Effekter av den brittiska hungerblockaden mot Tyskland 1914-1919

Längd på 10–10,5-åriga flickor i Stuttgart 1914–1924. 

Före den brittiska hungerblockaden 1914-1919 var 10-åriga arbetarklassflickor i Stuttgart i genomsnitt 130 cm långa (som min egen 8-åriga dotter idag!). Efter fem års krig och hungerblockad var 10-åriga arbetarklassflickor i Stuttgart åren 1918-20 bara ca 128 cm långa. De hade levt med krig och hungerblockad sedan de var 5 år gamla och därför hindrats växa normalt på grund av undernäring.

Ekonom-historikern Mary Elisabeth Cox vid All Souls College, Oxford University, har nyligen publicerat en artikel i Economic History Review om den brittiska sjöblockaden mot Tyskland under första världskriget, vilken i Tyskland kallades hungerblockaden och som inte avbröts förrän 1919. Figuren ovan visar längden på 10-åriga flickor i Stuttgart åren 1914-1924, uppdelat på överklass, medelklass och arbetarklass.

Se Mary Elisabeth Cox, ”Hunger games: or how the Allied blockade in the First World War deprived German children of nutrition, and Allied food aid subsequently saved them”, Economic History Review vol. 68, Issue 2, May 2015.
At the onset of the First World War, Germany was subject to a shipping embargo by the Allied forces. Ostensibly military in nature, the blockade prevented not only armaments but also food and fertilizers from entering Germany. The impact of that blockade on civilian populations has been debated ever since. Germans protested that the Allies had wielded hunger as a weapon against women and children with devastating results, a claim that was hotly denied by the Allies. The impact of what the Germans termed the Hungerblockade on childhood nutrition can now be assessed using a newly discovered dataset based on heights and weights of nearly 600,000 German schoolchildren measured between 1914 and 1924. Statistical analysis reveals a grim truth: German children suffered severe malnutrition due to the blockade. Social class impacted risk of deprivation, with working-class children suffering the most. Surprisingly, they were the quickest to recover after the war. Their rescue was fuelled by massive food aid organized by the former enemies of Germany, and delivered cooperatively with both government and civil society. The ability of former belligerents to work together after an exceptionally bitter war to feed impoverished children may hold hope for the future.