Amalja (Comm) Kurtz
Life and Work
Amalja Comm was born on November 18, 1896, in Ludwipol, Poland. She was the second in a family of six children. The First World War found Amalja’s family homeless, frightened, cold and hungry. They were deported to Siberia for political reasons. After the war, the family returned to the farm in Poland, but the farm was in ruins. What a daunting task it was to start over.
Amalja married Emil Kurtz on June 7, 1922. They worked on rebuilding the Kurtz farm that had also been destroyed by World War I. When rumours began about another war, they decided to sell the farm, and immigrate to Canada. Their destination was Leduc, Alberta, where Amalja’s Aunt and Uncle had relocated. They immigrated on July 18, 1927, with their young daughters, Hildegard, who was three, and Antonnia, who was two months old. They travelled across Canada by train, and finally settled on a quarter of land eleven and a half miles west of Millet, in the Porto Bello district. Amalja and Emil welcomed a son, Walter, and four more daughters; Margaret, Elsie, Lily, and Eleanor, during their time on the farm.
Unbeknown to Emil and Amalja, starting to farm in a new land in 1930, turned out to be very poor timing. Those times became known as “The Great Depression”, and they were totally unaware that they would be experiencing the “Dirty Thirties”, which proved to be an ordeal for man and beast. Amalja worked alongside Emil on the farm, cutting out small roots with a grubbing hoe and pickaxe. She knew she had to be self-reliant in order to survive. Despite the fact times were difficult, the family was very grateful that they always had food to eat and they never went hungry. However, feeding a large family was a monumental and difficult task.
Amalja often stayed up late to spin wool and keep the fires burning. She knit long stockings for the girls as they only wore dresses to school. Also, mittens, scarves, sweaters and toques were knit. Tucked in their feather beds, the kids could still hear the whirling sound long after the spinning wheel had stopped.
It was important for Amalja to grow in her faith and nurture her family in faith. Attending church was a big part of their social life and gave them an opportunity for an outing. Upon its formation, Amalja became involved with the Lutheran Church Women.
Despite the hardships, Amalja was happy to be in Canada. There was always hard work, but the hope for her family to have a better life finally came true. Amalja came to an unknown country, accepting the difficulties and challenges of that time. She demanded so little for herself, and lived a life of perseverance, resourcefulness, selflessness and faithfulness.