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Grasshoppers of 1934 - A. M. Wiebe Farm.

Credit: W. J. Kehler

estates of orphans and widows, but by the 1920's they had also become lending institutions. They accepted deposits and issued loans at interest rates comparable to other Canadian banks. Unlike banking institutions, however, no securities were needed for loans other than promissory notes signed by two reputable church members." With this policy almost all money on deposit was loaned out. In 1921 the Bergthaler Waisenamt had all but $312.20 of $1 ,267,078 out on loan," and by 1924 the Sommerfelder Waisenamt had $1,072,000 out on loan. to This lend­ ing practice could not survive the depression of the 1930's, when depositors panicked and tried to withdraw their money. The Waisenamts with few cash reserves and too many uncollectable loans, were unable to repay their depositors and went bankrupt.

... . The losses incurred by these bankruptcies shook the entire com-

munity. While some gained by not having to repay old debts, many lost their life savings. Four hundred and twelve creditors of the Bergthaler Waisenamt lost a total of $508,099.91 and approximately nine hundred creditors of the Sommerfelder Waisenamt lost $560,674.54. Eventually the Sommerfelder did recover over half of their losses while the Bergthaler recovered 10 per cent. II These figures clearly illustrate that the churches were in no financial shape to come to the aid of debt ridden farmers. In fact, the churches had difficulty meeting their own budgets.

As the depression worsened quite a few families in Rhineland were unable to feed or clothe their families and turned to the municipality for relief. This relief program was made possible by the Unemployment

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