The Michael Lang Letters
Letter 16


      Now we began to sell the things we could not take along although the money was almost worthless on account of inflation. We could purchase very little for it. My wife had packed the clothing that we could not take along in a large box and had entrusted it to one of our neighbor in case we should return. So did all the others. Our house we gave to our second brother.

      Now that all was in readiness for the journey, we went to the priest and told him we should like to go to confession and Holy Communion before we started. Immediately he said a Holy Mass for us and preached a fine sermon besides he prayed with us and gave us his blessing and said “Go in the name of God the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost”. The next morning all the families of the village assembled with the wagon. We drove the horses slowly in hopes that God would send us his angel to accompany us. We drove slowly but it was a hard pull because there the streets are not paved like in America but are dirt roads and after a rain they were so muddy that we had to wait until they had dried again. It was already September of the year 1921. As most of the people could neither write nor speak Russian they asked me to be the leader and I agreed. We were often deterred by the Communists who examined us to make sure that we were no spies but they always permitted us to continue our journey. At night we had to guard the horses closely so that they would not be stolen. Stealing was so common. Once we entered a village. I was at the end of the line, suddenly I saw several women coming out of the village weeping. They said to me, "The Communists want to send all of us back” I said “Slowly we will arrange that”. I went to where the gentlemen were. They were the village council the so called Soviet. It was necessary to speak Russian. If I asked him what was the matter? They said, “There are too many coming into our city and we have not enough food for our people, therefore you must go back where you came from. I said to the chairman, “What do you th1nk?” We sold everything at home, and now we should return? That would be death of us?” He spoke to the others asking them what to do about the matter. I told him beside we do not intend to stay in your city but are going to the German boundary. After considerable consultation he told one of the policemen to take us out of the village and then let us go our way. This was done. Then the women felt better. After we had traveled about a month and a half we met two other families who had also had twp wagons and who also were Volga Deutchen but from another village. They told it would have been better to go to the Polish border where some of our people had crossed over and received a good price for their horses and wagons. We all agreed to go south to Polish\ border because it was growing colder and we thought if we go south it would be warmer and better for us. We drove as far as the city of Kursk where we arrived at the end of October. We had traveled 500 miles and we would have to travel 500 more before we would reach the border. It was already very cold and we had not feed for the horses. We decided to remain there and to arrange to go by train. But that was not wise so we settled beyond the city limits in a forest much of which had been destroyed by fire. We let the horses graze on the land and we lived in our covered wagons. We gathered the stumps or the trees that had been burnt down, loaded them on a wagon and took them to the market where we sold them and bought bread and other food for the money we received because conditions were better here then they had been at home.

I looked up the city officials and told the Commissar that we were many people living outside the city. It was cold and we had no dwelling places. They quizzed me as to where we came from and where we wanted to go. It was a long story so I went to them every day. After about 2 weeks they found a large house into which we all moved. You can image that was not a house well furnished or supplied with stoves. Oh no, our beds consisted of benches made of boards on which we lay by turns one after another little and big. We cooked out of doors in the yard. That was better at least than out in the forest on the wagon. Every morning we went to the office and begged the Commissars to assist us to get to the boundary by train. They said they could not do that, they would have to have orders from the central office in Moscow. To receive the order they would have to send someone to Moscow to obtain it and that would cost much money. Very well I said we will give you the money. But he said do not give me the money here in the office but outside, about 500000 rubels. Money was very cheap so when I returned to our people they were happy that I had been able to come to such an understanding with the Commissars. We reckoned how much each person would have to contribute and each family brought its assigned amount to me. The next morning I again went to the Commissar I said to him, “I have the money here”. He said to me, “You go out side with me when I go and I will take the money". I did so. He said “I will send a man at once to Moscow to get the order”.



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