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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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Hunger and the Remaking of History

Hunger and the Remaking of History

Rationing, Suffering, and Human Rights in Occupied Germany

(p.88) 3 Hunger and the Remaking of History
Modern Hungers

Alice Weinreb

Oxford University Press

This chapter analyzes occupied Germany between 1945 and 1949, the years that saw the transition from the Second World War to the Cold War. During this time, the country was divided into four zones, each occupied by an Allied power (the United States, the USSR, France, and Great Britain.) This chapter argues that these years, known in Germany as the Hunger Years, played a key role in shaping modern discourses of human rights through assertions of the right of all individuals to food. Specifically, in the wake of the Third Reich, the hunger of German civilians acquired a moral weight that effectively depoliticized the category of “rights.” Analyzing civilian and medical debates about the causes and consequences of German hunger, the chapter explores the ways in which the different Allied rationing programs interpreted responsibility for Nazi crimes, and the ways in which Germans reacted to, challenged, and appropriated these categories.

Keywords:   occupied Germany, 1945, human rights, rationing, Hunger Years, food shortages, Allied powers, Nazism, postwar

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