Die Welt-Post, Thursday, 25 October 1923
Page 5, "Letters from Russia"
Dear friends from Walter Chutor:
The following letter from schoolmaster Oelenberger is self explanatory and requires no comment on my part. Yet I want to remark that a collection has already been started here in Lincoln. Who among you will help to build upon it? There are many of you who know and love schoolmaster Oelenberger. Whoever wants to contribute something to the collection can send it to my address as follows:
710 B St.
The distribution of clothing at the Chutor was delayed because we received one bundle and then another fourteen days later. The other villages received theirs earlier and they were able to give Mr. Volz the signatures of the recipients of the private bundles before he left.. We got ours too late. We could have sent in what we had but we first wanted to see what was in the bundle sent to us from Walla Walla, Washington. We had the idea that the condition of this bundle could not be good, but we were not positive. However the waiting appears to have have been for naught and so we hasten to send the respective signatures to our brothers in America so that they can see that we delivered all the clothing safely to the private individuals.
I can report that we distributed the clothing intended for general distribution but first I will list the names of those who were to distribute the clothing pursuant to a letter from Mr. Volz:
1. Schoolmaster J. Ölenberger.
2. Conrad Müller.
3. Johannes Bauer.
4. Johannes Hill.
5. Adam Gies, son of Johs., representing the government.
6. Elisabetha Hamburg, née Melcher.
7. Dorothea Elis. Geist, née Walter.
Both of the women, according to a letter from Mr. Volz, were to attend the distribution per the wishes of the women in America.
Many letters came from America stating that men had been selected by men in America, to hand out the clothing. Since these letters did not all agree regarding the names of these men and since the correct list of these men did not arrive in time, the community decided that all of the man mentioned in the letters should help with the distribution so that there would be no cause for offense. The names of the men area:
1. Jacob Hill.
2. Jacob Walter.
3. Jacob Kleinert.
4. Jacob Alles.
5. Jacob Bauer and Johannes Alles.
In all 13 persons helped.
We were instructed by letter from Mr. Volz, to distribute the clothing only to the poor, and he further instructed the committee that those poor who had received private packets were to be excluded. Letters from America expressed the desire that nobody be excluded; many letter writers asked their friends if they had yet received anything.
Our Khutor, along with all the communities adhered strictly to Mr. Volz's instructions in distributing the clothing. Admittedly there were some godfathers among the poor who had to be turned away. We agreed to distribute the clothing in the following manner:
The poor, widows and orphans were distributed a portion of the clothing but the other part was distributed to the entire community based upon the number of souls per family. Thus the poor, widows and orphans received a second distribution based upon their soul count. We determined the number of families we had with 2, 3, 4, etc. souls and distributed the clothing according to the soul count. We allowed the people to draw lots, i.e. the people with the same soul count, among themselves. Whoever won the drawing received the item.. The distribution was done in this manner as the fairest way because the committee was not capable of making all the portions equal, i.e. as with dividing up money. How will this look to the other communities that distributed according to instructions?
The things that were distributed previously in the Khutor were also distributed with the approval of the committee according to written instructions, distributed among the poorest of the poor, widows and orphans. Everyone else received nothing.
Regarding the accusations which were written in letters to America that committee members supplied themselves first, these are slanderous and lies. I had to make a list for each distribution; who the recipients were and what they received and each recipient had to sign. In this manner nothing could have been stolen even if someone had wanted to do so.
Earlier I would not have believed it if I had been told that some people would be so mistrustful, impudent, unpleasant and dissatisfied and that others would see a thief on every doorstep. In the Khutor the people had less cause for such distrust but not all were satisfied, for many the packets were seen as too small and trifling.
I am in debt to so many loving brothers and sisters in America. I should have replied to everyone individually and thanked them for their love and their letters. I know that and I admit my guilt. I would have gladly done so had not my pocketbook clearly explained to me that it could not cover the postage. I am certain that my beloved in America will be satisfied with the thanks that I bespeak here. My the truest of friends, our Savior Jesus Christ, richly reward you for your love. This will be my prayer for you which I will address again and again to my Father in Heaven. However, so that everyone will know that I have not forgotten them, I want to thank everyone individually: Jacob Albert, Jacob Dietz (father and son), Christian Seibel, Andreas Horst (your sister-in-law Löbsack née Klein is thick and fat), Georg Kister, Anlis. Roth née Wagner, A. Rahn, Hilfrich Schössler, Jacob Hill, Wendel Wird, Christian Weber, Georg Strassheim, Carl Wagner, Pastor J. Wagner, Pastor H. P. Christensen, Christian Clement, Georg Schössler son of Peter (I have lost your address), Wilhelm Weber and all his friends and acquaintances in his town, Adam Weber and Wendel Weber, and to all of you who who have not forgotten your old homeland and the friends you have left behind. My hope and wish is that my words of thanks come before all your faces; Mr. Lorenz will have already seen to that.
In my entire life I have never sought sympathy by whining and complaining. However there are times in ones life where one could be forced to do so by circumstances. For me such a time has come and I must speak openly of my emergency and the community's emergency. The situation is thus: The government has declared all church and municipal buildings to be government property and this includes my dwelling. Recently I received the order to vacate. After inquiries by the community and my personal searches I can only be assured of one room in Frank with a kitchen. But I am certain that it will not be available much longer. If I finally have to leave, the question is to where? A suitable accommodation for me (where one can be alone and near the prayer house) is not available in our Khutor. One can get a room at some distance away from the prayer house from a landlord but one would have to live in the place with the landlord and that would be very unpleasant. I could only live in such a situation with great difficulty. Neither I nor the community have the means to build a new dwelling. Thus we are turning to our friends and sons in America with a request: Help us from our emergency! It would not be difficult for you to provide the necessary money. If everyone contributed only a little, the sum of $500 could be raised which is about what is necessary to buy a dwelling with out buildings. Organize a collection in Lincoln and wherever else our friends live in America. I am certain that nobody will shrink away but that they will freely and happily assist in order to rid us of this emergency.
Everyone should remember the words of the Lord: "Make friends with unrighteous Mammon, that when you fail, you may be received into everlasting care." [a parable which urges Christians to use their money for good works and thereby earn a place in Heaven--Translator].
Houses of respected professionals in villages on the Volga are being put up for sale. A crop failure has beset these villages on the Bergseite and Wiesenseite. Many landowners in these villages can only save themselves by selling their businesses and houses. A period of hopelessness has come upon us Volga Germans and God is severely afflicting us. But we shall not lose courage, on the contrary, "Forward!" should be our cry, until God again grants us His grace from affliction. God's promise remains and His grace will yet be with us despite the difficulty of this time and situation. If we only stay together, everyone at their posts doing their duty, there will come a time of renewal for us Germans and then we will harvest in pleasure that which was sown in grief.
May the Lord give you grace and peace and open your hearts for your old homeland.
Write back to me, dear Johannes, as soon as you know how our request is being accepted so that we can make arrangements. Send money through the government bank in dollars which can be favorably exchanged here.
The harvest in Frank parish was somewhat better than in previous years. The government has estimated a grain yield of 32 1/2 pud and a summer fruit yield of 20 pud per desjatin but we do not yet know the actual yield. Grain costs up to 50 rubles; wheat up to 120 rubles.
Livestock prices are as follows: Cows cost up to 10,000 rubles; sheep to 1,700 rubles; oxen 29 to 30,000 rubles; horses even more expensive. Prices for goods are thus: gingham up to 50 ruble, trouser material that used to be 35 kopecks costs up to 150 ruble; cotton that once was 12 kopecks is now up to 300 rubles. When one considers the cheaper prices compared to the expensive prices one can see the very steep increases.
If one compares the price of goods with livestock prices, then the same relationship results. The only difference is this: the farmers have no livestock to sell. The price of produce is too low, sowing too little, and thus the farmer has no profit from his harvest.
Regarding the church I must report the following: Our prayer house was left to the congregation of believers by the government, but the insurance for the building costs us 500 rubles. Those who retain membership in the congregation must sign their names in affirmation and be 18 years of age or older. Religion may only be taught to those 18 years of age or older. We were still allowed to instruct confirmation classes this year but whether it will be permitted in the future remains unknown. There are only a few pastors left, on the Wiesenseite 4, on the Bergseite in Saratov, 6 men. Pastor Kluck will probably go to Moscow. When the pastors clear out the all say: "I have received a call."
Oh you hypocrites who only want to save your own skins and leave your flocks to die. They leave their posts but do not want anyone else to leave theirs. Thus our people die because of the leadership of these miserable hypocrites. It is a truth of this world and of church history: The greed and ambition of the priests has always been the downfall of peoples, e.g. the Jews.
A joyous and lively life was noticeable this past winter among the brethren. Never, since the beginning of the brethren, have the conferences been so heavily attended as they were this past winter and never has there been so much joyful testimony as in this past winter. I witnessed with my own eyes, up to 6 people testifying at the same time. One has to endure such praying if only to get through (to the end of the meeting). But on the other hand one can also stand around darkly and hostilely and ask what is the reason for all this nonsense?
We received a packet of clothing which was addressed to a Maria Katharina Geist. The sender was a Kath. Marg. Rohn. We found no such Mar. Cath. who had a Rohn for a friend. It is absolutely necessary that the concerned Rohn writes to whom this package is to be given.
A pair of trousers was sent by W. Weber with the request that he be written as to who received the trousers. The trousers were won, by drawing lots, by Conrad Homburg (Windmüller). The things that John and Johannes Weber sent with the note: "Must be given to the poor," were distributed according to their wish. A coat went to a Mahrlang orphan and a shirt to a Burkhardt orphan, the other things were also give to poor children.
Our people are now at work threshing. Today it rained a bit, too little for sown grain, too much for threshing.
We have enough potatoes: sunflowers are also doing well.
On Sunday, the 19th of this month, Georg Homburg (Windmüller) was buried. His thumb became frozen, he lost circulation and died of gangrene.
I will now close, but will ask again: Do not keep me waiting too long for news so I won't have to keep on being afraid for much longer.
Affectionate greetings to all our brothers and friends!
Greetings to your wife and children!
Live well! The Lord be with you all, with love,
My prediction that I would soon have to leave my dwelling has come true. My son Wilhelm came from Frank today with the news that I can only stay her until spring. This is being allowed as a favor to me. Whether or not I must pay for this favor we will soon learn. The rent required for government buildings is 3 gold ruble per "Quadratfaden" (square fathom or 6' X 6'); it is now already 50 mill. Such a rent neither I nor the community can pay and whoever cannot pay must vacate.
Schoolmaster Conradi of Franker Khutor has gone to Saratov; he has his own house there and has taken a position as an accountant--his position is now vacant. Schoolmaster Ebhardt of Frank and Schoolmaster Keller of Neu Dönhof are building this summer in consequence of having to vacate.
This year the apples have done very well along the banks of the Volga and the surrounding area. In Balanda at the market one often sees 100 or more carts with Apples. The price is 2, 3 and 4 Pud of Apples for 1 Pud of Rye.
Recently a man from Grimm drove with 2 rented carts filled with apples to Saratov. After paying the rent (for the carts) he had 1 ruble left over.
The term one ruble is now being used to mean 1 million.
I cannot close without repeating my request again. There are so many friends and acquaintances in America that it is nearly impossible to turn down our request with the excuse: "we are not capable of helping;" If one thinks of (I have done so) all of the loved ones from the Khutor one can only think that by the laying on of their hands it would only take a short while for them to be able to help us. It is a part of love and Christian compassion. Got will repay you for such love and compassion. Tell your Amalie to tell the other women that they are all also included in this request. I would be afraid of offending them if I did not do so. If a woman has put aside some cash for works of charity, then certainly, our request for cash is such a work.
Write me Pastor Wagner's address--Now then, to work! for your grateful
T. Ölenberger [one or the other initial is incorrect...previously he was J. Ölenberger, now he becomes T. Ölenberger--translator]
Mr. J. Volz previously wrote that that the Distribution Commissions had the right to take 4 arschin of the worst or 2 arschin of the best quality material for a day's work. We, as well as the other villages, worked 6 days and thus had the right to each take 24 arschin of the worst material. We wanted to work for free but because we had to work for such a long time and each member of the commission was also suffering their share from the emergency, we took 4 arschin of shirt material for ourselves.
I do not know what the Frank commission did; of the other villages I can say that each person took 24 arschin.
Yesterday, the 24th of this month, there were more than 1,000 wagons with apples at the market in Balanda. Fruit prices remained the same; gingham rose to 100 rubles.
On the Khutor 3 motorized machines were used for threshing; Jacob Heberlein and Conrad Beck, Jacob from Walter and a Russian are the owners.
Tomorrow old Jacob Maar will be buried. He was 65 years, 7 months and 16 days old.
Live Well! God be with You!
Yours, T. Ölenberger
Page 5, "Letters from Russia"
You can put the following letter in the Welt-Post if you find it interesting enough. It is from Wiesenmüller from my sister-in-law who is a teacher there. She is a widow with two grownup girls. The letter reads as follows:
25 June 
First my belated and heartfelt thanks for the things that I received through the Lutheran Council from our local distributors. The events went thus: The 2 bundles you sent for general distribution and Mr. Volz arrived here on the same day. Naturally by different paths. Mr. Volz met with us in order to discuss the things that were stolen in the autumn. He noted 80 arschin for Friedrich which he agreed to replace either there or with you. I took the opportunity to show him the paper that you had sent to Irma.
((I had written a note saying that it was our wish that this widow with her 2 daughters not be overlooked during the distribution of the items we had sent to Wiesenmueller)).
He expressed himself as follows: "I simply have nothing at all to do with the thing because it was sent by the Lutheran Council, but nevertheless, in my opinion it would be inexpensive and just, if the agents (those doing the distribution) allowed this woman to select some items for herself and her children from the bundles."
Because the disciples over there had been magnanimous and had sent so much to the community and the written note also expressed your desire that I should also have a share, all of the agents were in agreement and I was allowed to take 2 women's overcoats for myself and a man's suit which I will sell to buy shoes for us. Again, my heartfelt thanks as well as those of the children.
I also spoke with Mr. Volz about emigrating but he advised against it because it is still too difficult.
Up to now things have been going rather well with us because I always had my salary, although it was small, and I also earned a little extra by sewing. Now however, all teachers are to subject themselves to a political examination by 1 September and thereby one could possibly lose ones job. That would make things very difficult for us this winter.
Our harvest has once again turned out poorly. Most all the grain did not fruit. Because of the heat much of the Wheat was scorched. It looks as though the bread basket will again be expensive to fill. Apples are in great quantity and therefore are also cheap. Bread is also cheap when you compare it to clothing material. I cannot even think about buying any decent clothing.
The fever has finally left me, pray to God that it stays away. My Irma is well, Beatche is in Kukkus visiting August. Tomorrow I will go and pick her up. Stuckerts Vetterche and his brother Jacob both recently died. Vetterchen very suddenly and Jacob from tuberculosis. Also Hanmichels Heine and Fritzlers Georg Friedrich both died from typhoid fever. Typhoid fever and cholera are very prevalent. Johannes and Jacob work together, they have already brought in the grain and just now they are mowing the wheat.
Greet Samuel and Reinhold and their families and affectionate greetings to you from your sister-in-law,
Sent in by Robert Stuckert from Kansas City, Missouri.
Page 5, "Letters from Russia"
To: Andreas Horst Lincoln, Nebraska
Dear brother-in-law and sister:
We all send our greetings. We are, along with our large family of 19 souls, still well except for my son Jacob's wife who is sick. We hear that your family is smaller.
We received the letter that you wrote to us and are very pleased at all the information you included. We still have not heard from brothers Heinrich and Jacob but brother Jacob sent us a little something from the "Posilka" (commercial food draft or money order---translator) he sent to his father-in-law.
Dear brother-in-law and sister, we send you our warmest thanks for the gifts you have sent; first the "Posilka" and second the 50 pfund of clothing and then the clothing for general distribution. We received everything that you listed in your letter. We are so happy for your help that we can hardly describe it in words. You have done more for us then anyone else and we gratefully thank you for it. The clothing items you sent we brought to the most needy who could not have afforded them themselves.
Everything is still the same, we are most in need of clothing, there is sufficient food. We have some of our crop left over but it is of little worth because one has to give a pud of rye for an arschin of cotton, thus it requires many pud for such a large family as ours.
We received your letter with the $2 enclosed and were very happy for it. It was worth a pile of money here. The dollar was worth 128 million rubles.
Now a little about the harvest. The summer crop was weak but the rye was better; we only hope we have a good potato harvest. There were plenty of apples because the weather was favorable for potatoes and other late growth.
If you want to help us further, send money. One can now get 140 million rubles for a dollar.
With greetings we remain your brother and sister,
Johannes and Kath. Maria Löbsack
Page 8, "56,154 Pfund of Food"
Distributed to the Prischib-Molotschna Colonies in June 1923 by the National Lutheran Council
From newly received distribution lists, reports and letter of thanks from Russia, it is evident that the National Lutheran Council made large distributions of food and clothing in the colonies. In the Prischib region, for example, there were distributed to about 4,000 Lutherans and other denominations in 15 Colonies: Prischib, Hoffental, Alt-Nassau, Weinau, Durlach, Grüntal, Andresburg, Neu-Montal, Tiefenbrunn, Alt-Montal, Halbstadt, Muntau, Tokmak and Waldheim: flour, 25,308 pfund (Pfd.); groats, 16,896 Pfd.; sugar, 3,438 Pfd.; cocoa, 762 Pfd.; lard, 2,346 Pfd.; milk, 5,904 Pfd. In addition various bundles of clothing items and footwear were distributed.
The devastation suffered by this once flowering region through which the river named for the fertility of area, "Molotschnaja" (Milk River), is clearly apparent from the distribution lists. For example, the colony of Prischib which counted 1,000 residents before the wars, today has only 732 souls, and of these 156 are widows and orphans (21.3%). 31 Widows without children, 16 each with 1, 11 each with 2, 5 each with 3, 4 each with 4, 1 with 5 and 2 each with 6 children. The situation is the same in the other colonies. Given these conditions, there can be no doubt about the urgent need to continue aid in the Colonies, this should be clear to everyone.
With friendly greetings,
National Lutheran Council
137 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y.
This translation provided courtesy of Hugh Lichtenwald.