** rationing








War Rationing


Figure 1.--This image of hungary people was taken somewhere in Easrern Europe during World War I. We are not sure jusr where, but we suspect the Austian-Hungarian Empire. This was a largely agricultutal country, but as a result as a long war and poor policues, serious food shortages developed. Only American food relief shipments prevented mass starvation.

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. Rationing had many purposes. First, rationing helped to focus available resources on wining thevwar. Second, it ensured that everypne was treated equitabl and bassic needswere met. Third, often not fully reported that for the Allies shipping was a if not THE major constraint. Rationing helped ensure that availablr shipping was allocated to the most vital purposes. World War II was not the only time that rationing has been employed. It has been used many times before and after. There was rationing in World War I. And many countries use various fotms of rationing to deal with evonomic failure. Some counties continued rationing several years after World War II. Britain was priimary exmple here. The Labour Party's push to scialism after World war Ii adversely affected the economy. And the Soviet Union and other Communist countries unlike the West did not expeience post-War economic miracles. Communism meant that consumer goods wrre permanentky rationed. 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

Military commanders throughout Europe expected a short war of sweeping movements as fought a century earlier in the Napoleonic Era. Most envisioned a conflict that would be won or lost in a matter of months. When this proved not to be the case World War I turned into a bruising contest of will and resources. While histories focus on campaigns and battles, it was the more mundane battle of production and effuicent use of resources that ultimately determined the outcome of the War. The Allies had superior industrial and agricultural resources and with control of the seas through the Royal Navy had access to the resources of the Dominions as well as America. The Germans to counter this eventually turned to unrestricted submarine resources. The U-boats, While initially effective, proved a costly gamble for the Germans. The British countered the impact of lost shipping with an effective rationing. Food became tight, but no one starbed. Unrestricyed submarine warfare also This brought America into war, irrevocably shifting the strategic ballance. Now Britain and France not only had access to Ametrican industry and farms, but could purchase war materials with loans that they would never have to repay. For Germany the situation was made worse by the inefficent use of available resources. Germany never introduced rationing. In addition because conscription had seriously reduced the rural labor force, farm prooduction declined. Unlike Britain, Germany also did not start using women to replace industrial workers in war industries.

World War II

World War II 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. The Germans sought to limit the need for rationing in Germany iyself by shipping large quantities of seized food in the occupied countries back to the Reich. This created food shortages and even starvation in the occupied countries. It was the children there that were most affected. The German occupation authorities used the rationing system as a means of controlling the civilian populations.

Socialist Economics

Some counties continued rationing several years after World War II. Britain was priimary exmple here. The Labour Party's push to scialism after World war Ii adversely affected the economy. And the Soviet Union and other Communist countries unlike the West did not expeience post-War economic miracles. Communism meant that consumer goods wrre permanentky rationed. There was extensive rationing in Communist countries because of persistent shortages of consumer goods. Cubans even in the 2000s are issued ration booklets.







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