THE PRICE OF FREEDOM

        It has often been asked, what is the cost of freedom. 10,000 years of recorded history has shown us that freedom is not free. Freedom, like most everything else of any value on this Earth, comes at a cost, and sometimes the cost is the lives of those willing to fight for what they believe in, those willing to serve, those who answer when duty and responsibility call.

       Some fall in battle. Others lose their lives while serving their country through accident or disease. Some are wounded, are disabled, and bear the physical scars of service to country and fellow man. Some bear injuries and scars within, scars that cannot be seen.

      In the early fall of 1944, three young men took their own lives in South Jersey. Two were American soldiers who had seen combat in the Pacific and had been sent home. The third was a German POW who had escaped from his prison camp, and spend three months on the run, only to turn himself in and return to confinement.

    A fourth, a veteran of 22 months duty in the Pacific, had taken his own life as his furlough drew to a close the previous April.

    Below are their stories, as told in the Courier-Post of Camden NJ in September and October of 1944

Alexander Slowey Jr. Hans Bergmann Lee W. Hartshorn
Camden Courier-Post September 30, 1944
Camden Courier-Post September 30, 1944
Henry G. Schaff Paul Barrager  

 

     

          In the 60 plus years since these men served, suffered, and died, attitudes towards mental illness have changed. Our understanding of the disease of clinical depression, which at least two of these men's deaths can be attributed to, has increased greatly. A less tolerant time would accuse these men of a defect in character. A less tolerant time, with prejudiced fueled by those who cloak themselves in religion, would call these men sinners. A less tolerant time would dare to call these men cowards. All these labels are cruelly, horribly wrong.

        It may have taken a greater courage than many of us to understand for Paul Barrager, Alexander Slowey, Lee Hartshorn, and Hans Bergmann to carry on for as long as they did. When they had gone as far as they could, when they had gone, in reality further than they could, the four men could go no further.

        Three are America's honored dead. The fourth is a more compassionate America's honored guest.

        As the war drew to a close, an honorably discharged veteran, Edward Sharp, also brought his journey to an end. 

Edward Sharp

        Soldiers, sailors, and airmen who had been wounded and returned to the United States, upon discharge from military hospitals and the structure of service, began returning home. On the night of August 21, 1945 at a V-J Day party in Haddon Heights, a medically discharged ex-paratrooper named Howard Auld raped and murdered Margaret McDade, a waitress from Philadelphia, a crime for which he was executed for in 1951. Others who found changes in themselves and/or in the world they returned to more than they could bear took their own lives. This was the hand dealt to Henry G. Schaff in December of 1945.

Henry G. Schaff

At the end of hostilities, hundreds of thousands of men and women came home. Most made a successful readjustment to civilian life. For others, the return home was harder, and the psychological problems of certain returning  veterans began to attract the attention of the government. Probably the most notorious case would be that of Camden NJ native Howard Unruh, a combat veteran who developed paranoid schizophrenia, was not diagnosed, and went on a shooting rampage that left 13 people dead. The Veterans Administration reacted to the evident problems of America's veterans by enlarging the psychological and psychiatric services in its system of hospitals. For some, help came far too late.         

William Miles Singer - Camden Courier-Post - June 1, 1948


Isaac Kosov - Camden Courier-Post - June 4, 1948

Vet Tries Suicide After Brooding Over Palestine

A 27-year-old Palestine-born veteran of War II attempted suicide today by hanging;. Relatives said he had been brooding over the Palestine situation. Isaac Kosov, 27, who has been living with relatives at 1119 Empire Avenue since his return from Palestine 10 months ago, went to the basement of the home shortly after 6 a. m. today and suspended himself from a joist.

Henry Pinsky, former Camden merchant with whom Kosov, a cousin, was living, heard a noise and went to investigate. He found Kosov hanging and unconscious. He cut the victim down and called police.

Patrolmen Theodore Woods and Carmin Fuscellaro, of the emergency squad, rushed Kosov to Cooper hospital where he was revived and is reported in fair condition. He was placed in an oxygen tent.

According to Mrs. Pinsky, Kosov had been brooding over the Palestine situation since his return to this country. He has a married sister living in Palestine.

During War II. Kosov served with the British navy, and then became an American citizen. Mrs. Pinsky said every time news of Palestine came on the radio, Kosov became morose and brooded for hours.


Charles S. Gudikunst - Camden Courier-Post - May 3, 1949

       This website will continue to honor these casualties of war as they are discovered.

Phillip Cohen, Webmaster


RETURN TO CAMDEN COUNTY WAR DEAD INDEX

RETURN TO DVRBS.COM HOME PAGE