Page 2, "Written Thanks of the Bangert Community"
May 20, 1922
The Bangert Church Council and the Church Executive Committee speak herewith for the entire community their deepest thanks and "God repays," to those benefactors in America who are so uncommonly willing to sacrifice on our behalf.
We recognize and make you aware that half of our population on the Volga was saved through your many loving gifts. In particular we heartily thank Mr. Repp who has twice now made us happy with such great assistance.
Our German population on the Volga have been set an example by their American brothers and sisters which they will forever remember and they stand ready, if in the future, whether near or far away, to also provide assistance in an emergency like they received from their benefactors the Americans.
Signatures of the Church Executive Committee
W. Steinhauer, H. Wirth, H. Hummel, A. Schränk
P. Huber, Jacob Wirth, M. Schmidt,
Secretary, J. Kromm
Balzer, 18 April 1922
Volga Relief Society, Portland, Oregon
My Dear Friends:
The American Relief Administration corn has landed. An enormous amount of this corn has gone to our German people, the Bergeseite colonies alone getting 45 carloads with 1,000 pud to the car [a pud is equal to about 36 lbs.]. I have sent orders to all the colonies, some of which have already got their share and the balance will get theirs soon.
I am expecting a boat load of food for the kitchens very soon. Have wired Saratov and received the answer that as soon as possible it will be sent.
The personal food drafts are coming fast but not enough good has arrived in Saratov to fill them. I have hope that food will come in great quantities soon, so that the food drafts that are now waiting may be taken care of, and the in the meantime, dear friends, do not give up sending more food drafts to your relatives. Keep them coming.
The weather is good, the snow is gone and the roads are almost dry. It is getting quite warm, in fact I believe it gets very hot here in the summer. I am already sunburned.
Advise people that the postal department does not accept "International Coupons." A good many people write their friends to send letters without stamps that they will pay in the United States. That does not work. The postal department either destroys the letters or returns them. Also inform everyone to write the return address on their letters plainly. I address a good many letters for people and many times cannot read the return address in the United States. This is important.
Regarding conditions there isn't much that I can add to what I have already written you. Death is surely reaping a harvest. Over 300 have died in Balzer since January 1st, 1922. The Monday after Easter 10 people were buried that day in Balzer. The pastors and school teachers are undoubtedly writing you regarding conditions in their colonies, so you can see from their letters just how things are in each colony. A lot of misery, hunger and dissatisfaction on all sides yet. I have been waiting for Rev. Wagner to come from Saratov to take my work over and then I will go to Saratov and handle the balance of the Volga Relief Society fund. I think that will be disposed of quickly as it will amount to about 100,000 pud which doesn't amount to much in this land. We figure everything by the thousand pud.
With kindest regards to all,
I am sincerely yours,
Gnadentau, 20 March 1922
To: Mrs. George Repp, Portland, Oregon
Your husband on the Bergseite in Balzer has stretched his helping hand also to the Wiesenseite to four communities in my Parish, Friedenberg, Gnadentau, Morgentau, and Blumenfeld and another community in the Neu-Weimar Parish, Strassburg and given instructions that each community receive food in the amount of 240 pud (8,640 lbs.) flour, groats and fat.
All these foodstuffs were brought here and released for distribution. If the individual souls received a portion of a Pud it was still a help in this extreme emergency, for there were many who had nothing more to eat. Now they can again go through some days without this tormenting hunger.
Unfortunately there are three communities of my parish, Kana, Jseeburg and Wosjanka and four communities of the Neu-Weimar Parish: Frankreich, Alt-Weimar, Neu-Weimar, and Neu-Galka, where assistance was not shared with them because no accounting was made for them in America. They are deeply troubled about it and reach their hands out to their American kinsmen and friends and cry out to them from their deep distress: "Turn your thoughts also to us who are also in need of a share of such assistance."
The "gifted" villages have instructed me to convey to their friends in America their most cordial thanks. Such an order I gladly accept as the assistance provided to my villages was as if it had been provided to me.
I know of no better way to send the thanks of these communities than to send them to you, honorable lady, and ask you to pass them on to the American volunteers and in some suitable manner make them aware of the other local communities.
You will already have heard and read much about the horrendous famine over here, "Yes, the emergency is bad," in the Steppe communities it is indescribably bad. It exceeds any concept that those living far away could possibly conjure up.
It had already begun with the winter of 1920-21 when people in the best cases had only about 20 pfund (1 1/2 lbs.) of grain per month per person. Many have had nothing to eat since before January 1921. The hope was that the coming harvest would end the emergency, but it was not to be. The continuing drought and hot winds destroyed the hopes of the farmers. Nothing grew, not even weeds for the cattle. What there was of the rye harvest averaged a pud (36 lbs.) per desyatina (2.3 acres) and that hardly lasted the famished people the month. And then it became hot again.
Up until winter the people still fought against the hunger, they traded their clothing and all manner of their possessions for bread in the outlying areas. Of the remaining cattle, many head, often to the last one, were slaughtered. Now however, they are defenseless against the famine which has grown enormously and become widespread. Everyone is hungry and no one can satisfy their hunger.
At the beginning of the year 1922 the number of starvation victims in 5 communities amounted to 530 dead. At present there are those rare exceptions who have enough to maintain themselves with half their former ration. Their numbers will shrink from day to day and they will completely disappear as the famine spreads.
Nearly everyone here has the look of hunger in their eyes. Last Sunday, as I passed my eyes over those attending services, my heart seized and my eyes filled with tears. I saw these men as they once were, and I saw them as they are now. I could not find among them any who had any flesh. I saw only skin covered skeletons.
How can it be otherwise if adult humans are to live on 28 solotnik (about 3 1/2 oz) of rye bread? Tormented by gnawing hunger they fill their bellies with the most impossible things: "Oelkuchen" (ground oil cakes??), with "Schilfrohwurzeln" (reed roots??), with bones and hides. Dog meat, cat meat and dead cattle are not spurned. Now the hungry men await spring in order to hunt ground squirrels and use these rodents to feed themselves.
With such food shortages and with such food, everyone has become ill. The gate has been particularly opened for typhus which is going from door to door. Entire families are seized by it.
Death is having a rich harvest.
Already in the previous year of 1921 in the 5 communities of Gnadentau Parish, 232 persons have died as a direct result of starvation. Thanks to the tremendous assistance efforts of the rest of the world, led by North America which feeds thousands of hungry children daily, the number of deaths among the children has abated. Among the adult population however, the trend is increasing.
In the community of Morgantau from January 1 to March 15, 34 died of starvation and in the tiny community of Frankreich, 29. Hundreds are down, sick and swollen and near starvation. Oh, there are still many who will have to die if help is not immediately expanded to include the adult population.
From all of that, gracious lady, you can see that the assistance that your husband gave to us came to the right place. You will also understand the joy and gratitude of the recipients.
Many carried their little sacks home with tears of joy in their eyes and there on their knees thanked the Lord for allowing them to have human food once again and asked for God's grace upon him who had sent the aid.
I also thank God that he has aroused his friends in America and stirred them to do this merciful work. It fulfills the promise given in His words to us: "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."
Moor, 20 March 1922
To: Mrs. Geo. Repp, Portland, Oregon
Much Esteemed Mrs. Repp:
Attached is a copy of our announcement of thanks to your husband. Please forward it to the newspapers there for publication. We thank you in advance for your trouble.
To Inspector of the American Relief Administration
Esteemed Mr. Repp:
At today's village meeting, when I announced that you were going to give our Moorcommunity 480 pud (17,280 lbs.) of food, many of those present began to cry---they were tears of joy---and with loud sobs they proffered their deep and grateful thanks to you through me. At a village meeting some days before I had to announce that there were no prospects of long term relief for the starving. Following the announcement everyone was filled with grief and despair.
Now, how much greater the joy was with the unexpected news of the aforementioned supplies. I had a similar reaction because you had thoiught more of us than other like villages. It is well known where the famine emergency is greatest and you with the greatest justification have been selected to make distribution to the starving.
May God keep you healthy and strong so that you may be able to complete your highly important work of seeing to the supply of the starving.
Kratzke, 26 March 1922
Esteemed Mrs. Repp:
I can give you the joyous news that the Poor Kitchen has been opened by your husband and is busily at work. We now have 500 children who are being fed at the Kitchen. We are very happy that your dear husband has done this for us.
Also, I can inform you that Pastor Wagner was here with us and held a worship service. The entire village was happy over it and a very large portion of them attended the service. Pastor Wagner's sermon so deeply affected the people that they were swimming in tears.
Both your husband and Pastor Wagner work very industriously and are very much involved in seeing to it that the Poor Kitchen remains in good condition.
Have you already received letters from me? I have already sent 3 to you.
Heinrich Keller, Schoolmaster of Kratzke
P.S. Pastor Wagner preached to us from Matth: 16:24-26
This translation provided courtesy of Hugh Lichtenwald.
Page 5, "The Catholic Colony of Hildmann Speaks Its Thanks for the American Food Kitchen"
Minutes of the sitting Committee of the American Kitchen, 1 February 1922
The meeting was conducted by Chairman Andreas Gallinger with Secretary Staub. Present were members: Father Brunngart, Sexton Glittlein, Johannes Veit and Joh. Peter Weis.
Chairman Gallinger presented the following agenda:
1. About order in the Kitchen and Foodhall.
2. About thanking the founders of the Kitchen.
1. about order in the Kitchen and Foodhall.
1. Since the storeroom is within the Kitchen, no one may go there except managers.
2. No more than 3 Committee members may be managers in the Kitchen. The remaining members of the Committee have only the right to inspect the Kitchen and see to its order.
2. About thanking the organizers of the American Kitchen and all participants in the same: The Hildman Committee of the American Kitchen in its name and in the name of the entire Hildmann community presses its most grateful thanks on the American Relief Administration organization and all participants in this charity and we ask if we might also take those children remaining behind, 63 in number, to the Kitchen because all of the residents of our village are suffering with great hunger.
Mr. Geo. Repp:
For these sweet gifts during our great emergency let me personally express my thanks. At the same time I ask if it would not be possible to issue instructions that food be given to the remaining villages of my Parish which are in the same condition? I would welcome it. If assistance doesn't come soon then many must succumb to a miserable death by starvation who could yet be saved.
Daily, people are dying who for months have had insufficient food. Their numbers grow frighteningly with each passing day.
Please, help as quickly as you can. If it is possible, give the instructions to the bearer of this letter, the senior church elder from Friedenfeld, David Brott.
The names of the remaining villages of my parish are: Eckstein [Eckheim?] 1,500 souls; Ährenfeld 1,400 souls; Neu-Bauer 1,200 souls; Langenfeld 1,00 souls; Neu-Schilling 1,000 souls.
With my respectful greetings,
J. Allendorff, Pastor of the Friedenfeld Parish
This translation provided courtesy of Hugh Lichtenwald.