Wartime Rationing in 3rd Reich

Discussions on every day life in the Weimar Republic, pre-anschluss Austria, Third Reich and the occupied territories. Hosted by Vikki.
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Annelie
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Re: Wartime Rationing in 3rd Reich

Post by Annelie » 09 Aug 2008 17:03

Hello Vikki,

I am going to ask my Mother this question , she is wondering why all these questions :)
She cannot believe anyone would be interested in such things, her philosophy of which she lives
is "keep looking forward - don't look back". She says for most part she put many things out of her
mind and some she wishes not to remember or repeat. For many whom lived those years its
a good way to live but of course later generations "Want to know"

She is presently visiting Europe for a month but when she comes home I will be sure
to ask.

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Re: Wartime Rationing in 3rd Reich

Post by Jon G. » 09 Aug 2008 18:56

Vikki wrote:That is my sense of the situation too, Annelie, from reading period civilians' accounts. Those levels of calories may have been officially allotted to civilians depending on their classifications, but the question is how much of those amounts they were actually able to obtain...


One way of examining if people actually got what their ration cards entitled them to is by looking at the black market - if the black market deals mostly in the buying and selling of ration stamps, then it is safe to assume that the public in general got their rations' worth. However, if the black market deals in the rationed commodities themselves, then that's a sign of lower food stocks than expressed by ration entitlements.

IIRC Tooze somewhere in Wages of Destruction maintains that the black market accounted for c. 1% of the food market in 1940, and about 10% in 1944. Sorry for the imprecise reference, I don't have the book with me right now.

Ordinary rations were supplemented by home-grown vegetables (as everywhere else), and also by domestically raised animals such as rabbits, known as 'balcony pigs' by a cute euphemism. Later, when meat rations were further reduced, balcony pigs were supplmented by 'rooftop rabbits', known to us as domestic cats.

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Vikki
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Re: Wartime Rationing in 3rd Reich

Post by Vikki » 09 Aug 2008 20:03

Thanks, Annelie, I (and others I'm sure) would be most interested to hear your Mother's memories of rationing, both of food and clothing--or any other subjects.

Best regards,
~Vikki

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Re: Wartime Rationing in 3rd Reich

Post by phylo_roadking » 09 Aug 2008 20:06

Jon, I'm not sure how precise an indication this would actually give - for instance, meat ration entitlement is ONE thing...but when you got to the shops its X number of points, or weight of whatever is available. "Meat" in the form of offal products, or for example in the Uk "brawn"...with an ever decreasing amount of real meat in the aspic...is going to be FAR more available than quality meat and cuts - and there will always be a blackmarket for a decent sirloin or T-bone! :lol:

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Re: Wartime Rationing in 3rd Reich

Post by Vikki » 09 Aug 2008 20:18

Jon G. wrote: One way of examining if people actually got what their ration cards entitled them to is by looking at the black market - if the black market deals mostly in the buying and selling of ration stamps, then it is safe to assume that the public in general got their rations' worth. However, if the black market deals in the rationed commodities themselves, then that's a sign of lower food stocks than expressed by ration entitlements.
That's a very good point, Jon. I'm more familiar with clothing rationing at the moment, having just been reading on that subject. And with clothing rations, I remember at least one account of ration cards simply being given away, as lack of goods made them practically worthless. I'll have a look to see whether food ration cards were thought of in the same way.




Jon G. wrote:...rabbits, known as 'balcony pigs' by a cute euphemism. Later, when meat rations were further reduced, balcony pigs were supplmented by 'rooftop rabbits', known to us as domestic cats.
8O

:lol: :lol: :lol: !

Not laughing at the poor cats, but at the euphemisms. This reminds me of Parisien's great stories of "supplementing" food rations in Occupied Paris, and of politely referring to Civet de Chat (cat stew) as Civet de Lapin (rabbit stew):
Parisien wrote: Mother & Dad were strolling along the Luxembourg Garden in spring 1943.
Motor traffic was practically restricted to German and Official vehicles. Suddelnly a German car came speeding and crashed into a slow flying pigeon; the bird was send reeling on the sidewalk. My mother told me how everybody around young and old Bourgeois and Proles, Men & Women, my Father included rushed to bag the Fallen Pigeon. The birdie was snapped by a very noble looking gentleman carrying an umbrella. He swifly opened his umbrella and made the Meat disappear in it and walking in his dignified went away.

A friend of my parents was working as a charwoman in a hotel opposite the Train Station Austerlitz. The hotel managers had a huge castrated cat, this animal was a pain in the neck: he used to poop under the Guest's beds. The charwoman caught him in the act under a bed and gave him a strong stroke with her broom. Mahleur! she got the shitter on the nose and he droped dead on the spot. She carried the dead cat in her apron passing in front of the reception and went to neighboours of my parents with the cadaver. The lady was so happy to get a "Rabbit" that she invited Dad & Mom to partake their meal. The next sunday Twelve persons were invited to eat a very GOOD Civet de Lapin!! Mom told me Cats bone are sharper than Rabbit's one and she & Dad enjoyed. But after the war she shyed from renewing the Experience !!

Dad told me that some people who had balconies used to catch Pigeons with mouse trap. Food was an obsession for most Parisians only the richest could get enough of it on the Black Market.
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 74#p555974

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Re: Wartime Rationing in 3rd Reich

Post by Jon G. » 09 Aug 2008 20:25

Jon, I'm not sure how precise an indication this would actually give - for instance, meat ration entitlement is ONE thing...but when you got to the shops its X number of points, or weight of whatever is available. "Meat" in the form of offal products, or for example in the Uk "brawn"...with an ever decreasing amount of real meat in the aspic...is going to be FAR more available than quality meat and cuts - and there will always be a blackmarket for a decent sirloin or T-bone!
That would depend on how (eg.) the meat category was specified on ration stamps and if accumulating X points would entitle you to a side of sirloin or whatever at the store. If you could 'save up' for a choice cut of meat, you'd be more likely to trade in ration stamps on the black market, whereas if there was no meat at all to be had, then you would be more likely to trade for the commodity itself on the black market, weighing your preferences against availability, the size of your wallet, and the powerful disincentive of draconian anti-black market laws.

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Re: Wartime Rationing in 3rd Reich

Post by David Thompson » 09 Aug 2008 21:30

phylo wrote:
Jon, I'm not sure how precise an indication this would actually give - for instance, meat ration entitlement is ONE thing...but when you got to the shops its X number of points, or weight of whatever is available.
There is considerable anecdotal evidence suggesting that the sexual adventures of urban butchers hit an all-time high during times of rationing.

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Re: Wartime Rationing in 3rd Reich

Post by phylo_roadking » 09 Aug 2008 22:45

Did I mention sausage???..... :lol: :lol: :lol:

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Re: Wartime Rationing in 3rd Reich

Post by Vikki » 10 Aug 2008 15:54

David Thompson wrote:There is considerable anecdotal evidence suggesting that the sexual adventures of urban butchers hit an all-time high during times of rationing.
Now those are some personal accounts that I really want to read, David! :lol:

Best,
~Vikki

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Re: Wartime Rationing in 3rd Reich

Post by Vikki » 10 Aug 2008 16:29

Jon G. wrote:
phylo_roadking wrote:Jon, I'm not sure how precise an indication this would actually give - for instance, meat ration entitlement is ONE thing...but when you got to the shops its X number of points, or weight of whatever is available. "Meat" in the form of offal products, or for example in the Uk "brawn"...with an ever decreasing amount of real meat in the aspic...is going to be FAR more available than quality meat and cuts - and there will always be a blackmarket for a decent sirloin or T-bone!
That would depend on how (eg.) the meat category was specified on ration stamps and if accumulating X points would entitle you to a side of sirloin or whatever at the store. If you could 'save up' for a choice cut of meat, you'd be more likely to trade in ration stamps on the black market, whereas if there was no meat at all to be had, then you would be more likely to trade for the commodity itself on the black market, weighing your preferences against availability, the size of your wallet, and the powerful disincentive of draconian anti-black market laws.
I've posted a few ration cards below that show meat and other rations on them. The first two are an adult Grundkarte (basic ration card) and an Ergänzungskarte (supplemental ration card) that goes with it from 1945. The third is a Reichsfleischkarte for children under six years. The two meat coupons on the Grundkarte are specifically for 100 g. pork or 80 g. lard; the more numerous meat coupons on the supplemental card are simply titled "Fleisch" (meat). I don't recall having ever seen a ration card in which cuts of meat were specified, and most of them simply say "Fleisch". I suppose that means that when you got to the butcher's, you could ask for whatever type or cut you wanted. But especially toward the end of the war, you probably would have gotten whatever could be had.

The mechanics of using the ration cards precluded you from "saving up" points. The cards are dated with the specific dates they're good for (usually one month), and you were supposed to hand the whole card to the butcher or baker for them to clip off the correct coupon to make sure that you were using a card that was valid for that date.
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Re: Wartime Rationing in 3rd Reich

Post by David Thompson » 10 Aug 2008 17:20

Vikki -- You wrote:
Now those are some personal accounts that I really want to read, David!
Unfortunately, I didn't write them down. When I was a kid back in the '50s, Army officers' wives used to get together to play card games (typically, "Bridge" or "Cribbage") or would gather to help out in the kitchen at cocktail parties. The subject of WWII rationing and butchers came up perhaps 10-15 times in discussions which I overheard, usually as a sort of eye-rolling girls' conversation. Just mentioning the subject would typically produce 2-3 anecdotes. The German "war brides" and the American wives (then in their early to mid-30s) had some pungent comments on the problem in both Germany and the US, as well as other wartime shortages (like men).

I had completely forgotten about the conversations until I saw this thread. These frank discussions never went on if there were menfolk present. I heard them only because I had sharp ears, and was just 8-10 years old at the time.

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Re: Wartime Rationing in 3rd Reich

Post by phylo_roadking » 10 Aug 2008 20:20

Vikki - the same problems also apply to ANY product that could be adulterated; we all know the anecdotes about the spiralling content of sawdust asn other materials in bread, for example - and a heavy, rye-based bread is far more open to that than a white, wheat-flour loaf that's supposed to rise, not sit turgidly at the bottom of a baking tin....like admittedly British home-grown wheat did during the war, because it was just so poor in quality, But that's a whole different issue from adulteration.

Here's a question; I'm far more acquainted with British rationing - was tinned meat freely available in Germany on coupon only??? Corned beef etc was available in Britain off the ration.

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Re: Wartime Rationing in 3rd Reich

Post by Vikki » 10 Aug 2008 22:21

Hello phylo,

I'd assume tinned meat would have been available only with a ration card in wartime Germany. For example, the row of coupons down the right side of the Kinder Fleischkarte are for "Fleisch oder Fleischwaren"--Fleischwaren being "meat products".

In fact, I'm not sure about the availability of tinned meat products to civilians. The authorities at the time had strict prohibitions and published lots of propaganda against hoarding, and tinned food is hoardable.
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Re: Wartime Rationing in 3rd Reich

Post by phylo_roadking » 10 Aug 2008 22:29

Certainly in the UK the variety of same wasn't great LOL - most citizens of a certain age either love or HATE corned beef and/or Spam! I had assumed "meat products" was offals, brawn, wurst, things like that...

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Re: Wartime Rationing in 3rd Reich

Post by nondescript handle » 10 Aug 2008 23:27

phylo_roadking wrote:[...] I had assumed "meat products" was offals, brawn, wurst, things like that...
Feischprodukt is simply meat that is "processed" in any other way than simply cut by knife: minced meat, smoked or cured meat, sausages of all kinds, patties, and, yes indeed, canned meat.

Regards
Mark

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