Swarthmore College Peace Collection, 500 College Avenue,
Swarthmore, PA 19081 U.S.A.
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|Papers, 1917-1980; 1.75 linear feet (53
- Document Group: DG 131
- Donor/Depositor: Julius Eichel, Seymour Eichel
Received: 1977, 1981, 1982
- Restrictions: No
Finding Aids: Checklist prepared by Martha P. Shane (March 1982),
updated by Wendy E.
- Chmielewski (June 1999)
This checklist is the property of the Swarthmore College Peace Collection
Julius Eichel (1896-1989) was an absolutist conscientious objector and
pacifist imprisoned during both World Wars for his beliefs. He was "a
conscientious objector not only to war, but to the extension of the Government's
control over the convictions of the individual." He opposed the
"crushing of individual conscience by majority rule or legal
interpretation" and believed that "conscience without individuals
sacrificing for it simply cannot exist."
Eichel, born in 1896 in Austria, came to the United States in 1899. In 1917,
both he and his brother David refused to comply with any requirements of the
Conscription Act. A military tribunal sentenced them to 20 and 30 years
respectively. Julius Eichel spent the next 18 months in the Tombs in New York
City and in internment camps in Fort Jay, Camp Upton, Governor's Island, Fort
Leavenworth, and Fort Douglas. During these years he refused to cooperate with
any compulsory actions other than his own personal needs. Eichel was sometimes
sentenced to solitary confinement and bread and water rations.
In 1928 Eichel married. Two years later he and his wife Esther became parents to
a son, Seymour (who was himself imprisoned in 1956 for his beliefs). The Eichels
ran a small chemists business in New York City. In 1942, Eichel again refused to
register for the draft, was tried in a civilian court ,and sent to prison for
During World War II ,Julius Eichel started the Absolutist War Objectors
Association. This organization was founded on the principle of total opposition
to war, conscription and regimentation. Eichel edited its newspaper The
Absolutist whose motto read "The health of the nation is periled if one
man be oppressed." Together Julius and Esther founded Friends and Families
of Imprisoned Conscientious Objectors. Both of these organizations repeatedly
urged immediate and unconditional release of all imprisoned objectors and
attempted to help and encourage CO's in prison.
Before and during World War II, Julius Eichel carried on a lengthy
correspondence with fellow absolutist conscientious objector, William
James Sidis (1899-1944). Sidis and Eichel attempted unsuccessfully to
establish the Volunteer Urban Self-Supporting Project (VUSP). The VUSP was
intended to provide an alternative to Civilian Public Service, which they
considered to be war-related, and therefore unacceptable. Neither man would
condone any action that abrogated a citizen's freedoms under the Bill of Rights.
Julius Eichel was also very active in and wrote for the War
Resisters League (DG 40) and other peace-related organizations. He continued
to champion the rights of the individual from government oppression both in the
United States and abroad by writing to officials, writing editorials, speaking,
and taking part in peace marches.
In 1947 both Eichels were honored by the Friends and Families of Imprisoned
Conscientious Objectors. In 1976 Julius Eichel was given the War Resisters
League Sixteenth Annual Peace Award.
Julius Eichel organized and arranged the one box of William
James Sidis material with the aid of a researcher. All other material
was organized by the staff of the Swarthmore College Peace Collection.
Correspondence (apart from the Sidis material) was placed together in Series II
in chronological order.
Copies of The Absolutist and theWeekly Prison News Letter were
removed to the Peace Collection's periodical collection. Mail from other
organizations in Series VIII is not in any order. Newspaper clippings were
photocopied for preservation purposes.
Scope and Contents
The papers of Julius Eichel contain some of his writings, such as the
descriptions of his prison experiences during World War I, statements of his
philosophy as an absolutist conscientious objector, and articles for various
periodicals of the War Resisters League.
Almost one third of the Eichel papers is correspondence (1917-1980). There is
family correspondence between Eichel, his brother David, and their parents when
both young men were imprisoned during World War I. The collection also contains
material about William
James Sidis. Sidis corresponded and worked with Eichel during World
War II and the years preceding that war. This series includes many periodicals
edited by Sidis for small organizations he started during this period, as well
as articles about Sidis written after his death in 1944.
The Eichel collection also includes personal memorabilia about honors bestowed
on Julius Eichel and his wife Esther, his 80th birthday party, and newsclippings
about Julius. There are writings by other CO's, as well as a clipping collection
and unsorted mail from other organizations.
Correspondents include Ernest and Marion Bromley, David and Betty Dellinger,
William N. Doty, Eichel family members, Harold Fackert, Paul Comly French, Larry
Gara, Anna Melissa Graves, John Haynes Holmes, William M. Kantor, Erling Lunde,
Alice Niles Lynd, Albon Man, William
James Sidis, Abraham Sperling, Lyle Tatum, and Evan W. Thomas.
- Series I. Writings and statements by Julius Eichel
- Box 1
Dated writings (1941-1978)
- "Personal History of a Conscientious Objector" (1942)
"Leavenworth Mutiny" (1973)
"The Judge Said 'Twenty Years'" (1981)
- Undated writings
- Series II. Correspondence (1917-1980)
- Box 1 (continued)
- Box 2
- Series III. William
James Sidis material
- Box 3
Newsletters edited by William Sidis (1936-1944)
Posthumous biography (3 pages) of William Sidis by Julius Eichel (1944)
Correspondence re: William Sidis between Julius Eichel and Abraham Sperling
Articles about William Sidis (1978)
- Series IV. Organizations founded by Julius Eichel
- Box 4
- Series V. Personal
- Box 4 (continued)
80th Birthday Party (1976)
Clippings about Julius Eichel
- Series VI. Writings about Conscientious Objection
- Box 4 (continued)
- "A Conscientious Objector is Born" by William Kantor (n.d.)
"Facing a Test of Faith: Jewish Pacifism during the Second World
War" by Michael Young (1975)
- Series VII. Newsclippings collected by Julius Eichel
- Box 4 (continued)
Series VIII. Mail from other organizations
Box 4 (continued)
- See also:
- CDG-A New
York Bureau of Legal Advice (in SCPC)
- CDG-A William
Kantor (in SCPC)
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