Rationing in Germany

Discussions on every day life in the Weimar Republic, pre-anschluss Austria, Third Reich and the occupied territories. Hosted by Vikki.
D.Verfasser
Member
Posts: 33
Joined: 31 Oct 2009 05:00

Rationing in Germany

Postby D.Verfasser » 09 Nov 2009 13:30

Someone started a thread about life in Berlin. I initially posted this there but then thought that this was such a comprehensive subject that I would start a new thread. I deleted the old post since we're not supposed to double post.

This is a thread about food in Germany. Additions to this topic are always welcome.

As a trained chef, food has long been an interest of mine.

1) Fuel for heating and cooking: Many homes and apartments were heated with steam radiators that required coal burning hot water heaters. Houses and apartments typically had coal chutes. Coal (not to be confused with messy soot covered charcoal) would be slid down delivery chutes into the cellar and stoked into the furnace. Before automatic feed systems were developed, one stoked a furnace in the morning and the evening. I have no information on the wartime availability of coal to the civilian market.

Many kitchens had cast iron stoves and were fueled with coal or wood. During the war Tiergarten Park, a vast 630 acre park on the western side of Berlin was stripped of its forest. The wood was used for heating and cooking. Hitler Youth and members of the labor service harvested potato stalks to ship to a plant in Weimar where they were turned into fuel pellets. Gas stoves were also commonly available. In addition to convenience, most gas stoves also had an attached oven. Although electric stoves existed as early as 1890, they would not have been as commonly available as other stoves.

2) Ration stamps were issued to all civilians. These stamps were color coded and included rations for:
• Sugar (white stamps)
• Meat (blue stamps)
• Fruits and nuts (purple stamps)
• Dairy Products (yellow stamps)
• Eggs (green stamps)
• Oil
• Grains
• Bread
• Marmalade (In Germany the term "marmalade" also refers to jams and jelly - citrus products were generally unavailable during the war).
• Kaffee-ersatz (imitation coffee made from roasted barley, oats, and chicory mixed with chemicals from coal oil tar)

Food stamps were issued in 10, 25, 50, 100,and 500 gram denominations depending upon the type of food product in question. Civilian stamps were generally district specific and had to be used in the district in which they were issued. The stamps were only authorizations to purchase food. They did not entitle civilians to free handouts. Civilians had to buy food and submit the appropriate number of authorizing stamps. Soldiers on home leave were also issued food stamps. Theft of stamps was a criminal offense and typically resulted in a sentence at a forced labor camp.

The Allies played havoc with civilian morale by counterfeiting food stamps. Use of counterfeited food stamps initially resulted in a sentence to a labor camp. As the war went on, use of counterfeited stamps could result in a death sentence.

BEFORE May of 1942: civilian rations in Germany were:
• 10,600 grams of bread = 353.33 grams/day or 12.5 oz
• 2000 grams of general food stuffs / 66.66 grams per day or 2.3 oz.
• 900 grams of sugar = 1.06 oz. per day

AFTER May, 1942: rations in Germany were dropped to
• 8000 grams of bread (about a half loaf a day)
• 1200 grams of meat (less than a 10th of lb. of meat per day)
• 600 grams of general foods
• 130 grams of sugar

Not only were food stamps used to buy groceries but they were also used at restaurants. If you went to a restaurant, you had to take your stamps with you. In addition to taking your money, the waiter would have removed all of the stamps needed to produce the meal.

Some of the larger employers - particularly armament plants, would have had canteens for the convenience of their employees. Food quality and selection would have been very limited.

The advent of the war saw the development of various imitation food products. Margarine replaced butter. Overcooked rice mashed into patties and cooked in mutton fat became "ersatz meat." Rice patties mixed with onions and oil reserved from tinned fish became "ersatz fish." Flour for bread was stretched using ground horse chestnuts, pea meal, potato meal, and barley. Salad spreads were made using chopped herbs mixed with salt and red wine vinegar. Cooked nettles and goat’s rue were mixed as spinach substitutes or were used to eke out soups.

3) Black Market Operations: Food shortages resulted in a thriving black market. Nearly anything was available on the black market as long as you had the money to buy it or valuables to barter. Bread which cost 8 cents at local groceries before the war was selling for $200 a loaf at war's end in Berlin. After the collapse of the government, cigarettes became the unofficial currency and were worth 50 cents each. A fresh egg sold on the black market cost 4 cigarettes. A piano could be purchased for a whole carton.

4) Domestic farms: The Germans had their own equivalent of Allied "Victory gardens." They raised herbs and vegetables. As meat became scarce, they also raised rabbits. In many families, caring for the rabbits became the responsibility of the children.

5) Eyewitness stories by authors like Giesala Cooper, formerly Giesala Hoppe before she married a British soldier after the war, tell of officers in occupied areas who sent their families suitcases and even crates filled with luxury goods - fresh eggs, cheese, and chocolate.

6) Supermarkets as we know them today did not exist in WWII Germany. Grocery shopping was often time intensive. If you wanted meat, you went to the butcher. If you wanted bread, you went to the baker. Dried goods including canned food was available at the local grocers.

At the local grocery, products were generally stored on shelves behind the counter. Customers waited at the counter and told a clerk what they wanted. Since most merchandise did not come in individually wrapped consumer sized packages, a clerk had to measure out and price what you wanted. Grocery stores were not convenient for quick shopping and the use of ration stamps slowed the lines even more. Stores that employed many clerks to facilitate the speed of service would have had higher prices than stores with only one or two clerks.

Some grocers ran "Meat and Groceries." Although refrigerators and refrigerator display cases had been invented, they would have been rare. A typical grocer who had meat would have had an iced display case in much the same way that housewives could store food in ice boxes that were kept cool with blocks of ice. These ice boxes or display cases would have had a place for a large ice block and would have included a drip pan for melting ice. Meat would have been delivered by a local butcher. Some grocers would have also carried breads delivered by a baker or a wholesale supplier. Fresh produce would have been available during the late spring, summer, and early fall. Fresh produce was not rationed but was subject to availability.

Most German families DID NOT HAVE refrigerators let alone the ice boxes that were commonly found in the United States. Remember that Germany suffered from a massive depression prior to WWII. Most families shopped on a daily basis.

7) Meals:

Breakfast (Frühstück) typically included some type of bread: sliced bread, toast, and/or bread rolls with jam, marmalade, honey, and/or butter. Butter was substituted with margarine during the war. Citrus products would have been unavailable - so marmalade would have disappeared from the retail markets.

Eggs were also a common breakfast food though fresh eggs would have been hard to come by. Grocers sold powdered egg mixes.

Coffee was more popular than tea.

Deli meats (if you could find any) were eaten with cheese on bread, either as sandwiches or open faced sandwiches.

Lunch: Mittagessen The biggest meal would have been lunch. In wartime Germany, stews would have been popular because limited meat could have been eked out with thick sauces and vegetables. A relatively simple meal (from a Culinary perspective) could have been made with Spaetzle noodles topped with a cream sauce. With cream being unavailable, a housewife could have used thickened condensed milk - perhaps with grated cheese.

Dinner: Abendessen or Abendbrot was a smaller meal. It typically included bread with meat, sausage, cheese, and/or a vegetable. Sandwiches or open faced sandwiches would have been common, though bread with margarine, sliced cheese, and sliced sausage would also have been eaten.

ljadw
Member
Posts: 7751
Joined: 13 Jul 2009 17:50

Re: Rationing in Germany

Postby ljadw » 09 Nov 2009 17:31

Maybe two points :
1)the food rationing :the figures you have given are theoretical ones :in 1942 -1943 there were few Germans who could obtain these figures .
2)about coal for cooking and heating :in occupied Belgium,a family of 4 persons had a right on 150 kg coal a month (with one stove,this was enough for 15 days ),but these 150 kg was only theory and the quality of the coal was very bad ,in a lot of cases one could obtain only Schlamm(coal mixed with water ).

D.Verfasser
Member
Posts: 33
Joined: 31 Oct 2009 05:00

Re: Rationing in Germany

Postby D.Verfasser » 10 Nov 2009 00:04

ljadw wrote:Maybe two points :
1)the food rationing :the figures you have given are theoretical ones :in 1942 -1943 there were few Germans who could obtain these figures .


Your point is well taken. Having food stamps was not a guarantee that any rations would actually be available. The pre-war question of "What will I eat today?" was replaced with the question, "What will I be able to find today?"

A shortage of basic staples led to the creation of black market operations.

Nothing was really assured for the average citizen beyond one meal a day.

Citizens in metropolitan areas also suffered a great deal more than people in rural areas. Unless rural areas were close to military targets, they were largely spared the destruction of carpet bombing. Rural areas also raised their own food. A bartering system probably arose between various types of farmers. Even allowing for the existence of production quotas, dairy farmers for example, could have traded milk, cheese, and butter for meat, grain, and vegetables.

There were also wild plants to forage in the countryside. Edible tubers, mushrooms, plants, seeds, and fruit would have been available (subject to the time of year). Europe is second only to China in terms of plant biodiversity.

Plantains (the weed - not the banana), dandelions, syringa, honeysuckle, stinging nettles, foxtail grass, water mint, chicory, meal plants, corn spurry, willow weeds, and mushrooms were just some of the edible plants that could be found in the wild.

User avatar
Vikki
Forum Staff
Posts: 3295
Joined: 08 Jul 2003 01:35
Location: Amerika

Re: Rationing in Germany

Postby Vikki » 10 Nov 2009 02:41

Hello D.Verfasser, see the existing thread on rationing:

Wartime Rationing in 3rd Reich
viewtopic.php?f=46&t=141802

~Vikki

matt1985
New member
Posts: 1
Joined: 10 Nov 2009 07:34

Re: Rationing in Germany

Postby matt1985 » 10 Nov 2009 07:57

Very good !!

Marsprojekt48
Member
Posts: 35
Joined: 11 Jun 2011 20:19

Re: Rationing in Germany

Postby Marsprojekt48 » 12 Jun 2011 17:57

What were the most common foods that were grown in private gardens? Did they include beans? Was it necessary to add fertilizer?

Schnitzel
Member
Posts: 22
Joined: 21 Oct 2010 14:27

Re: Rationing in Germany

Postby Schnitzel » 14 Jun 2011 23:09

I am also a professional chef.
Thanks for a fascinating look into wartime Germany.

User avatar
Annelie
Member
Posts: 3939
Joined: 12 Mar 2002 02:45
Location: North America

Re: Rationing in Germany

Postby Annelie » 14 Jun 2011 23:18

Great name for an chef that is interested in German cooking. :D

User avatar
Helmut0815
Member
Posts: 500
Joined: 19 Sep 2010 13:13
Location: Lower Saxony, Germany

Re: Rationing in Germany

Postby Helmut0815 » 15 Jun 2011 17:46

D.Verfasser wrote:6) Supermarkets as we know them today did not exist in WWII Germany.


The first "super"market (tiny compared to present supermarkets) in Germany opened 1949 in Hamburg but closed some months later. The growth of the supermarkets in Germany began in the mid/end of the fifties.

D.Verfasser wrote:Grocery shopping was often time intensive. If you wanted meat, you went to the butcher. If you wanted bread, you went to the baker. Dried goods including canned food was available at the local grocers.


And there were little stores for dairy products and eggs, fishmongers and others. This was the shopping situation in Germany until the mid of the sixties when all these mom-and-pop stores ("Tante Emma Laden") vanished forever due to the rise of supermarkets and discounters. Only bakeries and butchers survived.

D.Verfasser wrote:At the local grocery, products were generally stored on shelves behind the counter. Customers waited at the counter and told a clerk what they wanted. Since most merchandise did not come in individually wrapped consumer sized packages, a clerk had to measure out and price what you wanted.


The Münster city museum has preserved one of these grocery shops in their exhibition. It is the Grocery of Franz Josef Henke, founded 1911, which existed til 1989, an outstanding long time for such a small business. It was only slightly damaged by allied bomb splinters during the war.

Image

http://www.muenster.de/stadt/museum/kabinette_27.html

Click on the second photo and drag with your mouse to get a 360° view of this little gem.


Helmut

Schnitzel
Member
Posts: 22
Joined: 21 Oct 2010 14:27

Re: Rationing in Germany

Postby Schnitzel » 16 Jun 2011 11:08

Annelie wrote:Great name for an chef that is interested in German cooking. :D

Thanks,
It's the first name I thought of when I registered.

Being a chef, I tend to look at people, places, and things from a Foodie's perspective and historic Germany is no different.
I connect by means of preparing a dish or two of whatever I am currently absorbed in, whether it be something that may have been served in Victorian London (while engrossed in a Sherlock Holmes novel) or the study of the Inter-war German era such as is done here.

My question is this.
Does anyone know where I might find a source of recipes served at Nazi State Dinners, or at Hitler's Berghof home?
Thanks.

Mark Evans
Member
Posts: 2
Joined: 02 Sep 2012 11:48

Re: Rationing in Germany

Postby Mark Evans » 02 Sep 2012 11:57

Hello D Verfasser/anyone

I'd like to use some of the material in D Verfasser's posts on my website. I will of course acknowledge the source and happy to post a link to other sites. Please contact me: info@MarkEvansAuthor.com

Thanks

User avatar
Svetlana Karlin
Member
Posts: 402
Joined: 17 May 2010 06:43
Location: Oregon, USA; Moscow, Russia

Re: Rationing in Germany

Postby Svetlana Karlin » 02 Sep 2012 22:27

There is an old thread on food in the Third Reich: http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=168161. After interviewing a few German friends about the typical foods in wartime/immediate postwar Germany, I posted some of my findings there. It is not strictly about rationing but about the types of food available at the time.
Scorched earth, scorched lives: http://svetlanakarlin.wordpress.com/

Mark Evans
Member
Posts: 2
Joined: 02 Sep 2012 11:48

Re: Rationing in Germany

Postby Mark Evans » 06 Sep 2012 11:18

Svetlana Karlin - thanks for that. Most helpful.

hellohelenhere
Member
Posts: 3
Joined: 06 Oct 2012 19:46

Re: requisitioning garden produce?

Postby hellohelenhere » 06 Oct 2012 19:52

I'm writing a short story based in Berlin, summer of 1944. I'd like to know the following.
Suppose a person has been arrested by the gestapo and their house left, for the moment, abandoned; and they have a crop of vegetables in their garden - what would happen to the vegetables?
Would anyone who took them be guilty of looting and subject to punishment? Would the house and its garden by impounded, and if so, by whom? Would the Reich Food Estate take the crop?
I'm wondering if it's possible for someone who has denounced their neighbour, to then help themselves to the arrested neighbour's potatoes.

Would be grateful if anyone has any idea about this.
cheers,
Helen


Return to “Life in the Third Reich & Weimar Republic”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: CommonCrawl [Bot]