Reflections from Edwin Schrag

Reflections from Edwin Schrag

Edwin J. Schrag worked at the Poughkeepsie mental hospital in insulin therapy. He witnessed abuse against the patients by other orderlies and reported these abuses to the superintendent. The following is one of the abusive incidents he witnessed:

"A sample of the abuse was what an orderly named Berger did everyday to a patient named Sam. All of the orderlies carried a set of keys that were about eight inches long and made of heavy steel. Berger would call Sam and tell him 'time for your treatment.' He would then make Sam place his fingers and thumbs one at a time on the edge of the table and then WHACK, Berger would hit the finger with a heavy key. He would do this to all ten of his fingers and thumbs...This was done on a daily basis."


There was a formal investigation launched as a result of the CO's reports:

“As a result of our statements [at Poughkeepsie], a formal investigation was launched. A number of the employees were terminated and some were prosecuted for the abuses. This caused quite a ruckus in the community because some of the men were American Legion veterans and anti-CO.”

Some conscientious objector girls (COG's) invited Eleanor Roosevelt to tea at the hospital which she accepted. However, Edwin reports that this created a backlash from the community:

“We were surprised when Mrs. Roosevelt accepted our invitation [to tea] and came to visit…A few days later there was an article in the newspaper about her visiting us. The people in the community were upset, saying that she had been out ‘coddling the COs’.”


--Taken from The Eden Peace Witness: A Collection of Personal Accounts. Ed. Jeffery W. Koller. Kansas: Jebeko Publishing, 2004. Pp 134-42.