Saturday, March 10, 2012
Berlin Food Riots
A Berlin butcher shop in the early months of 1919, the morning after the shop had been raided for its stock.
In the first six months of 1919, food riots occurred all over Germany.
Germany, never self-sufficient in food, had been in a state of virtual starvation since the early months of the war, a result of the British Naval Blockade.
To the consternation of the United States, Britain continued its Naval Blockade after the war ended—and it did so in order to force Germany to sign the Treaty Of Versailles.
The U.S. vigorously protested the continuation of the blockade once the war was over—the U.S. saw no need to starve the German public after cessation of hostilities—but Britain was firm in its resolve to continue the blockade.
The U.S. was unable to gather support from other nations in an effort to convince Britain to end the blockade. France was utterly indifferent to the post-war needs of the German populace, as were all other nations with a voice at the Versailles treaty table.
Herbert Hoover, who had traveled to Germany and witnessed for himself the widespread starvation and death, had a series of near-violent encounters with top British officials, including Prime Minister Lloyd George, urging that the blockade be ended for foodstuffs.
U.S. newspapers expressed outrage over Britain’s deliberate starvation of Germany.
On humanitarian grounds, the U.S. government contemplated using the U.S. Navy to break the blockade.
And yet Britain maintained its blockade until Germany affixed its signature to the treaty.
No one knows precisely how many persons starved to death as a direct result of the eight-month post-war blockade—but the figure is believed to be unimaginable.