This Week's Story: Food Rationing in Ettlingen 1915-1916

In 1914, food was already becoming scarce in Germany due to several factors. The increased needs of the armies at the Front, the lack of imports resulting from the disruption in trade, as well as the serious consequences of the War on agricultural structures, including the recruiting of the workforce into the army, all led to problems in food supply, particularly in urban areas, and to stockpiling of food.

The German government hoped to be able to regulate this food supply by defining maximum prices for bread and grain and by rationing eggs. Over the course of the War, a comprehensive system of foodstuff control was set up, which was expanded over the course of the next four years.

The photo on the left shows an Ettlingen ID card allowing the purchase of foodstuffs. The card must be produced and stamped before goods are bought. It is non-transferrable.

The first bread coupons were issued in several towns in February 1915. In November 1915, milk was rationed and in early 1916 potatoes. During 1916, statutory guidelines for meat and sausage coupons were introduced for the whole of Germany.

The photo on the right shows a booklet of 30 coupons for bread or flour for April 1915. It is issued by the Office of the Mayor of Ettlingen.

At the bottom right of the booklet. it states that it is a crime to sell the coupons.

These coupons are issued by the Community Association of Ettlingen and are for eggs and butter in 1916.

125 grams of butter can be obtained every two weeks.  Eggs can be obtained at the rate of one per week.

The other side of the ID card. Butter, eggs and lard have been stamped.

In the "Swede winter" of 1916/1917, the minimum amount of basic foodstuffs for the population could not be covered and famine became rife.

These coupons are issued by the Grand Duchy of Baden (the state in which Ettlingen was situated) and can be used to obtain meat from July through September 1916.

The government's food rationing measures attempted to ensure that the population had a minimum amount of basic foodstuffs, in order to keep them confident of victory and willing to fight. Unfortunately, the food itself was often not available and the coupons were worth nothing. Despite all the deficiencies, however, the state's rationing measures during the War and the immediate post-war years enabled millions of people to survive.

(Source of general information: Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin
(Source of specific information: Stadtarchiv Ettlingen)

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