heard from home & hence from you for an age.

Citation

Eichel, David, “Letter September 28, 1918 from David Eichel to Julius Eichel ,” Conscientious Objection & the Great War: 1914-1920, accessed June 25, 2021, https://cosandgreatwar.swarthmore.edu/items/show/90.

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