29 December 1921

Die Welt-Post, Thursday, 29 December 1921

Page 5, "Letter From a Russian Who Previously Lived in America"

Norka, 15 October 1921 
To: J. J. Stroh, Lincoln, Nebraska

Dear friend Stroh:

After now being in my home colony of Norka for 3 years, I am finally able to write a letter. I am still well and wish the same for you. The trip from Lincoln to Russia took 6 weeks. It cost me about 6,000 rubels. Here in Russia a very large change has happened because of the war. Prices have risen so high all over that it is no longer possible to survive.

I will begin by giving you some prices of products and food. Wheat costs 140,000, rye 135,000, buckwheat 50,000, barley 130,000, millet 200,000 and potatoes 35,000 rubels per pud. A pfund of meat costs 3,000 and a pfund of oil 10,000 rubels. A pair of good oxen 4 million, a good old nag from 1 to 2 million and a cow from 2 to 4 million rubels. Prices for clothing are also similar. A pair of boots costs about 100,000, a shirt from 50 to 70,000, a pair of trousers 200,000 or 300,000 rubels. A needle costs 2,000 and a small spool of thread 10,000.

There is lots of money in Russia but no bread, and the money has no value. A day's wages are about 4,000 rubels, which is not enough for a pfund of bread. "Kuchen" (by which he means white bread) costs 5,000 rubels to the pfund. It is quickly becoming impossible to live; yes, already many people have starved. Most people are living on beetroots and pumpkin. Many people have already slaughtered and consumed their old horses. Things have come that far for us here in Russia.

Now, myself, Georg Schmer and Georg Sinner have it in mind to return again to America as soon as the way is open.

I would have written you earlier but no letters were being sent to America. Now letter traffic is once again open. When you receive this letter tell all your friends in America to write their friends in Russia. Not only to write, but also to help them with Food Drafts or else they will starve. Write me and tell me what the daily wages are and what food costs. Also let us know if it is possible to return to America.

With greetings, your friend 
                    Jacob Deines 
                    House number 294 in the 4th Row


Page 5, "From Russia"

Walter, 16 October [1921] 
To: Heinrich Hergert, Lincoln, Nebraska

Dear children Heinrich and Katharinamargretha and your children:

I, your mother, and Christian, your brother and his wife and children are still alive and well and like many other people of this community in turmoil, are being judged and are waiting for Resurrection Day so that we can join the triumphal congregation. There is a certain illness prevailing among the people to which 5 and more persons succumb daily.

In your letter you complain that you have not received an answer from us. We immediately answered your letter of 15 August and the one in the spring. Johannes and his wife and children, under the pressure of conditions, moved to the Caucasus in the spring and we have still not heard anything of them. Poverty drove them away because the situation with everything here is very poor.

We had sown 5 desyatin of rye and we harvested enough to be able to sow another desyatin. We harvested no wheat at all. We had nothing to live on all summer. For now, things are working out but we are totally without bread. There is absolutely no white flour on hand here at all.

Johannes Beck and his family still live; he also received a letter from you.

Brother-in-law Klippert is sick and there is little hope of recovery. The remainder, and also brother-in-law Döll with sister and children are still alive.

We do not want to write anything further today.

We greet you all and ask that you write again soon. 
               Your Mother, brother Christian and wife


Page 5

To: Balthasar Ostermiller, Newark, New Jersey

Dear son, and your wife and children:

Some days ago I wrote to you that a group of eleven of us had decided to leave here and travel to America. We were to have begun auctioning off our things today. Yesterday we received your letter with the news that you wanted to send food and clothing to me here in my name, so I decided to put off the sale until emigration conditions get better, or even a bit longer until we get better information and arrangements from you. "Vetter" (cousin/uncle?) Johann Callo and Eitel went to the train depot in Saratov to get information about the journey. They came back and brought no happy news. There was a great press of people at the depot expecting to leave within the hour but could only do so after paying a very steep price. Also along the way there would be difficult travel connections to make causing them to have to wait for long periods in the cold weather before being able to continue on.

In your letter you write: "We will soon speak to you face to face." Did you mean by this that you would soon send me documents that would entitle me to safe passage to you? Or will you come and get me yourself? They are quickly selling their farmsteads and belongings and are getting a house full of paper money for them which they will use to travel to the border. There however, they must exchange their money for Latvian Marks, whereby the Jews get the best deal and we draw the short straw. Thus I will remain here until the gifts from you arrive; till then I still have enough supplies to live on.

Lukas has already left here and is coming to you in America. Up to now I still have no news of him. With him is Heinrich Pfannenstiel and his family; nothing has been heard from him either. Who knows how things are going for them on their journey?

Everyone without exception, sends you greetings. I hope that those things arrive soon.

With greetings, I remain with deep love, 
                         Your mother, Kath. Ostermiller

The sender of the above letter, Mr. B. Ostermiller, remarks: My mother is now no longer in Beideck but is on the way to America. She is now residing in Polozk, Witepsk, in the Ukraine. There are 15 families all together, but whether they all come here is questionable, because it is easier to secure divine blessings than it is to get from Russia to America. Next I will report in detail about our welfare organization here.


Page 5, "Letter from Russia"

Norka, 25 September [1921] 
To: Peter and Ludwig Köhler, Akron, Colorado

My dear brothers:

I begin this letter in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

First be informed that we, God be praised, are still well, which we also wish for you. My wife is an exception because she has already had 4 strokes and can only walk with difficulty.

Further I inform you, brother Peter, that we received your letter safely and we saw from it that you were still in good health. The difficulties with your children weigh heavily upon you, --- but do no fret yourself, they are at home; and besides, worrying doesn't help. --- How things stand and are going with us at this time, you can imagine. If you can, then stand by us in support in our state of great distress. We find hope and comfort ourselves with the words of the song:

"Gott wird's machen,
dass die Sachen Gehen,
wie es Heilsam ist,
Lasst die Wellen immer Schwellen,
Wenn Dir nur bei Jesu bist!"

We could write you still more, but you know why we can't. --- We only want to tell you that the land has been cut up (reapportioned). (Then he speaks of 84 dusch and 600 desyatin. The letter is so faint as to be almost illegible and it was nearly impossible to decipher---the Welt-Post Editor.)

Dear brothers: It is a delicious thing to sing thanks and praise God in eternity. 
               With many greetings, I remain your brother, 
                         Konrad Köhler


Page 5, "From Schilling, Russia"

Schilling, 14 October [1921] 
To: Peter Worster, Lincoln, Nebraska

Much beloved brother and sister:

Before all else be informed that we are still wonderfully healthy along with our 5 children, which we also wish for you. It would be our wish that we could be with you in America. We wrote you certainly, that you should come home to Russia, but at that time we could not know the future and what it held in store for us. If you were to see us now you would be frightened by our sunken shapes because here there is a great famine and unspeakable misery due to poverty. Many people have already died from hunger. Only those who can flee to America or to where bread can be found will escape death by starvation.

Our old grandmother received your letter with great joy. Charlotte waits hourly for the things you sent with Mr. Peter Horst. He has not yet arrived but we wait each day for him. Michel and Stenzels-Hannes left from Saratov to America on 11 October. Jacob Graf who was already once in America and his brothers, Martin, David and Konrad will leave her during the coming week. This prompts me to ask you whether or not we should also come to America. Perhaps we could get by better there than here where misery and affliction prevail.

Write us immediately and do not hold it against me that I advised you to return to Russia. I could not know that such poverty would befall us.--- If you could see the children, how they run around dressed in sacks, your heart would break from compassion. Our food consists of "Kernkuchen" (nut or seed cakes?). In the summer we ate red beets and pumpkin soup. Now winter is approaching and one does not know what will happen.

Grafe-Gät is very sick.

Best of greetings from me, the writer of this letter, Amalia Graf, and my Johann. If you regard it as advisable you could let the 3 children come (to America). Charlotte would be happy to emigrate.

With wishes for your best well-being, your brother-in-law and your sister, 
                    Johann Peter and Evkatrina Schmidt


This translation provided courtesy of Hugh Lichtenwald.