Letters from Russia during the famines
Translations by Laura Ollek
While attending the 2000 AHSGR convention, several of us visited the Nebraska State Historical Society Library, which was not far from the hotel. I looked up two items on Shcherbakovka and one on Kraft, which were listed in Sam Sinner's index, and was able to copy these letters from their microfilm. Laura Ollek's translation from the German follows:
1. From the 18 Jan 1923 Die Welt Post, Lincoln, NE. Page 5: heading" From the Berg and Weisenseite: 'The Kirchenrat', a publication of the Evangelical Lutheran Congregation in Kraft, Parish Stephan, sends a heartfelt thank you in the name of all the Believers to the National Lutheran Council for the loving and generous contribution. Committee members of the'Kirchenrat' publication: Fr. Groh, H. Seigward, G.Geist, P. Schmidt, Ge. Herber, H. Ruppel, P. Meier, Reinhard, Siegwart. 6 June 1922."
2. From the same date & publication as above: "Tscherbakowka, The publication 'Kirchenrat', in the name of the members of the named Congregation, send their most appreciative and warmest thanks that during the most severe time of hunger, our faithful and sympathetic American Brothers in Faith have generously afforded the means to provide the necessary food for our strengthening. We say our heartfelt PRAISE GOD! 'Kirchenrat's' committee members: Dan. Reissig, Konrad Stauffer, Schoolmaster Karl Fritzler. 10 June 1922
3. From the 11 Oct 1923 Die Welt Post, Lincoln, NE page 5: Tscherbakowka 20. Oct "To Friedrich Haffner, Okeene, Okla. Dear Friedrich! We greet you and your family and want to tell you that we are still well. We are, at this time, harvesting and are almost finished. Today Frau Hoff left for America and is planning to come to you in Okeene, and she will tell you all about how we are getting along here and will explain the situation. The money which you have sent us has been received with great joy. We have purchased a 2-year old steer to be with our two oxen, as we very much were in need of one. Each time we harness him we think of you. Please accept our most sincere thanks. We exchanged the money in Saratov and for each American dollar we received 130 million ruble. For the steer we paid 2500 million ruble. At this time the dollar is very high in value but the need is great, also. We wanted to buy a cow also but the money did not allow us to do that. At this time we can only thank you for your help. If, at a later time, things are better for us, and not so good for you, we hope to be able to repay you. "We have written letters to you many times. Have you received all of them? We will close with best greetings and with a thankful heart. Your Relative, Maria Kath. Haffner and children." (Note: A milliard equals 1000 million ruble)
The following two letters were written from Heinrichsdorf, which is in the Ukraine - this is in the vicinity of Kalisch. The letters were written to Edward Ollek, in the old German script, and translated by Laura Ollek.
1. Written in year 1934, the 19th of March. "Greetings in God's name, with Jesus as our helper. In the beginning of my writing, I will tell you, dear friend, that we are, God be thanked, well and alive and we wish you the same health from our Dear Lord, as we have. And now I can tell you, dear friend, that this letter is coming from Arthur Olek to you -- my brother's child, Eduard Ollek. And now I can tell you that everything here is very expensive. A pud flour, 60, a pud wheat 40 ruble, a pud corn 38 ruble and so the prices are such for everyone here. A pound of butter as much as 12 ruble, a pound cheese, 18 ruble and so on. And now I want to beg you, if you would be so good and that you might be willing to help. Dear friend, I will repay you everything, according to God's will, and I beg of you with my whole heart, dear friend, that you might find it possible to help. I will faithfully wait for an answer. And now I will close my writing. Greetings to all of you, dear friends, and in closing a greeting and a joyous wiedersehen. I beg of you a quick answer. Artur Olek."
2. Written 17/ 7 Year 1934 "At the beginning of my writing I want to tell you how we are getting along here. The situation is very sad here - daily life, as well as everything else. So now I would ask you to please send word as to how things are with you as we have written, and written again, and have not received an answer. So we are begging you to send us an answer. And now, while I am writing to you and thinking of how you are getting along, and how things are going for us here, I would beg of you - if things are not going too bad for you- could you find it possible to send us a small gift or, through the Committee, to let us have a little help, as conditions here are very sad and we must suffer great need. If we cannot find deliverance from this situation we will have to perish. So may I beg, if it is possible, to reach out your hand. Please do not forget us. Now I will close my writing with a heart-felt greeting from all of us. Olek, Reinhold, and my wife and children. And also from my sister-in-law, Emelie Olek."