Page 5, "From Russia: An Interesting Letter from Grimm, Saratov"
Greifswald, 17 January 1921
To all my countrymen living in America, from Grimm (Saratov Region):
For some time now I have wanted to find a way to reach out to all the people from Grimm in America, but until now I have been unable to find the right way. Then I was made aware of the fact that Die Welt-Post, as a service to their circle of readers, gladly publishes correspondence from their readers. And so in this way I want to send my most cordial greetings to you all, the compatriots from Grimm, into whose hands this newspaper should arrive. It is only natural that in these times where our dear brethren on the Volga must suffer through terrible misery, that we who have been spared this misfortune draw closer together as a community in order to, on the one hand, reflect upon the messages that are coming from the old country from which we had been cut off, and also, to reflect upon the ways and means for us to contribute our share to somewhat alleviate the emergency as soon as we are afforded the opportunity to do so. This condition cannot be allowed to last much longer, there has to be a way to finally bring about free access to our old homeland so that our assistance can be sent to our loved ones to somewhat alleviate their terrible emergency. In order to reach this goal as soon as possible, it is necessary tor us to unite. To this end the Volga Germans who have happily succeeded in getting to Germany have established, as you have read in German-American newspapers, an organization in order to pave the way for and lead a large relief effort. You will be informed about the way this will happen through the newspapers and from the delegates of Volga colonists who will travel here from America. For this, Pastor Schneider from Stephan and Father Maier have been selected. Recently I was able to see for myself that my brethren from Grimm in America have kept a warm place in their hearts for their comrades in their old homeland. On the first day of Christmas I received a friendly letter and a check for 1,000 Marks from our former neighbor in Grimm, Alexander Leonhardt and his sons, who had gotten my address from the newspaper. You can imagine how very pleased I was and I am reminded here also to again say to these friendly givers, my most cordial thanks and a "Vergelt's Gott!" You know that since the war German money is of little value, so that 1,000 marks, which in former times was worth 250 dollars, today is only worth 13 to 14 dollars. Accordingly, all prices are also 10 to 20 times higher than in former times in Germany, and so you can easily estimate what a few dollars means for us here today.
I would gladly communicate to you today, everything I know about Grimm, know however, that it is very little. I wait daily for news from a good acquaintance who has only recently gotten from Grimm to Kurland (Latvia) and from him I will surely learn much that is new and sad. I will happily publish everything I learn from him and elsewhere, in this newspaper since it surely will be of interest to you, to know about what it is like now in Grimm and everything that has gone on there in the last few years. It cannot be very pretty there. This past summer, as you know, there was a total crop failure and our poor villages, especially on the Bergseite, which had already suffered terribly in the war between the Bolsheviks and the Cossacks in the summer of 1919, nothing grew at all and they are in completely indescribable misery. The little that the people had was taken from them. Russian money is worthless and prices for everything are so high that one can hardly believe it when one hears them. I will tell you about it in some of my next letters. How many people will find death in this terrible misery and when assistance will finally reach these unfortunates, God only knows.
I keep trying to contact an acquaintance in Estland (Estonia) through the Russian Red Cross in Bern (Switzerland), and in various other ways to contact relatives in Grimm. Some of my letters have apparently arrived there, however I have as yet received not so much as a single bit of direct news, yet I hope to eventually succeed in making a connection. I cannot promise anyone that I will succeed in getting news from Grimm but I will gladly write everything anyone sends to me, to my brother Jakob, who has now become the Schoolmaster in Grimm, replacing my father, so that he can share it with your loved ones, and you, on the other hand, will receive each message from your relatives and friends that he sends to me. I will be pleased to do my best to send every single letter I receive from my Grimm brethren wherever they might be in America, to Grimm.
Please write to me here. My address is:
Kolonie Neuenkirchen 18,
cand. theol. Friedrich Muth
I would be grateful if anyone can send me the addresses of one or the other following relatives who are in America:
1:) My brother-in-law Peter Olberg (at the outbreak of the war, in Chicago);
2:) The sons of Philipp Jakob and Christian Groh (Bolenders);
3:) My cousin Jakob Muth (son of my blind uncle Georg Peter Muth);
4:) Georg Jakob Muth ('s Fritze Langer);
5:) his nephew, Johann Friedrich Muth.
Further, perhaps someone knows something of the relatives of my old grandfather Horch: they are named Heinz and come from Stahl and have been in America for many years. I do not know them personally but would be pleased to exchange letters with them.
Should this page fall into the hands of one or another of my close relatives, they would be interested in how I came to be in Germany and how things are going with me. I left Grimm in 1907. I went to Latvia where I was a teacher until the outbreak of the war. During the spring of 1915, German troops occupied Latvia and direct postal contact with Grimm was cut off. Only now and then would I receive some scanty news in round about fashion from the homeland. In the fall of 1917, I began theological studies, and thus came closer to finally accomplishing a goal I have had since I was a boy. I studied next in Göttingen, then in Dorpat. When however, in the winter of 1918 to 1919, hordes of Bolsheviks flooded the Baltic Sea Provinces and hundreds of people (among them many of my acquaintances) were executed just because they were German, we all had to flee. Happily I came to Greifswald where I could continue my studies. Two weeks ago I passed my first theological examination and if God continues to assist with the necessary means, in one and a half to two years I will be a Pastor. Thus I would then, in my 36th or 37th year of life, finally have reached the goal which I have had before me since childhood.
And now, my dear compatriots, I wish to conclude for today. I hope you will write me personally quite soon. With each letter, whoever it comes from, I will be much pleased and, as I said, I will happily assist in getting them to Grimm and to forward mail from their to you.
Everyone is right heartily greeted by your countryman,
This translation provided courtesy of Hugh Lichtenwald.