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Modern HungersFood and Power in Twentieth-Century Germany$
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Alice Weinreb

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190605094

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190605094.001.0001

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The Geopolitics of Total War

The Geopolitics of Total War

Food in the First World War

Chapter:
(p.13) 1 The Geopolitics of Total War
Source:
Modern Hungers
Author(s):

Alice Weinreb

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190605094.003.0002

This chapter looks at the ways in which food was crucial to the waging of the First World War, exploring the links between military and agricultural technologies, the invention of nitrogen fixing by German chemist Fritz Haber, and the British use of the Hunger Blockade to defeat Germany. These developments meant that the war left a lasting legacy on the world’s food economy. The chapter argues that the current system of international food aid, developed by Herbert Hoover to feed first Belgium and then Germany during the conflict, is one of the most important legacies of the First World War. It also argues that Germany’s experiences of hunger during the war shaped the charged political atmosphere of the Weimar Republic, pushing the population toward extremism and ultimately paving the way for the rise of Hitler.

Keywords:   First World War, nitrogen fixing, humanitarianism, Herbert Hoover, food aid, Hunger Blockade, Weimar Republic, hunger

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