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Douglas E. Nash
- Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
During the Second World War, Hitler's Wehrmacht earned the reputation as being one of the mightiest armed forces the world has ever seen. The effort that went into manning, arming, equipping, and training a force that grew in size to over twelve million men between 1935 and 1945 was truly colossal, and with men such as Albert Speer in charge of the war effort, nothing seemed to have been left to chance.
Overlooked by modern historians, though no less vital to the early successes of the Third Reich, was the mundane challenge of feeding such a huge number of men. Whether eating in home garrison mess halls or lining up at a remote Gulasch-Kanone (field kitchen) somewhere in Russia, Italy, France, the Balkans or North Africa, German troops had to be fed three times a day. Not only fed, but well fed, with proper attention paid to food preparation and preservation, vitamins and nutrients, and last but not least, palatability. This topic, at best, has been only tangentially covered in the historiography of the war and has long been begging for the attention it deserves. With the publication of LTC (retired) Jim Poole's book, Wehrmacht Rations of WWII (Schiffer Military Publishing, Atglen, PA 2010), that gap has now been filled by what will become the standard reference work on the subject.
Not merely a survey on how the Wehrmacht fed its men, Poole's book also focuses on what they were fed and how much of it they entitled to in their daily ration. In addition to describing these mundane matters, the author brilliantly expounds upon the individual components of the ration, using a little-known US Army scientific study performed immediately after the war using captured German rations. This study, carried out by the US Army's Food Container Institute in 1947, evaluated over 100 items in the German ration, from bread products, to meats, candies and even coffee and tea, including the much-lamented Ersatz coffee, produced from a mixture of chicory and other foul coffee "replacement" materials. Just as important as the food items themselves were the methods and materials used to package and preserve them, including various types of tin cans, cardboard, cellophane, glass and wooden containers. A collector of these packaging materials, Poole scoured the attics and antique shops of Europe and has included hundreds of photographs of the actual items, gleaned from both his collection as well as from those of dozens of his fellow collectors.
Rounding out this truly groundbreaking book is a detailed and surprising coverage of other exotic German military food items, such as arctic survival rations, special rations for tank crews and paratroops, alcoholic beverage containers, and even the Wehrmacht's famous high-energy chocolate candy, Scho-Ko-Kola. Next to the German Luger pistol and the Iron Cross, this chocolate, packed in a trademark cylindrical can, was one of the most prized items favored by G.I. souvenir hunters. Poole leaves nothing to chance, providing intriguing details and facts about virtually every item in the German ration. Though German troops may have longed for cast-off G.I. "K" and "C" Rations by the end of the conflict, for most of the war they were surprisingly (and rather ingeniously) well-fed, enabling Hitler to keep his men nourished and in fighting trim until the German supply system totally collapsed during the last weeks of the war. Overall, a fascinating work - every serious student of military history should ensure that a copy of this book finds its way to his bookshelf!