Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Additions to the MP Third Edition – Engineered Famine

Starvation is not the dramatic thing one so often reads and imagines... of people in mobs crying for food and falling over in the streets. The starving... those who are dying never say anything and one rarely sees them. They first become listless and weak, they react quickly to cold and chills, they sit staring in their rooms or lie listlessly in their beds... one day they just die. The doctor usually diagnoses malnutrition and complications resulting therefrom. Old women and kids usually die first because they are weak and are unable to get out and scrounge for the extra food it takes to live. It is pretty hard for an American who has lacked enough food to become ravenously hungry perhaps only once or twice in a lifetime to understand what real starvation is.

Steven Bela Vardy and T. Hunt Tooley, eds. "Ethnic Cleansing in Twentieth-Century Europe" ISBN 0-88033-995-0. Chapter by Richard Dominic Wiggers, "The United States and the Refusal to Feed German Civilians after World War II" p.282,283

         In January 1946 34 U.S. senators petitioned that private relief organizations be allowed to help Germany and Austria. They stated that the desperate food situation in occupied Germany "presents a picture of such frightful horror as to stagger the imagination, evidence which increasingly marks the United States as an accomplice in a terrible crime against humanity." Council of Relief Agencies Licensed to Operate in Germany https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_of_Relief_Agencies_Licensed_to_Operate_in_Germany

         In Steven Ambrose’s , Eisenhower and the German POWs, Professor James F. Tent claimed, “By the spring of 1947, and thereafter to the end of the military occupation, the number and variety of supplemental programs expanded to the point that some observers asked with only slight irony if there were any normal consumers – that is, those consuming 1,550 calories per day – left in the British and American zones.”    Tent appears to be saying that the food crisis was over by 1947.  Yet, the same text includes a photo of seven German infants “picked at random” from a Catholic hospital in Berlin in various stages of malnutrition dated October 1947.

Seven German infants picked at random from sixty such cases at the Catholic Children's hospital in Berlin show malnutrition in various stages.  October 25, 1947 National Archives photo no. 111-SC-292762

         Military Government border control also played a role in contributing to the famine conditions.  Col Stanley Andrews relates how in the summer of 1945 nothing passed through the Italian-Austrian border without “the most elaborate set of permits.”  In mid-July he learned that an estimated 300,000 head of sheep moving toward the Austrian border had been stopped at the border.  “The dry grass and even water on the Italian side was soon gone and here were sheep likely to die of starvation. Some shepherd families had passbooks showing that some member of that family had moved sheep into Austria each summer for centuries. Nevertheless, under the allied rule these passbooks were useless and considerable chaos among sheep and people was rapidly developing.” (The Journal of a Retread)

A U.S. intelligence survey by a German university professor reportedly said: "Your soldiers are good-natured, good ambassadors; but they create unnecessary ill will to pour twenty litres of left-over cocoa in the gutter when it is badly needed in our clinics. It makes it hard for me to defend American democracy amongst my countrymen."

Nicholas Balabkins listed several products that were not available under the Military Government’s rules:

Neither the Italians nor the Dutch could sell the vegetables that they had previously sold in Germany, with the consequence that the Dutch had to destroy considerable proportions of their crop. Denmark offered 150 tons of lard a month; Turkey offered hazelnuts; Norway offered fish and fish oil; Sweden offered considerable amounts of fats. However, the Allies disallowed the Germans to trade.
Balabkins, Germany Under Direct Controls, p. 125

Col. Stanley Andrews, related how, “In Scandinavia, tons of fish were being transformed into cow feed and fish meal because the normal markets for fish had not been allowed yet to open in Germany. (The Journal of a Retread)

         On May 27, 1947 William Clayton sent a memo to Under Secretary Dean Acheson stating "millions of people in the cities are slowly starving." http://digicoll.library.wisc.edu/cgi-bin/FRUS/FRUS-idx?type=goto&id=FRUS.FRUS1947v03&isize=M&submit=Go+to+page&page=230  American attitudes gradually began to change.  This was illustrated by General Frank Howley in his book Berlin Command.  Howley arrived in Berlin on July 1, 1945 as the head of the military government detachment.  He recorded, “We went to Berlin in 1945, thinking only of the Russians as big, jolly, balalaika-playing fellows, who drank prodigious quantities of vodka and liked to wrestle in the drawing room.  We know now—or should know—that we were hopelessly naive.
         Howley relates a story about a hunting trip in Barbizon, France prior to his assignment to Berlin.  In December a wild sow was shot.  She had two “little ones.”  A “softhearted G.I.” picked them up and brought them to him and he decided to keep them as mascots.  They named them the Smith Brothers although one of them was female.  “They were fed with milk, from bottles with nipples, and proved a good morale factor.”  They were carried to Berlin where they lived for two years in a converted garage.  They eventually grew to three feet high.
         One day the Sergeant in charge of the pigs heard a “frightful squealing.”  He found a German clubbing the sow.  Attempts to revive her failed and she passed away and was buried “with military honors.”  After this “tragedy” the other pig became uncontrollable and was reluctantly barbecued.  This is a very touching story.  However, it should be pointed out that infants were dying of starvation not to far from where a pig was buried at the Colonels headquarters.  
         Howley was promoted to Commandant of the Berlin garrison on December 1, 1947 and Brigadier General in March, 1949.  He departed Berlin in August 1949.  He took his duties seriously and endeared himself to the Berliners.  They name a street after him in gratitude.

         Professor James Tent attributed Clay’s opposition to relief agencies working in Germany to his “distaste for carpetbaggers.”  Thus, the Catholic Relief Services, Unitarians, Mennonites and others relief agencies were categorized as “carpetbaggers.”   However, it appears that Clay was following official policy that had been established by the government leaders.  Freda Utley claimed, “No one of German race was allowed any help by the United Nations. The displaced-persons camps were closed to them and first the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) and then the International Refugee Organization (IRO) was forbidden to succor them.”  Giles MacDonogh reported, “The San Francisco Conference at the end of 1944 made it clear that German expellees were exempted from international aid.” 

         Displaced Persons (DPs) were, despite the “food shortage,” provided with sufficient rations.  In fact Lieutenant Colonel Jerry Sage testified before a Congressional Subcommittee on Immigration that the diet proved to be more than sustaining.  He claimed that, “by July 1947, the average DP in the U.S. zone of Germany weighed 2 percent more than the army considered healthy.”           

         All of the occupation policies can be rationalized to one extent or another.  However, there is one policy that cannot be justified under any circumstance.  It is alluded to by General Clay,  "Hunger was to be seen everywhere and even the refuse pails from our messes, from which everything of value had been removed, were gone over time and time again in a search for the last scrap of nourishment."    The question is, who removed "everything of value" from the refuse pails?  Was it removed by the starving or was it removed by military personnel in order to keep it out of the hands of those starving individuals?  Giles MacDonogh claims, “It was American policy that nothing should be given away and everything should be thrown away.”  He states that when the Americans discovered that someone had raided their refuse they “were more careful after that.”  Charles Lindbergh recorded, "German children look in through the window. We have more food than we need, but regulations prevent giving it to them.  I feel ashamed of myself, of my people, as I eat and watch those children. They are not to blame for the war. They are hungry children. What right have we to stuff ourselves while they look on - well-fed men eating, leaving unwanted food on plates, while hungry children look on. What right have we to damn the Nazi and the Jap while we carry on with such callousness and hatred in our hearts. 
It was not only the military that was well fed.  James L. Payne reported that German taxpayers were paying for “one ton of water bugs to feed a U.S. general’s pet fish.” http://www.independent.org/pdf/tir/tir_11_02_03_payne.pdf

This engineered famine is often attributed to a world like food shortage.  Yet Steven Ambrose quotes President Truman’s Secretary of Agriculture, Clinton P. Anderson, as saying, “Fortunately for this country and for the world American farmers produced record crops of both wheat and corn again in 1946.” ( Steven Ambrose, Eisenhower and the German POWs, p.109.)

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