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This writeup is concerned with the war effort at home by German civilians.

People in Germany added to the war effort by restricting and sharing out resources evenly. Efforts to maintain the health of the population included travelling kitchens which, in Berlin alone, provided 25,000 meals per day in 1916. The public readily accepted inferior substitutes for such foodstuffs as coffee, eggs, butter and oil. A systematic instruction in war cookery was strictly adhered to, as the extremely patriotic civilians felt they should make sacrifices "for the Fatherland." A War Raw Materials Department was established in August 1914 to try to conserve whatever materials were available. Such cooperation ensured that the German population could continue to provide for themselves and the soldiers at war.

Germans of all ages made huge contributions to the war effort. Children were helpful in collecting any materials that could be recycled or used in manufacturing, for example scrap metal, waste paper, rags, bones, old rubber, bottles, and kitchen refuse and scraps for stock feed. Toddlers and elderly people worked together to produce bullets and other war equipment. A person by the name of Bethmann Hollweg made clear the attitudes of civilians at the beginning of the war:
The War demanded the greatest exertions from a people which had hardly found its way to nationhood out of the tangle of party doctrine and class strife. Yet in the dark urgency of an external danger the people rallied to its banners, and there shone forth blindingly the aspect of a nation at one with itself and politically qualified to withstand the harshest trials. The memory of that time can only evoke feelings of reverence.
As the war wore on and food shortages became more severe, the spirit of the people was just barely kept alive through the use of propaganda. Even before World War I began there was much unrest in Germany. The only way the government could get the support of the people was to justify their starting of the war. They did this by claiming their motive was defence. France, the German government said, was ready to invade, and Germany had to make a pre-emptive strike to prevent this from happening. Gradually the German people realised the insubstantiality of this argument and began to lose faith in the purpose of their struggles. As a result, the people put less effort into the war than most allied nations, who could much more easily justify their conduct.


Bollen, J. D. & Cosgrove, J. J. (1992) Two Centuries: A Profile of Modern History. Pitman, Melbourne.

Guest, V., Lawrence, J. & Eshuys, J. (1990) World War I: Causes Course Consequences. Macmillan Education, Melbourne.

O'Brien, C. & Merritt, A. (1996) 1914-1918 The World at War. Rigby Heinemann, Melbourne.

O'Brien, T., Jones, K. & Ingster, S. (1984) From the Source 1. Nelson, Melbourne.

Stewart, D. & Fitzgerald, J. (1987) The Great War. Nelson, Melbourne.

Wall, R. & Winter, J. (1988) The Upheaval of War: Family, Work and Welfare in Europe, 1914-1918. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

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