The First World War has been the topic of many scholarly and popular books, and the extent of German civilian nutritional deprivation has been debated since the war. But new research offers a stunning picture of the impact of the war on German women and children. By using a variety of sources and methods, including height and weight measurements from over 600,000 children during the war, as well as diaries, reports, legal and diplomatic documents, letters, and children’s drawings, nutritional deprivation experienced by civilians can be elucidated. It should be little surprise that the stratification of German society before the war largely determined which families persisted and those which perished during wartime. But the data also reveal that food aid imported to Germany after the Treaty of Versailles helped poor children recover their growth far more quickly than their affluent counterparts. The fact that this most vicious of conflicts was followed by the unification of former foes in an effort to save German children might offer hope for the future.
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