Die Welt-Post, Thursday, 4 February 1932
Page 2, "From the Volga German Republic"
Dönhof, 12 December 1931
Dear parents, brothers and sisters:
Be informed that after a long time we have once again received a letter from you. From it we could see that you are still well. Your letter found us well with the exception that the children have colds. Viktor and Emma are both still sick. They probably caught cold in the house since it is pretty outside but not very warm inside. We have to save our firewood and use it sparingly. You might be getting the wrong idea about our situation, we both work, Viktor and I, but one cannot judge on that basis, money isn't everything.
Now hear me out, I want to describe to you the struggles of our life, bread, fire and fodder for the cattle. Viktor and I receive daily 250 grams of bread, that's 1 pfund per day, but we are now 9 souls who must make due with it.
We would gladly buy flour but it rarely is to be gotten. There is no wheat flour at all. I recently succeeded in obtaining 1 1/2 pud of coarse ground flour which we will ration out so that it lasts longer. So far we can still supply ourselves with meat but I doubt for much longer. It is becoming scarce and expensive. It is lucky that we still have a good cow whereby we always get enough milk, but the way things are going with fodder, let me tell you: Although it is already nearly Christmas we can get neither straw nor chaff. We pick up a lot of flour dust from the local mill and we search for the necessary straw both along the way and at the bazaar.
On Mondays, Marie takes an empty sack and goes to the market, gathers together whatever she can find and asks here and there for something until the sack is full. Several times Viktor and I have gone out to another Steppe and taken bundles of straw from straw huts there.
Why don't we buy any straw, you want to know?
There is none to be had. Twenty to thirty Versts from here in the Russian nests, one can get some, but no one will bring it here. Here the horses are all in the Collective. With the "going for a ride" one is not totally finished. The streets in the last 2 months were not passable.
Just yesterday we had the first snowfall, and Marie said the cow will not give us anything unless it's fed and this must be done even if I have to pick the fodder one blade at a time all winter long.
It is a struggle to live. With fire it is the same, we can buy neither wood nor straw for heating for any amount of money. In the summer the children got the wood necessary for cooking from the bank where some houses were being built. Lately, Viktor and I would go out in the evening looking for fencing on local streets, which is the only place one can find any wood. Not just us, but also other people must do so if they don't want to freeze.
Our garden which was well enclosed was ripped open and everything carried away. We had to take down the entire enclosure and put it away under lock and key or else by the start of the new year not a stick would be left. Now we are burning those fences. We could get wood from the bank but bringing it here is not manageable. [sentence obscured]
Yesterday, for the first time, Marie did the laundry without soap. You can't get soap here for any amount of money. She was lucky enough to be able to buy a pfund of soda in order to cook up some some soap.
We got a piece of perfumed soap from a communist who works with me on the bank but I had to pay 1 ruble 50 kopeks for it.
Sugar cannot be had by normal human beings. One is occasionally fortunate enough to get a kilo for 3/4 ruble. I got 3 1/2 meters of Calico cloth 6 months ago.
Felt boots cost up to 100 rubles a pair and even at that they are not available.
Those are some of the living conditions under which we have to struggle. There are still many more and different ones.
Greeting to the dear parents and children, everyone should write.
Send this letter to my friend Viktor Donis in Ritzville, Washington.
I have lost the address of Wilhelm Hahn who is from Dönhof and now lives in Windsor, Colorado, let him know.
[Die Welt-Post Editorial Note: This letter was sent to us by Adolph Lebsack jun., in Greeley, Colorado.]
Page 2, "From Russia"
Maikaduk, December 19, 1931
Much loved in the Lord, brother Lucas Dreith:
You will be astonished when you receive this letter. I would have gladly written much earlier but I have spent the entire year traveling.
On Christmas Eve my son and I were removed from our home and at first taken to Balzer. We were there less than a month before we were taken to Bakrovsk, naturally always behind bars, then sent to Saratov where we remained until 12 April, then put on a train with "Rambone" [Rambone? definition unknown] and sent to Achmalinske where we found many of our friends from the colonies.
My son was sent directly into a Kontor while we elders went another 200 versts further towards Karkandi where I was assigned as a watchman during hay making. Many a night I cried and prayed. Then I wrote home so that my love would know where I am.
Dear brother Dreith, you should know that my daughter-in-law is dead. She was the wife of the son who was taken into captivity with me. She died on December 16th before we had to leave. We could get over the loss of the mother but now we had the 6 orphans remaining. Shortly after we were taken away my wife with the 6 children was chased out of the house. She could only take the clothes she had on. I couldn't believe that they were also sending my sick wife away.
It wasn't very long before she first came to my son with the children. The the eldest daughter of 16 years died and then the 5th one of 2 years. On September 10th she and the 4 children came to me and you can imagine dear brother, how we cried as we told our stories to each other.
My wife said to me that she had received a letter from you in which you said you had lost your wife, about which we are very sorry.
Now that I have a permanent address I will write to you and hope that this letter gets to you. Please tell all of my loved ones about my sad situation. We receive only a pfund of bread per mouth and it often does not last long enough.
Let my wife's half brother and family know about our sad situation, perhaps they will have compassion for us.
Our home is now used by the Soviet while we live her in dugouts. It is cold and we must even provide for our own fire. If we shall yet be alive in the spring--I do not know.
My family from Beideck is here and Waldemar the 22 year old son of Jacob "Post Office" Strauch, who sends greetings to his friends. He also does not know where his parents and the children are.
There are also some families here from Kukkus, from Moor, Balzer, Messer, Bauer, and Dönhof.
Dear brother, tell about us to dear Johann Spomer, Uncle Konrad Pabst and also John Strauch in Bison, Kansas. Perhaps they could all contribute something to ease our distress.
Your brother, Conrad Würtz
Letter to the Zieg family in Lincoln and York, Nebraska:
Dear brother and uncle:
You letter finally arrived after a long delay, but only the one. Both of the others are still lost.
We send our Christmas and News Year's greetings. The time will come when we will once again be together--just as it was during the great---?---, is it not so?
With us it is the same as with all old folks. Your mama and I do the housework and knit stockings for the knitting factory. I am going to begin another job in the evenings knitting tablecloths--by this one can earn 15 rubles a month and also receive another 32 pfund of flour. That is the important thing, because there is nothing to be had for money. One receives the standard menu and that consists of 13 pfund a month for servants and 32 pfund for workers.
Dear Uncle, have you decided yet to come back to us? You have your papers and could have gone already. We cannot offer you beauty and goodness but you will bring us great joy. Mama's only wish is also that you return. We are afraid but if we are wonderfully together again, it would begin to make things easier and better.
Do not struggle to send us anything. We do not have money to go and pay the tax on a gift. The tax amounts to 70 to 80 rubles and we do not even have one ruble. Rather come to us, it would be the most beautiful gift. We wait for news, happily looking forward to seeing you again.
Your sister, Anne Marie Bender
(Sent in by Jacob Zieg in York, Nebraska)
This translation provided courtesy of Hugh Lichtenwald.