Letters about German-Russians  Pre-Revolutionary 1918

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Pre-Revolutionary Letters


Letter from Mark Welskopf :  e-mail :  mwelskopf@yahoo.com  [new - Jan 2001]
Horstchik, 12-25 January year of 1916

Our Beloved Son and Daughter-in-Law

After such a long time passing I wish to write somewhat to you, although I do not know if you are all alive there, sometimes it happens that someone writes from America, and I receive it the same year, but I havenÕt received anything throughout the whole war, only for Christmas I received one letter from Fred Clerk (?) from Dakota, who wrote in detail about his wife, he writes that they are having a hard time now because of this W.1 But truthfully I did not write this year either. Last year I asked the Chairman and he said not to write this year. I can see that it goes through censorship and that is why we cannot receive the letters from you and you from us. We are still alive and healthy, those who are at home, and the war is not close to us, but one can hear the cannons since the beginning of October, some time it was so noisy that we were terrified to sit at home. But both of our boys were not taken at the beginning of the war and they have had it quite well. He was in the army fort and in Germany last winter, but not for long, and he was already twice home, and we hear he is alive, but we do not hear anything about Gustav. 2 He was taken this October, trained for 6 weeks and taken away to war. When he got there, he wrote home for us not to worry about him, that he was feeling happy, believing in God, who had it in his fate like the sun of grace may it shine upon him and he is in his care. If GodÕs plan is such so he is going and he is not bound to the world. But it has been 2 months that we have had any news from him and only God knows what is happening with him. Little Otto has grown and is as tall as I am, he is 17 years old. He wanted to go after you so much. But he has learned the shoemaking trade in Horoszki but now it has turned so bad that we can only count on God, that some time it will at last all end, but even he will be called upon, maybe in Spring because they take only from 18 years of age. The girls have grown up healthy and pretty, only mother is weak, and may not be able to survive these hardships. God has cured me from my illness and I can eat everything and it tastes good to me but I am still weak. If it will happen that in Springtime we will be in the same place or I will be left alone, but I do expect that it will be otherwise, you can now know how unsettling my life is but I am thankful to God that I have survived these hard times up till now and there are people who live till 65 years of age. They have sent the German families from Horstchik, the only ones left are the ones who have sons in the war, and our Mazurs 3 have also secured this right but it cost us dearly. Because the Mazurs are from a different nationality not from German. The Germans have been taken all over far Russia and Siberia where the climate is different and many of them have already died. In December they have taken from Horstchik in Zytomierski Ujezd the remaining boys from 16 years of age and they have been keeping them for 3 weeks now, but they have not taken ours to this day, everyone sold everything almost for free and is waiting for harder times. They did not allow to sell the potatoes under the penalty of flogging, it was to be all kept for the army and if someone did not leave it he was to undergo torture unless some changes will occur. Last summer we were ready to leave a few times, carriages, horses, clothing, linens all packed, cattle sold, only two cows were left and now that is all we have. Each one got an authorization that he is leaving into Northern Russia with so many family members, let us hope that it will all stop as the front has stopped past Sarny.4 Nowadays everything costs a lot- bread and cattle, and feed for the cattle especially, cart of hay- 30 kopeek, bushel of oats-7, rye-10-11. Meanwhile on the way Angus Hartwich and Gustav Slezak have died, and those Szreers in our village from bullets which they got 5. Very many of them are in captivity, when they were passing I could not recognize them. I am going to end this writing to you my beloved, and I am asking to please bow down from us to all our acquaintances when you get this letter, especially to our brother-in-lawÕs and your uncles Wills (?). Gustav Tutas and Nikelecz and their families, Groszka is still alive and not sick but are already weak, and G. Tutas of whose illness I wrote to you feels better. Write back to us as soon as you receive this letter as it does take 2 months. From the bottom of my heart bows from us all, may God help all of us, so that we may see each other if not in this world then it the other one with God.

Loving you till the end

M. Welskopf 5

Send our greetings to Kostrzewa-Gott.



1. W.- War

2. Boys were taken not at the beginning of the war but later.

3. Mazury- historical and ethnographical area in the north of Poland. In the early Middle Ages it was inhabited by the tribe of Prussians, who were conquered by the Teutonic Knights in the years 1233-1238, who destroyed them completely. The territory of the old Prussian homesteads was then called Monastic Prussia, and after the secularization of the Teutonic Knights (1525) -Principality of Prussia. The rule over Prussia was in the hands of the Hohenzollern princes, who were the vassals to the kings of Poland up until the Principality of Prussia connected with Branderburg (1618) to create Prussia. The current Mazury, as the Eastern Prussia, were at that time a province of Prussia. Prussia was mostly inhabited by the incoming Poles, mainly the Mazovian peasants, who kept their language, culture and religion. At the time of the increasing Germanization in the 19th century the Germans tried to erase the awareness of the Polish origin of the local people, calling them Mazurs. A new name appeared for the Eastern Prussia- Mazury. The attempts at Germanizing the people were met with resistance.

4. They lived in the time of great war turmoil. First World War begun in 1914 and the Bolshevik Revolution begun in 1917, therefore this area of the world was under great chaos from many sides which resulted in many deaths.

5. The signature bears M. Welskopf, not W. - the letter M is significantly different from the letter W.

Notes from the translator:

This letter was written in the Old Polish language with Mazurian dialect and a few Russian words. The old style of writing, which did not cultivate punctuation, was difficult to restore in such a manner that would relate the original in the best possible fashion in the Modern Polish Language. The sentences were very long, did not use commas or full stops, sometimes related to the writer in third person. Some thoughts of the writer were purposefully hidden. The translator made every effort to preserve that original form as well as possible. There were a couple of places where the original text was missing as a result of paper tear, therefore those words were either composed from context or completed on the basis of the writing style of other words.

Note on the historical background:

In the 1930s as a result of the Communist oppression and confiscation of all food and cattle from peasants in the Ukraine over 10 million people died. Cannibalism was reported.

I, the undersigned Malgorzata Pasternak-McMurry, herewith certify that I am a professional translator residing at 432 Curraghmore CT in San Jose, California, that I am competent in the Polish and English languages, that I am qualified to translate attached

letter from Polish to English, that such English translation is an accurate, true and complete rendering of the Polish original to the best of my knowledge and belief.

Malgorzata Pasternak-McMurry

GRHS Lecture 2001

         sym      Hein. Genealogy            gr rose




Hubert Sym



Schweikert Genealogy