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Germans on WelfareFrom Weimar to Hitler$
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David F. Crew

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9780195053111

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195053111.001.0001

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Hungry and Homeless in the Depression

Hungry and Homeless in the Depression

(p.166) Chapter Nine Hungry and Homeless in the Depression
Germans on Welfare

David F. Crew

Oxford University Press

During the Depression Germany experienced a decade long deterioration of nutrition. This was brought on by the wartime food shortages, the continuation of the Allied blockade after the armistice, postwar transportation problems, the dismantling of state rationing, and the effects of soaring inflation. Many Germans were forced to avail the “subsistence economy” for their food and other basic needs. Miners and their families had to grow their own food, some stole food while others relied on war kitchens. Doctors and nutritionists devoted a great deal of attention to the task of keeping people on welfare alive and healthy. Like food, clothing had symbolic as well as practical significance. Clothing was a sign of respectability. Welfare authorities were also concerned with the effects of homelessness on German families. Thus, critics of the Weimar welfare system saw the Depression as an opportunity to reverse social and cultural trends.

Keywords:   Depression, food shortages, Allied blockade, postwar transportation, state rationing, inflation, subsistence economy

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