The German Wehrmacht had its own cake card

The occupation force had its own rationing regulations. The quotas were more generous and luxury goods were to some extent available. Seen here is a special cake card for the German Wehrmacht. (S-1317 Forsyningsdepartementet, 1. Rasjoneringskontor/Rasjoneringskontoret D/L547)

To make sure that the available goods were distributed fairly and to avoid hoarding, the authorities introduced rationing. Sugar, coffee and flour were rationed first, and then followed all imported foodstuffs as well as bread, fat, meat, egg, milk and dairy products. In the summer of 1942, vegetables and potatoes were also rationed. Each household was given one ration book per family member – this was a kind of ticket that gave the right to buy a certain amount of a particular food item. The rations varied from age and gender and were adapted to special needs in for instance infants, pregnant women and people with hard physical work. If you were sick and had a medical certificate stating that you had a medical reason to have a special diet, you could to some extent be given extra rations of certain types of food.

The overall responsibility of the administration and implementation of rationing was under the Department of Supplies. There are extensive archives from this department. It is mainly in 1st Rationing Office/Rationing Office D and 2nd Rationing Office that you find sources for rationing issues. In the former archive you find an overview of all varieties of ration cards. There are large amounts of in- and outgoing correspondence, applications for extra rations and requests of various kinds as well as notices and circulars. In 2nd Rationing Office there is an administrative archive concerning the distribution of rationed goods to various commercial users. The material is mostly organized by industry and alphabetically by names within each industry. The archive also contains correspondence with supplying committees and information about rationing to municipalities, organized by counties.

Unpractical and bothersome

It was very unpractical and required much organizing to operate with rationing cards. You had to bring the cards wherever you wanted to buy anything. In the shop, in a café or restaurant – without cards you didn’t get anything. The quotas were geographically restricted and you couldn’t just bring your rationing cards somewhere else. First you had to get a signature from the local supplying committee. If you went to visit your neighbor, it was normal to bring your ration. In the 2nd Rationing Office’s archive you can find correspondence with the local supplying committee regarding rationing issues.

The lack of goods increased

Eventually the lack of food on the regular market was so great that it couldn’t fill the small rations you had. What was the use of meat rations if there was no meat to buy? When news came of a shop having received shipment of some sought-after food, it lead to lots of people showing up and long lines. A big part of the everyday lives of housewives was therefore characterized by standing in lines, hoping to get the ration they were entitled to. In the war archive of NTB there are many photos illustrating both line-ups and other phenomena related to the shortage of goods and rationing.

There was a big shortage of textiles, and getting a new scarf after theft was not that easy.

There was a big shortage of textiles, and getting a new scarf after theft was not that easy. The need and the credibility of the victim had to be documented by witnesses. (Source: S-6129 Kultur- og folkeopplysningsdepartementet. Statens teaterdirektorat, series Da, box 29, file Finn Halvorsen)

Relevant archives in Arkivportalen

S-1317 Forsyningsdepartementet, 1. Rasjoneringskontor/Rasjoneringskontoret D 

S-1316 Forsyningsdepartementet, 2. rasjoneringskontor K

PA-1209 NTBs krigsarkiv/Ue/0099-0101