Simon K wrote:
...as well as further allowances of cinnamon and cloves to flavour home made cakes -but no extra eggs,butter or flour to make them with. The newspapers, instead, printed recipies telling women how to bake cakes with no eggs and almost no fat
Anthony Read & David Fisher - The Fall of Berlin - Pimlico 1993. P71
Reduction of fats available to German civilians had begun in the mid-30s, and levels of most of them continued to be reduced throughout the war. The concept behind Goering’s 1936 “guns instead of butter” speech was already being put into practice well before the war began. But in fact, it wasn’t butter that was most drastically reduced; Richard Grunberger in The 12-Year Reich: A Social History of Nazi Germany 1933-1945
(p. 206) indicates that butter allocation remained a relatively constant 9kg per person per year from peacetime throughout the war, although with a ten per cent increase in price, and that the ration was even increased by ten per cent during the period of victories in 1940-41.
But margarine and other fats, typically consumed more often than butter by the lower classes, dropped steadily in both quantity and quality. Grunberger indicates that margarine was largely an imported product, and because of Germany’s policies of self-sufficiency, its consumption had already been reduced by the latter years of the prewar period to around 9kg per capita per year, similar to the allocated amounts of butter. However, its availability fell to around 3½ kg during the first half of the war and was further reduced to less than 3kg by the end of the war. Consumption of fats other than butter and margarine averaged 7kg in 1938, dropped to about three-quarters of that during the early years of the war, to 2¾ kg by the end of the war.
The 1943 Reichsfettkarte
below generally bears out the lower late war figures, with a ration of 200g of margarine per four-week period, or 2.6kg per year. 500g of butter was available per four-week ration period, with an additional 500g possible with the Bestellschein
, for a total of 6.5 – 13kg per year. (Interestingly, the back of the card has recipes for making soup and porridge from millet—using one form of ersatz to advertise another?)
Added to the reductions in the quantities of most fats available under the rationing system, both nutritional value and taste were undercut with the increasing adulteration of fats with lower quality vegetable products and chemicals. Howard K. Smith, who worked in Berlin for the Columbia Broadcasting System during the last half of 1941, after speaking of the decline in the quantity and quality of meat, comments on fats in his book Last Train from Berlin
It is not as easy to measure other foodstuffs. The quality of fats, for instance, is so elastic that its nutritive value can be reduced by dilution to a great extent before the change becomes perceptible—a device which the food ministry took full advantage of regarding cooking fats, lard, and oil. In the long run this can only be noticed by its bad effect on the health and strength of the people, which eventually made itself visible. But the fact that dilution was occurring became obvious before this effect set in, for the eastern front drained away already scare fats so quickly that swift and large reductions had to be made within a very short period, and the stage of perceptibility was entered early after the beginning of the campaign. I experienced it twice and had to abandon the relatively good meals of the Press Club on its own doorstep a few minutes after I had eaten them. After the second occasion, I began having my meals in my apartment most of the time, eating meat imported from Switzerland and butter from Denmark. On one occasion a German friend who ate this food at my table grew nauseated and ill because, she said, the fat was too rich and plentiful for her constitution after having survived on German fats for two years. The fact is, that the only decent fats in Germany are shipped off to the east for the troops. What civilian food is prepared with is a weak Ersatz, which is made by filtering restaurant rubbish in a special contrivance all restaurants have been forced to install in their kitchens. It is given some sort of flavour by the addition of chemicals.
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