The owners of the clock were the Neufelds. But the 1917 October Revolution, which led to the founding of the Soviet Union, took a financial toll on the Neufelds. In 1921, famine hit their own and surrounding villages. Entire households died. To make matters worse, suspicions escalated towards people who practised religion and towards German-speaking communities. Faced with fear of deportation to labour camps, they applied for exit papers in secret in 1929.