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History 2S03 Lecture October 25.docx

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Martin Horn

History 2S03 Lecture October 25 Compare Germany and Britain – the economic powerhouses of each side and both lasted the entire war Germany is largely self-sufficient before the war – enters the war in a good position Export potatoes and rye Import fish Food supply deteriorates rapidly Why? - Choices made by the German government – should have continued putting labour, capital, and raw materials into the agricultural sector – those resources withdrawn - Labour taken to fight on the front – not replaced by nearly enough female labour - Horses are necessary for agri productivity – German army needs horses too – requisitions horses and doesn’t replace them - Fertilizers – needed to make explosives – shift away from fertilizers for agriculture in order to make artillery - German agricultural productivity falls What do they do? - Hindenburg programme – dramatically expand the armaments sector – exacerbates situation in agricultural sector - Rationing begins - 3.5 kilos of potatoes a week .7 litres of milk per week 160-220 grams per week 1 egg per week if available 8 oz of the “spread” - Food increasingly adulterated – worsening quality - German population living on food at or below subsistence level - Potatoes and turnips widely available - Some groups don’t suffer as much as others - Farmers are in reasonable shape - Army gets generally large amounts of food - Rich people – black market - 1918 – the army so hungry - Those on a fixed income ie pension suffer - The urban working class suffer – no family in country side - The middle-class suffers – no connections to country side or money for the black market The Allied blockade - Starts to work – makes matters worse - 1917-1918 combination of drop in quality and quantity – 250 000 Germans die of malnutrition German government failed Do the British do any better? - At the start, British were, in theory, much worse - Free Trade made more reliance on importing food - Meat from Argentina - Grain from North America - 1914 – calculated that out of every five slices of bread, four are made from imported grain - British acutely vulnerable to deprivation Britain controls the seas though - Britain can import – Germans don’t have this luxury - Late 1916 – situation is getting grim in Britain – Ministry of Food is set up - German submarine campaign starts to work What do they do? - Rationing - Decision to put more land into production for agriculture – opposite of Germans - 7.5 million acres of marginal land – provide labour to work it (women, POWs, released soldiers) - Released soldiers indicator of how serious the situation is - Devote fertilizers and tractors - 1918 – Britain is producing 40% more grain than it did before the war - S
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