Schönchen (Paninskaya), Russia
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Following are newspaper articles from the Ellis County News (Kansas) and the The La Crosse Chieftain (Rush county, Kansas) regarding the famine in Russia in 1922. Taken out of sequence and placed at the top of the page are two letters written from Schönchen, Russia, to family in Kansas. The remainder of the articles do not specifically relate to Schönchen, but provide a fuller account of what news of the famine was reaching the family and friends in the United States of the suffering of their loved ones in Russia.


Schoenchen, Russia, Jan. 6, 1922
Joseph Ebel, Schoenchen, Kan.

Sincerest regards from your brother, Clements Ebel and family. We would be greatly pleased if our writing would find you in good health as we are all still well. Also give our kindest regards to Frederick Werth and Lucy Werth and all our friends and acquaintances.

Now I will write you some of the news. Here with us is such poverty and want that nobody can imagine but those who see it with their own eyes. Here in Schoenchen during the year 1921, 550 people died most of whom died from hunger. More than one-half have wandered away of whom also a great number have died from hunger. The price is so high that one pound of flour now costs one million rubles, one pound meat fifteen thousand rubles, and so with all food. The people here are already eating rats; they also grind corn cobs and eat them. Our brother Leo died from hunger, also three of his children. The rest are still alive but very weak and are now swollen. The people who suffer from hunger swell up and when the swelling goes back they die. It is very sad here and if we do not get any help we will all have to die from hunger.

For example: John Demund, was the richest man here as John Werth well knows. He supplied bread to all the villages from Shaufause to Boon. Now he is so poor that he is nearly dying from hunger. He is already swollen. He had before the war 27 horses, 16 camels, 30 head of cattle and 60 sheep and grain and money in excess. Now he has only one cow left. From this you can see what the conditions are with us. We have no seed to put in a crop or have no bread.

Now, dear brother, if you can help us do not refuse but help us, otherwise we have to die from hunger in a short time. Also dear brother-in-law and sister with your children, come to our help. I would write you more but I am afraid you doubt the truth. It is much worse than I am writing you because it is inexpressible what the conditions are here. Again, dear friends, come to our help, in this great want.

I want to let you konw that our brother John still lives and also John Henry and family are still well. With kindest regards, we close - Clements Ebel.

Ellis County News, February 16, 1932


Schoenchen, Russia, Jan. 10, 1922
Mr. Alex E. Werth, Schoenchen, KS.

In the beginning we will let you know, dear brother-in-law, Frederick Werth and sister Lucy Werth, that we have received your letter of Nov. 16th with great joy and therein read that you are all well and alive. We are also, thank God, healthy and alive.

Again we ask you to help us.  do not let us die from hunger.

We will let you know the conditions and want which has befallen us. This condition no doubt, has become known to you through others letters. If it is possible for you we pray that you come to our assistance. We would prefer if you could let us come to you and my whole family which consists of eight people that is, myself, your brother-in-law, your sister-in-law, my son, his wife and four children. The rest of my children are not with my anymore. Clements has already moved from here on account of the great suffering. Henry is still here but would also like to come to America. John was killed in the war. Our daughters are all married. Your son John knows all of them very well, except our son Aloys who was in the army when John came with his wife and daughter to see us.

Again we ask you to help us. Do not let us die from hunger. If it is impossible for you, dear brother-in-law Frederick to bring me and my family to you we ask assistance from your son John to help us. We will reward you for it as much as possible. We will also let you know, dear brother-in-law and sister, which of your children are still living, namely, John, Clements, Pauline, and Rosa. Your sisters are not here, they are down south. We are also sending you our most sincerest regards from the depths of our hearts and also greet our chidlren, especially John, his wife and daughter and also Joseph Ebel and his family.

It would give us great joy if our writing will find you in the best of health and if it were possible for you to grant our request. If it is impossible for you to grant our request please help us with bread. Send us a little help. With this we will close our letter and hope with the help of God we will get to see each other.

Johannes Henry Ebel

Ellis County News, February 16, 1932


The following is a translation of a letter received this week from Katharinenstadt, Russia by a resident of Munjor:

Katharinenstadt, October 30, 1921

I am writing you this letter at the request of your father, to acquaint you with the condition of his family. As you have probably already heard the old man has been ailing for a number of years; in the summer his condition becomes better but in the winter and spring his condition is such that death might be expected at any time. He has lung-trouble. Your brother George has returned from the front, but as a sick man. At the present time he is bedfast with his entire body swollen. You see there is shortage on every hand, especially this year, when a lot of other people are also suffering from hunger. You can scarcely imagine the dire want which exists here--alerady half of Obermonjor have died of starvation and have migrated out into the world not knowing where. Whoever lives to see the spring will be a lucky man. All the world has promised us help, but there are so many that need help. Among others there has come an American Aid Commission, which promises to do everything within their power. But they know real well that they cannot alone relieve the suffering of all, and therefore request that if anyone has relatives in North America they should write to them to contribute to such an Aid Commission--the remittance will be sent here where the relatives will receive food products for the same from the American Commission. So if, therefore, you can and will help, do something for your father and family. Contribute to one of your commissions of this kind and the old man will in this way receive prompt help. Sacrifice a horse or a cow and save your relatives from the death of starvation. Remember that in Obermonjor must of the people are already without any horses--those who had from 12-20, have now one or two left. It is well known among us that in many colonies all of the dogs and cats have already been used for food.

You in American very likely know how such help can be gotten here quickly; for information inquire of any commission which gathers contributions for the Wolga-Germans. Perhaps your cousins could also contribute, because many can help much.

I really cannot picture to you our terrible need here in Russia. I hope that if total strangers offer to help, you will not forget your old father. The dire need has really made an old man of him--he cannot speak as many as three words steadily--the tears are constantly flowing. Help and make yourself happy.

Thanks to God, I and my family are still well. Last year I buried my eldest daughter of twenty years, so that now only five children remain.

I cannot write you any news. All of your father's family greet you heartily.

With greetings from you cousin.

Ellis County News, January 12, 1922, p. 1


The following letter received by Adam Brening from his father-in-law Henry Haag. It explains the condition of the starving Russians. The letter was written on scraps of paper and it cost 5000 rubles to send it, 5000 rubes equals 5 cents in American money.

We also print a letter handed us by Henry Weigand. The writer, Geo. Repp is a preacher from Portland, Oregon, who volunteered to go to Russia to distribute American food and clothing.

Pobofka, Saratow, Russia
December 1, 1921

Dear children, Adam and Elisabeth,

We surely are in sore need and have good reasons for appealing to you in the great trouble and famine which has come over the people of Pobofka, our home village, and Russia. We do not know how you folks are. We are fairly well, except that father and mother are weak from old age, so you can imagine how it is when so many die of starvation.

We did not receive a kernel of wheat from 4 dissetin (12 acres) and only 200 pounds of rye from 5 dissetin (17 1/2 acres). You can figure out how we can live on that. Some provisions have arrived from America, but we did not receive any of it; as only the children and helpless receive food unless it is sent direct to individuals.

Dear children open your heart to us as we do not receive any thing from the committee--Ruger sent his father a package.

Jacob and his wife are on the road to America and have reached the border. Whether or not they have crossed it we do not know.

Take this small letter for a large one. The Grace of God be with you.

In our village of 2500 people 1000 have died of starvation in the last 5 months. 17 bodies were awaiting burial one day.

If God will not send ways and means everybody will starve to death.

Henry Haag.

Herbert Hoover is chairman of the American relief committee in Russia. All money should be send to 42 Broadway, New York City.

If you send $10.00 to the Relief Administration, that amount will buy a package from the American Warehouses in Russia, and will be given to the children and starving.

This package contains 49 pounds of flour, 10 pounds of beans, 10 pounds of rice, 10 pounds of sugar, 10 pounds of cooking fats, 3 pounds of tea and 20 cans of milk.

You need not be afraid that it will not reach Russia, as the United States Government guarantees that it will.

If you send a package to relatives or friends one-fourth of it is taken for the starving children and the sick.


Saratow, Nov. 30th

My dear wife,

I just got to Saratow and received your letters.

Do not worry about me. I never felt better and as far as safety is concerned I would not be safer at home. It may be that you have read about the bandits and shooting. Don't let that worry you. They all, no matter who they are, take care of the Americans. Every person in Russia looks to our land for help. They pick you out a mile away. Very often I hear after passing people, "That is an American."

Further north they have a squabble now and then. One of our boys was in a village during a little squabble and this is what happened. He was guard and our food was guarded with orders from both sides that if anyone dared to touch either man or food, he would be shot.

Sure it is great pleasure to see children come to the kitchen with plate and spoon but to see them eat is satisfaction knowing that a good many would have been dead by now if an American had not come. In one kitchen I saw a widow with eight children sitting all in a row, and Oh, so thin. They would not have lived very long had they not received food. After several weeks of feeding children they improve, getting better color and more life. Many mother come and thank us.

Love to all,
George Repp.

The La Crosse Chieftain, January 19, 1922, p. 1



The following letter will help you understand the terrible misery of relatives and friends in Russia. Read them, consult the instructions given in this issue for helping them!

Dear Brother-in-law and sister,

I take my pen in a trembling hand to write these lines to a foreign land.

We hope that this letter will find you all well, but we dare not say "as well as it left us" for we are not well. We are all suffering from hunger, and hunger is a sickness and such a sickness that you cannot imagine it. We have not had a bite of bread for a whole year. I, myself am 71 years old and have seen many hard times, but never anything that compares with this. Bread costs from ten to seventeen thousand roubles the pound. How can a man buy it? I was once a big and prosperous farmer, but now I am worse off than a beggar was at that time. We have eaten all our live stock except one colt.

Please, oh please help us. Send us the aid you can and ask all our friends and relatives to contribute so we shall not have to starve. One year ago Herzog had 3000 inhabitants now it has 600. Whole families have died of hunger among them Ferdinand and Elizabeth. I could write a book about what I have experienced during the last few years but I cannot tell you now. If it should be God's holy will the time may yet come when my good friends in American will help me and my family to come to them, then I shall tell you all. Again I beg you to help us so we shall not all have to starve.

Your brother Balthaser Weigel.

Ellis County News, January 19, 1922, p. 1


Herzog, Russia, Nov. 26, 1921.

Dear Brothers,
Andrew and Adam and dear Uncle John:

In beginning my letter I wish to tell you that we are all well, that is, those of us who are still among the living. Mother died in 1917, and my wife in 1916. Our family consists of four grown up persons and five children. We are so poor that it is impossible to describe our poverty. Many have died here in Herzog of hunger, many have gone away somewhere into the wild world and but few are left. It is simply terrible here in the Gov. of Samara and in the entire Volga region. If you my dear brothers, and my dear uncle will not help me, I shall be doomed with my entire family to the terrible death of starvation. We raised only 15 pud rye and 11 pub of potatoes (one pud 40 lbs.) this year and that is now all gone. We shall kill our last cow within the next few days and we have no further stock of any kind left. We have not tasted any bread during the year of 1921. Again I beg you to help us. if you will send money to your American Food Commission with the necessary direction they will wire their instructions to the Am. Com. at Katharinenstadt who will then deliver to us at least some food. The Am. have erected food kitchens for the children but older people receive no aid. News I could write you very much, but I shall only say that during the seven years of war many, many people of our village lost their lives. Brother-in-law Alexander was killed last spring. Again begging you to help us and with best regards to all you and also to sister Maria and brother-in-law Michael Billinger, I am, your brother, Peter Goetz.

Ellis County News, January 19, 1922, p. 6


Written in Pfeifer, Russia, and addressed to Joe Stroemel of Pfeifer, Ellis county, Kansas.

December 19, 1921

Dear Brother-in-law and sister and family:

It becomes necessary for me to write you the sad news that our mother died in February, 1919, and our school teacher died about a year ago.

The war has played great havoc in our village. The army camped here, about 14 days and took five of our horses and 5000 rubles and I was threatened with death should I attempt to write anything about this. More than 2000 people have left Pfeifer, some going to America, some elsewhere. George and his family were on the Russian border but it is not yet known whether they have crossed. Our stepson and his family are on the border, all leaving on account of the famine. For two years we have not seen any bread in Pfeifer.

Dear Sister:

For two years I have not had a full meal. I would have liked to go to America, but I am 75 years old and unable to work. I am not able to say much about other relatives. We eat potato peels and seeds. A poor widow received a sack of flour on the 5th of this month and I believe we ought to receive your package. We still have another enemy to content with, namely lice and insects.

All business places are closed. My son Joseph buys sheep at 400,000 rubles a head, and sells the meat at 7000 rubles a pound. He also buys old horses of which he makes sausage which we eat in our family. Dear friends and acquaintances, you all kindly help us. Don't send any money, but food, clothing, and other provisions.

With best regards I am, J. K.

Written in Pfeifer, Russia, and addressed to Alois Jacobs and Family.

I was pleased to receive your recent letter and in reply I wish to state that conditions are very poor in our family. Famine has struck us also. We still have about two bushels of corn and if we do not receive any help soon we are doomed to die of starvation. The government deprived us of all our grain, approximately 1500 bushels of wheat, as well as nearly all our cattle and sheep, so that we still have left one cow and one sheep. We had three horses of which we butchered one, the other two died. We intend to buy two horses but they are very high, namely one-half million rubles per horse.

Dear Alois, help us in whatever way you can. You need not send any money. Wheat costs 600,000 rubles a bushel, potatoes 1250 rubles a pound, a pair of oxen 6 million rubles, a cow from two to three million rubles. Half of our parish has emigrated to America. Also George and his wife and child have left. The church is practically only half filled on Sundays. All are alike, the rich as well as the poor.

We got along very nicely before the war, in fact we never enjoyed better times all my life. We had bought land and had lived on it five years. This was all privately owned land.

I would ask that you all help us. You can send anything except money, for it has no value. If you want to send flour you can send a telegram and we will receive the flour from the Russian government.

Write how you are getting along, also your sisters and whether they can help to satisfy our hunger and provide clothing. We will be very thankful to all of you.

Conditions are such in Pfeifer that no human being can describe them. Send us clothing and bread. We harvested only a little wheat and hirse, and that has all been consumed. The Government cannot help us either. If we intend to put out another crop some provision has to be made to supply us with seed. You may also send us corn. Many people have died, in twenty-five days. Barbara Schmidt sister of Michael Jacobs, died fourteen days ago, Casper Schmidt died about a year ago.

Give my best regards to Michael Jacobs. With best wishes and awaiting your prompt reply, I am, J. K.

Ellis County News, February 2, 1922, p. 7


Dec. 10, 1921
Mr. John Quint, Hays, Kas.

Dear Brother:

Best wishes from your brother and sister-in-law, John Peter and Anna Maria Quint, to you, our brother and sister-in-law, John and Francis Quint. We are all still well and hope that this letter will reach you also in the best of health.

In the beginning of my letter I stated that we are all still well, but conditions in Russia, are very poor, especially ehre at Louis and the other colonies. Last year the government deprived us of nearly all provisions and live stock and this year our harvest was not sufficient to provide a living. I had 40 acres of wheat and 20 acres of corn, but the total yield was only about 15 bushels. We do not know any more how bread tastes, and we eat horseflesh if we can get it. It is impossible to get beef, mutton, or pork, or any kind of bread, since as stated before the government took all away from us.

Many people have died of hunger. Only about half of the people of Louis are left. Some families have died out altogether. many have gone to other cities only to die of starvation there. Lue had a population of 7000, of whom about 3000 are left. The number of deaths is from ten to fifteen daily, and likewise the remaining live-stock dies. We had five horses last summer of which we still have one. the others we either sold or ate. We had three cows, now we have one left. Our other belongings we traded for food to the Russians of Saratov who had a good harvest, but even they have scarcely enough to live.

Dear brother, I cannot fully describe the conditions here. We hear that America wants to hep us, but up to this time we have received nothing. If we do not get any outside help we are all doomed to perish with the famine. The revolutionists have taken everything. Our present government is hardly able to help. Now they have provided some food for the children, namely once daily. We hear that American intends to provide food for both old and young.

Let us know how you are getting along. Everything is very high here. Bread costs 9000 rubles a pound, corn 700,000 rubles a bushel, wheat is still higher, potatoes 2000 rubles a pound. Horses cost from 2,000,000 rubles upward.

Awaiting your prompt reply I am,

Your brother
John Peter Quint.

Ellis County News, February 2, 1922


As reported by Bishop Kessler in The New York Staatz Zeitung:

"A terrible catastrophe that stands unique in history" thus says Bishop Kessler of Tiraspol in describing the fate of his people, the starving Germans of the Volga district, to relieve whose wants is the object of his visit to America. The Bishop arrived here on the 28th of January, and after a short stay in the Leo-House traveled toward the west, where many Germans from the Volga and Black Sea district have settled down. Bishop Kessler is sixty years old and had lately to go through a severe attack of influenza, yet he carries his age well. Thousands of Volga Germans have fled to Germany where the German government has done everything it possibly could for them. In Berlin the fugitives have established a society of the Volga Germans, whose mission it is to help their people. This society includes both Protestants and Catholics, and all moneys are given regardless of denomination. The Society, however, is composed of two sections, one Protestant and one Catholic, where moneys that are given for a definite purpose, for instance, churches and schools, are given to the respective denomination. The special purpose of Bishop Kessler's mission is to bring before the people the conditions as they stand in this country at the present time. Many Americans, many of whom were former Volga Germans, have declared themselves willing to help the colonists in Russia, but they do not know, as a rule, how to proceed. The relief work must be organized in order to accomplish its purpose, and Bishop Kessler will proceed with the organization, 'Condition in Russia are so terrible that there is no comparison between them and conditions in Germany, Austria and Poland. As the battle of civil war raged to and fro the towns and villages of the German settlers were destroyed, their farms ruined, their stock was driven off, and all farm implements demolished. Whatever they could get their hands on, was taken. In Austria also people are suffering from starvation, but they at least have a roof over their heads. In Russia the Germans are homeless and without shelter. Many thousands are fugitives. To witness how these people wandered about, bare-footed, with wife and children, was enough to break one's heart. It was a terrible spectacle which was disclosed before our eyes. The Bishop was asked to tell of his experiences during the last few years. In the first place, the Bishop's home in Saratov was burned to the ground. Saratov is the Bishop's home, but the diocese is Tiraspol, which includes the whole Volga district, the Black Sea district and also a part of Besserabia. About 800,000 Germans live in the Volga district and an equal number in the Black Sea district. Of these 300,000 were Catholics, all under the jurisdiction of the bishop of Tiraspol. 'It was in the summer of 1918' said the Bishop, 'it was very hot, and in order to escape the sweltering heat I drove to my brother's home in the village. In the village church I preached two sermons, with which several Bolshevist's residing there were not pleased. They denounced me before the Bolshevist staff, which had its headquarters in the town of Urbach. The staff sentenced me to death; a priest warned me and advised me to flee. About the same time I received a summons from Saratov, demanding my appearance before the bolshevists, who had taken exception to a number of things stated in a pastoral letter that I had written to my clergy. Everybody advised me, since my life was in danger, to go to Odessa. Odessa belongs to my diocese and there I established my residence. In the towns about Odessa the German colonists fought against the Bolshevists. These Bolshevists hated the Germans, since through diligence and thrift they were all well to do. At first the Germans were victorious, but running out of arms and ammunition the Bolshevists gained the upper hand. Their revenge was bloody, especially toward the German pastors. Many of the pastors, Protestants as well as Catholic, were murdered. The opponents of the Bolshevists under Denikin were no better. They held splendid balls and celebrated orgies during a time when the people suffered unspeakably. Discipline was also lacking among these hordes, and the people had no faith in them. The situation in Odessa was by no means encouraging, and I was advised to go to Besserabia. I got a pass, without which I could not have gotten beyond the border of Roumania. Besserabia had meanwhile been ceded to Roumania, and, as Bishop, I was required to obtain the sanction of the Roumanian government before I could perform my office. This could not be gotten. Besserabia had been added to a Roumanian diocese. I then wended my way, as so many of my countrymen, to Germany. Many have settled in Berlin and East Prussia. They have lost everything, but none of them wish to return to Russia. They traveled for many months. The endless journey was made by most of them on foot. They passed through horrible sufferings on the way and in what condition they arrived in Germany can be vividly imagined.

In Berlin we organized the Society of the Volga Germans, whose object it is to help our people in Germany and in Russia. The society has already received abundant help from America and we are now here to establish the relief work more firmly. We are convinced that our appeal to the good Samaritans of America will not go unheeded. The Protestant pastors from the German Volga district have been in American for some time and have obtained very good results. We know that whoever learns of our dire want, will listen to our appeal. Even though the Bishop's residence in Saratov is burned, his Lordship believes that within a few years he can return to his diocese, as there are indications that the Bolshevists are becoming more tolerant, as otherwise their regime could not last. Father Nikolaus Maier, who accompanied the Bishop to America, said that the headquarters of this relief work will probably be established in Chicago. For the present contributions may be sent to Vicar General Msgr. Francis A. Rempe, Rector St. Clements Church, 642 Deming Place, Chicago. Father Maier supplemented the Bishop's statements as follows: 'Few people can imagine the misery which exists in the Volga district. What formerly a dog would not touch is now devoured by a man as a luxury. They peel the rinds from the trees, dry them, soak them, and eat them. Among the clergy who were massacred were the German pastors Beratz, Kraft, Hoffman, Kaiser and Baumtrog. A brother of the Bishop was murdered. His body was thrown into a ditch and covered with manure. Few of the bodies of the victims were buried. Many pastors were thrown into prison and sentenced to hard labor. Many towns were utterly destroyed. They flourishing town of Marienthal, with more than 10,000 population, contains today but 25 families. The starvation is so horrible that the people eat the carrions of dogs, cats and horses. On the borders of Poland are thousands of our countrymen who formerly were rich farmers. These people are now mere skeletons. It is very necessary to provide help at once. The German government has done its best but its means are limited. Thousands of these helpless creatures starve daily.

Bishop Kessler intends to visit Kansas and the two Dakotas, where many Volga Germans have settled down. He hopes also to interest the nation at large in this relief work."

Ellis County News, February 9, 1922


Point from Bishop Kessler's speech Sunday afternoon at the K. of C. Hall:

Bishop Joseph Kessler of the See of Tiraspol, Russia, spoke last Sunday afternoon at the Knights of Columbus Hall, in which he gives a review of the history of the last seven years in Russia, the events leading up to the revolution, then the breaking down of the revolutionary forces into the Bolshevik regime, the civil war that took place in the German colonies of the Volga region, and the story of dire distress and devastation that it all occasioned. The Bishop spoke in German and the following paragraphs were supplied us by one who made as full long hand notes as possible during the speech. Among other things the Bishop said: The cause of the fall of the Russian government, that is, the old Czarist government was not the German and Austrian armies, but was due to the irreligion of the ruling class. A people under a government where there is no justice become a great band of robbers. So it was the injustice against the people by the Czarist government that caused the fall of that government and of all Russia itself.

The German people in Russia (the people of the Volga region) were constantly referred to by the ruling Russian people as the deaf-mutes (Stummen) meaning that they had no part in the government and had nothing to do with its workings, and the ruling government came to consider that these people had no rights that should be respected. The Bishop said: "I myself, was sent to Petrograd to intercede for the Germans of the Volga region, but without avail.

The German people in Russia have always had great dread of war of any kind, and especially of war between Russia and Germany, because in this kind of war they saw the great disadvantage at which they would be placed. In a sense they were orphans in a foreign land, with no paternal protection, that is, no government protection. They couldn't appeal to Russia nor could they appeal to Germany. On February 26, 1917, there was an order sent out by the Czar demanding of the 2,000,000 German people in Russia all of their grain and goods and cattle and horses, that they had in their possession. Upon the fall of the Czarist government it was found that this order was planned by the Czarist government with the view to starving and driving all of the German subjects out of the dominion of Russia. At the time of the fall of the Czarist government orders were in the hands of the army to proceed with forces into the colonies along the Volga to execute this commandeering ukase. On that same day I had urged the boys in my seminary of Saratov (because there were no men except old men at home) to pray for a miracle to save us from extinction, and, on the same day, the revolution began in Petrograd. 1800 mounted Cossacks were held in readiness at Saratov, to swoop down on the defenseless villages, to murder, plunder and scatter the inhabitants. But on account of the revolution the order was never executed.

This gave us new hope for a time. The common people of Russia longed for peace. Kerenski, the leader of the revolutionists, was for peace as long as the old regime was in power, but as soon as he secured control, he said: 'Cursed be all those who want peace. Now we're the bosses.' Kerenski himself went to the front to encourage the soldiers to go on, but to no avail, for he didn't have power to control so many million soldiers.

Lenine, who headed the Socialists in Russia, came forward with promises of peace to all. He promised the people land for which every farmer in Russia had long hoped. the people believed that the government could make them rich in land if it but wished. As a matter of fact, if all the available land had been equally divided it would have given each but 2 1/2 hektars. Lenine told the people in a speech that they should rob those who had robbed them, that is, they should rob the rich, and by that time the people were in such frame of mind that it didn't take much urging to get them to set upon this suggestion at once, and instead of laying down their arms they came home and began to carry out Lenine's suggestions. That's where the folk warfare or civil war began. Every night many murders of the rich were committed by the Bolsheviks and the returned soldiers. Our diocese was robbed one fourth million gold rubles, which we had accumulated for a new seminary. About that time the Bolshevits began issuing mandates. It fairly rained mandates. The first was that all who had 25,000 rubbles or more should have the entire sum commandeered by the Soviet government. At that time the rubble was worth about one-half of its full value. This was a sample of the Bolshevist paradise which they had promised the common people. This 25,000 rubble limit was reduced by new mandates until it got so that they took everything which anybody had from him, on the theory that all should be alike. Why did they take all of this property? Well, when you take all that a person has you make him your slave. This system resulted in terrible tyranny and terrible slavery. People cannot be made into animals by a government, which was what the Bolshevist government tried to do. The people took up arms against it and a war of reason against slavery was on. The Bolshevists made their army discipline effective by extreme cruelty. Many, almost every, offense was punishable by death. The Bolshevist soldier was well paid and his family well provided for." As a sample of discipline the Bishop told how a Bolshevik soldier asked his officer for pay, and was led by the officer into the back yard and shot down. "People became so used to murder that it made no impression at all upon them. The communists required that all who had less than 25,000 rubbles of wealth must turn it all over to the common fund. This practically ruined our farmers, for it took even their seed wheat. In every community there was a local man, a communist, if one could be found who could be trusted, and if such a local communist could not be found then someone was sent in from the outside to take charge of every village and he was furnished with sufficient soldiers to prosecute the execution of this order. Concerning myself I will say that I was urged by my priests and friends to leave Saratov because I had been sentenced to death by the Bolshevists, and I finally went to Odessa in 1918, the largest city in the diocese and then in control of the Germans. From there I went to Ukraine, thence to Roumania, then to Besserabia and finally to Berlin." After the Bishop's arrival in Berlin he began the organization of relief for the Volga sufferers, thousands of whom, like himself, had drifted back into Germany, and other thousands of whom were detained at the border of Poland, and still other thousands left in Russia, unable to leave or not knowing whether to take the chance of leaving or whether to stay in Russia. He and Father Nikelaus Meier have come to the United States to gather funds for the relief of people of the Volga region, both Catholic and Protestant. They met with a generous response at Hays last Sunday, the subscriptions for the day amounting to practically $1000. Meetings are being held this week at various towns throughout the country, and will be continued for some time until everyone who desires to assist has had an opportunity.

Ellis County News, February 9, 1922


The glory of our German Russian American citizens of Ellis County, is the advent of one of theirs: The bishop Joseph Kessler of Tiraspol, Russia, is one of ours. Born at Lewis, Samara, Russia, 1862, one of those diligent industrious Germans who had emigrated from Germany to the banks of the Volga and had become a rich population of two millions in the southern parts of Russia. Bishop Kessler's parents had lived near Muenchen, Bavaria, but he was born and raised in Russia. At Petersburg he studied Philosopny for four years and four other years Theology. Was consecrated bishop October 28, 1904. His diocese is one of the greatest of the world covering the governments of Saratov, Samara, Kherson, Ekaterinoslav, Taurida, and Bessarabia. It has an area of 462,504 square miles, more than four times as large as Kansas. In this his territory the bishop has 500,000 Catholics, 350,000 of them are German colonists, the rest are Polish, French, Italian, Armenian. In the bishops seminaries, colleges for education for the priesthood there they counted once twenty and five different languages of the students. The bishop palace and his colleges are at Saratov, on the right bank of the Volga, where steamers ran in U.S. way down this greatest river of Europe into the Black Sea into Odena which is the largest city of the (German-Russian) diocese. There are 155 parishes and two hundred twenty-five priests with Bishop Kessler in the field. But now perhaps the tenth part of them dead, killed by Bolsheviks or by the sufferings of the war. The bishop's palace is burned down, both seminaries destroyed by the Bolsheviki; destruction and ruin everywhere.

Those who have not been killed and who could not escape over the confines of Russia have eaten their horses, their cattle, they feed on mice, etc.

One million rubbles gives one meal to one man. The collection which the bishop received in Hays last Sunday is the glory of the generous people nearly $1000. Father Nic Maier, who came with the bishop, also a child of the German-Russian colonists, is in Berlin stationed rector of the church of the good Shepard. He is also in company with Lutheran pastors in Berlin helping Catholics and Protestants together. True charity excludes no sufferer. Father Maier's parents are born in Gmuend Bavaria, but he spoke in the K. of C. hall like one born in Berlin, this is the German character. --Contr.

Ellis County News, February 16, 1922


From reports that are brought to us we are sure that this county is doing splendidly in the matter of the collection for Russia that is being presented by Bishop Kessler of Saratov. Several men were in this office yesterday asking for blanks by means of which they might send assistance to the sufferers. We will ask our readers to go over the letters that are being published from week to week in the News. It's a story unspeakably sad, and an appeal to which no one can listen without being deeply touched, and stirred to action.

Ellis County News, February 16, 1922


When Bishop Kessler visited Schoenchen recently and asked for assistance for stricken Russia the big heartedness of our Ellis County people showed forth in a donation of approximately $600 for the cause, and a separate donation of more than $80 for Fr. Meier.

Ellis County News, February 16, 1922


The meeting which was held last Thursday of Bishop Kessler and Rev. Fred Meier from overseas, was a terrible one, telling us of the privations and the starvations in Russia. Father Meier also told how he had to act to save his life. A large number of people were present.

The La Crosse Chieftain, February 16, 1922


Nov. 26, 1921

Dearly beloved children Adolf and Alexander and families:

It would be a source of the greatest pleasure if you and your families were all well. Your father and mother as well as your family are well and wish you the best of health.

Your brother John, your sister Maria Anna and husband Henry as well as your sister Julitha and husband Andreas with their families are all well and wish you the same.

Now dear children we wish to inform you how we are living in Russia. We are neither living nor are we dead. You will probably say what is meant by that. I will explain it in a few words. When a person has nothing to eat he is not alive nor is he dead. If, dear children I could write all, how conditions are here with us, I would gladly do so, but no man can describe conditions as they are with us. If you see a person walk along the street he seems so weak that you momentarily expect to see him fall over dead. In such weakened condition are the public.

I will now inform you how I live with my family. On the 1st of February 1921, we ate our last bread: that is our own bread. Since that time if we wished to eat bread we had to buy it. We would gladly buy if we could earn money enough to buy at least 1 pound per day for 5 persons, but we cannot even buy for one week, because it is high priced. One pound of bread costs from 800 to 10000 Rubles. You can well imagine that we cannot live.

Dear children Adolf and Alexander and families we all pray you to come to our assistance that we may not perish of hunger. Help us in one way or another for here we must surely die of hunger.

Dear children you undoubtedly have heard of the conditions here in Russia. Write to us and let us know about yourselves for we have not heard from you for so many years we do not know whether or not you are alive. If alive please oh please help us out of this valley of tears.

Your loving Father and Mother Schmidt

Ellis County News, February 23, 1922, p. 1


Rush county will send several car loads of flour to the Russian people, along the Volga, who are dying of starvation. Committees are now at work in several of the townships and it is the hope of those interested that every township will be organized within a few days. Four dollars buys a barrel of flour, and from two to three hundred barrels make up a car load. The rail roads, and shipping companies have made arrangements for delivering the flour to the Russian people through international organizations and the freight does not cost the people of Rush county anything.

Fifteen million people are at the point of starvation and tens of thousands have already perished. Kansas is helping out tremendously by sending clothing, money and grain. Several car loads of flour have been sent by adjoining counties and Rush county is expected to send at least three car loads within the next few days.

Present conditions in Russia are familiar to everyone. Rush county has always met every emergency and will not turn a deaf ear to this call from a suffering people many of whom have relatives in this country.

Be prepared to do your part when the committee calls on you.

Geo. G. Weber, Co., Chairman

The La Crosse Chieftain, February 23, 1922, p. 1


John Quint of this place has received information that the donation of thirty dollars sent by him to his brother Peter Quint in Russia was duly received. The money was sent March 9, and the receipt returned October 3rd.

Ellis County News, October 28, 1922

Terri Dann and Denise Grau

Revised Saturday, 04-Jul-2015 12:52:10 CDT