Clothes Rationing


Figure 1.--.

Rationing is today generally associated with World War II. The War required such a gargantian national effort on the part of the principal combatents that it was necessary that everybody did what was in their power to support the war effort. World War II was not, however, the only time that rationing has been employed. It has been used many times before and after. There was rationing in old War I. Many counties continued rationing several years after World War II. There was extensive rationing in Communist countries because of persistent shortages of consumer goods. Cubans even in the 2000s are issued ration booklets.

World War I

We have little information about rationing in World War I at this time. A Polish reader tells us, "I have found rationing cards for shoes issued in 1918 during World War I. They were issued in Warsaw which was part of the Government General formed in Polish areas seized from the Russians. They were for school children and students. I haven't found any other example of cards for shoes during World War I so I consider them very unusual." Concerning the World War I cards for shoes in Warsaw, Polish municipal authorities under German occupation authorized the manuacture of shoes initially for low-wage munipal workers and later for the poorest youngsters going to school and universities. Shoes were distributed with ration cards of four kinds (colors). Shoes were distributed with those cards up to June 1918 and may be a little later.

World War II

The War required such a gargantian national effort on the part of the principal combatents that it was necessary that everybody did what was in their power to support the war effort. The most prominent way most countries accomplished this was by rationing. Rationing was a method used by the government to ensure that everybody was able to receive equal amounts of raw materials. This way, enough material was used for the war effort, but the public could still have access to these items. To circumvent rationing and price controls, World War II black marketeers traded in clothing and liquor in Britain and meat, sugar, and gasoline in the United States.








Christopher Wagner





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Created: June 16, 2002
Last updated: June 21, 2002