There was very significant differences in German boys clothes during the post-War period in Germany. This was in large measure because of the changing economic conditions. The condituons, of course, varied greatly in the Allied and Soviet occupation zones. The conditions were very severe during the 1940s immediately after the War in both East and West Germany. The population was close to starvation and little money was available for clothing of any kind and supplies were limited. The clothing available on the black market was very expensive. This did not begin to change until the Marshall Plan was introduced (1948), at least in West Germany. The Soviets in East Germany were still dismantlng factories and shipping them east. The German Economic Miracle in the West was fully underway by the 1950s. Conditions were tight, but improving in the early 50s. Germany by the late 50s had returned to prosperous economic condditions, at least in the west. In the east, the economy was slower to recover. The differing economic conditions caused increasing numbers of East Germans to flee west. This eventually caused the Soviets and East Germans to build the Berlin Wall and eventually a wall separating East and West Germany. A stunning admission that Communism cannot compete with free market capitalism.
Living conditiond throughout Germany were very severe during the last monts of the War and the post-War 1940s. The ground combat and strategic bombing campaign had destroyed Germany's cities along with the country's industrial and tranportation infrastructure. The War's aftermath was devestating. The Germans in the cities were close to starvation, a condition that the NAZIs had imposed on the subject people in the occupied countries during the War. Even after the Allies restored some semblance of order, food was very dcrce. And as the the concentration camps and labor camps were cleared out and the displaced people headed home, several million Germans from the East and Balkans entrered Germany. Many had fled west was the Wehrmacht retreated from the advancing Red Army. Other were expelled or driven out of the liberated countries by the new governments. German families also had little money available for clothing of any kind. Supplies were limited. Boys wore what ever clothes they had as long as possible. You see many boys wearing outgrown clothing. New purchases when possible were only of very practical items. Many children went barefoot. Shoes in particular were in short supply. The clothing available on the black market was very expensive. This did not begin to change until the Marshall Plan was introduced in 1948, at least in West Germany. The United States offered Marshall Plan aid to the Soviets, East Germans and other Soviet sayellites, but Stalin rejected the offer. The Soviets in East Germany were still dismantlng factories and shipping them East, adding to the economic distress. The austere situation in Germany did not begin to change until the American Marshall plan was approved and the West Germans instituted a currency reform, launching the German Economic Miracle.
The German Economic Miracle in the West was fully underway by the 1950s. Conditions were tight, but improving in the early-50s. Parents at last had some disposable income in the 1950s. Most spent frugally, but at last they were able to afford the basics. There was a trenendous renewal of economic conditions during the 1950s. Germany by the late-50s had returned to prosperous economic condditions, at least in Westv Germany. Families were earning good incomes and expenditures for food and clothing increased substantially. Mothers could once again begin to exercize their interest in fashion. Boys went barefoot less commonly. Sandals were popular in the summer. Various caps were worn. Schirmmütze were very popular in the 1940s and early 50s, but rarely seen by the late 1950s. Short pants still dominated in the early-1950s. Lederhosen were widely worn, but an Americam import--jeans were becoming increasingly popular. Boys still commonly wore knee socks. Some boys still wore long stockings in the 1950s, especially in rural areas, but they were becoming less common. In East Germany the economy was slower to recover. Workers received much lower wages. The East German workers demonstrated for higher wages and better working conditions and were brutally supressed (1953). Both food and clothing was in short supply. Clothing budgets as well as selection was more limited than in the West.
The differing economic conditions caused increasing numbers of East Germans to flee west. The East Germans found it increasingly difficult to run their economy with many of thir most competent people fleeing west. This eventually caused the Soviet and East Germans to errect the Berlin Wall (1961) and eventually build a wall separating East and West Germany. Communist propaganda in the best traditios of Orwelian Newspeak attenpted to justify the Wall. It was in fact a stunning admission that Communism cannot compete with free market capitalism.
Much has been written about the desire of East Germans for political freedom. It is difficult to assess the motivations of the individuals involved, but it probably economic opportunity more than political freddom that was the principal motivation. It is more likely that the desire for the affluence and consumer economy of West Germans that caused East Germans to flee west. Thus the affluence of the West, in part the ability of West Germans to afford fashionable clothing and other consumer goods was an important factor in the Cold War. While many East-Block countries were separated from the West by a languager barrier, this was not the case in Germany. East Germans could easily access West German radio and television rograms and were all to aware with how West Germans were living and dressing. Elsewhere the population was informed by Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty. In Germany, commercial roadcastsmay have been even more important. This created a powerful incentive for change. And East Germany was not just one of the Soviet satellite states. In many ways it was the linch-pin of the COMECON economic system. While far behind West Germany, even after factories had been shipped east by the Soviets, East Germany was the most prospeous and productive part of the Soviet Empire--even more properous than the Soviet Union itself.
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