4 August 1921

Die Welt-Post, Thursday, 4 August 1921

Page 5, "News from Russia"

The following letters were sent to us for publication which give a frightening account of events on the Volga.

Mariental, 31 March (old style) 1921

Dear, dear brother: 
     The saddest day we have ever seen was on 23 March 1921. Our father is dead, he was shot. It happened in Mariental. Our papa still worked in the Cooperative. On March 21, the enemy - the Reds - came in. Many fell in the battle, the count is still unknown. Many were tried and then shot. On Tuesday, March 23 at 3 o'clock, our papa was taken on the street and locked up and at 8 o'clock in the evening he was shot. His body lies over by the dam, you know, the place where we always used to take our muck. With him in the grave lie 32 men: Peter Kraft, Jakob Kessler (Simon's Jakob), Wiegel's Klaus and his son Alexander, Herrmann's little Hans, my two teachers Peter Hunger and Nikolaus Schamne (Schamne's Hanjoerg's Niklas), also his Papa and many others. In another grave beside them lay 20 men and in a third, 6 men. Those who fell in battle were buried in graves of muck. Dear brother, what are we to do? Ten fatherless children and without bread! When the time settles down a little, we ask that you come to our aid! Pity your little brothers and sisters! All remaining are alive but not well - without bread one is never healthy! - Adolf and Alwis are still at home. Oh, I could write you of all our heart rending problems! None are as cruel as the previous facts. 
          Your loved ones cordially greet you.

Pray, dear brother, for the poor soul of our father!

Mariental, 6 April 1921

     I could not immediately send this letter because of the rebellion. Six days later: We still have some livestock, 3 horses, 2 cows, 2 sheep and a pig. Just now Adolf went to drive out to our parcel of land. When he came to the village, no man was allowed in and none out. This morning we ate some milk, at noon some wheat soup (without bread). There is nothing more. Grief, misery, hunger and murder. Life, indeed!

Mariental, 10 May 1921

Most valued son and brother: 
     I have already reported in two letters that our father is dead. I will again say more of it. In Mariental there was a growing rebellion. It cost many men their lives in battle. Afterward a tribunal, you can imagine the kind, was convened. Whoever had an enemy needed only to go to the court. If I could write of all the cruel acts which were perpetrated during the rebellion I would have to send you a booklet. The enemy came in Sunday morning. Many sought to save themselves by swimming across the wide water and hiding. Brother Alwis and Pat's Hannes came here Tuesday afternoon at 2 o'clock after hiding in a hut in the fields for 2 days without anything to eat. We were happy he was still alive and immediately called Papa home. He thought we were the luckiest family in the village. After a half hour he happily left the house, was arrested on the road and never returned again. In the evening at 8 o'clock he was driven out into the darkness and shot. He may have looked back towards us fearfully in the agony of his impending death as they went around the corner at Hermann's Phillipp and we know nothing of it. He went to his death with a healthy heart. That morning we went to the grave and saw the rivers of blood, teeth and pieces of skulls and brain lying there. 35 rivers of blood, as if one had slaughtered cattle. 
     Our dear father had a hard death, but still harder yet is it for us children - without father, without bread, without anything. He always looked forward to the time his sons would go out into the world as educated men. Now this joy will not come about. We would have been poor, but no! Now we are poor, beggar poor. 
     We received your letter of 20 March yesterday with great joy. We had already made a garden in the fall of 1919, but it isn't very big, as Papa always said a "Maultasche Gärtchen" [a small feed bag of a garden - translator]. We have been pulled down, we live here alone with our memories. We remember the wonderful days when we were all together and wish for the past to return again and we shudder at the future. Half of the children are out on the land parcel and the other half are here. We still have 2 Cows and we must ration the milk. One cannot live in the village any longer. The day before yesterday, Alwis was locked up because we were supposed to have given potatoes, even though we had none anymore. Thus it goes also with the milk. Dear brother, thus it is: the children come and say: smoke has been coming from the fireplace for a long time, you must be cooking something good. Dear brother: are you not able to help us at all? We have no wheat seed, we have 5 desyatin of grain that is only a hand tall and is turning black. The weather is dry and hot. A crop failure is at the door and starvation stands before us. And starvation hurts, hurts terribly. The people's hands and feet swell up from hunger.

Mama's request:

Dear Konstantin, if it is possible, help save us! 
     If it is not possible to stop (the hunger) then we must patiently wait until we are stopped by hunger. Most always the adults starve first and then the little ones. The misfortune that we children face is extremely large. There is nothing to be done for us by the people who certainly murdered our father, but we must submit ourselves to the will of God. In our corner it cost Klemens Schamberger and his son Peter, Frietze Hans, Wolfe Hans (Schaffhans), and Bekker's Leo. These however carried with them some guilt. It was very different --- --- --- [nothing more; the statement ends with 3 dashes - translator]. 
     Adolf's son Viktor was 4 years old on 8 May. Before him they had a daughter Natalie. She died at 10 days of age. 
     I must end, I have a bad headache and I must yet take this letter to the village. 
     Greet for me my teachers, Otto Hoffmann and David Gruenewald. 
               Your dear Mother, brothers and sisters heartily greet you.

"Die Riester" [translation uncertain; it could even be a surname - translator] go/goes to the kindergarten to receive a midday meal.


This translation provided courtesy of Hugh Lichtenwald.