Die Welt-Post, Thursday, 3 May 1923
Page 2, "Firsthand Report from Russia"
Now, for the second year, the A.R.A. is working in the Volga Region: Feeding hungry children in kitchens and also, since last summer, supporting the adults with "Welschkorn" (Sorghum). With this support many citizens and children have had their lives saved. Next to God and you dear donors, we have to thank (for this) Mr. Repp and most especially Pastor Wagner in Lincoln. I came to know the latter personally and I must say that he has a warm heart for the and distressed and without hesitation he quickly sought to assist and defend against the terrible famine. He did not shrink from responsibility and despite the difficulties of travel, due to the poor roads, he journeyed to this colony several times to personally see for himself how things stood and if the assistance being given was sufficient. Wherever he was able to help, he did so gladly and willingly. It is a wonderful thing to be able to feed the hungry and clothe the naked and the Lord God will greatly reward you over time and eternity for all the good deeds you, Pastor Wagner and all the dear American brothers and sisters in Christ have done for the starving in the German Volga Colonies. The Lord said, in one of his earliest proclamations to the righteous: "What you have done unto these, the least of my brethren, you have done unto me." Even if some hearts prove to be ungrateful, we should not be dismayed and stop assisting, but rather follow the example of the Apostles: "Do not tire of doing good deeds."
The food shortage is not ended for everyone and is still noticeable in many houses but the clothing shortage is great. As one sought after bread in the previous years thus it is for clothing this winter.
On the 11th of this month, the undersigned, along with Pastor Stab of Oberdorf, brought 12 bundles of clothing to Rosenberg, 14 to Unterdorf and 18 to Oberdorf, Erlenbach and Kamyschin. There are 14 for Neu-Norka and 3 for Alexanderthal laying in Saratov which are to be picked up in the next few days.
On the 12th of February, the undersigned distributed clothing. All those who had received letters from American saying they had been sent clothing were asked to come to the schoolhouse. 6 bundles had names attached and 6 were simply addressed to the village.
The first bundle was from Carl Rahmig of Grew, Nebraska, and was in good condition. Inside were 7 individual packages: 1. for David Meier, 2. Anna Ziegler, 3. Katharine Rupp, nee Meier (now Horn), 4. Friedrich Meier, son of Christoph, 5. Heinrich Rahmig, across the street from the school, 3 packages.
The second bundle was to Peter Schneider from Heinrich Reizenstein of Scottsbluff. Inside were 8 packages: 1. for Peter Schneider from Heinrich and Katharine Reizenstein, 2. Peter Schneider, 3. Peter Schneider, 4 David Schneider from Fritz and Eva Kuxhausen. (Because David Schneider had died, the package was given to Peter J.(could also be an "I"---translator) and August Schneider, son of Fritz and Eva Kuxhausen (translation note: it says "son" not "sons" and I have no explanation for the Schneiders being son(s) of the Kuxhausens. Could be an error on the part of the Welt-Post, or not). 5. Konrad Dahlinger, 6. Peter Reizenstein, 7. Alexander Reizenstein, 8. David Meier.
The third bundle was from Fred Kuxhausen to Heinrich Herber. This bundle was damaged because the package for Heinrich Herber had been ripped open. It still contained: 1 shirt, 1 torn coat and 1 old woman's skirt. The others: 2 packages for Georg Friedrich Kuxhausen and Adam Herdt the elder, were intact.
The fourth bundle was from Henry Boehm of Scottsbluff. It contained 3 packages: 1 for Heinrich Martin and 2 for Heinrich Boehm, all were undisturbed.
The fifth bundle from Christoph Meier and Heinrich Rahmig contained 3 packages: 1. for Heinrich , Karl and Alexander Ziegler. (sons) of the deceased Johann Georg. 2. Susanne Rahmig, Karl, Alexander and Friedrich Rahmig, (children) of the deceased Johann Friedrich.
3. Friedrich and David Meier, (sons) of the deceased Christof. Everything was in good condition.
The sixth bundle was to Fedor Pawlowitsch Rahmig. Inside were 8 packages: 1. for David Heilbrun, 2. Katha. Jauk, 3. Marie Katharine Heilbrun, 4. Adam Meier, 5. the deceased Heinrich Rahmig's children, 6. Friedrich Rahmig, 7. Alexander Rahmig, 8. Adam Herdt, along with additional soap and things for everyone.
The seventh bundle was from Christof Dahlinger of Scottsbluff. It contained 3 packages: 1. Jakob Buxbaum and Marie Elisabeth Buxbaum, Friedrich and Alexander Dahlinger. The second and third packages were for the same people.
The eighth bundle was from Heinrich Herdt of Scottsbluff, containing 5 packages: 1. Jagor, Karl, Jakob and Friedrich Herdt, and 5. Jakob Stricker.
The ninth bundle was to Heinrich Schwarzkopf from Alexander Schwarzkopf of Scottsbluff, containing 1 package for Georg Schmunk and 3 for Heinrich Schwarzkopf and Jegor Schmunk.
The tenth bundle was from Henry Dahlinger of Melbeta, Nebraska. It contained 4 packages: 1 for Konrad Dahlinger, 2. Katharine (now married to a Lorenz), 4. Marik Feil. Because the latter's entire family had all left in the autumn of 1921 and had all died, we followed the wishes of the sender and gave the package to Peter Dahlinger. 5 pairs of shoes had gone missing from this bundle.
The eleventh bundle was from B. Weber of Gering, Nebraska, to Jakob Stricker. Inside were 3 packages, each labeled: 1. Jakob Stricker from B. Weber, 2. Jakob Stricker from Henry Schwarzkopf, Scottsbluff, 3. Jakob Stricker from J. Schwarzkopf. All were undisturbed.
The twelfth bundle was to Heinrich Martin. Because the sender did not put his address on the bundle, and there are many Heinrich Martins to be found in this place who were also waiting for clothing, we agreed that the sender was most likely Philipp Martin in Scottsbluff and thus his elderly father Heinrich Martin was given the bundle.
I heartily thank you dears in the name of all your relatives for the great love and compassion you have shown through these rich gifts. It was very wise of you to arrange the distribution in this way because in so doing it avoided any hostility and each was able to take their allotted pieces and go home. We knew from their expressions that everyone was obviously content. Many others however, who had also received letters from relatives telling them that clothing had been sent, went home with troubled hearts and empty hands to wait further and wonder whether or not their things would also be coming.
The National Lutheran Council, which brought these things to Saratov and donated a little piece of bread to those in hunger and a piece of clothing to the many naked, is herewith given a special thanks. Since Pastor Wagner left, Mr. J. Volz has taken on the work of feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. As I have learned, just like Pastor Wagner, he has a warm and compassionate heart for the distress of the poor and has already dried many tears. Presently there are 175 children being fed in the kitchen in Rosenberg and hopefully that number will be increased. The lower colonies near Kamyschin were at a disadvantage by being so far away because of the distance between here and the residence of the representative of the Volga Society in America -- Balzer -- The distance is so great that one seldom goes there or comes here from there. We want to thank Mr. Volz for the gifts he has brought with him to our villages this year. You however, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, should think more about your poor relations in the old country, and mainly about the widows and orphans who are in a truly hopeless situation. Mr. Volz has donated 700,000,000 ruble so that our village can buy seed potatoes. In the next few days he will visit the Rosenberg Children's Home and bring the children clothing and shoes..
Should anyone of the dear Rosenbergers or Alexanderthalers still remember me and think kindly of me, I will share my address with them:
Post Umet (Rosenberg),
Gebeit der Wolgadeutschen,
Schulmeister Heinrich Stuertz.
With many greetings to Pastor Wagner and all the dear Rosenbergers and Alexanderthalers in America, signed with great respect,
Schoolmaster of Rosenberg
Dear brother David:
This evening I was with brother Volz discussing various aspects of relief work. The mail arrived and he was surprised to see that he had received a packet with your name listed as the sender. I had taken my leave and had gone out the door when he came upon your letter and called out to me, "Brother Sinner, come back! There is something for you!" He brought your letter to me and said with a smile, "This mysterious package is also for you. Take it, hurry home and open the thing." My heart was glad and I was pleased, and I still am, but not only because I thought I had received something that I very much needed. I was extraordinarily happy and proud because my brothers, my countrymen, out of love for their old homeland had thought to do this. I wish I could share one living spark of my burning joy with you. But this I cannot do and so I ask you, dear David, from my heart, to pass on to all the brethren, the fiery greetings of a fellow countryman. May God repay you a thousandfold. For your help to the Schillingers alone, God will certainly bless you forever.
In closing I have a request. You should order at least one issue of the magazine "Wolgadeutsches Monatscheft" from the Volga German Society in Berlin (Berlin, N.W. 52, Schloss Bellevue). It is a wonderful magazine and it has so much of the old homeland in it that one always takes great pleasure (in reading it). With regard to myself, I want to remind you that when I have a free minute I will industriously send reports to the Welt-Postman. If you see a report with the name "Hans Hess," read it. It is a letter to you from your,
It is not possible to discuss everything freely and openly for all the world to see. There are things which "der Hinz und der Kunz" (every Tom, Dick and Harry) need not know about.
God save and protect you, and us. Please, especially greet your wife for me. My wife and children (I have four who are 7, 9, 11 and 13 years old) were in heaven over the gift. That you sent the shipment through brother Volz was simply God inspired. Had you sent it any other way it either would not have gotten to me or I would have been unable to pay the tariff (at least 2 Billion rubles) on it.
Once again, thanks, your
As I am already here I will personally handle the distribution to the people in Schilling. The emergency is so great as to make one scream. I am personally indebted to you. Come, tell me what you wish and if anything can possibly be done, I will gladly do it. Brother Volz was happy for me, like a child. We like each other.
Page 3, "Letters from Russia"
Dear Johann David and your loved ones:
I received your letter of Oct. 24, 1922, on January 21, 1923, and I read it with great pleasure. I am especially pleased by the fact that I could see by your letters to the editor of the Welt-Post, Mr. F.A. Lorenz and to the readers, that my work with you was not in vain, for which you have also sent me your best thanks. Unfortunately, one rarely finds such grateful students today.
You wrote that you wanted to show your gratitude by doing something for me. I am very grateful and it is a very meaningful thing that you are sending me a year's subscription to the Welt-Post, which I am already acquainted with since having received some issues from A.R.A. representatives. I cannot express how grateful I am for it and especially since you wrote that, in addition, you wanted to support me with the clothing question, which is at present, a large, difficult and pressing problem for me. My salary now amounts to about, but not quite, 100 pud of produce. I could use more but cannot require anything more from the poor community members, of which there are many. As before I still receive free lodging and heating material. There is not enough heating material to last because much of what is left is only brush wood. Yet I must thank God that I have had a residence up to now and can still live in the Sexton's official residence, which is no longer the case in most communities. I receive no monetary wages. So, you can now see, in this period with a family of 10 souls, with such a small salary to cover all the necessities and taxes, how it is going for me. One does not very often think about eating bread. If one only has the earnings from his profession to make due with, and thus must take care to avoid disagreements that arise on the part of many members of his community, one would long ago "die Flinte ins Korn geworfen haben" (to throw down one's weapon and run...to give up---translator).
Most of those serving the Church are having a difficult time, especially the Sexton-Schoolmasters who have large families. I would like to step back to the year 1921. The famine that we had to endure, with the exception of a few families, defies description. Many sold everything and emigrated. I had already sold everything but God protected me and I did not leave. In so doing, I caused myself great enmity which I still feel today. Many of the emigrants returned but many also starved to death. Many souls in our community fell victim to hunger and disease in 1921 --- 129 in number. In some surrounding communities the death count was much much higher. Finally the American aid arrived and also the government came and helped as much as it was able; the famine was alleviated, deaths were fewer.
In our lifetime we cannot forget what America has done for us, we cannot thank our benefactors enough, but can only call out to them a heartfelt "God will repay!" and to praise and love God for it.
Things are much better now with regard to the spiritual life. Church services are judiciously attended. The spirit of brotherhood (community spirit) that was lost, has returned again very strongly. There is a noticeable hunger and thirst for "spiritual bread and living water" in all communities, and one sees this in the great numbers of attendees at church, conferences and brotherhood meetings.
To all appearances we are now in that period of which the Apostle John says: "Children it is the final hour." With religious instruction it also goes better. It is attended more judiciously and is better maintained. In some communities religious instruction is only done through Confirmation, with us however, it is done for all children and unmarried youths.
The Kautz community has no schools or teachers, hopefully, in the autumn school will begin since steps have been taken on the part of the government and the community. There is a great shortage in our community of religious books, songbooks, testaments, Bibles and other spiritual books.
Trade, handicrafts, weaving, and professional life in general is again coming into bloom. We can again buy everything but only at very unheard of prices; but most expensive of all are working livestock.
The Chairman of the Village Council, which consists of 8 persons, is Johann Georg Reuter (Adaemchir); Chairman of the Food Supply Committee, also consisting of 8 persons, is Heinrich Schreiner, son of Johann Philipp (the younger). Secretary is J. F. Meier. We have 3 Church spokesmen: Johann Georg Gradwohl, son of Johannes (Oberdorf), Conrad Hardt (the younger), and Philipp Schreiner, son of Georg Adamov. In 1922, in Kautz, there were registered: 44 births, 24 weddings and 55 cases of death; among the last is citizen Catharina Margaretha Frank, nee Lohrengel (Hernerschtir); aged 93 years, 9 months and 26 days. --- Later on, if you wish, I will send you a list of names of the old people who died in the last 2 or 3 years. The winter, except for the last 14 days was a mild one; at the end though, bitter cold prevails. Most people did not have enough heating material to last and many have none left at all; and here there is still a great shortage. Although the harvest has turned out rather well, the yield itself has not healed the wounds that were caused by hunger and emergency; many shortages are still prevalent and there still remains much to be wished for.
And now I must hurry and close my writing and ask you, if possible, to have this letter published in the newspapers: Welt-Post and Dakota Freie Presse, so that our Kautz brethren in America can hear something about their home village and also so that support for me does not fall entirely upon you but also upon other Kautz brethren who have a compassionate heart and an open hand and would be willing to also support me financially so that I could buy a horse so I could sow and be better able to get by.
Me and mine are still well, which I also wish for all of you. An affectionate greeting from all of my family. Greet all of your family members for me, your brothers and their families, especially however, your elderly parents. Also all other Kautz brethren in America are greeted by their old Schoolmaster. I wish the best and for God's blessings for you and all Kautzers.
With greetings, I remain your friend and brother,
All you dears be greeted heartily by me in the beginning of this New Year, with a greeting of grace and of peace from He who is and was and comes in the name of Jesus, our Redeemer. Because there is no other Savior and also no other name given, etc. May He bless you all in this year, old and young, men and women, parents and children, young boys and young girls. May He be your leader in this year and your rod and staff on your journey, your aid and supporter in all emergencies and concerns, your protector and shield in all danger and onslaughts, your light and comfort in all suffering and troubles, your joy and refresher in all fear and unrest; may He give you all this year, a year of safety and blessings!
Page 3, "Letters From Russia"
Five months ago I sent a letter to you so that it would reach all our friends; but up to now I have still not received an answer. Once again I turn to the Welt-Post with the same request. In 1922, we had to endure a great deal of hunger and misery. I had no other thought in mind but that I and my family were going to starve to death because we had harvested almost nothing and there were no potatoes. The entire winter I drove back and forth looking for help until neither the horses nor myself could go on any longer. At long last God's messenger came and spoke to us in the person of Pastor Wagner. He came and spoke comfortingly and said to me that our friends in America would not let us starve. But it seemed like smoke to the others who were starving.
Finally we were given wheat seed to sow and one dared not grind it up (into flour). I had been fortunate enough to catch 10 pud of fish which I salted and dried in the oven and with this we nourished ourselves for some time. When everything was gone and the emergency was at its greatest, there was assistance nearby from our dear Lord. I received a letter from my brother-in-law Johannes Spaedt through our Pastor. When I went to the Pastor to pick it up, he said: "Peter, how is it going?" I answered: Poorly. He said: "I see that," and gave me a half pud of flour and some rice and comforted me, saying that help was on its way. A week later I received 5 Food Drafts, 4 from my brother-in-law Johannes Spaedt and 1 from my brother-in-law Jacob Reichert and his daughter Emilie. 5 Food Drafts all a once. After that, one ship after another came to the Volga with aid from our brothers from America.
From that time on we began to live again. You can imagine the many tears of joy that ran down our cheeks. Whenever I think about it tears of gratitude begin to flow. Pastor Wagner and Mr. Repp also played a part in this and we heartily thank them. Mr. Volz is now feeding 500 children, he visits the poor, has given seed potatoes to the poor. Now, praise God, there is no more starvation.
"Amerika hat das Gesetz erfuellt,
Hat allen Jammer und Hunger gestillt;
Ihr habt uns gespeisst,
Ihr habt uns getraenkt,
Gott hat es vom Himmel
Zum besten gelenkt."
If our friends in America had not come to our aid, we all would have starved to death. Now we come to you and bespeak our thanks for your compassion and your good deeds.
With affectionate greetings, your
Peter (son of Ludwig) Ohlberg
Page 5, "Firsthand Report from Kukkus, Russia"
This past week it was that I had the good fortune to shelter Mr. Volz under my roof and draw closer in acquaintance with him. The gracious and ever outgoing Mr. Volz stayed over with us for two days. I visited several of the poorest families with him, which he gladdened with many gifts. He received "a thousand thanks" and God will repay" from everyone. His main purpose was to make an inspection of the great emergency which he saw and hopefully will report about. And what was this valued guest to me? I admit with pleasure that he was truly like an oasis in the desert. He handled his short visit so masterfully that we completely forgot all the bitterness and blackness behind us and spent this brief time pleasurably, cheerfully and often in cordial laughter, Ach, God, we had totally forgotten about the emergency, to which he often remarked, "I am just happy that you still have a sense of humor." But he was like that, you would not believe how he stirred the old memories in us. Those 2 days were unforgettable. After he had finished all of his business we drove him with the Church Council Chairman's car (a Camel) to the next closest village of Stahl, some 3 Versts away in the very fast time of 3/4 of an hour. This was once again a merry trip. Before parting he promised to visit again in the winter if possible, if not possible because of work, then in the spring by the big water. My Kukkusers understand this because it is our most sought after desire, the desire to go fishing in the Volga. I ask our dear readers to wish us luck! Mr. Volz and also the stout Mr. Repp, remain unforgettable to us. To the first we wish God's rich blessings for his further difficult work for his kinsmen and for the latter, we wish peace, yes peace, because what this man did for us in our plague ridden area by daily putting his life in danger for us, is and remains historical. We again send him our most affectionate and deepest thanks and a "God will repay!"
The bundles of clothing from the Kukkusers in Lincoln, addressed to Pastor Erbes and sent through Mr. Volz, along with a small bundle of clothing for general distribution have been safely received. Everything has already been distributed, but not by the Church Executive Committee, but according to local Kanton regulations, by the local Poor Committee. Simultaneously, some bundles of clothing from the Lutheran Council were also distributed. But, dear Heaven, what was that for so many! Believe me when I say it was as a drop of water in a great sea. This pen struggles to come before your door again with another request so soon after all of the many things you have done for the hungry, yes starving, in the previous year, but help us dear brothers and sisters, clothe us now. Believe me, as difficult as it is, we cannot avoid coming to you because the clothing emergency is too great. The terrible poverty created in the previous year did not just affect farm equipment, but also the best and most useful clothing was also taken from chests and sold for a couple of potatoes or a pfund of coarse grain, only to sustain an impoverished existence. Many are truly totally naked or have minimal clothing, those that have any at all have nothing but rags. Our poor women sew day in and day out but what good does it do to sew old rags onto an old piece of clothing because it just falls apart on our bodies. Recently I met Citizen Philusch Bell in the Soviet. The man wore a pair of trousers which there was no more hint of the original material. I counted more than 30 repair patches, all of different colors and believe me, there were still several holes and many tears. A woman recently recounted in tears: "I had to cut up my last bed sheet to make a death shirt for our dead father and in the following days I went into labor and I had nothing, yes nothing, not even a rag in which to wrap my newborn in," and believe me, many of the women are in the same situation.
Many school children have to stay home because of the lack of clothing and for them valuable time necessary for their education has been lost because in the past 2 winters there has been no instruction. And thus I can recount a "Jeremiade" (bitter lament) from the eldest gray-beard to the newest babe in arms; it is heart wrenching. I wish that each of you could see the clothes that our men, women and children wear, you would throw up your hands and quickly run away. Since there is also a shortage of soap, the notorious Louse has gained a firm foothold among us. If there is no clothing to change, how could it be otherwise? In church where I observe them, they sit before me in 20 year old clothes because all their good and modern clothes were used to get food in the last years.
Thus I have brought before your eyes a small but clear picture, believe me I have not exaggerated. I firmly believe that if you could see it for yourself you would say: "No, we were not told the half of it."
I should have written sooner but one has a heart in ones body with a bit of pride remaining and to always be asking and begging does not sit well in ones craw. But the ever growing emergency among my brethren will not allow me to be silent any longer and I think that every well intentioned soul, yes every sympathetic heard, will yet be grateful that I, with my poor pen, have brought before you this small criticism of the alleviation of the general emergency. Because as a leading authority on the spot, I feel it is my duty to do so. As far as we know you can now supply clothes to relatives and friends through the A.R.A. with the so-called 20 Dollar Clothing Drafts. And for general distribution through Mr. Volz, both are safe methods. Thus I appeal to all the sympathetic hearts among my people, my brothers and sisters over there, who by your many donations in the previous years have fed the many who hungered and earned yourselves a place in Heaven, now do as much as is in your power to also clothe us who are naked. You will surely receive your reward in Heaven.
Now, a bit more about our lives and goings on in Kukkus. The state of health in Kukkus is more satisfactory, except among the children, because scarlet fever is now prevalent among them. So far, thank God, one hears nothing about hunger. The pictures that were seen last year one sees no more. No, we do not want and cannot go through such a period again. It is and will remain a horror to us for the rest of our lives. If the emergency is still affecting this one or that one, which will be possible, I will report to you later. You may also rest assured that I will never again loose contact with you.
Now some statistics from the Church books for the year 1922. In the course of the year 1922, in Kukkus, there were born: 29 males and 37 females, among them 2 out of wedlock.
Confirmed: 18 boys and 18 girls.
Married: 26 couples.
Died: Men, 77, women 86, among them, children under 14, 48, unmarried, 24. House fathers and house mothers under 70 years, 78. From 70 to 80, 7. Over 80 years old, 6.
1.Joh. Georg Krum at the age of 83 years, 2 months and 2 days, died of hunger.
2. His wife, Maria Susanna Krum, nee Mueller, at the age of 81 years 3 months and 25 days.
3. Joh. Jakob Schengel, at the age of 81 years, 3 months and 27 days, of old age.
4. Maria Elisabeth Schaub, nee Dittenbier, 86 years, 1 month and 9 days, of old age.
5. Anna Maria Schaefer, nee Maser, 80 years, 10 months and 8 days, of old age.
6. Christian Goatfried (sic) Scheid from Stahl, 83 years and 11 days. The latter only lived here 14 days, with his son-in-law Joh. Eurich, before he died.
Died of Hunger, 78.
The number of souls (in Kukkus) amounts to 2,345.
The oldest man in Kukkus at the start of 1923 is the old father Philipp Becker at the age of 86 years and 3 months. The oldest woman is the dear old grandmother, the second Hanna, Kath. Marg. Weigand, nee Busick, 86 years and 7 months. Both are still healthy and active.
Church elders are: Johannes Becker (Balzers), Konrad Weigand and Gottfried's Heinrich (Hergenroeder).
Chairman of the Soviet is Jos. Georg Debus (Schwarzer), Secretary Heinrich Petersohn.
Died since January of this Year: 10 children and the old grandmother Kath. Marg. Klaus, nee Becker, aged 81 years and 1 month.
Born in January: 1 child, compared to 10 last year and 17 in 1921.
I recently received a letter from my friend Phil. Bersschneider, in Lincoln, in which he informed us of the passing of Dr. Wekesser and in which he enclosed an article from the newspaper about his life and funeral celebration. We mourn with you, dear brothers, because as I see it, we, the very poorest, have lost more than you because we can and will openly state: Our father, the savior of the great Volga German Family, has died. You the rescuer of so many from starvation, rest in peace! The deepest and heartfelt thanks of so many who were saved from starving to death are brought to you at your grave. Yes, rest in peace, your good works follow you.
In closing, I send my heartfelt thanks to all the Kukkusers in Lincoln for the shirt which I received from the bundle from Lincoln.
May you all be well! With a boisterous greeting to all,
Joh. Schlotthauer, Schoolmaster
PS: A widow, Emilie Meier, nee Weber, with 2 children is living here in great poverty; she asks her uncle Heinrich Hoelzer, who should be living in Lincoln, desperately for help. Her father was Jakob Weber, Fr. Holzer.
Page 7, "Letters from Russia"
To: Jacob Willmann Lincoln, Nebraska
Much esteemed and dear Mr. Willmann:
Before I start, let me introduce myself: I am the current Schoolmaster of Franker Chutor who wrote you a letter last summer at the request of your esteemed brothers Friedrich and Heinrich. You were quick to answer and in your letter, among other things, you expressed a desire that I might write you a report, but up to now I have not sent one. Now however I want to take the time to write you a few lines. First however, dear Mr. Willmann, I wish all those from Franker Chutor and also all Americans much good fortune and many blessings in the new year. May God guide you all and assist you. May He warm your hearts with fraternity so that in your good fortune and prosperity you will not forget those in distress this year. I have heard many good and wonderful things about you and I am pleased to be able to communicate this to you. May God grant that you and also all of us go forward with our good works and not backwards.
The preceding year was hard for us, a difficult school, and if the Americans had not come we would not have lived to see the new year. Now, with the aid that came so unexpectedly and plentifully, we can not only live but can once again go back to our work and hope to make our own bread once again. Yes, a hard year has passed; it makes one shudder to remember the many diseases, the many tears, the many who died among us. --- But we cannot blame anyone
--- We ourselves were to blame, we ourselves sinned against the Lord and the emergency was His punishment. And yet He took pity upon us, He broke us down, He also healed us again through the mercy of the Americans and now instead of thanking the Dear Lord and the American brethren for their great love and generosity, one intends to seek more.
Yes, our Chutor, thank God, was not as hard hit as the villages around Balzer and on the Wiesenseite, but it was bad enough so that we totally forgot about bread. Many families had only sauerkraut and sorghum which the Americans sent to us. Now things are getting better. The harvest here was a poor one, but better than last year's. There are still families which do not have enough bread for the year but poverty will not prevail as strongly as before. Now another emergency has appeared which one did not notice in the past year and that is the clothing emergency.
Yes, hunger hurts and there is nothing one will not do to quiet ones hunger! Many, in that year, sold their last bits of clothing to keep from starving but were unable to escape it. --- All of us had to experience the taste of hunger! Now we are all naked and because America has helped us up to now, we hope that it will not forget us in the future with clothing and shoes. My desire, if I may express it, would be this: That those who come from Franker Chutor send more general assistance to Franker Chutor in order to help somewhat and thereby we will be able to carry on.
The emergency is great, you know this from Mr. Volz's reports; the children stay at home and cannot attend school and the adults cannot go to church because of the shortage of clothing and shoes. I myself have only one old suit which I must repair each Saturday and the congregation has already asked me, --- why I always wear the same suit on work days and on Sunday, --- soon there will be no person in the Chutor without a clothing emergency. It is difficult to live, Mr. Willmann, but even more difficult to ask for help. My situation is very difficult and I dared to send you a card because I have no friends or relatives in America. If it is not too difficult, I ask that you and those from Franker Chutor help me with clothing. Otherwise I have no hope of getting anything.
Concerning your brothers, I can tell you that they are doing rather well, they are supplied with clothing but one hardly notices because the family is so large. They have enough bread; they have a shortage of livestock.
In all other respects life here is going well, it is better, one already sees this in the cities. Much has changed since last year, only the clothing emergency remains and we hope to overcome this with the help of our American brethren. That they have helped us so much already and that they will yet continue to help us, I do not doubt. When one recalls what the Americans have already done for us, --- one cannot be silent, indeed one must go to ones knees and thank the dear Lord and praise Him who allowed the Americans to demonstrate their faith and love.
Many tears and much poverty was vanquished by this assistance and one cannot count the numbers of the many who were saved from death. This was an outpouring never before seen in this world and in Church history. For this there will be a wonderful harvest in Heaven and of this the largest portion will belong to the Americans.
With brotherly greetings to you, your family and to all those from Franker Chutor,
Jakob Conradi, Schoolmaster in Franker Chutor
PS: My affectionate greetings to Pastor Wagner.
Page 7, "Letters from Russia"
Dear brother-in-law Peter Staerkel in Havelock, Nebraska:
I received your letter of 23 November 1923 with pleasure. After 17 years we were pleasantly surprised to see a sign of life from you. I am happy to relate to you information about our condition. We have been in Norka since 15 May 1918, where I bought a small garden near the well field. However we were unable to live this way for very long and I was forced to seek employment with the Soviet administration. I found an opportunity at Mueller's Mill as a "Prigaschik" (sales clerk), where in 4 years I held as many positions. In 4 years there were 4 managers who had the misfortune to lose their positions. I was the only one fortunate enough to remain, each time in a different position.
One of the rich Schmidt's, who in former times owned the Steam Mill in Saratov, was also a manager of this Mill. So you can see what tremendous changes are taking place in Russia --- formerly a rich man with many servants, now himself a servant. We stood as equals in this Mill. According to a decree from 1922, many of the region's Mills could only be leased to societies. The old Mill owners Mueller and Wollert used this moment and took over the Mill on the 13th of February and as a result we old workers each received 1 pud of produce each which they ground for us and we were let go.. In addition we even had to vacate our quarters in the middle of the winter. That is how Soviet power works. Today marks exactly one year that I have been out of work. I did manage to sow somewhat but when one has no horses of his own one can get nothing from it because one is cheated at every turn. We do the work and the Kulak takes home the harvest. From 40 pud I had to give up 24 pud, leaving me 16 pud for my 7 souls, to feed them, clothe them and also to sow again. That is how things stand.
We are on friendly terms with your brother Heinrich and brother-in-law Ludwig Hohnstein. Your brother has 4 beautiful horses and your brother-in-law has 2 oxen and, I think, 2 horses. If I were in their situation I would feel like a Rothschild. The 6 Food Drafts you sent, they have safely received. Your brother 4 and your sister Lena 2. I would gladly write you more often but my finances do not allow it. If one has no work for an entire year and no income then all ones supplies gradually disappear. In 8 years I have been unable to buy any clothing.
The land of the Norka community has now been divided among 89 groups. I am in the 38th group in Norka's ditch. Your brother's is in the coal ditch, Honstein's in Malaripka on Russian ground. It is thus better for the poor but it does not please the Kulaks who have much livestock because the cannot freely graze their oxen within the borders (of the groups). But the rich still know how to subjugate the poor because fat floats to the top, even if it is the fat of a dog.
Now in closing, be affectionately greeted by us, your "Blutsfreunden" (kinsmen, relatives)
Georg and Anna Katharina Feuerstein
This translation provided courtesy of Hugh Lichtenwald.