14 Lysanderhoeh. The sunshine is warm and soft, but I am sad. It is the Day of Repentance, but I didn’t go to church, I have nothing to confess. Stayed home all day. Had no desire to go visiting. Soon I’ll be a hermit.
15 Mended harnesses all day. It is easier to cope with your thoughts when you work.
17 Now all the harnesses are mended. Goodbye awls until next spring. Actually I don’t intend to be here next spring, I want to be far away in western Europe. I want to acquire more knowledge, I want to spend some money—if I have any. God grant it. In the evening I turned into a Pegasus and wrote a poem.
18 Miserable weather. Read all day, enough to drive one crazy. Put a coat on and went outside. The weather reminds me of my life: so disappoint ing. I philosophize as a 21 year-old might. I don’t have many happy memories. It seems my youth is gone. . .
19 Moved to Waluevka today. So I’ll be home very little until fall. The first day here I feel as if I am not at the right place, but what I do appreciate is the fact that I will be alone all day and all evening. I just have to manage and direct the workers, but I have no desire to socialize with them. I was born to be a recluse. I can entertain myself with a book; I find that satisfying.
20 I have nothing to write.
21 I work to keep calm and to get sleepy.
23 Reimer visited me. An uncongenial fellow. Instead of him, why couldn’t I have a lik able neighbor with whom one could talk? This one is loath some.
25 Visited Wiens. Ann can’t stop nagging. Lenchen is a beautiful girl, only too bad that her eyes are so idiotic. It seems to me that the political sky is get ting cloudy; the government resembles a large wild party more and more. They don’t know why they are there. The representatives, whether on the extreme right or extreme left, behave as if they have been struck by night-blindness. God grant that they come to their right senses before it is too late. Important matters are ignored, but instead they get all worked up over mere trifles. When are agricul ture and other important matters going to be dis cussed? The Social Democrats dream about trans forming the government into a revolutionary tribunal.
27 Read the history of the French Revolution today. One gets goose bumps when reading about the persecution and beastly acts of the Jacobins. Our situation is very similar. We also have such a good hearted monarch who lacks character. He is con stantly under foreign influence. We have the same uneducated masses, the same clustering around the central positions, the same transgressions of the bureaucracy. The latter want to make everything right with half-measures. In doing that they just pour oil on the fire. They think that to change the current situation, a bloody affair, like in France at that time, cannot happen here. After all, don’t we live in the 20th century? One would assume that such criminal acts would be impossible today. Let’s hope for the best, the evil comes by itself.
29 Reimer was here to borrow a saddle; we played cards for about two hours.
30 Made feeding troughs in the shed for the camels. I am reading world history. Read from Napoleon’s ascent to the conquest of Vienna. I was familiar with this. But when you read carefully and note the details you realize what an important man he was. In my opinion Bonaparte was not the evil genius of the nations that he is being presented in history. He was a careerist, an aggressive man, a dignitary—and all because of his gifts, his political wisdom, and his enormous energy. He was aware of his own worth and his actions.
He was very angry when the mighty ones looked down on him with disdain. That’s what the traditional aristocrats did. He was not big (tall) by birth, but big through his accomplishments. From the day that he declared himself to be the regent of France all European nobility looked down on him, until they were obliged to bow before him and pledge allegiance to him. They depended on his grace. But however much they bowed before him, they could not divest themselves of their inbred habits and tradition. That annoyed him and hurled him onto a road of insatiable and cruel conquests. His ambition found a sort of satisfaction out of watching his beaten foes, almost all the kings of Europe, beg for mercy.
Whatever one thinks of him, it seems to me that the former as well as the current denunciations of this man are mean and dirty. Compared to this really great regent they are not even able to com prehend the greatness of his nature. This exalted flight of the crowned eagle. Still there are people today who criticize and say that circumstances made the man. But never mind, it’s not worth talking about it. The frog in Krelows fable also bloated himself until he burst.
31 Lysanderhoeh. Came home at 8 p.m. and had the following guests with me: cousin P. Toews, Andrew and Gustav Toews, Jac. Bergmann and Joh. Neufeld. We went paddling in a big trough on the pond. We drank tea and went home. These Toews fellows are a jolly bunch, but all our conversation was hollow and without substance.
1 Went riding in the morning. That horse, Boizeon, is going to make an excellent saddle horse one day. You can sleep on him or follow your own thoughts. In the afternoon I went to choir practice.
2 I braided three whips.
3 In the morning I went to Waluevka. Before starting out father and I had another row. Oh my God, how I despise myself for the fact that I don’t simply accept his grumbling. But every time when he is irritated and bitter, and accuses me of things of which, for the most part, I am innocent, then I get so excited that I forget that it is my own father who stands before me. I say things that if I had stayed calm I would never have said. In times like that I would give anything to take those words back. I get so weary of life when that happens. And when I look into the future my heart aches and my soul is depressed. To continue living like this is not worth it. Oh what sorrow! Why didn’t God take me when I was still an innocent child? Then one could have been jealous of my fate; but if I should die now, what could I expect? I don’t know. I do believe in God and everything which that includes. And yet I feel so empty, I have no desire for spiritual food. I sin almost consciously and deliberately, and that gives me a sense of satisfaction. Where is this going to take me?
A few months ago I had the desire with all my strength to change. I always went where I could hear God’s Word. I do believe, and I wait for the day when the almighty will be compassionate, and grant the longing of my soul: to give me another person to live with me and for me. I was ready for her to do anything at that time; but what hap pened—my noblest impulses were trampled into the ground. That should have been a test for me, but instead it shocked me to the core of my being, so that whenever I think of it I get shaky because of the indignation and pain that I still feel.
This was the first impulse, and from then on I have deliberately turned away from God-or he from me. In that way my unhappy love affair caused my irritability, if I can call it that, which also determines my relationship to my father and the fre quent differences that we have. These are so unpleasant that life isn’t worth living. I suffer immensely. And father is also cast down in his heart.
Mother tries to reconcile us, because she can see how awful and hopeless it is. She takes it so to heart that her legs collapse from the weight of this indescribable suffering. She takes everything so seriously. My poor, poor, mother! And I am the cause of all this. And I write these things down without being in the least shaken in my innermost.
Oh, how my heart has hardened! There is no conscience! It is simply awful, terrible to think where this will lead. But there is no return. . . Ter rible. I cannot express it in words. I get so excited. This writing seems so unnatural in view of the suf fering that I am going through. I long to pour out my heart to someone, but I am alone. Since child hood nobody has understood me and I have been lonely to this day. How heavy the load, how indescribably heavy. O Lord, if you are the com passionate one (I am not talking about justice) then spare me. What have I done to deserve the wrath of God? If only I could be blissfully happy for one hour! But the descent continues further down and down. I am powerless against my fate.
4 Ah, who is always lucky? My life is in a fog, it’s a spring without sunshine. My journey con tinues in inclement weather. Year after year, like being alone in the dark. . . . Today I am 22 years old, it’s my birthday. What will it be a year from now? Looking ahead a year seems like a long time. . .
6 Father’s birthday.
29 Went to choir practice and afterward to Jak. Wiebe. She was celebrating her birthday. Many guests. A self-serving and pharisaical discussion. Talking about others, about how many cows have calved, and so on. So utterly boring.
1 National holiday. Here in the villages we know nothing about that but in the cities they have meetings and draft manifestos. They can’t do without that. The police are there with whips, rifle butts and bullets. When will there be peace in our land? But it is better now than sometime ago. A bad peace is still better than a good fight.
3 I try to find peace in my work. God is punishing me, I have lost my faith. But I don’t have the courage to take my life.
8 Went to Saratov with father. Made various purchases. Also went to the circus but I didn’t find it interesting. It was for children; we should have gone to the theater.
10 Got home yesterday; slept till noon today.
11 Had a letter from Jak. Wall from Tashkent. He’s barely weaned from his milk bottle and already wants to get married. Soon I will be left alone among my comrades.
17 I am surprised when I read about our legis lators. Lots of talk, especially from the left, and scandals caused by those on the right. You can’t call that work. They talk about prisons and exiles. They’re thinking about themselves, because that’s where they will be going. This attitude of those on the left will be the last drop that will cause the government to close down parliament. And what then?
19 Today we sheared 44 sheep, 27 lambs, 2 goats and 13 camels. I wrote a long article for the statistical paper about what the local people think about communal dining halls and collective work arrangements.
20 Was in church. They nominated candidates for the ministry. I didn’t participate. It seemed to me that the only one qualified was P. J. Dyck because he is educated and has command of the lan guage. The others are geese.
23 Went to Wiens’s for medicine, but he wasn’t home, so I talked with Helena. She’s not stupid, but can she lie. I’m glad that I didn’t get involved more with her sometime ago when she was inclined that way.
26 Started to read the complete works of Lermontov.
6 Finished reading the complete works of Lermontov. Contains some important matters. Too bad the author died so early. With his talent, who knows what he would have produced yet. His life was like his end; he died in a duel. Late last night father brought nine day-laborers who are to work for 25 kopeks a day. Two of the girls disappeared already after breakfast.
10 Read the papers until noon. To choir prac tice in the afternoon.
11 Went to church; baptism. After that to Leonhard H. Penner’s. One can have good con versation with Hans, he reads. Talked about current events and about our girls that were in church today as if on display. Only a few of them are really pretty. I think the most beautiful of them was Renata Wall; one ought to court her. But I have no opportunity to meet her. The main thing is I should have nothing to do with such nonsense.
12 There was a meeting of the „Stundists“ yes terday at Froese’s of the group that has started here.
Last week F. A. Dyck, who is an enthusiastic Stundist, went with his group to a meeting in Medemtal, where they discovered that in addition to Mennonites there were also Kolonists and their wives present. On departure Dyck had to kiss everybody, men and woman, goodbye. What fun! I hope this has cured him of such nonsense. I would have liked to see the face he made.
18 At Jenkin’s, the jeweler, I saw about 1,000 silkworms today. Mr. Silander, an agriculturist, is going to introduce them here. I don’t think the silk culture will thrive in our Colony. In the first place because there isn’t enough material for the worms to feed on, and secondly, because the weather is too changeable.
21 My parents and both sisters came here for lunch.
22 We only plow in the mornings and eve nings; during the day it is much too hot to work in the fields.
23 During the next two months there will be a lot of physical work, which means that my intellectual life will suffer. I don’t like that. I have the feeling that I have to climb over a high mountain, which will require all my energy and courage. After that times will be better. But for myself personally I do not expect much goo yield to fate.
27 In the morning father brought another worker, so that we now have twelve reffs. After breakfast one of them left; another took off after lunch, and the third disappeared during the afternoon snack-break.
1 Sunday. We were aroused from our sleep at 5 a.m. by a lot of noise from the street. Horn’s shed and barn were on fire. The pump was soon there, and so were a lot of people, and they were able to save the house. At first the wind was in our direction so we started to clear our house, but when the wind changed direction we moved everything back in again. Probably Horn was responsible himself for the fire: not intentionally, but he had a lot of company all night and by morning he was still drunk. He likely went into the barn with his burning cigarette and that started the fire.
4 We cut with three machines. Had 16 men tying sheaves. Until breakfast all went well, after that not. After lunch they stopped working and the day-laborers left. One of them always turned around and agitated, so that by evening two of our regular workers also left. Mother came here for the night and I went home to talk to father about all this.
5 It is going worse. In the morning I brought two workers from home. Until breakfast we gathered and bound what had been cut yesterday; then we cut some more with two machines. At noon three Germans wanted to leave. I asked them to wait until father got here
6 How little reason there is to envy the farmer; we are totally dependent on our workers. In reality they are all scoundrels. They worked in the morning, but at noon they asked for their wages and wanted to leave. The Germans demanded an increase. I told them we would settle in court, if that’s the way they wanted it. Then they stayed. We agreed to give Gregori Dorets an additional 20 rbl. He stayed. The other Russians all want to leave.
7 Reverse that again. Father brought back the workers that left yesterday; they said they never did want to leave, that Grigori had put those ideas into their heads. Father believed them and sent Grigori away, the only good worker. The others are all cowards.
11 It is 11 p.m., just came home from the field, ate supper and now I want to go to bed—until 3 o’clock.
12 Harvesting, it is hot, it is late, I am tired.
18 Father says J.J. Peters has a steam-powered threshing machine and is prepared to thresh for us.
22 We brought the steam-engine and the threshing machine home. Twelve camels pulled the steam-engine and twelve horses pulled the threshing machine. We started out at four o’clock in the morning and were home by 10 o’clock.
23 It took all day to set up the threshing rig.
24 Made fire under the steam-engine and had 70 pounds of pressure by six a.m., but it should only have 60 pounds. After threshing for fifteen minutes the pressure was down to 30 pounds and the engine couldn’t pull the machine. They made some adjustments, dug a hole under it to make a better fire, but nothing helped.
25 In all this time we could have threshed a lot with our own threshing machine.
27 Peters brought an old tramp-like fellow, who took one look at the threshing machine, asked for a wrench, did an adjustment on the steam engine, and presto! We began to thresh! Everything works fine!
31 Threshing every day. Did 438 bags of rye today. Great! The mechanic is an alcoholic; if he doesn’t get vodka he won’t work. We have a total of 31 workers: ten of them are day laborers for one ruble a day, the women get 55 kopeks.
13 At 2:30 in the morning father took me to Jak. Wiebe. For Mama the parting was difficult; father didn’t say much, but I noticed that he sup pressed his sobbing. But when we parted his hand shake betrayed his feelings. He gave me 300 rbl. At 12 noon we were in Saratov. Tried to get a passport but were not successful. Were told to try in Samara, directly from the governor.
17 At last got my passport. Bought a ticket directly to Moscow.
22 Saw whatever there is to see in Moscow and left at 7:30.
23 Arrived in St. Petersburg at 3:30 a.m.
27 After four days in St. Petersburg we went to Riga. I don’t think I have the most congenial travel companions: uncle and Jacob smoke, and because of that they are constantly in conflict with fellow pas sengers.
30 Goodbye Mother Russia. God bless you. The train is overfilled. People in 4th class are dressed better than in Russia but their manners are atrocious; carry on scandalous conversations with their girls. Nothing like that in Russia. Left my suitcase in the waiting hall, but when I came back they wouldn’t let me in. Tried two more doors, but no success. I started to cuss in Russian but they said I had failed to get a ten-penny platform ticket. What nonsense! That’s daylight robbery! What a welcome in this stupid Prussia.
31 Bought a small suitcase, shirts, scarf. The money just disappears. I don’t like it here; I feel so strange and lonely. I went to my hotel and felt real miserable, so sad. I cried like a child. In the first place I am alone. I can’t believe in God and trust him. How much I have sinned in words, thoughts and actions. How ungrateful I have been to my parents. That weighs heavy on me now. Inspite of that Papa and Mama love me more than words can express. But the desire for another love is still alive in me. Lord, why do you test me like this? When I get back home it’ll be time that you give me a drop of joy. Then the animosity of people and other temptations will be easier to bear. But one thing I ask of you God: save me from falling in love with a girl here in Prussia. That would be bad for the future. She would never feel at home in Russia.
I have no news from home: I don’t know whether my parents are well, and what about Lisa and Annchen? I wonder what they are doing now? I never thought that I would miss them all this much. And here everything is so strange, so hostile. Oh my beloved Russia! Although I haven’t been gone all that long it seems to me that I have been away from home a long, long time. You don’t hear a single Russian word here. There are no Russian newspapers. I feel like an orphan. May God grant that my relatives will receive me heartily.
I missed the trains today, will leave tomorrow. Looked at the royal palace and the cathedral. What barracks! The cathedral looks just like our haymow, the only difference is that this one has a steeple. They wanted 50 pennies entrance fee, but I could tell from looking at the outside that there was nothing worth seeing inside, so I didn’t go in. The royal palace is just an ordinary building and so I’m not disappointed that today it is closed to visitors. There wouldn’t be much to see anyway. All around it there are monuments of their kaisers, but they’re nothing compared to those in Moscow and St. Petersburg. In fact Koenigsberg is not a beautiful city at all. The streets are crooked, narrow and dirty. There are no beautiful stores like we have. And yet you should see how these sausage-eaters parade on their streets like peacocks.
I just want to get to my relatives as quickly as possible. I get some relief from the fact that I am writing this in Russian. Today I feel so miserable that I don’t even want to eat. Just ate one bowl of pea soup and that wasn’t anything special either.
1 Got up at eight, went down town once more, but I just don’t like it. Was here only a day and a half and they rob me of 6 marks at the hotel. My train leaves at noon. I am so curious to know how my relatives will receive me. If the reception is cool, I won’t stay long in this abominable Prussia. Trains shake a lot here; arrived 11 minutes late. In all my travels in Russia only one time the train was late four minutes. The weather is damp. This is lowland. Had to wait an hour when changing trains. They don’t go faster here than in Russia. At six p.m. I arrived at Tiegenhof, left my suitcase and pillow at Lettkemann’s, and asked whether they would take me to Cornelius Janzens. They demanded 7 marks, so I walked. I asked for direc tions, found the place, and was there by seven o’clock. They had visitors—Wiebe, Uncle Andres. I was received quite graciously.
Tomorrow morning they will go fetch my things. Then I have to hurry to get to Janzens. Lovely children here, very curious. Anyway, I like it here, and Frau Andres best of all. They made a bed for me on the second floor in a large, nice room.
2 Tiegenhagen with A. Andres. I like them, we pledged friendship. Went together to young Pauls who is the mayor and has other responsibilities. He took us to the old mayor, a jolly fellow. He was weaving chair bottoms, fetched a bottle of Machanda and we drank to our acquaintance. In the evening the old Janzens and the young B. Wiens’s arrived; they greeted me like a relative. Janzen is nothing special, but she is quite a little aunt.
3 I am with uncle A. Dyck. For the night I was with Andres. The old Regehr came there in the morning, apparently he is the Elder here. Aron Andres brought me here and stayed until evening. We drank beer, rum and konjak, a little of each.
4 Sunday. It’s 2 p.m., uncle is sleeping and I don’t know what to do. Time will pass slowly here until tomorrow. He showed me his farm: horses no better than ours, the cows are big. I brought a bridle for a horse for him as a present, but he did not accept it. Conversation with him is boring. He boasts about his horses and I told him about our stallion. His barn, garden, and yard are not in very good shape. Towards evening we went to Mr. Esau but he wasn’t home, so we stopped at Gerhard Dyck’s inn, had a glass of beer, and went home.
5 With Janzen’s in Tiegenhagen. In the morn ing we heard shooting; hunters were after a rabbit. We found the wounded rabbit; I shot him in the head. He weighed eight and a half pounds. Mrs. Janzen received me very graciously.
6 Wrote a letter to my parents. In the evening Janzens and Bernhard with his wife, and I went to Andres. His brother-in-law Dyck, a Rhan and a Hese were there too. We played cards, drank beer and grog. The women made just as much noise as they do at home. I didn’t like it very much, too pompous.
7 Day of Repentance. Went to church with Bernhard. A small and simple building, but they do have a nice organ which was played miserably. Service lasted one and a half hours. Very few people. In the afternoon I went skating on the canal. In the evening the whole Andres family came to visit. The second daughter is going to be a beauty some day, the third is clever, lively as a mouse.
8 Went with uncle to uncle Meckelburger. Looks sickly; has an active wife, a fourteen year old son, and a tall, attractive daughter with the horrible name of Lisbet.
9 At four a.m. I went with Boris and his wife to Andres for butchering. The pigs had already been killed when we got there and they were shaving them. They work the way we do at home, only they have a very practical machine for cutting lard. At 4 p.m. we were finished. In the evening Ed Dycks came over; I like them. He invited me to attend a meeting of the Agricultural Society with him tomor row. He is the chairman.
10 Heinrich Meckelburger ferried us across the Lenau with a boat and then we went to D. Wall. He is lame, but seems to be a fine fellow. His sons, David and Heinrich, 18 and 19 years old, are nothing special, but I was glad to meet them because they are the first young people I’ve met here. Their fifteen year-old daughter, Kaethe, is no great beauty. All three children have bicycles. At 3 o’clock Boris and I went to the agricultural meeting in Tiegenhof.
First we visited a sugar factory. It is a big undertaking. The beets are unloaded outside and brought to the elevators by flowing water, etc. Then we went to the hotel „Deutsches Haus“ where the chairman, Ed. Dyck, demonstrated a gas lamp. He got 14 orders. For Feb. 8 he recommended either going to the theater or a concert, which would be followed by a dance. They discussed a few things yet and then played cards. Afterward they ate a goose dinner and drank beer. Incredible how much beer one of these German sausage-eaters can down in one evening. Got home at 11:30 in the evening.
11 Went to church with uncle and aunt Janzen, but didn’t like it. In the afternoon Bernhard and I did some target practice, first with a revolver and then with a gun. He shoots even worse than I do. Then we went to Dycks in Hauskamp and to a neighbor, Conrad. A lot of visitors, including an incredibly beautiful girl. Played cards and drank beer and grog all evening.
12 I went with uncle to Danzig. I like this city much more than Koenigsberg, but it is still nothing compared to Saratov. In the evening uncle and I went to the theater and saw „Salome“. Mediocre, with music so loud you couldn’t hear a word they said. By midnight we were in our room; uncle is talkative, poured out his soul.
13 Uncle went home and I went to Marienburg to visit Gustav Schulz’s. Uncle received me happily and immediately offered me the personal pronoun „Du“ (you) instead of the formal „Sie“ (thou), which is custom here. He took me along to a credit union meeting. There are 52 members; they deal in grain, feed, coal, machines, and pay very low inter est rate. Schulz is respected by everyone; he is an able and active man. Among our relatives there are none that compare with him.
14 In Marienburg with Schulz’s. Two daughters came for lunch: Selma, 35 years old, the wife of a farmer and agile as all get out and so dark that you could take her for a Jew. The other, Gertrude, 16 years old, has dark brown hair. I like her. She doesn’t pretend, is not so agile in her movements, and apparently has a stubborn charac ter. Looked at the castle Marienburg, which is being restored to its original 14th century condition. They have been working on it for 30 years. Bought a book about it. In the evening Schulz played piano.
15 With Gerh. Dyck in Gross-Lesewitz. With Schulz we saw the military barracks. They are going to build more. There will be a lot of soldiers here. Around the city they are constructing fortifica tions. Schulz said that in the event of a war with Russia or France they could keep the enemy out of the city for quite some time. In such a case Prussia would face France as the number one enemy, but fight Russia only defensively. Interesting how they speak with scorn and contempt about Russia every where. It is annoying and embarrassing. We’ll deal with you yet—but when?
The population of Marienburg is 14,000. Schulz took me to the railroad station. Everybody, Schulz, his wife and children took such gracious leave of me and asked me to come again. Nowhere did I have as good a time as here. They called G. Dyck by telephone and he met me at the station in Lesewitz. He has a restaurant, bought it from his aunt for 50,000 marks. Married last September, a Tina Sawatzky, daughter of an innkeeper. She is a lot of fun and is very friendly in dealing with their customers. She is 18 and he is 35 years old.
16 With G. Dycks in Hauskampe.
17 Still with Dycks. Had a letter from Papa. Cleaned my suit in the morning and helped in the barn in the afternoon. In the evening the two daughters and I ordered lottery tickets from Berlin, they each took one, I took three.
18 Still with Dycks. Visited a farmer, Tuchel. Has good horses, 76 head of cattle. Have seen none better. He is congenial and talkative , but his wife beats him in everything. I don’t know why, but I like the women here a lot more than the men.
| 20 Threshing at Dycks today. The workers don’t work any better here than at home. But Dyck feeds them well and gives them a shot of whisky three times a day.
21 With David Walls in Baiershorst.
22 With Joh. Pauls, Plattenhof. I liked it at Walls; I like the young people, including that teen age girl. Visited the merchant Peter Janzen, my mother’s cousin. In their youth they were neighbors and good friends. He sends hearty greetings to her.
24 With Dycks in Hauskampe. Went with them to a funeral. The choir didn’t sing, they screamed. They have a ship hanging in the middle of church; it is an invitation to join the German marines. The pastor’s message was puffed up nonsense. After the service most people went to the inn where they drank beer until the wee hours of the morning. That is how they honor the dead here.
| 25 Sunday. Still with Dycks. He woke me early; we walked around all his fields. The crops look good.
26 Went to Tiegenhof. While waiting at the train station I met my cousin Jakob Wiebe who told me that they would probably leave to return to Rus sia on Wednesday. Took a train to Berlin and on arrival there we went straight to the circus. It was better than in Moscow or St. Petersburg. Took a room in the hotel „Stadt Koelln.“
27 Visited the parliament buildings, museums, zoological garden, and a lot, lot more. Went to the theater in the evening and saw Shakespeare’s „Much To Do About Nothing.“ Actors played well.
28 More sightseeing in Berlin. In the evening I met cousin Jakob Wiebe again.
| 29 Went to the Brandenburger Tor and wanted to attend a session of parliament. Had agreed to meet the others, but of course they weren’t there. We waited until 9:30 and would you believe it, there they came out of the parliament building where they had been all this time. Only the first 40 visitors had been admitted, and I had number 46. The old folks are to blame for this! If you deal with uncle Wiebe you better be prepared for some unpleasantries. Looked at buildings and monuments, etc. When you see all this and remember their national pride, you get depressed thinking about our Russia, which they all laugh about in Prussia. At the same time you get so angry at these miserable sausasge-eaters; but when you realize your own weakness and the uncertain future of Russia, your heart aches. You begin to detest everything.
2 With Hermann Dycks in Brotsack. Would like to stay in Prussia until Christmas and yet want to spend Christmas at home. At G. Dycks in Lesewitz celebrating. First raffled candy. I bid nine times at twenty pennies each time and won 4 boxes. At eight o’clock the dance started. Musicians from the city. Just like a ball. They bring their daughters and put them on display. About 35 pair of young people. Some of the girls rather pretty in their white dresses, white shoes, and wavy hair. They know how to trim themselves, which our girls don’t. They dance well. I am embarrassed that I can’t dance.
In the intermissions the young people drank beer; the older people are on the first floor playing cards. I was told they bid quite high. One man lost 170 mark. The women sit in rows in the ballroom and watch their daughters. I can’t get over it how much beer they drink. Where do they put it all? Into their fat tummies? In this one night they drank two barrels of 35 liters each. It went like that until 6 a.m. when they started to go home. That’s when I went to bed; the last ones left about 9:30. Gerhard said that in this one night they took in 460 marks, of which 200 marks was pure profit.
4 Went to Max Schulz in Klein Lichtenau. They were baking peppernuts for Christmas. He is sick, was a soldier. Looks as if he might have been a hero. Told me that it is now possible to buy your exemption from military service with money. His wife is probably the best looking woman that I have met here. She’s clever and active.
5 Have not been feeling well.
6 Visited some more. They do a lot of walking here.
7 With Jak. Regehr in Broeske. Went with him to a meeting of the „Society of Farmers“, a political organization. Two men spoke for three hours about political matters. There were about 400 people pre sent who applauded a lot.
8 Visited a lot of mother’s cousins.
9 Went to Heinr. Meckelburger in Tieger weide, his wife had a birthday; many guests, not much youth. We played games just like at home, twist a plate, redeem a pawn, and others. Very interesting to get to know some of the young ladies, a Kaetie Reimer and Helene Meckelburger. Kaetie was very jolly. At twelve o’clock midnight we ate supper. Then to bed at Janzens.
10 The evening at K. Janzens, Bayershorst with lots of young people, fifteen girls and twenty fellows. Danced almost all evening and played games like yesterday at Meckelburger’s. Miss Reimer was there again. I paid her the compliment that she was the best dancer.
11 With Dycks at Hauskampe. The girls had put up a bit of a Christmas tree. Before evening uncle gave gifts and cake to the workers. In the evening the girls lit the tree. Went with uncle into the basement and came up with two bottles of red wine. We emptied them. There was no mood of real celebration of the birth of Christ as it is at home. They went to bed at eight and I red a sentimental German novel. What I must do is get myself out of this presumptuous Prussia and back into my real native land, Mother Russia. What is happening there occupies me more than what my relatives are doing here. Long live Russia! Even the weather is miserable here, rain and mud: at home we now have frost and snow and go riding with sleighs. So once more, „Long live Russia!“
12 Still with Dycks. Boring, boring, boring. Sitting at home the whole day. Went into the worker’s house. They live quite decently, even if it is a bit crowded. If our workers would live like that they would be very satisfied, which these are not.
13 With Janzen’s in Tiegenhagen. Lots of com pany. Spent a very pleasant evening. Later auntie came to my room and cried because I am leaving so soon. Got a letter from my parents which I read to her. She was moved again. She is a good aunt, and not stupid, which is often the case with good people.
14 As a farewell present uncle gave me a flash light. Packed my suitcases with the help of aunt Jan zen; and while we did that she added all kinds of gifts for her sisters. All the time she was crying and thinking about how she had said goodbye to my father a year ago. At 3 p.m. A. Andres came for me. Then many people came to say goodbye, give little gifts, and send greetings to their relatives in Russia. (long list). My relatives received me very graciously. I am leaving with the knowledge that I have a lot of friends here. Spent my first night here with Andres, and now also my last.
15 Danzig. Up at 5:30 and Andres took me to the station. Gustav Schulz went with me as far as Danzig. There I bought some sparklers for our Christmas tree and then we visited a Jewish synagogue. We came at the end of the service, they were singing, not bad at all. We visited other chur ches, ate lunch together, and in the evening went to see a wrestling match.
16 At the station we met cousin Jakob and uncle Wiebe and other relatives. But my suitcase was not here. The official had assured me it would get here in time. That sausage-eater lied to me. So I have to stay here for the night and wait for my suitcase, while Uncle Wiebe and cousin Jakob go on to Warsaw.
17 At 11 o’clock I got my suitcase. Bought a ticket home via Warsaw, Brest-Litowsk, Moscow, Saratov. In Warsaw I met cousin Jakob again.
18 Wanted to take the express train to Mos cow, but it costs twelve rbl more than the mail train, which also gets me there, only eighteen hours later. I took the mail train. So I had time to look around some more in Warsaw. It is more beautiful than Saratov. The streets are wide and straight, it is easy to find your way around.
19 Arrived an hour late in Moscow. Lots of snow.
20 Cold. Trains over-crowded. Passengers left stranded.
21 Saratov. My suitcase again not here. That’s the second time. What if it is lost altogether? Then I collect 45 rbl., but it cost me 100 rbl. Will just wait.
22 Picked up my suitcase first thing, it had arrived with the evening train. The lock was broken and the strap torn, someone had tied it together with a rope. But nothing was missing. What a miserable way to handle baggage; will never again check it, but carry it with me. Now my trip diary ends. How quickly these 75 days passed. I am back into the old life. . .how boring.
23 Home in Lysanderhoeh. Arrived just as they were sitting down to eat lunch. Father is not well, doesn’t look good. Mother and the girls are well. The horses not bad, except the trotters seem skinny.
24 Made the rounds and looked at everything. At five o’clock we went to school for the Christmas program. Father did not go. Can’t help but notice how much wilder our manners and language are than in Prussia.
25 Lieschen and Anna were happy for the pre sents I brought them. In the morning I went to church with Mama; the choir sang quite well.
26 Big snowstorm. It was already dark when D. Froese with his wife and five children came in. They were stuck in the snow. We pulled the sleigh out, they stayed half an hour, and then went home.
28 Went out to the „Chutor.“ Brought gifts for my servants. Found everything in better condition than I had expected. The horses are well fed, the camels not worse than last year, only the sheep and cattle are worse.
| 29 Eduard Rhan of Fresenheim is going to America. We were together in the same bedroom in Fresenheim and talked until two a.m. Jak. Peters was here to borrow money. Father gave him 100 rbl as a gift because Peters had told others that father had short-changed him by 100 rbl. Now he denies having said that. Finally they agreed that he will come and thresh again for us next summer for three and a half pennies per 40 pounds.
30 In the evening Cousin J. Toews with his sisters and all brothers were here, as well as Franz Wall with his children. What a bunch! And they all wanted to hear about my trip to Prussia.
31 Lieschen and I went to church in the eve ning. The choir sang poorly but Quiring had a good message; he is the only cleric here that one can respect. So now another year is gone, like a flash. We expected so much—and what did we get? A lot really. I have definitely lost my faith in humanity—And so I enter the new year with the motto: „Either you are the master or you lose.“ Just to add this yet: „Everybody makes his own for tune!“ I do not expect anything special for myself in the new year. I hope we’ll have another good crop and then I can travel again. But I won’t come back so soon. Only he is a hero who cynically despises everything, and doesn’t need anybody, like in Lermontow’s play, „The Hero of our Time.“ Good bye 1907.
1 About 50 people (beggars) came by to wish us luck for the new year; they got two kopeks for their good wishes. Went to church with Mama and the girls, then to Wiebe’s.
6 Sunday. Home until noon, then strolled along the street, went to D. Toews and Jak. Froese. Now I sit at home and am bored.
8 And here I am back in my room at the „Chutor“ and don’t know why all those former thoughts and wishes come back. I suppose it has to do with the atmosphere of this room. My heart aches when I think that this is the way it’s going to be the rest of my life. Am I not going to be happy at all? Really happy? I must confess that hope has vanished. I despise money, and yet I want to have a few hundred thousand rubles. Then good fortune wouldn’t be so elusive; I wouldn’t have to go past doors which today are closed to me. Nothing I do succeeds.
First I wanted so badly to continue my educa tion, put that above everything else, but they wouldn’t let me. Now I want to get rich, but I’ll stay like the rest of them here. Will continue sitting on my little nest and have my trivial little financial interests. I have to confess I have sunk way down in my thinking and ideals in the last few years. And when I analyze myself, I seem to be happy about it. My head aches. Will stop to fantasize and write as
if I am a millionaire. In reality there are no ideal persons. I am convinced that all people are more or less scoundrels, liars, thieves and the like.
10 Went to fetch lumber. I went with horses, Nikolai and the mute with camels. I sent them to load, but when I got there the mute had run away. Later I went with a Volga German man to the mute and demanded my three rubles back, but he refused. I instructed Heinr. Funkner to see that I get my money back; if he is unsuccessful he is to bring the matter before the district court. I want my three rubles back and an additional 3 ruble for damages. I know that nothing will happen, but you can’t just let a man get by with this.
12 Sat for twelve hours on the sleigh with lum ber. What a long trip. How boring. Just to sit there and move forward step by slow step. I’ll have to be on the road like this a lot this winter.
13 Was not in church. Had lots of company. Jakob Wiebe borrowed all 34 volumes of my World History.
14 In the evening went over to my cousin Jak. Wiebe. He is reading my World History books.
15 Woluevka. Parents here for an hour in the afternoon. In the evening visitors came: Joh. Thiesen, Bernh. Rhan, John and P.P. Penner. They were real jolly, sent for vodka but didn’t get any, laughed a lot and were terribly loud.
16 Have been lazy today. Read two volumes of Chekhov. I must confess I had expected more, or I don’t understand him.
17 Didn’t do a thing all day. Lay around in bed and read Chekhov. A life of leisure like this leads to depravity. Better not to write anymore, because when I do it just builds up rancor in me about the hopelessness of my situation and my character.
20 Home in the morning, choir practice in the afternoon. I don’t like it when our choir leader, Franz, always tries to enlighten us and reads sermons to us. Went to D. D. Toews’s with a lot of young people. Cousin Wiebe and I taught them some of the games we had learned in Prussia. Our girls are heroes when it comes to kissing. Say what you will, but the young people in Prussia are brought up better than ours, they don’t smooch around (literally, lick each other, „belecken sich nicht“) when they play games.
3 In Saratov with father to buy paint, etc. In the evening Alex. Bartuli and I went to the theater. Came to our lodging at 2:30. Father was asleep, of course.
4 Bought paint for ourselves and the school. Then father went to the doctors Buchholz and Mor rel. They told him to stay in Saratov for two weeks and come see them daily. Said he had a very sore throat. After that he bought bonds for 1,250 rubles, while I ran around town with samples of our butter. One merchant said it was old and sour, another said it was just right, but he would only pay 35 kopeks per pound. I finally sold six pounds in a restaurant for 40 kopeks a pound. Went out and bought all kinds of things on the market, including a pair of American boots for 10 rubles. Also bought an instruction book for teaching myself stenography.
7 Came home this morning. Read Chekhov’s „Sachalin“ and started to study shorthand. I don’t think that’s going to be so easy. I don’t know whether I have enough patience and endurance to learn it really well. In any event, I started too late; I should have started at the beginning of the new year, then I would have been finished with it by spring, but now there’s just a good month left until we start field work. I suppose whatever I learn before spring I will likely forget during the sum mer.
8 Terribly cold. Studied stenography for about four hours. It seems to me this shorthand system is imprecise. Some things you just have to guess. Reading it is much more difficult than writing it.
14 Parents went to Jak. Wiebe’s to celebrate the 25th wedding anniversary of Joh. Wiebe in Prussia. Over there the celebration will likely be more lively than here.
21 Read two novels: „With Fire and Sword,“ by Senkienkewitch and „Paris“ by Soljas.
22 Borrowed seven books from W. A. Wormsbecher.
27 Finished reading Tolstoy’s „Anna Karenina.“ No wonder Tolstoy is respected. That novel is filled with deep feelings from beginning to end and is not just stuffed with the usual techniques of the author. The novel breathes real life and reflects authentic types of people and their feelings. There are morals, too, not dry philosophical lessons but real-life experiences. There is only one in the whole world, and that is our own Leo Tolstoy!
28 Father is in Saratov with the doctors. Will likely stay there a few weeks.
4 Father came home today, much improved.
9 Will have to start a new diary. Am writing less and less. It doesn’t seem to interest me.
29 I made no diary entries for almost two months. Much has happened in this time. When I discovered that Renate Mathies still loved me, and that she felt this love deep inside of her, there awoke in me a gradual inclination to her. Finally, on October five I went to her parents to ask for her hand in marriage. They gave their consent. That was such a joy for my parents, especially for my dear mother. How happy she was, and how bright the future looked. How lovely it would be when I was married and together with my wife we would ease the farming responsibilities of my parents. They planned to celebrate their silver wedding on February 16. But it was not to be.
On October 1 both parents went to Saratov. They wanted to make various purchases, but primarily get everything needed for my dowry. Saturday, Oct. 4 they came home. Mama was so concerned that I would like everything. Oh how unselfishly she loved me. The next day she did not feel well, but seemed to be happier about my good fortune than I myself. Monday and Tuesday she was very busy. Cabbage had to be cut and put into bar rels. All the time she was not feeling well. She had diarrhea, but never stopped working. Standing in the basement was bad for her cold. By Wednesday her diarrhea was worse. (Now I’ll describe Mama’s death in German).
26 Sunday, I went to my love. I noticed immediately that something was not right; she had not yet spoken a word, but I could see it in her eyes. They just didn’t shine the way they normally did, and although she did not want to let me know that there was something wrong I could tell that she was depressed. A visitor came, P. Wall, and so we couldn’t really talk freely.
Monday I went back to Waluevka. Tuesday I went home and Papa and I went to discuss our engagement. We decided to have it Dec. 15, God willing, and the wedding after New Year. My love was so gentle and loving, and yet I had the feeling that there was something between us. That sad expression on her face was just like last Sunday. When we were about to leave and were alone for a moment I could not keep quiet any longer. I asked her if there was something wrong? She said yes, but there was no time to talk about it. But one thing I know, we can’t go on like this.
All last night and today I have had no peace, I must know what it is. Did she perhaps misjudge her feelings and now, that she sees my many mistakes and weaknesses is afraid she will not be able to love me and have patience with me? Whatever it is, one thing is clear, tomorrow I am going back to her and she must tell me what it is. If we are not absolutely open with each other, how can there be true love?
Or are we going to share only the joys with each other, but keep the grief and disappointments to ourselves? No, and again No! There must be clarity and honesty between us, that is the first con dition of true love. From the very beginning of my love I discovered that shared joy is double joy, and shared grief is half the grief. And now I should leave her alone? Never! I don’t know how I can wait until tomorrow, but today she is not at home. I wonder what the problem is? Whatever it is, God bless you and protect you, my love. (End of the German entry. He continues in Russian.)
30 Thursday. Went to Jak. Wiebe’s this morn ing to help with the butchering. Stayed until noon and then went home. I just could not stand it. My inside was in turmoil because I didn’t know what put such a damper on my beloved. I went to her in the evening and she told me everything.
Oh my God, what’s with the people anyway! Now I am convinced that all people are scoundrels. They have slandered me, scandalized my name. Said impossible things about me, things I wouldn’t put on paper. One that betrayed me most is the old Joh. Bergmann. He puts on a face as if he is ones best friend, but behind your back he is the biggest enemy. However, I believe that behind all this machination is my future brother-in-law, Henry
But I spit on all that, I have a clear conscience. I am glad that I went there today and she told me everything. Even though she didn’t believe these rumors, they nevertheless depressed her; I am so dreadfully sorry for her. I believe everything is cleared up now, but she didn’t seem happy yet.
30 Not at peace today. Would like to look deep into the eyes of my beloved to see whether she still loves me as before. Have to wait until tomorrow.
1 On the way home I stopped at Mathiesens and we had a really good talk. It is so difficult for her. She hears me denounced from all sides: her sister and brother-in-law; her father walks around and talks all kinds of nonsense as if he had been dunked into water. He doesn’t want to give up his beloved daughter. All this depresses her, of course. I found it necessary to swear to her that I was innocent of all these scandalous accusations against me. I thank God that my conscience is clean. I can look anybody straight in the face that has slandered me.
But it hurt, it hurt very much to know that her love for me was not strong enough to laugh at all that nonsense and simply shake it off as something utterly impossible. Yes, I know that she didn’t believe any of it, but I also observed that the con sequence of all this talk is that doubts crept into her heart. It makes me sad and hurts to realize how little she really loves me, or I should say seems to love me. And yet I thought that she loved me with unlimited love, with forgiving love if necessary. I thought she was totally in love with me with her whole being. It is so difficult for me, so hard to bear. I don’t know whether I will ever again be as happy as I was.
In the evening I went to Franz Walls. I had the feeling that my beloved was also going to come there. She would come if she really loved me the way she says she does. And she was there! She stayed the night because Franz was drunk again and started to get noisy. That scared auntie. In my opinion she should have gone home because this is not the first time he is drunk.
When I dressed to go she came to the corridor and asked me quite honestly, as it seemed to me, to forgive her for the way she had behaved. Yes, my dear, I forgive you, I forgive you ten times if only you can understand how my heart yearns for love, not a quiet and calculated love, but a totally irra tional and caring-about-nothing kind of love. Oh if only she could love me that passionately and without calculation—I would be so happy, so bliss fully happy that I could go crazy. In fact I don’t use my head at all now, I only dream about a happy future.
3 I longed for her all day; had no interest in doing anything. I live for tomorrow. Will go to her. If only she knew what a few words from her mean for me. I thirst for her love like longing for heavenly manna.
| 4 I was with her. Have nothing to write. I am happy beyond all measure!
7 Was with my love today. Spent a very pleasant evening together. God grant that we may have many more like that. Tomorrow father and I go to Saratov; Mathies is going too, and so is Renate. We will meet there.
8 We went with two sleighs. Walked across the Volga. The ice is still thin so they won’t let horses across.
10 At 9 in the morning my beloved came across the river all alone. What courage! Others would have never done that! It is not without danger because the ice is still thin. Together we made vari ous purchases. How wonderful to be able to walk arm-in-arm with the girl you love through the city. I bought a cap for 8 rubles, some harness for 60 rubles. Bought cloth for a suit coat; tomorrow morning I go to the tailor to have it made. In the evening we went to the theater. They presented a Russian play, „Let Love Have Its Way.“ Mediocre. Too bad, I would have liked to show my beloved something better. But she caught on quickly, even though she didn’t understand everything. After All, this is her first time in a theater. I could see that she has a healthy mind and was able to judge something that was not part of every-day domestic life.
11 In the morning we went together to buy rings. I bought her an engagement ring and a gold watch with a chain for 60 rubles. I hope she likes it, because this is my first present for her. At 1 o’clock we crossed the Volga. They still would not admit horses, so three men pulled us across in a sleigh for
13 Was alone and lonely all day without my love. Mother is no more and I can’t have an exchange of ideas with father; we don’t understand each other.
14 Butchered at Franz Wall’s. Was together with Renate all day. In the evening we spent a few very pleasant hours together. Every day she becomes more precious to me and I love her more. Sometimes I have the feeling that my good fortune and my love is not real, so new and unexpected, like a dream. Oh my dear Renate, God grant that I may always see you happy, because then I will be happy too. May God grant us more and more love for each other, love that will keep us together in the storms of life, love that will always remain fresh and hot. That is my biggest wish today and I hope it will be fulfilled.
16 In the afternoon I went to my bride. Inspite of her love and inclination to me she seemed sad. She seemed pale, too. Is she not well? She claims to be healthy, but something is depressing her. I don’t know what kind of a cloud drifted over her; maybe I am just too scared. My dear Renate, how I love you! You are everything to me!
A Brief Review of the Year 1909
(written on January 10, 1910)
A year ago I was a bridegroom, a very happy one, too. On January 15, 1909 I was married to Renate P. Mathies; the wedding was in her home in Hohendorf. I can say that neither one of us took this step thoughtlessly. We were fully aware of the importance of going up to the altar. Rev. Johannes Quiring married us; he had also spoken at our engagement on Dec. 15, 1908. I will not attempt to describe the feelings that flooded my soul. The most important thing is not only to dream about this beautiful beginning, but to also determine to carry out these dreams and make them reality. And that is something which I have often failed to do this past year.
On January 19 I brought Renate to our house in Lysanderhoeh. That’s when the beautiful days of mutual love and joy began. And yet there were clouds, too, from time to time. We both have an inflexible and unyielding character. But God be praised, there were no serious misunderstandings, and after every encounter each attempted to make the other happy.
On Feb. 1 father gave us two parcels of land, without buildings, in Waluevka. I made a down payment of 5,000 rubles with money that had been set aside for me. I bought the buildings, animals, machines and everything else from him. The remaining debt of 6,000 rubles I will pay in equal parts over the next six years at six percent interest.
1 March – 31 December, 1922
1 After an interval of more than thirteen years I want to start keeping a diary again. Many journal entries become more valuable with the passing of time, both from a practical as well as other perspectives. For example, how easily we forget the good that the Lord has done for us; but when you read about it later you realize in how many situations God has kept and protected you. How true that is about us: how graciously God has protected us from all dangers in the years past. Even if most of the property and possessions are gone, yet we are all together.
Two months ago my dear Renate was very seriously ill, she had typhus, I wasn’t even at home. I was in Moscow in connection with the relief sup plies from America, but the Lord helped her through in a most marvelous way. It was the same when the children and I became ill. When I look back on the thirteen years of our married life and attempt to express my feelings in words, I can only say: „Lord, I am not worthy of all the steadfast love and all the faithfulness which you have shown to me.“ The representatives of the different villages were here today to talk about the distribution of the American relief supplies.
2 This is Renate’s birthday. Yesterday I went to Koeppental to talk with the other members of the committee about the relief distribution. From there I went to Leonhard Penner in Fresenheim, but stayed the night because it got late and my horse is too weak. Had lots of company in the evening. We sang some songs and the children recited poems.
3 At one o’clock at night the wagons arrived with the MCC relief supplies which they had picked up in Pokrovsk. By the time I had checked it all out it was three o’clock. The Medemtal drivers stayed until after breakfast and took their portions along when they left. Spent the whole day on the telephone to figure out the distribution, then double checked everything, and by the time I was finished it was midnight.
4 Busy all day with distribution of relief sup plies.
6 Distributed relief supplies in Lysanderhoeh.
8 The few horses we still have are sick. How are we going to work the fields and put out seed?
9 Agreed that Herbert Penner would take me to Saratov next Sunday with his horses; I must go to attend to matters of the relief committee.
10 Our land has been taken away; it is to be divided among others. F. Nuss is to get some of it. What a mess!
11 Beiden from Dinkel was here. I bought 1 whip from him for 25,000 rubles. (sic).
12 Walked to Fresenheim. Took me two hrs and twenty min.
13 With J. Penner to Koeppental and then walked home. It took me 1 hr and 55 min. I was tired. But the horses are so weak, its no use. They can’t pull a wagon or carry a person.
15 Bartered a horse from a Russian for 400 lbs grain, 240 lbs potatoes and 1 lb of millet. It is a skinny and weak horse. Two weeks ago one could have bought a horse like that for half the price. I sold him our sleigh for a cool one million ruble, which is nothing. The horse I bartered from him would cost 60 million rubles in money.
17 The transport from Saratov is back with seed grain and the relief supplies for the month of March from A.M.R. (American Mennonite Relief).
19 Sunday. Home the whole day. In the eve ning I played the organ, the children sang, no strangers in the house. A lovely day!
20 Busy with relief supplies for the villages.
21 Traded a blanket, a piece of cloth (wool), one towel for ten lbs potatoes and ten lbs of millet.
23 Busy with dividing the relief supplies until 3 a.m.
24 More dividing of supplies. Two men stayed for lunch. That’s getting to be a burden when we have so little for ourselves to put on the table.
25 In matters of feeding adults, an American requested that three delegates meet with him. A dif ficult trip.
26 We met the American, a Mr. Bescharner, representing A.R.A. (American Relief Administra tion). He told us that ARA would give 30 lbs of grain a month to feed 650 persons. A long and tiresome journey. Home late.
27 Busy all day dividing relief supplies. At night I have to catch up with the paperwork.
29 More distribution. And again people stayed
for a meal. And their horses also had to be fed. It is so difficult; no, it is impossible to say no, and yet we don’t have enough for ourselves.
| 30 Divided relief supplies of A.M.R for Hohendorf, and for A.R.A for Koeppental.
31 After dividing all the relief supplies we had 10 rations left over; we designated these for the neediest among the needy. Until now we used to give a few rations to the drivers for fetching the supplies but Alvin Miller wrote that was not allowed. So now we have to pay the people who transport the supplies.
1 We have been heating only a few rooms all winter. It was crowded but we managed. Too bad that the furniture in the cold rooms was damaged because of the dampness.
4 Because the roads are utterly impassable it was decided that we open our homes to some of the roaming beggar boys and take them in for ten days. We have a fifteen year-old boy. He was crawling with lice when he came and was quite sick. I cut his hair, cleaned him up, gave him new clothes. He’s really very sick.
5 A lot of work with the relief program. Made reports for Miller in Moscow until 2:30 a.m.
8 11 o’clock in the evening; I have to go to P. Wiens’s to stand watch at the seed grain.
10 Worked all day making the harnesses smal ler so they fit our skinny horses again.
14 Good Friday. Fr. Quiring preached. Text: „It is finished.“ Lovely service.
15 We read the last of the Passion Week sermons in the book, „The Lamb of God.“ Very serious and inspiring sermons; we read one every evening this week, and sang appropriate songs. It was a beautiful and blessed week and hope it had its effect on our children.
16 Easter, and my birthday. I was awakened by Renate and the children singing for me in the adjoining room, and then the children all recited poems for me. I received so much love. Then the children hunted Easter eggs and all, including the servants, received little presents. The joy was writ ten on their faces. The girls went to church and Renate and I went to the funeral of P. Janzen. We stopped at L. Penners for lunch. Everything is deteriorating, the rooms are empty because their furniture was confiscated last winter. Horses are skinny, cows give no milk, all animals sick. After the funeral we went straight home because visitors were coming to celebrate my birthday.
21 Our girls, the boys, and two workers pulled last year’s sunflower stalks in the field to prepare it for seeding
23 Uncle Franz Wall came; said he had nothing. I gave him two measures of flour, and also the same to widow Franzen.
24 Community meeting: we were told that everybody had to report the exact number of acres seeded and how much grain had been used for seed. Offenders will be prosecuted by the Revolutionary Council.
25 Went to Woskresensk where farmers were bartering their agricultural equipment for food. I got some too. A Russian who was with me said I gave too much; but it is pitiful to see these people almost give their belongings away just to stay alive. In the short time that I was there I looked at 25 machines; the highest price that was given for any of them was 200 pounds of grain. From the entire village only about three men are working in the field. Every day five to eight persons die.
26 The same experience every day: about 30 beggars come to our door. If we say they should work, they reply that nobody gives them work. When I give them work they take it gladly, sit down to eat first (and my oh my what such a poor person can eat!), and then they go to work. Often they have already disappeared an hour or two later. Nobody wants to work, but many can’t work because they are too weak and undernourished. But it seems to me that 95% don’t want to work, just beg and take advantage of the new situation with its motto, „Everything is mine!“ Tonight we fed 14 strange people. It is almost impossible to know what to do anymore.
30 Sunday. All went to church. For lunch the widow of H. Wall was with us; it is almost a year ago since her husband was shot and killed by the Revolutionary Council. She seems to have a strong faith in her Lord.
1 All our feed is gone; we just have straw left.
2 Started to plow, but the poor horses can hardly pull.
3 Community meeting: the order is to seed all the grain we have. But we can’t. In the first place the horses are too weak, and in the second place we don’t even have enough land. We are so helpless! The little bit of land that we had here in Lysander hoeh was taken away from us! When, oh when, is all this going to change?
4 We went to fetch the threshing machine home, but the horses were unable to pull it all the way. We left part of it half way, on the road. Came home at one a.m. I did the chores and now it is three o’clock in the morning.
7 Went to Pokrovsk in matters of the A.M.R. relief supplies. I took our Lenchen (Helene) along to have an eye-specialist examine her eyes. I had taken along 35 lbs of butter which I sold for 800,000 rubles. Went to the dentist to have 3 fill ings done and my teeth cleaned. Cost six million ruble.
9 Went across the Volga to Pokrovsk to com pare records with the office of A.R.A. Spoke with a Mr. Ellingston. We soon discovered that we had not received our share of certain supplies, such as beans, sugar and cocoa. For May we are to receive 1,300 dollars worth of relief supplies. I also discov ered a so-called „Food Draft“ for $10 issued for me in my name. The person who sent us that is a certain C. Regiehr, totally unknown to me. Have no idea how he got our address. Went to the market to buy a few things but everything is very expensive. Wanted to buy a pair of pants for me, but they asked 20 million rubles for them. I didn’t buy, of course. I’ll take my old suit, which is too big for me now, and have the tailor alter it to fit. That will
cost no more than 6,000,000 rubles.
10 Discovered at A.R.A. that there were eleven more Food Drafts there. I authorized the people in charge to pass these relief supplies on to the Men nonites in Saratov.
14 Distributing the relief supplies was an enormous job this time. Up until three a.m. and then again from nine to eleven o’clock. We heard that my brother-in-law, Joh. Mathies, has not returned from a trip to Koeppental. He was ordered to take a police officer there. Everybody is con cerned. The whole village is out looking for him.
15 Distributed relief supplies. No trace of Joh.Mathies.
16 Distributed supplies until 11 a.m., then Abr. Bergmann and I went to Hohendorf to help search for Joh. Mathies. On the way we heard the news that the people from Hohendorf and fifteen persons from Lysanderhoeh, including our girls and a workman, had once again searched the fields around Koeppental and found him. Leni Hamm had found him, beaten to death in a wheat field. We both went to my parents-in-law at once. How awful to kill a man for the sake of two horses.
17 Funeral of Joh. Mathies. I am so sorry for him. He was a congenial person. His family is very sad.
19 Brother-in-law Joh. Isaac and I walked to Waluevka; never saw a picture like this before. All the fields are uncultivated, none are seeded, grow ing with weeds and grass. And even the grass, not ten percent is being cut.
20 Went to Waluevka to cut grass, make hay.
22 The grass-mower broke. It was too heavy for those poor skinny horses. So we mowed with scythes.
2 I was in school for the examination. Teacher and students did good work; except that I think they ought to do a bit more in mathematics. I like our school.
7 Once again we had to report how much we had seeded. I also reported to A. Miller in Moscow about the A.M.R. distribution here. It got late again, two a.m.
31 Stopped writing in the summer, but I want to catch up now. There was grass, we could have made hay, but the horses were too weak to work. . .We received a telegram from Miller in Moscow that he wanted to visit us. He and C. F. Klassen, the representative of A.M.R., came on July 8 in the evening. Joh. Penner came over too. The gentlemen took a bath, ate supper, we dis cussed plans for tomorrow, and soon after that went to bed.
Next morning after breakfast I discussed all the business about the relief supplies with Miller. Around noon Franz Quiring came over. In the afternoon we went to Medemtal. Miller took pic tures along the way, especially in Orloff, where the grasshoppers were so plentiful that a fence looked black, completely covered by them. At 4 o’clock we were back. Wiens came over too and at 4:30 the meeting began. We sang a song, Franz Quiring made a speech, there were expressions of thanks from the central administration and the teachers. Then Miller spoke briefly and Klassen reported on conditions among the Mennonites in Russia and also talked about his and Peter Froese’s activity in Moscow. The meeting was closed by singing another song.