Wartime Rationing in 3rd Reich

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Jon G.
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Re: Wartime Rationing in 3rd Reich

Post by Jon G. » 18 Aug 2008 10:57

Right, here are the promised numbers, posted with some delay due to the recent denial-of-service attacks against the forum's servers.

From Richard Overy via The Oxford Companion to the Second World War p. 461, here are average German weekly rations for bread, meat and fats for selected months. All figures in grams.

Code: Select all


BREAD
Sep 1939  free*
Jul 1940  2,400
Apr 1942  2,000
Oct 1942  2,125
May 1943  2,412
Sep 1943  2,475
Oct 1944  2,525
Feb 1945  2,225
Mar 1945  2,225
Apr 1945    900

MEAT
Sep 1939    550
Jun 1941    400
Apr 1942    300
Oct 1942    356
May 1943    437
Jan 1944    362
Mar 1944    362
Feb 1945    156
Apr 1945    137

FATS
Sep 1939    310
Jun 1941    269
Apr 1942    206
May 1943    215
Jan 1944    218
Mar 1944    218
Jan 1945    156
Feb 1945    156
Mar 1945    190
Apr 1945     75
*I'm not sure if Overy is correct that bread was not on ration at the outbreak of war - AFAIK, total rationing was introduced at the moment war broke out.

Mora data mined from Martin Kitchen's entry-level book Nazi Germany at War p. 80-83:

Average meat rations were 700 grams/week per consumer, cut back to 400 grams/week in 1941. Rations were further reduced in 1942, with meat cut back to 300 grams/week, fat reduced from 269 grams/week to 206 grams/week, and bread from 2,250 to 2,000 grams/week. Particularly fruit was particularly in short supply due to a very bad harvest in 1940. By 1945 - Kitchen is annoyingly imprecise with dates - bread was down to 1,700 grams/week, meat stood at 250 grams/week, and fat at 125 grams/week. Kitchen mentions that 'in many instances' the supply of food was insufficient to even meet those reduced targets. Also note that Kitchen's figures don't match completely with Overy's.

However, rations were increased in October 1942, following a particularly good harvest that year. On the 19th of that month, rations were increased by 50 grams/week for meat, and 250 grams/week for bread. There was also a special Christmas ration which included of 500 grams of flour, 200 grams of meat, 125 grams of butter, 62.5 grams of cheese, 250 grams of sugar, 50 grams of coffee and half a bottle of spirits.

Kitchen mentions in passing that, in 1943, you had to turn in 5 kilos of bones before you could be issued with a soap ration coupon - however, there rarely was any soap against which the coupon could be redeemed.

Extra rations were entitled for special occasions - namely 150 grams of meat, 50 grams of butter, 200 grams of either bread or flour, and 100 grams of sugar, along with 'modest amounts of other scarce goods', for up to twelwe guests, for people celebrating weddings, iron, silver, gold and diamond anniversaries - but no extra rations were allowed for more religious ceremonies such as baptism, first communion and confirmation. Kitchen writes that there some people decided to get married simply for the extra ration entitlements.

The increased meat rations introduced in October 1942 of course aren't directly related to the bumper harvest of that year - but at the same time occupied Ukraine was peaking from an agricultural exports perspective. According to Hans Potgiesser, in Die deutsche Reichsbahn im Ostfeldzug p. 74, occupied Ukraine exported 1,471,808 tons of agricultural goods by rail to Germany in the 4th quarter of 1942. In the same period 613,900 pieces of cattle were also exported to Germany. Oil seeds (sunflower seeds & similar, which are used as animal fodder and for making margarine) made up a large proportion of Ukrainian food exports. In the same period the occupied Ukraine provided 2,400,980 tons of agricultural produce for use in the east, while another 557,192 tons of agricultural produce was sent east from Germany in the 4th quarter of 1942, making the net German gain from Ukrainian food exports about 300,000 tons/month and 204,000 pieces of cattle/month for the final three months of 1942 - a not insignificant contribution.

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Re: Wartime Rationing in 3rd Reich

Post by phylo_roadking » 18 Aug 2008 12:41

Jon, TWO questions arise out of that...

First - do you know of anyone providing the KCal count equivalent to those ration totals per month?

Second -
Oil seeds (sunflower seeds & similar, which are used as animal fodder and for making margarine) made up a large proportion of Ukrainian food exports. In the same period the occupied Ukraine provided 2,400,980 tons of agricultural produce for use in the east, while another 557,192 tons of agricultural produce was sent east from Germany in the 4th quarter of 1942, making the net German gain from Ukrainian food exports about 300,000 tons/month and 204,000 pieces of cattle/month for the final three months of 1942 - a not insignificant contribution.
Not Insignificant - but as we know from other threads in other sections of the board - a lot of Ukrainian agriculture produce simply rotted at railheads for want of rail cargo tonnage to move it in 1942 as rail timetables were rejigged to to provide tonnage supporting the military. So that figure of "produce for use in the East" - is that total produced i.e. yield....or was it tonnage delivered i.e. making it to its destination?

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Re: Wartime Rationing in 3rd Reich

Post by Jon G. » 18 Aug 2008 13:02

Some details about calorie averages are upthread, here: http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 1#p1236581

Potgiesser's totals are definitely for tonnages delivered.

Whichever food went to waste didn't rot away at the railheads - by mid-1942 the worst of the rail crisis in the east was over, and the overall capacity of the railroads in the east was on the rise while the needs of the Wehrmacht were easier to meet - from a railroad point of view - in 1942 than they had been in 1941.

Rather, the problem was in finding enough trucks, fuel, wagons and horses, in roughly that order, for transporting produce to the railheads. In order to solve that problem, a 'special plenipotentiary' for goods deliveries was appointed on August 8 1942, and c. 1,400 kms of light railroads had been built by the summer of 1943 for moving goods from roads to rails, with another 1,600 kms under construction.

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Re: Wartime Rationing in 3rd Reich

Post by phylo_roadking » 18 Aug 2008 14:01

A while back I was reading through a mountain of material on the WWI Blockade of germany, and one thing I've noticed is - the figures often quoted in discussions if THAT subject differ from figures used in discussions of rationing, food plundering etc. in WWII.

I don't meant TOTALS such as "tonnage of grain imported/exported" were different - for of course they were - I mean the same measures and materials don't seem to be focused on. For example - much is made in the WWI debate of the amounts of animal fodder being imported by germany, and how this dropped, Germany always being a very great net importer of fodder from Holland, Denmark etc. In WWI, not only were the Germans EATING meat as in WWII....in WWI there were considerable and increrasing problems through the war of actually RAISING livestock.

As part of this I've always seen FIRST World War figures for -

Tonnage of home-produced fodder and fertilisers vs. imported
Number of livestock animals slaughtered in Germany - and how this declined
Average and total weights of carcasses - and how THESE declined
% fat and meat per carcass - and how these varied...or just declined
figures for leather goods' production (obviously the no./type of livestock animals butchered for meat ALSO feeds (sic) into this figues...)

Do we have figures for THESE 1939-45?

Obviously - although it wasn't bought and paid for as "international" imports/exports as per WWI when coming from Holland and Denmark, for example - there should be figures somewhere on the actual tonnages moved into Germany.

Another figure I'd like someone to route us to - or even tell us they exist or not...is figures for dietary diseases and illnesses, and the instance of debilitating illnesses/deaths from same by age during WWII?

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Re: Wartime Rationing in 3rd Reich

Post by Jon G. » 18 Aug 2008 14:47

That's a rather tall order, phylo. Even if we can find numbers for fertilizer imports, number of animals butchered, average weight of animal carcasses and so on, we wouldn't be able to compare them directly - for one thing, the Germans occupied a larger part of Europe in WW2 than they did in WW1, so they could lay their hands on more of Europe's ressources. The price for that was paid by occupied Europe to varying degrees, most easily read from the different ration sizes; that is, in general western Europe was better off than eastern Europe. in this context, it's important to remember that Europe as a whole was a net food importer, unlike today.

There was also a general move away from raising meat cattle and pigs towards growing grain instead as part of the nazi effort to achieve autharchy in everything, also food production. The result might well be (although I don't know) that 1944 Germany consumed less meat than 1917 Germany, despite being overall better fed.
phylo_roadking wrote:...Obviously - although it wasn't bought and paid for as "international" imports/exports as per WWI when coming from Holland and Denmark, for example - there should be figures somewhere on the actual tonnages moved into Germany...
Many such figures float about on the web and on this site. I gave some figures for Ukrainian exports in the 4th quarter of 1942 above. It would be nice, though, to see a total figure for requisitioned/imported food from occupied areas into Germany and hold them against figures for German production.

Regarding figures for dietary diseases and illnesses etc. I haven't seen any precise numbers - but then part of the reason for introducing rationing in the first place is to avoid that. Overall, disease was on the rise during WW2, but disease tends to spread more easily during war - instances of STDs, dysentery and, especially, typhus, rose during WW2.

Still without any precise numbers to go on, I've seen it asserted* that average infant weights at birth dropped too, especially in eastern Europe - which seems entirely plausible because eastern Europe was worse off in terms of food rations.

In the Oxford Companion... p. 724

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Re: Wartime Rationing in 3rd Reich

Post by phylo_roadking » 18 Aug 2008 15:35

Even if we can find numbers for fertilizer imports, number of animals butchered, average weight of animal carcasses and so on, we wouldn't be able to compare them directly - for one thing, the Germans occupied a larger part of Europe in WW2 than they did in WW1, so they could lay their hands on more of Europe's ressources
This is my point - we HAVE figures for 1915-19 for the Blockade, relating to the slaughtering of carcasses, animals sold for butchering etc,. INSIDE Germany. But I've never seen similar for WWII. The important thing is "INSIDE Germany" - for apart from what Germany itself produced, somewhere someone will at the time have been accounting for imported livestock or carcasses; it's whether or not we still HAVE those records or have them compiled anywhere that's moot at present.

Regarding the occupation of Europe compared to WWI - the point is...the animals or meat still have to be transported into the German ration system; THAT'S the "choke point" where everything will have been counted and accounted for. Germany as we know CAN be measured and regarded as a "separate" rationing system from other countries under Germany occupation...

And so the interesting thing would be - in WWII DID the easier tranpsorting of foodstuffs, fodder etc. INTO Germany mean there is ANY direct correlation with the amounts of meat in the ration amounts mentioned above? Which are of course a LOT higher - except in 1945 - than the figures allowed under WWI rationing? So given that there's a difference in the WEIGHT of meat available under rationing - is it IN PROPORTION to the greater and wider sources available to Germany.... or not? I.E. IS there a direct and proportional correlation between the "ration" amount and a greater amount coming across the German borders from elsewhere?

In THIS aspect - the issue of private imports, plundering people sending food home etc. - can be discarded...because all THAT is OUTSIDE the official system. Somewhere we should - if the records still exist - be able to look at

Official totals on meat produced IN Germany
Official totals on meat coming from OUTSIDE Germany

...THEN be able to look at ALL calls on that official "pool" - meat going into the civilan rationing system, going the military supply system, going OUT again to occupied countries (if there was any, that is) - from inside Germany...

...and see if the variations in the meat ration DIRECTLY reflect any variations in the supply INTO the system. In other words -

Code: Select all

MEAT
Sep 1939    550
Jun 1941    400
Apr 1942    300
Oct 1942    356
May 1943    437
Jan 1944    362
Mar 1944    362
Feb 1945    156
Apr 1945    137
...are the fluctuations up AND down in there in terms of meat available to individuals DIRECTLY reflective of fluctuations in the supply of meat INTO the rationing system...?

That's what I mean about the black market, food sent home etc. being unimportant in terms of GOVERNMENT management of food stocks; we have an "official" figure in the sample of the meat ration at one end of the system....and I can't see why, given the German government could account for it in WWI down to individuals carcasses...that we shouldn't SOMEWHERE have totals for meat and animals INTO the start of the system for WWII.

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Re: Wartime Rationing in 3rd Reich

Post by Jon G. » 18 Aug 2008 16:46

phylo_roadking wrote:...
...are the fluctuations up AND down in there in terms of meat available to individuals DIRECTLY reflective of fluctuations in the supply of meat INTO the rationing system...? ...
I should think so, if Potgiesser's figures are anything to go by. But that is a somewhat, well, unexceptional conclusion to draw I think. After all, more food in the pipelines should denote higher rations, all other things being equal. For example, Göring's October 1942 speech promising higher rations coincides nicely with the good harvest that year, and the increased deliveries of Ukrainian produce and cattle in the same period. Just as October rations for various years could tell us something about whether is was a good harvest or not.

I don't know to which degree Nazi/German authorities managed to interpose themselves between food producers and food consumers. I'm still digging around for an article I read a couple of years ago, according to which the Gauleiter of a rural German distrcit (Hesse? I forget) attempted to introduce a ban on farmers butchering their own pigs - a measure which turned out to be so unpopular that he had to drop it again. Once I come across the article I'll post the relevant excerpt here.

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Re: Wartime Rationing in 3rd Reich

Post by phylo_roadking » 18 Aug 2008 16:54

But that is a somewhat, well, unexceptional conclusion to draw I think. After all, more food in the pipelines should denote higher rations, all other things being equal
Yes - the normal conclusion would be unexceptional - but it would be intersting to prove that, and see if the increase in the ration was in proportion to the increase of meat in the country...? :wink: And was it due to increased domestic production, or increased imports?

And if it's increased domestic production - do we see any previous increase in fodder imports?

One thing I'd like to know - is how the weight of meat in the system matched number of animals slaughtered during the war i.e. were more thinner animals butchered to get the same amount of meat into the system...as in WWI?

Also - IF we can get figures for domestic livestock production and slaughtering...can we get matching figures by year for levels of manpower in agriculture???... :wink:

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Re: Wartime Rationing in 3rd Reich

Post by Vikki » 19 Aug 2008 04:55

Jon G. wrote:*I'm not sure if Overy is correct that bread was not on ration at the outbreak of war - AFAIK, total rationing was introduced at the moment war broke out.
Bread was rationed from the beginning of the war, though it's the one item that firsthand commentaries speak of as being in fairly abundant supply (even if quality was later lowered).

Potatoes--the mainstay of the German diet at the time--were the only major commodity not rationed from the start. And after a poor potato harvest in the fall of 1941, due to a very wet summer and unusually cold autumn, ration cards for potatoes were issued in April 1942.
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Re: Wartime Rationing in 3rd Reich

Post by phylo_roadking » 19 Aug 2008 15:11

And after a poor potato harvest in the fall of 1941, due to a very wet summer and unusually cold autumn
Was is as bad in percentage terms as the crop failure of 1916???

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Re: Wartime Rationing in 3rd Reich

Post by Vikki » 19 Aug 2008 16:16

I think I remember Howard Smith (cited above) saying the official estimates given out were that five per cent of the potato crop had been lost, but that according to his contacts in the Food Ministry, the actual figure was closer to thirty per cent.

To illustrate how important they were as a mainstay of the German diet, Smith also mentions some interesting anecdotes about the use of potatoes before and after rationing of them began. He says that before the poor potato harvest of 1941, restaurants were compelled to post signs offering second and third helpings of potatoes at no charge in order to make up for the reduced portions of other foods served. After the autumn of 1941, restaurants were directed not to peel potatoes, as the Food Ministry figured that could waste as much as fifteen per cent of the product.

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Re: Wartime Rationing in 3rd Reich

Post by phylo_roadking » 19 Aug 2008 17:05

...the official estimates given out were that five per cent of the potato crop had been lost, but that according to his contacts in the Food Ministry, the actual figure was closer to thirty per cent.
Interesting...

As I posted in http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... &sk=t&sd=a on the WWI British Blockade -

...followed by the catastrophic failure of the 1916 potato harvest in Germany itself. Only twenty-five million tons were produced instead of fifty million tons. Because of this failure, turnips became the country’s principal staple, and shortages of milk and meat became increasingly acute as forage supplies dwindled until they almost disappeared; each day saw the civilian ration being reduced. As for my anecdote not being factual - an American reporter in Berlin, George Schreiner, reported -
Food had become the irreducible minimum. Not alone was the quantity on hand barely sufficient to feed the population, but its price could no longer be increased if the masses were not to starve for lack of money instead of lack of food
Agricultural imports from Neutral Holland replaced some of this, but it meant that the Dutch produce wasn't there as an EXTRA in the food supply, but was "wasted" compensating for the lack of domestic produce that year in just "topping-up". 1916 saw soup kitchens and communal kitchens being established in most towns and cities. Also - the huge grain stocks that Germany began the war with in west German silos ran out in 1916
Now - this was the result of a 50% failure. 1941 saw a 30% failure - but apart fropm more austerity measures, as described above, and potatoes being put on the ration ...that was it...?

So - is there any sign in available records on agricultural produce entering Germany and the German rationing system in 1941 of imports RISING to make up for any of the 30% shortfall as Dutch imports did to an extent in 1916?

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Re: Wartime Rationing in 3rd Reich

Post by Jon G. » 19 Aug 2008 17:55

From the essay Nazism, Modern War and Rural Society in Wurttemberg, 1939-45 by Jill Stephenson, printed in the Journal of Contemporary History, vol. 32, no. 3 (July 1997)

Stevenson examines relations between the Volk and the NSDAP in rural, and relatively backwards Württemberg during the Nazi era. She frequently touches subjects relevant to this thread - the image of farmers employing every possible dodge to avoid centralized rationing regulations is probably the same everywhere. But for purposes of this thread, I think it's instructive that Nazi authorities never achieved the same degree of control over food production and agriculture that eg. the Soviets had.

Not that they didn't try, according to Stephenson:
Image

...and, just as an example, an illegal pig syndicate operating in Rottweil in 1942:
Image
Image

Stephenson emphasises that barter to a wide degree was the norm in the less-developed countryside, which large parts of the Württemberg demographic belonged to - and despite the authorities' efforts, barter continued to be normal also after full rationing had been introduced.

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Re: Wartime Rationing in 3rd Reich

Post by Vikki » 20 Aug 2008 07:37

Jon G. wrote:
...There were also periodic animal censuses, and attempts to control and monitor the numbers of live and slaughtered farm animals in villages and on individual farms. In particular, there were stringent regulations to restrict the slaughter of livestock, so that only limited amounts of meat would come on to the market at a time, to prevent the possibility of an immediate superabundance being followed by a severe shortage.

...In the Rottweil case, leading members of the illicit slaughtering syndicate included the Bürgermeister and the local Reichsnährstand official. The former was the officer responsible for granting certificates giving permission to slaughter and registering the weight of the slaughtered animals…
I remember being amazed when I first saw the document below (a permit for/registration of the home slaughter of animals), that food regulations reached (or attempted to reach) so local a level as control of the slaughter of individual animals.

Control presumably would have been much more difficult in rural areas, particularly, as Stephenson points out, since barter was a part of the normal way of life there. Other sources I’ve read indicate that barter became common in urban areas as well, as a way of dealing with increasingly scarce resources and the rationing system.
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Re: Wartime Rationing in 3rd Reich

Post by Jon G. » 20 Aug 2008 08:49

Vikki wrote:I remember being amazed when I first saw the document below (a permit for/registration of the home slaughter of animals), that food regulations reached (or attempted to reach) so local a level as control of the slaughter of individual animals.
Very intriguing document. I agree with you that attempted is the right word to use in connection with authorities' control measures for home slaughter. The header of the document warns its holder that skin & fur of the slaughtered animal must to be handed in - and then the carrot of a leather prize (hmm...) is mentioned in return for handing in pigs' hides. In other words, public control of private slaughter apparently didn't extend any further than the issue of a permit.
Control presumably would have been much more difficult in rural areas, particularly, as Stephenson points out, since barter was a part of the normal way of life there. Other sources I’ve read indicate that barter became common in urban areas as well, as a way of dealing with increasingly scarce resources and the rationing system.
Farmers were offended at not being able to slaughter their own animals when they wanted to, instead having to seek a permit as the one you posted. It's indicated in Stephenson's essay that monitoring authorities - the SD and various NSDAP agencies - tolerated unlicensed home slaugther and various barter to a certain degree. The relatively mild (for Nazi Germany) Rottweil sentences perhaps support that point.

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