Original Letter [PDF]
Moskau, the 6th of June 1934
Dear Uncle Josef!
Before all else, I beg you to pardon me for my lengthy silence. Almost four years have elapsed, since I last sent you my letter. I at that time gave up letter writing, because I never so much as even once received an answer to any of my letters—except for those which I still wrote to you from Marien. Four years ago, our governing bodies were still hostilely disposed toward one another; so that, as a very likely consequence, the exchange of letters was restricted. Today the relationships are wholly in the opposite direction. The hostile attitude has turned into one of friendship, and, I think, that now also more freedom in the matter of the mutual exchange of letters has come about.
Now I want to share with you some details concerning my personal suffering and misery, and to ask you to assist me to the extent that you can. As long as a man is healthy and able to work, he is cheerful and enjoys life. However, should his good health leave him, he becomes dejected, and life loses for him its beauty. That is now the case also with me. I am presently in a desperate situation. Matters are that I am afflicted with and suffering from a frightful liver condition, a condition which baffles even the best of doctors and experts. My liver is so swollen that, from top to bottom, it has expanded to 18 centimeters, and laterally takes in almost the whole body. My stomach and intestines are shoved to the side and toward the bottom. Moreover, the right kidney has been squeezed out of its place, so that there is complete confusion in my innards. I have been suffering from this infirmity since 1930. To begin with, I felt a slight pressure about in the middle of my body under the chest cavity. The pressure increased constantly, and the liver widened steadily. At first, the doctors expected to find stomach cancer. And yet, examinations and analyses from every angle yielded no trace of the presence of cancer. Now the conviction is that it is a case of Echinokokkus. That is a kind of condition, where undeveloped tape-worms form around the liver a kind of cyst on which hundreds of small tape-worms sit. Although, given this suspicion, even the most diverse investigations through vaccinations, X-rays, and blood analyses have not proved it to be a case of Echinokokkus, the conclusion is, nevertheless, that it really is a case of that. I have been examined thoroughly. Spine marrow, blood, urine, stools, spittle: all have been analyzed. Still, as of today, it has been impossible to determine the actual source of this sickness. The sad part of all this is that just this spring tuberculosis was discovered in both of my lungs, a sickness that just two years ago had not yet touched me. I am so without strength and exhausted that I am tired even when doing nothing. Since I am now incapable of working, I have been relegated to the status of an invalid. This gives me a monthly grant of support of 69 rubles. True, this is more than nothing at all, and I would gladly exchange this support for 5 American dollars—in doing so, I would make a good gain! Since the doctors now recommend to me a better diet, which, unfortunately, I am unable to allow myself, given my income and that of my wife, I burden you, dear Uncle, with the request that you help me out with a few dollars. I know that this will be difficult for you this year; since, as our newspapers report, you are suffering from a severe drought, which, to a large extent, has whipped out the whole of your harvest.
Perhaps my aunt, godmother Elizabeth, too, can share a little with me. If, in that case, she were able to send me a postal money order with S—l----k [=???], I would be most heartily grateful to you. If our son, Eugene, who only now finished trade-school, will find a job and earn enough to support himself, then my need also will be eased. Our daughter, Leokardia [“Lion-hearted”!!], is married. She has a good husband, who earns quite well. Still, since she is not a wage-earner, she cannot help me. From my brothers and sisters in the South [=Odessa area. He’s writing from Moscow] I rarely receive letters. My mother is presently living with my sister, Margarethe, who, with her family lives in the former Don region. Her husband works there as a teacher. During the winter, mother was very sick and lay almost constantly in bed. However, she is now better and able to move about. Not far from Margarethe lives Katarina. Her husband also is a teacher. My sister, Mina, and Theobold live and work in the one-time Kubern region. My brother, Hironimus and my sister, Florentina, live in Neu-Danzig, not far from Neu-Karlsruhe. Florentina is the worst off. Her husband was ousted from a “Kulak,” so now they are raising hogs on a property belonging to the state.
Now a few words about the weather. Throughout April and May we had the most beautiful summerlike weather. It was even hot, and the dryness caused also here not a little damage. The last days of May and up to yesterday we had, almost throughout the whole country, cool and rainy weather. This got the planted fields somewhat back on their legs and eased the fear of a total crop failure.
For this time, I want now to close. Greet for me and mine your whole family and Aunt Elisabeth along with her family. Warmest greetings also to all the rest of the relatives.
With heartiest greetings, your nephew
Johannes RennerMy address is now: Moskau, 75, 1. Ostankinskaja, 18/9, Qu. 24. Joh. Renner In Russian