Starvation of Germany after World War II

By John Wear

Published: 2019-05-25

Allied Policies Force Starvation

Capt. Albert R. Behnke, a U.S. Navy medical doctor, stated in regard to Germany: “From 1945 to the middle of 1948 one saw the probable collapse, disintegration and destruction of a whole nation…Germany was subject to physical and psychic trauma unparalleled in history.” Behnke concluded that the Germans under the Allies had fared much worse than the Dutch under the Germans, and for far longer.[1]

Normal adult Germans in the American and British Zones were rationed only 1,550 calories per day. The average official calorie ration for Germans in the French Zone was only 1,400 per day. The actual calories received in the American, British and French Zones were often far less than these official amounts, and it was well known that these official ration amounts were not sufficient to maintain a healthy population. Herbert Hoover told President Truman that “the 1,550 ration is wholly incapable of supporting health.”[2] Hoover estimated that 2,200 calories per day “is a minimum in a nation for healthy human beings.”[3]