2 August 1923

Die Welt-Post, Thursday, 2 August 1923

Page 5, "Letters from Russia"

20 May  
To: Adam Miller, Moxee City, Washington

Much beloved children Adam and Annliese and your children:
      Receive our greetings and the joyous news that we are still wonderfully healthy and we also wish the same health for you. Now, dear children, brother-in-law and sister, I want to tell you that we received the $10 from you with great joy and for which we sincerely thank you. We cannot repay you but the good Lord, your and our Father, will and He will pour his blessings down upon you from his great storehouse as he has promised: "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy."
      The money came just in time because we had come to the point where we could no longer get any clothing; now we can buy each family member a shirt. Our clothes are full of holes and we, and also all the others, have nothing with which to repair them. An arschin of gingham costs 30 million rubles. If things do not change soon it will get to the point that we must go naked because prices are rising higher with each new week. We are concerned about food but we think we have enough to last until the next harvest. We have no horse and no prospects of getting one because a horse already costs 4 billion ruble. We have no livestock except for a small goat which was given to us by a neighbor.
      Our only hope rests on the harvest and should the dear Lord bless us with one then it will get better again. Now I will tell you what we do for work. Because we have no livestock, I and my 2 sons have had to go to work for our neighbor. For this work he has planted 3 desjatin of wheat and 1 desjatin of barley for us. We also have 4 desjatin of rye out there. He has to help us bring it all in and we have to work for him until November. That gives you an idea of the trouble one must go to in order to acquire food in this difficult time.
      We received a letter from Annamaria last week. She is healthy and we remain hopeful that she will soon come to you in America.
      In closing, be affectionately greeted by your mother and mother-in-law, 
                                     Katrina Elisabet Becker


Page 5, "Letters from Russia"

May 2, 1923
To: J.F. Benzel Ritzville, Washington

My dear brothers and sisters-in-law in America:
      I must come to you today with a mournful greeting. Death has cruelly taken brother Hannpeter from our midst. He died on May 3rd and was buried on May 5th. We would have dearly loved to have had you with us as we saw him to his grave. There was great misery among his children during the burial. Now the children are without a father and are leaderless because the eldest son is just 20 years old; he is named Alexander and is required, as the first son, to go into the army as a soldier. I am afraid the entire estate is lost. Brother Hannpeter had the typhoid fever and lay seriously ill for 4 weeks and then got better. After that he lost all feeling in his legs and was unable to go about anymore, even with the help of a cane. Then he lay gripped in great pain but fully lucid until he died.
      Dear brother and dear son, I still do not know to who I should address this letter; but which ever of you receive it, see to it that the others get to read it. I would gladly write to each of you but I have no money for letters which I would happily write to you each month. You, dear brother Fritz, wrote that we should send the letters from here without postage but the letters are not accepted here without it. Thus I know of no other advice but that you must send me the money for postage and it would only be a dollar from each of you.
      Referring again to the funeral: In the courtyard we sang "Bringt immer her die Totenbahre." At the churchyard the schoolmaster asked for the song: "Ich bin in Himmel angeschrieben, ich bin ein Kind der Seligkeit."
      While I am thinking of it, I ask that you send me writing paper and envelopes.
      Brother Fritz, in his last letter, asked whether we still had food. I wrote to you in the autumn what my harvest had been.
      As it stands now I have neither trousers, coat, nor footwear and am ashamed to go to church so poorly clothed. The day after tomorrow a communion service is being held but I do not know if I can go.
      I have already written you many times but it appears as though you are unable to support your brother.
      Now I will list those who died recently: brother Hannpeter, Heinrich Fuchs (Dante), the old Juckert, Gevattermann (??Godfather??) Kohl (Dante), Konrad Stromberger on the Khutor and Konrad Eisenach's family has died out except for himself and the 2 smallest children.
      With my best greetings to all our relatives in America, I remain your brother, father and friend,
                                             Georg Jacob Benzel


Page 7, "Firsthand Report from Russia"

18 June 1923

Dear friends in North and South America:
      I address both places because our people in South America will also be pleased to hear something from Russia. Your requests for information about your old homeland has encouraged me again and again to write anew. I wanted to write about something special but all I have is a large question mark. --- In this regard we will turn to our sowing. This year the situation is somewhat better than in 1922, but if the dear Lord does not come soon with some rain it (the emergency) will occur again among us. There are no supplies on hand and America has recalled its men doing relief work which is a hard blow for the poor and orphans who were being fed daily. Everything however, has its time. We cannot repay you for what you have done for us, so accept our deep thanks.
      When friend Jacob Volz has happily returned again amongst you then this man can tell you of his many experiences during the time he was here. One thing is certain: You Americans have saved many people from a horrible death. I will never ever forget this great deed. Some days ago Pastor Scheding and Mr. Volz came to me and said that they would shortly be returning to America. May God protect and defend them on their way so that they return to you in good health as when they left you.
      On the one hand we are saddened that the sending of Food Drafts has ended, on the other hand we are glad of the fact that a way is now open to send money to help us here from those who wish to help. In this way my neighbor Johannes (Schlachter Michels) received $47.00 from his sons with which he bought 2 cows and 2 sheep and thus ended his emergency. The American Dollar is in great demand and increases in value with each passing day. Today for 1 dollar you get 174 million rubles. Food prices are high again. A pud (40 pfund) of wheat flour costs over a hundred million rubles, potatoes from 15 to 18,000,000; meat 8,000,000 per pfund. One can no longer get anything for less than a million. Thus one must have a special reason for writing before daring to use that much money. And then ones friends come and want to include their messages to your letter in order to save money. And so then I have to trouble someone in America to forward their messages. I ask my friend Lukas Dreith in Lincoln not to be angry with me for troubling him with this task. I received 2 letters from you in June.
      Now I come to the last clothing shipment. The second clothing shipment that you sent to Mr. Volz arrived here on the Friday before Pentecost. It was a act of love that many men and women had not expected. Mr. Volz was also on hand. Everything was taken to the school house and the bundles opened there. The separated bundles that were addressed to individuals were handed out by Mr. Volz. He announced that some of the bundles had been pilfered and this caused some discontent. Someone called out: "These rascals have stolen the things themselves." Is it not insulting of the masses when one has done ones best for others and yet still is openly painted black?
      After everything had been distributed, including the bundle wrappings, and a few days had passed, a woman came to me with a bundle wrapper on which the number of the bundle could plainly be seen and complained to me in strident tones. I asked her if she had relatives in America and if she had a letter that we could examine that would clear up the matter? She kept insisting: "That is my house number!" whereas it was only the number of a specific bundle and nothing to do with a house number in Beideck. Finally she left me with the words: "You are also a thief!"
      There were also other people who were very pleased and offered tearful thanks for the donations. There were those children being confirmed whose parents had died and were clothed on the instructions of Mr. Volz. Oh, how their eyes shone with great joy!
      I have taken in a son of the deceased Peter Müller. This boy was also among those being confirmed. While opening the large bundles, a small bundle was found and on it were the instructions: Deliver to the orphaned children of Peter Müller, given by Amalia Georg, née Pabst. This will serve as a message of cordial thanks to that donor.
      Henry Fahnenstiel would like to hear from his brother Johannes. Georg's house number is: 133. All readers are asked to let him know that he should write to his brother.
      Recently we have laid to their final rest: Philipp Butz, 80; Jacob Georg, 40; Amalia Donis, née Müller, 59; Balthaser Dollberg, 22; Georg Froscheiser (Suttcha), 76; Emilia Luft, 40 years of age. This sad message serves to inform the concerned relatives. 
      In Schilling the well-known old schoolmaster Philipp Kniss has died, 80-years old, and besides him Johann Peter Kaufmann, 78-years old.
                   Greetings to all my friends, 
                                                  Conrad Würtz, Nr. 447


Page 7, "Hinkel and Volz in Moscow"

Moscow, Russia
23 June [1923]

Esteemed Welt-Post readers and friends in America:
      I wish everything good for you from our Lord God. I suppose that you are wondering what I am doing in Moscow. My brother-in-law Heinrich and Heinrich Nazarenus in Alamota, Kansas, sent ship's tickets and money to their people in Kutter for their travel to America (my brother-in-law Reifschneider to his wife, born Eva Möllinger and Heinrich Nazarenus to his brother Jacob). At their request I saw to the completion of their paperwork, first in Balzer and then in Pokrovsk. There was nothing left for me to do except get them to Moscow. This burden also fell to me and I accompanied them. It went well; the railroad cars were wonderful and new, like they were in former times.
      In Moscow I had the good fortune to meet up with Mr. Jacob Volz. I do not know which of us was more pleased at this meeting, he or I. We went out together and looked around the streets of Moscow. Mr. Volz was very much surprised at how the situation here has improved since his arrival from America. It is also prettier here than back in the villages because here it rains nearly every day while back home it has rained only once. We expect a weak harvest and that will double our difficulties because the A.R.A. is pulling out and going home. It appears that our naked people will hunger again. We are sad that you are leaving us, yet we know that the old God still lives. He will provide for us further because it is written: "You will find refuge with the old God and under the everlasting arms."
      Mr. Volz and others will relate much to you. My sister-in-law Eva will also give you a report about everything and clarify anything you may still be confused about, also about the last clothing shipment. I especially want to share with our dear old neighbor Heinrich Böckel in Lincoln, that bundle No. 390 did not arrive in the last clothing shipment. Also No. 391 for Norkaand No. 392 for Frank did not arrive. Whoever has things in these bundles should be informed that they did not get here. Where these things are or whether they were returned to America, we do not know.
      Today Mr. Volz and I went to church together and we enjoyed it very much. Pastor Meyer preached about Matthew 11:11-12. Next Sunday, July 1st, Pastor Bensa from Philadelphia will hold a service here and will also serve communion and we will partake of it.
      For the information of  Mr. Heinrich Dietz in  Russell, Kansas, your uncle Jacob Dietz in Balzer is unhappy with his father. He said he had given him portions of the Food Drafts but the old man sold everything and hid the money. His address is: Oblast Nemgev Povolsche, Goloi Karamisch, Ulitza Malaja Kommunislitcheskaja, Dom No. 1058, Jacob Dietz.
      The news for Johannes Wagner is that his mother is in the 1st Category and his brother Jacob is in the 2nd; they will probably be leaving. I checked with the office of the White Star Line and they told me that they should keep themselves ready to go and that they would leave as soon as they received telegraphic authorization. 
      Here in Moscow the length of time it takes to get a passport is generally 2 to 3 weeks. A visa for the passport costs 20 rubles gold. Having to remain 2 to 3 weeks in Moscow is like first discovering what it means to be a part of the world. Hopefully everything will be finished in 8 days so I can go back home. Hopefully the emigrants will happily get to you. I would love to be there for the celebration.
      For Mr. Friedrich Dietz: Your wife has remarried but she requires money to support your children. Heinrich is 11 and Katchen 13 years old. I make this announcement here at her request; I am not responsible for anything further.
      I am very anxious to hear from you. Very few letters are getting through to Kutter and we are quickly losing contact with you. Concerning the sending of money: Dollars can be sent and picked up either at the nearest state bank or sent in a packet directly to the nearest Post Office. Alexander Schneider, representing the Volga Germans is coming over to you and is making the arrangements so that you can help our people through the bank here. Jacob Deikow will go to Argentina to make the necessary arrangements.
      As I write this, 10 airplanes are flying over the city. This is nothing new to the people here but for us from Kutter it is amazing because we live so cut off from the world.
      I greet all our countrymen, especially those from  Kutter. Your friend and brother, 
                                           Jacob Hinkel


This translation provided courtesy of Hugh Lichtenwald.