Mandan Daily Pioneer, 9 November 1921
"Starvation Is Worse Further Into Provinces: Death List in Communities Greater as One Proceeds Up Volga River"
Staff Correspondent, Associated Press
As one proceeds up the Volga River, the faces of the inhabitants grow thinner, their death lists increase from hunger, malaria and cholera and make the traveler involuntarily recall the "black death" which originated here in the Middle Ages.
Thus far there has been no emigration from the city of Saratov but there are 50,000 refugees living in squalor about its river front streets. They have flocked in from the country or are waiting transportation westward.
An incident typical of the speculation which takes place amid this struggle for life occurred at Uvek, below Saratov, when the man in charge of two food cars of the American Relief Administration told the correspondent that his cars had not been ferried across the river to the village of Pagashusk because the station master wanted either part of the food for himself or a cash tip.
At this point on the Volga, the first food-begging began. Barefooted children who were huddled together on the lower decks wandered about the steamer knocking on doors and windows and begging bits of bread. An Italian opera singer going to Samara played the piano and sang the finale of Tosca in the grand saloon until a crowd collected and then asked for bread saying he (sic) had none for three days.
At a German colonist town of Baronsk, formerly a grain center where there are dozens of empty transit granaries, it was said that five to ten persons were daily dying of hunger and malaria, and that last year's scanty crop had been requisitioned by the Bolsheviki who had not left enough for seed grain last summer. Bread costs 8,000 rubles a pound there.
At Baronsk also were 16,000 peasant children whose mothers were unable to feed them. The Soviet had requisitioned the best houses to shelter them and was serving soup to them daily.
At the once wealthy town of Volsk where the smokeless chimneys of the Portland Cement Works [see note below] stand on the bleak chalk bluffs above the river, the traveler was met with customary complaints of no medicines and no money to buy food. People meeting the steamer offered their home treasures for food or money. There was signs of pitiful attempts to make use of the Volga River water during the rainless summer to irrigate miles of cabbage patches between the low water and high water marks.
The market and shops of the town were closed. The only vestige of pre-war activity was at the cathedral where services were held as usual and the vesper bells called to thin-faced people across the triangular square.
"When will the Americans come?" queried an old man with a world of anxiety in his voice as he hobbled toward the church door.
[Note: This Portland Cement factory belonged to a German Russian family, the Gerhardts, who originated in the village of Straub. This Gerhardt family fled to Berlin during this period of civil war and starvation years - Vera Beljakova-Miller.]