Letter from Edward Belan to Robert Kreider, May 1945.
Excerpts from a letter to Robert Kreider [MCC Hospital Section] from Edward Belan [Assistant Director, camp #143]. May 18, 1945:
"It happened on the evening of May 7, 1945, V-E day."
"Four of our men on the night shift were having their dinner before reporting for duty when two hospital employees, after some words about ‘Jews and C.O.’s.’, approached the table where our men were eating with another man who is thought to be a Jew, and upset the table. The other man, a night watchman here at the hospital, became very unhappy about having lost his dinner, so he ‘came up swinging.’ In the method of avoiding any difficulty our men withdrew themselves and left the dining room, minus their suppers, but not before one had been struck with a fist in the back of the head. Not serious."
"Just a few minutes later another one of our men who was on the hospital grounds alone was attacked by the same two men. After several vicious attempts at injuring him, and his doing some successful dodging, they gave up after inflicting just a glancing blow on the forehead."
"A few minutes after that these same two men threw stones at yet another of our men from a distance of about 50 yards, but none found their mark."
"All in all, May 7, 1945 brought its own special excitment [sic] to C.P.S. #143."
"The conclusions are that the two men were V-E day celebrators who had had too much ‘fire water’, and were ‘out gunning’ for the Jew who had previously ‘wronged’ them. The C.O.’s happened to be there at the same time so they decided to ‘kill two birds with one stone.’ The results are that the two men were arrested and have been discharged from the hospital. As a Unit we have protested their arrests and discharges if they were in any way percipitated [sic] by their actions toward us. The charges for the arrests are disorderly conduct and distruction [sic] of state property."
"It was one of those unfortunate incidents which we regret had to occur, but over which we had absolutely no control [sic]. There had been a scuffle several months before between one of the two and the Jew, so we firmly believe that this was actually the same song, but the second verse. As mentioned, we happened to be there, so it didn’t take much thinking to just include the C.O.’s.”
“…Our V-E day episode was most unfortunate, especially since relations here are so pleasant and delightful, but we came through in fine style and we will carry on.”
--Taken from "Director Corr., 1945," folder 23, series IX-6-3. MCC Records Collection, Akron, PA.