Die Welt-Post, Thursday, 24 August 1922
To the National Lutheran Council:
In my voluntary service to the starving Lutherans of the Volga region I am often in the situation, as an advocate, of calling upon Rev. A.C. Ernst for advice and assistance. I have now had extensive experience in observing his exhaustive and richly blessed workings.
My heart and conscience require me to turn and recount to you brothers in faith in America, whose brotherly love in favoring and so richly serving the downtrodden people, some of the activities of your representative.
Unfortunately however, I do not have a command of the language of your country. I ask that the National Lutheran Council, if they would be so kind, to publish the following lines in the proper newspaper organs.
We praise the grace and goodness of God who has guided the hearts and minds of the determined fellow believers and sent to us her this representative Pastor Ernst who not only has all the extraordinary capabilities and good will that one could possibly wish for from such a worker, but also what is of special importance and consequence, he also speaks the language of our people.
As soon as Pastor Ernst and Dr. Morehead arrived in Saratov he called all the preachers in the colonies into a conference in which he formed a bond with them and the next spring, with and through them, also bonded with our people.
Since then he has been actively at work here. All kinds of people come to him daily from the colonies with different requests and emergencies. He is accessible to everyone and ready to serve. And nobody goes away from him dissatisfied. He gives good advice and everyone knows him and that wherever he possibly can, he provides outside assistance and aid far beyond his powers as a public representative of the National Lutheran Council. The fact that he does so is of double value for us.
It is well known what a difficult task it is to show brotherly love without injuring the feelings, -- the self esteem of the recipients; and it is also important to render the assistance in such a way as it is seen as a blessing instead of something shameful and perhaps causing damage.
For this circumspection, character and knowledge of human nature are necessary. These characteristics your representative has been given in great abundance by Divine Providence. Thus he succeeds in distributing the donations, food and clothing provided by you and truly distributes them to those who are most deserving and has provided much brotherly assistance to our church.
We wholeheartedly ask God to richly bless his servant and repay him a hundred and a thousand times for what he has done for our oppressed and afflicted people.
Saratov, 3 May 1922
Sinner, University Docent
Page 3, "The Loving Work of the Lutheran Councils in Russia"
It will certainly please our friends in the Lutheran Committees in America to learn how we distribute their gifts to the poor.
After Pastor Ernst brought us the joyous news of the needed assistance for our emergency, it was first necessary to choose among the poor and poorest because the provisions would not be sufficient for all. Therefore 18 women and girls were selected by the local pastor to form a "Poor" committee. The city was divided into 7 districts and the committee was directed to go from house to house in order to seek out the sick and distressed and to keep a special eye out for old persons. By these methods the emergency became clear and one saw such misery than can hardly be described.
In one house the committee members found a woman busily scraping the hair off of an evil smelling horse hide and cutting the hide which was to be cooked until it was rendered into a jelly.
In another house naked children sat on the stove crying from hunger; a larger boy was gnawing at an old piece of horse hoof.
In a third house all are sick from typhoid fever and are near death from starvation.
Many have baked themselves bread from bone meal with an additive of weeds and have become sick to their stomachs because of it. Faces are yellowish and greenish, all of life's energy has been sapped.
In some houses corpses lay for days. There is no one there left to take them to the cemetery or at least register them with the responsible authorities.
To whom should help be given and whom not?
Since I only had 10 packages available--two should be reserved for the sexton and other church workers since they also are suffering in the emergency--it was a difficult selection to make. It was decided not to exclude anyone in real distress but rather to reduce the portions given out.
The food to be distributed was divided into 3 categories, the 1st received 5 pfund flour and 1 pfund of bacon, the 2nd, 3 pfund rice and a box of milk, the 3rd, a box of milk and 1 pfund of sugar.
In the 1st category were the elderly, the 2nd, the sick and the 3rd, shut-ins and babies.
The first time we could supply about 300 people with 5 packages, the second time with 20 packages about 500, by then some had to be assigned to category 2 because of their great distress. We also received and distributed 2 large bundles with 75 boys suits.
I wish from my heart that everyone who helped us through their gifts of love could receive the many thanks of the poor. They would see that their love had not fallen on barren ground.
After the Volga is open to shipping we have hope for regular contact with Saratov and thus also regular receipt of the packages.
There has never be an occurrence where people who were in need but were removed from the list of those being cared for have died before assistance arrived.
There are yet 2 difficult months ahead. With God's help we hope for a harvest this year--If only more land could be tilled, the weather so far has been very favorable.
Since I also serve the communities of Boaro and Ernestinendorf, I will also bespeak to our dear friends their heartfelt thanks. There is hardly a house there to be found in which there is no sickness or need. Some families have already completely died out and many have left and fallen into miserable circumstances. The distribution of food there was made by the Church Council. They and some men from the community formed a "Poor" Committee.
To all of those who sent their joyous donations, in the name of the many poor, I convey my thanks,
Paul Kuhlberg, Katharinenstadt, 27 April 1922
Page 3, "The Kindly Work of the Lutheran Councils in Russia"
Wiesenmüller, 20 May 1922
Very Esteemed Pastor:
Like the first shipment of food packets which came very suitably at planting time, so came the desired shipment at the new harvest.
Like the last time, the distribution of provisions again caused great joy among the poor people who were called forward to receive them. Yes, one saw many bright tears of joy in their eyes. How could it be otherwise?
Not only have the beloved American brothers rendered important support to the people with this food, but also owing to this inestimable assistance given us by you unforgettable benefactors, since May 10 of this year starvation has been halted. Praise God!
We recognize that we are in your debt dear brothers. We most likely can never repay you for what you have done for us. We remember you in our prayers and ask God to richly reward you all, to regard these powerful proofs of love as if they had ben given by you to Him, the Lord Jesus himself, for we are not worthy and have only earned disgrace and His anger by our Godless nature and it has come to pass as prophesied in Sp. [Proverbs] chapter 14, verse 34.
And now I bring you a special thanks from the orphans who returned naked and unprotected (he refers to the Zimmermann children who returned from Armawir in May), to the American immigrants for their clothing which they received through the mediation of the much esteemed Pastor A. C. Ernst.
I had only a few sacks (probably flour or grain sacks) that I had gotten from Pastor Ernst to use as clothing for the children. He however, procured good and handsome clothing for them.
The children stood before me in wonderment. They couldn't trust their eyes for instead of the rags they expected, they saw beautiful, warm coats, shirts, stockings and shoes...(words obscured)...their outstretched hands when I passed them the things.
With deep emotion they thank me and shake my hand, which I also wish to do for everything we have received.
In my name, and in the name of all the villagers of Wiesenmüller I send my heartfelt thanks.
Alexander Döll, Schoolteacher
(Die Welt-Post Editor's Note: Alexander Döll relates the story of the Zimmerman children in his letter to Friedrich Zimmerman in Lincoln, NE which was published in Die Welt-Post on 31 August 1922.)
Page 3, "Thanks of the Volga Germans to the Americans"
During the middle of July I visited the "Association of the Volga Germans" in Berlin, which the German government furnished a roomy work office in Castle Bellevue. I found there the young Mr. Peter Antoni and several other gentlemen whose names unfortunately escape me. They and several assistants were busy sending out appeals and other literature in the interest of the distressed Volga Germans. The people greeted me enthusiastically and were uncommonly pleased to personally make the acquaintance of the publisher of Die Welt-Post which accomplishes so much in America for the Volga Germans. The gentlemen gave me much information which will be of interest to the readers of Welt-Post.
First, I can joyfully report to the readers that even in poor Germany and anemic Austria, they are actively collecting for the Volga Colonies. In every bank in Germany and Austria there are remarkable posters on the state of the distress of the Volga Colonists that draw one's attention and explain that the bank can receive contributions for relief work done by the German Red Cross in Russia. Also in nearly all of the train stations I found large appeals tacked up in the interest of the Volga colonists.
Mr. Antoni related to me that the German Red Cross does wonderful work for the Volga colonists but naturally does not have the tremendous where-with-all of the Americans at its disposal.
With great enthusiasm the gentlemen of the Volga Association spoke of the achievements of the American Relief Administration in Russia, Mr. Antoni said: "We Volga Colonists gratefully acknowledge every bit of assistance that comes to us from America regardless of the source from which it comes; all are welcomed by us as co-workers in the rescue effort. We will never be able to clear the debt of gratitude that is owed to the American Relief Administration. As soon as conditions permit, expressions of thanks from our side will take more definite forms.
Please tell your people in America that the relief work of the Americans will be continued until next year. A terrible emergency still exists in Russia and requires the continued help of the entire world in order to alleviate and normalize conditions. Say to all donors to this aid work whoever they are and wherever they are, our deepest thanks.
Mr. Antoni related to us that Bishop Kessler and Father Maier had already returned to Germany. Both collected large sums in America for the Volga colonists. Bishop Kessler went immediately to Rome in order to advise about the Papal Aid Station in Russia. Meanwhile an American clergyman was sent to Russia as director of the Papal Aid Station.
Famous authors and politicians of Germany wrote an article in the interest of the starving Volga colonists, thousands of copies were distributed and brought in many contributions.
Pastors Schleuning and Schneider, representatives of the Volga Association, are still at work in America collecting donations.
Mr. Antoni is the leader of the youth of the Volga Colonists studying in Germany. These young people will return to the Colonies after completing their studies to work as leaders, teachers, ministers, doctors, etc.
I am pleased that I can make these reports to the readers of Die Welt-Post and I hope that you will continue your noble relief work for your unfortunate compatriots in Russia until the emergency eases and the colonies can work towards rebuilding.
Val. J. Peter, Publisher of Die Welt-Post
Page 3, "Searching for Relatives from the Meadow Side of the Volga"
Samara, 10 July 1922
Very Esteemed Mr. F.A. Lorenz:
After long searches and chasing after my dear brother Friedrich Justus and brothers-in-law Heinrich Mueller and Konrad Schäfer who took themselves off to Argentina and from whom I have had no news since 1914, I found at a friend's house, completely by accident, your magazine Die Welt-Post "The World Post Office." How wonderful, and how happy I was to see my rescuer and therefore I turn to you my dear Mr. Lorenz, and with total respect and with my blood crying out, request that you have it in your heart to assist me in searching out my dear brother Friedrich Justus and brothers-in-law Heinrich Müller and Konrad Schäfer (Rep. Argentina, Est. Ramirez, Entre Rios) and if some one of them still lives to lay before their hearts that I together with my wife Susanne Justus, née Böhm, and 3 children are still quite healthy but are in poverty and in great need in this great emergency. (Although before the war I owned property of about 150-200,000 rubles in value). All of my wealth was taken away and the greater part of my holdings expropriated.
My old father still lives, he has gone completely white and is 76 years of age. Day and night my heart aches with the thought that my brother and my relatives in Argentina could help us. I have already written to them many times and to other acquaintance and to strangers for help but it has all been in vain.
If only someone could write me as to where my brother is living or whether he is no longer in this world. The reason that my brother and my relatives have been impossible to locate is impossible to describe in a letter. I point to the letter from Jacob Schöslek from Walter to John Benner (See page 6 of your issue of 2 March 1922), where it is described in detail.
I have deliberated for a long time about leaving Russia and am still interested in coming over there but the war and now the great emergency have me stuck where I am.
Should I not locate my brother and brothers-in-law soon then I and my family will have it bad. May the Almighty allow our request to you, Mr. Editor, to be heard and give us a path so that we are not completely lost.
Dear friend Lorenz! I am confident that you will not leave my request from distant Russia unconsidered and will set in motion all the levers one final time to again bring to life my brother and relatives, as given above.
But how can we make it right for the time and trouble which would be necessary for you to search for my relatives. I still have the means to satisfy you but how to accomplish this is unclear to me given current conditions. Anyhow my brother or my relatives could remit the costs immediately to you.
Further, I must add that my sister Emilie and her husband Andreas Metzger from Philippsfeldand their children are well and live in Siberia.
Our children are of the following ages: Miss Ida Justus, 15 years old, sons: Ewald, 12 years old and Waldemar, 9 years old.
I and my family thank you most kindly in advance for you kindness and wish you all of the best.
Faithfully, Karl Justus, living in Samara, Sovietskaya 85, in the house of Böhm
(Would the teacher Mr. Geier in Argentina and other South American readers of Die Welt-Post, please endeavor to determine the address of this sought for Mr. Justus and write the same to his brother. Possibly those sought for could by this time be in North America. Those sought after are: Friedrich Justus, Heinrich Müller and Konrad Schäfer.--- The Editor)
Highly Esteemed Doctor:
Since you, in your reports of 9 and 16 May, thought of my lines, then I shall take the liberty to write some material here as contents for the same.
I would gladly come to Saratov, however I am in the middle of moving from a hut into a house. Whether it is a move for the better, I do not yet know.
Confirmation instruction begins on May 8th and I dare not shorten it. What the children are asked to do is little enough as it is. I cannot come, perhaps however, you can make an exception and visit me and learn for yourself that the people here, until now, have not gone astray.
About our situation, I can report at this moment the emergency seems to have abated. Two weeks ago the most miserable and depraved consumed the grain which was entrusted to them for sowing.
We have so far had a delicious spring. I mean that we have not seen the grass so long or green, the air so pure and clear.
I must give up my hope of seeing you now along with many other things. My God grant us the joy of meeting again before His heavenly face.
It is certain that I will be traveling to Mannheim soon, but it is, after all a work-rich time.
In reference to your circular of 21 April, I promise to send detailed reports and letters of thanks, etc. to you, as soon as I have them. The communities of my Parish are far flung, some as much as 45 Versts from Mannheim and travel to them is difficult, involved and uncertain. I cannot provide photographs because our Kodak has been out of film and chemicals for years.
As to your first requirement that the sacks be returned, I must confess that those from the 1st shipment were used to make shirts and "unmentionables" so that it is no longer possible to return them intact. Naturally I will send back those from the 2nd shipment in accordance with your desire. There are 21 sacks.
Although you have not responded to my other request, never-the-less I come to you again with a special request. In February we were very much pleased to receive hand soap and washing soap. I ask you to send some more pieces of washing soap to me.
Forgive me, my writing today is not very well put together. I am greatly "in der Hurry" as our Germans in America say.
With heartfelt thanks for all the love and goodness.
Your devoted, C. Harff, Pastor.
This translation provided courtesy of Hugh Lichtenwald.