Die Welt-Post, Thursday, 8 December 1921
Page 5, "An Important Letter from Russia"
Kukkus (on the Wiesenseite of the Volga)
8 October 1921
To: Heinrich Reits
1134 Charleston St.
Much beloved brother Heinrich and sister-in-law Katrinlisbet and your children:
The Lord be with you and give you all of his grace, peace and blessings both spiritual and corporeal.
I am pleased to be able to tell you that I safely received your letter of 1 September. When we received it we mistakenly thought it was in answer to my letter of 10 July. Today I write my fourth letter to you (of these, so far 3 have arrived----editor). May the Lord allow this letter to come into your hands so that you learn how things are going with us and what lays heavy upon our hearts. Plainly, blood is blood, it is not water and it seems to me that our emergency is also your emergency. It is thus, as it is written: "when a member suffers, all suffer with him."
Dear brother: you write about an objective description of the state of our distress. I will do that now insofar as God grants me the grace to do so. From 13 December until the planting season of 1921, I was laid low with rheumatism. During that time I did not go to church. In May, with the help of a cane, I was able to attend church for the first time, the people were much astonished at my run down condition. I looked around and was myself astonished to see the many emaciated people, such that I had never before seen in my lifetime. Women, who for as long as I have known them, were thick and full, were now only half their weight; their dresses which earlier had clung tightly to them, hung loosely like coats. I know of only one woman who still retains her earlier shape.
When I wrote you earlier there were yet no people starving, now however, many have died of hunger related illnesses in Kukus. If we look further afield we find villages at the Karman, in the Steppe, like Dinkel, New Anton and New Moor, where in each of the villages 30 people have died in a single day. This was in June. Still more however, scattered out into all the directions of the wind and of these only a small portion found bread. Great numbers of them perished along the way. Many were in such a state as to be unable to travel further and died miserably. Many set out with 2 wagons and 4 horses only to return again wrapped only in rags. There horses were stolen, their wagons broken down, they returned on foot to their villages.
Our harvest failed badly this year, the worst in 150 years. From many fields there was nothing at all harvested, from some only a little. From all of the rye, we harvested much less than was sown. Our poor horses must do the hard work without any clover or grain. We live on the main street, and oh, many are the worn out horses that pass by us! Because there is also no hay or long stemmed fodder available, by spring the numbers of livestock will be smaller than it has ever been.
The situation with clothing is also poor. We are wearing our last clothing on our bodies and they are only rags. There is nothing to buy and we have now been 6 years without any material [yard-goods - translator]. We used to buy 3 arschin per person each year but for the last 2 years there has been nothing at all. That is the absolute truth, dear brother! We speak here of the fact that assistance will come from America. In the office of the village staff there already lies a paper, according to which each person is to receive 2 bags of flour and a bag of millet. Perhaps you can also help us with food and clothing when you are through with them. Oh, how happy we would be because we have not had any white flour since the start of spring plowing.
When we took this letter to the Post Office, it cost a thousand [rubels] for a stamp and because of this the letter remained laying here for some days. Earlier 5 rubels was enough [for a stamp]. While we were waiting these few days a letter came from Georg Fruehling in America to his father with an endorsement from the American government which gave permission for him to emigrate to America because his son there would care for him. I was at the Fruehling's for an hour and read the letter and written endorsement. It was in English and to my mind should also be translated into German so that it would be understood by everyone. Adam Fruehling [illegible] his things already and [illegible]. I have already written you about tickets -- if you cannot send any then send me such a document as well. The Pastor told me that the American government requires such a thing. Perhaps we can also come to America; but it is terribly difficult to travel out of Russia because the trains are overcrowded. Please, also help us with food in case we are unable to come out soon.
All are affectionately greeted by your not to be forgotten brother,
Page 8, "A Letter from Russia"
Walter Colony, 22 September 1921
To C. Bretthauer, Stratton, Colorado
Deeply loved brother and family:
We received your letter today with great happiness. Thus I wish to immediately reply that we are very glad that God has managed it so that we can again exchange letters with one another. Thanks to God that he has kept us alive up to now.
From your letter we see that you are still healthy and have no difficulties. Would to God that He also should do thus with us. But with us there is widespread misery and misery at home. With you the harvest was good this past year and the prospects are good for this year's harvest. With us it was the exact opposite. Last year the harvest was poor and this year we harvested almost nothing because many people did not have seeds: and if you do not sow you cannot harvest. Potatoes and cabbage have turned out well for us. Many people also do not have these and therefore they have nothing at all. Wheat and rye amounted to nearly nothing. How we are to maintain our life in the future only God knows. If He does not do something special, many people will die of hunger.
There have been great changes among us, the Grim Reaper has already snatched many people here. Brother-in-law Helfrich and sister Katrinlisbet died, one shortly after the other. Brother-in-law in May and sister in August. Fortunately it rained well during the late summer and our garden brought in something. If you were here you could eat your fill of apples. Up to now God has protected us from starvation. If it were not so far you could visit us sometime, there is much for us to discuss and the both of us could loudly and joyfully cry at our goodbyes.
Now I greet you all and kiss you in spirit.
Write again soon,
(Remarks by the Editor--The name of the above letter writer is not stated in the letter so we are unable to bring it to you. Forwarders of letters should always give the name of the writer, the village he comes from and his own address here in America. This gives a letter more emphasis and value. In this case everything is indicated except the name).
This translation provided courtesy of Hugh Lichtenwald.