Die Welt-Post, Thursday, 24 May 1923
Pastor J. Seydlitz from Paulskaya on the Volga
Report to the National Lutheran Council
The following report concerns not only my Parish of Paulskaya but also some of the neighboring Parishes which currently do not have a Pastor. It concerns the following Parishes and/or villages: Paulskaya (Paulskoi, Nieder Monjou, Beauregard, Cano), Boaro (Boaro, Ernestinendorf, Philippsfeld), Rosenheim (Rosenheim, Enders, Schwed, Stahl), Reinhardt(Reinhardt, Reinwald, Schaefer, Schulz, Urbach), Krasnoyar and the community of Thelausa. In all, 18 communities.
At the beginning of January 1923, these communities received food support from the National Lutheran Council. This time it was somewhat less than the communities had received previously. Nevertheless some individuals received more than they had received previously for the following reasons: The products are only being given to those in hunger. Previously, i.e. up until the new harvest, all were suffering from hunger and all were receiving products from the National Lutheran Council. Understandably, these rations were small. After the harvest however, only a small portion of the population were suffering from hunger and thereby benefitted by receiving all of the products. Thus their rations from the National Lutheran Council were noticeably larger by half. On behalf of the recipients I bespeak my best thanks to the National Lutheran Council.
The National Lutheran Council caused even greater joy here with the simultaneous delivery of clothing donations. While only a portion of the populace now suffers from hunger, literally everyone is suffering from the lack of clothing. During the famine, clothing was traded for food and now nobody can afford the necessary billions (of rubles) and are unable to clothe themselves.
The communities received a relatively large amount of clothing this time and each Parish received from 4 to 10 bundles depending on the size of its population. As our guiding principle we considered that everyone was suffering from a lack of clothing and that nobody would be excluded from receiving clothing; however the poorest were to be given special consideration.
On the whole this principle was followed in all the villages. Thus it happened that each family received from 1 to 8 items of clothing depending on the number of souls (in the family) and availability of material.
This was of great assistance! It was the first time in a long time that I had seen anyone so heartily pleased about a piece of clothing!.
The National Lutheran Council also considered myself, the Sexton and Teacher in these Parishes for some clothing. For this I cannot but bespeak my and all the recipients' deepest thanks to the National Lutheran Council, the donors, as well as your representatives.
the clothes were used articles, many still in excellent condition. In the pockets of most articles were notes with the names and addresses of the donors, sometimes also with a request to confirm the receipt of the article by writing.
I foresee that few of the recipients will be able to reply to the donors. Firstly, our people are unused to such a thing, and secondly, a letter to America costs too much for a poor man (7,000,000 ruble compared to 10 Kopecks in former times). So I will partially fulfill this obligation in the following report.
Lying in front of me are many names, addresses and request for acknowledgment of receipt. The people brought them to me, pleading with me to write. I can only do so in a general way and will only select some examples from the many names:
Mrs.Sophia H. Hegle, Road 5, Box 23, Defiance, Ohio
Mrs. Ruth Carolyn Knell, 688 Northampton St., Buffalo, N.Y.
Mrs. El. Schans, Hannover, Ontario, Canada, Box 658
Mrs. Bertha Purvis, R. 1, Box 50
Pastor Schmidt, 1, Aurora, Oregon
Paper money was also found in many pockets, usually a dollar; in others -- needles and thread, and in one a pound of coffee beans, etc. To all named and anonymous donors a "God Repays!"
I allowed church spokesmen to distribute the food as well as the clothing. In accordance with Inspection Memorandum No. 17, a representative of the local government was present during the distributions.
Enclosed are the following documents:
1. 11 lists of food distributions.
2. 15 lists of clothing distributions.
3. 15 letters of thanks.
4. 1 protocol concerning the distribution of clothing
The communities of Schwed and Schulz have not yet sent in their distribution lists.
Paulskaya on the Volga
The 28th of February, 1923
>From the previous report we are convinced that the clothing shortage is still very great. We therefore ask that you continue to industriously work gathering and sending things to:
The National Lutheran Council
c/o H.D. Wagner's Warehouse
31 Perry St., New York, N.Y.
No private packages should be packed inside of bundles, barrels or crates for general distribution.
For shipments to specific villages, the bundles, barrels or crates must have the name of the villages clearly labeled in English and in Russian.
If we are to continue with our blessed work of love and want to help our comrades in faith at the Volga back to their feet then let the streams of Christina love and mercy flow further.
With affectionate greetings to all,
National Lutheran Council
437 Fifth Ave.
New York, N.Y.
Page 5 "From Nebraska and Russia"
I wanted to write a little about things here and send along a letter from Russia. The weather here is now beautiful and consequently the farmers are overjoyed. I have received several letters from Brunnental from which I can see that things are still very bad. I want to remind the Brunnentaler readers of the Welt-Post to do something for Brunnental. Pastor Hergert in distant Fort Collins, Colorado, in his long poem, listed nearly 200 men and if each had done something for their mother colony then a rather large sum could have been collected. I am sending along a letter for publication in the Welt-Post but I fear Br. Lorenz will shorten it too much.
My greetings to all Brunnentalers, especially Pastor Hergert. If God wills and I am still living, I intend to see Pastor Hergert in July.
Respectfully, Georg Hoffmann
The Russian Letter
(No place name given), 25 March 1923
To: Georg Hoffmann
May the grace of God be upon us both. May this letter with its message to you arrive into your hands. We are still wonderfully healthy and wish the same for you.
Dear uncle Georg and aunt Elisabeth:
We have already written many times to you and have only just received a letter from you. You asked where our brother Johannes was and whether any of his family was still living. By way of an answer I can tell you that a year before the war he left for Molotschna and since that time we have heard no news of him. From the Hoffmann family, still living are: myself, my wife and and children, Heinrich's wife and child, 2 of Georg's children and 2 of Christian's children. All of this I wrote you earlier but you must not have received my letters.
Christian was on his way to America. He left here in 1922 and traveled to the border but could not go any farther and he, his wife and a child died. Two of his children came back and are with me.You can imagine, dear uncle, what hardships they withstood and how things are now. They left because of the emergency and the poor orphans have returned in even greater distress. Ach, how many are the people who have starved to death. I cannot write about what the people ate out of hunger, it is unbelievable.
I received a letter from Heinrich Weizel in which he wrote that he was also short of money. But he also wrote that you, "Vetter" (cousin?) Georg, had become very wealthy. Send me a picture of yourself and your family.
The ages of our children are: a son of 8 years and a daughter of 4. "Vetter" (cousin?) Christian's children are: a daughter of 18 and a son of 9 years. Greet for me my friend Heinrich Melchior, who you mentioned in your letter.
We must close now, greetings to everyone and be kissed in spirit from far away. In case you want to send me clothing, send it through the A.R.A. because it is too expensive by mail; many packages are laying in the Post Office because the people cannot afford to pick them up.
(Without a signature)
Editorial remarks: Of what value is such a letter as the above if one does not know where it comes from or who wrote it? Forwarders of letters should see to it that the place of origin and the name of the writer is given, otherwise it generally serves little or no purpose to publish it for our readers.---the Editor.
Page 5, "Letters from Russia"
Dear son-in-law and daughter in Culbertson, Nebraska
We want you to know that we are at present still wonderfully healthy. And we tell you for the second time that we received your gift of $30 or 3 Food Drafts and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Altogether we received 9 pud at Pentecost. We had not seen sugar much less tasted it in 4 years. We are saddened that we hear so little from you. Could it be that you are not getting our letters and we are not getting yours?
The A.R.A. has informed us that you need not send us any more food, only clothing. Nothing goes missing because the A.R.A. puts everything in a central place and then writes to us here in the community. Many people here have received clothing, from 1 to 4 pud. We have enough food for this year, it is only clothing that we lack. They are so expensive that we cannot buy any.
My dears: I also wanted to write to brother-in-law and sister Strassheim but I considered it only briefly because it costs one and a half million ruble to mail a letter. For you this is a pittance but for us a very large amount. Now I want to tell you about our harvest. We had sown 8 Desjatin of wheat and harvested between 20 to 40 pud per Desjatin. We sowed 7 Desjatin of rye and harvested 50 pud per Desjatin. We have enough oats, barley, millet, flax and potatoes to get by. We have 4 horses and a foal, 3 pair of oxen, 5 cows, 23 sheep, 9 piglets and 3 calves.
Brother Conrad just came by and told us how everything is going with you. We received the $10 from him with great joy. Oh, you dears, we have so much to write but we cannot put everything on paper. If we could only be with you for 2 weeks we could tell you everything you want to know and you would learn much about Russia.
Now we will bring our writing to a close and affectionately greet all of you. We, your parents, have grown old during these difficult years but we are happy that the worst of the emergency is over and things are slowly getting better. We thank you for the $10 you sent for us. In closing, be affectionately greeted by all of your siblings but especially by us, your parents,
Jakob and Charlotte
Forwarded to us by Georg Fahrenbruch, Culbertson, Nebraska
Page 5, "Letters from Russia"
Happy Easter both here and there
Dear countrymen and brothers:
Today it is my fervent wish to be able to celebrate Easter with you, to stand together (although the sea separates us) at the opened tomb and hear the message of the Angel: "He is risen and lives!" because, as I have said before and say again today, besides God, most of us here owe you our thanks.
Now dear friends, I have been puzzled for some time and wondered why it was that I had not been receiving any more letters. Since there are generally very few letters from over there that come here, I thought they might have been lost in transit. Now however, since a letter was received this week from Mr. Adam Broening in La Crosse, Kansas, by his brother Gottieb, that has caused me to become angry. The dear gentlemen writes very colorfully everything he knows to be negative about Hinkel and even asks if Hinkel is not also the Post Office manager and thus suppressing the mail because it is strange that people are not receiving letters! I use here what Paul uses with the Galations, chapter 3, verse 1 and chapter 4 verse 15.
I thought it was the same in America as it is here, namely that one does not believe half of the slanders one hears, but no! Someone wrote you that Hinkel received gifts from every Kutteran in America. Here and now, I ask everyone who sent me anything, did I ask you for anything? Did you not send these things out of love? Am I to be blamed for being part of the American Commission? It was God's guidance that caused Mr. Repp to appoint me and have I not faithfully and conscientiously performed my duties? When Commission members were receiving and baking Russian flour, was I there? And today should this or a similar accusation be used to reproach me? Our cooks can give you the information to clearly show how, from the beginning, I stood only to help the poor. And today, since Pastor Eichhorn has appointed another commission, you can hear how the people are expressing themselves: When Hinkel was still on it the widows were also getting some (food). I ask Mr. Repp and Pastor Wagner to judge my performance because both felt our Commission was not completely united (but it was very good). And now I have lost friends and some incite against me because I was quite thoroughly attacked by the the Soviet for theft or some such thing, quite outrageously. This same Hinkel who they were so pleased with the entire time because he always buried the dearly departed without pay and because they needed him to write letters to newspapers or to their friends, etc. Now that times are better and one does not need help anymore, one also does not need Hinkel any more.
Yesterday, Ad. Broening said to me: "It would have been better if you had not written anything for anyone because all those who tear at you today would have died of hunger and so on; Now that you have helped them get better you are receiving your wages."
Some letters have arrived here in which many were convinced that I picked up Food Drafts in Saratov and did not deliver them to the people. Are you truly men or have you become women? How can I pick up a Food Draft in Saratov without having an authorization from the individual concerned? Now, Mr. Adam Broening, ask your brother-in-law Haag if he has once given me an authorization. I could never carry that kind of blame on my conscience. But some in their ignorance wrote to America as fact that he (Hinkel) let sons and brothers starve and would not spare a little flour or milk (that he had gotten from America) and shut his heart. That would be something important for you to know and do something about.
I must apologize to Mr. Conrad Haag, because in my last report I attacked him too sharply. This applies not only to Mr. Haag but also to Mr. Ad. Broening and to all the others who are similarly convinced and I say to them that whoever said that I had said that I received a Food Draft from every Kutteran in America, is a simpleton, it just isn't so. Even the women of Kutter do not speak so stupidly! If I am to be a man than I must speak and act like a man. By the way, I will speak no more of it in the future because it is not worthwhile. My motto is: "keep a clear conscience before God and the people." Further, I know that we all must come openly before the throne of Christ to be judged, each receiving judgment according to the manner in which he has lived life, be it good or bad.
And now Br. Adams, if your father-in-law writes to you again, your first thought should be, what possible motive could he have? You write that nobody wants to donate anymore, as if they were all afraid of me. Do you really think that Mr. Volz is the kind of man who would happily allow such things to go on when all around him every day Kutterans come in and go out? No, no, you have a better representative than that in Mr. Volz. Indeed, ingratitude is and will continue to be ones wages in this world but the world is the world and he who would live in it must accept the situation.
Now some more good advice: Anyone who has a question about his Food Draft should write to his friends with the Russian number and who signed the receipt. A case occurred here where a Food Draft was sent to the wrong recipient. When the letter arrived the matter was cleared up. The Food Draft was for Hanwellems and Heinrich Niedenthal had gotten it. You all seem to think that one can receive a Food Draft and just use it in Saratov in the same way one would buy a bundle of fish at the market, but it does not work that way. The men in charge of filling the Food Draft orders in Saratov are not "Schafskoepfe" (literally sheep's heads--stupid, dummies). The paperwork must be in order and no Hannpeters or Hinkels can come along and afterward write their names over them (the recipients), such a thing is not allowed. They are on the alert and handle everything cautiously so that nothing untoward can occur. I hope that Mr. Repp and Wagner address some words of clarification to you and I also hope that Mr. Jacob Volz, whom you know, will do the same so that you know how your donations are handled.
For Food Drafts that were given to the people here that I redeemed in Saratov, I have charged 5 pfund per pud, which was less expensive than if they had driven to Saratov themselves. Whenever someone gives me an authorization, I take it along with the Food Draft (to Saratov) and I am required to return the authorization to the person concerned. How could I do it any other way? It could only be done if the "Vorsteher" (mayor) and the secretary were to give me falsified papers and then there is the fear that someone in America would write to inquire (about their Food Draft). Thus you see that this kind of thing is not possible.
More: The dangerous fever prevails here as never before. Deaths are fewer, only about 29.
On Maundy Thursday we buried Konstantin Nazarenus. He left behind a wife and a crowd of children.
Greetings, yours, Jacob Hinkel
Page 5, "News from our Representative in Russia"
Dear brother and all the officials of the society: My cordial greetings:
Today I was once again in Saratov because there was still some business to be finished on the last sleigh caravan. I expected to receive the full list of clothing but it was not there (in Saratov). I received another dozen letters and 3 packages; one from my brother John in Holdrege, Nebraska, one from my son John, and a small one from Peter Damm in Lincoln.
The larger packets are all in London awaiting a transport steamer.
Today 6 transport steamers left on their way to Riga. I also received your letter of 20 February today that was sent by courier from Moscow yesterday. My heart was gladdened by the news of your successful clothing collection. My heart often moves me to tears and my eyes even more-so as I read over these precious reports. I firmly believe that God will also bring this shipment here to us.
Please do not expect me to go to Riga to get things ready. You have men there who can get things prepared correctly. Whatever is lost on the way will be whatever is stolen from the train, and I do not wish to risk my life by going there.
I understand that you think I should not be wasting my time on little things like distributing needles, etc. Once again you judge without understanding the situation. These "little things," the needles, are as necessary to our people as bread; how else can they patch their rags together? And these "little things" I can always carry with me in my travels. I have, to date, distributed 35,000 needles, pins, thimbles, pencils, pens and 40 pfund of linen thread. I ordered another 10,000 needles and 10 pfund of linen thread. My dear people, in these "little things" let me use my own judgment. A needle costs 250,000 ruble, a half day's work, if one could find any work. A woven item of clothing costs 2 weeks wages, 75 million, or about 2 dollars.
I also received a letter from David Strachheim with instructions for delivering money to villages and individual persons. Once again, the delay in receiving the information, as well as in the first instance, was three weeks. At that time I could have have advanced the money to the villages, but not now because I have little on hand. Why did the dear man not enclose the money in the letter? I could have exchanged the money this morning and, on the return trip, gotten off in Schilling and given it to the people. You dear people, you need to get smarter. I think that the A.R.A will close its work here before that happens. Perhaps it will be possible for the American Express Co. to negotiate a contract with Russia so that you will be able to send money. Mr. Hoover himself is in favor of it. Our people over there should be careful to whom they entrust their money because many of the agents who claim to be working for the Volga Germans are nothing more than crooks.
Recently some people were ordered to come to Saratov and get funds from the German Red Cross that was sent to them by friends in America and exchange it for flour, etc. They gave them 15 million ruble for 16 pud, equal to 35 Cents.
I made my last visit to Norka, then Neu-Dönhof, Neu-Messer, Frank, Dietel and back to Balzer. I was in Frank over Sunday where I received a very friendly reception from Pastor Kluck. He preached on that Sunday in Walter and served Communion. Mr. Georg Bernhardt accompanied me on my rounds and I was able to reach everyone I had been asked to, or at least those I could remember. In particular I remembered the friends of Jacob Lebsack; the sister of Br. Heinrich Bender; the sister of Mrs. Heinrich Amen ("Store Amen"), also the mother of Henry Hein in Hastings, Nebraska, and many others. The brother of Heinrich Hergert from Walter was there with me. On Sunday afternoon I was in one of the oldest "Versammlungen" (meeting house) in the villages, in another one again that evening. At the service schoolmaster Frank gave a very beautiful sermon. I was able to give your people some information about you and they had many questions! I needed to have been all-knowing, like the lord God. I prayed with them and also gave a short speech. I could stay no longer because I had to visit Frank in order to be fair to our brethren there. I also accepted many letters which I sent to you in large envelopes because the Postal Service here is so bad.
To date I have given seed potatoes to 36 villages. I also delivered all of the Food Drafts. Now I want to compose a letter to the villages and make copies of it so that the villages can make preparations for their distribution according to my instructions. I am waiting for your lists. I have given orders that when the train arrives, it should be unloaded and a report sent to me. After that I will order all the villages to come to Saratov to fetch their things. I will follow-up on this myself and if possible, be present when they are distributed. The lists from Balzer from Johs. Koehler are in my possession.
I am healthy and believe me, since coming here I have been hard at work. Affectionate greetings to all you dears doing relief work.
Your servant in this work of mercy,
This translation provided courtesy of Hugh Lichtenwald.