Die Welt-Post, Thursday, 7 September 1922
Page 2, "From Schoolmaster Joh. Ölberger in Walter-Khutor"
Walter-Khutor, 20 July 1922
My Dear friends Johannes and Amalia Döll:
I cannot describe to you the joy I felt when I received your letter from 15 April of this year. I knew before I read it that America was aware of our emergency and misery. Without the assistance of our brothers and sisters in America many more Germans in Russia would have been victims of starvation; also we here on Walter-Khutor would not have been exempted from it. But like a mother giving her total love and devotion to a sick child, so also did our brothers, sisters and relatives in America for their sick relatives in Russia.
I shall speak first of our Khutor and further, only of the Germans at the Volga and Wiesenseite. We were better off than many of our brethren; we live among the Russians and for this reason we could lessen our shortages by buying necessities from the Russians. This went on for 2 years, now however, one can get no more from the Russians as they themselves have nothing more and now the emergency has also come here to us. The famine came to us in the past year. We made it through the plague, made it through the hunger; this year against them our people would have fallen victim to death by starvation if the Americans had not come to our assistance. Typhus had a rich harvest: 33 persons died between January 1st and April 1st of this year, against this during this period, 20 children were born.
Life in the Khutor was once so wonderful! And how does it look now? There is no more joy in our lives, the people go about silent and hunched over. We have fallen low and become impoverished. We have many landowners who only have a single horse and a portion of them are even without a cow. An earlier landowner, Heinrich, son of Christian Schössler, brings in his hay and sheaves with 2 cows. He still has 3 horses but they are so weak and run down that they are unable to do the work for his large family of 19 souls. Many horses are so emaciated and broken that they are unable to perform their duties. The animals are also, as the Apostle says, objects of human vanity. One observes the people in this emergency, they are no longer so lively and outgoing; this is no longer the old Chutor with its love and loyalty. All has vanished and one rarely finds any of the wonderful characteristics which once made our Khutor stand out above all other villages.
When one considers the situation, one must conclude that it is an impossibility that we will recover the old love that was once ours. How many beggars (I speak from experience) had to be told: I cannot help because I have nothing more myself. But now the people are again happy and outgoing. One sees it in the people, that the aid from America again gave them confidence and heart. New life has come into the people.
The seed which we got in the spring and the support over the course of this summer was the magic word which brought the people to life. We received seed enough to seed the entire area: 6 pud wheat, 1 pud millet, 1 pud sunflower seeds and 1 pud of corn on each desyatin. Our country and region are are not suitable for corn: I told the officials that this was my experience but my words were not heeded, now however everyone can see that I was right.
We received 800 pud of corn to support the people, in addition the following was distributed: 343 pud 20 pfund flour, 190 pud 25 pfund grits, 49 pud 12 pfund rice, 26 pud lard, 20 pud 25 pfund cocoa and 93 crates and 18 cans of milk.
For the weak and frail we received from Pastor Ernst fourteen $10 packets and in the winter a bundle of clothing for the poorest of the poor.
Two Kitchens were opened her in which 570 children are fed. We have landowners who had 12 children fed, e.g. Jacob Bratthauer, who was in former times in America. It was understood that the children should be fed in the kitchens but it was determined that food should be given to families that had house bound children. Many people prepared this food for the whole family. It is against regulations but the donors will agree with it because it helped so many in this emergency. Altogether these donations have put an end to the great emergency.
There is a severe clothing shortage and our Khutor is still short of clothing.
This year's harvest has turned out poorly and so worrying and belt tightening begins anew. I know everything about our Khutor, about everyone's condition, and can therefore say with certainty who will fall victim to starvation because of shortages in the coming year, should the aid be stopped.
Frank-Khutor is in the same situation. If it is wished by those from Frank-Khutor, I will write more about their old home.
The hay harvest was a good one. We were able to mow much, about half from the Russians. I myself mowed 15 wagon loads. Frank-Khutor could mow still more because they have more Russian neighbors.
Our greatest concern, because the fruit did not turn out, is the potato crop. If we do not get rain right soon then the potato crop will also be weak and then--woe unto our people. We do not want to despair yet however, everything can still work out. There is still time. God sits in judgment and fully directs everything. The emergency is not greater than God. God will yet make ashamed those who despair.
Immediately as I wrote those words, it began to rain, it is to all appearances a region wide rain. Now there is great hope for the potato crop. God grant that we get still more such rains.
I want to now report about our brethren beyond the Medveditze (a river). Frank, Walter, Kolb, and Hussenbach are so very much like us, the only difference is that there are more people and therefore also a greater emergency is to be found there. However as one comes nearer to the Volga the real misery begins and on the Wiesenseite it is at its worst. Our people have become impoverished and ragged, but what is that in comparison with those villages. One must see those pitiful shapes with one's own eyes to get a clear idea of the misery and distress which has been brought to our brethren at the Volga and the Wiesenseite. May of these skeletons came past our Khutor in the previous summer on their journey to distant places. They looked, these poorest, for bread and likely found death. In our area many people were found dead of starvation, old persons and children. The stream of beggars was so large that often up to 40 persons (I do not exaggerate) stopped for handouts. Most were Catholics, rarely a Lutheran. It came to the point where one had to stop giving. I had a good potato harvest the previous summer--5 large cart loads--it wasn't enough however; from June on, there were none to eat because of the beggars. As the Catholic beggars became too many, they were treated more severely and it turned out that some used the emergency to seize and use begging staffs to vent their rage on them. A beggar stated that one had to pay a fee to their village in order to get a begging permit. Yes, the Catholics remain true to form.
The villages of the Volga and Wiesenseite have become completely impoverished and some have nearly died out. What has the Russian not gotten in trade? The German has had to trade everything on the farm, in the kitchen and in the rooms of his house in order to be able to satisfy his hunger. Understandably, the first to go were horses and cattle, also dogs and cats. A man told me in the spring: We ate everything that was living, now we are going after "Pfiffer" [a small rodent]. In this kind of situation it is a wonder that any sowing was done. The poor are alive owing only to aid from America; if this aid is stopped in the coming year, then they are lost. Aid will have to rendered to these poor in the same way that one provides for one's livestock. If that is not done they will remain beggars for life. The latter is also true for our Khutor and Frank-Khutor.
I was in Balzer and Anton in the winter. What I had to see of the misery and emergency there! In Anton I was told of a family that died of hunger. The family, in former times, lived in wealth but had nothing more left at all and had to starve to death. But the largest picture of starving people I saw in the market in Balzer. Right beside the gluttons and the fat (not only Russians but also Germans) were the miserable shapes of the starving. There everything was to be found that could ever be needed by a house or farm, from a wagon to bedding, horse-trappings to samovar [tea machine], weights, carts, scarves, mixers, beds, flour boxes, water carts, barrels, etc. It was a picture of confusion and misery. Most were content to get fruit, pumpkin or red beets for their things. I saw and spoke to a Russian who had a lovely child's bed and cradle who traded them for a bucket of potatoes. For one oil cake one could get a samovar. This description is briefly made in order not to tire the reader and will shortly come to an end.
I want only to write something of the pastors and schoolmasters. The fact that these servants of the church also have to suffer with the emergency is obvious. How can a poor person who himself has nothing to eat give anything to another? So it was that some schoolmasters had to give up their positions to keep from starving. I know of 6 schoolmasters who had to look for other positions. They did so only when it became a necessity. Old Schoolmaster Streck, Kutter, had the right to retire; an aged, worn out man such as Schoolmaster Streck should retire. No one should be able to tax his comfort. Not so, Pastor Eichhorn, Alt-Messer, who turned away from his own door. I know that from the Wiesenseite 7 pastors and from the Bergseite 2 who took to their heels, and without an emergency as these gentlemen bolted when the emergency was not yet large. Pastor Eichhorn is, in a sense, very cunning. If one were to look for heroes of patience and perseverance among the schoolmasters and ministers then the ministers come up short.
Pastor J. Wagner from America was also at the two Khutors on a visit. He came over to us from Frank-Khutor. He greeted the community in our lovely Community Center, passed on many greetings to the community and then gave a stirring speech. The speech made a special impression; the words which he brought to the community in the name of their relatives in America, brought calm and comfort to the community, together with the ceremony in the dawning hour, moved the community to tears. It was pleasing to learn from his speech that our brethren in America are aware of the cause of all our misery and emergency.
I cordially greet Wilhelm Weber, the elder Christian Hill; also Jakob Weber greets the latter, Heinrich Alles, Heinrich Homburg, and Jacob Gies. I thank them for sending me the Welt-Postsubscription. I have already received an issue. I will often send you reports, if you like you may take them up to Mr. Lorenz in the Welt-Post office.
Heinrich Homburg's old father still lives, he is a diligent church-goer.
Jacob Gies's mother still lives. She lives with her son Conrad who faithfully cares for her. She would gladly receive proof of the love of her Jacob and other sons. She is very needy.
Doesn't Jacob Hill's Philipp live in College Place. His mother-in-law Catharine Lieb, née Pister, sits next to me and asks me to greet her son-in-law Philipp Hill and her daughter Henriette. She has received one letter from them in the past 2 years and it was 2 1/2 years on it way. She is still healthy and wishes you likewise. She would be happy to hear from them.
My old and proven friend Christian Weber I also hereby greet. Your brother-in-law George Gies brought me your greetings and request. I have already in this letter to Johannes and his wife Amalia Döll, given a short description of our situation and will report still more later so that our friends in America thoroughly know and understand our misery and desolation.
Greetings to my dear friend Georg Schössler, "des Herrn Peter Schering Allich" [the quoted phrase is beyond my ability--Translator]. What a joy when your letter was given to me. I cannot write everyone separately since postage for a letter is high, now from 200,000 to 400,000 rubles. However I will faithfully inform my friends in America in reports to Die Welt-Post.
I must not forget Georg Strassheim and Carl Wagner, the latter living in Fort Morgan, Colorado, two gracious men. Great was my joy over the contents of their letters. It was a testimony to their graciousness. I can well use the support. The villages can no longer supply the servants of the church as in former times. Many church servants must go hungry and suffer from want. May the good Lord bless you for your faith and further give you his benediction and grace. Johannes Doell will send my letter to you.
Before I end I must fulfill a task the village has given me. I must express to the brethren and friends in America our grateful thanks for the love you have shown our community; also these words of thanks are for the English donors because we are aware of the fact that Englishmen in cooperation with Americans are lovingly working together in the world and our words of thanks are also for them. May the Lord bless you for it. We are not able to repay you for all you have done but God can and will do so. If you read my report carefully, you will understand that your work here is not yet finished and the year 1923 will also require great amounts of your love, perhaps even more than currently. I will, as far as it is within my power and experience, provide you a faithful detailed picture of our community and generally of the Germans.
My dear Johannes and Amalia: I want to say goodbye to you. I wrote much in this letter but yet not everything, by far. I will send more reports later which Mr. Lorenz will certainly be glad to put in his Welt-Post in order to bring to the Germans in America a clear picture of our situation in Russia. There is much to write about, particularly from the first year of the war (1914) on up to the present, if one wants to show the situation of our people exactly as it is today. But, as hopeless as our present situation is, we are not discouraged. I agree completely with Lonsinger, the language teacher in Saratov who made the statement: Our Germans have a great future in Russia. However many have completely lost faith and would rather emigrate and are only waiting for the time when the way becomes open. Many, however, also have hope for the best. Just as I was writing this letter it rained so thoroughly that there is now hope for the potato crop. Thus God humbles us for our desperation and lack of faith.
Your parents are well and in good health. Amalia's husband died in the spring. Her sister Charlotte's mother-in-law died this morning of typhus. Johannes, your mother told me to greet you and your wife for her and to say that as soon as the way is free to come to America, they will come. I however, do not believe that they will come.
Stay well and God's blessings be with you. My most cordial greetings to those of mine, but especially to you,
your Schoolmaster, Johannes Ölberger
Page 3, "A Word from Mrs. Georg Repp"
Portland, Oregon, 30 August 
To: Mr F.A. Lorenz, Lincoln, Nebraska
I forward a letter that I received from my husband, Georg Repp, who wrote from Berlin on 9 August . The following is from him:
"Yesterday I was in Frankfurt an der Oder and visited the refugee camp. The people are as well taken care of as can be expected under the circumstances. All of the people there are reasonably content. In the morning they have coffee for their breakfast, at midday they enjoy a hot meal and in the evening they again have coffee. The camp is open and people who want to work, find work. I spoke with people from Kutter, Warenburg, Brunnental, Kraft, Anton, and Norka. There was a young man named Weidenkeller who would like to go to his uncle in Lincoln, Nebraska. A daughter of Alexander Wekesser from Anton is also there with her man and would like to travel to her uncle Dr. Wekesser and asks that Dr. Wekesser be informed of this. Her father is one of my best friends in Russia. I had him on the Kitchen Committee where he performed his services splendidly."
I have enclosed the names of a number of people who do not know where their relatives are. Please proceed with it according to your best judgement because I don't know what to do with it.
I also enclosed a letter from Mr. Hinkel from Kutter which is intended for the Volga Relief Society. They may want it published in the Welt-Post. (It will be published next week - Editor.)
With my best thanks, I remain,
Mrs. Georg Repp
Page 3, "Seeking Addresses"
The following, who are in the refugee camp in Frankfurt an der Oder, Germany, are searching for their relatives:
Father Johann August Besinger from Stahl seeks August, Heinrich, and Alexander Besinger.
Mrs. Amalia Schneider, née Besinger, daughter of Gottfried, seeks her husband Johannes Schneider.
Johannes Mari from Sewald seeks his rothers Franz and Johann Peter Mari.
Eva Arzer from Sewald seeks her brother Johannes Arzer.
Peter Steinbach seeks Alweise Steinbach who should be in Canada.
Rochus Degenhardt from Sewald seeks his brothers Jacob and Johannes Degenhardt.
Rudolph Lofing from Volhynia seeks Andreas Weber in America.
Frank, 30 May 
To J. J. and Annamaria Hofferber, Lincoln, Nebraska
God's grace upon you all, Amen.
Dear brother-in-law and sister:
We inform you that we are still well and we hope the same for you. Your letter with the 2 enclosed pictures was received with great joy. We see from it that it hurt you to hear that father died. We can well believe it because it also was a blow to us to lose him because we still needed him. And because of our great poverty where there is a shortage of so many things. You were concerned to learn whether father had been buried in a coffin. Yes, we had a coffin made for him.
Now there is no father and no mother in the house. As long as father was alive we took good care of him, always kept something for his meals, slaughtered a sheep and cooked "Schnitzsuppe," also now and again baked bread for him. He was sick with typhus, a serious illness of which so many people have died. It will be a comfort to you to know that our father did not starve to death and also that we decently buried him. But the malicious disease attacked him so quickly that shortly after its onset he was no longer able to go out and couldn't speak because his tongue had swollen in his mouth.
You ask what do we eat? That we would rather not have written you. We harvested, despite the failure of the "Palmenfruchten" [Dates? - Translator], many potatoes, cabbages, pumpkins and "Kern" [sunflower seeds or perhaps just seeds? - Translator]. The "Kernkuchen" [seed cakes? - Translator] were ground and baked into bread. In the winter we have pumpkins, potato peelings and a little flour mixed together and baked into bread. For now however, deal brother-in-law and sister, we can live somewhat better because you have saved us with the food like a twig from the fire. We say to you a thousand times thanks for everything that we received from you.
With best regards, we remain your brother-in-law and sister,
George Klein (Old Schoolmaster's)
Page 3, "All this from Russia"
Kutter, 28 July 1922
To: The Volga Rel. Society in Lincoln, Nebraska
Dear brothers in the far west:
Today I am moved to again report a bit to you. Yesterday the beloved Pastor Jacob Wagner was again here and poured out his heart's feelings to me and the parents of Pastor H. Hagelganz as he was about to be happily reunited with his loved ones in America. He is looking forward to welcoming that moment in the near future. He firmly believes that the Lord will safely guide him home because so many on both sides of the ocean are praying for him.
After he had a short conversation with us, my sister-in-law Eva Reifschneider came in and asked for advice as to how her Henry could best arrange it so they could come to America. After he answered her we quickly left brother Hagelganz and his wife and went together to my home where I told him that when he goes to America to tell my compatriots how it stands with me. My wife has been ill for years and 2 years ago underwent a difficult operation in Saratov from which she has not yet fully recovered. Today she suffers from pleurisy and fits of coughing. Since Pastor Wagner was in a hurry we did not remain long but went together to the house of Ph. Ickes, where the wagon driver had brought us, and he gave us a small lunch. Then Pastor Wagner examined the "Kitchen" books. Tomorrow we cook the last existing supplies in the "Kitchen." We had wanted to drive to Schilling today in order to get more but because of the rain we could not go.
After that Pastor Wagner checked the mail to see if there was anything for Kutter, he gave us some newspapers from America and said goodbye to us and left for Dönhof but his intention was to overnight in Huck. I doubt however, that Schoolmaster Würz would have allowed him to go; I rather believe he had to remain overnight in Dönhof. It was muggy here and last night it began to rain and today it rained the entire day.
Now, my dears, I must first unburden my heart and express my joy over what I read in an issue of Die Welt-Post. In the issue of Thursday, June 8th, under the headline: "Attention, Russians throughout the country," that the Volga Relief Society on June 5th, passed a resolution to send clothing to the Volga colonies. How important this is to us cannot be set down on paper. I was overcome with joy. And, what do you think, dear countrymen, could please us more in the fall and winter than the bread that you have sent us---and now there is a supply of clothing for everyone here, how one welcomes such an announcement at such a time!
The Post Office here unashamedly takes fees for the delivery of a package from 100 to 400,000,000 rubles. The poor people cannot pay these fees and the things are lost to them. My sister-in-law Eva Reifschneider had to pay 92,000,000 rubles for a package of 3 pairs of shoes, 2 shirts, and 2 pairs of trousers. Here we say there is nothing else to do but sell the cow in order to get the package released.
Dear Friends! If you only had believed the A.R.A and their spokesmen in the fall, because only through the A.R.A is the safest, cheapest and best way to get the assistance to us. Someone sent $25 via the Post Office but the recipient only received 50,000,000 rubles. A $10 Food Draft however can be sold here for 55,000,000 rubles. I think that figure is enough to smarten you up!
Now, my dears, to everyone who takes part in the relief work, I say my warmest thanks. Dear brethren you have done well!
A month ago today, Marie Kath. Lorey (Lipps) died. She has a son in America. On July 4th, a child of Joh. Reifschneider died; since then nobody has died, also there is nothing to report about disease, except for persistant Scabies, many are so eaten up by it that they no longer want to go out. Had we received the promised soap many people would have gotten rid of them.
We are in the harvest season and the people have already taken in the rye. Only a little over 300 desyatin had been sown and of that much was eaten by mice ["Ziegelmaeuse" (Pfiffer)]--on some plots 4 to 5 desyatin. Also the rye stood too thin because the seed arrived too late for the sowing. Of sunflowers, millet and French corn ["Welsch Korn"], there is none since the birds ate it all up as it came up from the ground. Wheat is good but much of it was also eaten up.
From all this it is obvious that you will have to work with us in the coming winter, certainly less, but now and again we will have to knock on your door, such is the difficulty that has beset us. Some people neither sowed nor planted anything. They were swayed by their hunger to eat up the seed fruits. Help these poor once again, this service will not be in vain.
With regards, I remain you brother,
Jakob Hinkel, House number 345, Post, Ust-Zalicha-Popovka
This translation provided courtesy of Hugh Lichtenwald.