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German History in Documents and Images
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Female Clerks in the Brunningen Grocery Store in Munich (1934)
Hitler believed that the catastrophic supply situation during the First World War had eroded the German people's will to fight and thus paved the way for defeat and revolution. Therefore, the pursuit of National Socialist armament policy was not supposed to affect the production of foodstuffs and consumer goods. In reality, however, industries that were important for war efforts quickly got priority over other production sectors. Contrary to the message sent by the propagandistic photograph reproduced below, everyday life in Germany before 1939 had already been characterized by rationing, price increases, and supply bottlenecks. For example, starting on January 1, 1937, butter, lard, and margarine were rationed. By the beginning of 1939, the consumption of fruit, coffee, eggs, bread, meat, and other foods was state-regulated. In many places, basic and luxury foods were only available on the black market, at high prices. After the war began, the systematic looting of occupied territories helped subsidize the German people's need for food and consumer goods. Photo by Hanns Hubmann.