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"How the Germans are starving Poland"

Polish Ministry of Information No. 58


Polish Fort Nightly Review  No. 58

Tuesday, December 15th, 1942 London


In the introduction to No.55 of the Polish Fortnightly Review we pointed out that German is pursuing different political and economic objectives in the various parts of occupied Poland, and that the methods applied by the respective German occupation authorities are also different, in accordance with the role which is assigned to the particular area. these differences are also manifest in the sphere of food supplies and in the food rationing system

Rood Rationing in the General Government:


The conditions of existence for Polish civilians living in the General Government are still worse than those in the "incorporated areas". This artificial creation, shut away behind unnatural boundaries arbitrarily imposed by the Germans, and cut off from the rest of the country, has as much less fertile soil than that of Western Poland. On the other hand, it has a much greater density of population.


Before the war the the area was unable to grow sufficient food to support its inhabitants, and had to make good the deficiencies by bringing in food from the more fertile lands of Western Poland. Even in years of good harvests with some 40,000 toms of wheat and over 200,000 tons rye had to be brought in to cover the shortage. In addition the continual influx of large numbers of Poles, now aggregating nearly two millions, whom the Germans mercilessly drove out of the "incorporated" areas, contributed its share to the progressive deterioration of the food situation.


Economic Exploitation:

The Germans have no positive plan of economic policy in regard to the General Government, and aim solely at extracting the maximum benefit from the area for the Reich itself. This "reservation for the Polish population" has got not only to feed itself, but also to supply as much food as possible first and foremost for the great numbers of German soldiers.

The economic aims which the German authorities are pursuing could not be better expressed than they were in a secret memorandum issued by Governor-General Hans Frank on January 25th, 1940 Nr. G.B. 1/40. This memo (a copy of which is in the possession of the Polish Government in London, lays down a detailed program for the economic exploitation of the country.

Issued with the authority of Field-Marshall Goering, it opens with the following concise statement of the principle by which the exploitation of the G/G (I.E General Government) is to be governed:

"In view of the present requirements of the Reich's war economy, no fundamentally long term policy can be pursued in the G/G. On the contrary, the economy of the G/G must be so directed that it should at the earliest possible moment produce the maximum of what is possible to extract from the local resources within the G/G for the immediate reinforcement of the Reich Military strength."


The Jewish Food Situation:


German soldiers distributing bread rations to Polish civilians in the city of Plonsk.

The Jewish section of the population as we know, is subjected to general living conditions which are still worse than those of the Poles, and the uncertainty of life for them is increased by the continually changing orders and regulations affecting their day to day existence. In regard to food supplies, they are brought under a completely separate system, which is obviously aimed at depriving them of the most elemental necessities of life.


The separate and isolated quarters of towns which the German authorities have assigned as ghettos for the Jewish inhabitants are theoretically autonomously administered and are completely cut off from the outside world. They are under the supervision of the special German commissaries, who have unrestricted powers. Economic life inside the ghetto, and in particular the question of food supplies for its inhabitants, is in the hands of the Jewish Councils or "Judenrat".


All trade and commodity exchange, including the supply of foodstuffs, goes through a special German department know as the "Transferstelle". This group is responsible for allocating and selling to the ghetto all kinds of goods, including food, as the respective German food or other departments allow at any moment. The goods thus obtained by the ghetto are distributed to the shops by the "Supplies Establishment," which is a special department under the Jewish Council.

As a rule, the ghetto received foodstuffs of two main categories. The first group consists of rationed goods which are allocated in accordance with the number of inhabitants and on a ration unit basis. It includes the main food groups such as bread, meat, sugar, fats, etc. The second category consists of goods which are not rationed in the strict sense of the word, but of which the sale to Jews is controlled and for which permission has to be given on each occasion by the German authorities.

No article of food not included in either of these two categories can be sold to Jews, either inside or outside of the ghettos. In May, 1941, the German authorities gave permission for barely 154 tons of vegetables to be taken into the Warsaw ghetto, this amount working out a two-thirds a pound per person per month, and this was a comparatively high quota, for in the previous month only 48 tons had been allowed to come on to the ghetto market.

In June, 1941, the quota of potatoes assigned to the ghetto was 67 toms and the other vegetables 189.5 tons. In August there was some improvement in the situation as the German authorities permitted the import of 100 tons weekly into the ghetto, this working out to nine ounces per person.


The quantity allowed in the ration is continually changed, the tendency being to reduce the allotted quantities. The possession of a ration card is by no means a guarantee that a ration will be obtainable.


From information received through neutral sources, the weekly rations of the most important articles of food in the Warsaw ghetto during a certain unspecified period of 1941 were as follows:

                    Bread      Meat      Sugar      Fats

In grams        420          125        45            25
In ounces      14 5/7      4 1/2      1 3/8        2/1

Conditions were somewhat better in Krakow, where in March, 1941, the weekly ration for Jews was:

                    Bread      Meat      Sugar      Fats
In grams    1000 - 1090    0            50           30     
In ounces     36- 39 1/s    0            1 4/5        .1


Bread ration on the scales in Lodz

In such conditions the starving Jewish population has to resort to the purchase of food on the ghetto black market, which is supplied by smuggling over the walls at the danger of life, and by the extensive bribery of the German guards. Naturally, prices on the ghetto black market are considerably higher even by comparison with those on the Polish black market.

The following figures relating to the autumn of 1941 (in Warsaw) illustrate this disparity:

     Per kilo. (2 1/4 lbs)          Polish black market.             Ghetto black market.
Bread                                       15 zlotys                               32 zlotys
Potatoes                                  4.31 zlotys                            8.50 zlotys
Fats                                          45 zlotys                               90 zlotys

*note, the pre-war exchange rate was about zlotys to the British pound.


Thus, while the rations for Jews are only a half a third of the rations for Poles, the prices on the black market are twice as high. A Jewish worker employed on forced labor, and receiving four zlotys a day could buy (at these prices) only a half a kilo of potatoes, and a Jewish tailor earning about 50 zlotys weekly could only afford to purchase about a half a kilo of fat.

Therefore the only hope of survival for the great majority of Jews was in the communal assistance provided by the Jewish Council and various charitable organizations. In the summer of 1941 soup kitchens in the Warsaw ghetto were providing some 120,000 portions daily. This represented assistance to barely 25% of the total number of inhabitants, and only half the number actually needing help.

The terrible shortage of food, coupled with the serious overcrowding and unsanitary conditions within the ghetto has led to a fearful increase in the mortality rate from month-to-month. In August, 1941, there were 5,620 deaths in the Warsaw ghetto, while in June, 1941, (the latest month for which figures are available), there were only 396 births.


The inevitable decline in the ghetto population thus resulting was compensated for by the continual influx of Jews driven into the ghettos by the German authorities, who rounded them up not only from all over Poland, but from all over occupied Europe.

In July, 1942, the German authorities began a process of the wholesale extermination of the Jewish populations within the ghettos


Food rations in the other Occupied Countries

We have devoted to issues of the Polish Fort-Nightly Review to a discussion of the methods being applied by the Germans in one single sphere of Polish life. We have tried to do it objectively, utilizing and collating such materials as are available.


There is one further aspect of the question which we may consider. Poland is not the only country under German occupation, and it is of interest to compare the food rations of the Polish populace with those assigned to persons in other occupied countries.

The table below enabled us to make that comparison for December, 1941, the month for which accurate figures are available:


                                             Country                            Meat              Bread             Sugar            All Fats



Czechoslovakia (protectorate only)



The Netherlands


Poland [incorporated areas]

Poland [Gen. Gov]

Poland [Jewish Population]

80 3/4





80 3/4



80 3/4

49- 61 1/2

14 6/7


8 1/2





10 1/2

unofficially rationed

8 3/4

4 1/2

4 1/2

17 1/2


10 1/2


4 1/2

17 1/2



8 3/4

4 1/2

1 5/8

8 3/4

8 1/2




8 3/4

6 1/2

7 1/2

3 1/2

3 1/2




Summarizing the situation as we have found it in the "incorporated" areas and in the G/G, the Statement reveals the following irrefutable and outstanding facts:

  1. The shortage of food which has existed for three years in Poland, a nation that used to be exporters of food in pre-war days, is due to the fact that the greater part of Polish production is carried off by the Germans to meet the needs of the Reich and the German armies.

  2. The German military, bureaucratic officials, and German colonists in Poland have ample food and frequently are fed better than they would be in Germany itself.

  3. Food rations allocated to the Polish and Jewish populace are assigned in accordance with the racial status to which Nazi Germany has designated them. The Polish population in the best case received not more than half the ration allocated to Germans, and the Jewish population has to be satisfied with token rations.

Dr. Ley [center in white] with Hitler at the Berghoff

It would be erroneous to conclude that the Germans in robbing the temporarily subjugated nations of their food, are motivated only by their temporary difficulties, and only obeying some sort of necessity, or that their action is dictated simply by the need for assuring adequate feeding of the German people in order to enable them to cope with the waging of an unprecedented war.

Their policy is more sinister, and in its results intended to be more permanent. In accordance with the proclaimed Nazi ideologies, the Germans consider that they possess a lasting and absolute right to enjoy a higher standard of living than other nations solely due to what they regard as their racial superiority.

Dr. Ley, the German Minister for Labor, made this abundantly clear when her wrote in Der Angriff on January 31, 1940, the following words:

"A lower race needs less room, less clothing, less food, and less culture than a higher race. The Germans cannot live in the same fashion as the Poles and the Jews... More bread, more clothes, more living space, more culture, more beauty - these our race must have, or it will perish."

Poland was the first country to be conquered by Hitler's armies, with the consequence that Germans had earlier opportunities of applying their theories of exploitation and extermination there than anywhere else.

In the German plan, Poland was to lose her independent existence forever and to cease to exist as a separate State, and consequently she has become an experimental field, or a sort of "Living Laboratory" for what the German New World Order would mean in that part of Europe.






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